Saturday, November 25, 2006

a special holiday rebroadcast

beyond the fact that my non-blogging duties have reduced my output to a minimum during the last two months, it's actually getting harder to come up with original material, given that so many events have evolved so predictably over the still-short lifespan of this blog. (though not predictably enough for the mainstream press.)

i've never been particularly fond of listening to myself repeat myself, but given the denouments of this month, the midterm elections and the violence in iraq, i thought it was safe to indulge in a few classic reruns, with only the mildest hint of schaudenfreude.

regarding the midterms, i present first this graphic from my march post "karl rove: super-genius":

is there really anything more that needs be said?

also from march, i present "cry uncle", my death knell for the republican majority:

so much for the radical conservative plan for a permanent republican majority. it doesn't appear to have had any more staying power than the "thousand-year" reich.

i guess a taste of absolute power — or as much as could be had within our system — over both the government and the media will do that to a movement as morally bankrupt as this one proved to be.

if i could isolate the hamartia, the single critical flaw responsible for the downfall of the conservative agenda i would point to its rampant cronyism. cronyism is of course nothing unique to this administration, nor is it inherently evil; it is quite natural for people to want to extend their largess to those whom they like, a characteristic that makes cronyism impossible to eradicate.

cronyism is typically harmless when its beneficiaries are rewarded with positions that exist in title only, even if those positions do contribute to administrative bloat. but tangible harm looms when qualified people are prevented from assuming or are forced out of positions where their expertise is mandated. people like former treasury secretary paul o'neill, who disagreed with bush on his tax cuts. people like former counter-terrorism advisor richard clarke, who disagreed with bush on the threat of al quaeda. people like retired generals anthony zinni and eric shinseki, who disagreed with bush on invading iraq.

cronyism breeds incompetence when it elevates unqualified and untalented people into positions of importance and influence. people like former nasa press director george deutsch, who attempted to turn the science agency into a propaganda organ. people like former fema director michael brown, whose incompetence in the face of hurricane katrina delivered fatal consequences. people like president george walker bush, who of course needs no further introduction.

the bush administration is a potemkin government: by virtue of their elevation of politics over policy and appearance over substance, they eventually and inevitably reveal themselves to be completely inept in every instance where actual governance is required. disaster follows them like a love-sick dog.

it is actually quite amazing the speed with which the hard-line conservatives have burned through their so-called "capital". after forty years in the wilderness, they blew their gains in just ten years. so it looks like it's back to the desert for this sorry crew. the lesson has become painfully obvious to all, even to the members of a party so practiced in the art of denial: former speaker of the house newt gingrich, who masterminded the 1994 elections that brought republicans to power on promises of revolutionizing the way washington is run, told time that his party has so bungled the job of governing that the best campaign slogan for democrats today could be boiled down to just two words: "had enough?"

lastly, regarding iraq, i present, in condensed form, another march post, "can't stand up for standing down", an examination of bush's "strategy for victory in iraq":

while efforts to recruit and train iraqis into a competent, independent and professional fighting force have been purportedly ongoing, with halting progress, since the overthrow of saddam hussein, at the end of last november the president officially declared these efforts to be one of the linchpins of his exit strategy, during his "strategy for victory in iraq" tour, a series of speeches aimed at once again shoring up his dying support among increasingly skeptical americans...

his strategy has been compared to "vietnamization", nixon's handing over of military operations to the south vietnamese army — a comparison the administration understandably has ignored, not wanting to evoke unsettling images of the fall of saigon.

... meanwhile, either because of or in spite of the explosion of full-blown chaos after the bombing of golden dome, the newly-elected iraqi government remains stillborn amid intense sectarian disagreements, among them ibrahim jaafari's re-nomination to prime minister. it seems incapable of forming a "unity" government ...

and the non-"civil war" rages on unabated with its clearly ethnic bombings, reprisals and executions, with the continuing participation of iraq's security forces ...

can "iraqization" succeed under these conditions? not bloody likely. in at least one crucial aspect it is a very different process from "vietnamization". the government of south vietnam, corrupt and unpopular as it was, was not wracked to the core by sectarianism. the south vietnamese government could reasonably count on the loyalty of its troops, if not their strength.

there has been almost no reportage whatsoever on the issue of troop loyalties. to me it seems to be one of the elephants in the room regarding bush's exit strategery.

in order for "iraqization" to succeed, first, the mutually antagonistic elements of the duly elected iraqi government must come together as one and begin governing. until then it is a government in name only. second, the mutually antagonistic elements of the iraqi military and police forces will have to put loyalty to the government and its laws above loyalty to their particular family, tribe and imam. unfortunately, i don't see that happening with the current generation, certainly not while ethic violence continues in a self-consuming orgy. loyalty to the government cannot be taught in eight weeks of boot camp. what the bush administration calls "standing up", i call building american-trained and american-armed death squads.

if american troops are going home anytime soon, it won't be because the iraqi army is ready to "stand up".

(image courtesy of get your war on.)

Friday, November 24, 2006

"we" are not amused

i had been hoping to make time for an original piece on former seinfeld star michael richards' now-famous racist rant at the laugh factory, but steve gilliard just stole my main points:

his tone was deeply racial and mean. i've been called nigger before, but never has anyone said i should be lynched. that kind of hate comes from a feeling of racial superiority, that other people are lower than you (e.g borat and the gypsys) and that is the natural order of things. when the two neatly dressed men walked in the group, he said as they did "here comes the blacks and mexicans" they weren't in hoodies, they looked like young professionals. yet they were racially abused.

... i don't think this is a man who handles failure or correction well. even with hecklers, you don't call for them to be murdered. this is an unhappy man, who got rich but never grew up. he lives in a white world, and his outbursts have been ignored for years. you don't see his former cast members running to say "this isn't the guy we know". only seinfeld, who has a financial relationship with richards, jumped in.

steve then zeroes in on the one aspect of richards' tirade that leapt out at me as the most reprehensible:

it's one thing to say "fuck you nigger". which will get you a punch, it's another world to say "50 years ago we would have hung you from a tree with a fork in your ass"

we? most people would have said, they or the klan. not we. we is pretty twisted.


richards is identifying personally with the worst elements of any society.

kramer the klansman.

time to stick a fork in him. he's done.

Monday, November 06, 2006

time for a change, pt. iii

ok, it's time for a last-minute election eve post for simple posterity.

the democrats will take both the house and the senate.

the momentum clearly belongs to the democrats, for whom it's been building for months. most significantly, republican incumbents both nationwide and up and down the political hierarchy are trailing their challengers. i'll go so far as to say that any surprises coming tomorrow will break for the democrats. that's what momentum does.

conversely one could say that the republicans have been unable to gain momentum, despite their best (or worst, to be more apt) efforts to control the direction of the race.

the republicans and their enablers have not only been beset by a seemingly endless barrgage of viscerally disturbing late-developing scandals, but they are also bereft of any accomplishments to boast of and any message to trumpet — at least any the electorate still finds compelling — exactly what they have so srtridently accused their soon-to-be-masters of lacking.

the republican's still-favorite whipping boy, ex-president bill clinton, today in maryland summed up the gop message in his characteristic plain-spoken style:

clinton: ... that you have to vote for us because our opponents are no good. and because they'll tax you into the poor house. and on the way to the poor house, you'll meet a terrorist on every street corner. and when you try to run away from the terrorists, you'll trip over an illegal immigrant. isn't that their thing? that's what they're sayin' ...

but the main reason the republicans' short-lived "permanent majority" is coming to an end is their unrestrained corruption and incompetence. as i wrote in march ("cry uncle") and april ("the only thing we have to fear") in two of my numerous posts on republican malfeasance:

but it is far too late for this regime to save 2006 and 2008. bush's ratings have already dropped into the range of the worst presidents and the poisonous drip-drip-drip of scandal betrays no sign of abating. as long as the white house insists on treating its problems as a matter of perception, they will continue their pointless pantomine of leadership and never adopt the substantive remedies that might regain the public's trust. thus the drip-drip-drip will torment them to the bitter end.

the republicans had a choice; they always did, but they chose naked power over good governance and forgot that in a democracy power alone isn't enough to maintain power.