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America vs. The World

The big trouble with dumb bastards is that they are too dumb to believe there is such a thing as being smart. — Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Give 'em hell, Nancy

With the Republican party's collective head exploding, it grows increasingly likely that the Democrats will retake at least the House (and possibly the Senate), making Rep. Nancy Pelosi the first woman to server as Speaker of the House. What's not to like?
Franklin Roosevelt had his first hundred days.

House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi is thinking 100 hours, time enough, she says, to begin to "drain the swamp" after more than a decade of Republican rule.

As in the first 100 hours the House meets after Democrats — in her fondest wish — win control in the Nov. 7 midterm elections and Pelosi takes the gavel as the first Madam Speaker in history.

Day One: Put new rules in place to "break the link between lobbyists and legislation."

Day Two: Enact all the recommendations made by the commission that investigated the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Time remaining until 100 hours: Raise the minimum wage to $7.25 an hour, maybe in one step. Cut the interest rate on student loans in half. Allow the government to negotiate directly with the pharmaceutical companies for lower drug prices for Medicare patients.

Broaden the types of stem cell research allowed with federal funds — "I hope with a veto-proof majority," she added in an Associated Press interview Thursday.

All the days after that: "Pay as you go," meaning no increasing the deficit, whether the issue is middle class tax relief, health care or some other priority.

To do that, she said, Bush-era tax cuts would have to be rolled back for those above "a certain level." She mentioned annual incomes of $250,000 or $300,000 a year and higher, and said tax rates for those individuals might revert to those of the Clinton era. Details will have to be worked out, she emphasized.

"We believe in the marketplace," Pelosi said of Democrats, then drew a contrast with Republicans. "They have only rewarded wealth, not work."
Can we roll back the bankruptcy bill, too? I think we can.

There has been so much bad law passed over the last six years that just the idea of the Democrats retaking the House has me salivating. I don't really consider myself a Democrat, although that's the way I have voted in every election. If I was presented with a Republican whom I really though was a better candidate, I would have no problem voting for him. Shit, I'd vote for almost anyone over Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich. The guy makes Bush look brilliant. Too bad the Republican candidate, Judy Baar Topinka, has about as much brains as Rod with half the charm.

The fact is, one-party rule has made me more unabashedly liberal than I would have ever thought possible. This has been one of the most conservative administrations, and Congresses, in living memory. What we need right now is not bipartisanship. We need full on Liberalism, in all its glory, to undo the damage the Republican Party has done to our nation and its citizens over the past six years.

Maybe, after reversing the bankruptcy bill and the detainee bill, after prohibiting warrantless wiretaping and protecting net neutrality, after conducting hearings on the Iraq war and the War On Terror, after cleaning House, kicking ass and taking names... maybe then we can think about cooperation, if by then the Republican party has shed itself of its theocratic authoritarian leanings.

But if we don't first undo some of its worst excesses, we will be stuck with them.

I hope Pelosi comes out swinging, no holds barred. Send these fucking cockroaches scurrying for cover. Shine some light on one of the darker periods in U.S. government, and see what's lying in the shadows.

Give 'em hell, Nancy. Give 'em hell.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

A tale of two Koreas

(First off, let me just say that a post about the political sex scandal of the decade is a hard act to follow. Damn.)

In the same week that South Korean foreign minister Ban Ki Moon has emerged as the front-runner for secretary general of the United Nations, North Korean nutjob Kim Jung-il has made a nuclear testing threat that has even China saying ”knock that shit off.”

South Korea continues rising into an elite group of wealthy and peaceful nations (on par with Japan, Canada and Western Europe), and seems to be increasing its share of political leadership as well. Hard to imagine that 50 years ago, South Korea was considered no more than a Third World country—as opposed to North Korea, which today may require a new category (Fourth World? Seventh?) to properly label its downward spiral.

We often cite the transformation of post-WWII Germany and Japan when looking for an example of successful nation-building, but Korea may be the best case yet for American intervention (military, political and economic) abroad. Still, before comparing South Korea to Iraq or Afghanistan, it’s important to keep in mind that Korea was invaded from the north by Chinese- and Soviet-backed proxies (as opposed to struggling with its own violent leadership), and the Koreans welcomed American assistance in the conflict (unlike the Vietnamese). In that regard, South Korea is more like Kuwait than Iraq—and last I checked, Kuwait seems to like us just fine.

So apparently, here’s the equation for boosting your nation’s standing in the world: be geographically pivotal, get invaded by a significant power that opposes the US, and welcome American forces and dollars with open arms.

Heads up, Monaco.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Best. Sex Scandal. Ever.

(updated below)

The Republican Party has been quietly imploding for a while now, but with all the school shootings and JonBenet Ramsey news, it's been hard to notice. What we've needed is a good old-fashioned sex scandal.

Thank you, Mark Foley! Seriously, thank you — the public (and more importantly, the press) doesn't really care about government until someone gets his dick sucked. We're not there yet, but man oh man, is this the gift that keeps on giving. If you were going to design the perfect sex scandal to drop right on some moralizing Republican heads, what would be some of the key elements?

Well first, it would have to be a gay scandal. Seeing as how homosexuals are the gravest threat to the nation since Larry Flynt, it'd be nice to find out one of their own has been helping destroy America. Check.

Second, since the Republican leadership was so absolutely appalled by Bill Clinton having an affair with a 22 year old, the objects of Congressional affection here should be underage. Check.

Hmm. What else? How about if the very same people who lorded their moral superiority over Clinton were themselves involved in a coverup? Check.

I'm telling you, this is the best. It's like one of those Russian dolls, except every time you pull out the smaller doll inside, it's a member of Congress doing something depraved.

Audio recordings would be nice. But instead, what about some nasty instant message exchanges? Check:
Maf54 (7:46:33 PM): did any girl give you a haand job this weekend

Xxxxxxxxx (7:46:38 PM): lol no

Xxxxxxxxx (7:46:40 PM): im single right now

Xxxxxxxxx (7:46:57 PM): my last gf and i broke up a few weeks agi

Maf54 (7:47:11 PM): are you

Maf54 (7:47:11 PM): good so your getting horny

Xxxxxxxxx (7:47:29 PM): lol...a bit

Maf54 (7:48:00 PM): did you spank it this weekend yourself

Xxxxxxxxx (7:48:04 PM): no

Xxxxxxxxx (7:48:16 PM): been too tired and too busy

Maf54 (7:48:33 PM): wow...

Maf54 (7:48:34 PM): i am never to busy haha
See, that's why I always turn on encryption before engaging in online pedophilia. (Note: The chats are much funnier if you imagine Foley saying everything in an Austin Powers voice.)

So, did Foley go beyond just instant messaging? Well, here's where I stop rooting for the scandal. It's one thing to cheer on the self-immolation of the "values party," it's another to hope that a nasty old man got his hands, and other parts, on a 16-year-old kid. But this exchange doesn't sound good:
Maf54: I miss you lots since san diego.

Teen: ya I cant wait til dc

Maf54: :)

Teen: did you pick a night for dinner

Maf54: not yet...but likely Friday

Teen: ok...ill plan for Friday then

Maf54: that will be fun

Maf54: I want to see you

Teen: Like I said not til feb...then we will go to dinner

Maf54: and then what happens

Teen: we eat...we drink...who knows...hang out...late into the night

Maf54: and

Teen: I dunno

Maf54: dunno what

Teen: hmmm I have the feeling that you are fishing not sure what I would be comfortable with...well see
Ugh. Leave it to a Republican to ruin a sex scandal for me. But I'm sure that we haven't heard the last, not by a long shot; the media is all over this. All you future politicians, remember: it's OK to mislead the country into war, litter the government with incompetents, embrace corruption like it's a hobby and run the national debt through the roof — but don't, under any circumstances, lie about your penis.


More nasty instant messages are out. I could update this post endlessly, of course, but Josh Marshall's TPM Muckraker is a good place to start for the latest Foley news.

I mostly wanted to include the snippet below. Glenn Greenwald isn't exactly the funniest blogger around, but I thought this was hilarious.
The Big Revelation has not yet occurred. That is going to be the first confirmed report of Foley's having actual, in-person sex with one of the pages. At this point, there is no doubt that he did so. He wasn't inviting them over to his apartment to drink alcohol in order to watch television with them. Still, that hasn't been reported yet. We've been building up to it incrementally and Brian Ross is, I have no doubt, scouring his inbox at this moment for the lead that will take him there.

These endless, incremental disclosures are much more painful for the Republicans — not unlike Chinese Water Torture (which, coincidentally enough, is a technique that the President now has the power to use, thanks in part to legislation approved last week by Denny Hastert, John Boehner, Tom Reynolds and Mark Foley).
Jeff Goldstein is a wanker.