Friday, February 29, 2008


In 2006, Mike Judge delivered what was perhaps the most eerily dystopic Rip van Winkle riff since Woody Allen's "Sleeper." it was called "Idiocracy." In the flick, an average Joe wakes up in a dumbed-down future and is a genius by comparison.

JoeBob sez check it out.

Or not, because that dystopia is here.

Jonah Goldberg, author of the nonsense-on-stilts polemic "Liberal Fascism" -- the one now at the top of, incredibly, the NON-fiction NYT best seller list -- just said this:

It’s time to admit that “diversity” is code for racism.

Mr. Judge, your future is here.

Fig leaves? We don't need no stinkin' fig leaves.

Just a few days ago I characterized our nominally tripartite government as one branch with two fig leaves. That has been where we have been since at least 9/11/2001. The reason for the fig leaves was some residual sense that the populace might not appreciate their naked power grab. Thus the pretense of the early years.

When John Ashcroft ran Justice, he felt the need for modesty. In a sense, you could say Alberto Gonzales did too: he preferred lies or leaving the impression of his own utter incompetence to openly expressing the utter disregard with which he and his bosses held Congress and an independent judiciary.

No more.
Attorney General Michael Mukasey refused Friday to refer the House's contempt citations against two of President Bush's top aides to a federal grand jury. Mukasey said White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten and former presidential counsel Harriet Miers committed no crime.
The new AG responds to contempt with, well, contempt. When the executive branch announces that contempt of Congress is not a crime, their arrogance can only be interpreted as naked, undisguised assertion of a totalitarian viewpoint. We decide what the law is; we decide who breaks it. Congress can go to hell.

And it ain't just the big stuff. They are now going scorched earth pretty much everywhere:
The Agriculture Department abruptly ordered congressional auditors to leave its Washington offices this week and told employees not to cooperate with them.

"You are hereby instructed not to meet with any member of the (Government Accountability Office) today, or until this matter is resolved," Michael Watts, head of the department's office of adjudication, wrote to employees Wednesday in an e-mail obtained by The Associated Press.

With only 11 months left in the reign of error (assuming they go quietly), this could all get interesting. Will they really want to set the precedent (assuming, again, that they care about such things) that the Obama Administration will be able to ignore Congressional subpoenas?

In any event, there can be no doubt that the Constitution lives on only as a historic artifact in the mold of Plato's Republic.

Update: While good works fade into memory, our nation gravitates toward new greatness:

I'm off to waterboard myself now.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Shouldn't matter, but it does

Saint John McCain has been joking for years about his absurdly cuddly relationship with the press, which he (accurately) calls his "base." So this is fascinating:

John McCain’s campaign plane is usually a pretty jovial place to be. The senator, his family and aides sit in the first few rows, while the press is stationed in the back of the plane. On most days, the two sides openly mingle, with reporters sometimes able to sit close so close to the front that they can hear McCain and his aides talking strategy.

But in the aftermath of today’s New York Times story looking at McCain’s dealings with a Washington lobbyist, the mood is decidedly different. Before McCain boarded his plane, reporters were asked to sit farther back than usual on the plane. And when McCain finally boarded the plane, he failed to offer his usual wave at reporters and opted to quickly take his seat. During the flight, the cabin was unusually quiet, save a few quick discussions McCain had with top aides Steve Schmidt and Mark Salter. Near the end of the flight, Schmidt came back to the press cabin, where, with cameras off, he railed against the New York Times for publishing its story.

There is the potential here for the special form of positive feedback loop known as a death spiral -- as McCain turns his legendary temper toward the press and stops being their darling, they will be less deferential, which will only further piss off McCain, and so on.

The readout of the Feel-Good-O-Meter on the Straight Talk Express should be right up there in relevance to a presidential campaign with the readout on the gauge that reads air pressure in the tires. But in the dysfunctional theater of high school psychodrama that is our Washington press corpse, it is not mere speculation to say that this kind of nonsense can decide an election. It already did.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Scared Straight (Talk)

Heard some of the Lehrer News Hour in the car this afternoon. They did a huge piece on the McCain scandal. And, mirabile dictu, I finally heard as part of a mainstream news story on McCain the most important name you never hear when they talk about Mr. Maverick: Charles Keating.

In case you have forgotten:

Back in the old days, defendants in famous trials got numbers -- the Chicago Eight, the Gang of Four, the Dave Clark Five, the Daytona 500. McCain was one of the "Keating Five," congressmen investigated on ethics charges for strenuously helping convicted racketeer Charles Keating after he gave them large campaign contributions and vacation trips.

Charles Keating was convicted of racketeering and fraud in both state and federal court after his Lincoln Savings & Loan collapsed, costing the taxpayers $3.4 billion. His convictions were overturned on technicalities; for example, the federal conviction was overturned because jurors had heard about his state conviction, and his state charges because Judge Lance Ito (yes, that judge) screwed up jury instructions. Neither court cleared him, and he faces new trials in both courts.)

Though he was not convicted of anything, McCain intervened on behalf of Charles Keating after Keating gave McCain at least $112,00 in contributions. In the mid-1980s, McCain made at least 9 trips on Keating's airplanes, and 3 of those were to Keating's luxurious retreat in the Bahamas. McCain's wife and father-in-law also were the largest investors (at $350,000) in a Keating shopping center; the Phoenix New Times called it a "sweetheart deal."

The fact that this scandal, which by all rights should have ended McCain's career, has never come up before in this campaign is all the evidence anyone needs of the special treatment McCain has gotten from the sycophants in the steno pool. And if the Gary Hart-like story now unfolding accomplishes nothing else, putting McCain's Keating 5 role back on the table will be a major effect. And it will set up a huge opportunity for Obama to deliver a body blow if McCain is stupid enough to claim experience and judgment as advantages -- an opportunity that will exist only if there is enough context for people to know what Obama is talking about if he references Keating.

Oh, and when Johnny Mac calls himself a maverick, the press seems to think this:

But I visualize this:

Update: Heh. Bring on the Obama-Huckabee debates.


Far too many of the McCain claims, however, haven’t withstood even minor scrutiny. McCain hadn’t spoken to anyone at Paxson, except he had. His letters on Paxson’s behalf were considered perfectly acceptable to the FCC, except that they weren’t. The McCain campaign made no effort to squash the NYT article, except that they went to great lengths to do just that. McCain never even spoke the NYT about the piece, except that he had.
And. And.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008


Bush Job Approval, Feb, 2008:

Jim Otto is hearing footsteps after all.

Friday, February 15, 2008

House Dems stand up; sun rises anyway

What a difference a day makes. (Also making a difference, apparently, is a change of venue, from Senate to House.)

No telecom immunity. Yet.

Contempt citations for Bolten and Miers.

Don't know if it will last, but whaddaya know? When Dems speak clearly and forcefully in opposition to insanity, the drones of the MSM actually seem to listen. A significant portion of the coverage I have seen has not bought into "WE ARE ALL GONNA DIE NOW!!!!!!" hysteria the Bushies favor.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Jonah Goldberg is right

I am referring, of course, to the recent screed "Liberal Fascism." Like every other sentient being, I have scoffed at Goldberg's book, and commented on the nefarious motives underlying his sophistry.

But I now think there is at least a grain of truth to his polemic, however inadvertent. And today's historic lights-out vote in the Senate made it all crystal clear to me.

I am referring to the stirring way in which 18 stalwart Democrats (and of course the estimable Joe Lieberman) joined all 49 Republicans to grant retroactive immunity to the telecoms that illegally wiretapped American citizens at the behest of our Maximum Leader.

Glennzilla is pissed; even despondent. So am I.

As I have been going on about for several years now, we no longer have the government described in our Constitution -- that is, a tripartite structure in which the executive, legislative and judiciary functions are separated and effective in protecting their respective powers. Until George Bush took office, you would have been hard-pressed to find a politician of any stripe who would have disputed this simple concept: Congress makes the law, the executive branch enforces it, and the courts interpret it.

No more.

We no longer have a government consisting of three branches. All we have left is one branch and two fig leaves. Events of the last few weeks cement that result -- a disintegration unprecedented in our nation's history.

Congress has enthusiastically recused itself from its own role. Sure, it still passes bills. But those bills are no longer the law in this country. The law as actually enforced is determined by the roughly 1000 "signing statements" George Bush has issued, and by his oxymoronic Justice Department. If the executive branch doesn't like what Congress passes, well, the solution is simple: ignore it.

Congress sails blithely on, drawing salaries, passing bills, accomplishing nothing. What remains is the investigative power held and historically wielded by Congress. But when the Bush Administration has denied Congress' investigatory powers by ignoring subpoenas, Congress has consistently folded without protest.

Thus has the legislative power effectively been transferred to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue with nary a peep of protest.

It is not clear that the judiciary is, overall, as willing to cede its authority. But look at new Attorney General Michael Mukasey -- a federal judge for 18 years -- who left the bench to, in theory, restore some semblance of justice to the Justice Department. In fact he has recently given us a mind-boggling usurpation of the judicial function.

In a congressional hearing today, House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers (D-MI) asked Attorney General Mike Mukasey whether he plans to “investigate whether U.S. interrogators broke the law when waterboarding al-Qaida detainees the years after 9/11.” Mukasey declined:

Are you ready to start a criminal investigation into whether this confirmed use of waterboarding by U.S. agents was illegal?” asked committee Chairman John Conyers, D-Mich.

No, I am not,” Mukasey answered bluntly.

“Whatever was done as part of a CIA program when it was done, was the subject of a Department of Justice opinion, through Office of Legal Counsel, that was found to be permissible under the law as it existed then,” Mukasey said.

"Found to be permissible"? Once upon a time, we all agreed that only a court of law could find a program permissible under the law. But "Judge" Mukasey has dispensed with that detail. The executive branch is now the final arbiter as to what is and is not legal.

And our Democratically-controlled Congress? They are perfectly comfortable with an administration that treats its pronouncements as optional, and considers compliance with its subpoenas unnecessary.

Now the Congress has taken yet another giant step toward its own irrelevance and the irrelevance of the judiciary. The Bush Administration has claimed that what FISA said is no longer of any consequence -- the Justice Department told AT&T and Verizon to violate what we quaintly call the law; that should be good enough for us all. The law Congress actually passed matters not; how a court would rule based on that law is equally vestigial. The President has spoken; all that remains is for the rest of us to obey.

As Greenwald notes, Froomkin has pointed out
that these companies were just doing what they were told by the Government -- and then asks rhetorically: "isn't that the very definition of a police state: that companies should do whatever the government asks, even if they know it's illegal?"

It isn't just a police state; this seamless dovetailing of the state and its corporate partners is fascism. And it is fascism that has been embraced by a significant number of nominal Democrats. The policy Attorney General Mukasey has announced, and that Congress has now embraced, is that the President is, in effect, inerrant. If the executive branch decides that a policy is legal, no court will be permitted to differ. If the President decides a law is improper, no step Congress can take can redress their pique (assuming, for the sake of argument, they can muster any).

Previous fascists had a word for this. They called it "Führerprinzip." Now it seems a bunch of alleged liberals have joined their unanimous conservative colleagues in embracing it anew.

Thus my startling conclusion about Jonah Goldberg's otherwise laughable scholarship. If Diane Feinstein is a liberal, then liberal fascism is real. If Jim Webb is a liberal, then the Hitler mustache on the smiley face is appropriate. If Harry Reid calls himself a liberal, then there isn't much daylight between the ur-fascists and at least some modern liberals.

For the last few years I have been pushing back against the abandonment by lefties of the word "liberal" in favor of "progressive." But at this point I want nothing to do with any term these despicable human beings would embrace.

They're all yours, Jonah.

Friday, February 08, 2008


This is fascinating, and brings home the way in which the MSM has totally spiked the big story in the primary results this year.

Here are selected results from the primary tallies for Orange County, CA:

McCain: 117, 333

Romney: 109,877

Huckabee: 32,078

Paul: 13,354

Clinton: 141,688

Obama: 96,967

In case you have not flown into John Wayne Airport (no, seriously, John Wayne Airport), let me assure you that the home of B-1 Bob Dornan, Dana Rohrabacher, and John Schmitz is face-meltingly conservative.

For comparison, here were the O.C. results in 2004:

Kerry: 419,239

Bush: 641,832

In 2004, the O.C. went Republican by a more than 3-2 margin. In this primary, all Republicans outdrew all Democrats by less than 10%. And the top vote-getter was a Democrat.

The results in San Diego County (also conservative, and home to Camp Pendleton and several naval bases) are even better for the Dems.

This bodes awfully well for November.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

deep thoughts

If Obama wins the nomination, I am convinced he will be elected President. If Hillary wins the nomination, I am afraid the poisonous anti-Clinton atmosphere will bring about the unthinkable: yet another Republican disaster of a President.

McCain will be 72 in January 2009. (Reagan was 69 when he took office in 1981.) I think a marathon campaign against Obama would make him look tired and as relevant as a day-old newspaper. But Clinton is (and seems) closer to McCain in age and vigor, so that will not be the same asset for her as it will be for Obama.

Obama v. McCain looks like a blowout to me. Clinton v. McCain should be the same, but it won't be. I think the wingers will largely stay home on Election day if Obama is the Dem. But their hatred of all things Clinton will help McCain close ranks with them. And an interesting play would be for him to pick Huckabee as his running mate. The classic move is to tack toward the center once you have the nomination. But the Rove play book runs the other direction. Huckabee won't pacify the pundit class, but he will deliver all those fundie voters Bush relied on.

That approach is going to scare some people even more given McCain's age. But it might just be a winning strategy if Clinton is the Dem nominee.

This video brings home to me the incredible power and poetry of Obama's words. Oratory alone is of course a slender reed. But I see no safe harbors, no other chance, however slim, to undo our nightmare. And so, knowing there is a very real chance that I will be sorely disappointed, and that he, too will fall short, I choose to believe.

Update: esoder writes that he heard "some bald guy"on CNN saying the same thing. I'm guessing said bald dude was Ari Fleisher. (I now avoid CNN -- I find them even more objectionable than Fox, because the only difference between them at this point is that Fox no longer pretends to be something other than a right-wing noise machine.)

Updater: See?

Updaterer: See?

Saturday, February 02, 2008


via Sully, who seems to be experiencing the same emotion.

I define this new word as "joy at seeing previous allies turn on each other in acrimony; see, e.g., Republicans right frigging now."

McCain gets castigated by (Ann) Coulter because he aligns himself too often with the Democrats. Her solution to that is --- to campaign for the Democrats? Maybe someone can explain the thought process to me, but it sounds like a hysterical demand for extortion rather than a considered and thoughtful political position.


It appears Coulter hates McCain more than she cares about conservative values. She has acquired McCain Derangement Syndrome, and is rather obviously unbalanced by it. Sean Hannity was clearly embarrassed to listen to this tirade, and Coulter should have been embarrassed to have indulged in it.

There's lots more where that came from.

Schadenfratricide -- s-c-h-a.....

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