Thursday, May 31, 2007


Georgie Anne Geyer, a journalist of impeccable credentials and not exactly a liberal, is out with a sobering column about the current situation in the Middle East.

The piece includes this passing, but frightening, note about President Bush:

Friends of his from Texas were shocked recently to find him nearly wild-eyed, thumping himself on the chest three times while he repeated "I am the president!" He also made it clear he was setting Iraq up so his successor could not get out of "our country's destiny."

Uh-oh! Hillary's people have a spelling problem

(Associated Press Photo)

By the way, the use of "tommorrow" in this case has a lot in common with Dan Quayle's infamous "potatoe" incident. In both cases, the politicians were innocent. Hillary Clinton had nothing to do with preparation of the mistaken backdrop signs, and Quayle's misspelling was prompted by a flash card that had it wrong.

Rockford guy focus of wider DOJ probe

The Justice Department's inspector general and the department's Office of Professional Responsibility have notified the Senate Judiciary Committee of an expanded investigation into hiring practices at the agency.

The wider probe involves, among other things, allegations of improper practices by Rockford native Michael Elston in the operation of the department's Honors Program and Summer Law Intern Program.

Elston, who was chief of staff to Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty, already has been questioned by congressional investigators behind closed doors in connection with the controversy over the firing of eight federal prosecutors.

Elston has been accused by several of those cashiered prosecutors of threatening them with retaliation if they made a fuss over their dismissals.

Background on Elston's role in the Attorneygate scandal can be found here and through the links therein.

Dr. Frank is here

If you had 15 minutes with President Bush in the Oval Office what would you tell him to do about Iraq?

That's the question the Gallup Poll put to the American people in recent days. Very few respondents said they would recommend that Bush pursue his present course. The rest, in one way or another, want the troops withdrawn.

Gallup's Dr. Frank Newport has the numbers right here.

"Pro-family" busybodies are disgusting!

The Religious Right declares itself deeply offended by the official White House photo of Dick and Lynne Cheney and the infant son of their lesbian daughter, Mary.

These people have a lot of nerve calling themselves "pro-family." There should be a special place in hell for their sort.

Troops give Lieberman a little what-for

George Bush's favorite ex-Democrat (since Ronald Reagan) visits Iraq for a photo-op or two and finds himself confronted by U.S. troops who want to get the hell out of there.

(By the way, check out the photo of Lieberman in the military helmet. He looks as goofy as Michael Dukakis famously did back in '88.)

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Interesting contrast

What should the United States do about Iran?

This guy, a retired Army general and former director of the National Security Agency, says we should form a military partnership of sorts with Iran to enforce some semblance of stability in the Middle East.

But this guy, an intellectual of no military experience, wants us to bomb Iran -- and the sooner the better.

Lou Dobbs gets his comeuppance

CNN's resident xenophobe apparently has been peddling some falsehoods about illegal immigrants, earning himself a smackdown from David Leonhardt of The New York Times.

One of Lou's distortions has to do with incarceration rates among undocumented immigrants, which was the subject of this post by The Rascal a few weeks ago.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Why do the media give short shrift to religion?

One of the great failings of the mainstream news media in America is their sparse and superficial coverage of religion.

Religion is an important factor in the lives of millions of Americans, but you wouldn't know it from the little ink and air-time it gets from the secular media.

Most daily newspapers have got whole departments full of reporters and editors who deal with nothing but sports, while only one staffer, if any, is assigned to the religion beat -- and then, usually on a part-time basis.

You would think that the media, if only in their own economic self-interest, would provide more coverage of the faith-based communities in their circulation areas. I'm talking about objective and comprehensive coverage that goes beyond the handouts issued by houses of worship, and beyond stories about the conspicuous political wrangles over abortion, school prayer and embryonic stem-cell research.

There's a whole world of religious trends, theological controversies and intra-denominational goings-on out there, but the mainstream media pay most of them no attention at all. What a shame. What a missed opportunity.

I've always felt that a weekly magazine devoted to objective coverage of religion in America would be wildly popular and thus greatly profitable. You could call it ReligionWeek or some such thing. It probably would be denounced in some quarters and might regularly find itself embroiled in heated controversy, but that's all right. People would read it.

Yes, we've already got countless religious publications and TV and radio programs, but they're all preaching to their respective choirs. There's no place for people to go for detached coverage of the real news in religion.

This subject comes to mind with the release this week of a new study by Media Matters for America, which shows that the secular news media give an unbalanced picture of religion by devoting too much time and space to the views of religious conservatives. Read it. It's an eye-opener.

Monday, May 28, 2007

The War Prayer

Mark Twain's "The War Prayer," written in 1904, has been made into a video by Washington Monthly publisher Markos Kounalakis, with illustrations by Akis Dimitrakopoulos and narration by Peter Coyote, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, and Erik Bauersfeld.

It runs about 15 minutes and is well worth the time.

(Hat-tip to Kevin Drum of PoliticalAnimal)

This is truly funny

Our friends in the patriotic, right-wing, pro-war, quasi-fascist blogosphere got their undies in a bunch recently when they discovered what seemed to them to be an act of anti-Americanism by some shameless lefty, whose offense was then compounded by those traitors at the Washington Post.

The story gets a little complicated, but it's worth following to its delicious denouement. Glenn Greenwald has the details. (It's also pleasingly instructive to check out the various links and sublinks along the way.) Enjoy

This is disturbing

If you can read books but don't, you have very little advantage over an illiterate person.

And you contribute to tragedies like this.


I'm late again with our usual Saturday morning visit to Bob Geiger for his weekly collection of political cartoons.

Here it is.

"Most of us don’t know what we’re fighting for anymore"

The troops of Delta Company, First Batallion, 325th Airborne Infantry, 82nd Airborne Division are turning against the war in Iraq.

Their story is here.

UPDATE: Here's a commentary from Donald C. Hudson Jr., a private serving in another 82nd Airborne outfit.

UPDATE II: On this Memorial Day, Paul Krugman of The New York Times offers a few worthy observations:
“In this place where valor sleeps, we are reminded why America has always gone to war reluctantly, because we know the costs of war.”
That’s what President Bush said last year, in a Memorial Day ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery. Those were fine words, spoken by a man with less right to say them than any president in our nation’s history. For Mr. Bush took us to war not with reluctance, but with unseemly eagerness...
When Rudy Giuliani says that Iran, which had nothing to do with 9/11, is part of a “movement” that “has already displayed more aggressive tendencies by coming here and killing us,” he should be treated as a lunatic.

When Mitt Romney says that a coalition of “Shia and Sunni and Hezbollah and Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood and Al Qaeda” wants to “bring down the West,” he should be ridiculed for his ignorance.

And when John McCain says that Osama, who isn’t in Iraq, will “follow us home” if we leave, he should be laughed at.

But they aren’t, at least not yet. And until belligerent, uninformed posturing starts being treated with the contempt it deserves, men who know nothing of the cost of war will keep sending other people’s children to graves at Arlington.

Whoopee! Moron museum opens today!

The flat-earthers among us now have a place to take the kids for wholesome, anti-science fun.

Read all about it here and here.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

The curious legend of John Wayne

Today's 100th anniversary of the birth of John Wayne, perhaps the biggest movie star of all time and one of my favorites when I was growing up, is an opportune occasion to examine his peculiar status as a conservative political icon.

I say "peculiar" because the Duke, as a symbol of manhood, patriotism and American virtues, was all artifice. He wasn't a cowboy. He wasn't a war hero. None of the words or actions for which he is best remembered were his own. They were the products of writers and directors, special camera angles and lighting and theme music. It was all Hollywood. None of it was reality.

This isn't to say Wayne had no talent as an actor. He did (although it was slow to develop during his career in "A" movies after a decade of working in "B" westerns). But his only Oscar came late in his career for his performance in "True Grit," which bordered on self-parody.

The off-screen John Wayne is not the one so many Americans remember with such great fondness, if they're aware of the real man at all. His off-screen utterances almost never made headlines or amounted to anything especially interesting. His personal life was somewhat dysfunctional. It included three marriages, lots of womanizing and adultery and his insistence that a pregnant Pilar Palette, who would become his third wife, get an abortion because he was not yet divorced from his second wife.

Even Wayne's big-selling, spoken-word recording of the poem "America: Why I Love Her," which was released in 1973, was, in several ways, artificial. The words weren't his. They were written by John Mitchum. And Duke's voice was technically processed to make it sound better. Moreover, the poem was almost totally devoid of tribute to American principles or history. Instead, it was mostly an ode to nature: ("Have you seen a Kansas sunset? Or an Arizona rain? Have you drifted on a bayou Down Louisiana way? Have you watched a cold fog drifting over San Francisco Bay?")

Still, the recording was a hit because, by then, Wayne had become an established symbol of patriotism, heroism and true manhood. A profession by him of love for his country -- or its geographic wonders, anyway -- was bound to be popular.

He's still a symbol of bravery and patriotism, still widely hailed as the embodiment of American virtue. But why? The question is especially perplexing in light of certain uncomfortable truths about him that go well beyond the fact that the only military action he saw during World War II was make-believe stuff on the silver screen. The cold reality is that he studiously avoided military service. He decided that his career was a higher priority. It was a decision that would haunt him the rest of his life and would damage his relationships with some of his friends, most notably his principal mentor, film director John Ford.

Biographer Garry Wills tells the story in his book "John Wayne's America: The Politics of Celebrity":

There was tremendous pressure, in public and in private, for Wayne to join them [other actors of his age who served in World War II]. But if he did, his opportunity [to become a truly big film star] might slip away forever...Wayne was prepared to do anything to avoid such a fate. He wrote tortuous excuses to John Ford, who had rushed into military service. He had his studio contrive ever-new exemptions for him... As he told the daughter of his friend and fellow actor, Paul Fix: "I better go do some touring [of military bases]--I feel the draft breathing down my neck."...

Wayne's fans have tried to make excuses for his absenteeism from the war. They even bring up the mythical "football injury" that supposedly cost him a scholarship 14 years before the war...They point out that he was 34 in 1941, still married to his first wife, with whom he had four small children -- enough to get an exemption in the war's early years. But other stars were as old or older, and some of them had children. Clark Gable was 41 when he entered the service, Tyrone Power 40, Henry Fonda and Robert Montgomery 37, Jimmy Stewart 33, Ronald Reagan 32...

[Wayne's] excuses were varied and contradictory. He wrote to Ford that he was trying to fill out the proper forms to enter the military, but he had no typewriter on location; that he left forms with [friend and fellow actor] Ward Bond, who couldn't fill them out; or that his wife, from whom he was separated, would not let him get essential documents he had left at home. In short, the dog ate his homework.

To others he claimed that Herb Yates, the head of Republic, threatened that the studio would "sue you for every penny you hope to make in the future" if he walked away from his contract. But no studio took action against the actors, directors, and cameramen, all under contract, who went to war...

In later years, Wayne had a new excuse. He told Ford's grandson, Dan, that he would have been only a private in the military (an absurd supposition), so he could have more influence through the war films he did as a star...But Wayne's identification with World War II came mainly from movies made after the war...Wayne was in none of these films that made a difference to the war effort...He was making it clear that if single-minded careerism would get him there, he was bound to make it. This cost him the chance to serve his country at its time of greatest unity against worldwide foes. Some in Hollywood never forgave Wayne for that. Part of John Ford never forgave him...This is a man who called on other generations to sacrifice their lives, and called them 'soft' if they refused...

Though Wayne's personal character came to approximate the roles he played on-screen, they could never merge in this area. There was nothing in his actual life to resemble the blank bullets he shot at fellow actors in feigned combat. He would forever be the warless "war hero."

Wills also tells of the time that John Ford's wife, Mary, wrote of Wayne to her husband: "It’s a damn shame that with a war going on he has to think about his lousy stinking tail."

Historian William Manchester, in a 1987 article in The New York Times Magazine, recalled an encounter with Duke during World War II:

After my evacuation from Okinawa, I had the enormous pleasure of seeing Wayne humiliated in person at Aiea Heights Naval Hospital in Hawaii. Only the most gravely wounded, the litter cases, were sent there.... Each evening Navy corpsmen would carry litters down to the hospital theater so the men could watch a movie. One night they had a surprise for us. Before the film the curtains parted and out stepped John Wayne, wearing a cowboy outfit...He grinned his aw-shucks grin, passed a hand over his face and said, ‘Hi ya, guys!' He was greeted by a stony silence. Then somebody booed. Suddenly everyone was booing. This man was a symbol of the fake machismo we had come to hate, and we weren't going to listen to him. He tried and tried to make himself heard, but we drowned him out, and eventually he quit and left.

But that was years before Duke played the role of Sgt. Stryker in "Sands of Iwo Jima," which cemented his image as a war hero.

And now, nearly 58 years after that film was made and 28 years after Wayne's death, there is still cause to wonder why this fake war hero is hailed to this day as a model of Americanism, especially by conservative Republicans.

I have a theory: Social conservatives, more than liberals, tend to embrace myths and make-believe. They distrust realities that don't jibe with their fairy tales. They're more inclined to dismiss scientific evidence of evolution and global-warming. They're more inclined to see the world in simple terms of good and bad -- with no ambiguities -- just like in John Wayne's movies.

Social conservatives aren't likely to subscribe to this philosophy from Adlai Stevenson, the late governor of Illinois and twice a candidate for president: "Patriotism is not short, frenzied outbursts of emotion, but the tranquil and steady dedication of a lifetime."

Social conservatives generally see the American flag as more sacred than the U.S. Constitution. That's because the flag is about emotion, while the Constitution is about complicated concepts that require courts to intepret. We get no freedoms from the flag, but we are supposed to treat it with almost religious reverence. We get our American system -- freedoms and all -- from the Constitution, but nobody's going to get upset if I carelessly throw a copy of it in the garbage.

In that same sense, the popular image of John Wayne is about emotion rather than complicated concepts. He seemed manly because he wasn't very complicated, at least in his roles on the screen. In his movies, he didn't play lawyers or judges or politicians or professors. Rather, he played cowboys and marshals and soldiers and other kinds of men who took no guff from anybody and didn't have to study legalistic footnotes to decide what was right or wrong.

It's funny how social conservatives, for all their vaunted disdain of Hollywood, are more likely than liberals to embrace actors as politicians. Ronald Reagan is only the most prominent example. Consider the current situation with actor Fred Thompson. Here's a guy whose positions on the issues are unknown to most Americans, but polls show him leading seven of the 10 candidates for the Republican presidential nomination. It's simply a case of some people liking the Fred Thompson they see in movies and on television.

People generally liked the John Wayne they saw in movies. They liked him so much that they substituted him for the real John Wayne.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Durbin can be a weenie

Dick Durbin, the senior senator from RascalLand, voted last night to continue funding of the war in Iraq without any timetable for withdrawal of U.S. troops.

Apparently afraid that Republicans would impugn his patriotism and accuse him of not supporting the troops, Durbin knuckled under to George W. Bush.

He explained himself thusly, according to the Chicago Tribune:

I share the frustration of those who are angry about this failed war policy and the soldiers who are fighting and dying. I'm doing everything in my power to keep this national debate front and center and to change this policy. Until we have more senators of both parties who feel this way, we are limited in our options.

Everything in his power to change this policy? By voting to continue it?

Well, at least our junior senator, Barack Obama, did the right thing.

The Trib has this story about antiwar pressures on Democratic lawmakers.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Salute the general

He's got a nifty little random list of errors by the gang that can't shoot straight.

Thanks, Keith

Olbermann blasts away at Bush and at the weenie Dems who knuckle under to him on the war in Iraq.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Americans are confused about immigration

There's a new Rasmussen poll out today showing that only 26 percent of Americans are in favor of that big immigration-reform bill unveiled last week.

But 65 percent of poll respondents said they would be willing to support:

a compromise including a “very long path to citizenship” provided that “the proposal required the aliens to pay fines and learn English” and that the compromise “would truly reduce the number of illegal aliens entering the country.” The proposal, specifically described as a compromise, was said to include “strict employer penalties for hiring illegal aliens, building a barrier along the Mexican border and other steps to significantly reduce the number of illegal aliens entering the United States.”

Well, all those features are included in the bill now pending, the one that's stirred such a ruckus, the one that only 26 percent of Americans support. It seems that most people don't what that bill is really about.

Big Lizards has the story right here.

John Edwards lays it out well

I'm beginning to pay more attention to what John Edwards is saying these days, and it's making more sense to me that anything I'm hearing from...well, from Hillary Clinton, for example.

Edwards delivered a speech today to the Council on Foreign Relations that showed nerve, brains and vision.

I wouldn't rule this guy out for the Democratic presidential nomination, no matter that Clinton and Barack Obama are the front-runners at this point. It's a three-way race, as I see it.

This guy's got it right

David Sirota gives our weak-kneed Democratic Congress a little well-deserved what-for on the issue of the war in Iraq.

Too much melisma these days

For years now, I haven't been able to put my finger on exactly what it is that I don't like about so many pop singers in the past few decades.
But now I know the reason. It's melisma.

According to Wikipedia, melisma, "commonly known as vocal runs or simply the technique of changing the note (pitch) of a single syllable of text while it is being sung."

When it's not done right, melisma is just an act of vocally showing off to no good effect.

Francis Davis put the issue in perspective last year with an essay in The Atlantic Monthly titled "The Singing Epidemic." Davis wrote:

The new singers don't necessarily all sound alike, but they tend to resemble one another in mistaking vocal calisthenics for improvisation. Mariah Carey [pictured above], Christina Aguilera, and the hopefuls on American Idol are ruining pop singing with their overuse of melisma, a style of ornamentation that Sam Cooke, Aretha Franklin, and other soul singers brought with them from gospel in the 1950s and 1960s. For the great soul singers, holding on to a syllable and stretching it out over several notes was a way of suggesting that something had grabbed them and wouldn't let go; whether it was the Holy Ghost or lust depended on the song. Carey and the others are just showing off their pipes, even though they have much less to flaunt. The jazz version of this is riffing like a horn, and although this is supposedly the mark of the jazz singer, it's a problem, because delivering lyrics requires making literal as well as musical sense.

Probably the worst offender of our time with respect to melisma is Whitney Houston, whose singing I rarely hear anymore, for which I am thankful.

Worst comb-over ever?

Guess who!

It's Rudy!

(Hat tip to Dependable Renegade)


Wait a minute! It's hard to beat this one:
(No, I don't know who this guy is.)

Who are more prone to violence -- American Muslims or American Christians?

Glenn Greenwald measures the reaction to a new Pew poll and compares the numbers with those from other surveys.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Bomb plot at Falwell funeral

The funeral today for right-wing televangelist Jerry Falwell, who died suddenly last week at age 73, was a notable event on several counts.

For starters, thousands of admirers turned out for the services at Falwell's Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, Va., a testimony to the loyalty of his most devout followers.

But the throng was conspicuous for its absence of any major Republican players. Not one of the GOP's 10 presidential candidates, many of whom are eager to court the religious right, could find time in his schedule to get to the funeral.

The White House sent only a mid-level munchkin named Tim Goegelein. President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and all the other administration biggies apparently had other priorities. Nor were there any members of Congress there.

There were some anti-Falwell types outside the church, registering their disapproval of the man's controversial declarations over the years.

Oh, and there was one other element that lent the whole affair a big extra helping of drama: Mark D. Uhl, a 19-year-old student at Falwell's college, Liberty University, was arrested with a bunch of homemade bombs in his car that he allegedly had planned to use against the anti-Falwell protesters.

The cops reportedly are looking for three other suspected conspirators in the alleged bomb plot, one of whom was said to be a soldier from Fort Benning, Ga.

ABC News has the story here.

UPDATE: The comments on the ABC Web site this evening include this beauty from somebody who objects to the network reporting the matter of the alleged bomb plot. (One wonders if this person majored in English at Liberty U.):
25 years ago I was a student at Falwells University. It is a shame that one nut makes all of the alumni and friends of Jerry Falwell out to be some type of wacko. Most of the alumni are great citizens all across the country. Shame on ABC for leading with this story instead of Falwells funeral. Fox News at least if fair and balanced. ABC and most other national media are bias. It seems that Christians are the only people in the country who being politically correct towards is not practiced.
By the way, the Fox News Web site also was leading with the bomb-plot story. So much for its difference from the media that are "bias."

Try reading a little history

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, one of the second-tier candidates for the Republican presidential nomination, is in high dudgeon over former President Jimmy Carter's disparagement of the Bush administration as the worst in American history.

There's nothing wrong, of course, with Huckabee taking issue with Carter. But there is something wrong with Huckabee's claim that Carter "violated an unspoken code that you don't make personal attacks on others who currently hold the job. You just don't."

Unspoken code? It's a non-existent code, a code that lots of former presidents have paid no mind. Huckabee should crack open a history book now and again and check out what some former presidents have said about their successors (not to mention the bad things they've said about their predecessors):

Teddy Roosevelt called his immediate successor, William Howard Taft, a "puzzlewit" and a "fathead" and ran against him as a third-party candidate. TR also disparaged Taft's immediate successor, Woodrow Wilson.

John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, our second and third presidents, said lots of terrible things about each other.

Dwight Eisenhower was openly critical of John F. Kennedy's policies.

The first President Bush publicly knocked Bill Clinton.

Richard Nixon criticized the first President Bush.

Gerald Ford criticized the current President Bush.

Where did this nonsense arise about this unwritten code?

This whole business reminds me of Ronald Reagan's so-called 11th Commandment: "Speak no ill of a fellow Republican." But Ronnie ran against incumbent President Gerald Ford, a fellow Republican, for the GOP nomination in 1976, disparaging Ford at least by implication.

Reagan's challenge to Ford, and his failure to bust butt for the party's ticket in the general-election campaign, contributed to Ford's loss to Jimmy Carter.

Vet blasts right-wing legionnaires

Retired Air Force Lt. Col. Hal Donahue, a district deputy commander and lifetime member of the American Legion, laments what's happened to the organization.

Monday, May 21, 2007

The lies about Rachel Carson

Lots of the people who are inclined to dismiss the threat of global warming as an evil plot hatched by Al Gore and others of his ilk also are fond of bad-mouthing the late Rachel Carson, whose 1962 book "The Silent Spring" launched the modern environmental movement.

They're fond of saying that countless deaths from malaria can be blamed on Carson's successful effort to have the pesticide DDT banned as an environmental hazard. A new round of such Carson-bashing has been triggered by this item, which appeared last week on Echoes have been recorded all over the blogosphere (here, here, here and here, to cite a few examples).

Ah, but there are a few problems with this theme: 1) Carson got DDT banned as an agricultural insecticide, not as an anti-malarial weapon; 2) The agricultural ban slowed the development of resistance to DDT, which in turn has saved lives; 3) Malaria has made a big comeback in areas where DDT-resistant mosquitoes have appeared.

Check out the facts of the matter here.

Hockey's a dumb "sport"

The Rockford IceHogs' playoff game of this past Saturday night, as described here, is eloquent testimony to why local government should not own a hockey team.

As I've asked here previously, why don't the authorities arrest these hockey goons for fighting? Such conduct is against the rules of hockey. Such conduct will get you arrested in almost any other setting. Why do these cretins on the MetroCentre ice get a pass?

An apology from The Rascal

In a post here last Thursday, The Rascal expressed support for legislation that would expand the federal hate-crime law to cover sexual orientation and criticized those who oppose the measure.

I was wrong.

In my eagerness to denounce homophobes and religious zealots, I somehow forgot that I'm at least a little uncomfortable with so-called hate-crime laws. Such measures, it seems to me, can come too close to punishing thought or to trampling free-speech rights.

My proper philosophical bearings have returned upon reading about a case in nearby McHenry County, Ill., where two teenage girls from Crystal Lake have been charged with hate-crime felonies for distributing fliers bearing a photo of two boys kissing and what police said were "words of an inflammatory nature" against homosexuality.

Something is missing here, it occurs to me. Hate-crime laws are supposed to provide for extra penalties in cases where underlying offenses against people or property are motivated by bias on the basis of race, gender, religion, etc. But in the Crysal Lake case, I see nothing in the news accounts (here and here) about any underlying offense.

Aside from the so-called hate crimes, the defendants also are charged with disorderly conduct and obstructing police. But where's the underlying crime? Is hate the underlying crime? Can hate be outlawed under our Constitution?

Writing for, encyclopedist and author Robert McHenry (no relation to the county -- heh, heh) raises a few troubling points about hate crimes, points I would do well to remember the next time I write about this subject.

Meanwhile, I hope the American Civil Liberties Union comes to the aid of the defendants in the Crystal Lake case.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Speaking of religion...

For a few laughs, check out this story about "The Moron Magnet."

Sunday blasphemy

George Carlin discusses religion in this video. (Warning --or promise, depending on your tastes: Lots of profane language.)


The Rascal was preoccupied yesterday and missed our regular Saturday hookup with Bob Geiger for his weekly selection of political cartoons.

Better late than never: Here they are.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Fredo quitting tonight?

John Aravosis at AmericaBlog says the buzz in D.C. is that Alberto Gonzales might resign tonight.

If so, Bush's choice for a successor will have to pass muster in a Democratic-controlled Senate, which will be disinclined to approve another stooge like Fredo.

And, of course, a truly independent attorney general could mean big trouble for the administration, what with all of its ethically challenged employees.

Pelosi lectures Bush on military pay

The Great Decider, who has decided to oppose a pay-raise bill for U.S. military personnel (which we told you about here), has received a letter on the matter from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and some of her Democratic congressional colleagues.

It reads as follows:

Dear Mr. President,

We are writing to urge you to reconsider your objections to H.R. 1585, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008.

Your office's recent Statement of Administration Policy on H.R. 1585 raised several concerns regarding this bipartisan legislation that the House of Representatives passed yesterday by an overwhelming 397-27 margin.

In particular, the Statement of Administration Policy on H.R. 1585 objected to sections 601 and 606, which raises military pay 0.5% above your proposal, and Section 644, which provides an extra $40 per month for surviving spouses of fallen members of our armed services.

Mr. President, you have consistently called on Congress and the American people to support our troops. Considering the sacrifices that our military families make, the Democratic proposal to provide the troops with the pay raise they deserve and an increase in benefits for the spouses they may leave behind is one small way that we can support our troops.

When it comes to supporting our troops, our actions must match our words. Please join us in supporting our troops by reconsidering both your veto threat to the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008, and your objections to an increase in military pay and survivor benefits for the brave men and women serving our country in the armed forces.


Nancy Pelosi, Speaker

Steny Hoyer, Majority leader

James Clyburn, Majority whip

Rahm Emanuel, Chair, Democratic Caucus

Ike Skelton, Chair, House Armed Services Committee

Ellen Tauscher, Chair, Strategic Forces Subcommittee

Steve Israel, Member of Congress

Keep a happy thought for Bo

Rock 'n roll pioneer Bo Diddley, a favorite of The Rascal and a huge influence on the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and countless other artists, is said to be doing better after suffering a stroke this past weekend in Omaha at age 78.

Here's a somewhat primitive video of the man performing two of his eponymously titled songs, "Bo Diddley" and "Hey Bo Diddley," more than 40 years ago in England.

Your Republican Party today

In a recent wide-ranging analysis of political polls, Susan Page of USA Today wrote: "The Republican Party now has a net negative rating of 9 percentage points: 42% viewed it favorably, 51% unfavorably. The Democratic Party has a net positive rating of 13 points, 55%-38%."

This is a reversal of the situation of only a few years ago, and it's a commentary on the damage George W. Bush has done to his party.

Even the Republican label can be a negative in the current climate. As pollster Scott Rasmussen puts it: "The Republican brand is a drag right now on their party's candidates."

Columnist Paul Krugman of The New York Times has an interesting take this morning on the GOP's bleak fortunes and on how none of the party's major presidential candidates seems likely to stray far from Bush's disastrous course.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Bush supports the troops?

Sure, he does. He supports the troops so much that he's threatening to veto a proposed pay raise for them and an increase in benefits for military widows.

The story is here.

UPDATE: Oh, there's something else in that pay-raise bill for the troops that Bush doesn't like. He's against price controls for prescription drugs under the military’s health care plan for military personnel and their dependents. You see, he's against anything Big Pharma is against.

Rockford guy and his brother mocked

Rockford native Michael Elston, one of the Justice Department officials in the spotlight in connection with the Prosecutorgate scandal, and his brother Rick were mocked today by Darryl over at Jesus' General.

Background on Michael Elston's involvement in the scandal can be found here and through the links therein.

UPDATE: The Washington Post had an item about Michael Elston today, stuff gleaned from the Justice Department's latest document dump. TPM Muckraker has the story here.

Hey! How's Bush's "surge" in Iraq working?

Apparently, it's not working very well.

In fact, Reuters is reporting that a British think tank considers Iraq's government to be on the verge of collapse.

Gay bashers aren't in the mainstream

For months now, the so-called pro-family crowd and various so-called Christian leaders have been howling to high heaven about the specter of legislation that would expand the federal hate crime law to cover sexual orientation.

The House already has approved such a measure (without, not surprisingly, support from Republican Rep. Don Manzullo), and the Senate is considering a similar bill. President Bush, however, is threatening a veto.

But the Gallup Poll is out today with numbers indicating that more than two-thirds of Americans -- including solid majorities of self-described Republicans, Christians and conservatives -- are in favor of the legislation. It's good to see that rank-and-file Christians generally are defying their "leaders" on this issue.

Read the numbers here, and check this video report from Gallup's Dr. Frank Newport.

Let's revisit that latest GOP "debate"

Jon Stewart has a funny video recap right here.

Forget Prosecutorgate; this is far worse

The stench arising from issues raised by former Acting Attorney General James Comey in his testimony Tuesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee is becoming increasingly noticeable throughout official Washington and across the fruited plain.

The Rascal mentioned this matter yesterday in this post. Today, even the Washington Post, a previously reliable defender of Bush administration prerogatives, is sitting up and taking notice.

What we have here, folks, is the possibility that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and other officials in the Bush administration, perhaps the president himself, deliberately and willfully committed crimes. This goes way beyond the unseemly manner in which Gonzales and company cashiered eight federal prosecutors.

Here we have a scandal in which former Attorney General John Ashcroft, ordinarily no hero in my book, is one of the good guys.

Paul Kiel over at TPM Muckraker has a good summary of the whole matter right here.

UPDATE: Glenn Greenwald has more to say on this issue.

UPDATE II: The New York Times also has this editorial.

UPDATE III: Legal whiz Jonathon Turley sees an impeachable offense in this stuff. Here's the video of his appearance on Keith Olbermann's program.

Illinois is most like USA as a whole

The Census Bureau announced today that America's minority population has passed 100 million, and that one of every three of us is non-white.

It's also noted that Illinois, my own RascalLand, is demographically the most representative state of them all.

West Virginia is the least typical state, which is one of the reasons (among many others) why I never go there.

The social and political implications of this increasing diversity are, of course, numerous. And I'm struck by the fact that our U.S. Congress, which has never been demographically representative of the populace, is less and less so.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Dare we use the I-word?

The Rascal has been reluctant all along to join the chorus of liberals calling for the impeachment of President Bush. While many of the president's policies and actions have been wrong-headed, none has struck me as a clearly impeachable offense.

Besides, the Clinton impeachment, based as it was on relative trivialities and lacking sufficient support from the public, seems to me to have been harmful to our political system. We shouldn't, I feel, pursue another impeachment without solid reasons to do so.

But now I'm beginning to think that such solid reasons might well exist. The potential last straw arises from former acting Attorney General James Comey's testimony on Tuesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

As Glenn Greenwald notes here, the matter at issue in Comey's testimony was a policy that had been deemed illegal by the Justice Department, a policy that President Bush pursued anyway.

The political center is disappearing

At least, that's what this guy says.

Misusing the word "censorship"

When retired Gen. John Batiste made a TV ad for in which he criticized President Bush's Iraq war policy, CBS News fired Batiste as a paid consultant.

The network's decision, in my opinion, was ill-advised and hypocritical, especially in light of the fact that it hasn't fired other consultants who are supportive of Bush's policies.

But this is not a case of "censorship," despite howls to that effect among so many of my fellow lefties (like this guy, for example, and also these fine folks at

There's no real censorship in this matter. The government hasn't forced CBS to get rid of Batiste or to discourage him from speaking his mind. Batiste is free to say what he wants, but CBS is not required to provide him a platform, if it chooses not to. After all, the network has its freedoms, too, and one of those is the freedom to hire whomever it wants to express opinions on its programs.

We liberals do ourselves no good when we scream "censorship" without sufficient regard to the meaning of the word.

Is it censorship when I decline to publish certain comments that are submitted to this blog? Should I be required to publish any and all comments? No and no! It's my freaking blog, and I'll publish what I damn well please, thank you. If you don't like it, get your own blog, or peddle your comments to some other blog that will accept them.

Speaking of misplaced religious zeal...

From Navy Times, we get this unsettling report.

In memoriam

From The Carpetbagger Report, a review of some of Jerry Falwell's greatest hits:
  • March 1980: Falwell tells an Anchorage rally about a conversation with President Carter at the White House. Commenting on a January breakfast meeting, Falwell claimed to have asked Carter why he had “practicing homosexuals” on the senior staff at the White House. According to Falwell, Carter replied, “Well, I am president of all the American people, and I believe I should represent everyone.” When others who attended the White House event insisted that the exchange never happened, Falwell responded that his account “was not intended to be a verbatim report,” but rather an “honest portrayal” of Carter’s position.

  • August 1980: After Southern Baptist Convention President Bailey Smith tells a Dallas Religious Right gathering that “God Almighty does not hear the prayer of a Jew,” Falwell gives a similar view. “I do not believe,” he told reporters, “that God answers the prayer of any unredeemed Gentile or Jew.” After a meeting with an American Jewish Committee rabbi, he changed course, telling an interviewer on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that “God hears the prayers of all persons…. God hears everything.”

  • July 1984: Falwell is forced to pay gay activist Jerry Sloan $5,000 after losing a court battle. During a TV debate in Sacramento, Falwell denied calling the gay-oriented Metropolitan Community Churches “brute beasts” and “a vile and Satanic system” that will “one day be utterly annihilated and there will be a celebration in heaven.” When Sloan insisted he had a tape, Falwell promised $5,000 if he could produce it. Sloan did so, Falwell refused to pay and Sloan successfully sued. Falwell appealed, with his attorney charging that the Jewish judge in the case was prejudiced. He lost again and was forced to pay an additional $2,875 in sanctions and court fees.

  • October 1987: The Federal Election Commission fines Falwell for transferring $6.7 million in funds intended for his ministry to political committees.

  • February 1988: The U.S. Supreme Court strikes down a $200,000 jury award to Falwell for “emotional distress” he suffered because of a Hustler magazine parody. Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, usually a Falwell favorite, wrote the unanimous opinion in Hustler v. Falwell, ruling that the First Amendment protects free speech.

  • February 1993: The Internal Revenue Service determines that funds from Falwell’s Old Time Gospel Hour program were illegally funneled to a political action committee. The IRS forced Falwell to pay $50,000 and retroactively revoked the Old Time Gospel Hour’s tax-exempt status for 1986-87.

  • March 1993: Despite his promise to Jewish groups to stop referring to America as a “Christian nation,” Falwell gives a sermon saying, “We must never allow our children to forget that this is a Christian nation. We must take back what is rightfully ours.”

  • 1994-1995: Falwell is criticized for using his “Old Time Gospel Hour” to hawk a scurrilous video called “The Clinton Chronicles” that makes a number of unsubstantiated charges against President Bill Clinton — among them that he is a drug addict and that he arranged the murders of political enemies in Arkansas. Despite claims he had no ties to the project, evidence surfaced that Falwell helped bankroll the venture with $200,000 paid to a group called Citizens for Honest Government (CHG). CHG’s Pat Matrisciana later admitted that Falwell and he staged an infomercial interview promoting the video in which a silhouetted reporter said his life was in danger for investigating Clinton. (Matrisciana himself posed as the reporter.) “That was Jerry’s idea to do that,” Matrisciana recalled. “He thought that would be dramatic.”

  • November 1997: Falwell accepts $3.5 million from a front group representing controversial Korean evangelist Sun Myung Moon to ease Liberty University’s financial woes.

  • April 1998: Confronted on national television with a controversial quote from America Can Be Saved!, a published collection of his sermons, Falwell denies having written the book or had anything to do with it. In the 1979 work, Falwell wrote, “I hope to live to see the day when, as in the early days of our country, we won’t have any public schools. The churches will have taken them over again and Christians will be running them. What a happy day that will be!” Despite Falwell’s denial, Sword of the Lord Publishing, which produced the book, confirms that Falwell wrote it.

  • January 1999: Falwell tells a pastors’ conference in Kingsport, Tenn., that the Antichrist prophesied in the Bible is alive today and “of course he’ll be Jewish.”

  • February 1999: Falwell becomes the object of nationwide ridicule after his National Liberty Journal newspaper issues a “parents alert” warning that Tinky Winky, a character on the popular PBS children’s show “Teletubbies,” might be gay.

  • September 2001: Falwell blames Americans for the 9/11 terrorist attacks. “The abortionists have got to bear some burden for this because God will not be mocked. And when we destroy 40 million little innocent babies, we make God mad. I really believe that the Pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People For the American Way, all of them who have tried to secularize America. I point the finger in their face and say, ‘You helped this happen.’”

  • November 2005: Falwell spearheads campaign to resist “war on Christmas.”

  • February 2007: Falwell describes global warming as a conspiracy orchestrated by Satan, liberals, and The Weather Channel.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

What global warming?

Oh, you mean the global warming that melted away a chunk of ice in Antarctica that was the size of California.

Wingnuts echo Trib scribe's error

Chicago Tribune automotive columnist Jim Mateja recently accused Sen. Barack Obama, in somewhat snarky terms, of getting his facts wrong about the fuel economy of Japanese cars.

It turns out that Obama was right and Mateja was wrong. But the truth of the matter didn't gain prominent notice until after a whole raft of right-wing bloggers, ever eager to diss Obama, had repeated Mateja's false charge.

Media Matters has the story here.

Jerry Falwell stricken

The televangelist was found unconscious in his office at Liberty University in Virginia and is said to be in gravely serious condition in a hospital.

I'm no fan of Falwell. No, let's not beat around the bush: I think he's a fraud, a bigot and a menace to America. But I wish him well in this situation, as I would any person.

UPDATE: Falwell has died.

UPDATE II: Lest we forget: Within days of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Falwell appeared on Pat Robertson's "700 Club" and had this to say: "I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People For the American Way, all of them who have tried to secularize America. I point the finger in their face and say 'you helped this happen.'" (Robertson expressed full agreement.)

This is counterintuitive, to put it mildly

This surprised me, I'll admit, and you can make of it what you will:

A recent study indicates that crime and incarceration rates are lower for illegal immigrants than for their U.S.-born counterparts. The research also indicates that crime rates increase among immigrants as they assimmilate (that is, become better educated and more proficient in English and acquire job skills).

Here's the story (with a link to the study data).

If you know of solid evidence that counters the findings of this study, share it with The Rascal.

Monday, May 14, 2007

WaPo elitist smacked down

Some guy at The Washington Post has unburdened himself of disdain for bloggers who dare to write their stuff under pseudonyms, as does The Rascal.

Digby, one such pseudonymous wretch, offers this tasteful response to the fellow's umbrage.

Lying bastards!

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, not exactly a champion of ethics in business, is resorting to falsehoods in its TV ad campaign against what it calls "lawsuit abuse." has the story right here.

Another dirty hippie against the war?

Well, no. Actually, it's another retired general who served in Iraq and now faults President Bush for pursuing an ill-advised policy.

This time, it's Gen. Paul D. Eaton (left), a 33-year veteran of the U.S. Army. Here's the video of the ad he's done for VoteVets. org.

Last week, we showed you an ad done by retired. Gen. John Batiste, who was featured in an article in yesterday's New York Times (which we picked up in this case from Michael Moore's Web site so that it wouldn't get timed out).

By the way, Cynthia Tucker, editorial page editor of the Atlanta Constitution, said on TV yesterday that even some active-duty generals might soon speak out against the war.

Blame gasoline prices on the war in Iraq

That's what John Aravosis says right here.

He makes the point that gas prices actually went down in the wake of 9/11 and then soared when George W. Bush got us into his glorious war.

Hypocrisy on abortion

I'm not going to hold my breath waiting for it to happen, but I'd like to see a questioner at one of these so-called debates among Republican presidential hopefuls dig beyond the surface with regard to the pro-life posturing by some of the candidates.

For example, Mitt Romney, who used to be pro-choice, now says he's against abortion except in cases of rape or incest. I don't understand that.

If abortion is immoral because it's the taking of innocent life, how does the morality change in a case of rape or incest? Is the fetus in such a case somehow not innocent?

The hypocrisy on that point arises from purely political considerations. Most people shutter at the thought of a woman having to bring a fetus to full-term in a case of rape or incest. And most politicians are loathe to buck majority sentiment on the matter. So much for the sincerity of their pro-life positions.

Another question: If a fetus is a person, and abortion is the unwarranted killing of that innocent person, why don't any of the pro-life candidates favor a law under which the mother would be charged with murder?

The answer to that question, of course, is that taking such a position likely would be political suicide. Most Americans don't want women who get abortions to be prosecuted as murderers.

Nor, it seems to me, is there any consistency of logic in making an exception for an abortion to save the life of the mother. In his book "Papal Sin," author Garry Wills argues: "If the fetus and the mother have equal status as persons, the natural and not the inflicted death should be preferred," if you're going to be morally and logically consistent about it.

Then, too, the candidates should be required to square their anti-abortion positions with the belief among some folks -- orthodox Catholics, for example -- that the so-called morning-after pill is an abortifacient. Are any of these pols willing to call for a ban on morning-after pills? Are they willing to call for murder charges against women who take such pills? If not, why not?

In fact, the politicians should be required to explain in detail their opinions on just when life starts and when, if ever, it's permissible to end such life and what penalties should be imposed for violations of any limits that are enacted into law. Questions like that would prompt most Republican candidates, I'm sure, to squirm and dance and tie themselves into ideological knots.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

American Hezbollah

Hezbollah is an Arabic word standing for "party of God," and it's the name of an Islamic political and paramilitary organization based in Lebanon.

Hezbollah also is the Arabic word for what Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen thinks of the Republican Party.

Van Hollen told a gathering in Lake Geneva today that the Republican Party is "a party of God, we’re a party of faith, we’re a party that will do the right thing and represent the people."

Such theocratic rhetoric brings to mind George W. Bush's messianic complex and his image among worshipful admirers as a messenger of God. It also helps explain why W's administration has hired more than 150 zealous graduates of Pat Robertson's clown college, Regent University.

Such rhetoric also comports with the opinions of Bishop Thomas Doran of the Catholic Diocese of Rockford, who sees the Democrats as the party of "abortion, buggery, contraception, divorce, euthanasia, feminism of the radical type, and genetic experimentation and mutilation," as he so gently put it in a column last summer.

One wonders if America's "party of God" might eventually mimic its Islamic namesake with a Christian form of Jihadism.

Hey, kids! It's time for Saturday cartoons!

As we do every Saturday morning, let's check in with Bob Geiger to see his weekly collection of political cartoons.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Manzullo was once an antiwar activist

Nineteen months ago, Republican Don Manzullo, who represents the Rockford area in the U.S. House, suggested that "the time is coming to consider gradually withdrawing U.S. troops" from Iraq.

But that was the one and only occasion on which he ever publicly expressed such thoughts. Maybe some of his constituents called his patriotism into question. Whatever the case, he has since been as steadfast in support of Bush administration policy in Iraq as any member of Congress. Last night, for example, he loyally toed the party line on a war-funding bill.

Manzullo even once said that Americans who dared "second guess" the president with regard to the war "should be put on a ship and sent off for a while."

There was a time, however, when Manzullo didn't subscribe to the notion that patriotism required Americans to unite behind the president when we have military forces in action in some foreign land. On the contrary, he ranted and raved about how wrong it was to send our forces into battle.

It happened in the spring of 1999, when the United States and NATO engaged in a military campaign to protect ethnic Albanians in Kosovo from Serbian aggression. Manzullo, following the cue of his Republican Party leadership, protested that the Clinton administration had "misjudged" the situation.

He lamented that we were "attacking a sovereign state." He condemned the bombing campaign that preceded the introduction of U.S. ground troops. He said the air strikes would only embolden the dictatorship of Slobodan Milosevic. He said efforts to reach "a diplomatic solution" should be pursued.

Concerned that the ground war "will cost hundreds if not thousands of American lives," Manzullo said, "I must do everything I can to stop that tragedy before it happens." Accordingly, he co-sponsored legislation demanding an end to U.S. participation in the war, despite President Clinton's warning that it would "sent the wrong message" to the enemy.

"I support the valiant fighting men and women of our armed forces," Manzullo declared. "That is why I am calling for their withdrawal."

He worried that American troops would be dragged into "hand-to-hand, house-to-house combat against a well-equipped" adversary, including "people fighting to protect their homeland against invasion."

Manzullo even went so far as to sign on as a plaintiff in a lawsuit that accused the president of violating the U.S. constitution and the 1973 War Powers Resolution.

Yes, he was mighty upset about it all, as were lots of his Republican colleagues. He and they were not deterred by any suggestion that dissent from U.S. war policy was somehow un-American.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Slogans instead of strategy

In today's Chicago Tribune, Steve Chapman offers a nifty little review of the Republican record of cutting and running.

Will this include the Rockford guy?

Two of the U.S. attorneys whose dismissals from their jobs are part of what's become known as the Prosecutorgate scandal told the Seatlle Times on Wednesday that they expect criminal charges to be brought against certain Justice Department officials.

But apparently neither John McKay of Washington state nor David Iglesias of New Mexico mentioned Rockford native Michael Elston, one of the DOJ officials embroiled in the scandal. Background on Elston's role can be found in this piece and through various links therein.

By the way, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales will testify on the matter today before the House Judiciary Committee.

UPDATE: The New York Times reports this morning that Gonzales thinks he'll survive the scandal.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Eleven Republican congressmen, including one from Illinois, give Bush a face-to-face scolding

NBC reported tonight that a delegation of 11 Republican members of Congress, led by Rep. Mark Kirk of Illinois (left) and a colleague from Pennsylvania, met with President Bush for more than an hour today and told him he has no credibility on Iraq.

The network's Tim Russert said the confrontation "may have been a defining pivotal moment" in the ongoing struggle between Bush and Congress over the war. Russert quoted one of the GOP lawmakers as saying: "We need candor, we need honesty, Mr. President."

Wow! Sounds like the political dam is beginning to break.

Check out the story and video here.

UPDATE: Actually, the meeting at the White House took place Tuesday afternoon, not Wednesday, and a second Illinois Republican lawmaker, Rep. Ray LaHood of Peoria, was among those attending.

Another cowardly, cut-and-run hippie?

To hear some people tell it, the only Americans who want to pull our troops out of Iraq forthwith are limp-wristers, hippies, women and people who hate our military and our country.

The truth, of course, is something else. For example, check this video for a strong antiwar statement from retired Gen. John Batiste (pictured on the left), a former Army commander in Iraq. It's part of a TV ad campaign sponsored by

And check this stuff from The National Security Network, wherein a bunch of retired generals denounce President Bush's recent veto of the war-spending bill with its non-binding timeline for withdrawal of our troops.

The ultimate irony in all of this is that so many of the people who impugn the patriotism of the so-called cut-and-run crowd have never served in the military themselves. Many of them also refuse to acknowledge that the ranks of the war critics include lots of veterans, these aforementioned generals among them. This uncomfortable truth doesn't fit the stereotypes peddled by these chickenhawks.

(Disclaimer: The Rascal hasn't served in the military, either, but neither have I been a cheerleader for either the Vietnam War or this current misadventure.)

Coming soon: A look at the Duke

John Wayne's 100th birthday rolls around later this month, and The Rascal will mark the occasion with an examination of the Duke's place in the pantheon of conservative Republican heroes.

This special feature likely will appear here within the next week or 10 days so as to gain a jump on the orgy of Duke tributes we'll see in the mainstream media on his centennial on May 26.

So, check back, Pilgrim.

Good morning, Frank

Frank Newport, the Gallup Poll dude, is here with the latest numbers on what you folks out there think about our glorious adventure in Iraq.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Terrorist attack by doofuses thwarted

Read all about it right here.

This helps explain things

Dick Morris, a frequent right-wing bloviator on the Fox News Channel, offers here a reason to keep our troops in Iraq.

He says the troops provide a more convenient target for terrorists, thus reducing the need for the bad guys to come to our shores to kill Americans.

UPDATE: Well, we probably don't have to worry about terrorists following our troops home from Iraq. According to Condoleezza Rice, we might have to keep our troops over there forever.

UPDATE II: Of course, using our troops as diversionary bait is nothing new. Remember when Bush actually invited terrorist attacks on our troops? "Bring 'em on," he said. Tom Tomorrow remembers.

Hey, hawks! Can you help me out here?

The Rascal is a little confused on a few points concerning the war in Iraq, and I was hoping that you stalwart supporters of the war could help me out. Here's the problem:

President Bush has said that if we withdraw our troops from Iraq before they've finished the job, the "terrorists will follow us home." That suggests to me that our military campaign has got all the terrorists -- you know, all the al-Qaeda types -- preoccupied in Iraq and unable to free themselves up for mischief anywhere else, like here in America.

But I'm also told by experts on the subject that most of the al-Qaeda folks in this world are located in various far-flung locales and countries outside of Iraq. So, how does what we're doing in Iraq prevent these terrorists outside of Iraq from coming after us? By scaring them with our unswerving resolve? But aren't suicide bombers immune to fright? I mean, they're obviously not afraid to die.

I'm also told that most of the violence in Iraq amounts to sectarian strife between Sunnis and Shiites who have nothing to do with al-Qaeda. I'm further informed that about 90 percent of al-Qaeda fighters in Iraq are Iraqis, not foreigners, and that their concerns are mostly domestic and that they'd still have their hands full dealing with their Shiite adversaries even after our troops left.

This theory that the terrorists would "follow us home" seems based on the idea that all or most of the anti-American terrorists in the world are pinned down in Iraq by our troops, as if the bad guys constitute one big army as in past wars, like WWI and WWII. But that theory makes no sense. It seems not to jibe with the facts.

Help me, patriots. Help me make sense of these inconsistencies.

While you're at it, perhaps you can argue against the increasingly plausible notion that the longer we are in Iraq, the more we are creating terrorists worldwide.

Thanks a lot. I knew I could count on you. (Cue the crickets.)

Monday, May 7, 2007

How much longer must this obscenity continue?

Who really supports our troops? Those among us who applaud the futile effort that results in this sort of thing? Or those among us who don't?

(By the way, be sure to click on the video at the bottom of the piece to which I provided a link in the previous paragraph. It displays the names of the fallen warriors.)

Sunday, May 6, 2007

This is a hoot

As I noted here yesterday, President Bush was mentioned only once in last week's debate among the 10 candidates for the Republican presidential nomination.

The point is emphasized in this funny video.

France sets a good example

Pseudopatriotic Americans like to deride the French for their refusal to join in our military misadventure in Iraq (a smart decision on their part, in retrospect).

One wonders, then, how our legion-hall jingoists will react to the massive turnout of voters for today's presidential election in France. The French, it appears, generally take democracy more seriously than do we Americans. We're lucky if we can get half of our eligible voters off their dumb asses for our presidential balloting.

By the way, our francophobes seem to be unschooled on their own country's history. Were it not for the French, the American Revolution against the British might well have failed. Not only did France provide crucial financial support to our fledgling nation, but a French naval victory in Chesapeake Bay led to the surrender of the British at Yorktown in 1781.

But the dipshits among us, the guys who refer to "freedom fries" and brag that their goosebumps at the sight of Old Glory are bigger than yours, know nothing of these matters.

A few pet peeves

The Rascal (who admittedly makes his own mistakes from time to time) doesn't like it when he hears:
  • Rockford Mayor Larry Morrissey use that awful word "visioning."
  • A bureaucrat or developer refer to homes as "rooftops."
  • A newscaster refer to local government officials as "leaders," which is not always accurate.
  • A television reporter (usually not an anchor) start every sentence with the word "now," which I suspect is some TV consultant's idea of conveying immediacy. ("Now, the committee will meet again Thursday night to...." "Now, police say the investigation...")
  • Somebody use the word "myself" or "yourself" where the word "me" or "you" belongs. ("Fine, thanks. How's yourself." "Bob will be riding with myself and Tom."
  • An advertiser say that something is "free" when I have to buy something else to get it. ("Buy two and get one free.") Why does the government allow the lying bastards to get away with that?
  • A candidate for public office claim that he or she is "not a politician." Even a school board candidate is, in fact, a politician.
  • Somebody refer to "one of the only..."
  • A reference to the Rockford area as the "stateline" or the "Rock River Valley," neither of which is used by ordinary people in everyday conversation.
  • A school teacher (or any adult, for that matter) use the word "like" in place of "said" or "says." ("So, then, Jim is like, 'Why don't you.....'") Isn't it bad enough that most kids talk that way?
  • A TV weather report called a "futurecast" instead of a "forecast."
  • Somebody call a veterinarian a "vetinarian," or a meteorologist a "meterologist."
  • Somebody refer to something as "inter-est-ing." The preferred pronunciation is "in-trest-ing." After all, the bank doesn't pay "inter-est" on your savings account. It pays "in-trest."
  • A football announcer, player, coach or fan use the word "football" more than once (or even once, if unnecessarily) in one sentence. Why do these boobs have to refer to a football player, football team, football field, football game, etc.? Baseball people, a more intelligent lot, don't discuss their sport that way.
  • Uptalking. If you don't know what uptalking is, you're probably guilty of it. It's an annoying speech habit that inflects sentences as though they were questions. ("Back when I was in college? We had a rule at our school about smoking in the dorms?")
  • Somebody refer to the "Christian point of view" or to what "Christians believe." There is no single Christian point of view on hardly any subject. Beliefs vary widely among Christians, which is why there are thousands of different Christians denominations.
  • Rockford Police Chief Chet Epperson refer to somebody as an "individual" or a "subject" rather than "a man," "a woman" or "a person." ("We're looking for a male subject...") Why do law-enforcement brass use this kind of police-blotter jargon in their public pronouncements?
  • Somebody pronounce "wouldn't" as "wood-unt", "student" as "stew-dunt" or "stew-dent," "important" as "impor-dunt." The second syllables in these words should be pronounced without a vowel sound. For example, it should be "woodnt" or "stewednt." The trick is to employ what linguists call "syllabic consonants," which require that the vowel sounds be squeezed out of the syllables at issue (as in the word "cotton," which is pronounced "cot-n," not "cot-tun.") The mispronunciations of "wouldn't" and the others are most common among young people. For example, listen sometime to a young TV reporter pronounce "students."