Sunday, April 15, 2007

Honesty. It's such a lonely word.

I took a month or so off, so this one's a long one, even for me.
We continue to be plagued by a distinct lack of honesty in our government. And although the Democrats are probably making a few lies here and there, it's the overwhelming, snowballing dishonesty of the Republican party that's coming to the surface lately. Lying and hypocrisy seem to be the only two family values left to the Republicans.

George Bush gave a speech to an American Legion post in Virginia earlier this month. Which, by itself, is fascinating. Considering how he allows veterans to be treated at Walter Reed, you'd think that he'd have second thoughts about standing in front of a crowd of them.

(Of course, his first thoughts aren't usually particularly impressive, so I doubt that the second ones would be much better...)

He even had the unbelievable cojones to bring up the fact that he belonged to an American Legion post in Houston. Does the Legion allow other people to join when the very few records that they can find show that they didn't even manage to fulfill the minimal requirements of Vietnam-era National Guard service? As opposed to the current National Guard requirements, where the "surge" that was supposed to only involve 21,500 troops (if you ignore the extra 8,100 support troops, anyway) has recently been further swelled by adding Iraq and Afghanistan tours for another 12,000 National Guard and Reserve troops.

And as Bush stood there in front of his American Legion audience, he even trotted out one of his oldest catch-phrases. He said to them that "We want to defeat them there, so we don't have to face them here." Which is fascinating, since only 4 days earlier, we learned that military and diplomatic experts all agreed that the "over there" argument is a fairly feeble-minded thing to say.
"The president is using a primitive, inarticulate argument that leaves him open to criticism and caricature," said James Jay Carafano, a homeland security and counterterrorism expert for the Heritage Foundation, a conservative policy organization...

Daniel Benjamin, the director of the Center on the United States and Europe at The Brookings Institution, a center-left think tank, agreed.

"There are very few foreign fighters who are going to be leaving the area because they don't have the skills or languages that would give them access to the United States," said (Daniel Benjamin, the director of the Center on the United States and Europe at The Brookings Institution), who served as the National Security Council's director for transnational threats from 1998 to 1999. "I'm not saying events in Iraq aren't going to embolden jihadists. But I think the president's formulations call for a leap of faith."

"The war in Iraq isn't preventing terrorist attacks on America," said one U.S. intelligence official, who spoke only on the condition of anonymity because he's contradicting the president and other top officials. "If anything, that - along with the way we've been treating terrorist suspects - may be inspiring more Muslims to think of us as the enemy."
In fact, if anything, the Middle East situation is making us less safe. The 2007 National Intelligence Estimate was just released, and it explains that the Iraqi conflict is only making jihadist fundamentalism in the Middle East stronger.

Thank God that Bush won't be reading that report either. It might depress him.

John McCain has been pushing Bush's little war for some time, and tried to tell America that there were parts of Baghdad where you could walk down the street in safety. And he was called on that lie by a reporter who was, in fact, in Baghdad at the time, who said that he didn't know what Never-never Land McCain was talking about.

Because John McCain is never willing to admit that his "Straight Talk Express" has left the tracks, he went to Baghdad and took a walk in a market to show how safe it was. Safe, at least, if you have a hundred armed soldiers, two Blackhawk helicopters, body armor and up-armored Humvees. Sucks to be the locals, though, who told anyone who'd listen that it was all a PR stunt, and who went back to being shot at and blown up right after McCain left.

Pope Benedict XVI came out and criticized evolution, saying it can’t be proved. Which is ironic, since he’s a pretty strong supporter of that whole "God" thing.

(I am so going to Hell.)

Of course, this is, after all, his job, so you can't really call that a lie, or even hypocrisy – you would kind of hope that he actually believed in his own religion (especially if you're Catholic). But I've been hoping to make that joke ever since I saw the story. So there you go.

On the subject of hypocrisy, though, Bob Barr was once a hard-line GOP senator from Georgia. In 1998, he single-handedly prevented the voters of the District of Columbia from enacting a medical marijuana measure which they'd approved, by creating what is known as the "Barr Amendment" (the city is stripped of all funding if they attempted to "enact or carry out" any such initiative). But now that he's left the Senate, he became (as so many do) a lobbyist. Ironically, he's lobbying for the Marijuana Policy Project. And his first job will be to try to tear down the Barr Amendment.

Don Imus received some publicity that he didn’t want recently when he referred to a primarily black women's basketball team as "nappy-headed ho's." That, in itself, is not a lie, if that's the way Imus felt about it. He's allowed to be a racist, after all. And at least he's open about it. But SilentPatriot on makes a valid point.
"Human Events" editor Terry Jeffrey said that Don Imus "represents a general decline in standards in American broadcasting" and that politicians should avoid his show because they would then have to "take a stand on the various outrageous things he says." During his high and mighty sermon of decency, Jeffrey conveniently ignores the far more toxic venom spewed on a daily basis on conservative talk radio.

(Here’s where they put the link to download or watch – you’ll have to go there to see it, though. I’m not going to eat their bandwidth. That’s rude, and I’m not John McCain.)

Imus' statements past and present — documented here by MediaMatters — are deplorable and should be condemned. That goes without saying. The point, however, is the blatant double standard. Did Dick Cheney have to "take a stand" on Rush Limbaugh's myriad racist/sexist/insensitive remarks before going on his show last week? Did Secretary Gates have to condemn Laura Ingraham for advocating that her listeners jam the Democratic voter assistance lines in November before chatting it up last week?
So, technically, I’m not sure if you can call Mr. Jeffrey's statement a lie, or simple hypocrisy (SilentPatriot goes with the latter), but I think it's worth inclusion here.

(And having mentioned John McCain again, I should point out that I have no problem with gay marriage. Particularly marriage between passionate females.)

(I would like to apologize for that last joke; the persons responsible have been sacked. Along with their llama.)

A lawyer with the Justice Department is invoking the Fifth Amendment in the investigation of the politically-motivated firings of US Attorneys. Which, if you think about it, tells you something. The applicable part of the Fifth Amendment, in this case, reads "No person ... shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself..." (At least, I'm pretty sure that's the important part. This counts as a grand jury, and part of the "due process of law." Of course, maybe they teach these things differently at the Pat Robertson School of Law.)

So, exactly what crime is it that she committed? Because, after all, that's the whole purpose of the Fifth Amendment. You can't use it to avoid telling the truth about other people, can you? (But again, maybe they teach these things differently at Pat Robertson U.)

However, to get ready for that same Senate testimony, Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez has cleared off his desk, and is devoting all his resources to preparing to testify. But it’s not going well.
Gonzales kept contradicting himself and "getting his timeline confused," said one participant who asked not to be identified talking about a private meeting. His advisers finally got "exasperated" with him, the source added. "He's not ready," Tasia Scolinos, Gonzales's public-affairs chief, told the A.G.'s top aides after the session was over, said the source.
But, as Kevin Drum points out in Washington Monthly,
If Gonzales was planning to simply tell the truth, he wouldn't "keep contradicting himself" in practice sessions and he wouldn't need to bring his schedule to a standstill in order to figure out what he's planning to say. He'd just review the appropriate documents to make sure he had his dates straight and then tell Congress what happened.
You know, you'd hope that people elected to the highest offices in the country would think that it was their duty to be honest and forthright with the American people.

But of course, if you believe that, then you must also be living in Never-never Land. Right next door to John McCain.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Not the llama? what did the llama do wrong? I liked the llama! the llama was honest ... I think.