Sunday, December 31, 2006

Personal Impeachment

If the President was arrested for drunk driving, would that be an impeachable offense?  I’m no constitutional scholar, but I don’t think so.  Sure, he broke the law.  But to me, the whole impeachment thing should only apply to job-related activities.  You know, something specific that means it’s imperative that we remove the guy from office.  Like Nixon’s egregious abuse of power.  But character flaws and personal wrong-doing don’t really fit that bill.

Sure, I understand that some people consider the President to be Citizen #1, and role model and all that.  But it’s not.  There’s no morality clause in the Constitution.  It’s just a job, just like any other job.  We, the people, hire a dude to run the federal government for us, according to rules established by a group of proxies we also hired.  That’s all it is.  Sure, role models are good and everything.  But I just want someone who can do the job.

That’s the way it works with everyone else.  We don’t all get fired for committing crimes in our personal time.  Hell, even murderers are often allowed to keep their jobs; until the conviction comes through, anyway.  And I seriously doubt that most companies would fire a good employee because he got a DWI or committed perjury on a personal matter.

But all this is different if they committed these offenses at work.  For example, getting a DWI while on the job would probably be a fireable offense.  As would committing perjury (though that might just depend on whether you were lying on the company’s behalf, which might just warrant a promotion).  And killing a co-worker at work is considered grounds for dismissal at just about any company.

So I don’t see why this would be any different for the president.  If he’s done something on the job that warrants his removal, then we remove him.  But personal stuff stays personal.  Hell, I don’t even agree with the idea of drug testing employees.  Sure, if they’re doing drugs at work, they get fired.  But what they do at home is on their time; just as long as they’re sober by the time they’re at work.

Encouraging Bush

And I’m writing about this to address two regular commenters who had previously stated that they had supported Clinton’s impeachment, despite them being Democrats.  One of them went so far as to suggest that Clinton’s lies helped pave the way to Bush’s.  I’m not sure how that makes any sense, as Republicans have been known liars long before Clinton got in office; particularly the turdball Republicans Bush surrounded himself with.  And that’s not to mention that Bush was doing this same crap as the governor of my fine state, before Clinton’s Big Lie ever happened.  The man has no integrity whatsoever, and I’m not sure how we can reasonably pin that on Clinton.

But again, the difference between Clinton’s actions and Bush’s are huge.  That’s not to suggest that it would be ok for Bush were he to personally be wiretapping his personal enemies, but I’m fairly positive that Bush couldn’t do that without abusing his presidential powers, and then we’d get him for that.  Or if he set-up private gulags at Crawford to personally torture “terrorists”.  I guess maybe we might think of getting rid of him for that (though a lot of conservatives would surely support his private gulags).  But really, that just goes to show how egregious Bush’s offenses really are.

Now, if Clinton had used the CIA, FBI, and IRS in order to go after his personal enemies and stifle the lawsuits against him, perhaps we’d have a case.  But all that would have to be proved, as it was with Nixon.  But Nixon’s abuses were almost entirely job-related.  The same kind of stuff that would get any employee fired.  Like with HP’s chairwoman Patricia Dunn, who hired a security firm to spy on other boardmembers to find a leaker.  She “resigned” seventeen days after the initial story broke in Newsweek.  But would that have happened had she hired those same guys to spy on her husband?  Probably not.  It’s only because it was work-related that her activities got her fired from work.  That just makes sense.

Above the Law

And so I don’t see what the difference is.  The presidency is just another job and should be treated as such.  In fact, I think the people who put too much respect in the presidency are doing democracy a great disservice.  I don’t want royalty in this country.  We are not choosing a national leader or granting power to our betters.  We’re hiring a fellow citizen to do an important job.  Monarchs and tyrants have often been given deity status by their people.  I just want a good administrator.  Someone to do a job.  That’s all.  It’s only when we hold the presidency to a different, higher standard that we start to see ego-heads abusing power.  

Nixon thought he was the law.  Bush just doesn’t see how it applies to him.  They think their job position gives them special powers that they’d be fools not to use.  Those are problems.  But a president who limits himself to basic perjury to fix his personal problems is a huge improvement.  Sure, I don’t think it was right.  But I don’t think any employee would have been fired for that, and can’t imagine how Clinton should be held to any other standard.  

And sure, if the President does something that would end him up in jail, I suppose we might need to find a replacement for him (though he’d probably be able to get a lot more done in prison).  But if an offense would be dealt with through non-prison terms (as DWI and minor perjury often are), then there shouldn’t be any problem with enforcing the standard punishment.  So I guess our real problem is that we weren’t left with any other option than to kick the guy out of the job.  And I don’t see how that’s not entirely too drastic under the circumstances.  And that’s why we should probably limit this stuff to work-related crimes.  If the crime ain’t interfering with the job, maybe we should let them keep the job.

And as long as they’re doing that job, I don’t see why we should complain.  It’s only when we get a dangerous boob like Bush that we need to start worrying.  Hell, I’d rather have a competent president with character flaws and a few personal illegalities than an incompetent president with a clean record.  And Bush doesn’t even have the clean record.  But that should go without saying.  It’s Bush’s incompetence that forces him to lie.  It’s his self-inflicted ignorance that allows him to believe that he really has the power that Cheney’s minions have convinced him he has.  Bush couldn’t get anything done otherwise.

So it all goes hand in hand.  A strong administer doesn’t need to rely on wiretapping his political foes or circumventing any power-check that our Founding Fathers placed on the position.  They go to work.  They do their job.  They make the country work.  Clinton did that.  Bush didn’t.  It’s that simple.  I’m not necessarily saying that incompetence is an impeachable offense.  But it makes a lot more sense than the charges against Clinton, and is more likely to get you fired in the real world than a crime committed on personal time.  I don’t want the Pope for President.  I just want a good employee.

Serious Anti-American Depression

Saddam’s dead.  Is there anything left for us Islamofascist gay freedom-hating feminazis to live for?  Because I’m seriously thinking about just giving up.  Maybe Bush was right.  Maybe our fight is over.  Maybe it will once again be good to be greedy.  We can only hope.  In the meantime, I’ll just resign myself to watching old Hitler videos and reliving the good old days.  Sure hope Castro gets better.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Strength from Cowardice

Something I’ve never understood about much of America’s absurd foreign policy for the last few decades: Why do we always get the shaft?  We’re the badasses with all the money, equipment, and know-how.  So why is it that every damn petty dictator could twist us around to agreeing to all kinds of crazy shit that we shouldn’t have agreed to?  Maybe I’m just stupid, but it seems to me that if you’re the guy with all the money and power, that everyone should be desperate to be your friend, not vice versa.

There are too many examples of this, (often in Central and South America), but was reminded of this again while reading Juan Cole’s excellent summary of Saddam’s rise to power.  Cole writes about how Rumsfeld was sent to cozy-up with Saddam in December 1983, to see how we could aide Saddam’s fight against Iran (a situation which we helped create by condoning the Shah’s evil tactics).  But the State Department issued a statement a few months later condemning Iraq’s use of chemical weapons, which strongly annoyed Saddam.  Apparently, Saddam took that as a sign that we weren’t really his friends, and Rumsfeld had to go back out again to smooth things over.

As Cole says:
The relationship was repaired, but on Hussein’s terms. He continued to use chemical weapons and, indeed, vastly expanded their use as Washington winked at Western pharmaceutical firms providing him materiel. The only conclusion one can draw from available evidence is that Rumsfeld was more or less dispatched to mollify Hussein and assure him that his use of chemical weapons was no bar to developing the relationship with the U.S., whatever the State Department spokesman was sent out to say. '

WTF???  We didn’t need Saddam.  Saddam needed us.  We were just trying to help him because we had a mutual enemy.  So why do we need to mollify him??  Why did we need to allow him to do things that we didn’t want him to do?  What’s the worst that could happen?  Saddam wouldn’t get our help and would have a harder time against Iran?  Sure, that’s not really what we wanted, but it clearly would have hurt Saddam far more than it hurt us.

So what the hell’s wrong with those people?  Rumsfeld and the rest of them?  Why did they keep getting bitchslapped by the little pissant dictators that needed our help?  I think that’s the perversity of the Kissinger plan for foreign policy.  Like most of his ilk, Kissinger only sees his own weaknesses and planned around them.  Deep down these people are cowards who never really understood how the game could be won.  The best they could do was constantly stave-off defeat.  Everything is symbolism for these people, and they don’t seem to understand which elements of war are for real.

That’s the one thing that little people never really understand, you don’t have to win all the battles.  And you’ll surely lose the war if you try.  And oftentimes, it’s best to just avoid the fight all together, and cut your losses when you can.  But Kissinger and his ilk saw that as the ultimate sign of weakness and routinely planned around it.  And that included pandering to evil dudes, using bribes and blind-eyes to ensure that they’d remain “our” guys.

And so all those petty little dictators and tyrants look like badasses holding all the cards.  But we had them all from the beginning.  We didn’t need to allow Pinochet to torture people.  We could have elicited more democratic institutions from the Shah and those other jerkass monarchs in the middle-east.  And Saddam should have been begging for our assistance.  He needed to be mollifying us over his use of chemical weapons.  And if he didn’t like us writing nasty statements about his chemical weapons, then maybe he shouldn’t be using the damn things.  But instead, Saddam played them like suckers.  Just like the Iranians played them like suckers to get rid of Saddam.

And the same goes for all that stuff.  The evil plotters who are conniving enough to claw their way to the top of our system continue to see evil plots everywhere around them.  For them, their weaknesses are all too obvious while their strengths continually reveal themselves as impotent jokes.  These people are extremely paranoid, which is both a blessing and a curse.  It allowed them to outwit their competitors, but it continues to hound their every move.  Rumsfeld, Cheney, Kissinger, and the rest of them act like strutting bad-asses, but they never really forget how entirely weak they feel inside.  How scared they are that everything’s about to topple over if they don’t win every single battle.  The toughguy routine is all they’ve got to keep them from just falling apart.

And these are people who have had such strong influence on our foreign policy for several decades.  Incompetent weaklings who just never understood when it was time to stop bluffing and save their powder for another day.   Since WWII, the only real weakness America has had came from these cowardly bozos.  Little boys posing as brave men; always shooting their wads at their own shadows.  Always abusing our resources and power, to save their petty little egos.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Wimpy Joe

I already commented on this at Publius’ esteemed blog, but I’ve been a little short on the postings lately (due partly to multiple colds hitting me over the holidays, as well as a recent surge in blatant laziness), so I’m converting this to a blog post.

Publius writes of Lieberman’s absurdist op/ed on why we should invade Iran, and ends by saying:

What’s even more maddening is that Lieberman (given the perception of him as a “serious” national security guy) could probably do more than any other Democrat to persuade public opinion that escalation is a terrible idea.

And I agree with much of his post (though I only skimmed the second half), but I'm not sure about the ending, that Lieberman could do alot to persuade folks that escalation was bad, or in any other way help mitigate the disaster in Iraq.  Because I'm not so sure it works like that.  

Lieberman is considered serious because he goes against what he's supposed to do.  As a Democrat, he's supposed to be against Bush's war, so he's considered serious and smart because he supported it and continues to support it; despite everything that shows how stupid it was.  But he'd lose that if he started saying what all the other Dems say.  Only Republicans are allowed to denounce the war and still be called serious.  Even Murtha couldn't escape unscathed from the pro-war smear machine, and Lieberman doesn't nearly have Murtha's war credentials.  And now, Murtha's considered to be our guy, despite the fact that he has a fairly conservative record going back decades.  All it took was for him to be on the "wrong" side of this one issue, at this one point in time.  

That's just the way the media plays it.  Were Joe to join the reality coalition, he too would quickly lose his tough-guy credentials; and thus, lose his power.  Similarly, had he ran openly as the Republican he is, he'd have lost the race.  So he threads the needle as a conservative Democrat, rather than the moderate Republican he is.  And I'm sure he's fully aware of that.  

If politics is anything, it's about manipulating perceptions, and Joe is quite good at that.  Not to shape perceptions, as the Republicans do so handily; but in letting them shape him.  Wimps are always good at that.  Anything to avoid the wrath of a bully.  Bullies give Joe indigestion.

Wait for it...

Wait for it…

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Stay Tuned

I’ve got some major changes coming up that surely make up for the lack of posts.  You won’t regret it.

Monday, December 25, 2006

The Magic of Christmas

I love Christmas.  I’ve always loved Christmas.  I don’t know if I ever really believed in God, but I certainly believed in Santa Claus.  And in a way, I still do.  No, I know where the presents come from.  But I still like to see that joy on Christmas morning when my kids open those Santa presents, which are always way better than the crap I give them.  There’s something magical about the Santa presents, and it’s a little sad now that the older ones really aren’t into that.  Sure, they’ll be happy to get those Santa presents, but it’s definitely not the same.

But it’s not just the presents.  It’s the whole thing.  The lights, and the tree, and the music, and everything.  I even like last minute shopping and spending WAAAAAAY more than I had ever planned to, which I’ve done every year since I had kids.  It’s all about the magic.  I don’t understand why everyone doesn’t love Christmas.  For me, it was always something to look forward to all year.  Partly, that may have been because whenever we told my mom that we wanted something, she’d always tell us “Christmas is coming”, which was somehow to indicate that we’d just have to wait until then to get it.  Which we probably didn’t.  She was just shutting us up.  And now I do that to my kids.  Even days after Christmas, I’ve been known to tell my kids that Christmas was coming whenever they ask for crap.  And it works.  I usually don’t buy them the crap and they leave me alone.  That’s working magic, people.

And let’s face it.  It’s not even really about the crap.  I’ll take anything, the thought doesn’t really count.  Sure, I’d much rather get something I wanted.  But I just like opening the presents.  As a kid, I’d often get so excited that I’d start opening other people’s presents too.  I had a big family and just couldn’t help it.  And it didn’t really matter.  All that mattered was that I got to open something.  And I do that with my kids too.  Not that I open their presents.  But that I buy them crap just so they can unwrap it on Christmas morning.  Not this year, as I think all my gift choices were spot-on.  But it’s how it usually goes.  Sure, days later I’ll be wondering why I had ever grabbed that crap in the first place; but on that morning it seemed like magic.

And that’s what it’s all about.  We’re all looking for that magic, something special to keep things going and convince us that it’s all worth it.  And it is.  Everything doesn’t always work out, but there’s always that certain something that makes it all worth while.  And for me, I get that every year at Christmastime.  Not just the day, which can often feel slightly let down if you didn’t get what you were really hoping for; but the entire season.  From the weird post-Thanksgiving transition through the nightmarish New Years Day hangover, it’s just one big highlight.  And that’s what it’s all about.

So I hope all y’all got a great Christmas planned, and if you don’t, you can at least be glad you’re not hurt.  Unless you are hurt, in which you case you should be glad for the pain pills.  Unless you don’t have any, and then things just suck.  But don’t worry, there’s always next Christmas, and maybe you won’t be in pain by then.  Or maybe you’ll be dead.  But whatever it is, there’s always something to look forward to.  And if not, you can think of all the fun I’m having.  That’s what I do.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

To God, or Not to God

I don’t like to pick on my regular commenters. God knows I have so few of them. But every once in a while, one writes something that I have to respond to. And sometimes, my response is good enough that I decide to make it a whole new post. Or maybe I’m just desperate for blog fodder. But whatever it is, I’m not trying to pick on anyone, so it’s not meant like that.

In the comments to my last post regarding obedience to our alien creators, I read this from a much beloved commenter regarding his belief in God:

Now, God is far beyond our ken…”

If there is a God, then I agree with that statement. For the record, I technically consider myself agnostic and not atheist, for this very reason. Because even if there is a god of some sort, he/she/it is clearly beyond our understanding, and that’s obviously the way it’s supposed to be. And for all we know, it really could be an alien race. It could be anything. That’s why I think the default position is to believe in no god and make the best of things from that. That’s all any reasonable creator could expect from us.

So what's the point? Whether one believes in God or not, we all just do what we think we're supposed to do and imagine that whatever judgment system there is will eventually approve of us, sooner or later. So what's the point of the whole god thing? Why not just take responsibility for the actions we take and admit that we have no earthly idea of why we're here or what we're supposed to be doing? We're all just doing our best, based upon our own experiences and abilities; and that's all that could be expected of us, no matter who or what created us.

But where does a belief in a god that's beyond our understanding fit in? I just think it's an unnecessary crutch and an excuse. If there is a kind God, he doesn't require our belief or love. He just wants us to enjoy the life he created and to help others enjoy theirs. Just like any good parent. And if there is no God, that's also what we should be doing and what life is all about. Life is to be enjoyed.

The real problem is that we might have a malevolent God, in which case we're just screwed. And that describes just about everything we see in the Old Testament. A jealous god who freely uses collective punishment to ensure complete obedience for thousands of years. But I've seen too many great things in life to believe that there's a malevolent God. So I think I'm good in any case. Especially as my dad’s a Deacon in the Catholic Church, and if that’s not a “Get Out Of Hell Free” card, then I don’t know what is.

But like I said, I really don’t think we need to be worried about this stuff anyway. Whether there’s a god or not, everyone’s just going to do exactly what they’re doing, and what happens is what’s going to happen. People do what they think they’re supposed to be doing, and they’ll regret anything they need to. And if God doesn’t understand that, then he just hasn’t been paying attention.


And now that I’ve totally shaken everybody’s faith in everything…

MERRY CHRISTMAS ! ! !

Friday, December 22, 2006

Love Thy Alien

As a follow-up to my last post, I thought I should address a general assumption that I relied upon the whole time: Exactly why do we need to obey our creator?  Is that a general rule of some kind?  I mean, I said in my post that I’d follow God if he’d merely establish that he existed and what exactly he expected of me.  But why?  Why would I do that?  And is it inherently immoral to go against the wishes of our creator?  And is it truly moral for a creator to punish and destroy his creations, merely for not loving him?  Christians sometimes argue that there’s somehow a special God clause to our morality system, that allows him to do all kinds of crazy stuff that we’re not allowed to; but does that apply to all creators?
For example, say there’s no God at all, but rather an alien race created us.  They found Earth a million years ago and set about to create an intelligent species, and after experimenting with countless animals, we’re the one that happened to come out on top.    They don’t know who created the universe, but can prove that all the events in the bible are either fictional or non-miracles (ie, they’ve got Tivo), as well as disproving all other disprovable religious concepts.

Would we be required to follow their orders, assuming they couldn’t force us to otherwise?  Like if they wanted us to form a one-world government and to institutionalize communism around the globe, would we really need to?  Sure, they created us, but does that make us their slaves?  Can they really tell us how to live?  And would you be cool with the idea that they’d punish us all for eternity if we didn’t love them completely and unconditionally?  I sure wouldn’t.  Particularly not if they had slimy skin.  But then again, I’m not so cool with the Christian God doing that either.  Overall, the whole “love me or die” thing is a tad bit stalker-ish, even from a creator.  But I’m sure the aliens could convince us that we were merely punishing ourselves by rejecting the aliens.

Or we can take this further and assume the aliens created our entire universe (they, existing in another dimension that we couldn’t possibly comprehend) and actively took a hand in shaping human events, just as people believe God did.  Does that mean we’d have to follow their commands?  I doubt people would agree to that.  So what’s the difference?  Is it because we only need to obey supernatural beings, and that aliens don’t qualify?  Is it the slimy skin?  What if they created us in their image?  Would we then feel better about loving them unconditionally and following their every command?

So how about it for you?  If aliens came down and showed us that they truly were our creators, would you feel automatically compelled to obey them?  To love them?  I doubt it.  So how exactly is this different from what Christians, Muslims, and other religionists expect all of us in our behavior towards their gods?  Would they feel whatever it is towards these aliens, as they do for their current god?

And when asked like this, doesn’t it really undermine their whole system?  How not?   I argue that we’d never willingly submit to aliens, yet what’s more alien than a supernatural being that’s always existed and can do anything?   So why exactly is it that we’d need to obey God?  And is it truly right merely because he says it is?  What kind of morality is that?

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Faith-Based Rejection

What is more important to God, as defined by the “typical” Christian: That we do good and be kind to all His creations, or that we accept Him on total faith?  That’s not to say that someone can’t do both, but rather that the second can clearly conflict with the first.  I.E., someone who doesn’t do what God wants, because they didn’t think they needed to; which would account for about 100% of the people who don’t do what God wants.

And that would seem to be a major flaw in the system that many Christians suggest God is using, and if there’s one thing we know about God, it’s that he doesn’t do mistakes.  He’s quite adamant about that.  So the mistake must be on the part of the humans.  How typical.

Because there’s one HUGE thing that God could do if he really was so interested in us being on our best behavior.  And that’d be for him to give up this whole “faith” thing and just let his presence and intentions be known to everyone.  Sure, faith is great.  But wouldn’t world peace be better?  How about stopping kids from starving to death?  That’d be much easier if God did a better job at teaching us what we’re supposed to be doing; or at a minimum, to provide us with reasonable evidence that he even exists.  Just to let us know that someone’s watching us, or cares.  Is that too much to ask?

Ending Evil

And then he could drop the whole Hell thing.  I don’t care if “Hell” is the place God sends evil-doers to, or if it’s the place that evil-doers send themselves to by rejecting God.  I personally can’t understand how anyone would choose to remain in Hell, once they found themselves there; but maybe I don’t want to understand.  But if God finally dropped this whole mystery thing and just laid it all out for us, people could finally make the rational decision to accept God in every way.  And so there’d be no need for Hell at all.  Everyone would know which set of rules to follow and do what they were supposed to do to go to Heaven.  Not because they were afraid of Hell or need the reward, but because God finally told them.  I know I would.

And in that regard, it would cure “evil”.  The typical Christian argument is that God allows evil because he wants us to have Freewill.  But this wouldn’t interfere with that at all, as we would still have the choice, but we’d just be better informed as to what we were choosing.  So well-informed, in fact that we’d all make the right decision.

Besides, what kind of Freewill are we having, when we don’t even have the basic knowledge of how we got here and what’s expected of us.  I mean, how free is my decision-making when I have no f-ing clue what’s really going on or what I’m really deciding on?  Imagine going to restaurant that might not exist and ordering a meal that might kill you, and not even being allowed to see the appetizers.  That’s what we’re talking about, except a gazillion times more ridiculous.  What the hell kind of Howard Johnsons is this?

Faith v. Knowledge

And sure, some people insist that God DOES tell them what to do.  God DOES talk to them.  He sends his messages, and you just have to be open to them, we’re told.  Great.  Well if he’s so big on sending messages that very few will be able to decipher, why not go a little further and give us dumb schmucks a clue too?  I’m an idiot, ok.  Could you speak a little louder, please?  Thank you.  

And really, once you’re getting the inside tip from God, or he’s making his presence totally known to you (as many Christians insist), is that really belief?  Because it seems that once you cross over that line and get direct knowledge of God, then belief goes right out the window.  And again, why can’t the rest of us get that treatment?  If it’s ok for these guys to cross beyond belief, then what exactly is God still hiding?    I mean, what’s so special about belief anyway?  Particularly when our holiest of holy people already think they’ve got a straight connection from the big man anyway.  

And don’t get me started on how God’s trying to get through to people, but being rejected.  I call bullshit on that.  We’re not talking a Billy Graham Crusade walking through the streets of Mecca.  We’re talking God, people.  The “Creator”.  If he can’t convince every man, woman, and child that he truly is the Creator, then I’m going to have serious doubts as to what this whole “omnipotence” thing entails.  I’m not suggesting he force himself on people, but an omnipotent being clearly must have the means to politely make his presence known to everyone.  

I mean, really.  I’d never try to reject my Creator.  I’d just like to see some form of identification.  You know.  Is that too much to ask?  Why?  Why faith?  Is this really more important than preventing suffering?  People aren’t looking for commands.  They’d just like to know what the rules are.  I know I am.  And for that, I’m supposedly damned for eternity.  That’s all I need.

Campaign Coffers

I’m with Blue Texan, and am all for having Richie-Rich Republican suckers toss their money into the George W. Bush Presidential Money Sinkhole.  I was naturally against the idea at first, but once Blue explained it, I realized how much better that $500 million would be locked-up in that pathetic building than in GOP campaign coffers.  Of course to Republicans, those are the same things.

And for that matter, why not encourage Republicans to accept outright bribes?  That’s where most of them want the money to go anyway, and it’s better for them to spend the dough on caviar than campaign ads.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Screw the Mice!!

I was just reading about how some scientists cured diabetes in mice, and you know what I say?  Screw the mice!!  Cure people diabetes first!  Then cure all the other people diseases.  And after that, if someone still wants to cure diseases, THEN let them work on mice diabetes.  After they’ve fixed all our problems.  It's just common sense, people.  

Humans first!

Saturday, December 16, 2006

The BS Stops Here

Alright.  I can’t take it anymore.  I’ve had the answer to our problems in Iraq this whole time, but kept waiting for Bush to come right out and ask for them.  Well I gave him his chance, and now I’m just going to say it; completely unsolicited.

What we need to do in Iraq is to get all the different sides together to agree on some common ground and to cut the bullshit out.  I mean, really.  This is crap.  It was all fun at first, to make this whole war thing a tad more interesting than the snore-fest it had started out as.  But enough is enough.  It’s time for us to announce our intent to stop all the bullshit and make everything work.  Sure, not everyone’s going to be happy with that, but tough dooky.  They need to get over that.  I know I have.  This bullshit has gone on for too long, and I’m stopping it now.  No More Bullshit!

There, that wasn’t so hard, was it?  It was just a matter of having enough balls to say what needed to be said.  Apparently, you have to have one hundred balls.  And I’ve got them.  Too bad our leadership in the Whitehouse can’t say the same.  But I guess we have the liberals to thank for that, don’t we?

Friday, December 15, 2006

Illegals for Everyone!

Can somebody help me here?  Digby’s got a great post about the whole illegal immigrant sweep-up the DHS did, and how they’re trying to portray this as an issue of identify theft, though only a handful of those arrested were actually charged with identify theft.  And there’s a real chicken v. egg thing about all this, in regards to whether this was a semi-legitimate operation that the Whitehouse marketing kooks corrupted for their typically partisan agenda, or if this thing was rotten all the way to the bottom; as is so often the case where Bushies are involved.  It’s almost as if the illegal immigrant issue has had an identify theft problem of its own.

But here’s my question: If someone’s using your Social Security number so that they can work in this country, do you get the money being deducted from the illegal immigrant’s paycheck, as well as the employer contribution?  Because rather than this seeming like a negative, this seems like a huge plus.  Hell, even if the illegal only gets paid $10,000 a year, that’s an extra $10k worth added to my Social Security account, isn’t it?  I mean, even those paltry wages would add an extra $1240 to my already burgeoning account each year.  Sweet!

Tell me if I’m wrong here, but I don’t see how I am.  Assuming they don’t get caught or anything.  Or even if the illegal is caught, do they go back and erase those wages from your record?  And if they do, who gets the money that had been collected?  Do they refund it back to the immigrant and employer?  After all, it IS their money.  Or does Uncle Sam keep it?  I mean, it’s not like it was set aside in a cool lockbox or anything.  It’s been long since spent, so does the country just keep it?

And if you get to keep it, are you really being victimized?  As a payroll-doing CPA, I know a thing or two about how Social Security works, and it seems to me that this is a HUGE plus that would totally outweigh the damage done by someone using your Social Security number.  We’re talking MUCHO DINERO, my friend.  

Just to show what an all-out kind of blogger I am, I went to the Social Security website and used their quickie calculator to show us what kind of money we’re talking about.  If someone born on January 1, 1965 retires on their 65th birthday, and averaged $40,000 a year, they’ll receive (in today’s dollars) $1231 each month for the rest of their lives, as well as the life of their spouse.  BUT…if we add an illegal immigrant’s income of a measly $10,000 a year to this, the monthly benefit increases to $1453, more than $200 a month extra…for life!  That’ll buy a lot of pain killers.  And I strongly suspect that those numbers are extremely conservative, and that the payoff would be much bigger.  Particularly if we adjusted for inflation.

So if people knew about this aspect of the whole illegal immigrant/Social Security bonanza, would they be more supportive of a porous border system?  Perhaps seeing it as a sort of retirement lottery, and that they might be one of the lucky few to have their identity stolen by an illegal immigrant.  Not that I’m suggesting we emphasize this right now, but it seems like not such a bad idea, were this whole illegal immigrant privacy meme to catch on.  I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t mind having my own personal illegal pumping cash into my retirement fund.  

Hell, we could eventually just make it official by allowing immigrants to adopt us.  They can stay as long as they keep pumping cash into our Social Security accounts.  We could even create a commodities market out of it, with the higher paid immigrants being sold to the highest bidder.  These could be real investments.  And if nothing else, this would really fix any “crunch” that Social Security might suffer in the future.  We could have old fogies replenishing their Social Security account well into retirement.  It’d be better than privatization (if you can imagine that).


BTW, throughout this post, I’m referring only to illegal immigrants using your Social Security number to get a job, with payroll deductions going to your Social Security account; and not to regular identity thieves, who almost never give you their payroll deductions.  So if you’re taking this post as a sign that I want to be ripped-off, you are sorely mistaken.  But if anyone needs my identity to obtain a job, it’s spelled “D-O-C-T-O-R”, and not “Dr.”, as it is usually misspelled.  I know it seems insignificant, but the SSA is very strict about these sort of things, and I’d hate for something like that to get in between me and your money.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Is Obama's Embrace of Muslim Dictators Pathological?

As a mainstream contrarian centrist, I just want to establish my reputation as a firm believer in giving Barack Saddam Obama a fair chance before I proceed to unfairly rip him to shreds for things which are entirely irrelevant, if not completely invented by myself.  Here are my credentials as a fair-minded Obama considerer; notice how I don’t once refer to him as spittle directly.  And now that I’ve got my unbiased lip service out of the way, here’s my riff against Obama:

Look, if Barack Saddam Obama really thinks it helps his Iraqi street cred to have such a patently offensive middle name.  That’s his deal.  We’re all players in the world of presidential wannabes, and if this is Barack’s best attempt at being a presidential wannabe, then more power to him.  I myself have been playing the Weird Medical Experiments on Hobos card for so long that I’m almost starting to believe I’m good at it.  Sure, some people think I’m crazy (particularly my hobo patients), but Rove insisted that this was key to winning the Mad Scientist vote, so I think I’ll stick with it for awhile longer.  He’s crunched the numbers and assured me a decisive victory.

And the point is obvious: We’re all on the road to the Whitehouse, whether we like it or not; and Obama’s no different than the rest of us, even if he is going for the “I’m a secret Black Muslim terrorist and I’m going to blow you up” thing.  Again, I’m not so sure that’s the wisest way to go, but if he thinks he can make the terrorist-angle work, who am I to doubt him?  But irregardless, this whole looking like Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad thing is just plain wacky.  What was he thinking??  I mean, not only is Mahmoud Ahmandienghad not Iraqi, I’m not even so sure he likes Americans.  And I’ve heard from a top authority that the Iraqi’s aren’t so crazy about Iran, so this recent move of his really sends mixed messages.  Is he Iraqi?  Is he Irani?  Who can know?  And not only will this hurt him with the Iraqi vote, he’s likely to blow it with the Iranians, too.  And that really puts him in a bad position heading into the primaries.

Sure, sure.  Perhaps he’s going for the whole Iran-Iraq centrist thing; splitting the difference between both sides and finding a common middle ground.  But I can’t see this as anything but a complete backfire for the guy.  Particularly as it’s likely to lose him support in the Heartland, which is staunchly against any sort of conciliatory gestures between Iraq and Iran.  And so a dude with an Iraqi name and a Iranian persona isn’t going to have a whole lot of luck winning over Kansas, no matter how many ruthless dictators he emulates.

Again, I wish no ill-will against Saddam Obama and hope he can continue-on as the rockstar presidential contender extraordinaire I’ve been told so much of.  But if he thinks he can really pull off this whole embrace of everything radically Islam thing this early in the election cycle, he’s on a sure path towards political disaster.  Can anyone say Mondale?  

Besides, all this is moot anyway, as all us inside kewl Beltway elites have been given the inside tip by Lord Master Cheney that the 2008 elections will be cancelled on Election Day due to a massive terrorist strike on eight US cities.  And that goes for congressional and statewide elections too.  It’ll be like a total surprise, so you know I’m quite psyched about the whole thing.  He tells me I’m nineteenth in line for a personal interview immediately following the attack, and that he’s got quite a few more surprises lined-up after that.  BIG surprises.  Awesome!

Monday, December 11, 2006

Incompetence for Victory

Omigod, they didn’t.

When the State Department recently asked the CIA for names of Iranians who could be sanctioned for their involvement in a clandestine nuclear weapons program, the agency refused, citing a large workload and a desire to protect its sources and tradecraft.

Frustrated, the State Department assigned a junior Foreign Service officer to find the names another way — by using Google. Those with the most hits under search terms such as “Iran and nuclear,” three officials said, became targets for international rebuke Friday when a sanctions resolution circulated at the United Nations.

Holy shit, they did.  And how did they do this little bit of incompetence?  Incompetently, of course.

[A] junior State Department officer, who has been with the nonproliferation bureau for only a few months, was put in front of a computer. An initial Internet search yielded over 100 names, including dozens of Iranian diplomats who have publicly defended their country’s efforts as intended to produce energy, not bombs, the sources said. The list also included names of Iranians who have spoken with U.N. inspectors or have traveled to Vienna to attend International Atomic Energy Agency meetings about Iran.

For such an important task, why devote such limited resources?  Sure, that describes just about everything these boobs do, but I’m just astounded that they continue with this idiocy so half-assedly.  I mean, a big part of the whole Republican movement is that, whatever you do, you do it boldly.  Especially the mistakes.  Because if you’re doing something boldly, it proves that it’s something you should be doing and becomes its own justification.  Well apparently, the boldest way to do something is with sheer incompetence, because that’s the way these jokers continue to act.

And let’s face it, they weren’t looking for names.  They were looking for excuses.  Something to put in their newest attack on Iran, in order to stir-up another hornet’s nest that only they can remedy, by bravely sending other people off to die.  Sort of like Professor Harold Hill, as played by Darth Vader.  That’s what they did endlessly in Iraq after the first Gulf War, often giving justification for many of Saddam’s ruthless tactics.  I mean, nothing says “Torture your dissidents” more than a coup attempt; particularly the CIA-backed variety.

And jesus christ, how stupid do they think Iran is that they'd allow their top secret guys to be publicly linked to their top secret plans on the fucking internet?  No wait, I know.  Only slightly stupider than the Bushies themselves.  Because that's how stupid they think ALL of us are.  And shit, they spend more time outing anonymous liberal bloggers than they do finding people they suspect are trying to blow-up the world.  Then again, I suppose we should consider ourselves lucky that they didn’t entrust the 101st Fighting Keyboarders to the task; lest we see Greenwald and Atrios’ names in the UN sanctions report.  Then again, that’d be kind of cool.  

And hell, maybe all this might work out after all.  I mean, when incompetent people implement incompetently designed ideas in an incompetent manner, it’s just a matter of time before the incompetence cancels out and the plan becomes an overwhelming success.  Right?  I think that’s the whole plan for Iraq, and we’ve all seen how well that’s going.  It’s like the Big Bang theory of Nation-State building.  At any moment now, the chaotic brewings in Iraq will instantaneously converge together into a properly functioning country with safety and everything.  They might even have running water.  May all of Bush’s plans come out so well.

The Rule of Right

The iridescent Glenn Greenwald digs up one of those innumerable oldie-but-goodie quotes regarding the conservatives’ once all-important priority: Rule of Law.  And sure, it’s easy to mock our rightwing brethren for their pre-9/11 (and more importantly, pre-Bush) attitudes regarding the Rule of Law and its power on the presidency, because it’s entirely absurd.  For them, Rule of Law was little more than the latest fa├žade to cover their personal preferences; a means of making their capricious wants sound absolutist.

Here’s what I’m talking about, from David Frum (no link):
During the Lewinsky scandal, those of us on the pro-impeachment side repeatedly said – and said and said and said again – that the offense for which Clinton deserved to be removed was not sexual misconduct, but perjury.

Ok.  They say that it wasn’t about sex, and that’s the end of it.  No way that was just an empty argument, only necessary because they knew there was no sex-based reason for impeachment.  They say it’s about perjury and that’s the end of it.  Of course, when needled further, they’re forced to say that it really came down to a president abusing his powers to cover-up personal wrong-doing; so as to excuse Watergate, Iran-Contra, and almost anything remotely linked to Dick Cheney.  And if you can continue to argue further, you’ll find that it always boils down to it being unconstitutional to have a president who’s last name begins with C and ends with N with a linto in between.  And they are absolute in that belief.

And really, this wasn’t about sex OR the perjury.  This was about crippling a Democratic president for personal and political gain using the only possibly legal argument they could find.  And needless to say, they’d have been just as happy to do without the whole legal rigmarole at all.  Heck, they’d like it best if they could just have the president removed at their whim.  And while they might agree in theory that such a power would surely be dangerous, I have no doubts that they wouldn’t reluctantly accept them.  Or maybe not so reluctantly.

But that’s all that was about.  That’s all it was ever about.  It wasn’t about sketchy real estate deals, or abuse of power, or sex, or any of that crap.  It was about crippling the Democrat by any means possible.  And as usual, they were their own undoing as everything culminated into an embarrassing impeachment which really brought a strong spotlight on the wingnut’s rabid wingnuttery.  It was all fine and dandy to bitch and moan about Clinton’s illegalities when they didn’t have to be legally binding about it, but dammit if the actual proceedings exposed what a sham they had dreamed-up.

And so when the impeachment finally put the rubber to the road, their fantasy world finally ended and they came-out empty-handed and looking dumb.  Not that they don’t always look that way, but even they had a hard time arguing that it wasn’t true.  And isn’t that also the reason they object to the entire judicial branch?  Because they like to see themselves as the final arbiters of right and wrong and resent the idea of a third-party judging their arguments in an objective fashion.  Particularly as their arguments really only make sense to other delusionals.  Which is why the only good judges are the judges who give the “proper” judgments.

But so it is with everything they do, including Frum’s own writings which Greenwald so handily eviscerated.  They’re not looking for arguments, as much as rationalizations.  When they’re looking for wrong-doing, they’ll find it.  Just as easily as they can find defenses when they want.  It’s all about focus.  And as much as Frum derides liberals for their D v. R. preferences, it’s merely a projection of their own biased ways.  

If they can find anything that Clinton did which has similarities to the bad stuff the Bushies do, then all is justified; even if there are obvious distinctions between them.  All that matters is that they have an argument, so as to put things into the subjective category.  It matters not if the argument is absurd.  And they won’t even consider the possibility that our arguments make sense.  How can they?  They can do little more than assume that we’re no better than themselves.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Friday, December 08, 2006

Bluffing the Mullahs

Writing of Bush’s absurd suggestion that he won’t work with Iran or Syria until they do what Bush wants, Juan Cole writes:
In other words, Bush wants compromise before negotiation, and virtual submission to Washington as a prerequisite even for talks. Same old W.

And this is just insanity and shows a complete miscomprehension regarding diplomacy.  But it makes sense in his weird world.  To Bush, being “friendly” is an enticement used to obtain his goals.  Like chumming-up with a scumbag reporter and giving him a fratsy nickname.  He’s done his part, now the reporter has to do theirs.  Friendliness isn’t something that you give for its own sake.  Or even as a general principle regarding standard human behavior.  It’s a temporary reward bestowed upon others for personal gain.  And it only lasts as long as Bush needs it to.

And so Bush wants to see results before he’s willing to play nice.  The neo-cons put Iran in the shithouse as far as our president is concerned.  They’ve already taken the extreme measure of being anti-American and nothing can change that in Bush’s mind, short of the impossible goal of complete capitulation with no chance of backsliding.  And for Bush, complete capitulation doesn’t occur until his dad’s buddies have a strong position in Iran’s economy and he’s riding on the Disney Iran trolley on his way to see Mickey.  As a compromise, Bush will allow them to dress Minnie in a manteau, scarf, and black leggings, though Donald will remain pantless.  That’s our Bush.

Having Hand

And what’s totally stupid is that the Bushies once again have the diplomatic situation backwards.  It’s like they’ve internalized the idea that you always want to have the upper hand to the point that they’ve failed to grasp exactly how that’s supposed to work: Namely, that you have the upper hand.  Otherwise, you’re just bullshitting and probably making a fool of yourself.  But I suppose these people are bullshitters to such an extent that they don’t even realize they’re all bullshit.  

Like with Rumsfeld's final Iraq memo which substituted political spin for military strategy.   But that wasn’t merely for our benefit, but rather a showcase of Rummy’s inability to grasp non-bullshit.  This wasn’t a personality quirk.  It’s his modus operandi and how he’s been running Iraq from the start.  He got to be Secretary of Defense because he’s such a hard-headed bullshitter, which is sadly ironic as the skill that got him the job was the one that should have disqualified him in the first place.  And that goes doubly so for Darth Cheney, who never saw a good thing he couldn’t ruin for his own advantage.

As with the rest of their ilk, they’re so focused on political spin that they’ve failed to grasp that they’re holding an empty bag.  Or that there’s a bag at all.  And they’re surely convinced we’re bullshitting too, and just aren’t as good at it as they are.  In fact, it looks like they’re so full of shit that they’ve forgotten that they’re bluffing.  It’s like J.T. Walsh’s character in Grifters, the great conman who thought he could hear the computers he had imagined for his con game.  They’ve been running the con so long that they’ve forgotten it’s a con; thus becoming they’re own biggest sucker.

Going Strong

And we see this with Iran, which knows how to play the cards it has.  It’s almost impossible that we will attack them, thanks largely to Bush’s horrendous foreign policy.  Not only do we not have the forces to do so, but we’d be roundly condemned worldwide if we tried.  Plus, it would just make us even more radioactive to any Muslim leader we might need to stay friendly with; burning all who touch us.  And don’t forget the whole oil thing, which has clearly blown-up in our faces in Iraq.

And Iran knows that better than us.  So why not take advantage of that by brewing up a storm that will force us to give them something?  Or to just weaken our standing overall?  It’s as if we’re playing cards with someone who brought their own card-making machine.  Just like North Korea demonstrated.  They’re not building nukes as much as turning abstract threats into more concrete ones.  The threat of nuclear weapons is always there, but somehow our neo-cons fail to respect that fact until a country decides to make it a little more explicit.  And the more the neo-cons try to bully other counties, the more those countries will want to make that threat more explicit.

So it’s best for these countries to play really, really strong .  Heck, them threatening to have a nuke program is, in many ways, more diplomatically powerful than the nukes themselves.  It’s even possible that they themselves have been pimping the rumors about it.  Because it’s unlikely that they’d want to use the nukes, and there are certain dangers for just having the damn things.  This isn’t an attempt to destroy us, as these guys are, at their core, the same power-hungry old men running the show in every other country.  They’re satisfied running the show they’ve got and are fairly risk averse.  In the end, it just comes down to people playing the cards they think they should in order to grab as much power as they think they can.  Same old story.

So this is an attempt to use the threat as a means of maneuvering us.  Just like North Korea did.  But it wasn’t an idle threat or bluff.  They’ll do it if they have to, and the closer they get, the stronger their position becomes.  Those are just the facts of the situation and no amount of bluster or bull can change that.

Strong-Arm Appeasement

So the longer we fail to negotiate, the more powerful they get.  While neo-cons deride any other option as the equivalent of appeasing Hitler, in many ways their own policy is considerably worse.  Because we’re not stopping their actions and we’re dealing with an enemy that really can be appeased.  The reason Hitler couldn’t be appeased wasn’t because he was a madman (though he was one), but because he thought he could win the whole shooting match.  The appeasements merely aided his long-term goal of global domination.  But leaders in Korea and Iran are under no such delusions and merely want to strengthen their weak hand.

And hell, at least Hitler had to lie about what he was doing.  But North Korea and Iran actually benefit by us hearing about their activities.  It only makes their position stronger.  Sure, that didn’t really pay-off for Saddam, but that was just because the neo-cons forgot that they were supposed to be bluffing and Saddam couldn’t imagine we’d be dumb enough to actually go through with it.  And Korea kept up with that policy until they took it too far, by actually testing a nuke.  But the end result is the same and Bush will have to compromise if he wants this to end.  He knows that he wants the upper hand, but it’s just not there.  Unfortunately, few around him will actually tell him how weak his hand really is.  It’s possibly they don’t know themselves.

And so this opens all kinds of power moves for Iran, one of which is to demonize the US further in order to have a better excuse for weakening the rebel elements in Iran and getting them to rally around the Mullahs.  That’s how Saddam, Castro, and the Soviets did it.  Not only did it give them an excuse to crackdown on dissidents, but it strengthened their economic control over their countries.  Somehow, conservatives have failed to grasp that freezing a country’s economy aides the status quo and allows the powerful to remain powerful.  Particularly if they can control the market system.  

But perhaps some of them do understand this principle, which would explain why our economy usually sucks during Republican administrations.  Sure, they like the added money they get from a good economy, but not if it means their polo club gets overrun by nouveau riche.  For the super-rich, a robust economy is worse than inflation.  And it’s even harder on dictators and totalitarians.  Money converts into power quite easily, and the end result is Power Inflation, where a little power just doesn’t seem to buy what it used to.  And so economic sanctions can really help an evil leader keep a lid on the economic situation, while having a handy foil to blame for it.

The Eternal Bluff

And regarding tough diplomacy, the refusal to negotiate can often be a very effective technique in negotiation.  That you take such a hardline position that the other side has to compromise just to get you to the table.  But if that’s a lesson that conservatives once taught, the students weren’t listening.  Because they’re not using this as an effective diplomatic strategy, but as if it’s proof of the err of diplomacy.

Most likely, they saw the Soviets and others use these non-diplomacy diplomacy techniques and didn’t realize they were part of diplomacy.  They thought it was the whole point.  In fact, that goes a long way towards explaining much about conservatives.  That they’re mimicking behaviors that they’ve seen others use but have no idea of why they were done or when to do them.  Like a poker player who’s seen that good players can win by bluffing, so they bluff on every damn hand; while not even understanding the fundamentals of getting a good hand.  As if bluffing was all that it took to win.  

Or imagine a baseball team that bunts every time they’re at the plate.  Or a football team that always goes for the on-side kick, with a Hail Mary on every play.  They see that these Get Rich Quick schemes can work, and with far less hassle than doing things the hard way; but haven’t yet realized that they only work as infrequent tactics, built upon a solid foundation.  They mimic what the experts do and have no idea why their results differed so greatly.

When the Soviets played tough with Nixon, they got results.  Our conservatives want those results, not realizing that the Soviet’s were merely playing on Nixon’s obvious weakness and weren’t always in a position to do so.  Yet they have no idea of what they’re really playing for or how to obtain it.  They have a basic idea that they want to “win”, but no real clue on how to get from here to there.  They just know that quitters never win and somehow imagine that that’s enough to ensure victory.

Go strong.  Fight for every inch.  Never back down.  Those can be strategies used to great effect.  But for conservatives, those are mottos.


Side Note: Over the Thanksgiving break, I played Madden 2007 with my young nephew and he really did do on-side kicks every time and almost always went for the Hail Mary.  And he kicked my butt.  So that’s not necessarily a bad strategy.   But then again, I had never played the game before and he was extremely lucky on numerous occasions; as well as scoring a touchdown while I was out of the room.  Needless to say, his parents are both Republican.  Perhaps someday I’ll be a president’s uncle, though I’d be loath to admit it.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

More Newt

Regarding some mainstream conservatives’ desire to publicly speak of undoing the First Amendment (via Greenwald), I say “MORE PLEASE!”.  Especially Newt Gingrich.  I betcha his own grandmother hates him.  And if she doesn’t, I’m sure she’d want to.  It was hard to realize back in the day that Newt’s SOB routine was as obviously repellent to the rest of the country as it was for us, because he just seemed so powerful back then and just wouldn’t shut-up.  But it turns out that the more he speaks, the more he offends people, and I now just can’t get enough of the guy.  Especially about harebrained schemes involving curtailing the First Amendment.  Those are the best.  Just as long as I don’t have to listen.

Don’t get me wrong, he’s a smart, smart man; but he’s just pushing down the wrong track.  He clearly knows how to make a powerplay and gather his forces to go strong, but he just can’t appreciate that he needs to be a background guy and not the lead player.  It’d be best for them all if he’d can the whole political thing and try more for the elder statesmen thing; at least publicly.  Let him pull what strings he might possibly have on the inside, though really, I suspect that his only real strength was his ability to talk tough, but that was always his biggest weakness too.  So it’s likely that he has to go public because he doesn’t have anyone else who will do it for him.

Hell, even his name is repellent.  Newt Gingrich.  That says total bad guy all the way.  It’s almost enough to be a Professional Wrestler’s name.  Or maybe his bad guy manager.  But whoever he is, people aren’t going to like him.  He’ll have his supporters, to be sure.  But it’s doubtful that even they really like him.  And he’s probably well aware of that.  It’s doubtful he even likes himself.  The bad guys never do.  That’s why they’re bad guys.

And let’s not forget that Newt is trying to position himself as a player in the upcoming presidential election.  Not to win, but to stir things to the right.  And I’m all for that too.  The more people remember that Newt’s a Republican, the more they remember why they hate Republicans.  Bush has now become a real albatross for the GOP, but Newt’s a classic that will never go out of style.  

And as for the rest of those potty-mouthed Constitution-haters, they can bring it on also.  I’m all for it.  This is some stupid shit they’re spewing, and they’ve already been in the stupid shit doghouse for years.  This might have had some weight in the months after 9/11, but this is just going to piss-off most people now.  And really, isn’t the greatest irony of all this that the people trying to undo free speech are themselves undone by their own free speech?  And that they should be practicing the speech limitations they’d like forced on others?  As I’ve said before, everyone is their own worst enemy, and these guys have got one formidable enemy.

Lazy Bastard Congress

Holy fucking shit, I can’t believe this.  In regards to the Dem’s plans to actually put our Congressmen to work:
For lawmakers, it is awful, compared with what they have come to expect. For much of this election year, the legislative week started late Tuesday and ended by Thursday afternoon -- and that was during the relatively few weeks the House wasn't in recess.

Josh is right, this article sounds straight from the Onion, but wouldn’t have been as funny or outrageous.  How in the hell have I not been informed of this before?  Have I just been living under a rock, or has nobody pointed out this extra-super short work week for Congress?  I betcha 100-to-1 that this kind of thing wouldn’t sit-well with the American people.  Even diehard Republicans would be slow to defend this bull dooky.  And sure, this probably wasn’t a huge secret, but this really should have been a staple of every good Democrat; especially the ones lucky enough to get on TV.

Oh, but one important tidbit that the article failed to mention was how often Congresses in the past met.  But I guess that would have required research and it really is much easier to just gather a few quotes and move on.  So I did a tiny bit of research and find this from Rolling Stone on The Worst Congress Ever:
In the Sixties and Seventies, Congress met an average of 162 days a year. In the Eighties and Nineties, the average went down to 139 days. This year, the second session of the 109th Congress will set the all-time record for fewest days worked by a U.S. Congress: ninety-three. That means that House members will collect their $165,000 paychecks for only three months of actual work.

What this means is that the current Congress will not only beat but shatter the record for laziness set by the notorious "Do-Nothing" Congress of 1948, which met for a combined 252 days between the House and the Senate. This Congress -- the Do-Even-Less Congress -- met for 218 days, just over half a year, between the House and the Senate combined.

And it goes on to mention how many of those “work days” were just half days anyway, nine of which didn’t even have a single vote and lasted for less than eleven minutes.  What the fuck?  There’s no way that Republicans would have allowed that to be such a non-issue.  Talk Gitmo and people get scared and/or confused.  Talk about lazy bastards not getting anything done and you’ve got an audience.  Not a Congressman Flirts with Young Boys audience, but an audience nonetheless.

And sure, it’s not like it would have helped things any.  All the real deals were done behind closed doors, often after the bills had already cleared the House and Senate.  And they weren’t even allowed to read the important ones, so why bother showing up at all?  Might as well just sleep-in, right?  Especially with all those late-night fundraisers they have to keep going to.

But at least it would start the conversion in a negative way against the lazy suits the Republicans dressed-up as politicians, and we could push into the other stuff from there.  Like the whole lack of oversight issue.  That’d be much easier to push once we had already broken the ice with the laziness issue.  Sure, trust Bush all you want.   But not with these lazy bastards manning the switch.  

Monday, December 04, 2006

The Purpose of Torture

Part of the problem we have with punishing/torturing suspected terrorists is that we’re not allowed to talk about it.  Because we’re a democracy and democracies aren’t supposed to do that kind of thing.  It’s just sooo tacky.  But that’s the whole point of these tactics.  Not necessarily to punish the guy that you’ve already got (and will probably keep for the rest of their lives), but as a warning to the others.  That they see people “disappeared”.  And they hear the horror stories.  And they know that that’s what’s going to happen to them if they don’t steer clear of trouble.  That’s the whole point.  It’s not about stopping one person, but stopping everyone else.

And so what is up with the horrible treatment of Jose Padilla?  Because nobody was supposed to know about it.  The government wants this stuff hush-hush because they know that few people would agree to what we’re doing.  So what’s the point?  I mean, I could see them doing this for maybe the first few months or so, at the most.  I don’t agree with it at all, but there are at least some interrogation purposes to be served by this type of behavior.  And after all, when you’ve got God on your side, a false confession is just as good as the real thing.

But why would they keep doing this?  What good could it possibly do?  Even if Jose once knew something, it’s unlikely that they’re going to get it from him now and it surely has to be very out-of-date.  But even the deterrence factor is gone.  People described Saddam as a madman for using his torture, but at least he had real reasons for using it.  We know there were coup attempts that he foiled due to his techniques.  And many of these same people were citing Saddam’s suppression of the 1991 Shiite Revolt as a key reason for why Shiites weren’t dancing in the streets following our invasion in 2003; which again would indicate that Saddam’s evil deeds paid-off for him.

In fact, while reading the Time Magazine article I quoted above, I stumbled upon this example referring to a CIA backed anti-Saddam group:
Two years ago, it published a fake issue of Babil, the daily newspaper owned by Saddam's eldest son Uday. The expertly counterfeited copy, distributed for one day in Baghdad, exposed many of Saddam's atrocities. The tactic backfired, however, because readers were more frightened than infuriated by the revelations.

These days, any Iraqi group that distributed newspapers documenting America’s misdeeds in Iraq would surely be labeled a terrorist organization, be shutdown, and require a huge influx of pro-American propaganda to counter it.  I’m sure Saddam would be proud.

But what sense does the treatment of Padilla and the others make?  The more people hear about what we’re doing, the worse off it is for us.  When Americans find out, it just makes us mad and Republicans are forced to cover their ears and to deny something they’d like to be proud of.  And when the Iraqis and other Muslims find out, it just makes them hate us more.  Sure, they hated Saddam too, but Saddam had methods for keeping those people in check.  Plus, he wasn’t an invading force, which is always fairly humiliating.  Saddam might have been a brutal dictator, but he was their brutal dictator, and that seems to have made all the difference.

None of this is to suggest a moral equivalence to Saddam, as many of his more gruesome tactics are outside the realm of our own (so far…).  But merely to state that our abusive tactics are clearly counter-productive and seem to have no other purpose than to inflict cruelty; at the expense of maintaining America’s moral dignity and status as an all-around good guy.  They’re punishing Jose Padilla, not as a warning to others, but merely because they can.  All this makes me wonder if there are aliens somewhere close-by, setting us up for an experiment that we’re failing miserably.

Fresh Thread

Be nice.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

The Importance of Being Fair

I had recently read Mark Danner’s Iraq: The War of the Imagination in the NY Review of Books, and had noted one of the big problems that happened in Iraq which only made things considerably harder for us.  That was that we outed all the Baathists from the government and disbanded the military.  And how by doing so, we essentially alienated 350,000 of the people largely responsible for stabilizing Iraq and made them feel persecuted; essentially creating a well-organized enemy almost overnight.  

And as Danner says:
The political implications within Iraq were incalculable, for the de-Baathification and the dissolution of the army both appeared to the Sunnis to be declarations of open warfare against them, convincing many that they would be judged not by standards of individual conduct but by the fact of their membership in a group—judged not according to what they had done but according to who they were. This in itself undermined what hope there was to create the sine qua non of a stable democracy: a loyal opposition, which is to say an opposition that believes enough in the fairness of the system that it will renounce violence.

And that’s one of the concepts that totally undermines the neo-con’s vision of how the world works, as well as most conservatives.  They seem to have this idea that government just works, and that you can attack it and stack it in your favor and destroy your political opponents with impunity and just do whatever the hell you want and people will stay loyal to government as an institution.  As if there is something inherent in people that makes them form governments and acknowledge as supreme whoever happens to be controlling it.

Social Contract

But it just doesn’t work like that.  Because it’s not enough for a majority to want something.  Every citizen has to feel like the political process can work for them.  Or at a minimum, that they have something bigger to lose by working outside the system than within it.  Just as conservatives were in love with the idea that the Constitution isn’t a “death pact” and used it to justify the destruction of that fine document, neither are the ideas of government, politics, and civility death pacts.  If a minority feels that the government or system doesn’t work for them, then they’ll opt out.  And while there are always going to be some people who work outside of the proper channels, it’s best to keep that number as low as possible.

Despite conservative beliefs to the contrary, people don’t need to follow the government.  It’s a contract.  You agree to submit yourself to the system, and in return, you get something that you would prefer instead.  And if you don’t like the agreement, you opt out.  You don’t need to say that you did and the government can put severe pressure on you to stop, but that’s not always enough.  This isn’t a new concept at all, but somehow conservatives have failed to internalize its obvious meaning.

So it’s important for the minority to feel like the system works for them.  To give them a reason to opt-in and follow the rules.  And that’s why it’s so wrong to cheat and break the rules, because you ultimately undermine your own power.  Or why it’s wrong to invade another country, because the people will automatically refuse to acknowledge you as legitimate.  Or why the majority shouldn’t try to eliminate a minority’s ability to use the government to their advantage.  

Because people don’t need to respect your authority.  They only do so because they think that it’s better than the alternative.  And when we alienated the Baathists and military, we showed them that the alternative was going to be very bad for them.

No Winners

So what choice did they have other than to create a civil war?  They were already going to be on the losing end of whatever happened, so it just made sense for them to do what was within their power.  And due to the democratic process which was surely to favor the majority Shiites, the opposition had no other choice than to seek less legitimate means of gaining power.  They had little else to lose.

And I was just thinking about this while reading Juan Cole’s recent column quoting an aide of Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani saying: "If the country falls into Civil War, everyone without exception will lose, and there will be no winners." He affirmed, "Peaceful co-existence between the two branches of Islam will be threatened in a grave manner, and everyone's life will become an unbearable hell."

But that’s the thing.  The Sunnis and other insurgents already thought they’d be the losers.  They already thought their lives would be an unbearable hell.  And in case the obviousness of that was already apparent, having the Americans toss them all out on their asses must have made that pretty clear.  So what did they have to lose by attacking the Shiites and Americans?  Not much.  At least it was a roll of the dice in getting some form of legitimate power.  Again, the Social Contract is not a death pact.  Nor is it automatic.

The Great Paper

And all that is to underscore why it’s important for a government to act with legitimacy.  Even pre-Magna Carta kings had to have some level of legitimacy or risk being toppled.  And that’s supposed to be the whole beauty of democracy.  Not as conservatives imagine, as if democracy means temporary tyranny of the majority.  But that power is shared and that even the minority has a certain level of say in how things are run.  The minority might not get what they want, but they won’t be totally screwed either.

But Republicans couldn’t even do that properly, because they fail to comprehend why it’s important.  They’ve got their eyes on the prize and see any impediment to that as red-tape.  But by stealing elections and eliminating the minority party’s power in Congress, they effectively reduced their own legitimacy, thus undermining democracy.  It works for them in the very short-term, but eventually their illegitimacy will become apparent.

And it was the same thing with their pro-invasion policies and strong-arm tactics in Iraq.  And this probably has a big basis in their authoritarian manners.  They are somehow under the impression that people will automatically respect authority, and the stronger the authority is, the more respect they’ll get.

And it’s exactly the opposite.  Every action has an equal and opposite reaction and the more power they grab for themselves, the more they have to convince the unpowerful that it’s in their best interests to play along.  And that means that you can’t always use your power for your own benefit, and if you don’t share the wealth, it will eventually be shared for you.

In early England, the better kings did it by providing safety and stability to the country, and by providing a system of justice that people felt to be fair. They wouldn’t always get what they wanted, but they at least saw it as being legitimate.  And the bad kings did it through tyranny and armies, which only led to short-term success but ultimately undermined the power of the monarchy.  And it’s obvious that Republicans are bad kings.  The presidency lost much power after Nixon’s power-grab, and I strongly suspect the Whitehouse will soon be going back to the post-Nixon level of presidential impotence.  After all, what better way to show people how power can be abused than by abusing it.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Monday, November 27, 2006

Lopsided Centrism

Thought I was done with the Lieberman numbers? Far from it. Because some of those centrist-types I mentioned in the last post had another criticism of my numbers. Sure, perhaps Dems rejected Lieberman, they said, but that’s just because he wasn’t the Dem candidate. Somehow, that fact alone wasn’t enough for them to realize that Dems didn’t like Joe anymore. But no. They didn’t like the idea of using Party ID to see how close to the center someone is.

And the point was that “centrism” and being in the center wasn’t really about being in the middle of the two parties, but rather an ideological question between liberals and conservatives. And this, I believe, is just mistaken. Because guys like Joe aren’t dealing with the big issues of economics and policy, scouring texts for proper middle theory that explains how to best navigate America’s destiny. It’s really about splitting the difference between Republicans and Democrats in Congress. About finding compromise between the two sides.

They’re not trying to balance FDR’s liberalism with Goldwater’s conservativism. They’re trying to figure out how to get bills passed in an exceedingly right-leaning political world, to retain support from their media and corporate cohorts without offending the rest of America, which isn’t nearly as right-leaning. And too often for centrists, that just means that they get as close to the Republican position while staying slightly to the left. Unless they’re Republican centrists, in which case they have to wring their hands at the fact that Republicans can’t be a touch more moderate, before casting meaningless votes that won’t change a damn thing.

And so that was one reason why I picked Party ID from those exit polls as a way of showing Joe’s right-of-center leanings. Plus, there’s the fact that labels like “Liberal”, “Conservative”, and “Moderate” are really quite subjective. One person’s Moderate is another person’s Liberal or Conservative, and some people who really belong on one side like to believe that they’re actually Moderate. Calling oneself “Democrat” or “Republican” is fairly straight-forward (though many who always vote Republican like to claim to be Independents), but ideological labels are even more subjective.

But whatever. As I said before, all this is utterly unprovable to these sorts of people, because they need to hide behind vagueness and reverse-engineered theorems. So let’s just turn to the numbers. They didn’t like the party identifiers, so how do ideological identifiers show Lieberman? Were there many liberal Independents who swung towards Lieberman? Or were the Lieberman Republicans merely moderates, with the hardcore conservatives rejecting him for the “extremist” Schlesinger? In a word: No.

And remember, it was Joe’s supporters who first suggested that the election results proved Joe’s position in the center of the political spectrum. Yet they hadn’t even looked at the numbers.

Bring Out the Numbers

Here’s that same CNN Exit Poll:

Liberals (26%):
Lieberman - 27%
Lamont - 69%
Schlesinger - 3%

Moderates (53%):
Lieberman - 55%
Lamont - 36%
Schlesinger - 8%

Conservatives (21%):
Lieberman - 66%
Lamont - 13%
Schlesinger - 21%

My my. What do we have here. Self-described Liberals rejected Lieberman at a slightly higher rate than Democrats had, and Lieberman crushed Schlesinger with self-described Conservatives; who were his strongest supporters. And note, Lamont’s 13% of Conservatives really isn’t too far off from Schlesinger’s 21%, as compared with Lieberman’s 66%.

And so combined with the Party ID numbers in the previous post, we see Liberals and Democrats rejecting Lieberman, gaining more support from Moderates and Independents, and with the strongest support coming from Conservatives and Republicans. Whereas a centrist should show a Bell Curve-like hump, getting primary support from the middle and rejection from the two extremes; instead, we see a relatively straight line, with rejection on one extreme and strong support from the other.

So what the hell kind of centrism is this? I mean, in the messageboard I was on, many of “centrists” clearly implied that both Lamont and Schlesinger were extremists, taken as proven because one was a Democrat and the other a Republican. So Lieberman must have been in the middle. But if he was, his conservative voters didn’t know that. Because they preferred Lieberman by a wide margin over the “extremist” candidate. I mean, it would have been telling if they had split the conservative vote. But this was a blow-out. Lieberman got almost as many Conservative voters as Lamont got Liberals. And if Lamont’s an unabashed liberal, then Lieberman’s got to be some kind of conservative.

The Extremes

But there’s more to this than the subjective ideological labels, right? I mean, a Connecticut conservative isn’t the same as a Texas one, right? That was another argument given against these numbers, and there’s something to that. So how about the flavor of Lieberman’s conservative Republican voters? Are they bland, middle-of-the-road Conservatives, or are they the same fruitcakes we’re dealing with every day? Short answer: Same damn fruitcakes.

Here’s a rundown of the extreme positions on that exit poll, and surprise, surprise, the far-right extreme voted for Lieberman and the far-left extreme rejected Lieberman. Even worse, the far-left positions easily outnumbered the far-right positions; showing the rightwing position to be even further from the mainstream. Yet they were Lieberman’s strongest supporters. We’ve been told repeatedly that Dems showed their liberal fringe-side by dumping Joe in the primary; yet the exit polls make one thing clear: The Left Fringe is far more mainstream than the Right Fringe.

In parenthesis, I’m putting the total number of people who hold those positions, so you can see how extreme they are. The numbers on the right are the percentage of these voters who voted for Lieberman.

Wants Republicans to Control Senate (29%): 76%
Wants Democrats to Control Senate (55%): 31%

Voted Today to Support Bush (15%): 72%
Voted Today to Oppose Bush (40%): 17%

Lieberman Does Not Agree with Bush Enough (9%): 66%
Lieberman Does Agree with Bush Enough (42%): 82%
Lieberman Agrees with Bush Too Much (44%): 13%

Strongly Approve of Bush (12%): 66%
Strongly Disapprove of Bush (49%): 31%

Strongly Approve of Iraq War (12%): 77%
Strongly Disapprove of Iraq War (46%): 28%

Send More Troops to Iraq (15%): 72%
Withdrawal All Troops from Iraq (31%): 29%

And no, those aren’t a special sampling of a few issues that happened to go in Lieberman’s direction. Those are every one. Every exit poll question that could identify a far-right extremist position showed that these people voted for Lieberman. And as the numbers in parenthesis shows, those really are the extreme positions in Connecticut and totally out of the mainstream. Yet they supported Lieberman. And the other extreme was far more popular, yet rejected Lieberman.

Overall, it’s clear. Joe got a huge portion of his votes from the far, far right. As I said, those people should be as much against Lieberman as people on the other side. But it’s not even close. His strongest support wasn’t from moderates, but from far-right extremists. And the far-left people who were far more representative than their far-right equivalents roundly rejected Lieberman.

Meaning

I wrote one more section comparing these positions with Ohio and Nebraska, to show that even conservative states like Nebraska don’t have such a far-right agenda as Lieberman’s strongest supporters; and how “battleground” states like Ohio look more like Connecticut than Nebraska. And that would once again show how far to the right Lieberman is. Because America’s political spectrum isn’t nearly as far to the right as Congress’s. But I had to cut that section because it was too long.

And sure, maybe all this is crap. Maybe this has more to do with Fox News and other rightwing blowhards telling their sheep-like followers to vote for Joe simply because that helped the President more. But that alone should be disconcerting for Joe’s centrist supporters. But maybe it’s meaningless. Maybe these numbers were a fluke of this particular election and not a reflection on Joe. Then we really can’t use these election results at all.

But Joe’s supporters did want to use the election results as proof, and without even having seen them. They “knew” that this election proved Joe was in the middle, and weren’t even the least bit surprised at learning exactly how thoroughly the left had rejected Joe, or how much the right embraced him. The exact numbers themselves apparently fit within the normal threshold and shouldn’t be of concern to us. It’s enough to know that Joe’s numbers showed slightly more variability than the typical partisan’s, even if it did put him strongly on the right-side of the aisle. And so this did nothing but confirm what they already believed, which was utter crap to begin with.

I, on the other hand, had expected to see strong support from conservatives, but was still surprised at how one-sided the whole thing was. The "centrists" kept insisting that these numbers would match the few other centrists in Congress, yet nobody came close to Joe's oddball numbers, and they certainly made him look fairly rightwing. And sure, most of Joe’s votes did come from the middle, but that’s just because the middle is the biggest group and Joe’s supporters had promised them all that that’s where Joe was. They were told that Lamont was dangerous and Schlesinger wasn’t an option. But when we actually look at the numbers, it sure doesn’t look like he was the man for them.

And the fact that one of the extremes rejected Joe as much as the other embraced him should surely alter the "centrists" opinions of Joe's centrism. But it doesn't. And in many ways, that denial of reality is perhaps what makes Joe and his supporters look most Republican of all.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Republicans for Lieberman

I was just reading about how uber-wanker Marshall "Bullmoose" Wittman has been hired by wanker extraordinaire Joe Lieberman, and saw a few “centrist” types on Yglesias’ message board insisting that both Wittman and Lieberman are in the center of the political spectrum. And as I pointed out, the label “centrist” itself is nothing but a ruse designed to paint all non-centrists as extremist-fruits destroying America through their zealous extremism.

But that’s the kind of unprovable thing that makes arguing so stupid. If someone’s so blind that they actually think centrists form some sort of majority, then it’s fairly hopeless to bother attacking the very premise of centrism itself. Namely, that it represents a popular middle position between the two parties, rather than a right-leaning ideology of specific beliefs that aids Republicans. And too often, it merely refers to Democrats who are secretly softcore Republicans, as well as Republicans who like to please the Beltway pundits. In both cases, they’re similar to regular Republicans, except that their anti-Dem rhetoric is much softer and fine-tuned. Or Republicans who play nice.

But again, that’s not provable to people who have already adopted the basic premises of centrism. But there was thing you can prove: Numbers. And when one of the “centrists” suggested that Joe’s centrism was proven by his win this year, I went to the exit poll data to see how things really worked out. And sure enough, the exit polls show that Joe got a strong majority of Republican voters while being rejected by an equally strong majority of Democrats. Without any doubt, had Republicans supported their own candidate instead of Joe, Lamont would have won instead. And this served to prove the original point, that Lieberman is a Republican in Dem clothing; but that his popularity is dependent solely on his ability to lap-up Republicans who don’t have a better option.

Tale of the Tape

Here’s the exit poll breakdown from CNN:

Democratic Votes:
Lamont - 65%
Lieberman - 33%
Schlesinger - 2%

Republican Votes:
Lamont - 8%
Lieberman - 70%
Schlesinger - 21%

Independent Votes:
Lamont - 35%
Lieberman - 54%
Schlesinger - 10%

And as that makes clear, Lieberman’s strongest support came from Republicans, who preferred him by an even larger margin than Democrats’ support of Lamont. My own calculations based on the poll info shows that a 36.5% of Lieberman’s vote total came from Republicans. In contrast, only 25.2% of Joe’s votes came from Democrats. So where is the centrism? And when one factors-in the centrist-media factor, which had pimped Lamont as an anti-war extremist, as well as the fact that Joe was the more experienced campaigner and the incumbent, there is little to suggest that Joe’s “centrism” was the real winner here. And finally, there can be little doubt that, had Joe officially ran as a Republican, he would have gained Republican votes and lost Democratic votes. And that also would likely have lost him the election.

One Joe supporter suggested that Joe’s votes came from all sources. Yet, these numbers belie that point. Sure, Dems supported Joe; but it was the Republican vote that clearly won things for him. If anything, I suspect these people are suffering from a mind-game, in which Joe’s support from Republicans is so counter-intuitive that this shows how widespread his support is. Somehow, they’ve failed to recognize that this is our very compliant: That Lieberman’s so far to the right that he’s not really a Democrat at all. Sure, it’s lofty to woo people from the other side, but not if it’s at the expense of your own. At some point, you’ve just changed sides, and Lieberman hit that point and kept going.

Real-World Comparisons

Several other “centrists” asserted without any evidence that guys like Ben Nelson, who win Senate seats in states that lean against their party, will show similar numbers to Lieberman’s. IE, that they’ll receive a large percentage of voters from the other party. But that’s obviously false and isn’t even a proper analogy. Because we’re not just talking about people who receive a good size of the opposition, but a large majority of the opposition. And on top of that, losing a large majority of their own party. And finally, in a state that leans against them, as opposed to Lieberman which should lean in his direction. And that’s an entirely silly argument, and a strong sign that these people are the same desperate deceivers as Lieberman himself.

But arguments aren’t the same as numbers, so I crunched a few numbers. Like Nelson, for instance, who several “centrists” said would show similar numbers. But they didn’t. Republicans make up 50% of Nebraska, compared with 27% Dems. Yet Nelson got 96% of Dems and 42% of Republicans. And sure, 42% Republican is high. But not compared with Lieberman’s 70% of Republicans. And the fact that Nelson could get such a high percentage of cross-over votes, yet still retain almost all Democrats doesn’t compare with Lieberman’s pathetic 33% at all. Yet Nelson was running in a heavily Republican state, while Lieberman was running in a Democratic state. So this comparison only serves to embarrass Lieberman further by showing how odd his favoritism by Republicans is.

We see another example in the the Burns-Tester race in Montana. Montana is a Republican leaning state, with a 39% to 32% Republican edge, yet it was won by the Democrat. How? Entirely because he had a huge advantage in independents, as well as strong support from his own party. Tester won 91% of Dems, 11% of Repubs, and 59% of independents. It was his strong support from his party and independents who helped him win. Burns, his opponent, received a similar amount of Dem votes, at 7%, but only got 35% of independents. That made the difference.

For the next comparison, I had to turn to 2004, to the Dorgan-Liffrig race in North Dakota. North Dakata has a 41%-28% Republican advantage, but was won by the Democrat. In that race, the Democrat pulled in 99% of Democratic vote, 37% of Republican vote, and 83% of Independent vote. Needless to say, the Dem crushed his opponent in a Republican state, though he only received 37% of Republicans.

Well how about the other Senator from Connecticut? Did he need Republicans to win in 2004? Of course not. He blew-out his opponent, carrying 93% of Democrats while getting a relatively hefty 26% of Republicans. And again, if there’s any comparison to Lieberman’s numbers, it’s that they did the opposite. That Joe relied heavily on Republicans and barely got the Dems at all. What a centrist!

And finally, in Lieberman’s previous race in 2000, we see that, absent a better alternative in the main race, he pulled in a whopping 100% of Dems and 86% of Republicans. And remember, this was the presidential election year in which Republicans were slamming him as a liberal while he was off gallivanting across the country to be Gore’s number two. Yet still, his Republican opponent could only manage 14% of Republicans against the guy. No wonder he thought he was presidential timber. Of course, that was the Democrat’s pre-9/11 attitude. Amazing the fuss a war can make between friends.

Lemonade Piss

And if there’s one thing that’s obvious in all these cases, it’s that a large majority of Dems went to the Dem, and the Republicans went to the Republican. Except in Lieberman’s case. He got a huge majority of Republicans and a fairly small minority of Democrats in 2006. And sure, he got more Dems than most Republicans did; but that’s not the point. The point is that his numbers look like a moderate Republican’s in a Democratic state, and the reason is simple: He is one.

And the fact that he looks like that in a Democratic state is all the worse. We can excuse this in the case of someone like Nelson, even though he didn’t need to rely on Republicans to win. But in Lieberman’s case it’s just pathetic. The “centrists” have borrowed a page from the media in thinking that if both sides hate you, that you must be doing things right. But in Joe’s case, it’s even worse, because both sides don’t hate him. Only the people of his own party do. But the Republicans clearly loved him, giving him 84% in 2000 and 70% in 2006. So if mutual hatred is a sign of centrism, then Lieberman loses that test as well.

In the end, this is strong evidence that “centrism” is nothing but a political label designed to explain why Lieberman can call himself a Dem while supporting the other side. Some people see this as a sign that Lieberman’s not extremist, but unless they’re suggesting that 70% of Connecticut Republicans are more centrist than 65% of Connecticut Democrats (an argument which itself suggests a strong lean to the right), the facts dispute that argument.

On a final note, the saddest part of all this is that not one “centrist” on that board expressed any kind of surprise when confronted with these numbers. Instead, the few who noticed them attempted to spin them as a win for Joe’s claims of being in the center. Because his numbers were slightly more middle-ground than most other Senators. Somehow, it just didn’t faze them that their hero Joe was heavily preferred by Republicans. It’s as if they’ve already bought into the spin that Republicans are more centrist-oriented than Democrats; and they probably already have.

And I wasn’t looking for some sort of capitulation. But surprise was certainly in order. Or a “yeah, that looks bad but” argument. But somehow they kept trying to spin this as a win for Joe, as if the fact that he did poorly with his own party and good with the opposition is proof that he’s in the center. Instead, it only showed what lying gits the so-called centrists are. Give them a bucket of piss and they’ll call it lemonade. It’s like they’re all destined for that three-way tie for third. It’s ironic that Lieberman always blamed Gore for their loss in 2000, yet that was his best shot for ever getting into the Whitehouse; but only because his own party won’t have him.