Monday, May 18, 2009

Give 'Em Enough Rope


AT FIRST I THOUGHT
it had to be a joke, the kind you might see on political humor blog Wonkette or from anything-goes The Onion. But there it was in Roger Simon's column Wednesday on Politico.com:
A member of the Republican National Committee told me Tuesday that when the RNC meets in an extraordinary special session next week, it will approve a resolution rebranding Democrats as the “Democrat Socialist Party.”
Does it get any more embarrassing for the Republican'ts these days -- foolishly butting heads at every turn with an exceedingly popular president instead of picking their battles when they actually have, you know, something resembling an actual plan. I give embattled RNC Chairman Richard Steele a modicum of credit for having the common sense to oppose this latest display of red-baiting, predicting the stunt "will accomplish little than to give the media and our opponents the opportunity to mischaracterize Republicans.”

Yet what did you expect from the new Know-Nothings who thought up the bold Freedom Fries initiative after France refused to join the Coalition of Willing Invaders back in the heady early days of Operation Iraqi Oil? Red-baiting has always been their stock in fixed trade, their desperation go-to move. And why not? Branding opponents as communists or socialist traitors has always worked before, from South America to Southeast Asia and now back by unpopular demand to North America.

Judging by their actions in the last week alone, the Right sure doesn't need any help from the left in digging a deeper hole for themselves. Perhaps the most potent symbol of that obtuseness came when Deferment Dick very pointedly sided with Rush Limbaugh as the face of the party against former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and ex-Secretary of State Colin Powell -- in effect choosing a draft-dodging, drug-addicted hatemonger over one of the party's most respected figures in a feeble attempt to work up its rabid, panicked base.

The move to "officially" brand Democrats as socialists is sure to backfire -- just as it did in the last election. The McCain-Palin campaign did its best, in effect making it a stalking point, and yet enough voters saw it as the shameless, shameful tactic it was.

Former Powell aide Lawrence Wilkerson finally had enough of Deadeye Dick besmirching his ex-boss, and he let loose in a no-holds-barred editorial published Thursday called The Truth About Richard Bruce Cheney:
First, more Americans were killed by terrorists on Cheney's watch than on any other leader's watch in US history. So his constant claim that no Americans were killed in the "seven and a half years" after 9/11 of his vice presidency takes on a new texture when one considers that fact. And it is a fact. Second, the fact no attack has occurred on U.S. soil since 9/11--much touted by Cheney--is due almost entirely to the nation's having deployed over 200,000 U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan and not to "the Cheney method of interrogation." Third--and here comes the blistering fact--when Cheney claims that if President Obama stops "the Cheney method of interrogation and torture", the nation will be in danger, he is perverting the facts once again. But in a very ironic way.

What I am saying is that no torture or harsh interrogation techniques were employed by any U.S. interrogator for the entire second term of Cheney-Bush, 2005-2009. So, if we are to believe the protestations of Dick Cheney, that Obama's having shut down the "Cheney interrogation methods" will endanger the nation, what are we to say to Dick Cheney for having endangered the nation for the last four years of his vice presidency?

Remember, this criticism is coming from within his own party -- a retired military man, a Republican and former chief of staff at the State Department -- not from the "pages" of the Daily Kos or moveon.org. Wilkerson saves his best brush-back pitch for last -- passionately decrying the devastation the Cheney-Limbaugh axis of ill will is leaving in its wake:

Less important but still busting my chops as a Republican is the damage that the Sith Lord Cheney is doing to my political party. He and Rush Limbaugh seem to be its leaders now. Lindsay Graham, John McCain, John Boehner, and all other Republicans of note seem to be either so enamored of Cheney-Limbaugh (or fearful of them?) or, on the other hand, so appalled by them, that the cat has their tongues. And meanwhile fewer Americans identify as Republicans than at any time since WWII. We're at 21% and falling--right in line with the number of cranks, reprobates, and loonies in the country.

When will we hear from those in my party who give a damn about their country and about the party of Lincoln? When will someone of stature tell Dick Cheney that enough is enough? Go home. Spend your 70 million. Luxuriate in your Eastern Shore mansion. Shoot quail with your friends--and your friends. Stay out of our way as we try to repair the extensive damage you've done--to the country and to its Republican Party.

I guess 7-term Congressman Pete Sessions wanted to make it crystal clear where he stands on the new president, casting all logic and reason to the winds while his mouth proceeded full speed ahead. The Oklahoma Republican told a New York Times reporter last week that it was the Obama administration's intent to “diminish employment and diminish stock prices” as part of its “divide and conquer” strategy to consolidate power -- part of a long-term Democratic strategy that is “intended to inflict damage and hardship on the free enterprise system, if not to kill it."

But fear not, free marketeers, because come the 2010 midterm elections, voters will swarm to the polls, remembering that when the GOP controlled Washington, according to Sessions, “many dreams were achieved.” Until then, it's Sessions' mission to keep hope alive until the Republican dream machine can recapture power, preferably by the ballot box -- but Sessions lately seems to be espousing a more radical oppositional agenda.

Apparently unwilling to cite suitable homegrown precedents of heroic rebellion against tyranny in his own nation's storied past -- Sons of Liberty, anyone? -- in February of this year he reached for a more current inspiration: suggesting his party model their opposition to the new Democratic administration after Afghanistan's shining band of freedom fighters, the Taliban -- unabashedly stirred by their selfless brand of old school dementia:

"We understand perhaps a little bit more because of the Taliban. And that is that they went about systematically understanding how to disrupt and change a person's entire processes. And these Taliban -- I'm not trying to say the Republican Party is the Taliban. No, that's not what we're saying. I'm saying an example of how you go about is to change a person from their messaging to their operations to their frontline message. And we need to understand that insurgency may be required when the other side, the House leadership, does not follow the same commands, which we entered the game with."

Not far from Sessions' home base, Kim Hendren -- a Republican state senator with (previous) designs on a U.S. Senate seat -- had his own Macaca moment in Arkansas: referring to Senator Chuck Schumer as "that Jew" at a campaign event. And like George Allen back in 2006, Hendren's half-hearted apology likely made things worse instead of better:

"I made the mistake of referring to Sen. Schumer as 'that Jew' and I should not have put it that way, as this took away from what I was trying to say. I ought not to have referred to it at all. When I referred to him as Jewish, it wasn't because I don't like Jewish people. I was attempting to explain that unlike Sen. Schumer, I believe in traditional values, like we used to see on 'The Andy Griffith Show.'"

Yessir, no big city Jews, uppity blacks or dirty immigrants on Mayberry's Main Street, a minority-free bastion of order where Otis the harmless town drunk is the biggest criminal concern.

The unfavorable news kept coming for Republicans last week -- some of it with more potential fallout than the usual jaw-dropping ignorance or crude anti-semitism on display.

Yesterday's Frank Rich column outlined a concerted propaganda effort by the previous administration bent on controlling public discourse relating to the increasingly unpopular war:
"...the Bush Pentagon fielded a clandestine network of retired military officers and defense officials to spread administration talking points on television, radio and in print while posing as objective “military analysts.” Many of these propagandists worked for military contractors with billions of dollars of business at stake in Pentagon procurement. Many were recipients of junkets and high-level special briefings unavailable to the legitimate press. Yet the public was never told of these conflicts of interest when these “analysts” appeared on the evening news to provide rosy assessments of what they tended to call “the real situation on the ground in Iraq.”
Someone needs to explain to Americans how is this any different than the Soviet Union in its repressive prime or any other dangerous totalitarian state? Until they do, then what comes to mind is Orwell's 1984, and it's scary as hell that it went on as long as it did. What's even more unacceptable is unless the details are revealed, then when it comes to the selling of our next war, it will follow a similar propaganda pattern, if it hasn't started already.

Meanwhile, ex-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld was writing all over President Bush like the empty blank slate he was, pulling his strings in directions the neocon planners of the war needed him to go. Despite the obscene collateral carnage inflicted on Baghdad during "shock & awe," contrary to the expected cakewalk, the Pentagon knew it was in for a protracted war likely to last for years, not months. So Rumsfeld made sure that only the most rosy of scenarios was painted in the highly filtered intelligence briefings given to Bush, even personally selecting Biblical quotes to adorn the cover of the reports and thus appeal to the president's messianic vision of himself as crusader for Christianity against evildoers bent on world destruction:
And so the Worldwide Intelligence Update for April 3 bullied Bush with Joshua 1:9: “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Including, as it happened, into a quagmire.) Rumseld...was cynically playing the religious angle to seduce and manipulate a president who frequently quoted the Bible. But the secretary’s actions were not just oily; he was also taking a risk with national security. If these official daily collages of Crusade-like messaging and war imagery had been leaked, they would have reinforced the Muslim world’s apocalyptic fear that America was waging a religious war. As one alarmed Pentagon hand told Draper, the fallout “would be as bad as Abu Ghraib.”
As Rich put it, this is "seriously creepy." I feel the need to end on a slightly more humorous note. NFL Defensive Player of the Year James Harrison was having none of the old tradition of sports champions going to the White House to meet the president. Baseball teams do it, as do NBA, NHL, NCAA teams. But somehow Harrison found this practice disturbing, so he boycotted the ceremony back in 2006 when the Steelers won it all, passing up the opportunity to meet Bush, and proving his misguided stubbornness is at least consistent, he's not going to Washington to meet Obama last this week either to celebrate their last Super Bowl win.

"This is how I feel -- if you want to see the Pittsburgh Steelers, invite us when we don't win the Super Bowl. As far as I'm concerned, he [Obama] would've invited Arizona if they had won."

Nice to see such a firm grasp of the obvious, James. See, the winners get to go to the White House, runner-ups...not so much. Or perhaps we're being unduly harsh and this was Harrison's not-so-subtle way of disagreeing with the president's stance on cap-and-trade emissions.

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2 comments:

a Tart said...

Yeah, I just watched some of Keith Oberman tonight on the use of Bible verses in the intelligence updates. And people wonder why I'm an atheist?

great post, a perfect capsule of racism/theism/red-bating and sports stupidity! What more could a girl ask for? xoxox

The Warden said...

Yeah, don't these great Republican leaders inspire faith in mankind. No wonder my special blend of misanthropic nihilism is renewed daily.

BTW< I liked the band you spotlighted today, The Locals. A little like Detroit Cobras -- I always gotta slap on the label of a similar band for a frame of reference, can't help it. I'm sure that cranky troll will find something to fault with this band too, as if all new bands are supposed to spring from the womb reinventing a genre. The guy came off like an ass.