Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Farewell, Marvelous Molly

The wonderfully funny and wildly talented political satirist Molly Ivins has died at age 62 after a long battle with recurring breast cancer.

"We are the people who run this country. We are the deciders," Ivins wrote, employing one of the president's self-descriptions. "And every single day, every single one of us needs to step outside and take some action to help stop this war. Raise hell. Think of something to make the ridiculous look ridiculous. Make our troops know we're for them and trying to get them out of there. Hit the streets to protest Bush's proposed surge. . . . We need people in the streets, banging pots and pans and demanding, 'Stop it, now!' "

I wish Molly had lived to see a progressive president move into the White House. Since I have a feeling she will somehow be with us just the same, watching the country quite closely over the coming two years, we must all resolve to make it happen.

Molly's editor at Creator's Syndicate writes a beautiful tribute:

Shortly after becoming editor of Molly Ivins' syndicated column, I learned one of my most important jobs was to tell her newspaper clients that, yes, Molly meant to write it that way. We called her linguistic peculiarities "Molly-isms." Administration officials were "Bushies," government was in fact spelled "guvment," business was "bidness." And if someone was "madder than a peach orchard boar," well, he was quite mad indeed. Of course, having grown up in Texas, all of this made sense to me. But to newspaper editors in Seattle, Chicago, Detroit and beyond -- Yankee land, as Molly would say -- her folksy language could be a mystery. "That's just Molly being Molly," I would explain and leave it at that.


Molly's work was truly her passion. She would regularly turn down lucrative speaking engagements to give rally-the-troops speeches at liberalism's loneliest outposts. And when she did rub elbows with the highfalutin' well-to-do, the encounter would invariably end up as comedic grist in future columns. For a woman who made a profession of offering her opinion to others, Molly was remarkably humble. She was known for hosting unforgettable parties at her Austin home, which would feature rollicking political discussions, and impromptu poetry recitals and satirical songs. At one such event, I noticed her dining table was littered with various awards and distinguished speaker plaques, put to use as trivets for steaming plates of tamales, chili and fajita meat. When I called this to her attention, Molly matter-of-factly replied, "Well, what else am I going to do with 'em?"

I am going to miss Molly Ivins' writing more than words can adequately express this morning.

[Madeleine also pens a lovely Ode to Molly.]

Are They Lying About The Truth Now While Telling The Truth About The Lies Then?

What are we to make of this?

WASHINGTON, D.C. — A plan by the Bush administration to release detailed and possibly damning specific evidence linking the Iranian government to efforts to destabilize Iraq have been put on hold, U.S. officials told FOX News.

Officials had said a "dossier" against Iran compiled by the U.S. likely would be made public at a press conference this week in Baghdad, and that the evidence would contain specifics including shipping documents, serial numbers, maps and other evidence which officials say would irrefutably link Iran to weapons shipments to Iraq.

Now, U.S. military officials say the decision to go public with the findings has been put on hold for several reasons, including concerns over the reaction from Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad — as well as inevitable follow-up questions that would be raised over what the U.S. should do about it.

Let me make sure I have matters correct here: military officials were about to fill us in on exactly what Iran has been up to since the United States turned Iraq into The Academy For Lil' Terr'ists, but they've decided not to because it might draw an unpleasant reaction from Iran's leader? Since when has concern for another leader's reaction stopped BushCo et. al. from doing whatever it wanted? And oh, those pesky "inevitable follow-up questions" about how the U.S. should solve a problem like Mahmoud--can't people just let the Decider be the Decider? But wait, now there are senators asking stuff, too:

During pointed questioning, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., told Negroponte, "What I think many of us are concerned about is that we stumble into active hostilities with Iran without having aggressively pursued diplomatic approaches, without the American people understanding exactly what's taking place."


Obama, a candidate for president in 2008, warned during the hearing that senators of both parties will demand "clarity and transparency in terms of U.S. policy so that we don't repeat some of the mistakes that have been made in the past," a reference to the intelligence questions still dogging the administation's decision to invade Iraq.

Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., a possible presidential candidate, asked Negroponte if he thinks the United States is edging toward a military confrontation with Tehran. In response, Negroponte repeated President Bush's oft-stated preference for diplomacy, although he later added, "We don't rule out other possibilities."

Uh-oh. When a Bushie like Negroponte says something about "other possibilities", it's time to run for cover (bolds mine):

Negroponte, a career diplomat who is leaving a higher-ranked job as the nation's top intelligence official, gave only a mild endorsement of the administration's diplomatic hands-off policy toward Damascus and Tehran.

Negroponte would lead the department's Iraq policy if confirmed, as expected. He said Syria is letting 40 to 75 foreign fighters cross its border into Iraq each month and repeated the charge that Iran is providing lethal help to insurgents fighting U.S. forces in Iraq. Iran and Syria are not helping promote stability and peace in Iraq and understand what the United States and other nations expect of them.

"I would never want to say never with respect to initiating a high-level dialogue with either of these two countries, but that's the position, as I understand it, at this time," Negroponte said.

And of course, Dear Decider plays along, pretending to share our skepticism even as he shovels another 20,000+ young Americans into the Big Oil Profit Protection pipeline:

"I'm like a lot of Americans that say, 'Well, if it wasn't right in Iraq, how do you know it's right in Iran,'" the president said.


Update: Tampa Officials Apologize To Jailed Rape Victim

After the story was picked up by every news outlet, from CNN to to England's The Guardian, Tampa Police spokesperson Laura McElroy, along with Tampa's mayor Pam Iorio, apologized yesterday to the college student who was raped shortly after the Gasparilla parade on Saturday, then incarcerated by Tampa Police and denied emergency birth control medication by a jail worker:

"In this case the victim was not treated properly, and we don't want this to ever happen again," said Mayor Pam Iorio.

"We feel remorse that she ended up in jail," said Tampa police spokeswoman Laura McElroy, offering an apology on behalf of the department.

At the jail, a nurse refused to give the woman a timely, important second dose of a "morning-after" pill to prevent pregnancy.

The woman's attorney said a jail nurse refused to give the medication because of religious objections. On Tuesday, the nurse's attorney said she refused not because of religious objections but because dispensing medication that is not listed on a medical chart violates protocol.

McElroy, the police spokeswoman, said Tampa police Officer Lisa Cordero told several jail employees about the woman's situation and specifically told them she needed the medication.

And of course, the finger-pointing begins, with police and jail employees all denying the medication denial.

The mother, whose name is being withheld to protect her daughter's identity, says a jail nurse cited religious objections for withholding the emergency contraceptive.

"I was in total disbelief," the mother said. "You just can't imagine the fury that was going through me. How dare that person force their religious beliefs upon my daughter in such a way that it may harm her?"

Jennifer D'Angelo, attorney for the nurse, said the nurse didn't administer the pill because it wasn't listed on a medical chart.

"It had nothing to do with any religious preference or beliefs," D'Angelo said. "I think it might have been a miscommunication. Clearly the poor girl was distraught."

The nurse said only that she would do what she could to help, regardless of her personal beliefs, D'Angelo said.

The nurse is employed by Miami-based Armor Correctional Health Services, which supplies medical care for the jail. A spokeswoman said the claim that medication was withheld on religious grounds is false.

"All medications are administered to patients as prescribed," said spokeswoman Dana Clay. "A person's individual beliefs would not interfere."

Sheriff's officials declined to comment, citing an internal investigation.

Tampa police said several jail employees knew of the woman's situation and of the medication.

When something turns out to be such a huge, snarly ball of wrong, one can't help but think the Bush family must somehow be involved. Which, as nitpicker points out, (thanks, DBK) is actually dead right:

The medical services at the jail are run by Armor Correctional Health Services an affiliate of Medical Care Consortium, Inc., which has donated $18,000 to Republicans and $4,000 to conservative Democrats since its founding in 1998, according to

One lobbyist for MCCI is Sports Illustrated writer Don Yaeger, who was suspected of doing favors for Jeb Bush's second Secretary of Corrections, James Crosby. Why would he do such a thing? Because they wanted the big state contracts being offered up by Jeb's drive to privatize the whole friggin state apparatus. There was a requirement, though, that a company had to manage the health of 10,000 inmates for a year. Managing Hillsborough county's jail was just a step along the path to a bigger payday, and MCCI tried to get the state to lift the 10,000 head requirement based on the Hillsborough gig--which Armor bid on three days after being founded and won despite not being the lowest bidder for the job and submitting MCCI's financials instead of its own. Hillsborough is, of course, where the young woman was detained and denied the medical treatment prescribed by her doctor. It was also inside Katherine Harris's old district and one of her biggest supporters, both politically and financially, was Don Yaeger.


What does this all mean? It means that a near-maniacal belief in the power of privatization to make life better, the appointment of corrupt bastards, connections to dirty lobbyists and fucking over the people you're supposed to help aren't simply aspects of the George W. Bush administration. It seems to run in the family.
After a long, sad sigh, what is left to say? Perhaps the tourism board should stop beating around the, ah, ex-governor, and adopt this new slogan:

Florida--you'll come for our politicians; you'll stay for our privatizin'!

(Blurbex examines the differences between Tampa and St. Petersburg in terms of how leaders in each city handled recent PR crises: the Mayor Baker-ordered destruction of the homeless tent city followed by days of stonewalling and deflecting blame vs. the Mayor Iorio-ordered apology and revisions to police policy that immediately followed a day of media interest in the rape/arrest case. Hat-tip to griftdrift.)

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Victimize Her Twice: Shame On Tampa

Tampa's version of Mardi Gras is called Gasparilla, and every January, the festival's attendant parade, parties, pageants, and over-the-top bacchanalia get splashed across newspapers and television screens like so much spilled rum and scattered beads. Then there's the big mess to clean up and at least a few car thefts, DUI arrests, and minor bits of drunken pirate-related mayhem to report, at which point most of the region reverts to Normal mode until football season begins.

Not so fast with the reversion to normalcy this year, however. Not for one woman (bolds mine):

TAMPA - First, police say, a 21-year-old woman was raped at Gasparilla. Then, she was handcuffed and jailed - for two nights and two days.

A jail worker with religious objections blocked her from ingesting a morning-after pill to prevent pregnancy, her attorney says, keeping her from taking the required second dose for more than 24 hours longer than recommended.


The premedical student attended Saturday's Gasparilla parade and veered off from her friends shortly before 1:30 p.m., police said. The Times is not naming her because police say she is a victim of a sexual crime.

As she walked north on Howard Avenue at Swann Avenue, she was grabbed by a man with crooked teeth and raped behind a building, McElroy said.

After the assault, the man ran off. The woman walked to her car, which was parked on the University of Tampa campus. At 3:40 p.m., after finding her vehicle, she called police.

As police assisted her, taking her to a nurse examiner's clinic, and processing her report, an officer found two outstanding warrants for the woman in Sarasota County.

Attorney Virlyn "Vic" Moore III of Venice said his client was seated in the front seat of the police cruiser, on her way to the scene of her attack when the officer learned of the warrant, cuffed her and placed her in the back seat.

"To stop the rape investigation and instead victimize her again," Moore said. "I'm aghast, astonished and outraged. I have never, ever heard of this happening."

The officer arrested the woman at a sergeant's instruction, McElroy said.

The student had failed to pay $4,585 restitution after a 2003 juvenile arrest, McElroy said. Moore said his client is convinced that she paid the fine and that the warrant was probably the result of a clerical error.

Never mind that the woman believes she paid the fine in question; forget that her arrest took place when she was a juvenile; set aside the fact that this woman was not armed or dangerous. What is so shocking about this case is that both the Tampa police and a jail worker were all able to interrupt and then deny a woman--a crime victim--the proper course of medical care, prophylactic birth control medication, and ongoing counseling she needed at the very time she needed them most.

Let's say the crime in question wasn't rape, but rather, an assault and battery on a man. The victim calls the Tampa Police and reports that he was walking down the street in the middle of the afternoon post-Gasparilla, when suddenly he was ambushed by a large man and his fierce dog. The man beat and robbed the victim, and the dog bit him several times on his arm as he tried to fend off the attack. When the police and ambulance arrive, they take the victimized man to the nearest emergency room; while he's being treated, though, they read his name on their report and decide to run it through the computer. It turns out this man owes the City some $4,585 in unpaid restitution for a crime he committed four years ago, and the police take him to jail, despite his needing follow-up antibiotics the next day to prevent infection. In the morning, the victim waits for his lawyer to sort things out; meanwhile, a jail worker, based on his beliefs as a Christian Scientist, refuses to give the man his antibiotic pills.

Does anyone seriously believe the above scenario would happen? Of course not. The victim might wind up in jail, but not until his medical care was complete--certainly, he wouldn't be denied medication even if he was transferred from hospital to cellblock within hours. Yet I must ask this: Why? Why is this so? Because rape is not the same thing as a real crime like assault and battery? Because women are not the same things as men? Because wanting to protect oneself from impregnation by a rapist is somehow less noble than wanting to protect oneself from infection from a dog's bite?

I wish this unfortunate woman well. I also wish--and for this, I wish hard--that Tampa would use this opportunity to openly address the issue of requiring compassionate, comprehensive, and ethically proper treatment of rape victims by city and state personnel.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

At Least They Haven't Called Them "The Little Lady And Her Big Dawg"

This weekend, Senator Hillary Clinton officially confirmed what most of the country already knew: she's running for President of the United States. And although the election is nearly two years away, the fields of Democratic and Republican candidates are getting rather crowded; America has lots to learn about each potential nominee. We already know all there is to know about Hillary, though, don't we? Why else would the press be skipping over her numerous talents and qualifications and focusing on her husband already?

WASHINGTON - If elected president, Hillary Rodham Clinton says her spouse and former Oval Office occupant will be a "tremendous asset," but she's the decider.

"I'm running to be the president, to make the decisions," the New York senator told ABC's "Good Morning America" Tuesday.

For his part, former President Clinton told a New York audience that he looked forward to playing a "supporting role" in his wife's campaign.

"I'll do whatever I'm asked to do," he said at a book party Monday night for Terry McAuliffe, the chairman of Sen. Clinton's presidential campaign. "She's got the best combination of mind and heart, the ability to lead and learn, to stand fast ... and to make honorable agreements with people who disagree with her than anybody I've known."

Since formally entering the race for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination over the weekend, Mrs. Clinton has been repeatedly pressed to elaborate on what role her husband, former President Clinton, would play in her presidency.

Good grief, she's the decider? Haven't we already got one of those? And why the scare-quotes around tremendous asset? (I know, I know, the reporter means to quote Senator Clinton, but could he not have found a way to include an entire sentence in those quotes so it didn't appear to call into question the very authenticity of President Clinton's status as an asset?)

The overall tone of this article, like that of so many pieces written about Hillary Clinton, is suffused with Eau de Patriarchy. The questions for the Senator from New York invariably lead to questions about her husband, and when the story appears, it's mainly those answers that get the ink and the airtime. To wit:

Mrs. Clinton also said she would "count on his advice and his experience, not only here at home with the great progress that was made on so many important issues when he was president, but also what he knows about the world in which we find ourselves today."

In separate interview on NBC's "Today Show," Mrs. Clinton called her husband "a tremendous asset."

"He knows what the job is like. He had great success on a number of difficult fronts when he was president. ... So I'm going to be looking to him for a lot of advice and guidance."

Aaarrrgh! Again with the questioning of Bill's assethood. And talk about stating the obvious: of course it would be nice, whenever questions arise in one's mind, to be able to elbow the man whose head occupies the adjacent pillow and say, "Hey, when you were President, how did you handle such-and-such?"

But what about Hillary herself? What matters has she successfully handled on behalf of New York that might translate into clear advantages for her when handling matters on behalf of the nation?

Surely the press must be aware that Hillary is no ordinary political-spouse-turned-politician--that before becoming a First Lady, she was a formidable human being in her own right. She was valedictorian at Wellesley College, where she graduated, cum laude, with a degree in political science and was the first student in the school's history to deliver a commencement address. While at Yale Law School, and in the years that followed, she worked extensively on behalf of children, migrant workers, and the underprivileged in general:

In 1969, Rodham entered Yale Law School, where she served on the Board of Editors of Yale Review of Law and Social Action and worked with underprivileged children at the Yale-New Haven Hospital. During the summer of 1970, she was awarded a grant to work at the Children's Defense Fund in Cambridge, Massachusetts. During the late spring of 1971, she began dating Bill Clinton, also a Yale Law School student. During the summer of 1971, she traveled to Washington to work on Senator Walter Mondale's subcommittee on migrant workers, researching migrant problems in housing, sanitation, health and education. For the summer of 1972, Rodham worked in the western states for Democratic presidential candidate George McGovern's campaign. During her second year in law school, she volunteered at the Yale Child Study Center, learning about new research on early childhood brain development. She also took on cases of child abuse at Yale-New Haven Hospital and worked at the city Legal Services, providing free legal service to the poor. She received a Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree from Yale in 1973, having written a thesis on the rights of children,[3] and began a year of post-graduate study on children and medicine at the Yale Child Study Center


In 1976, Hillary Rodham joined the venerable and influential Rose Law Firm, specializing in intellectual property cases while doing child advocacy cases pro bono. President Jimmy Carter appointed Rodham to the board of the Legal Services Corporation in 1978.


Throughout her time as First Lady, Clinton continued to practice law with the Rose Law Firm. In 1988 and 1991 National Law Journal named Clinton one of the 100 most influential lawyers in America. Clinton co-founded the Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families and served on the boards of the Arkansas Children's Hospital Legal Services and the Children's Defense Fund.

I don't know about you, but I want to know about the strengths and talents of the candidates themselves as opposed to how pleased they are to be married to someone strong and talented, and the media's inability to focus themselves thusly is all the more frustrating when said candidate is so accomplished, so controversial, and so interesting in her own right.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Three Reasons Why I Am Pro-Choice

1. Because Woman One is not Woman Two is not Woman Three

The late S. I. Hayakawa wrote a groundbreaking book, originally titled Language in Action and later, Language in Thought and Action, the preface of which was written by the semanticist Alfred Korzybski:
The original version of this book, Language in Action, published in 1941, was in many respects a response to the dangers of propaganda, especially as exemplified in Adolf Hitler's success in persuading millions to share his maniacal and destructive views. It was the writer's conviction then, as it remains now, that everyone needs to have a habitually critical attitude towards language — his own as well as that of others — both for the sake of his personal well-being and for his adequate functioning as a citizen. Hitler is gone, but if the majority of our fellow-citizens are more susceptible to the slogans of fear and race hatred than to those of peaceful accommodation and mutual respect among human beings, our political liberties remain at the mercy of any eloquent and unscrupulous demagogue.

What does Dr. Hayakawa's language book have to do with the ongoing debate between Pro-choice and Pro-life groups? Quite simply, it exhorts us to examine language more critically, separating symbol from signal, and, perhaps most importantly, to differentiate the realities of a person or object from those of another, seemingly similar one.

So, three twenty-five-year-old women stand before us, each of whom has just discovered she is six weeks pregnant. They all look similar to our uneducated eye. They are all called women, they are all pregnant, they are all the same age. Our language applies the same terms to each, however: pregnant woman. Or, if you like, expectant mother. Yet these women are not the same, and if we examine their stories, it's not hard to make objective distinctions: the first woman is a single waitress who currently struggles to make ends meet, though she keeps up her course load at the local community college in hopes of attaining a four-year degree that will certainly widen her range of employment opportunities and, in due time, improve her financial security. She is not in a long-term relationship; her birth control method failed.

The second woman has been married for three years, and until now, was considering returning to school to pursue a graduate degree. Her husband is financially secure but demonstrates abusive tendencies that have already led the woman to consult a divorce lawyer; now this.

The third woman is also married; years ago, a geneticist informed her she carries a dangerous gene, one that translates into a fifty-fifty chance that each of her offspring will be born horribly deformed. She and her husband had planned on a vasectomy or tubal ligation with an eye toward eventually adopting kids, but somehow the surgery was always getting postponed; now this.

Bearing in mind that Woman One is not Woman Two is not Woman Three, which woman is morally justified in seeking an abortion? Each of them is justified, should she so decide. This doesn't mean all of the women necessarily will choose to end their pregnancies--they are, after all, separate and distinct persons--only that each of them must be able to make that choice based on her own assessment of matters.

Each of them must be able to make that choice about her own life, her own body, and her own destiny.

2. Because, Worrisome Trends Indicating Otherwise Notwithstanding, America Is--Still, Thankfully--Not A Theocracy

A quick quiz: Where is one most likely to see a lawn studded with hundreds of tiny white crosses meant to symbolize all the "babies" killed by abortion? a) On the grounds of the local library b) Surrounding the new mega-mall c) In front of a church.

Which is not to say there are no Pro-life atheists or agnostics (though I must admit I have never met one); rather, the illustration aims to place the fanatical, anti-science, anti-woman views of the vocal Pro-life movement in the realm of the fundamentalist religions that, predominantly, are fomenting them.

Faith is an extremely personal matter, and the ways in which one's faith manifests itself in one's life, from daily decision-making to the tackling of profound, difficult questions like abortion, are equally personal. It is everyone's right to believe as he wishes; however, it is no-one's right to expect others to uphold or adhere to that belief, especially if said belief directly contradicts a person's right to privacy, her Constitutionally-protected right to have faith in the supreme being or beings of her choice (or not), or her right to have her own take on things. Regarding religion, Jean-Jacques Rousseau opined that there are two categories:

...Religion of the man, and religion of the citizen. Religion of the man requires only an inner belief in a supreme being; the religion of the citizen, however, requires dogmas, rituals, and external forms of worship; and views other religions as alien and backward.


When the church becomes the government, the sovereign is no longer sovereign. Intolerance leads directly to this consequence. Due to this, there must be no national religion, but rather all faiths should be embraced, with one exception: religious dogma that forces people to be bad citizens — this must not be tolerated.

Shorter Rousseau, courtesy of my college roommate, Mori:

"Keep your church out of my crotch."

3. Because A Blastocyst Is Not A Baby

Last summer, in response to George W. Bush's outrageous veto of a bill to fund important stem-cell research, I wrote about the blastocyst, the tiny cluster of cells that is a human egg about five days after fertilization:

Notice that this cluster of cells is not entirely made up of the very early stages of a baby; rather, some cells are designated for the formation of the placenta, an amazing and temporary, task-specific, unique-to-female-mammals organ, the functions of which--should successful implantation occur--include receiving nutrients and oxygen from the mother's blood and passing out waste and carbon dioxide. Further, there is no nervous system, no brain, and no heart--only multipurpose cells that might, at some point in the future, differentiate and become the beginnings of these organs and systems.


Here is another fact that is, more often than not, conveniently left out of all those mainstream media stem cell sound-bites to which we're treated: when a blastocyst develops within a woman's body, there is an approximately 40% chance that it will not successfully implant itself into the uterine wall--at the same 5-7 day point when its petri dish counterpart would be utilized for stem cell cultivation--and will therefore not develop into a fetus, but rather, will simply be expelled and a normal menstrual period will follow a couple of weeks thereafter.

According to the President's logic, then, as many as 40% of all sexually-active menstruating women could be party to murder every month.

After weighing the President's statements and drawing upon my own logical processes, I came up with this:

Utilizing a 5-day-old American blastocyst for stem cell lines = murder

Killing a 5-year-old Iraqi child while waging an illegal and immoral war = collateral damage.

A blastocyst may indeed become a baby, given all the right conditions and, on average, 40 weeks of gestation. Or it may simply be expelled in short course by the mother's body; stored in a Petri dish alongside other frozen blastocysts and possibly destroyed--either intentionally, when it is no longer needed for an IVF procedure or accidentally, when a long-term power outage affects the cryogenic storage facility; aborted naturally later on by the mother's body when certain life-sustaining organs such as the placenta fail to develop properly; and finally, aborted surgically for any number of reasons, foremost among them being the woman's personal, private choice about how she wishes to use her own personal, private body.

And while I fully support the right of everyone to ignore science--indeed, to ignore reality--and hold whatever personal beliefs he or she wishes about a fertilized egg being sacred, or the act of conception being comparable to Michaelangelo's Sistine Chapel ceiling complete with God's muscled hand reaching beneath the clouds to bestow life upon man, I cannot and will not support the right of anyone to declare or legislate that the many must all subscribe to the delusions of the few.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

War And Peace In Fayetteville

A military spouse protests peacefully, reminding neighbors that America is not just the home of the brave, but also the land of the free.

Living in a military town isn’t going to stop Catherine McLin from protesting the war in Iraq.

Nor will those who destroy the “No War” signs she puts in the front yard of her home on Morganton Road.

“I plan to keep putting them up,” McLin said Tuesday.

She put up a sign, made of discarded patio blinds and wood, on Thursday. It was only hours before it was destroyed, she said.

“Someone had a heyday with it,” McLin said. “They took it apart and scattered debris all over the yard.”

Undaunted, she went back to work and created several smaller signs that she has put on her front lawn.

She said she lobbied her neighbors and nearby residents to put signs in their yards. Three people agreed to do so, McLin said; 30 turned down her request.

McLin, a military wife, said she wasn’t surprised at the reaction. After all, this is a military town. She and her husband moved to Fayetteville in July and bought their home in September.

Having been there, peacefully speaking, I feel for Ms. McLin; I was fortunate to have only one naysayer, whereas she has to deal with an entire military townful of them. Still, three more residents have joined the effort--more are sure to follow.

(Hat tip to PSoTD.)

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

A Tale Of Two Species

Homo sapiens var. Virtus et Integritas

Senator Russ Feingold leads with his efforts to cut off all war funding:

Sen. Russ Feingold forged ahead of even the liberal pack last week when he promised to lead an effort to cut all funding for the war in Iraq.

"I have consistently called for the redeployment of our military in Iraq," he said during a Senate hearing. "But that advice has not been heeded. And now Congress must use its main power, the power of the purse, to put an end to our involvement in this disastrous war."

Is he going to be successful in that effort? No. Is he going to be accused of turning his back on our valiant troops? Yes.

But, given the fact almost no one, aside from President Bush and a handful of men who hope to succeed him in 2008, seems to believe the escalation the president plans in Iraq will succeed, perhaps we ought to see Feingold's message as being the only one that makes sense.

If we're losing in Iraq - and the president pretty much said we are - and if our plans for winning won't work - and the nation's leading military figures and many Republican leaders say they won't - what sense does it make to keep asking our sons and daughters to die there?

Homo sapiens var. Servus Dollaris Omnipotentis

In an important and profoundly upsetting investigative piece at PlayboyOnline, Richard Cummings reports that National Security Advisor Stephen J. Hadley, with the help and expertise of high-ranking Lockheed Martin official Bruce Martin, in 2002 fabricated a rationale for the invasion of Iraq:

In November of 2002, Stephen J. Hadley, deputy national security advisor, asked Bruce Jackson to meet with him in the White House. They met in Hadley's office on the ground floor of the West Wing, not far from the offices of Vice President Dick Cheney and then-National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice. Hadley had an exterior office with windows, an overt indicator of his importance within the West Wing hierarchy.

This was months before Secretary of State Colin Powell would go to the United Nations to make the administration's case for the invasion of Iraq, touting the subsequently discredited evidence of weapons of mass destruction. But according to Jackson, Hadley told him that "they were going to war and were struggling with a rationale" to justify it. Jackson, recalling the meeting, reports that Hadley said they were "still working out" a cause, too, but asked that he, Jackson, "set up something like the Committee on NATO" to come up with a rationale.

Jackson had launched the U.S. Committee on NATO, a nongovernmental pressure group, in 1996 with Hadley on board. The objective of the committee, originally called the U.S. Committee to Expand NATO, was to push for membership in the NATO military alliance for former Soviet bloc countries including Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic.

What Bruce Jackson came up with for Hadley this time, in 2002, was the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq. The mission statement of the committee says it was "formed to promote regional peace, political freedom and international security by replacing the Saddam Hussein regime with a democratic government that respects the rights of the Iraqi people and ceases to threaten the community of nations." The pressure group began pushing for regime change -- that is, military action to remove Hussein -- in the usual Washington ways, lobbying members of congress, working the media and throwing money around. The committee's pitch, or rationale as Hadley would call it, was that Saddam was a monster -- routinely violating human rights -- and a general menace in the Middle East.


Still, there is another way to view Jackson's activities. As The New York Times put it in a 1997 article, "at night Bruce Jackson is president of the U.S. Committee to Expand NATO, giving intimate dinners for senators and foreign officials. By day, he is director of strategic planning for Lockheed Martin Corporation, the world's biggest weapons maker."

That's how D.C. works. Many of the people making decisions have been in and out of the same set of revolving doors connecting government, conservative think tanks, lobbying firms, law firms and the defense industry. So strong is the bond between lobbyists, defense contractors and the Pentagon that it is known in Washington as "the iron triangle." And this triangle inevitably gets what it wants. Why? Because in the revolving door system, a defense contractor executive can surface as an official in the Department of Defense, from which position he can give lucrative contracts to his former employer, and his prospects for an even better paying job in the private sector brighten. Former aides to members of congress become handsomely paid lobbyists for the companies they were able to help in their position on Capitol Hill. Such lobbyists can spread their corporate-funded largesse to the friendliest members and their aides on the Hill. And so on.


Bruce Jackson is a perfect example of this. While vice president for strategy and planning for Lockheed from 1999 to 2002, Jackson, by his own account, was also "responsible for the foreign policy platform at the 2000 Republican National Convention," to which he was a delegate. (The platform involved a dramatic increase in defense spending.) His title at the convention was chair of the platform subcommittee on foreign policy.


But forget Jackson. In 2002, he was on the outside. Stephen Hadley, looking out of the windows from his West Wing office, was on the inside. Sure, Hadley had the requisite government experience for a deputy national security advisor. He had been an assistant secretary of defense under Bush's dad. But he had been through the revolving door, too: Stephen Hadley, the point man for justifying the invasion of Iraq, had also lawyered at Shea & Gardner, whose clients included Lockheed.

Of course, all the frothing at the mouth about lobbyists, money and special interests can seem from outside the Beltway as much ado about nothing. The government hands out contracts. The beneficiaries or those who want to be beneficiaries buy steak dinners for the officials who hold the purse strings. Big deal. The problem, though, is that, upon closer scrutiny, this is not how the system works. It's actually much more sinister than that, allowing the interests of America to be subverted by the interests of corporate America. As you'll see here, your elected officials did not deliberate on how best to protect their constituents, decide bombing Iraq was the best way and then order some provisions and weapons. On the contrary, this is the story of how Lockheed's interests, as opposed to those of the American citizenry, set the course of U.S. policy after 9/11.

For the war companies, things have worked out perfectly. Whatever the rationale for the invasion of Iraq, business is booming. Not long after Bush took office, Lockheed Martin's revenues soared by more than 30 percent, as it was awarded $17 billion in contracts from the Department of Defense, a far cry from the lean years of the Clinton administration. (Under Clinton, it did win $2 billion in contracts with the Department of Energy for nuclear weapons activity; recently Bush called for 125 new nukes a year, opening up new contract horizons in that area, as well.) Its stock went from 16.375 in October of 1999 to 71.52 in June of 2002. As professor of finance at the State University at Buffalo Michael Rozeff observes, "the stock market anticipates many events."

Lockheed Martin reported 2002 sales of $26.6 billion, a backlog of more than $70 billion and free cash of $1.7 billion. And that was before the war in Iraq.

I urge you to read the entire piece. This is several degrees of magnitude beyond outrageous.

Courage and integrity, Ladies and Gentlemen. Resolve to support only that handful of humans in our government who are possessed of those qualities. And demand--better still, work toward--the removal from office of those who so clearly are not.

(Hat tips to Blue Gal and Truly Equal.)

Monday, January 15, 2007

Honor These Beautiful Words

Martin Luther King Jr. recovers from being stabbed with a letter-opener in 1958; the blade was lodged next to his aorta, and doctors said that if King had so much as sneezed, he'd have drowned in his own blood .

"In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds.

Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.

We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline.

We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence.

Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force."

-- Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. August 28th 1963, the Lincoln Memorial, Washington D.C.

An Imperial Presidency, Whatever The Human Cost

You know that saying about not being able to see the forest for all the trees? That describes our populace (if not our actual landscape these days) a bit too accurately, I'm afraid. But you can head over to Slate and read Dahlia Lithwick's thorough and disturbing overview of the forest that is our Big Constitutional Picture, certainly insofar as it pertains to BushCo's plans for curtailing Americans' rights while grossly expanding the president's powers. Bear in mind that many of these plans have already been carried out, many are in the process of being carried out, and some, thankfully, are being vigorously challenged by citizens, lawyers, and judges. An excerpt:

Willing to give the benefit of the doubt, I once believed the common thread here was presidential blindness—an extreme executive-branch myopia that leads the president to believe that these futile little measures are somehow integral to combating terrorism. That this is some piece of self-delusion that precludes Bush and his advisers from recognizing that Padilla is just a chump and Guantanamo merely a holding pen for a jumble of innocent and half-guilty wretches.

But it has finally become clear that the goal of these foolish efforts isn't really to win the war against terrorism; indeed, nothing about Padilla, Guantanamo, or signing statements moves the country an inch closer to eradicating terror. The object is a larger one, and the original overarching goal of this administration: expanding executive power, for its own sake.


On Jan. 3, Nina Totenberg of National Public Radio interviewed Mark Corallo, spokesman for then-Attorney General John Ashcroft, about the behind-the-scenes decision-making in the Padilla case—a case that's lolled through the federal courts for years. According to Totenberg, when the Supreme Court sent Padilla's case back to the lower federal courts on technical grounds in 2004, the Bush administration's sole concern was preserving its constitutional claim that it could hold citizens as enemy combatants. "Justice Department officials warned that if the case went back to the Supreme Court, the administration would almost certainly lose," she reports, which is why Padilla was hauled back to the lower courts. Her sources further confirmed that "key players in the Defense Department and Vice President Cheney's office insisted that the power to detain Americans as enemy combatants had to be preserved."


The destruction of Al Dossari, Jose Padilla, Zacarias Moussaoui, and some of our most basic civil liberties was never a purpose or a goal—it was a mere byproduct. The true purpose is more abstract and more tragic: To establish a clunky post-Watergate dream of an imperial presidency, whatever the human cost may be.

You must read the whole thing, and if you can handle even more outrage, this moving letter from Guantanamo, too; it was only recently declassified and published in the L.A. Times (also linked in the Slate piece).

Hat Tip to Oddjob, via Sully.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Supremes To Hear Bong Hits 4 Jesus Free Speech Case

Robyn Blumner discusses an extremely interesting free speech for students case in the Sunday St. Pete Times:

The young man's great crime was to unfurl a banner that read "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" as the Olympic torch relay was passing by his school in Juneau, Alaska, in 2002. All students had been released from class that day to watch the torch go by on its way to the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah. Frederick was across the street from the school and not on school grounds when he loosed his message. He later said his intention was to get the banner - which he said was meaningless and just meant to be funny - caught by the television cameras. He succeeded.

But Juneau-Douglas High School principal Deborah Morse was not amused. Morse confronted Frederick, grabbed the banner and crumpled it after Frederick refused to take it down on free speech grounds. Frederick, who was 18 years old at the time, received a 10-day suspension.

He later sued over Morse's retribution and won a unanimous ruling from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. But late last, year the nation's high court agreed to hear the appeal, making it the first student free expression case the Supreme Court has considered in nearly 20 years.

Considering how the landscape of student expression has changed in two decades, the case could have much broader implications.

Whether it's authoring a MySpace page or an entire school-related Web site devoted to comic send-ups and critiques of teachers, administrators and fellow students, young people are disseminating their views online in droves. How much of this expression falls into the category of protected speech and how much may be punished by the school is an open question.


There are three relevant student free speech cases that have been decided by the high court. The high-water mark was the 1969 case of Tinker vs. Des Moines Independent Community School District, in which the court overturned the suspension of a group of students who had worn black armbands to school to protest the Vietnam War. The case gave students broad free expression rights in school, limiting the ability of school authorities to suppress student speech unless that speech would cause a substantial disruption at school or interfere with the rights of others.

In its next case, the court narrowed the Tinker holding by allowing school administrators to limit profane or vulgar language by students. Finally, in a case involving school-run newspapers, the Supreme Court gave school administrators the ability to censor their content, noting that the paper was a product of the school.

In all these cases, the speech at issue occurred within the school's domain. Yet, in Frederick's case, as in the case of most Web-based student speech, the offending speech was produced off campus. To my mind, this alone should put it beyond the jurisdiction of the schools to regulate.

But if Frederick's banner was considered part of a school event, it should still be protected speech, as it wasn't disruptive or profane.

It will be interesting to see whether Frederick enjoys the support of Justice Samuel Alito. As a judge, Alito authored an opinion striking down a school's antiharassment policy because it interfered with the free speech rights of Christian conservative students who wanted to retain the right to denounce homosexuality. (A judgment I agree with.) We'll see if he affords the same right to a student who mentions drug use approvingly.

Your thoughts?

Saturday, January 13, 2007


This is one of my favorite scenes in The Who's fabulous 1975 rock opera Tommy. Ann-Margret's performance is even further over-the-top than the outfit or set decor in this stunning clip, and that's really saying something. Its imagery is laced with disturbing doses of emotional truth, but Champagne is a musical and visual creation so beautiful and gripping, one watches on, with breath caught somewhere between heart and limbic center.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Dear King Abdullah: Please Send 16,000 Princelings To Iraq For Peacekeeping

Lyndon Johnson told the nation
Have no fear of escalation.
I am trying everyone to please.
Though it isn’t really war,
We’re sending 50,000 more
To help save Vietnam from the Vietnamese.

--Tom Paxton, 1965

The war in Iraq has always been about oil. To many of us, the falsehoods marketed as the Iraq casus belli were obvious before the illegal and immoral invasion actually began in 2003. But even some of President Bush's stalwart base are now realizing that America's blood and treasure have been, and continue to be, squandered on foreign sand in the name of Big Oil as opposed to the revered causes of Protecting Americans or Removing Despots or Spreading Freedom. And these folk are, in growing numbers, scurrying across the decks of the Good Ship Neocon and leaping overboard. Which leaves George W. Bush almost completely alone in his battle of no wits and one weirdly fluid rationale.

So why is Bush still tilting at windmills derricks in the desert? Because he was given his orders. Or, rather, Puppetmaster Cheney was. Writing about last night's Deer-In-The-Headlights Speech, Greg Palast notes:

Here’s my question: Who asked the waiter to deliver this dish? Who asked for the 21,000 soldiers?

We know the US military didn’t ask for the 21,000 troops. (Outgoing commander General George Casey called for a troop reduction.)

We know the Iraqi government didn’t ask for the 21,000 troops. (Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki is reportedly unhappy about a visible increase in foreign occupiers).

So who wants the occupation to continue? The answer is in Riyadh. When the King of Saudi Arabia hauled Dick Cheney before his throne on Thanksgiving weekend, the keeper of America’s oil laid down the law to Veep: the US will not withdraw from Iraq.

According to Nawaf Obaid, a Saudi who signals to the US government the commands and diktats of the House of Saud, the Saudis are concerned that a US pull-out will leave their Sunni brothers in Iraq to be slaughtered by Shia militias. More important, the Saudis will not tolerate a Shia-majority government in Iraq controlled by the Shia mullahs of Iran. A Shia combine would threaten Saudi Arabia’s hegemony in the OPEC oil cartel.

In other words, it’s about the oil.

Will America please wake up? Will the mainstream media dare to say the very word in the context of the true raison d'être for this war and not just as a lead-in to a consumer story about gas stations: Oil? Because Big-O Oil, along with the staggering piles of money and twitchy time-bombs of power disproportionately and, it seems, unfairly bestowed on those who control the land above it, is why we're sending our young men and women to risk life and limb in Iraq. Many soldiers are on their second and third and even fourth tours. We're quietly repairing our troops' broken bodies--or trying to--and when they don't make it, we're quietly bringing their flag-draped coffins home. And in messages to the masses that can only be described as an ongoing barrage of Consume-Cry-Consume cognitive dissonance, we're encouraged to shop and travel, then told that America will need to sacrifice. As though the average non-military person could possibly imagine holding a folded flag and knowing that abject, bottomless grief, accepting that certainty of son, daughter, sibling or spouse being gone forever.

No, we're finally reading between the sticky, slippery lines: it's about the Oil--more specifically, the countries and companies who control its flow and reap its fortunes. And were the Cowboy-in-Chief made of sterner stuff as opposed to being little more than a costume filled with scarecrow's straw--if he only had a brain, and a conscience to go with it--last night's speech might have sounded like the one Palast suggests:

"My fellow Americans. Iraq is going to hell in a handbag. So the whole shebang doesn’t collapse into mayhem and madness, we need to send in 21,000 more troops. So I’ve just wired King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia and told him to send them.

“My missive to the monarch reads: Dear Abdullah: It’s time your 16,000 princelings got out of their Rolls Royces and formed the core of an Islamic Peacekeeping Force to prevent mass murder in Iraq. The American people are tired of you using the 82d Airborne as your private mercenary army. It seems like the Saudi military’s marching song is, ‘Onward Christian Soldiers.’

“Well, King Ab, we’re out of here. We’re folding tents and loading the wagons. For four years now, Saudis have been secretly funding the berserkers in the Iraqi ‘insurgency’ while the Iranians are backing the crazies in the militias. Well, we’re telling you and the Persians: you’re going to have to stop using your checkbooks to fund a proxy war and instead start keeping the peace. It’s time you put your own tushies in the line of fire for a change."

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Litbrit Gets A Very Special Invitation

A rather impressive spray of paperstuff--fliers, catalogs, real estate posters and coupon books, for starters--was erupting from my mailbox this morning. I expect this when there are back-to-back Post Office outages like New Year's Day followed by the National Day of Mourning for President Ford. I gathered the bonanza of (mostly) bulk mail in my arms, went back indoors, and was about to dump everything on my desk.

One envelope stood out, though. My fingers discovered it before my eyes did: the paper was creamy-smooth and heavy--not quite card stock, but definitely thicker than the paper with which crackly bill envelopes and flimsy dry-cleaning ads are made.


I extracted the ivory envelope and turned it right-side-up. A late Christmas card, perhaps? An early Valentine? Oh my. It's an invitation. And it's from Donald Trump.

This is going to be good, I thought. He's even hand-addressed it to me in what looks like royal blue fountain-pen ink--how correct!

I pondered the envelope for a moment: Wow. The Donald wants me to attend something, I thought. Perhaps he even wants the pleasure of my company, or, if it's something really formal and he's keeping with the correctness motif, the honour of my presence.

I slipped my index finger under the flap (with nice heavy paper, you see, one doesn't have to worry so much about slicing one's finger open) and took out the card. Two tickets drifted to the ground like leaves, but I let them stay there momentarily while I read the Special Invitation. Surely you must be as excited as I was? Good--then I will share its message forthwith, word-for-word, bolds and scare quotes--all his--intact:

Please be my personal guest to hear my real Trump story on wealth creation from my son, Donald Trump Jr., and be trained by "4" self-made multi-millionaire experts in America. They will share with you unique wealth creating secrets and strategies. As my special VIP guest, I have enclosed two (2) personal guest tickets and you will receive a special gift; a complimentary edition of "Trump--Think Like A Billionaire" at the conference. The suggested tuition fee of $149 is waived for you.

At this once in a lifetime financial conference you will learn how to:
1. Find income producing properties.
2. Slash captial gains tax to "0" when you sell real estate, stocks, or your business.
3. Lower your current tax bill up to 31%.
4. Learn how to cash in on the new billion dollar booming foreclosure opportunity.
5. Protect 100% of your personal assets from all lawsuits, liens, levies, bankruptcy, or even a divorce.
6. Get government approved investments guaranteeing 9.6% to 32% return.

"Think Big. Live Large!"

Turn this Special Invitation over to see the location, date, and time of the event. Call now to accept this invitation at (800) ___ ____. Seating is limited. Be there. Just one new idea can make you rich.

Donald Trump
Real Estate Billionaire

Now, I would still be awash in the Special Feeling that a Special Invitation like this is supposed to create were it not for my cat Marley, who, having missed his human underling during the ins-and-outs of the holidays, has become quite insistent on leaping onto my desk and batting my nose. Yes, Marley, that fur-covered klutz, miscalculated his leap rather spectacularly, as is his wont, and skated across the stacks of paperwork and mail, sending them all tumbling to the floor.

What's this? I thought, spying two more ivory envelopes. My name was penned on both in the same royal-blue ink; hell, it wasn't penned, it was printed, using a font cleverly designed to resemble the bubble-shaped hand you'd expect of an (undoubtedly) twentysomething assistant who worked for The Donald. The Special Invitations differed only in the location of the convention site printed on the back. One was for a seminar held at the Tampa Convention Center, a 600,000 square foot facility capable of holding numerous groups of 7,500 people each (seating is limited?); the other two were for seminars in Clearwater and Sarasota, also in large facilities.

Three-dimensional spam from the world's biggest ham! How utterly incorrect. This isn't Lucky Lager. Now I was irritated.

Still, I thought, I'd better R.S.V.P. I mean, my mother reared me properly. So:

Dear Mr. Trump,

Thank you for the kind and very Special Invitation to your February seminar in Tampa. As well as the ones in Clearwater and Sarasota.

I regret that I am unable to attend; suffice it to say, there are too many unsorted socks in the world and just not enough hours in a day. That said, I am touched that you were thinking about me, particularly as I am a woman d'un certain âge as well as un certain I.Q.--and therefore hardly typical of your customary prey target market--so I feel compelled to return the favor, if not with an invitation in kind, at least with a few suggestions for upgrading your marketing efforts.

Where to begin? Personal Guest. Rubbish. We have never met. And I don't imagine you've been busy researching me on the sly, planning for the moment our eyes finally meet and you make me your Personal Guest at something. You don't even attend these things, right?

"4" self-made multi-millionaire experts in America. Learn how to use quote marks (hint: you don't need them around the number four, and, by the way, the number four should be spelled out). In America? Didn't you say you your son "4" experts were coming to Tampa (and Clearwater, and Sarasota)?

Billionaire. Now there's a nice, spewy word that really gets your toes tapping, huh? Methinks you need to lose it. Seriously--you're rich; we get it.

Protect 100% of your personal assets from all lawsuits, liens, levies, bankruptcy, or even a divorce. No-one would question your prowess in that oily arena, sir, but did you think for a moment that by committing your Personal (sorry) Credo to mass-mailed "writing" (now, those are some correctly-applied quote marks!) you might be showing the world--the reading world, at least--that you are a colossal, gaping asshole?

Oh, right. Never mind.

In closing, I wish you, as well as your son and the "4" self-made multi-millionaire experts in America, a very Happy New Year. I would wish you a prosperous one, too, but given the number of suckers born every minute, that, as we say in England, would be stating the bleeding obvious.


Wednesday, January 03, 2007

"Mr. Bush, You Do Not Own This Country."

Tuesday night, Keith Olbermann started the new year with a brilliant Special Comment about the real implications of sacrifice. Specifically, the President's callow (or willful?) ignorance of the word as well as his apparent obliviousness to the devastated families who know its meaning all too well.

Honestly, I am in awe of Olbermann's writing and speaking talents; that he can display those gifts, and that passion, on an internationally-broadcast news program with no fear of reproof, revenge, or men in black vans--certainly no fear that's apparent, anyway--speaks to his profound courage as a journalist.

Crooks & Liars has the video and transcript up now; an excerpt of the transcript follows (take note of Olbermann's sharp aside to John McCain, too):

The President has delayed, dawdled, and deferred for the month since the release of the Iraq Study Group.

He has seemingly heard out everybody… and listened to none of them.

If the BBC is right — and we can only pray it is not — he has settled on the only solution all the true experts agree, cannot possibly work: more American personnel in Iraq, not as trainers for Iraqi troops, but as part of some flabby plan for "sacrifice."


More American servicemen and women will have their lives risked.

More American servicemen and women will have their lives ended.

More American families will have to bear the unbearable, and rationalize the unforgivable — "sacrifice" — sacrifice now, sacrifice tomorrow, sacrifice forever.

And more Americans — more even than the two-thirds who already believe we need fewer troops in Iraq, not more — will have to conclude the President does not have any idea what he's doing - and that other Americans will have to die for that reason.

It must now be branded as propaganda — for even the President cannot truly feel that very many people still believe him to be competent in this area, let alone "the decider."


The former Labor Secretary, Robert Ryke, says Senator McCain told him that the "surge" would help the "morale" of the troops already in Iraq.

If Mr. McCain truly said that, and truly believes it, he has either forgotten completely his own experience in Vietnam… or he is unaware of the recent Military Times poll indicating only 38 percent of our active military want to see more troops sent… or Mr. McCain has departed from reality.

Then there is the argument that to take any steps towards reducing troop numbers would show weakness to the enemy in Iraq, or to the terrorists around the world.

This simplistic logic ignores the inescapable fact that we have indeed already showed weakness to the enemy, and to the terrorists.

We have shown them that we will let our own people be killed, for no good reason.

We have now shown them that we will continue to do so.

We have shown them our stupidity.

Mr. Bush, your judgment about Iraq — and now about "sacrifice" — is at variance with your people's, to the point of delusion.

Your most respected generals see no value in a "surge" — they could not possibly see it in this madness of "sacrifice."

The Iraq Study Group told you it would be a mistake.

Perhaps dozens more have told you it would be a mistake.

And you threw their wisdom back, until you finally heard what you wanted to hear, like some child drawing straws and then saying "best two out of three… best three out of five… Hundredth one counts."

Your citizens, the people for whom you work, have told you they do not want this, and moreover, they do not want you to do this.

Yet once again, sir, you have ignored all of us.

Mr. Bush, you do not own this country!

To those Republicans who have not broken free from the slavery of partisanship — those bonded still, to this President and this Administration — and now bonded to this "sacrifice" — proceed at your own peril.

John McCain may still hear the applause of small crowds — he has somehow inured himself to the hypocrisy, and the tragedy, of a man who considers himself the ultimate realist, courting the votes of those who support the government telling visitors to the Grand Canyon that it was caused by the Great Flood.

That Mr. McCain is selling himself off to the irrational Right, parcel by parcel, like some great landowner facing bankruptcy, seems to be obvious to everybody but himself.

Or, maybe it is obvious to him — and he simply no longer cares.


(Hat tip to Shakes reader Attaturk for posting the YouTube video.)