Thursday, November 30, 2006

Morton Koncracke Drives Joshua Micah Marshall Shriller!

Let's join Joshua in his Morton Kondracke description: "Buck-passing, sickening, noxious, risible, fetid." "Buck-passing, sickening, noxious, risible, fetid." "Buck-passing, sickening, noxious, risible, fetid."

Talking Points Memo: by Joshua Micah Marshall: November 26, 2006 - December 02, 2006 Archives: I can only think to call the denial and buck-passing sickening. I can't think of another word that captures the gut reaction.

Here's the lede to Mort Kondracke's new column...

All over the world, scoundrels are ascendant, rising on a tide of American weakness. It makes for a perilous future.

President Bush bet his presidency -- and America's world leadership -- on the war in Iraq. Tragically, it looks as though he bit off more than the American people were willing to chew.

The U.S. is failing in Iraq. Bush's policy was repudiated by the American people in the last election. And now America's enemies and rivals are pressing their advantage, including Iran, Syria, the Taliban, Sudan, Russia and Venezuela. We have yet to hear from al-Qaida.

Let's first take note that the 'blame the American people for Bush's screw-ups' meme has definitely hit the big time. It's not Bush who bit off more than he could chew or did something incredibly stupid or screwed things up in a way that defies all imagining. Bush's 'error' here is not realizing in advance that the American people would betray him as he was marching into history. The 'tragedy' is that Bush "bit off more than the American people were willing to chew." That just takes my breath away.

Now come down to the third graf. Bush gets repudiated in the mid-term election... "And now ..." In standard English the import of this phrasing is pretty clear: it's the repudiation of Bush's tough policies that have led to the international axis of evil states rising against us. Is he serious? The world has gone to hell in a hand basket since the election? In the last three weeks? The whole column is an open war on cause and effect.

This is noxious, risible, fetid thinking. But there it is. That's the story they want to tell. The whole place is rotten down to the very core.

Why, This Is Hell, Nor Are We Out of It

Patrick Nielsen Hayden torments himself by reading the Washington Post:

Making Light: Go directly to hell. Do not pass Go. Do not pick up $200.: In a just world, Richard Cohen would go to his grave with these words as his epitaph.

We are a good country, attempting to do a good thing. In a post-Sept. 11 world, I thought the prudent use of violence could be therapeutic.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Chris Floyd Is the Shrillest Person Alive!!

Tom Friedman provokes the shrillness explosion that gives us our new Grand Heresiarch, Archimandrite, Prophet, Seer, and Revelator!

All shrill bow down before Chris Floyd, the shrillest person who was, is, and is to come!

Chris Floyd - Empire Burlesque - High Crimes and Low Comedy in the Bush Imperium - Hideous Kinky: The Genocidal Fury of Thomas Friedman: You would think that by now we would have "supp'd full with horrors" on the New York Times op-ed pages. What could be worse than the atrocities that have filled those gray columns in the past few years, the loud brays for war, the convoluted excuses for presidential tyranny, the steady murmur of chin-stroking bullshit meant to comfort the comfortable elite and confirm them -- at all times, at any cost -- in their well-wadded self-righteousness? Surely, you would think, we have seen the worst.

If this was your thought, then alas, alas, alack the day, you were bitterly mistaken, my friend. Comes now before us the portly, fur-lipped figure of Thomas Friedman, Esq., who today has penned what must be the most morally hideous and deeply racist column ever to appear in those rarefied journalistic precincts: "Ten Months or Ten Years."

It seems that this very enthusiastic promoter of the unprovoked war of aggression against Iraq - which he proudly called "a war of choice," apparently not realizing that he was parroting the propagandists of the Nazi regime... has now discovered that Iraqi Arabs are hopeless, worthless barbarians, broken by "1,000 years of Arab-Muslim authoritarianism" and can only be held together by an "iron fist." (He got all this from reading a new book, apparently. Well, a little literacy, like a little learning, is a dangerous thing, I reckon -- and as anyone who has ever exposed themselves to the dull, flat buzz of Friedman's prose can attest, his literacy is little indeed.)

In fact, the only thing America did wrong in its "effort to bring progressive politics or democracy to this region" was not coming down hard enough on this darky riff-raff: "Had we properly occupied the country, and begun political therapy, it is possible an American iron fist could have held Iraq together long enough to put it on a new course. But instead we created a vacuum by not deploying enough troops." Instead, we took it easy on them -- I mean, Jesus H. Jiminy Cricket Walker Christ, we only killed 600,000 of them; what kind of pussyfooting around is that? -- and look what happened. A Sunni insurgency sprang up, whose only goal -- whose ONLY goal, mind you -- was to make America look bad: "America must fail in its effort to bring progressive, etc., etc. America must fail – no matter how many Iraqis have to be killed, America must fail." What was their "only one goal" again, Tom? Oh yeah: America must fail. Not a single ding-dang one of them ornery critters ever had any other motive whatsoever to take up arms against an army of foreigners who had invaded and occupied their country....

In his column, Friedman makes much of his pre-war enthusiasm, and proudly claims that he was the first to come up with the "Pottery Barn rule" of international diplomacy -- "You break it, you own it."... [T]he fact that Tom Friedman's war has failed -- that these dastardly, dumb-ass Arabs (and Tom, swoopstake, includes the entire "Sunni Muslim world" in his condemnation for "tolerating and tacitly support[ing]" the insurgency; he has obviously gone and polled every single Sunni Muslim on earth to procure this knowledge) -- is the unspoken leitmotiv of the entire piece. This was my war -- and the Arabs ruined it!...

Friedman proposes -- seriously, one assumes, for surely nothing is more serious than Tom Friedman in full cry -- that we "re-invade" Iraq with 150,000 more troops... and this time really do a number on those recalcitrant tribes, do whatever "is necessary to crush the dark forces in Iraq" and pound some sense into them, or at least some obedience, with our big "iron fist."...

Whatever is necessary. Whatever it takes. This is, I believe, what is technically known as the "Close Your Hearts to Pity" strategy, in honor of that great war-of-choicer who thus exhorted his officers as they stood poised on the Polish frontier back in the glorious days when men were men and an iron fist was an iron fist....

[N]ever let it be said that Friedman lacks the moral courage and mental elasticity to admit that he is wrong. Not about his advocacy of the war, of course. Nor about the idea that murdering 600,000 civilians (and counting) is a jim-dandy way to advance "progressive politics or democracy.".... No, what Tom manfully admits is wrong is his "Pottery Barn Rule" itself. It turns out that "Iraq was already pretty broken before we got there." So none of what has happened is our fault. The blame lies with those "1,000 years of Arab-Muslim authoritarianism."... with "three brutal decades of Sunni Baathist rule"... with a "crippling decade of UN sanctions," screwed on ever tighter by those champions of humanitarian intervention, Bill Clinton and Tony Blair.... Iraq was already ruined before we got there. We didn't have a blessed thing to do with it. Certainly, the "war of choice" launched by the knowing lies of Bush and Blair ("the intelligence is being fixed around the policy") has no connection.... [I]f it turns out that we really are too wimpy to close our hearts to pity and put these ragheads in their place once and for all, we can still leave behind the hellhole -- and those 600,000 dead -- with a clear conscience. For we have not failed. (Thomas Friedman has not failed.) We were not wrong. (Thomas Friedman was not wrong.) It was all the fault of those "progress-resistant," broken-down, hive-minded, barbaric Arabs. We can either slaughter them by the millions, or flush them down the toilet. There is no other way.

This, ladies and gentleman, is what passes for Establishment thought on the most respected newspaper in the land. This complete and utter moral perversion -- like unto an act of sexual congress with the beasts of the field -- is now the conventional wisdom of the chattering classes, the "public intellectuals," and the powerful elites whom they so cravenly serve. This blood-flecked drivel -- a precise echo of the genocidal fury being voiced on what once was once considered the lunatic fringes of the far right -- is now at the heart of American political life...

Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Chris Floyd R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn! Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Chris Floyd R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn!! Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Chris Floyd R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn!!! Cu'atyhv ztyj'ansu Puevf Syblq E'ylru jtnu'anty sugnta! Cu'atyhv ztyj'ansu Puevf Syblq E'ylru jtnu'anty sugnta!! Cu'atyhv ztyj'ansu Puevf Syblq E'ylru jtnu'anty sugnta!!!! Cu'atyhv ztyj'ansu Puevf Syblq E'ylru jtnu'anty sugnta!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Ten Months or Ten Years
November 29, 2006

Here is the central truth about Iraq today: This country is so broken it can’t even have a proper civil war.

There are so many people killing so many other people for so many different reasons — religion, crime, politics — that all the proposals for how to settle this problem seem laughable. It was possible to settle Bosnia’s civil war by turning the country into a loose federation, because the main parties to that conflict were reasonably coherent, with leaders who could cut a deal and deliver their faction.

But Iraq is in so many little pieces now, divided among warlords, foreign terrorists, gangs, militias, parties, the police and the army, that nobody seems able to deliver anybody. Iraq has entered a stage beyond civil war — it’s gone from breaking apart to breaking down. This is not the Arab Yugoslavia anymore. It’s Hobbes’s jungle.

Given this, we need to face our real choices in Iraq, which are: 10 months or 10 years. Either we just get out of Iraq in a phased withdrawal over 10 months, and try to stabilize it some other way, or we accept the fact that the only way it will not be a failed state is if we start over and rebuild it from the ground up, which would take 10 years. This would require reinvading Iraq, with at least 150,000 more troops, crushing the Sunni and Shiite militias, controlling borders, and building Iraq’s institutions and political culture from scratch.

Anyone who tells you that we can just train a few more Iraqi troops and police officers and then slip out in two or three years is either lying or a fool. The minute we would leave, Iraq would collapse. There is nothing we can do by the end of the Bush presidency that would produce a self-sustaining stable Iraq — and “self-sustaining” is the key metric.

In his must-read new book about the impact of culture on politics and economic development, “The Central Liberal Truth,” Lawrence Harrison notes that some cultures are “progress-prone” and others are “progress- resistant.” In the Arab-Muslim world today the progress-resistant cultural forces seem to be just too strong, especially in Iraq, which is why it is so hard to establish durable democratic institutions in that soil, he says.

“Some may hark back to our successful imposition of democracy on West Germany and Japan after World War II,” adds Mr. Harrison. “But the people on whom democracy was imposed in those two countries were highly literate and entrepreneurial members of unified, institutionalized societies with strong traditions of association — what we refer to today as ‘social capital.’ Iraq was social capital-poor to start with and it now verges on bankruptcy.”

On Feb. 12, 2003, before the war, I wrote a column offering what I called my “pottery store” rule for Iraq: “You break it, you own it.” It was not an argument against the war, but rather a cautionary note about the need to do it with allies, because transforming Iraq would be such a huge undertaking. (Colin Powell later picked up on this and used the phrase to try to get President Bush to act with more caution, but Mr. Bush did not heed Mr. Powell’s advice.)

But my Pottery Barn rule was wrong, because Iraq was already pretty broken before we got there — broken, it seems, by 1,000 years of Arab-Muslim authoritarianism, three brutal decades of Sunni Baathist rule, and a crippling decade of U.N. sanctions. It was held together only by Saddam’s iron fist. Had we properly occupied the country, and begun political therapy, it is possible an American iron fist could have held Iraq together long enough to put it on a new course. But instead we created a vacuum by not deploying enough troops.

That vacuum was filled by murderous Sunni Baathists and Al Qaeda types, who butchered Iraqi Shiites until they finally wouldn’t take it any longer and started butchering back, which brought us to where we are today. The Sunni Muslim world should hang its head in shame for the barbarism it has tolerated and tacitly supported by the Sunnis of Iraq, whose violence, from the start, has had only one goal: America must fail in its effort to bring progressive politics or democracy to this region. America must fail — no matter how many Iraqis have to be killed, America must fail.

This has left us with two impossible choices. If we’re not ready to do what is necessary to crush the dark forces in Iraq and properly rebuild it, then we need to leave — because to just keep stumbling along as we have been makes no sense. It will only mean throwing more good lives after good lives into a deeper and deeper hole filled with more and more broken pieces.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Robert D. Novak Is Shrill!

Well, well, well. The arch-enemy of all shrillness--Robert Novak--is one of us now!

Union Leader - Robert D. Novak: Treatment of Rumsfeld shows something's wrong with Bush Presidency - Friday, Nov. 24, 2006: DONALD RUMSFELD, one week after his sacking as secretary of defense, was treated as a conquering hero accorded one standing ovation after another at the conservative American Spectator magazine's annual dinner in Washington.

The enthusiasm may have indicated less total support for Rumsfeld's six-year record at the Pentagon than resentment over the way President Bush fired him. Rumsfeld had recovered his usual aplomb as he basked in the Spectator's glow. But on the day after the election, he had seemed devastated -- the familiar confident grin gone and his voice breaking. According to administration officials, only three or four people knew he would be fired -- and Rumsfeld was not one of them.

His fellow Presidential appointees, including some who did not applaud Rumsfeld's performance in office, were taken aback by his treatment. In the two weeks following the election, I have asked a wide assortment of Republican notables their opinion of the Rumsfeld sacking. Only one went on the record: Rep. Duncan Hunter, House Armed Services Committee chairman. A rare undeviating supporter of Rumsfeld, Hunter told me "it was a mistake for him to resign." The others, less supportive of Rumsfeld, said they were "appalled" -- the most common descriptive word -- by the President's performance.

The treatment of his war minister connotes something deeply wrong with George W. Bush's Presidency in its sixth year. Apart from Rumsfeld's failures in personal relations, he never has been anything short of loyal in executing the President's wishes. But loyalty appears to be a one-way street for Bush. His shrouded decision to sack Rumsfeld after declaring he would serve out the second term fits the pattern of a President who is secretive and impersonal.

Lawrence Lindsey had been assured that he would be retained as the President's national economic adviser, but received word on Dec. 5, 2002, at around 5 p.m. that he would be fired the next day. Before Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill embarked on a dangerous mission to Afghanistan, he requested and received assurances that he would still have a job when he returned. Instead, he was dismissed in tandem with Lindsey.

Bush is no malevolent tyrant who concocts unpleasant surprises for his Cabinet members. Rather, letting the terminated official be one of the last to know of imminent removal derives from congenital phobia over White House leaks that I have seen exhibited by Republicans dating back to President Eisenhower (and leading to President Nixon's fateful creation of "plumbers" to plug leaks). The Bush team took pride in keeping secret the failed Harriet Miers nomination to the Supreme Court before keeping mum the fate of Rumsfeld.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich claimed the replacement of Rumsfeld two weeks before the election would have saved Republican control of the Senate as well as 10 GOP House seats. Many Republicans have bought into that dubious speculation, especially those who lost their seats Nov. 7. Presidential adviser Karl Rove told Rep. Clay Shaw of Florida, one of the defeated longtime Republican congressmen, that a pre-election exit by Rumsfeld would have been too political. Shaw appeared to accept this explanation, but many other Republicans do not. They see the White House dedicated to the "24-hour-cycle theory of politics." They believe removal of Rumsfeld falling into the 24-hour cycle was intended to crowd out continued rehashing of disastrous election returns.

?It is hard to find anyone in the Bush administration who endorses the way Rumsfeld was handled. His friend and comrade, Vice President Dick Cheney, is reported to be profoundly disturbed. But even before the election, Cheney appeared melancholic. The last two years of eight-year Presidencies are historically difficult, particularly after losing the final midterm election. During the Iran-Contra scandal, Ronald Reagan in 1987-88 was steadfast in pursuing Cold War victory. But the way George W. Bush handled Rumsfeld was not a good sign for his concluding years as President.

What part of "phnglui mglw'nafl Novak r'lyeh w'gah nagl fhtagn" don't the rest of you understand?

Ezra Klein Succumbs to Shrill Unholy Madness as He Watches Morton Kondracke Battle Reality Itself!

There is no Ezra Klein. There is only Zool:

Ezra Klein: Kondracke Vs. The Facts: I'm not exactly going to stun anyone by suggesting that Mort Kondracke doesn't know what he's talking about, but this is rather offensive:

The reason that V.A. prices are lower is, it's basically a socialized medical system. You go to a V.A. doctor, you go to a V.A. hospital, you go to a V.A. pharmacy and the V.A. pharmacies only have 25 percent of the drugs that seniors actually use all the time. So, you know, it doesn't work.

There is an implicit contract between pundits and their audiences. The audiences, whose attention pays our salaries, are working off the assumed information that the networks and publications elevate only those who take the time to accurately comprehend the issues they're speaking about. And we, as our part of the deal, are supposed to take ten minutes and figure out what we're talking about.

The VA, just like the Medicare prescription drug plans, uses a formulary of drugs on which they negotiate discounts. That formulary contains drugs for every condition, but mostly eschews the copycats and useless medications that clutter up the market. Your pharmacy, remarkably enough, does the same thing. Now, VA users still have coverage for drugs off the formulary, they just don't get the bargained discounts on them. And here's the kicker: The VA has the best outcomes, for the lowest cost.

Those two points are not unrelated. As part of "knowing what I'm talking about," I called Phil Longman, who's done the best work on the system. As he explained, the VA is almost fetishistically rigorous about testing new drugs for efficacy and safety before adding them to the formulary. Vioxx, for instance, was never added to the list, because the VA thought it neither effective nor safe. They were right, and their patients were protected. That didn't -- and doesn't -- mean VA doctors can't approve off-formulary drugs. They just have to explain why doing so is necessary. In that way, the VA incentivizes the proven, well-priced drugs on their formulary rather than the ones in the news, but doesn't eliminate new and necessary treatments.

And how's that worked out? Well, in 2003, The New England Journal of Medicine found the "socialized" VA better on all 11 metrics of care than fee-for-service Medicare. The Annal of Internal Medicine found they surpass the commercial managed-care systems on all seven metrics of care for diabates patients. The National Committee for Quality Assurance, the gold-standard, found the VA the best health system in the country, beating out such star performers as John Hopkins and the Mayo Clinic. And an astounding 81% of Vets approve of their care, higher than Medicare, Medicaid, or the private sector.

But Kondracke doesn't know any of that. Or if he does, he's not telling. And in doing, he's breaking trust with and misinforming his audience. What conservatives literally cannot get around -- and so must ignore -- is that the single best health system in the country today is the socialized one. But inconvenient as it is for their ideology, what's all the more inconvenient is that the pundits Americans entrust to know about and inform them of these things are failing to do so.

Thomas Edsall Has Driven Greg Mitchell Shrill

A shrill-a-doozy:

Despite Election Results, Edsall Still Sees 'Red': When John Tierney was finally ceremoniously booted off The New York Time' op-ed page, there was some hope that his guest replacement this month, Thomas B. Edsall, after a distinguished career at The Washington Post, would provide thoughtful commentary in that unliberal column slot.

So what does he do on Saturday? He offers advice to the Democrats on how they can avoid certain disaster for the party.... He also predicts that liberalism is "dead" and the party as a whole must undergo a "painful transformation." This comes on the heels of the Democrat' national triumph, and it comes from a man who in his recent book was prescient enough to write, "The Republican Party holds a set of advantages, some substantial and some marginal," meaning that "the odds are that the Republican Party will continue to maintain, over the long run, a thin but durable margin of victory."


Talk about bad timing. Just weeks after the release... the GOP lost that predicted edge in the House, the Senate, statehouses around the country, and governorships. It's amazing they still kept their majority at FoxNews. The leader of their party now sits in the White House with a 31% approval rating. Yet here is Edsall, the ace prognosticator, dispensing wisdom to Democrats....

Edsall has been wrong before. In 1991, a year before the Clinton victory, he wrote in his book, "Chain Reaction," that the Democratic Party was "in danger of losing its stature as a major competitor in national politics."... Edsall paints the Democrats as hapless and disorganized and forever outfoxed by Republicans on the campaign trail.... Edsall continually mocks the Democrats' "elitist" ways... suggests the Republicans will probably "stay" in charge because they are culturally in tune with the majority of voters: "Traditional values of family, neighborhood, church, school, and the workplace are, to millions of voters, 'money in the bank' -- they are what holds people together, providing security against a rainy day."...

Like so many of his colleagues, past and present, at The Washington Post, he minimizes the true reality that trumps all of the above: the real silent majority are those who have come to distrust or despise the Republicans for rampant corruption, family values hypocrisy and lying about Iraq (and then handling the postwar war incompetently)...

Spencer Ackerman Is Shrill

Spencer Ackerman shrilly opines on Stockholm Syndrome among writers for the _New Republic:

toohotfortnr: I learned through four years at TNR that the employees there have quite a curious view of how their magazine is read. Many at TNR believe people read the magazine like TNR staffers do -- that is, draw distinctions between Marty and the staff; and between the right-wing pieces and their own. When it's pointed out that this level of Kremlinology is unreasonable to expect in an audience, they tend to get snippy.

It occurs to me that it's a way of avoiding responsibility for these sorts of idiotic pieces, and to avoid ever standing up to the fools who insist on publishing them.

Attention New Republic writers: This is a broadcast of Radio Free Liberalism. Rise up against your appointed masters! They will crumble at the first display of a show of force...

Friday, November 24, 2006

We Infer that Duncan Black Is Still Shrill

Duncan Black says what he thinks about "serious" people, like Senator Joe Lieberman:

Eschaton: Serious: It was just about a year ago that Joe Lieberman wrote:

Does America have a good plan for doing this, a strategy for victory in Iraq? Yes we do. And it is important to make it clear to the American people that the plan has not remained stubbornly still but has changed over the years. Mistakes, some of them big, were made after Saddam was removed, and no one who supports the war should hesitate to admit that; but we have learned from those mistakes and, in characteristic American fashion, from what has worked and not worked on the ground. The administration's recent use of the banner "clear, hold and build" accurately describes the strategy as I saw it being implemented last week.

We are now embedding a core of coalition forces in every Iraqi fighting unit, which makes each unit more effective and acts as a multiplier of our forces. Progress in "clearing" and "holding" is being made. The Sixth Infantry Division of the Iraqi Security Forces now controls and polices more than one-third of Baghdad on its own. Coalition and Iraqi forces have together cleared the previously terrorist-controlled cities of Fallujah, Mosul and Tal Afar, and most of the border with Syria. Those areas are now being "held" secure by the Iraqi military themselves. Iraqi and coalition forces are jointly carrying out a mission to clear Ramadi, now the most dangerous city in Al-Anbar province at the west end of the Sunni Triangle.

Nationwide, American military leaders estimate that about one-third of the approximately 100,000 members of the Iraqi military are able to "lead the fight" themselves with logistical support from the U.S., and that that number should double by next year. If that happens, American military forces could begin a drawdown in numbers proportional to the increasing self-sufficiency of the Iraqi forces in 2006. If all goes well, I believe we can have a much smaller American military presence there by the end of 2006 or in 2007, but it is also likely that our presence will need to be significant in Iraq or nearby for years to come...

Actually, he doesn't say. But we can infer that he is shrill.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Hilary Bok Is the Shrillest Creature on Earth

She unfolds her batwings, and plummets from the dark towers of Miskatonic University to feed on Richard Cohen:

Obsidian Wings: Richard Cohen: Find A New Job: [Richard Cohen's] article contains one of those sentences that, all by itself, shows that the person who wrote it should never be taken seriously again, at least about policy -- a sentence that should take its place in the Pundit Hall of Shame alongside Jonah Goldberg's "Every ten years or so, the United States needs to pick up some small crappy little country and throw it against the wall, just to show the world we mean business", or Tom Friedman's "We should arm the Shiites and Kurds and leave the Sunnis of Iraq to reap the wind". Here it is, in all its glory:

"In a post-Sept. 11 world, I thought the prudent use of violence could be therapeutic."

Richard Cohen: resign. Resign right now. You may, for all I know, have a talent for laying pipe or landscaping that might yet allow you to make a contribution to the world. Admittedly, no amount of carefully laid pipe or expertly transplanted salvias could come close to compensating for your part in enabling this administration and its ill-considered wars, but frankly, you're in no position to be picky. Moreover, I would think that someone who had assumed a public position as a Wise Person Worth Listening To without, apparently, any sense of the responsibilities that that entails might benefit from the attempt to make tiny, concrete, unpublicized improvements to the world, of the sort monks strove for when they tried to perform the most mundane and inglorious daily tasks in such a way that they could be offered up to God without shame. Laying pipe very carefully and very well would do, as would trying very hard to keep the root balls of shrubs intact during transplantation. Even if you don't have any such talent, taking up a new career flipping burgers at McDonalds would at least minimize the damage you can inflict on the world, while allowing you ample time to reflect on those personal failings that allowed you to think of war as therapy, and to try to think of some small and unknown contribution that you might yet make to the world.

But don't take my word for it. Go visit the families of soldiers who have fallen in the interests of what you considered "therapeutic", or the families of any of the of thousands of people who have been kidnapped off the streets of Iraq for no reason, tortured with electric drills, and then found dead behind some abandoned building or floating in the Tigris. Ask them whether they think that the war in Iraq has been "therapeutic". Then ask yourself whether you shouldn't just turn in your license to practice national psychotherapy...

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Ia Digby!! Ia!! IA!!!

Digby is still shrill:

Hullabaloo: Faith Based Boy Genius: This is a perfect illustration of everything that is wrong with the Bush administration. They are magical thinkers:

Rove's miscalculations began well before election night. The polls and pundits pointed to a Democratic sweep, but Rove dismissed them all.... He believed his "metrics" were far superior to plain old polls. Two weeks before the elections, Rove showed NEWSWEEK his magic numbers: a series of graphs and bar charts that tallied early voting and voter outreach. Both were running far higher than in 2004. In fact, Rove thought the polls were obsolete because they relied on home telephones in an age of do-not-call lists and cell phones.... Rove placed so much faith in his figures that, after the elections, he planned to convene a panel of Republican political scientists--to study just how wrong the polls were.

His confidence buoyed everyone inside the West Wing, especially the president. Ten days before the elections, House Majority Leader John Boehner visited Bush in the Oval Office with bad news. He told Bush that the party would lose Tom DeLay's old seat in Texas, where Bush was set to campaign. Bush brushed him off...

I think what shocks me the most about this article is that... I honestly didn't know he was delusional. And this delusional man's power was unprecedented for a political advisior. In many ways he has been running the country for the last six years:

In his acceptance speech, Bush thanks Rove, calling him simply "the architect." "Everyone in the room knew what that meant," says Washington Post reporter Mike Allen. "He was the architect of the public policies that got them there, he was the architect of the campaign platform, he was the architect of the fundraising strategy, he was the architect of the state-by-state strategy, he was the architect of the travel itinerary. His hand was in all of it."... With Bush re-elected, Rove is thinking long-term. He intends to use both politics and policy to create a permanent Republican majority... privatization of Social Security... "strict constructionist" judges... Washington Post reporter Thomas Edsall. "They aren't kidding around."

They weren't serious people though, and Tom Edsall and the rest of the Washington press corps should have known very well by then. Ron Suskind had chronicled the dysfunction inside the Bush administration as early as January 2003:

DiIulio defines the Mayberry Machiavellis as political staff, Karl Rove and his people, "who consistently talked and acted as if the height of political sophistication consisted in reducing every issue to its simplest black-and-white terms for public consumption, then steering legislative initiatives or policy proposals as far right as possible. These folks have their predecessors in previous administrations (left and right, Democrat and Republican), but in the Bush administration, they were particularly unfettered."... Weekly meetings of the Domestic Policy Council "were breathtaking," DiIulio told me. As for the head of the DPC, Margaret La Montagne, a longtime friend of Karl Rove who guided education policy in Texas, DiIulio is blunt: "What she knows about domestic policy could fit in a thimble."... The dilemma presented by Karl Rove, DiIulio realized, was that in such a policy vacuum, his jack-of-all-trades appreciation of an enormous array of policy debates was being mistaken for genuine expertise.... "When policy analysis is just backfill to support a political maneuver, you'll get a lot of oops," he says.

A lot of oops.

Karl Rove never got Bush a mandate and yet advised him to govern as if he'd won in a landslide. (Maybe he showed Junior some "metrics" that proved that even though he had a tiny majority, it meant his wingnut policies were hugely popular.) And he's been as responsible for the awful state of American politics and malfeasance in office as anyone in the White House. He barely escaped indictment earlier this year.

Can somebody explain to me why the taxpayers are still paying his salary?

Sunday, November 12, 2006

A Story of Shrilldom

John Cole has been mighty shrill of late. Alas, while we support John's descent into shrill uholy madness (due, surprisingly, to the IMMSDR of the current Republican Party leadership), others do not. Are we further surprised to discover that he is not put off by this?

...My only reaction- you poor, delicate flowers. I am so very sorry that I have offended your delicate sensibilities.

Scratch that. My reaction is to go pound salt....


I may no longer be a “conservative,” but that is only because the lunatics have stolen the name. While the extreme and reactionary right may have temporarily re-labled conservatism to mean a fetus fetish, rampant homophobia, a hatred of science, an injection of religion into all things, run-away spending (as long as it gets “us” elected), government intrusion into your bedroom, fealty to an authoritarian federal government, support for warrantless wire-tapping and torture, and so on, I am working to take the name and the party back. Maybe I am not ‘conservative’ as it is now defined. Call me the angry middle, if you will...

No, we are not surprised, for this is the path of those who have had enough. The few, the unbalanced, the shrill. Semper Catum.

You might ask what good can come of this shrilldom. Is it a coincidence that Roethlisberger found his passing game just hours ofter Cole's post? We can neither confirm nor deny....

Thursday, November 09, 2006

The American People, God Bless Them, Are Finally Shrill!

By overwhelming numbers in the House, and at this hour by the thinnest of margins in the Senate, the American people have become Shrill and Unbalanced at the ballot box! The Order welcomes the not-so-silent majority to the ancient and hermetic Order of the Shrill!!! Aaaiii! Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Representative Democracy R'lyeh wagn'nagl fhtagn! Aiiiiiii!!!

We now return to your regularly scheduled program of corruption, nepotism, and nationalism.

The United States Congress is Shrill

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Biennial Membership Drive Update

As most readers know, the Order holds a biennial membership drive on the first Tuesday in November. The event often turns into a bit of a circus, and it takes a while before we know how many people signed up. This year's event was no exception, and we're working around the clock to get the final tally.

This post is an interim update, and the results are preliminary. We'll have more complete details soon, when we've totalled everything and put out the updated membership directory (motto: let your tentacles do the walking).

  1. As usual, the membership drive was held at local polling places around the country. We were happy to see that this did not confuse people as it had in the past, with over 56 million people showing up for the event.
  2. Unfortunately, it seemed that 24 million of those were confused, and failed to check the box reading "Yes, I am shrill. Sign me up for the order. I understand that there is no obligation, and I can cancel at any time and keep the free hysterical keening."
  3. Even so, one thing is clear: the American people are shrill and unbalanced. It appears that approximately 31 million new members joined the order yesterday.
  4. Of those, 34 will go to Washington, DC to represent the Order in the United States Congress -- 5 in the Senate and 29 in the House of Representatives.
  5. In addition, we are awaiting word from Virginia, where officials are determining the answers to two key questions: first, will a sixth member be joining the aforementioned five in the United States Senate, and second, can ponies join the Order? Signs point to yes, but the answer is not confirmed.

That's all we have right now. More news as it develops.

Monday, November 06, 2006


Remember the days when Andrew Sullivan wrote things like: "Paul Krugman... insufferably pompous, shrill, Bush-bashing pseudo-populist..."?

Sure you do.

Here's today's quote from Andrew Sullivan: "What's at stake [in Tuesday's election] is saving the US from the incompetent, reckless fanatics now in control."

Googling for "paul krugman shrill": 71,200
Googling for "andrew sullivan shrill": 155,000

Give it up, Paul. You cannot compete.

Aaaaiiiiii!!!! Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Andrew Sullivan R'lyeh wagn'nagl fhtagn! Aaaaiiiiii!!!!

What's at stake is saving the US from the incompetent, reckless fanatics now in control - Sunday Times - Times Online: It is difficult to look into the future when you are going through what America is going through. All I can say about the atmosphere in the United States right now is that it feels as if the country is about to vomit. The nausea is there; the vote is imminent; and the purge necessary. And yet it hasn't happened yet. Americans are still staring at the porcelain. And those who desperately want a change -- as I do -- have to wait....

But this election is not a presidential one. That race is still a long way off. What's really on the ballot is the Iraq war and the Bush administration's conduct of it. The result on Tuesday could therefore change a huge amount -- or not much at all.

The awful truth is: whoever wins will be unable to alter the fundamental dynamic in Iraq. The project for a peaceful, democratic future in that country is dead. On Friday two core neoconservatives, Richard Perle and Ken Adelman, acted as coroners....

So what happens? We found out last week what the options are. One of the most astonishing things came out of the mouth of an American president in my lifetime. He declared that Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney had both done "fantastic jobs", and that both would stay in office till his last day in 2009. No, I'm not making that up. The man responsible for what has happened in Iraq has, in Bush's view, done a "fantastic job". That's how deep the denial goes. But then Bush also said that the man tasked with responding to Hurricane Katrina had done a "heckuva job".

If the Republicans somehow manage to defy expectations and retain control of House and Senate, this dangerous denial will be empowered and enhanced. Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld will be all the more convinced that they are right and all the more determined to pursue their manic dream of remaking the world. They will be like Nixon, the last to realise that their own fantasy has ended -- but, unlike Nixon, with a Congress of their own party they will be able to drag the entire country with them. If that happens, the centre in America will not hold. And we will be facing severe strife within America itself -- as well as a potential disaster in the Middle East...

Rooney Fhtagn!

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Tom Friedman Is Really Shrill...

Tom Friedman is shrill:

Carpetbagger Report: 'George Bush, Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld think you're stupid': The NYT's Thomas Friedman is not known for being "shrill" -- that's Paul Krugman's job -- but reading his columns lately, one gets the sense that Friedman has just been worn down. He seemed to want to give the Bush gang the benefit of the doubt, so much so that when it came to the war in Iraq, he gave administration an almost never-ending series of six-month intervals to get Iraq right.

Then, over the summer, something changed. Friedman gave up, not only on the war, but holding back his antipathy for the president and his team. In August, he said U.S. forces need to be withdrawn from Iraq. A week later, after one of Dick Cheney's more offensive anti-Dem slurs, Friedman called the Vice President a "fraud."

Today, Friedman is almost Krugmanesque, telling readers, "George Bush, Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld think you're stupid," and adding that the Bush gang is "insulting our troops, and our intelligence."

What could possibly be more injurious and insulting to the U.S. military than to send it into combat in Iraq without enough men -- to launch an invasion of a foreign country not by the Powell Doctrine of overwhelming force, but by the Rumsfeld Doctrine of just enough troops to lose? What could be a bigger insult than that?

What could possibly be more injurious and insulting to our men and women in uniform than sending them off to war without the proper equipment, so that some soldiers in the field were left to buy their own body armor and to retrofit their own jeeps with scrap metal so that roadside bombs in Iraq would only maim them for life and not kill them? And what could be more injurious and insulting than Don Rumsfeld's response to criticism that he sent our troops off in haste and unprepared: Hey, you go to war with the army you've got -- get over it.

What could possibly be more injurious and insulting to our men and women in uniform than to send them off to war in Iraq without any coherent postwar plan for political reconstruction there, so that the U.S. military has had to assume not only security responsibilities for all of Iraq but the political rebuilding as well?

Friedman even came up with one of my favorite Karl Rove analogies of all time.

Everyone says that Karl Rove is a genius. Yeah, right. So are cigarette companies. They get you to buy cigarettes even though we know they cause cancer. That is the kind of genius Karl Rove is. He is not a man who has designed a strategy to reunite our country around an agenda of renewal for the 21st century -- to bring out the best in us. His "genius" is taking some irrelevant aside by John Kerry and twisting it to bring out the worst in us, so you will ignore the mess that the Bush team has visited on this country.

And Karl Rove has succeeded at that in the past because he was sure that he could sell just enough Bush cigarettes, even though people knew they caused cancer. Please, please, for our country's health, prove him wrong this time. Let Karl know that you're not stupid. Let him know that you know that the most patriotic thing to do in this election is to vote against an administration that has -- through sheer incompetence -- brought us to a point in Iraq that was not inevitable but is now unwinnable.

I have to say, I obviously agree with all of this wholeheartedly, but I'm nevertheless surprised to see Friedman be so direct and hard-hitting in his criticism. One gets the sense that Friedman was patient, even when he knew he was being lied to, and now he just can't take it anymore. Welcome to the club, Thomas...

Prodeunt Vexilla Regis Shrillium!

Michael Hirsh is shrill:

The Opinionator - Opinion - New York Times Blog: "Never mind what kind of president Al Gore would have been -- he would have been adequate, I suppose, but so would have most Republicans -- it is hard now to avoid the conclusion that Bush was precisely the wrong man at the wrong time," writes Newsweek's Michael Hirsh. He continues:

Perhaps Bush would have been OK fighting another kind of war, a Jacksonian Battle of New Orleans-type war. But at a moment in history when we faced the most subtle sort of global threat, when we needed not just a willingness to use military force but a leader of real brilliance -- someone who would carefully study a little-understood enemy -- we got a man who actually took pride in his lack of studiousness. No surprise: Bush never once presided over a grand-strategy session to divine the nature of Al Qaeda, and he ended up lumping Saddam and every Islamist insurgent and terrorist group with Osama bin Laden. He ensured that a tiny fringe group that had been hounded into Afghanistan with no place left to go -- one that could have been wiped out had we focused on the task at hand -- would spread worldwide and become a generational Islamist threat.

And at a time when we needed a world leader who understood the nuances of burden-sharing in the international system, we got a president who so badly wanted to be a cowboy and not his father (offending even some Texans: "all hat and no cattle" is the term they use down there) that he proudly declared he doesn't "do nuance." Bush stomped around huffily in his first term, talking loudly and carrying a big stick, in the process all but trashing a half century of carefully nurtured American prestige.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Andrew Sullivan Flips Out


The U.S. military does not have a tradition of abandoning its own soldiers to foreign militias, or of taking orders from foreign governments. No commander-in-chief who actually walks the walk, rather than swaggering the swagger, would acquiesce to such a thing.

Arabic-Speaking Interpreter is Posthumously Shrill

What's the most shrill objection to inhumane and useless interrogation techniques visited upon Iraqi prisoners? How about suicide? I can't think of a more poetic statement that torture is a cancer on our society. RIP, PFC Alyssa Peterson. The shrillness of your final gesture rings like scream in a cathedral.