Sunday, September 16, 2007

Why aren't they smarter?

You know, a major study at NYU and UCLA recently proved that conservatives don’t react well to changing circumstances, and liberals do. And we can show the truth of that with recent politics.

Take, for example, Dick Cheney. Didn't people make fun of him enough during his original claim that he wasn't a part of the executive branch of the government? In responding to a subpoena from the Senate Judiciary Committee, first he says that he's upset that they didn't just ask him first.
-- The issuance of the subpoena to this office was procedurally irregular. First, the committee did not follow the congressional custom of sending a letter to this office requesting the material before it sent the office a subpoena.
Because Dick's always been so open and forthcoming on these matters up until now, right?

But then they're right back into the trenches with this bizarre Vice Presidential confusion regarding how the government is set up.
--In the performance of executive functions in support of the President, the Vice President respects the legal privileges afforded by the Constitution to the presidency, such as the Executive Privilege protecting among other things national security secrets and policy deliberations. Similarly, in the performance of legislative functions, the Vice President respects the legal privileges afforded by the Constitution to the Senate, such as preservation of the confidentiality of a session of the Senate with closed doors over which a Vice President may preside.
Now, I admit that I'm not fluent in Lawyerspeak, so perhaps there's some other translation of this that I can't work out. But it looks to me like he's continuing with his bone-headed contention that he is neither completely in the executive branch of government, nor in the legislative branch.

(I believe it was that great philosopher Jon Stewart who said that he was part of the mystic Fourth Branch of Government.)

You know, President Bush is known to occasionally sign a bill into law. Does this mean that he's also part of the legislative branch? (I shouldn't say that too loud. They might actually try that...)

The first time that Cheney tried to claim that he was not part of the executive branch, he backed off as soon as Congress tried to agree with him. After all, the government couldn't support double-dipping. So, as Rahm Emanuel put it, "we will no longer fund the executive branch of his office and he can live off the funding for the Senate presidency."

But see, Dick got caught just trying, as he always has, to do exactly what he wanted to do and damn what other people want. And in support of his whim, he makes some brain-dead statement like “I’m not part of the Executive Branch. Even if I do claim Executive Privilege every so often!” And then he doesn’t know what to do when people call him on his arrogance and stupidity.

It's always been about the money for Dick Cheney. He was the CEO of Halliburton for quite a while, only getting out when he decided that being the hand-up-the-backside-of-the-Bush-puppet would be a viable job to put on his resume. And then Halliburton kept getting billions of dollars in no-bid contracts from the government, but nobody felt that it was unreasonable for them to be paying the Vice President millions of dollars every year. Can somebody explain that logic to me? Is that the "free market" they keep talking about? Buy a politician and get rich?

And now the Republicans want to expand the battle into Iran. (Or Syria, if you ask Joe Lieberman.) Where's the money going to come from for that? We stripped the economic surplus that Clinton left him years ago, and now, Bush owes more money to foreign countries than every president ever, added together. Not "than any one president has ever owed." If you add up the foreign debt of every president from Washington to Clinton, you end up with a sum that's less than what Bush now owes. And we owe this money to countries like China, who've never been our friend. (Isn't that like owing money to Guido the Loan Shark? You're fine until you get behind on those payments. Then a couple of boys might come around and "explain things" by breaking a few kneecaps...)

Again, there’s no logic involved here. Where is the money coming from? The White House keeps telling us that we have to stay in Iraq "until the mission is done." Without, of course, telling us what the mission is. It’s always some nebulous argument like “they don’t have travel agents, so they won’t be able to get to America unless we leave. And then they’d just be able to follow us!”

And they don’t bother telling us how we’re going to pay for staying in Iraq, much less moving along to the next Middle East country. Except that we’re pretty sure that Bush isn’t going to pay for it by taking his tax cuts away from his rich friends.

So obviously, we're going to pay for it by continuing to take money away from repairs to our crumbling infrastructure, by failing to improve the air traffic control system, and by not ensuring that our poor have adequate health care.

I don’t understand any of this. But that’s the problem with the Republican mindset these days. They get one idea (say, "going into Iraq might be a good idea”) and then they can’t think of anything except succeeding at this mind-numbingly stupid plan, even if the facts prove that their idea is unachievable or self-defeating. They don’t react well to changing conditions.

For an example of this, let’s look back a few months, at the actions of one sad little Idaho Senator named Larry Craig. On June 11, Senator Craig went into a bathroom in the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, lurked around for awhile, went into a stall, waved his hands under the divider, tapped his foot against his neighbor’s foot, and was then arrested for lewd behavior. He then pled guilty to the lesser charge of disorderly conduct (probably hoping it would all go away), and he then tried to retract his guilty plea (probably because it didn’t go away).

OK, so he went into this bathroom stall looking for something. Maybe a place to relieve himself, or maybe for a little homosexual excursion. It doesn’t matter. Either way, whatever it was Larry Craig was looking for was suddenly interrupted. Suddenly, whatever it was that he wanted, whatever portion of the lower torso he wanted to relieve, he abruptly found himself being arrested.

Now, consider how he reacted – he panicked. Where was the crime? At what point, in fact, was he even particularly disorderly? He could easily have brazened it out. "Well, I lowered my pants as I sat on the toilet. Maybe the policeman saw my hands at that point. I don’t know what he thought he saw." Do you mean to tell me that there isn’t a lawyer in Idaho who could have gotten those charges dropped? Hell, a Public Defender could have made this whole thing go away in twenty minutes.

And is Larry Craig gay? Hell, I don’t know. The facts, such as they are, don’t look good, though. (I guess it would be polite to ignore the men who've claimed to have sex with Senator Craig, wouldn't it? Rude to the men, perhaps, but at least polite to the senator. And that's what's important, right?

I see this as a somewhat twisted metaphor for Iraq. George Bush, who became the least-documentable member of the Air National Guard in order to (successfully) avoid going to Vietnam, decided that he wanted to get his war on, prove he had bigger cojones than his dad (whose "victory" didn’t seem that impressive to him), and he found some friends who wanted very badly to get a permanent base in the Middle East. So suddenly, he’s a "war president."

But when his plans go awry (waving his hands in Fallujah, tapping his foot against Anwar Province), he refuses to accept the inevitable. What he’s doing now is what Larry Craig should have done – Bush found himself a Public Defender named Petraeus who was willing to say "Nothing was wrong in that bathroom! See, they're succeeding admirably!"

Understand, I'm not saying that he's right. I'm just saying that he's mounting an effective defense. We'll ignore that the statistics are openly cooked. We'll ignore that deaths are up in Iraq. All we have to do is listen to Bush, and everything will be all better.

He’s not failing. He’s just taking a wide stance on Iraq.

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