The cheaper the crook, the gaudier the patter

mr-polar-bear.jpg

Proposal to list polar bears as endangered species generates heavy public comment

ANCHORAGE, Alaska: More than 500,000 people have commented on a proposal to list polar bears as “threatened” under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.

Monday was the deadline for the public to weigh in on whether America’s polar bears, found exclusively in Alaska, merit additional protection due to global warming.

Bruce Woods, spokesman for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Alaska, said Monday that e-mail comments alone topped the half-million mark. He said it could be several days before the agency has a tally on the number of comments but that the agency also received enough surface mail and petitions to fill multiple boxes.

Woods could not say with certainty whether any other species has brought in as much public comment.

“To my knowledge, none ever has,” he said. ( more bear photos here)

Maybe people are beginning to wake up. They might have come to realize that with conservatives in charge there is no sitting back and trusting the government to do the right thing. The Bush environmental record.

Six U.S. Attorneys Given 2nd Posting in Washington

A half-dozen sitting U.S. attorneys also serve as aides to Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales or are assigned other Washington postings, performing tasks that take them away from regular duties in their districts for months or even years at a time, according to officials and department records.

Acting Associate Attorney General William W. Mercer, for example, has been effectively absent from his job as U.S. attorney in Montana for nearly two years — prompting the chief federal judge in Billings to demand his removal and call Mercer’s office “a mess.”

A little bit more to the mountain of evidence that the purging of U.S. attorney’s was pure politics.

Iglesias filed a complaint with federal investigators last week, alleging that his dismissal amounted to discrimination based on his status as an officer in the Navy Reserve, which took him away from the job for 40 to 45 days a year. Alleged absenteeism has been the Justice Department’s main public criticism of Iglesias, although officials have more recently added concerns about his handling of voter fraud and immigration cases to their arguments about him.

As usual the argument from the Bush Cult is nothing to see here business as usual, every body does it. Of course BushCo has stretched that excuse to limits beyond logic or ethics even for Washington. AttorneyGate Spotlights GOP Vote Suppression Efforts

One of the worse things to happen to the course of American governance has been the rise of the dime a dozen pundits. That they have tens of millions of viewers and listeners that think these talking heads have anything valuable to add to the national discourse is a head spinner, The Politics of Pundit Prestige

Back in the pre-Internet days of yore, political punditry was the best job in journalism and one of the best anywhere. You could spout off on anything you wanted, and almost nobody would call you on it, much less find a place to publish and prove you wrong. And once you had established yourself as “credible,” it required little work, save coming up with a few semi-memorable phrases. (George Will’s chef-d’oeuvre was opining that the Reagan Administration “loved commerce more than it loathed Communism.”) With the advent of television talk shows, riches arrived in the form of corporate speaking gigs that paid tens of thousands of dollars an hour just to say the same damn thing you said on television. When Fred Barnes famously pronounced on The McLaughlin Group, “I can speak to almost anything with a lot of authority,” he was right, at least to the degree that he was really saying, “I can speak to almost anything without anyone pointing out how full of shit I usually am.”

Shocker, Instapundit lies about job numbers under Bush and Jonah Goldberg approves Unemployment Rate: Clinton v. Bush43 Once again figures don’t lie, but liars do manipulate figures. Its all part of the initiation ceremony at Conservative High when it comes to economics drink the kool-aid and spread the BS, Reagan’s Cowboy Capitalism: Throw Slogans at Problems

§ Lower Taxes Mean More Work, More Investment, More Revenues. The Government Accounting Office concluded that $19 billion of investment tax credits in 1978 affected investment decisions very little. A recent study by the Treasury’s Office of Tax Analysis found that big investment tax credits “buy little or no additional equipment.” Business invests if there is a profit to be made, not because one of its costs is reduced. Working Papers editor Bob Kuttner has written, “Lowering taxes is just as likely to encourage people to substitute leisure for work,” as to encourage more work and saving. According to Walter Heller, President Kennedy’s chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, “The notion that a tax cut’s prompt demand stimulus–let alone its long-delayed supply stimulus–could generate enough revenue to pay for itself, unfortunately finds no support in the available statistical evidence.”

Wilmer Cook: Keep on riding me and they’re gonna be picking iron out of your liver.
Sam Spade: The cheaper the crook, the gaudier the patter, eh?

The Maltese Falcon (1941)

“Ah, best of worlds, what’s become of you now?”

A little film-noir courtesy of YouTube video, a young Lauren Bacall as Vivian Rutledge in a film adaptation of Raymond Chandler’s The Big Sleep – “I like to play them myself. But I like to see them work out a little first, see if they’re front-runners or come from behind, find out what their hole-card is.” She was talking about race horses wasn’t she?

Bush’s Director for U.S. Attorneys Mysteriously Resigns

“The Administration’s explanation of Mr. Battle’s apparent resignation is as murky as everything else they have told us about this case,” said Rep. Linda Sanchez. “I look forward to hearing the testimony of the fired federal prosecutors so we can get closer to the truth of what happened.”

Sanchez chairs the Judiciary Subcommittee hearing testimony tomorrow from fired attorneys. Four have already been subpoenaed, and Sanchez announced Monday morning that two additional attorneys might also receive subpoenas.

News of Battle’s resignation comes just days after the resignations of two top military officials following the Walter Reed Hospital scandal. Battle has long been a loyal member of the Bush Administration, having been appointed a U.S. Attorney in 2002 before his current position. In an online Q&A for WhiteHouse.gov in 2005, Battle parroted Bush rhetoric, going so far as to claim that “Far from compromising our civil liberties, the PATRIOT Act expressly protects them.”

Battle is just another body thrown under the bus to make it appear as though President Bunnypants was being tough. Look for Battle to reappear as a partner in some high profile right-wing law firm in the near future. Used up conservatives are never really held to account they just get new jobs with law firms or think tanks, while veterans end up in squalid hospitals.

This blogger used to write for Bill Mahr, Caravaggio, If You Can

President Bush toured parts of Alabama and Georgia that were devastated by tornadoes. After surveying the damage in this small town, the president remained upbeat, saying that the rubble and twisted metal reminded him of “the progress we continue to make in Iraq.”

My favorite name for historian and kool-aid drinker Victor David Hansen is Pangloss, but there is something about Bush and all the neocons that is Panglossian in their ability to look reality square in the face and deny it exists.

The terrorists hate us because we have too much freedom. So the Right is trying to limit our freedom so the terrorists hate at less or in other words appeasement takes many forms. Seriously though the similarities between Republicans and jihadists and Stalinism is uncanny – Top Secret: We’re Wiretapping You

It could be a scene from Kafka or Brazil. Imagine a government agency, in a bureaucratic foul-up, accidentally gives you a copy of a document marked “top secret.” And it contains a log of some of your private phone calls.

You read it and ponder it and wonder what it all means. Then, two months later, the FBI shows up at your door, demands the document back and orders you to forget you ever saw it.

By all accounts, that’s what happened to Washington D.C. attorney Wendell Belew in August 2004. And it happened at a time when no one outside a small group of high-ranking officials and workaday spooks knew the National Security Agency was listening in on Americans’ phone calls without warrants. Belew didn’t know what to make of the episode. But now, thanks to that government gaffe, he and a colleague have the distinction of being the only Americans who can prove they were specifically eavesdropped upon by the NSA’s surveillance program.

The pair are seeking $1 million each in a closely watched lawsuit against the government, which experts say represents the greatest chance, among over 50 different lawsuits, of convincing a key judge to declare the program illegal.

Two FBI Whistleblowers Confirm Illegal Wiretapping of Government Officials and Misuse of FISA

The National Security Whistleblowers Coalition (NSWBC) has obtained a copy of an official complaint filed by a veteran FBI Special Agent, Gilbert Graham, with the Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General (DOJ-OIG). SA Graham’s protected disclosures report the violation of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) in conducting electronic surveillance of high-profile U.S. public officials.

Before his retirement in 2002, SA Gilbert Graham worked for the FBI Washington Field Office (WFO) Squad NS-24. One of the main areas of Mr. Graham’s counterintelligence investigations involved espionage activities by Turkish officials and agents in the United States. On April 2, 2002, Graham filed with the DOJ-OIG a classified protected disclosure, which provided a detailed account of FISA violations involving misuse of FISA warrants to engage in domestic surveillance.

Hey at least they had warrants. Though these warrants are now easier to get then a cold in an elementary school.

I hope that everyone knows that Miss Coulter is laughing all the way to the bank after she regurgitates this stuff, Edwards’ Campaign Manager ‘Fronting for Arab Terrorists’

Soon after, Bonior announced he was sending out a fund-raising letter seeking “Coulter Cash” to “show every would-be Republican mouthpiece that their bigoted attacks will not intimidate this campaign.”

A copy of Bonior’s letter was posted on Coulter’s Web site, with this note underneath: “It’s always good to divert Bonior from his principal pastime which is fronting for Arab terrorists.”

Bonior was elected to Congress 13 times in Michigan, and served in the U.S. Air Force from 1968 to 1972.

Since Edwards is behind Obama and Clinton in most polls I wonder if this isn’t Coulter’s way of draining off support from the front runners as people gravitate to Edwards because of all the free publicity.

More on the trends in the housing market from Daniel Gross, Bubble, Bubble, Toil, and TroubleUh-oh. The housing bust is just beginning.

When Pangloss explains that Cunégonde has been killed, Candide passes out. When he wakes up he says, “Ah, best of worlds, what’s become of you now?” Pangloss is a character in Voltaire’s novel Candide.

The evil that is in the world almost always comes of ignorance, and good intentions may do as much harm as malevolence if they lack understanding

Was treating Bush and his dead end supporters the grisly spectacle of Saddam Hussein’s death worth the death of 80 Iraqis and 6 more American deaths. 80 Iraqis killed; deadly month for U.S.

BAGHDAD, Iraq – At least 80 Iraqis died in bombings and other attacks Saturday as they prepared to celebrate Islam’s biggest holiday, their first without Saddam Hussein.

The bombings came hours after Saddam was hanged in Baghdad for ordering the killings of 148 Shiites in the city of Dujail in 1982. Despite concerns about a spike in unrest, Saturday’s violence was not unusually high for Iraq, nor did it appear to be in retaliation for the execution.

The AP, the Right’s favorite news outlet claims “nor did it appear to be in retaliation for the execution”. Who knows maybe it was, maybe it wasn’t, it was just a normal day in Iraq. Either conclusion doesn’t bode well for the administartion’s ability to weigh action and reaction. We’re left wondering along with the families of those killed if it wouldn’t have been better to just let Saddam rot away in a cell.

Robert Fisk is even more blunt then me, Robert Fisk: He takes his secrets to the grave How the West armed Saddam, fed him intelligence on his ‘enemies’, equipped him for atrocities – and then made sure he wouldn’t squeal

We’ve shut him up. The moment Saddam’s hooded executioner pulled the lever of the trapdoor in Baghdad yesterday morning, Washington’s secrets were safe. The shameless, outrageous, covert military support which the United States – and Britain – gave to Saddam for more than a decade remains the one terrible story which our presidents and prime ministers do not want the world to remember. And now Saddam, who knew the full extent of that Western support – given to him while he was perpetrating some of the worst atrocities since the Second World War – is dead.

Gone is the man who personally received the CIA’s help in destroying the Iraqi communist party. After Saddam seized power, US intelligence gave his minions the home addresses of communists in Baghdad and other cities in an effort to destroy the Soviet Union’s influence in Iraq. Saddam’s mukhabarat visited every home, arrested the occupants and their families, and butchered the lot. Public hanging was for plotters; the communists, their wives and children, were given special treatment – extreme torture before execution at Abu Ghraib.

There is growing evidence across the Arab world that Saddam held a series of meetings with senior American officials prior to his invasion of Iran in 1980 – both he and the US administration believed that the Islamic Republic would collapse if Saddam sent his legions across the border – and the Pentagon was instructed to assist Iraq’s military machine by providing intelligence on the Iranian order of battle. One frosty day in 1987, not far from Cologne, I met the German arms dealer who initiated those first direct contacts between Washington and Baghdad – at America’s request.

“Mr Fisk… at the very beginning of the war, in September of 1980, I was invited to go to the Pentagon,” he said. “There I was handed the very latest US satellite photographs of the Iranian front lines. You could see everything on the pictures. There were the Iranian gun emplacements in Abadan and behind Khorramshahr, the lines of trenches on the eastern side of the Karun river, the tank revetments – thousands of them – all the way up the Iranian side of the border towards Kurdistan. No army could want more than this. And I travelled with these maps from Washington by air to Frankfurt and from Frankfurt on Iraqi Airways straight to Baghdad. The Iraqis were very, very grateful!”

Many liberals will go so far as to say despite the calamitous consequences of their actions that many conservative mean well. I find that a hard case to make looking over the history of the last forty years. There is a level of malevolence that can only be described as the knife in America’s back. All their machinations have come back to haunt us. Rather then thinking about foreign policy in terms of balance they have been blinded by their own zealous delusions. Conservatives have had a kind of perverse success, a success at undermining the long term interests of America. Is it any wonder that they wrap themselves so tenaciously in the flag.

For Whom the Bell Tolls:Top Ten Ways the US Enabled Saddam Hussein

5) The second Baath regime in Iraq disappointed the Nixon and Ford administrations by reaching out to the tiny remnants of the Communist Party and by developing good relations with the Soviet Union. In response, Nixon supported the Shah’s Iran in its attempts to use the Iraqi Kurds to stir up trouble for the Baath Party, of which Saddam Hussein was a behind the scenes leader. As supporting the Kurdish struggle became increasingly expensive, Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlevi of Iran decided to abandon the Kurds. He made a deal with the Iraqis at Algiers in 1975, and Saddam immediately ordered an invasion of Iraqi Kurdistan. The US acquiesced in this betrayal of the Kurds, and made no effort to help them monetarily. Kissinger maintained that the whole operation had been the shah’s, and the shah suddenly terminated it, leaving the US with no alternative but to acquiesce. But that is not entirely plausible. The operation was supported by the CIA, and the US didn’t have to act only through an Iranian surrogate. Kissinger no doubt feared he couldn’t get Congress to fund help to the Kurds during the beginnings of the Vietnam syndrome. In any case, the 1975 US about-face helped Saddam consolidate control over northern Iraq.

The poor Kurds the Right when not using the flag likes to use the Kurds as a shield against any criticism of Republican policies. The Right has screwed them over and abandoned them so many times it kind of a wonder they’ve had anything to do with Dubya. Their distrust of Republicans was probably subordinate to their hatred of Saddam.

I have my fingers crossed that Democrats will stick to their guns and rectify some of these, The Bill of WrongsThe 10 most outrageous civil liberties violations of 2006.

The Black Dahlia: Failed Film Noir?

Just released on DVD, the Black Dahlia was widely criticised and examined as a film. Partly because of the promise of its director Brian de Palma, director of such notable films as Scarface, and partly because of the charisma of its leads, particularly its female leads and partly because of a longing for someone to repeat the success of LA Confidential and give modern film goers something of a sense of the sophistication and style that their parents and grand parents enjoyed in the classic era of forties noirs, the Black Dahlia got a drubbing from the critics.

The Black Dahlia is a failure as a film but it is a glorious failure.

I can’t comment on the specifics because I haven’t seen this version of The Black Dahlia ( there have been several movie versions of the story and several non-fiction books written about Elizabeth Short’s murder), but the film’s mediocre box office might speak to a problem that seems to be growing with Hollywood’s big films. What can Hollywood put up on the big screen in the way of narrative that TV shows like Law and Order or the CSI mega-series cannot. It is too much to expect people to shell out seven bucks for something that they can see at home. So in order for the non-special effects movies to succeed they better have especially tight writing, takes chances, and be visually extraordinary to get people into the theater. I suspect this this version of The Black Dahlia will ultimately enjoy a certain cult status because the genre itself is so wanting in recent years. Something else Hoolywood might want to consider; how can they churn out dozens of mindless comedies and action movies and ignore a whole genre like film noir.

“The evil that is in the world almost always comes of ignorance, and good intentions may do as much harm as malevolence if they lack understanding.” – Albert Camus

In films murders are always very clean. I show how difficult it is and what a messy thing it is to kill a man

Sounds like an interesting book from this review, Hitchcock as Philosopher by Robert J Yanal

The book is aimed at a general intelligent readership interested in a relatively new way of reading some of the director’s more famous films. (Along with the movies mentioned in this review, Yanal has essays in the book on: Suspicion, North by Northwest, Shadow of a Doubt, Psycho, The Man Who Knew Too Much, and The Birds.)

[ ]…Previous philosophical knowledge is not at all essential for understanding the essays in this book. Yanal provides the reader with all the philosophical background needed. He sticks to classic philosophers to drive his analysis, with a special emphasis on Descartes, but also with a healthy dose of Plato, Wittgenstein, and a few others. He also tends to focus on epistemological problems, with some ethical analysis on occasion.

Hitchcock was either quite brave or reckless in putting so much of his personal psyche on the screen that he and his work provide an almost endless font of speculation. Though I think much, if not most of it was Hitchcock as conman. He did give us the term “MacGuffin” – “[W]e have a name in the studio, and we call it the ‘MacGuffin.’ It is the mechanical element that usually crops up in any story. In crook stories it is always the necklace and in spy stories it is always the papers.” Hitchcock as the celebrity and cultural icon simply played out the MacGuffin in real life. By encouraging people to speculate about him and his motivations he peaked more interest in his films. Of course I’m doing just that here by speculating on what part of the Hitchcock legend was the man and what part was promoter.

Power as a concept has taken on dark connotations for centuries, though not all power is inherently dark. Especially if power presents as opportunity to do good. A quaint concept, but still relevant. And I am not talking about choosing between lesser evils. Bush for example cam in many respects be regarded as evil, but there are greater evils in the world. It is both a shame and a waste in so many ways that Bush with the support of so many Americans has not only abused our power as a nation, but has diminished it. That power could have a tremendous amount of good for America and the world. America Faces a Future of Managing Imperial Decline

Elsewhere the neoconservative project was stillborn. North Korea was branded as part of the “axis of evil” but the US, in agreeing to the six-party talks as a way of handling the crisis on the Korean peninsula, tacitly admitted that it simply did not enjoy enough leverage to deal with the Kim regime. This was demonstrated more forcibly with its failure to prevent the recent nuclear test, and the US’s subsequent dependence on China for seeking some means of engaging North Korea in dialogue. In fact China has now cajoled the US into accepting the need for it to do something it had previously resisted: entering into direct talks with North Korea, with China playing the role of honest broker. For all the neoconservative bluster, the US is simply too weak in east Asia – and China too strong – for it to be anything other than a secondary player in the North Korean crisis. It has been a striking illustration of the slow, remorseless decline of American influence in the region.

Meanwhile, in the region that it has dominated for well over a century, which it has traditionally regarded as its own backyard and in which it intervened with impunity throughout the cold war – namely Latin America – the US is now facing its bleakest ever situation, far worse than anything the Cuban regime represented during the cold war. The US is confronted with a formidable and well-resourced adversary in Chávez’s Venezuela, and a continent in which the left has made extraordinary progress. The Bush administration, so far at least, has been quite unable to halt its growing isolation in Latin America and the left’s onward march.

Even in the Middle East, the weakness of the neoconservative position has become increasingly evident in its handling of Iran, another member of the “axis of evil”. As in the case of North Korea, the US, partly as a result of its preoccupation with the occupation of Iraq, in effect devolved negotiations over Iran’s nuclear ambitions to the group of four consisting of Germany, France, Russia and the UK.

It is not a matter of throwing a last hand full of dirt on the grave of American power it is far more subtle then that. Take South America as a for instance. This is a continent that has endured every kind of petty dictatorship from across the political spectrum and the last five years would or should have been a time in which the US played a part in steering nations like Venezuela toward moderation. Instead what we have had is some pudgy middle aged guys yell high school insults at each other. Like high school grudges, the international resentment that Bush and the neocons have engendered with their high school style high jinx will haunt us for years. Regardless of who the next president is or their party affiliation they will have to, in order to have a marginally successful presidency act like a school janitor cleaning up the mess the children left behind.

Bush choice for family-planning post criticized

WASHINGTON – The Bush administration has appointed a new chief of family-planning programs at the Department of Health and Human Services who worked at a Christian pregnancy-counseling organization that regards the distribution of contraceptives as “demeaning to women.”

Eric Keroack’s attitude about birth control is indicative of the same conservative mind set that has managed Iraq, Afghanistan, the economy, Katrina, and the environment. It probably doesn’t matter what great plans you draw up , what grand goals you might have, or even if the conservative faces change from Bush conservatives to McCain conservatives, they’re going to keep screwing up because they have such a fragile grasp of reality.One can’t really make rational informed decisions when you’ve confused your fuzzy bunny slippers with your jet skis.

“There is nothing to winning, really. That is, if you happen to be blessed with a keen eye, an agile mind, and no scruples whatsoever.” – Alfred Hitchcock

“In films murders are always very clean. I show how difficult it is and what a messy thing it is to kill a man.” – Alfred Hitchcock

Don’t be a chump. Don’t bet any more money on that damn fool shot

Limiting the Damage By PAUL KRUGMAN

President Bush isn’t on the ballot tomorrow. But this election is, nonetheless, all about him. The question is whether voters will pry his fingers loose from at least some of the levers of power, thereby limiting the damage he can inflict in his two remaining years in office.

There are still some people urging Mr. Bush to change course. For example, a scathing editorial published today by The Military Times, which calls on Mr. Bush to fire Donald Rumsfeld, declares that “this is not about the midterm elections.” But the editorial’s authors surely know better than that. Mr. Bush won’t fire Mr. Rumsfeld; he won’t change strategy in Iraq; he won’t change course at all, unless Congress forces him to.

At this point, nobody should have any illusions about Mr. Bush’s character. To put it bluntly, he’s an insecure bully who believes that owning up to a mistake, any mistake, would undermine his manhood — and who therefore lives in a dream world in which all of his policies are succeeding and all of his officials are doing a heckuva job. Just last week he declared himself “pleased with the progress we’re making” in Iraq.

In other words, he’s the sort of man who should never have been put in a position of authority, let alone been given the kind of unquestioned power, free from normal checks and balances, that he was granted after 9/11. But he was, alas, given that power, as well as a prolonged free ride from much of the news media.

The results have been predictably disastrous. The nightmare in Iraq is only part of the story. In time, the degradation of the federal government by rampant cronyism — almost every part of the executive branch I know anything about, from the Environmental Protection Agency to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, has been FEMAfied — may come to be seen as an equally serious blow to America’s future.

And it should be a matter of intense national shame that Mr. Bush has quietly abandoned his fine promises to New Orleans and the rest of the Gulf Coast.

The public, which rallied around Mr. Bush after 9/11 and was still prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt two years ago, seems to have figured most of this out. It’s too late to vote Mr. Bush out of office, but most Americans seem prepared to punish Mr. Bush’s party for his personal failings. This is in spite of a vicious campaign in which Mr. Bush has gone further than any previous president — even Richard Nixon — in attacking the patriotism of anyone who criticizes him or his policies.

That said, it’s still possible that the Republicans will hold on to both houses of Congress. The feeding frenzy over John Kerry’s botched joke showed that many people in the news media are still willing to be played like a fiddle. And if you think the timing of the Saddam verdict was coincidental, I’ve got a terrorist plot against the Brooklyn Bridge to sell you.

Moreover, the potential for vote suppression and/or outright electoral fraud remains substantial. And it will be very hard for the Democrats to take the Senate for the very simple reason that only one-third of Senate seats are on this ballot.

What if the Democrats do win? That doesn’t guarantee a change in policy.

The Constitution says that Congress and the White House are co-equal branches of government, but Mr. Bush and his people aren’t big on constitutional niceties. Even with a docile Republican majority controlling Congress, Mr. Bush has been in the habit of declaring that he has the right to disobey the law he has just signed, whether it’s a law prohibiting torture or a law requiring that he hire qualified people to run FEMA.

Just imagine, then, what he’ll do if faced with demands for information from, say, Congressional Democrats investigating war profiteering, which seems to have been rampant. Actually, we don’t have to imagine: a White House strategist has already told Time magazine that the administration plans a “cataclysmic fight to the death” if Democrats in Congress try to exercise their right to issue subpoenas — which is one heck of a metaphor, given Mr. Bush’s history of getting American service members trapped in cataclysmic fights where the deaths are anything but metaphors.

But here’s the thing: no matter how hard the Bush administration may try to ignore the constitutional division of power, Mr. Bush’s ability to make deadly mistakes has rested in part on G.O.P. control of Congress. That’s why many Americans, myself included, will breathe a lot easier if one-party rule ends tomorrow.

If we can for a moment see America as a child and Bush and Company as abusers we might get a better idea of why the elections will not be the Democratic landslide they should be. As we’ve seen conservatives like authority and seem to enjoy to no end the abuse of that authority. America is hurting the same way a battered child is hurting. As healthcare workers and the police take the child away the abusers swear they love that child, just as Bush and Republicans abuse America while swearing that they love it. Rank and file conservatives are enablers of the abuse of the nation by Bush and a Republican Congress, but the average Republican voter has also suffers from the abuse. As studies of child abuse have shown the some of the abused begin to eventually fell that they deserve to be abused and some go on to be abusers themselves. When Bush uses signing statements to cheat on his oath or abuse the power of his office; he does not just cheat Democrats, he cheats and abuses the country. It simply doesn’t matter to many Americans that Bush lied us into an unnecessary war, or shifted most of the tax burden on the working class, and has made it harder for working class kids to get a college education, or that more children then ever do not have regular access to good health-care, or that this administration treats every single American like a terrorist suspect with its domestic surveillance program. Like children that have been abused, the Main Street conservative feels that an abusive authoritarian culture is what is best for America. Republicans, as typified by their war on science have drawn a line in the sand against reason, progress, and compassion, what they feel, what gives them some dark feverish emotional satisfaction is what fuels conservatism. It doesn’t matter that invading Iraq did absolutely nothing to stop another 9-11, people are being killed and those killings must mean something – conservatives cannot bring themselves to believe that a fellow American would have so little regard for their lives or their children’s all for the sake of power and a perverse ideology. Irony doesn’t quite describe the cheer leading behind spending almost 3 billion dollars a month in Iraq while at the same time begrudging the pennies that are spent feeding the poor and elderly shut-ins. While there is something to be said for those that think Democrats could learn to frame the issues better, no framing in the world can get through to a mind that is addicted to abuse and self abuse, whose strategies will continue to fail in the battle against terrorism and taking care of America and Americans. Krugman is right that we’re all better off with a divided Congress, some of the hemorrhaging of blood and treasure may slow down a little, but a Democratic victory on Tuesday will simply be the political equivalent of the boy that used  his finger to stop a leak in a dam. A Democratic victory , and it will most probably be a small one, will just be a band-aid on problems that go much deeper and go beyond Bush.

Bush Says U.S. Pullout Would Let Iraq Radicals Use Oil as a Weapon

GREELEY, Colo., Nov. 4 — During the run-up to the invasion of Iraq, President Bush and his aides sternly dismissed suggestions that the war was all about oil. “Nonsense,” Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld declared. “This is not about that,” said White House spokesman Ari Fleischer.

Now, more than 3 1/2 years later, someone else is asserting that the war is about oil — President Bush.

As he barnstorms across the country campaigning for Republican candidates in Tuesday’s elections, Bush has been citing oil as a reason to stay in Iraq. If the United States pulled its troops out prematurely and surrendered the country to insurgents, he warns audiences, it would effectively hand over Iraq’s considerable petroleum reserves to terrorists who would use it as a weapon against other countries.

Besides the fact that the Sunnis are not likely to had over control of Iraq’s oil to any outsiders this is a little absurd. Bush couldn’t be bothered before the war to learn the difference between Sunni and Shia and did no post war planning at all, why should the country believe that he has suddenly become an expert at predicting the future in Iraq. Since we are spending nearly 3 billion dollars a month in Iraq, if we pulled out Bush and his Congressional Katrina cronies could afford to subsidize the price of gas for a billion a month. These neocon-artists use speeches like a clown uses a peanut can filled with confetti. The words are all meaningless and they’re betting you don’t remember the last thing they said and all the things they should have accomplished.

CHARLIE
Don’t be a chump. Don’t bet any more
money on that damn fool shot.

EDDIE
(to the bartender)
Well, now… I mean, you figure I’m
a little drunk, and I’m loaded on
the hip, and you just want in, real
friendly, while the money’s still
floating, huh? Okay… Go ahead. Set
’em up.

Sheepishly, the bartender replaces the balls in their original
positions.

EDDIE
All right, you want some easy money,
huh? Here’s a hundred and five
dollars. That’s one week’s commission.
Now you want to take the whole thing,
and then you get a crack at your
easy money.

BYSTANDER
I’ll take a piece of that action.

ANOTHER
Me too.

EDDIE
(viciously)
No. I want him.

BARTENDER
I’ll take it out of the till.

CHARLIE
(to Eddie)
I’ll meet you in the car, chump.

Eddie chalks up his cue, waiting impatiently for the bartender
to return with the money from the cash register. Then he
downs his drink and quickly strokes out his shot, the ball
banking crisply and directly into the corner pocket. There
is a cocky leer on his face as he reaches for the dollar
bills.
from the screenplay The Hustler by Sidney Carroll and Robert Rossen

Another Bad Day at Black Rock

badday.jpg
In perhaps director John Sturges best film Bad Day at Black Rock some of the fight scenes might be a little stiff by modern film standards, but their clumsiness actually makes them more effective ( remember that shoving match in high-school). Red-necks have a history of under estimating their opponents so its little wonder that the disabled John J. Macreedy (Spencer Tracy) combination of physical toughness and fighting skills are a surprise that catch them off guard. The film does something that few films do, it turns a conventional wisdom on its ear. Tracy is the one wearing the suit, he is well spoken, educated, but down to earth. On the other hand the locals see themselves as the everyman, the common man yet it becomes obvious from the start that they are very cliquish, closed, and have their own rigid hierarchy. The locals support that hierarchy partly out of habit, partly out of fear. The secrets of the powerful thus become something that the followers feel they must protect for reasons that they are no longer quite sure of.

Most of us have looked around our own work places, looked at some media figures, corporate CEOs and wandered how so many people of questionable ethics and intelligence got so far. Our parents told us, and they meant well, that people get ahead through hard work, conscientiousness and perseverance. So part of what makes us a little cynical is when someone that has failed at several marriages, is a drug addict, a draft dodger, is known to spend his vacations in London drinking French champagne and smoking Cuban cigars has managed to make millions without ever doing an honest days work. As you have probably already guessed I’m talking about Rush Limbaugh, Rush crowing about the new Jim Crow

I mean, you take a look at the average Democrat voter registration drive, you can take for every hundred thousand voters they register, the cumulative IQ would probably be less than a pencil eraser. So when it comes time for the election, half of them can be fooled in saying, “No, it’s not Election Day. It’s tomorrow, Wednesday.” And they show up on Wednesday to vote when the polls are closed, and the Democrats claim a trick has been played on them. That’s how stupid some of their voters are.

In a cork screwed turned inside out kind of way Limbaugh does know something about intelligence. For quite a few years now Limbaugh has depended on the stupidity and sheep herd mentality of his listeners to enjoy an extraordinarily elite lifestyle. It isn’t even the slightest bit important that this demigod says that Democrats are stupid. What matters is that the sheeple that hang on his every word are reassured that they and their AM prophet are the smartest thing since the egg timer. Limbaugh, like O’Reilly, Hannity, Savage and others are simply right-wing nannies that hand out ideological suckers to, well, the suckers. What would right-wingers be without their nannies and their suckers? What a shock that would be to their systems to leave the cave and walk out into the light of reason, facts, and real patriotism.

Anyone that was curious as to what it is like to live a life without honor might want to send a postcard to Chris Wallace and ask, Chris Wallace Never Asked A Bush Administration Official Why They Demoted Richard Clarke

The reactionary right-wing Powerline was once voted Time magazine’s blog of the year, Paul and John remind us why, September 23, 2006 The fruits of an unserious presidency,

JOHN AGREES: That’s right. I’d go farther in defense of President Bush, too. The record is clear that he believed more effective, definitive action needed to be taken against al Qaeda and ordered a plan for such action to be prepared early in his Presidency. As I recall, such a plan was either just complete or almost so, when the terrorists struck first. Also, while one can argue that Bush didn’t act aggressively enough soon enough, he didn’t pass on an opportunity to collar bin Laden, as Clinton did.

Paul and John are not the least bit interested in reality. That’s a precondition for belonging to the Bush Cult, Before Sept. 11, the Bush Anti-Terror Effort Was Mostly Ambition

– The administration did not resume its predecessor’s covert deployment of cruise missile submarines and gunships, on six-hour alert near Afghanistan’s borders. The standby force gave Clinton the option, never used, of an immediate strike against targets in al Qaeda’s top leadership. The Bush administration put no such capability in place before Sept. 11.

– At least twice, Bush conveyed the message to the Taliban that the United States would hold the regime responsible for an al Qaeda attack. But after concluding that bin Laden’s group had carried out the October 2000 attack on the USS Cole – a conclusion stated without hedge in a Feb. 9 briefing for Vice President Cheney – the new administration did not choose to order armed forces into action.

-In his first budget, Bush spent $13.6 billion on counterterrorist programs across 40 departments and agencies. That compares with $12 billion in the previous fiscal year, according to the Office of Management and Budget. There were also somewhat higher gaps this year, however, between what military commanders said they needed to combat terrorists and what they got. When the Senate Armed Services Committee tried to fill those gaps with $600 million diverted from ballistic missile defense, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said he would recommend a veto. That threat came Sept. 9.

Paul and John and Rush and millions of others can’t seem to differentiate between success and failure. President Clinton in many way was the best conservative president we’ve had since Teddy Roosevelt. Loyalty is a great quality, but when loyalty blinds citizens to the faults if its leaders to the point that it endangers the nation and humanity then you’ve stepped off the edge to blind rabid nationalism. Case in point, Spy Agencies Say Iraq War Worsens Terror Threat

The classified National Intelligence Estimate attributes a more direct role to the Iraq war in fueling radicalism than that presented either in recent White House documents or in a report released Wednesday by the House Intelligence Committee, according to several officials in Washington involved in preparing the assessment or who have read the final document.

The intelligence estimate, completed in April, is the first formal appraisal of global terrorism by United States intelligence agencies since the Iraq war began, and represents a consensus view of the 16 disparate spy services inside government. Titled “Trends in Global Terrorism: Implications for the United States,’’ it asserts that Islamic radicalism, rather than being in retreat, has metastasized and spread across the globe.

How badly does Bush have to do in the so-called war on terror before the kool-aid drinkers give up the ghost.

HECTOR
(reading aloud)
John J. Macreedy. From Los Angeles.
(looking up)
I wanna know everything he does,
Pete. Check every call — any mail.

PETE
(nodding)
And in the meantime…?

HECTOR
(grinning harshly)
In the meantime, I’ll crowd him a
little…
(looking up the stairs)
…see if he’s got any iron in his
blood…
from the screenplay Bad Day at Black Rock by Don McGuire and Millard Kaufman

I am sure you’ve heard a number of tall tales

Like sands through an hour glass so are the myths that there was once an America where no one ever had to lock their doors, people reluctantly had sex purely for the sake of procreation, real men and sophisicated women should smoke cigarettes, and anyone that shook their hips to the music of Chuck Berry was damned to hell. A pulp novel called Peyton Place peeled away some of the veneer, Beyond ‘Peyton Place’

Next month marks the 50th anniversary of publication of Grace Metalious’s Peyton Place, one of the most notorious novels of its time. The book exposed the petty, sordid, and urgently erotic hidden life of a small town. A best seller of precedent-setting proportions, it was also widely disparaged by the literati of the 1950s, who saw it as little more than a prurient diversion.

Like poverty, racism, and gender inequality illegitimate children, unwed mothers didn’t exists in the 50’s. Our national capacity for denial hasn’t really diminished all that much.

The trunk story climaxes when young Allison MacKenzie finally breaches her mother’s carefully tended facade of respectability to expose a festering secret: Her mother never married, and Allison is illegitimate.

The shame of it all no wonder that 3 million people snapped up a copy when first issued in paperback. Well maybe times have changed a little, arch christian conservatives Dick Cheney and Phyllis Schlafly, members of the its all nurture school of thought each managed to raise gay children and one has to make a little effort to find anyone that cares. On the other hand a president manipulates the country into war getting tens of thousands killed and some folks not only defend him, but get foaming at the mouth angry that anyone might question the sanity of it all. The social status of unwed mothers seems a quaint concept by comparison.

The John Coltrane Guide

Jewish references erased in newly found Nazi Bible

An institute in Germany has unearthed a Nazi bible ordered by Adolf Hitler to replace the old and new testaments expunged of all references to Jews.

Hitler’s race theorists even rewrote the 10 commandments and added two more for good measure in the book called ’German with God’ which was – alongside Hitler’ s autobiography – meant to be required reading in every home in his Third Reich.

Thou shalt not kill, coveting one’s neighbour’s wife, thou shalt not steal and all other others were scrapped by a regime that stole, murdered and plundered its way across the world.

Hitler admired the ceremony and majesty of the church – he admitted as much in Mein Kampf – but hated its teachings which had no place in his vision of Germanic supermen ruling lesser races devoid of ‘outdated’ concepts such as mercy and love.

But he knew the power of the church in Germany and even he could not banish it overnight. He was even forced to abandon the systematic murder of the handicapped and insane before the war when outspoken bishops began to speak against it.

Instead his plan was to gradually ‘Nazify’ the church beginning with a theological centre he set up in 1939 to rewrite the Holy Bible. He appointed lackey professors to work on a thoroughly Nazi version that would remove all references to Jews and all compassion.

I do not mean this to a direct comparison, but as I’m not blinded by the idolatry that seems to possess much of conservatism I can’t help but be reminded of this administration’s attempt’s to write a narrative of events that are contrary to the facts, Reign of Error

Consider, for example, Condoleezza Rice’s response a few months ago, when pressed to explain why the administration always links the Iraq war to 9/11. She admitted that Saddam, “as far as we know, did not order Sept. 11, may not have even known of Sept. 11.” (Notice how her statement, while literally true, nonetheless seems to imply both that it’s still possible that Saddam ordered 9/11, and that he probably did know about it.) “But,” she went on, “that’s a very narrow definition of what caused Sept. 11.”

Meanwhile, apparatchiks in the media spread disinformation. It’s hard to imagine what the world looks like to the large number of Americans who get their news by watching Fox and listening to Rush Limbaugh, but I get a pretty good sense from my mailbag.

Many of my correspondents are living in a world in which the economy is better than it ever was under Bill Clinton, newly released documents show that Saddam really was in cahoots with Osama, and the discovery of some decayed 1980’s-vintage chemical munitions vindicates everything the administration said about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction. (Hyping of the munitions find may partly explain why public belief that Saddam had W.M.D. has made a comeback.)

Some of my correspondents have even picked up on claims, mostly disseminated on right-wing blogs, that the Bush administration actually did a heck of a job after Katrina.

Krugman ends with a quote from George Orwell, “a nightmare world in which the Leader, or some ruling clique, controls not only the future but the past,”

I’m not against calling terrorists names, on the contrary the people that fly airliners into office buildings and beheaded Daniel Pearl deserve some name calling. The problem seems to be that the president and the right-wing blogs have slipped in the intellectually lazy habit of calling anyone in the middle-east that is not one hundred percent supportive of Bush’s foreign policy ( Bush may not have an actual foreign policy) as an Islamo-fascist. My impression was this was a kind of marketing term, conservative shorthand for Muslims that have a totalitarian bent. Juan Cole takes a look at the term’s current usage and how it relates in the conflict between Lebanon and Israel, Bush, Islamic Fascism and the Christians of Jounieh

Fascism is not even a very good description of the ideology of most Muslim fundamentalists. Most fascism in the Middle East has been secular in character, as with Saddam Hussein’s Baath Party. Fascism involves extreme nationalism and most often racism. Muslim fundamentalist movements reject the nation-state as their primary loyalty and reject race as a basis for political action or social discrimination. Fascists exalt the state above individual rights or the rule of law. Muslim fundamentalists exalt Islamic law above the utilitarian interests of the state. Fascism exalts youth and a master race above the old and the “inferior” races. Muslim fundamentalists would never speak this way.

I’m not in lock step with everything that professor Cole writes, but he does make an important point. Conservatives do control the national narrative; if our attitudes and the policies based on those attitudes are not defined correctly then we end up fighting the wrong people or end up fighting solely in terms of an outdated traditional nation-state conflict. Both of these directions would be wrong. At least wrong to people who think that our ability to inflict death and suffering should be directed at the right target.

KOBAYASHI
I am sure you’ve heard a number of tall
tales, myths and legends about Mr. Soze
I can assure you gentlemen, most of them
are true.

VERBAL
Who’s Keyser Soze?

KOBAYASHI
Judging by the sudden change in mood, I
am sure the rest of your associates can
tell you, Mr. Kint. I have come with an
offer directly from Mr. Soze. An order
actually.
from the screenplay The Usual Suspects by Christopher McQuarrie

Really, but for the flag floating on the roof, but for the two soldiers on sentry-go

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update below:The Qana Conspiracy Theory

In anyone but Alfred Hitchcock’s had directed Vertigo (1958) it would have come off as unbelievable melodrama, better suited for television with welcome commercial interruptions. Hitchcock has a plan, to draw us in, tell an improbable story and make it all plausible. First he has to give us faith in the veracity of Detective Scoottie Ferguson. Scottie is the modern man, a detective who deals in facts, hard evidence. He has the kind of built in credibility that an airline pilot has when he says that he has seen a UFO, even skeptics will give him a chance to tell his side of the story. We may not believe people can be possessed by spirits or somehow reincarnated, but we listen because of Scottie’s professional status. So if Scottie thinks Madeleine might be part ghost part human the audience is willing to tag along and give a brave(established with opening sequence) nice guy with a fear of heights the temporary suspension of disbelief. After-all Scottie is a detective, if anyone can get to the bottom of the story he can. Hitchcock also uses Scottie as a symbol as a man obsessed. Obsession like other emotions is universal but when it comes to the opposite sex it is not usually a feeling that we’d like published on the front page of the paper. Some obsessions are benign like putting in all nighters to write the best thesis, Scotties is not quite that benign. The audience should be more then a little uncomfortable with Scottie lurking around, but only marginally so and we’re a little bit afraid for him. Why is that. Hitchcock has wrapped Scottie in a cocoon of goodness, he’s a cop, he’s almost been killed chasing the bad guys, he’s tall and strong, but afraid of heights. His secretary treats him like a mischievous twelve year old. If Scottie gets little carried away, acts a little outside social norms its our duty as compassionate observers to give him a little slack; so when Scottie gets to the point where he is making over Judy into Madeleine, its both disturbing and fascinating. That is Hitchcock getting his hooks into the audience, but he is not taking us anywhere we don’t want to go. We’ve all heard the damning indictment that movie makers are manipulative. A director that can’t manipulate his/her audience shouldn’t be making movies. That is part of the art of Vertigo, constantly leading us up to key sub-climaxes where the viewer joins in the quest for the next clue, the next revelation. We mentally shout at the screen to tell us more. You can’t make that kind of emotional investment unless the director, the screenwriter, and the cast has strung us along.

In case some reader may not have heard it from a thousand other sources the conservative movement is the boat of a thousand leaks. I’m not talking about the Whitehouse leaks or the media leaks, I’m talking about the ideological leaks. Sure, if I had comments some conservative would surely drop the tiresome big tent line, but it is more then that. The tent is being held together by spit and old glue. At least that is my best guess. Let’s say for the sake of argument that there are untold hundreds of elite left of center northeastern intellectuals, well then what do you call the William Buckleys, George Wills, Willam Safires, and David Brooks.

THE LOW POST: The Mansion Family

“The conservative mansion has many rooms. In one chamber there are the resurgent Burkeans . . . In another chamber are the staunch Churchillians . . . But I wonder if amid all the din there might be a room, even just a utility closet, for those of us in yet another rightward sect, the neocon incrementalists.” — David Brooks, “Onward Cautious Soldiers,” The New York Times, July 23, 2006

So David Brooks wants to go into the closet with his fellow neocon incrementalists. And I thought The New York Times was a family newspaper!

There are many people out there who are baffled by the career of David Brooks, but I am not one of them. Any man willing to admit in print that he can get a boner surveying the “awesome resumes” of marrying Ivy Leaguers on the New York Times wedding page (“you can almost feel the force of mingling SAT scores,” he coos in his book Bobos In Paradise) is always going to occupy an important spot in the American media landscape; the ruling class always needs its house bumlickers. And Brooks does the job well, although at times I think he’s so craven that he does his masters a disservice. I mean, seriously — a mansion of conservatism? Why not go all the way: The yacht of Republicanism has a great many berths . . .

Brooks and the others mentioned are many things, but they are not going to be riding shotgun in Charlie Daniel’s pickup or knelling next to James Dobson in this lifetime. They all vote the same, but can anyone really make the case that when these guys enter the voting both and the visions they have of what they’re voting for are mirror images. Other then blind allegiance to the holy grail of tax cuts, what exact policies would each of these individual members of conservatism vote for. Or better, if each could be God or George W. Bush for a day and with a swept of their magic Con-wand what would America look like. We’re talking about the difference between rodeos, palatial cathedrals, and country clubs. So if they all had equal powers we’d get the elite cowboy cathedral or some multiheaded monster. The Taibbi article in Rolling Stone is a rip at Brooks, but even more so at the DLC and while Taibbi might disagree It would seem that the Republican Party has much deeper fissures then the DLC and the netroots. Think of the DLC as your crusty old grandfather, he may be stubborn and set in his ways, but he can be reasoned with, the same cannot be said of conservatives of any stripe.

Update: The Qana Conspiracy Theory

It really doesn’t matter what the medium was, newspapers, radio, or direct mail for as long as I can remember and certainly longer then that, the right-wingers of America have been swearing to the nation that they are the ultimate arbiters of the truth. The right-wing blogs continue the promise of truth and never quite deliver. It turns out the internet is just another medium to torture the truth, ironically they use the net as the modern version of the inquisition. They only tell America what they believe, what they feel, the facts be damned. The doublethink righties create a narrative and make events fit that narrative, and so it goes with Qana. Some highlights from the WaPo article,

Confronted with photographs of dead children, Israeli Insider’s Korvet insisted they must be something else: “The victims were non-residents who chose to shelter in the building that night,” he writes. “They were ‘too poor’ to leave the down, one resident told CNN’s [Jon] Wedeman. Who were these people?”

That question has been definitively answered in the mainstream press. Almost all of the victims belonged to two extended families, the Hashems and the Shalhoubs, who lived in the area, according to the independent accounts of The Washington Post’s Anthony Shadid and the Daily Star’s Nicholas Blanford.

snip

Confederate Yankee, a onetime guest blogger for washingtonpost.com, sees “evidence of a most revolting Hezbollah fraud.”

snip

How did Hezbollah truck in bodies to the Qana site without the pervasive Israeli aerial surveillance catching it on film? Israel has released footage of what it says are Hezbollah fighters firing rockets from the area. Presumably, the Israeli Foreign Ministry is not covering up the story.

As for EU Referendum’s claim that a Lebanese rescue worker seen in many photos from Qana was a “Hezbollah official,” I e-mailed co-author of the site, Richard North, to ask for his evidence.

“All I have to go on is gut instinct,” North replied.

(emphasis mine)While tempting for rational people to ask, don’t they get tired of being wrong 99% of the time, same your breath. When you live in a self affiriming echo chamber you never see yourself as wrong.

We have all also heard the term fiscal conservative, a term of art, of mass merchandising that has never had any meaning in the real world. I’m a fiscal liberal, I’m pro spending in accordance with a reasonable progressive tax rate, spending the money as smartly as possible and keeping the books balanced, I’ll leave it to the spinners of conservatism to come up with a name for a predicament that they alone are responsible for, What’s the real federal deficit?

The federal government keeps two sets of books.

The set the government promotes to the public has a healthier bottom line: a $318 billion deficit in 2005.

The set the government doesn’t talk about is the audited financial statement produced by the government’s accountants following standard accounting rules. It reports a more ominous financial picture: a $760 billion deficit for 2005. If Social Security and Medicare were included — as the board that sets accounting rules is considering — the federal deficit would have been $3.5 trillion.

Congress has written its own accounting rules — which would be illegal for a corporation to use because they ignore important costs such as the growing expense of retirement benefits for civil servants and military personnel.

Last year, the audited statement produced by the accountants said the government ran a deficit equal to $6,700 for every American household. The number given to the public put the deficit at $2,800 per household.

A growing number of Congress members and accounting experts say it’s time for Congress to start using the audited financial statement when it makes budget decisions. They say accurate accounting would force Congress to show more restraint before approving popular measures to boost spending or cut taxes.

“We’re a bottom-line culture, and we’ve been hiding the bottom line from the American people,” says Rep. Jim Cooper, D-Tenn., a former investment banker. “It’s not fair to them, and it’s delusional on our part.”

The rain, which fills the roads yonder with such disgusting mud, and digs such deep ruts, here is nothing more than an elegant, aristocratic shower, reviving the red of the bricks and the green of the lawns, polishing the leaves of the orange-trees and the white feathers of the swans. Everything glistens, everything is peaceful. Really, but for the flag floating on the roof, but for the two soldiers on sentry-go before the gate, one would never suspect that it is the headquarters of an army. The horses are resting in the stables. Here and there one sees a groom, or an orderly in undress uniform, loitering about the kitchen, or a gardener in red trousers placidly drawing his rake over the gravel in the great courtyards.

from The Game of Billiards by Alphonse Daudet

Go to war over a fu*kin coat?

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I wouldn’t label Victor David Hansen an intellectual, but the far right in desperate need of anyone or anything to wrap a nice bow around social-dawinism has decided that he is. At National Review Online in an article called The Vocabulary of Untruth dated July 28,2006 Hansen, or Pangloss as I like to call him tries his hand at what passes for clever conservative humor,

“Civilians” in Lebanon have munitions in their basements and deliberately wish to draw fire; in Israel they are in bunkers to avoid it. Israel uses precision weapons to avoid hitting them; Hezbollah sends random missiles into Israel to ensure they are struck.

That’s a real knee slapper Vic. Children can be pretty devious, but to purposely draw missile and bomb fire to be martyrs for Lebanon seems a little far out. Let’s give this definitions game a try, how right-wing intellectuals define “children”= collateral damage.

“Innocent” often refers to Lebanese who aid the stockpiling of rockets or live next to those who do. It rarely refers to Israelis under attack.

Victor “Pangloss” is a conservative deep thinker so when he says that there are only two sides and Israel is the good side. All discussion ends. Its Victor’s black and white world. Whatever Israel does is so good and so virtuous as to be beyond question, the current crisis need not be cut with Occam’s Razor . Victor is a champion of the right’s crusade to see the world in the starkest most simplistic terms. He doesn’t think, for example that someone like you or myself can be sympathetic to Israel in general and Israel’s current security problems while at the same time condemning the excessive and indiscriminate killing of Lebanese civilians.
Pangloss wants everyone to be logical, to see his irrefutable logic. He might want to start by setting a better example then his current drivel. First. I realize that Victor is getting along in years, but even an armless legless man can always win a fight with a straw dog,

But most of all, the world deplores the Jewish state because it is strong, and can strike back rather than suffer. In fact, global onlookers would prefer either one of two scenarios for the long-suffering Jews to learn their lesson. The first is absolute symmetry and moral equivalence: when Israel is attacked, it kills only as many as it loses. For each rocket that lands, it drops only one bomb in retaliation – as if any aggressor in the history of warfare has ever ceased its attacks on such insane logic.

Straw dog: the world hates the Jewish state? is that part of some yet to be published research? Unsupported argument. Go sit in the back of the class professor Hansen. What much of the world is not crazy about is Israel’s killing of innocent civilians, but then Pangloss doesn’t think that anyone outside of Israel’s borders is innocent by his own snarky assertions. As for the rest, yes it would actually better serve Israel’s long term security interests better if they took an “eye for an eye”. On what planet is it moral to not just punish the perpetrator, but to kill the perpetrator’s neighbor too. That is what VDH is saying. Like the majority of the conservative fringe, Hansen doesn’t really understand national security or justice. if the guy next door attacks you, then in retaliation you kill him and blow up my house in the process, then I will be I’ll be pissed and I will get payback. The far right again and again doesn’t understand that the lack of proportion, a word that Hansen and others have come to write with contempt, makes more victims and creates more violence. We’ve seen three years of the conservative plan for peace in Iraq, Hansen is of that school of thought that thinks we’re not winning because not enough people have died yet. Its Genocide 101. Hansen thinks that the complete abandonment of morality is the only true morality. Acting with strength and restraint, the way of real courage, is seen as weakness by the desktop warrior of conservatism. This marks the second time in the last week that I find myself thanking conservatives for showing their true colors. Mahablog has a selection of non-Panglossians, real thinkers on the mid-east crisis, “A Childish Fantasy”

There is a case for a full-scale Israeli ground offensive against Hezbollah. It may yet come to that, if Israel can’t find any other way to protect itself. There is also a case for restraint – limited counterstrikes combined with diplomacy, an effort to get other players to rein Hezbollah in, with the option of that full-scale offensive always in the background.

But the actual course Israel has chosen – a bombing campaign that clearly isn’t crippling Hezbollah, but is destroying Lebanon’s infrastructure and killing lots of civilians – achieves the worst of both worlds.

We could say that the right-wingers are just loath to admit that this is the case, but that is really only part of the problem. The real failure of the rightie fringe is a failure to even see the problem. So here we are again, the right wants to claim they have something worthwhile to contribute to the national debate and yet they are positive that killing a few innocent neighbors and their children along with every legitimate target is just swell, its the best of all possible worlds.

And the Conservative Campaign Against the Rule of Law shows little abatement, Bush Admin May Have Violated 26 Statutes

The laws implicated by the Administration’s actions include federal laws against making false statements to congress [sic]; federal laws and international treaties prohibiting torture and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment; federal laws concerning retaliating against witnesses and other government employees; Executive Orders concerning leaking and other misuse of intelligence; federal regulations and ethical requirements governing conflicts of interest; the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act; communications privacy laws; the National Security Act; and the Fourth Amendment.

This is part of a very clever campaign strategy on the part of conservatives to retain control of Congress. It looks like their pollster have told them that there is a national wave of sentiment that says we don’t need no stink’n constitution or American ideals and they’re just rid’n the wave.

Meanwhile Antonin Scalia, who claims to be a strct constructionist thinks that any notes a president makes are part and parcel of all laws pased by Congress, Under the Radar – Does Scalia’s Dissent in Hamdan Boost the Validity of Presidential Signing Statements?

In his dissent, Scalia cites to a statement issued by President Bush on Dec. 30, 2005 setting forth the administration’s position that that Detainee Treatment Act essentially stripped courts of the power to hear “existing” detainee lawsuits.

By citing to this signing statement (and including its language in a footnote), Justice Scalia has laid the groundwork for adding presidential signing statements to the list of resources used in interpreting constitutional law. While signing statements have historically been used merely as administrative directives, and have made only minor appearances in passing in cases before, the process of establishing their validity and giving them weight equal to that of legislative history in now under way.

Antonin has a crew sifting through the Whitehouse trash looking for notes that George passed to Dick during the last debutante ball. Look for those missives to become part of Antonin’s future decisions effecting crucial constitutional issues brought before the nation’s highest court.

This is a distinct shift of constitutional power and may alter not only the traditional spheres of separation of powers, but circumvent the institution of judicial review by the Court. As Professor Neil Kinkopf points out, “the Supreme Court has repeatedly recognized, the Take Care Clause – which provides that the President ‘shall take care that the Laws be faithfully executed’ – establishes that the President does not hold the royal prerogative of a dispensing power, which is the power to dispense with or suspend the execution of the laws. The Take Care Clause, then, makes plain that the President is duty-bound to enforce all the laws, whether he agrees with them or not.”

Small films that are made more out of love for the material then trying to break box office records is nothing new, Pocket Money (1972) with Paul Newman and the inestimable Lee Marvin are the original urban cowboys. They’ve cut a few corners in life, not that its gotten them anywhere, but they’re honest in a world where it seems that everyone has some kind of scheme going. Worth watching for many reasons but especially for two scenes, the TV off the baloney and the last three minutes.

The best movies about movies: Day for Night with the caution that it should not be watched if you’re in the mood for a plot driven rather character driven movie. If you’ve seen any of the Project Greenlight docu-films then this may be a disappointment.The Stunt Man (1980) which has Peter O’Toole in it, which is all one really needs to know. A running theme in Hitchcock movies was the everyman thrown into a bizarre situation; Cameron serves as our everyman who thought the regular world was surreal enough only to find out that movie making is even more so. What is real and what isn’t, this movie has plenty of twists and turns. The result is that you don’t know what you think you know. Then there is the eight hundred pound guerrilla in the room 81/2. Not to be watched with a hangover or if your Zoloft prescription has run out. Like it or not, understand it or not, it is the film equivalent of Ulysses. Film buffs must try and sit through at least one viewing to get some idea of how a great director’s mind works.
Wouldn’t it be great to erase painful memories, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Maybe, but then again..

JIMMY

Whatta you want me to do Ray? Go to war over a fuckin coat? You’re lucky the guy didn’t kill you. The coat was a Christmas present for Christ’s sake.

RAY BONES

You gotta do somethin’, Jimmy. This man’s got no respect for us.

JIMMY

He’s got no respect for you, and I don’t gotta do shit. Chili Palmer don’t work for me, he works for Momo up in Brooklyn. So as long as Momo’s around, nothing happens to Chili Palmer. You understand?

from the screenplay GET SHORTY by Scott Frank, based on the novel by Elmore Leonard