Saturday, September 30, 2006

Andrew Olmsted Is Shrill!

After a lifetime spent balanced in the cool, rational bipartisan center, Andrew Olmstead is SHRILL!!!!!

Andrew Olmsted dot com: Throw the Bums Out: September 30, 2006: You know, I try very hard to be even-handed. It is easy to let partisanship and preconceived notions shape how we view events. Over at Obsidian Wings I am frequently criticized for false equivalence, because I tend to believe that the Republicans mostly appear worse than the Democrats right now because the Republicans are in power. But what can you say about the fact Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert was told months ago about Representative Mark Foley's improper emails to Congressional pages, and did nothing, or at best asked Foley to resign?

Maybe Hastert didn't know that the issue was as serious as it is, some are already arguing. Maybe this is a dirty trick. Sorry, but I'm not buying that. The pages are underage. As soon as the leadership received word anything remotely inappropriate was going on between Foley and the pages, they should have investigated fully. Yes, it might have been embarrassing. Yes, it might even have cost the Republicans some votes. So instead, and I hope that it was only because they didn't investigate the less damning issue for fear of embarrassment, they moved slowly and cautiously, leaving a man who has at the least demonstrated a propensity for making inappropriate requests of underage boys in position to continue his antics.

The Republican Party would have us believe that they are the only one of the two major parties capable of dealing with the threat of Islamic extremism. Yet we now have some pretty damning evidence they can't even be trusted to deal properly with a very simple call: I don't think you need a PhD, or even a GED, to realize that when an adult in a position of power asking explicitly sexual questions of minors, you get him out of that position of power and you make sure that he has no opportunity to commit such acts again. Maybe I'm old-fashioned that way. But it is exceedingly difficult for me to believe the Republican Congressional leadership has any call to suggest it is prepared to make any decisions at all, let alone questions of life and death. It is time for a change.

Welcome, Andrew.

Here is your copy of the Krugmanomicon. Your Hooded Robe of Despair is being altered and will be ready tomorrow. Don't go near the east bank of the Miskatonic without apply tentacle-repellant spray.

Now it is time to go outside beneath the dead uncaring stars, and to psychotically ululate: "Aiiii! Aiiii! Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Andrew Olmstead R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn! Omstead fhtagn!! OMLDSTESD FHTENG!!!!!!!!!!"

Welcome, Bob Woodward!

After six years carrying water for George W. Bush, Bob "My Last Two Books Were Full of Lies" Woodward is shrill:

Think Progress: ThinkFast: September 30, 2006 -- "State of Denial" Edition

Woodward quotes Iraq war commander Gen. John Abizaid telling two retired generals in 2005, "We've got to get the [expletive] out.%u201D In March 2006, Abizaid visited Rep. John Murtha (D-PA) and "indicated he wanted to speak frankly. According to Murtha, Abizaid raised his hand for emphasis, held his thumb and forefinger a quarter of an inch from each other and said, %u2018We're that far apart.'"

In February 2005, two weeks after Condi Rice became secretary of state, her top aide Phillip Zelikow "presented her with a 15-page, single-spaced secret memo" summing up his fact-finding trip to Iraq. "At this point Iraq remains a failed state shadowed by constant violence and undergoing revolutionary political change," Zelikow wrote.

Woodward writes, in those moments "where Bush had someone from the field there in the chair beside him [in the Oval Office], he did not press, did not try to open the door himself and ask what the visitor had seen and thought. The whole atmosphere too often resembled a royal court, with Cheney and Rice in attendance, some upbeat stories, exaggerated good news and a good time had by all."

In a seven-page memo in July 2004, a "longtime friend" of Donald Rumsfeld, Steve Herbits, described Rumsfeld's "style of operation": "Indecisive, contrary to popular image. Would not accept that some people in some areas were smarter than he. . . . Trusts very few people. Very, very cautious. Rubber glove syndrome -- a tendency not to leave his fingerprints on decisions."

"Woodward said he pushed repeatedly to interview Bush," Howie Kurtz writes. "But White House counselor Dan Bartlett and national security adviser Stephen Hadley, after a period of cooperation, told him an interview was unlikely and then stopped returning his calls," which Woodward attributes "to Bush's declining popularity."

Friday, September 29, 2006

In Tonight's Inbox...

In tonight's inbox here at Miskatonic University, from someone who wishes to remain anonymous, is not named Joe Klein, and wishes that he/she/it could make his/her/its true shrill nature publicly known:

Republican Ex-Congressman Mark Foley (R-LA) has a statement:

Mark Foley; September 29, 2006: As I resign from Congress, I am most gratified at the service I have performed in authoring and passing H.R. 4472, the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006. This legislation overhauling our nation's sex offender registration and notification laws was long overdue. For too long our nation has tracked library books better than it has sex offenders. That day is coming to an end. We have closed loopholes that sex offenders and pedophiles have used to prey on children.

Today, as a result of my service in the House of Representatives, American children are better protected against potential sexual predators--especially from me. Today, as a result of my service in the House of Representatives, the Supreme Court can no longer choose to be on my side rather than on the side of the children of America.

Republican Congressman Rodney Alexander has a statement:

You're not pinning any of this on me. I did my job by telling Republican Congressman Thomas Reynolds about this.

Republican Congressman Thomas Reynolds has a statement:

You're not pinning any of this on me. I did my job by telling Republican Congressman John Shimkus about this.

Republican Congressman and House Speaker Dennis Hastert has a statement:

You're not pinning any of this on me. Republican Congressman John Shimkus did not tell me about any of this.

Republican Congressman John Shimkus has a statement:

You're not pinning any of this on me. I'll have a statement as soon as I can figure out what to say and who I can blame it on.

Check out Miskatonic's new joint programs with Reed College!.

Tim Worstall Is Shrill!

Welcome, Tim!

Tim Worstall: The Torture Bill: Good God! I never actually thought this would pass. I was sure that there were more American politicians with at least an ounce of spine. I may castigate all politicians, describe them as lower than pond scum, but that is with a certain measure of hyperbole.

The US Senate has voted for legislation endorsing President George Bush's plan for tough measures to interrogate and prosecute terrorism suspects. The new laws will grant the president permission to authorise interrogation techniques viewed as illegal under international conventions and allow the setting up of "military commissions" to prosecute terror suspects.

Torture is now OK. Not often I agree with Atrios but today's one of those times. This stinks.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Aaaiii! Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Gail Collins R'lyeh wagn'nagl fhtagn! Aaaiii! AAAAAAIIIIIIIII!!!!

Our Grand Heresiarch Pro Tem Gail Collins leads the chorus:

Obsidian Wings: The NYT Opens Whole New Dimensions Of Shrillness: Aaaiii! Ph'nglui mglw'nafh gail Collins R'lyeh wagn'nagl fhtagn! Aaaiii! AAAAAAIIIIIIIII!!!!:

Here’s what happens when this irresponsible Congress railroads a profoundly important bill to serve the mindless politics of a midterm election: The Bush administration uses Republicans’ fear of losing their majority to push through ghastly ideas about antiterrorism that will make American troops less safe and do lasting damage to our 217-year-old nation of laws — while actually doing nothing to protect the nation from terrorists. Democrats betray their principles to avoid last-minute attack ads. Our democracy is the big loser.

Republicans say Congress must act right now to create procedures for charging and trying terrorists — because the men accused of plotting the 9/11 attacks are available for trial. That’s pure propaganda. Those men could have been tried and convicted long ago, but President Bush chose not to. He held them in illegal detention, had them questioned in ways that will make real trials very hard, and invented a transparently illegal system of kangaroo courts to convict them.

It was only after the Supreme Court issued the inevitable ruling striking down Mr. Bush’s shadow penal system that he adopted his tone of urgency. It serves a cynical goal: Republican strategists think they can win this fall, not by passing a good law but by forcing Democrats to vote against a bad one so they could be made to look soft on terrorism.

Last week, the White House and three Republican senators announced a terrible deal on this legislation that gave Mr. Bush most of what he wanted, including a blanket waiver for crimes Americans may have committed in the service of his antiterrorism policies. Then Vice President Dick Cheney and his willing lawmakers rewrote the rest of the measure so that it would give Mr. Bush the power to jail pretty much anyone he wants for as long as he wants without charging them, to unilaterally reinterpret the Geneva Conventions, to authorize what normal people consider torture, and to deny justice to hundreds of men captured in error.

These are some of the bill’s biggest flaws:

Enemy Combatants: A dangerously broad definition of “illegal enemy combatant” in the bill could subject legal residents of the United States, as well as foreign citizens living in their own countries, to summary arrest and indefinite detention with no hope of appeal. The president could give the power to apply this label to anyone he wanted.

The Geneva Conventions: The bill would repudiate a half-century of international precedent by allowing Mr. Bush to decide on his own what abusive interrogation methods he considered permissible. And his decision could stay secret — there’s no requirement that this list be published.

Habeas Corpus: Detainees in U.S. military prisons would lose the basic right to challenge their imprisonment. These cases do not clog the courts, nor coddle terrorists. They simply give wrongly imprisoned people a chance to prove their innocence.

Judicial Review: The courts would have no power to review any aspect of this new system, except verdicts by military tribunals. The bill would limit appeals and bar legal actions based on the Geneva Conventions, directly or indirectly. All Mr. Bush would have to do to lock anyone up forever is to declare him an illegal combatant and not have a trial.

Coerced Evidence: Coerced evidence would be permissible if a judge considered it reliable — already a contradiction in terms — and relevant. Coercion is defined in a way that exempts anything done before the passage of the 2005 Detainee Treatment Act, and anything else Mr. Bush chooses.

Secret Evidence: American standards of justice prohibit evidence and testimony that is kept secret from the defendant, whether the accused is a corporate executive or a mass murderer. But the bill as redrafted by Mr. Cheney seems to weaken protections against such evidence.

Offenses: The definition of torture is unacceptably narrow, a virtual reprise of the deeply cynical memos the administration produced after 9/11. Rape and sexual assault are defined in a retrograde way that covers only forced or coerced activity, and not other forms of nonconsensual sex. The bill would effectively eliminate the idea of rape as torture.

There is not enough time to fix these bills, especially since the few Republicans who call themselves moderates have been whipped into line, and the Democratic leadership in the Senate seems to have misplaced its spine. If there was ever a moment for a filibuster, this was it.

We don’t blame the Democrats for being frightened. The Republicans have made it clear that they’ll use any opportunity to brand anyone who votes against this bill as a terrorist enabler. But Americans of the future won’t remember the pragmatic arguments for caving in to the administration.

They’ll know that in 2006, Congress passed a tyrannical law that will be ranked with the low points in American democracy, our generation’s version of the Alien and Sedition Acts.

Thanks to First Tentacle Hillary Bok for the pointer.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

"We Must Keep Chewing on Broken Glass!"

The Poor Man watches Matt Yglesias react to encountering the idiot David Ignatius and his "We must keep chewing on broken glass!" strategy:

The Poor Man: Matthew Yglesias encounters the “we must keep chewing on broken glass!” strategy:

Does anyone — anyone — on the right genuinely believe that those of us who favor withdrawal from Iraq do so because we don’t think it would be a good idea to turn the country into a shining success? Of course we don’t think that. We favor withdrawal because we don’t believe that indefinite continuation of an open-ended military presence in Iraq is likely to generate success. The country has been doing this for three and a half years now and things aren’t improving; they’re getting worse. Nobody disputes the desirability of success; we dispute the notion that continuing to do the same things that aren’t working now, and weren’t working one year ago, and weren’t working two years ago, are going to magically start working if we give it another year....

David Ignatius Drives Kevin Drum Shrill

Kevin screams in mad insanity--insane madness--shrill mad insanity--insane shrill madness--insane mad shrillness--desperate mad insane shrillness--shrill insane made despair--at the latest act of defecation into the once-clear stream of American political discourse that is a column by David Ignatius

The Washington Monthly: NO PONIES LEFT.... I had the same problem with David Ignatius's column today as Matt Yglesias did, but I also had another one. Basically, Ignatius wants Democrats to figure out how to salvage things in Iraq.... "The Democrats are mostly ducking the hard question of what to do next....Unfortunately, as bad as things are, they could get considerably worse....The Democrats understandably want to treat Iraq as George Bush's war and wash their hands of it. But the damage of Iraq can be mitigated only if it again becomes the nation's war...."

I agree that allowing Iraq to spiral into civil war would be a disaster, but it's telling that Ignatius doesn't propose any solutions himself.... Look: A "debate" is fine, but only if there's something to debate.... Should we debate about how to fix Iraq? We could, but only if there were some plausible solutions to argue about. Unfortunately, there aren't. We don't have enough troops in Iraq to keep order and the troops we do have aren't trained properly anyway. Nobody appears to have any serious desire to change that. Politically, the sectarian split in Iraq is embedded deeply in their history and culture and is mostly beyond our ability to affect, especially after three years of mismanagement. Globally, we have virtually no influence left with either local power brokers like Iran or with our European allies.

Various luminaries in the liberal foreign policy community have been proposing Iraq policies right and left for over three years now. First, that perhaps we should have kept our focus on Afghanistan and stayed out of Iraq altogether. Then, once we were there, liberal thinkers suggested more troops, dialogue with Iran, a multilateral council to accelerate regional investment in Iraq's progress, a variety of counterinsurgency strategies, a variety of partition plans, more serious engagement in Israeli-Palestinian talks (Tony Blair practically begged for this), and on and on. Every single one of these suggestions was ignored.

Would they have made any difference? Who knows. But to blame Democrats now for not being aggressive enough in trying to trisect this angle is like blaming Gerald Ford for losing Vietnam. George Bush fought this war precisely the way he wanted, with precisely the troops he wanted, and with every single penny he asked for. He has kept Don Rumsfeld in charge despite abundant evidence that he doesn't know how to win a war like this. He has mocked liberals and the media at every turn when they suggested we might need a different approach. The result has been a disaster with no evident solution left.

It's one thing to ask for "debate," but it's quite another to ask for a pony that doesn't exist anymore and to blame Democrats when they're unable to produce yet another one after three years of trying. That makes no sense.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Sandy Levinson Is Shrill. So Is Norman Ornstein

He writes, and he says:

Balkinization: Rick Klein has a story in today's Boston Globe, tellingly titled "Congress in Dark on Terror Program," that includes notes that almost no members of Congress have the foggiest idea what is actually covered by the new "anti-terror" legislation being rammed through the Congress as part of the desperate effort by the Bush Administration to limit Republican losses in the forthcoming elections.

``'I don't know what the CIA has been doing, nor should I know,' said Senator Jeff Sessions, an Alabama Republican." This is par for the course.

``'You're not having any checks and balances here,' said Norman J. Ornstein, a resident scholar at the conservative American Enterprise Institute. 'It sure doesn't look to me as if they stood up and did anything other than bare their teeth for some ceremonial barking, before giving the president a whole lot of leeway. I find it really troubling.'"

This is not the way a serious legislature would operate, but who really believes any longer that we have a serious legislature? What we have is a dominant party (it is a misnomer to describe the Republicans in the Senate as the "majority" inasmuch as Democratic candidates over the past three elections cycles have received 3,000,000 more votes than their Republican counterparts; the "majority" is an artifact of our indefensiblly apportioned Senate) that operates by the American equivalent of the fuhrer-prinzip, and an "opposition party" that has no discernible backbone, as Mark Graber notes.

Madisonian democracy, r.i.p., since we sure as hell have nothing resembling it now.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Balloon Juice Is Shrill

All of us at Miskatonic University are proud to call John Cole a fine, tentacled, eldritch American:

Balloon Juice: They Got Rolled By: John Cole September 22, 2006 at 1:44 pm: The WaPo sums up the general consensus, in a post titled The Abuse Can Continue: "THE GOOD NEWS about the agreement reached yesterday between the Bush administration and Republican senators on the detention, interrogation and trial of accused terrorists is that Congress will not—as President Bush had demanded—pass legislation that formally reinterprets U.S. compliance with the Geneva Conventions. Nor will the Senate explicitly endorse the administration’s use of interrogation techniques that most of the world regards as cruel and inhumane, if not as outright torture.... The bad news is that Mr. Bush, as he made clear yesterday, intends to continue using the CIA to secretly detain and abuse certain terrorist suspects.... Congress would recognize his authority to take these steps and prevent prisoners from appealing them to U.S. courts."...

It is hard to think of this as a compromise, unless your idea of a compromise is being asked by your child for a million dollars, telling them no, and then agreeing to give them $998,000. Remember this week when, in a few years, our boys andgirls are overseas facing ‘tough interrogation methods’ and jackasses like the loudmouth pro-torture lobby in the right-wing blogosphere are blubbering about human rights and the Geneva Convention. No wonder they are, in many cases, the same folks who want to proselytize in the military- our servicemembers are going to have hell to pay in the future and will need someone to pray to as they are being waterboarded, beaten (but it doesn’t leave marks!), and dipped in vats of icy cold water after days/weeks with no sleep and no access to counsel.

And that only scratches the surface of what this ‘compromise’ is going to do. No worries- we can beat ‘suspected’ terrorists into submission, and they will tell us of their plots to use dirty bombs on the Omaha American Legion ahead of time. Red State America is safe, and even if we were wrong about the terrorists and tortured the wrong person and they only confessed to non-existent plots after hours of abuse, we have made sure they can’t do anything about it, so we won’t have to hear about the messy details anyway. Self-governance and responsibility are, apparently, much like parts of the Geneva Conventions, ‘quaint ideas.’ I am sure you all are as thrilled as I am that we can now rely on the judgement of our current President when it comes to important matters such as this.

The only upside to this ‘compromise’ is that I no longer have to listen to the catcalls of degenerate fools claiming my opposition to torture and rewriting/ignoring the Geneva Conventions is simply an attempt to achieve moral superiority. Apparently these hubristic louts think that opposition to acts that violate basic human decency somehow makes me ‘morally superior.’ I thought it made me ‘normal’ and ‘sane’ and, until the past few years, ‘American.’ Given the brazen cheerleading of the pro-torture crowd in the past few years, it appears I was wrong. Wanting a nation that does not officially condone and engage in wanton acts of violence and torture apparently does make me morally superior. That is a shame.

So, in closing, it is torture they wanted, and it is torture they will get. Given the current domination in Washington of what I have now come to realize (too late to do much about it, I regret) is the ignorance party, there is little we can do about it. I do, however, intend to engage in a little recreational torture myself- I plan to waterboard these jerks at the polls in 2006, again in 2008, and for as long as I can see until there are some basic and systemic changes to the way our government and the now morally bankrupt Republican party operate. And if I am wrong about my choices at the polls, I will just have to take solace in the fact that I, like the President, will remain unaccountable for my mistakes. I can just roll my eyes, feign ignorance, and state that ‘No one ever expected that the Democrats would be worse.’

Powerline Begins Negotiations with Us

Jason Zengerle says that Powerline is approaching the shrill zone:

The Plank: HAS BUSH LOST POWERLINE?: This might be the greatest PowerLine post of all time. Paul Mirengoff writes:

"We stand accused of being over-the-top partisans who worship President Bush as a visionary. Even if this were true. . . ."

Even if this were true?! Evidently, past PowerLine posts like this and this were meant to be tongue-in-cheek. Oh, now I get it.

More context from Mirengoff:

Power Line: Using Power Line as a place-holder for an argument: Nyhan resorts to attacking Power Line. We stand accused of being over-the-top partisans who worship President Bush as a visionary. Even if this were true, it would do nothing for the argument Nyhan wanted to make unless he could show (and he can't) that we viciously attack conservatives who think less of the president than we do. In reality, though, we are frequently critical of Bush on a wide range of issues -- immigration, Israel/Palestine, spending, to name perhaps the most important ones. Nyhan's "sample quotation" (which I believe goes further than anything Scott or I have written) is flatly misleading if intended to demonstrate our "partisanship."... Nyhan's "sample quote" actually goes further than anything anyone on Power Line has written other than in jest.

But they aren't ready to join the order yet. What Jason is talking about. This:

Power Line: A Stroke of Genius?: A Stroke of Genius? It must be very strange to be President Bush. A man of extraordinary vision and brilliance approaching to genius, he can't get anyone to notice. He is like a great painter or musician who is ahead of his time, and who unveils one masterpiece after another to a reception that, when not bored, is hostile...

And this:

Power Line: Hail to the Chief: I had the opportunity this afternoon to be part of a relatively small group who heard President Bush talk, extemporaneously, for around forty minutes. It was an absolutely riveting experience. It was the best I've ever seen him. Not only that; it may have been the best I've ever seen any politician. If I summarized what he said, it would all sound familiar: the difficult times we live in; the threat from Islamic fascism--the phrase drew an enthusiastic round of applause--the universal yearning for freedom; the need to confront evil now, with all the tools at our disposal, so that our children and grandchildren can live in a better and safer world. As he often does, the President structured his comments loosely around a tour of the Oval Office. But the digressions and interpolations were priceless.

The conventional wisdom is that Bush is not a very good speaker. But up close, he is a great communicator, in a way that, in my opinion, Ronald Reagan was not. He was by turns instructive, persuasive, and funny. His persona is very much that of the big brother. Above all, he was impassioned. I have never seen a politician speak so evidently from the heart, about big issues--freedom, most of all.

I've sometimes worried about how President Bush can withstand the Washington snake pit and deal with a daily barrage of hate from the ignorant left that, in my opinion, dwarfs in both volume and injustice the abuse directed against any prior President. (No one accused Lincoln of planning the attack on Fort Sumter.) Not to worry. He is, of course, miles above his mean-spirited liberal critics. More than that, he clearly derives real joy from the opportunity to serve as President and to participate in the great pageant of American history. And he sees himself as anything but a lame duck, which is why he is stumping for Republican candidates around the country.

It was, in short, the most inspiring forty minutes I've experienced in politics.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Come Back Lee Siegel! All Is Forgiven!

Let us turn the microphone over to Our Grand Heresiarch, The Poor Man:

The Poor Man Institute for Freedom and Democracy and A Pony: Martin Peretz continues his assault on decency with this dry bit of drollery:

I know that most of you know that the president of the World Bank, Paul Wolfowitz, is, as I am, a member in very good standing of the Elders of Zion. So it follows that anything I say in his behalf might be dismissed as an act of fraternity or, worse yet, ethnic clannishness.

Now, I am man enough to admit that the delivery here - while utterly leaden and awful - is a marked improvement over previous efforts. That said, pre-emptively accusing potential critics of anti-Semitism is fundamentally about as funny as a biting the head off a kitten, and about as conducive to productive debate. And this raises other questions which I am neither comfortable nor qualified to explore, but perhaps any rabbinical scholars reading could comment on whether you can be this aggressively unfunny and still be considered really properly Jewish.

Naturally, it gets worse:

Won't Ms. Plame simply go away? I don't know what's happened to her book contract. But if it's not signed already, no publisher will give her more than a few farthings. (Sorry again to Jack Shafer for using a word that was common in a place other than the good old USA.)

  1. That joke makes no sense, and
  2. even in some crazy alternate universe where it did make sense, nobody laughed.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Collender Fhtagn!!

Stan Collender is shrill:

BUDGET BATTLES : Avoiding Decisions Is Not Fiscal Discipline: By Stan Collender: Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2006: The Republican congressional leadership's decision to delay dealing with almost all FY07 appropriations until after the election, even though they won't be enacted until months after the fiscal year begins, should not be called a "failure." "Failure" implies that an attempt was made. In this case, the leadership has decided not even to try. The appropriations process can't be said to have "crashed and burned"; that implies it rose high enough in the first place to fall.

The overall strategy isn't "gutsy," "bold," or "dramatic" because it's really the exact opposite. And "irresponsible" is much too clinical a description for something that is far more politically infuriating than it is legislatively technical.

Getting appropriations enacted by the start of the fiscal year used to be one of the "promised lands" on Capitol Hill. Even though it has seldom been achieved, up to now it has always been at least a persistently stated objective, regardless of the leadership in place. After all, the leadership is supposed to make the trains run on time.

House and Senate Appropriations Committee members used to feel that getting the bills done by the start of the fiscal year was their job and they were both angry and embarrassed when it didn't happen.... The word that most comes to mind is "avoidance." Rather than deal with what has traditionally been considered one of Congress' most basic core responsibilities, the Republican leadership has decided not to do anything.... Avoiding appropriations decisions is not comparable to trying and failing. A continuing resolution is not equivalent to reducing or eliminating programs. Not dealing with appropriations is not fiscal discipline.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Breaking News: Shrillness Singularity Discovered!

Shrillblog News Update

The Washington Monthly has detected a source of pure shrillness, as George H.W. Bush speechwriter Christopher Buckley, Ronand Reagan and George H.W. Bush advisor Bruce Bartlett, former Republican Congressman Joe Scarborough, Cato Intitute Chairman William A Niskanen, conservative constitutional lawyer and activist Bruce Fein, Ronald Reagan speechwriter and former National Review editor Jeffrey Hart, and Chairman Richard Viguerie all write in to say: Time for us to go.

With Republicans controlling Congress and the White House, conservatives these days ought to be happy, but most aren’t. They see expanding government, runaway spending, Middle East entanglements, and government corruption, and they wonder why, exactly, the country should be grateful for Republican dominance. Some accuse Bush and the Republicans today of not being true conservatives. Others see a grab bag of stated policies and wonder how they cohere. Everyone thinks something’s got to change.

Now seven prominent conservatives dare to speak the unspeakable: They hope the Republicans lose in 2006. Well, let’s be diplomatic and say they’d prefer divided government—soon. (Perhaps that formulation will fool Dennis Hastert.) Of course, all of them wish for the long-term health of conservatism, and most are loyal to the GOP. What they also believe, however, is that even if a Speaker Pelosi looms in the wings, sometimes the best remedy for a party gone astray is to give it a session in the time-out chair.

Fhtagn indeed.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Brigadier General Mark Scheid Is Really Shrill

Wow. Brigadier General Mark Scheid is really shrill.

Kevin Drum has the goods:

The Washington Monthly: "HE WOULD FIRE THE NEXT PERSON THAT SAID THAT".... Today, via Orin Kerr, comes a remarkable interview with Brigadier General Mark Scheid, chief of the Logistics War Plans Division after 9/11, and one of the people with primary responsibility for war planning. Shortly after the invasion of Afghanistan, he says, Donald Rumsfeld told his team to start planning for war in Iraq, but not to bother planning for a long stay:

"The secretary of defense continued to push on us... that everything we write in our plan has to be the idea that we are going to go in, we're going to take out the regime, and then we're going to leave," Scheid said. "We won't stay."

Scheid said the planners continued to try "to write what was called Phase 4," or the piece of the plan that included post-invasion operations like occupation.

Even if the troops didn't stay, "at least we have to plan for it," Scheid said.

"I remember the secretary of defense saying that he would fire the next person that said that," Scheid said. "We would not do planning for Phase 4 operations, which would require all those additional troops that people talk about today.

"He said we will not do that because the American public will not back us if they think we are going over there for a long war."

...."In his own mind he thought we could go in and fight and take out the regime and come out. But a lot of us planners were having a real hard time with it because we were also thinking we can't do this. Once you tear up a country you have to stay and rebuild it. It was very challenging."

In a way, this is old news. As much as it beggars the imagination, there's been plenty of evidence all along that Bush never took the idea of rebuilding Iraq seriously.... Bush's talk about democracy was nothing but hot air. If you're serious about planting democracy after a war, you don't plan to simply topple a government and then leave.... There was never any intention of rebuilding Iraq and there was never any intention of wasting time on democracy promotion. That was merely a post hoc explanation after we failed to find the promised WMD. Either that or BG Scheid is lying.

This is an astounding interview, all the more so for the apparently resigned tone that Scheid brings to it. It belongs on the front page of the New York Times, not the Hampton Roads Daily Press.

Hotline Is too Cowardly to Be Shrill

Hotline says that Bush is deeply, deeply unpopular. Well, it says it. And then it takes it back by deleting the shrillness.

It writes:

Hotline On Call: The Big Number: 30: 30. Pres. Bush is unpopular. This is not news. A CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll out this week shows just 41% of Americans approve of his handling of the job, while 55% disapprove.

What's more interesting, though, is that, when asked if Bush should be impeached, 30% say yes.

During the Monica Lewinsky imbroglio, just 19% of Americans initially thought Pres. Clinton should go. That was in February of 1998. At the height of the scandal, 29% of Americans thought Clinton should get the boot.

And then there is a paragraph that Hotline deleted:

Whether it's the war in Iraq, the administration's failure to move Social Security reform or immigration reform or any of the myriad topics on which Bush can't catch a break, the fact that more people want to see Bush impeached than ever wanted to see Clinton impeached speaks not only to the breadth of Bush's unpopularity, but the depth as well.

That the phrase "the fact that more people want to see Bush impeached than ever wanted to see Clinton impeached speaks not only to the breadth of Bush's unpopularity, but the depth as well" was considered too daring for Hotline--that speaks volumes.

Friday, September 08, 2006

John Podhoretz Is a Shrill Unbalanced Critic of ABC's 9/11 Mockumentary

Welcome to the Ancient, Hermetic, and Occult Order of the Shrill, Greater Shoggoth Podhoretz!

'PATH' MISSED REAL 9/11 STORY By JOHN PODHORETZ - New York Post Online Edition: Postopinion: Ex-Secretary of State Madeleine Albright's anger is unquestionably justified. The version that I saw has her self-righteously owning up to actions that effectively tipped off Osama bin Laden to a strike against his Afghan training camp. "We had to inform the Pakistanis," the movie's Albright insists. The real Albright says she neither did nor said such a thing and that the meeting we see in the movie never took place. The 9/11 Commission report, on which the film is partly based, says it was a senior military official who told the Pakistanis. The portrait of Albright is an unacceptable revision of recent history and an unfair mark on a public servant who, no matter her shortcomings, doesn't deserve to be remembered by millions of Americans as the inadvertent (and truculent) savior of Osama bin Laden.

Samuel Berger, Clinton's national security adviser, also seems to have just cause for complaint. The version of the film I saw portrays him as having ruined the CIA's one clear shot at bin Laden himself. "Do we have clearance" to shoot, the CIA asks Berger, with Osama in their sights, and Berger responds, "I don't have that authority." That scene never took place in real life. The imputation that an actual living person named Sandy Berger refused to give a specific OK to an operation that would have put an end to Osama bin Laden three years before 9/11 is a libel. If, as reported, ABC has revised that scene to conform more closely to reality, the network has done the right thing.

The one person who has no grounds for complaint is Bill Clinton himself. "The Path to 9/11" gives the impression that, as president, Clinton never took bin Laden's declaration of war against the United States and the West seriously enough. And that is simply the unvarnished, undeniable truth.

Still, even here "The Path to 9/11" gets it wrong.

The real truth about the failures of the U.S. government under both Clinton and Bush is not, as "The Path to 9/11" would have it, that the diabolical nature of the al Qaeda threat was obvious and unmistakable and that it was ignored by fools, charlatans and other downright unpleasant people who refused to listen to the Few Who Knew the Truth (meaning the late FBI official John O'Neill and that legend in his own mind, former counterterrorism official Richard Clarke). The simple fact of the matter is that, with a million other things going on all at once - all of which seemed more pressing at the time, the threat went uncomprehended.

The 9/11 Commission rightly called this a "failure of imagination." It's the docudrama's failure to portray the False Peace accurately as a "failure of imagination" that makes "The Path to 9/11" entirely unworthy of your time on the fifth anniversary of the attacks.

We/us/I dreaming, sunk in mud of ages passing. Passing out of darkened planets into brine/prison fathoms dank with ages passing. What strange machines, so cold, so simple, like the thoughts of this new age. Podhoretz fhtagn, Podhoretz fhtagn! Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Podhoretz R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn! Podhoretz fhtagn, Podhoretz fhtagn! Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Podhoretz R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn! Podhoretz R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn! Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Podhoretz R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn! Podhoretz fhtagn, Podhoretz fhtagn! Podhoretz fhtagn, Podhoretz fhtagn! Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Podhoretz R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn!

We're going to have to stop recording the shrill: it would be much easier and shorter to record the non-shrill.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Baker Fhtagn!!!

The Washington Post's Jonathan Weisman drives Dean Baker into shrill unholy madness:

Beat the Press: Medicare Drugs and What Politicians "Think": There should be a simple rule written in huge neon signs in every newsroom: "You don't know what politicians 'think.'"

The reason is simple. Politicians do not generally say what they think. They say what will advance their political careers. This is their job. (That is a bi-partisan comment.) If a reporter believes that she knows what a politician actually thinks then she is probably too close to this person to be able to cover them objectively. Reporters best serve the public by reporting what politicians say, and leave it to their readers to determine what the politicians might actually believe (if anything).

For this reason, it was very annoying to read a book review in the Washington Post that tells us that Bill Thomas, the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, prohibited Medicare from offering its own drug plan that would negotiate directly with the drug industry because he "thought pitting private insurance companies against one another would inject competition into the drug market for seniors and keep the price of drugs down, without the heavy hand of government."

While Mr. Thomas said this, do we really know that this is what he thought, as opposed to... that he thought the insurance and pharmaceutical industries are a great source of Republican campaign funds? Sorry, I am not prepared to accept the reporter's personal assurance on Mr. Thomas's thoughts, and the Washington Post would do best to keep them out of the paper, except on the editorial pages.

(One reason that I question the reporter's assessment is that if Mr. Thomas really had such confidence in private insurers, he could have allowed Medicare to offer a plan competing with them. If the private insurers were actually more efficient, then the public would vote with their feet and sign up with the private plans. However, Mr. Thomas was unwilling to let the private sector demonstrate its superiority in the free market.)

Monday, September 04, 2006

Few Are They Whose Sanity Survives an Encounter with the Rumsfeld...

The Moderate Voice is now the Shrill Voice:

The Moderate Voice - Baggage, Fighting Fascism And Donald Rumsfeld: When we see those on the left or right who have questions about policies...and us also us, by implication ...being told that if we were adults in the 1940s would have let Hitler have his way, we then begin to write off the words of those whose mouths seemingly cannot debate issues without sneeringly discrediting those in a democracy who have every RIGHT to DEMAND answers or changes in policies.

Accusing opponents of being isolationists (even if they're not) or being soft on fascism (even if they're not) has worked before. And so it's being used as an election year tool again %u2014 to once again divide the United States in order to arouse passions of hate and concern in the GOP base so the base will go to the polls in droves 2006 to checkmate the portrayal and characterization of the administration's critics. The portrayal offered by the administration.

But this year many independents, independent-minded Democrats and even independent-minded Repubicans may think: Divided government is what's needed. And maybe votes cast in 2006 should be towards that end.

Donald Rumsfeld has been in high White House posts for many years in various administrations. He KNOWS how to put a sentence together.

He KNOWS what he said and what he meant. The political technique of taking some of it back later and letting the original allegation hang out there is older than Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones (well, perhaps not that old..).

Many of us independent voters %u2014 even many of us who supported the war %u2014 know what Rumsfeld really meant.

And. come November, many of us independent voters will likely vote accordingly.

Andrew Sullivan Is Shrill

He writes:

Andrew Sullivan | The Daily Dish: Unfinished Business: Before I left for Amsterdam, I'd written several posts about my skepticism with respect to the London terror plot, a plot described by Michelle Malkin's blog as "imminent," and thereby warranting torture. The posts can be read here, here, and here. The British officials also spoke of the plot in near-apocalyptic terms at the time. Now we find out something a little different:

In addition to Mr. Stephenson's remark that the attack would have been "mass murder on an unimaginable scale," Mr. Reid said that attacks were "highly likely" and predicted that the loss of life would have been on an "unprecedented scale."

Two weeks later, senior officials here characterized the remarks as unfortunate. As more information was analyzed and the British government decided that the attack was not imminent, Mr. Reid sought to calm the country by backing off from his dire predictions.

So there was no imminent threat at all. And, although, as I wrote, the plot was real, it was being monitored very closely with secret police cameras in the room where bomb materials were to be assembled at some point. The decision to shut down Britain's airports was made out of some kind of fear of another, completely unsubstantiated and alleged plot. Money quote:

British officials said the suspects still had a lot of work to do. Two of the suspects did not have passports, but had applied for expedited approval. One official said the people suspected of leading the plot were still recruiting and radicalizing would-be bombers.

While investigators found evidence on a computer memory stick indicating that one of the men had looked up airline schedules for flights from London to cities in the United States, the suspects had neither made reservations nor purchased plane tickets, a British official said.

Hmmm. No tickets; no ready-for-use bombs; no passports for some; close surveillance ... then panic. Could it be that torture in Pakistan produced false evidence (as it almost always does) and so ended what might have been a more effective counter-terror operation? We'll never know. I just hope that the premature action against these Jihadists has not jeopardized the chances of prosecuting them. If torture was integral to their arrests, then they may have to be released. I await a retraction from the Malkin blog; and an apology from Jeff Goldstein who accused me of "dementia" for doubting the original official line. It was not dementia prompting my doubts. It was the evidence, something some on the far right seem uninterested in. If we want to win the war on Islamist terror, we need to be as reality-based as possible.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Shrill Wingnuts...

Right-wing wingnut Kaye Grogan is shrill--but in a very bad way:

Give me that "old time religion" . . . Republicans: I thought President Bush was a godly man, but right now his mind has went south of the border. The Republicans are caught up in a very dangerous game of doing irreparable dealings behind the backs of Americans. Out in Texas Governor Rick Perry has been quietly endorsing building superhighways costing billions of dollars at the expense of taxpayers.

According to a report from WorldNet Daily, the roads will intertwine with the so-called NAFTA Superhighway. And this little project has a lot of the folks up in the air, because the United States Supreme Court paved the way for "eminent domain" to seize the property of homeowners -- in the way of what some are viewing as prosperity with Mexico and Canada.

And since we were left holding a $750 billion dollar trade deficit in 2005 -- of course it makes a lot of sense to continue to keep the deficit amount escalating -- since most of the ones who are responsible for this incredible sell-out will be long gone with the young people left behind holding the bag. I guess the new way to be prosperous is to pave the way to the poorhouse using expensive equipment on the superhighway to hell.

Next, since churches don't pay taxes it wouldn't surprise me in the least to hear about church worshipers being bulldozed down with church buildings to make way for Pedro's governmental subsidized Mexican Taco Bell. Not only have most Republicans left their Christian base -- they have completely left reality. At this point, I don't believe even a revival could revive the Republican Party.

It's apparent there needs to be a big revival in America, and a big shake-up in Congress. It's time to start a new viable third party -- while there is still a little hope for America. Because there is not one immediate representative I can think of who has anything to offer the American people, but the same old song and dance routine.

And it's way past time. . . they all sat this one out.

And that's just my opinion!

David Broder Makes Kevin Drum the Shrillest Man on Earth!

Yes! David Broder: Whenever David Broder writes a column, a fairy has its wings plucked from its back by a cruel wizard and is thereafter consigned to the mud.

Kevin Drum howls beneath the dead, lifeless moon:

The Washington Monthly: #376 IN THE PARADE OF PEOPLE TRYING TO DRIVE ME INSANE.... And today's winner is: David Broder, discussing the vast unfairness of not allowing New Hampshire to single-handedly choose the Democratic nominee for president. Here's my favorite part:

Voters there -- in both parties and especially among the numerous independents who also vote in the primary -- take their role seriously. They turn up at town meetings and they ask probing questions. So do the interviewers at local papers and broadcast stations. So do high school students.

New Hampshire voters don't need -- or particularly want -- guidance from Iowa, and frequently they ignore the Iowa results. But they are stuck with Iowa. Now, thanks to the Democrats, they may be stuck with Nevada as well, and crowded from behind by South Carolina.

Oh, the humanity! To hear Broder tell it, you'd think that New Hampshire's role in anointing frontrunners had been handed down on a stone tablet to Moses. Sheesh.

POSTSCRIPT: I grew up in California and have voted here since 1976. In my entire life, I haven't once cast a primary vote for president that wasn't completely meaningless. How about writing a column on the unfairness of that?

Can anybody explain why none of the Post's staff reductions to date have included David Broder? It would seem an obvious no-brainer.

Now, everybody, in chorus: Phnglui mglwnafh Kevin Drum Rlyeh wgahnagl Ftagn!