Dada is the sun, Dada is the egg. Dada is the Police of the Police.

3/18/2006

Is Bush the worst ever?

Matt Yglesias has a puzzling post:
...seriously, what's with Harry Reid saying George W. Bush is "the worst president this country has ever had" or Hillary Clinton's similar claim that he's "one of the worst" in American history? On domestic policy, he's certainly been a bad president in the sense that I would gladly prefer Al Gore or John Kerry or Howard Dean or Joe Lieberman or Wesley Clark or Russ Feingold or pretty much whomever you like ... bad in a run-of-the-mill, parties- alternate-in- power, rightwingers- are-all-bad kind of way.

On other fronts, the Afghan War was necessary and it's been handled okay ... This just isn't the stuff out of which world-historical badness is made.

But wait! I forgot something: Iraq.

I still don't know that "worst ever" is the right thing to say, but certainly when Iraq comes into the picture you can start to see the case that Bush is super-bad. That was a big, giant, important blunder whose consequences we'll be living with for years if not decades. But then again, Clinton and Reid both . . . supported the war and don't support substantially changing Bush's war policy right now. So what can they be talking about? Who knows?
Now, what the import of this debate is I can't even imagine, so I don't even know why I'm commenting on it (but then again, few of these debates we have do matter, in the sense of actually having an effect on anything). But first of all, the Afghan war was neither necessary nor proper, and it has certainly not been "handled okay." And Yglesias ignores Bush's "handling" of the Katrina disaster, as Scott Shields points out.

It's true that it's hard to imagine Clinton and Reid basing their comments on the Iraq war, considering their support for it, but that's not really relevant to the truth or falsity of the claim that Bush is the worst ever.

I don't know if Bush is the worst ever; certainly Andrew Jackson and Harry Truman would deserve to be mentioned in that conversation, along with a few others. But he has been a disaster on every front, with basically nothing positive to point to, a track record which certainly puts him in the running. And he's still got three years to go.

3/17/2006

Coolest death ever

From Wikipedia:
Frank Hayes was a jockey who in 1953 suffered a fatal heart attack in the midst of a race. His horse, Sweet Kiss, finished and won the race with his lifeless body still atop, making him the first, and thus far only, jockey to win a race while dead.
Kind of makes you wonder how much of a role the jockeys really play, though.

Censure

Sam Rosenfeld wonders how Harry Reid could possibly fail to support Feingold's censure resolution, given that Reid believes Bush is "the worst president this country has ever had."

(Is Bush the worst? There's a case to be made, if for no other reason than that the stakes are so much higher than they were when, say, Harding was president.)

Some are complaining that Feingold acted irresponsibly in bringing up the resolution; the charge is that he took his fellow Democrats by surprise. But first of all, do we know that? Just because Dems are scrambling doesn't mean they didn't have advance warning. I'm not saying Feingold did let them know ahead of time; I'm just wondering if anybody really knows.

But even if he did catch them off guard, that's hardly an excuse. This should be a no-brainer; if Harry Reid really believes Bush is the worst president ever, how many days does he need to decide that a censure is appropriate? Unless they're deliberating on whether to call for impeachment instead, or they believe that the censure should concern something other than the NSA scandal, he and the rest of the Democrats need to get their heads out of their asses pronto.

Father ready to give up plan to avenge dead son in Iraq

From the AP:
AL-ASAD, Iraq It's been six months since a grieving Georgia father headed to Iraq to avenge his soldier son's death. And Joe Johnson is ready to come home.

Johnson went to Iraq after his 22-year-old son was killed in a roadside bombing. He says there were a lot of reasons for getting back in the military -- a sense of duty among them. Johnson admits he does not "really have love for Muslim people." And he says he'd be lying if didn't admit wanting some revenge for his son, Justin.

Now, after spending time manning a Humvee's gun, Johnson says he "shouldn't even have come." Johnson says he doesn't want to kill innocent people and won't be upset if he returns to Georgia without any blood on his hands.

Johnson's batallion is due to return home in mid-May.

Maybe this will help

Fucking Blogger

Grrrrr....

3/15/2006

The dark side of Webster

You thought it was just a sitcom about a cute little black kid who was adopted by rich white people and dated Michael Jackson. Oh, were you wrong.

When wingnuts try to be cool

They make an offhand, one-line blog post that says: "The new Mogwai album is pretty good."

They've already started a website for conservatives who like organic food and wear Birkenstocks; maybe they'll start one for wingnuts who are into post-rock.

Cowards

Obama, Kerry, Clinton, Schumer, Durbin; none of them will even comment on Feingold's proposed censure of the president.

However, Kos digs up a list of senators who were willing to censure President Clinton for the Lewinsky affair, a list which includes Kerry, Schumer, and Durbin (as well as Kennedy, Lieberman, and Reid, among many others). This is maybe ever-so-slightly unfair, since in that context a resolution for censure was advocated as an alternative to impeachment, a possible compromise. But if these Democrats want to use that as an excuse, they will have to admit either that President Clinton was deserving of censure but President Bush is not, or that they supported the censure of Clinton even though they didn't actually believe it was warranted. Or I suppose, as a third possibility, they could say that they believe Bush is worthy of censure, but that they still don't support the resolution, but this would be more or less tantamount to admitting that they are cowards.


UPDATE: Via Kevin Drum I discover that the excuse mentioned above actually isn't available; the resolution to censure Clinton was introduced after the impeachment proceedings had concluded.

Chico-towner asks in the comments:

"Bush is at 34%... why aren't they ravaging his political carcass?"

Handdrummer answers:

"Because as a group they lack the courage of a lone buzzard."

How many Iraq dead?

George Bush says 30,000; Andrew Cockburn says it's probably more like 180,000, possibly as many as half a million.

3/14/2006

Joe Lieberman, protecting a rapist's right to breed

Joementum doesn't think that hospitals should be required to provide emergency contraception to rape victims, saying "In Connecticut, it shouldn't take more than a short ride to get to another hospital."

Battlepanda Brock wants that quote to haunt him for the rest of his career. He's right. Hell, it should be his fucking epitaph.

Crashing the gates!

Riiighht.

Lindsay has a good review of Kos & Armstrong's soulless strategery.


...I should note that I don't think that Kos & Armstrong are utterly full of crap (and neither does Lindsay, just in case that was unclear). I'm quite sure they have a lot of valuable things to say, some of which L.B. identifies in her review; she also, I think, puts her finger on a big part of what's wrong with their approach.

Reactionaries

Look, I get that people don't like PETA, that they're offended by the group's habit of invoking historic tragedies like slavery or the Holocaust to draw comparisons with the way animals are treated.  But an " Eat Meat Day" to protest PETA's tactics is just stupid.  Don't take your anger with PETA out on innocent animals; the way animals are treated in factory farms is a serious moral offense, and the fact that PETA is staffed by a bunch of jokers doesn't change that.

Also silly is rhetoric like this:

I think what PeTA's moral equivalence shows us is how easy it would be to justify another Holocaust — after all, if humans aren't any more worthy of special ethical consideration than other animals, what is the moral argument against once again creating concentration camps and ovens to dispense with those undesirables who won't toe the ideological line for the greater moral good?

Whatever you might think about the Holocaust analogy, it's clear that the purpose of it is not to denigrate human beings by suggesting that they ought to be treated "like animals"; it's to make the point that the interests of animals ought to be accorded the same level of respect granted to the interest of humans (in theory, anyway; in practice, our "respect for human life" is quite often thrown right out).  Humans aren't intrinsically "more worthy of special ethical consideration than other animals," as mere membership in a species buys you almost nothing, morally speaking.  In most cases, the interests of humans are given more weight than those of animals because we think that certain characteristics of humans - their ability to have future goals, to conceptualize themselves as persons, etc. - warrant such special consideration.  But it is these characteristics, which cannot be reduced to membership in the human species, that are doing all the work. 

Animals can suffer, and that fact alone makes them worthy of moral consideration.  How anyone could look at the mass suffering inflicted upon animals by the meat industry and not be repulsed is beyond me; even those who believe that it is OK in principle for humans to eat animals cannot approve of this.  This isn't about which life is worth more, a human or an animal; it's about the duty to refrain from needless cruelty. 

Globe luxation, a.k.a. when your eyeballs fall out

I couldn't get through this article on Slate about what to do IF YOUR EYEBALL FALLS OUT OF ITS SOCKET - a.k.a. "globe luxation."  Apparently this is more common than I had previously been led to believe - it can happen when you sneeze, for the sake of Christ.  The article even tells you how to PUT YOUR OWN EYE BACK IN if it falls out.

First direct your gaze downward. Now pinch and pull your upper eyelid with the thumb and index finger of one hand. Lay a finger from your other hand on the top part of your luxated eyeball, taking care to press only on the insensitive white part. While you continue to hold your eyelid up, push your eyeball gently down and back at the same time until it's part of the way in. Then try to look upwards; if everything goes right your eyeball will rotate under the upper lid and back into its socket.

I am seriously disturbed.

3/13/2006

War criminals

Jeremy Scahill: Rest Easy, Bill Clinton: Milosevic Can't Talk Anymore
Milosevic's death means that those who bombed Yugoslavia for 78 days beginning seven years ago this month, killing thousands, will be once and for all protected from any public scrutiny for their crimes ... there is almost certain to be no condemnation of the U.S. bombing of Radio Television Serbia, killing 16 media workers; the cluster bombing of the Nis marketplace, shredding human beings into meat; the use of depleted uranium munitions; and the targeting of petrochemical plants, causing toxic chemical waste to pour into the Danube River. There will be no condemnation of the bombing of Albanian refugees by the U.S., or the deliberate targeting of a civilian passenger train, or the bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade.

... there will never be indictments of these U.S. war criminals at The Hague: Bill Clinton, Madeleine Albright, Jamie Rubin, William Cohen, Sandy Berger, Richard Holbrooke, and Wesley Clark. For many of Serbia's victims of U.S. war crimes, Milosevic's trial was a "Hail Mary" pass, as awful an historical irony as that is, aimed at someone recognizing their forgotten suffering.

It is a sad testimony to the state of international jurisprudence that after many attempts to find justice, the only hope for U.S. victims in the Yugoslavia wars was the trial defense of a man many of those same victims despised. If there was an independent international court that was recognized and respected by the U.S., those responsible for bombing Yugoslavia would have been alongside Slobodan Milosevic in the docks these past years instead of having their responsibility buried with him.

Question

Why does the Washington Monthly continue to give the insufferable Amy Sullivan a platform from which to spout her nonsense?

3/12/2006

Trade

David Sirota points out that among the Democratic presidential hopefuls, most have swallowed the right-wing "free trade" ideology hook, line, and sinker; Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, Bill Richardson, Howard Dean, and Mark Warner all supported the grotesque NAFTA treaty, while John Edwards and Russ Feingold have better records on trade, especially Feingold.

The trade issue will be a boon to anyone willing to buck the Republican-Democratic tradition of kowtowing to big business; remember that Ross Perot managed to set a modern-day record for third-party candidates, despite being sort of insane and dropping out of the race half-way through, primarily on the strength of his opposition to NAFTA. A Democrat willing to campaign on the same kind of economic populism could win going away. But the majority of Democratic office holders are not really populists or progressives; they're welfare-state capitalists, and their allegiance to big business is as axiomatic as any Republican's.

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