Monday, April 30, 2007

Welcome back, Tony Snow.

On this morning’s edition of Good Morning America we all were delighted to see that you are back, and apparently you haven’t lost any of your game. [fn.]

I especially liked the part where you said,
The President made it clear before the State of the Union in 2002 that there was no link between Saddam Hussein and September 11th. So, I am afraid that what is happening there is that George Tenet may be have been referring to something that has been misreported or at least twisted by people who may have political motives in recent years, but there has been no attempt to try to link Saddam to September 11th. So, uh, yeah.
Whoa, Tony! We get the point! Anyone who would suggest that the administration linked Saddam to 9-11 is a worthless liar.

Consider this letter from King George the Incompetent to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President Pro Tempore of the Senate, available on the White House website.
March 18, 2003

Dear Mr. Speaker: (Dear Mr. President:)

Consistent with section 3(b) of the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002 (Public Law 107-243), and based on information available to me, including that in the enclosed document, I determine that:

(1) reliance by the United States on further diplomatic and other peaceful means alone will neither (A) adequately protect the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq nor (B) likely lead to enforcement of all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq; and

(2) acting pursuant to the Constitution and Public Law 107-243 is consistent with the United States and other countries continuing to take the necessary actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations, or persons who planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001.

Sincerely,
GEORGE W. BUSH
I am glad we have Tony Snow back to clear that up.

“… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”


[fn.]View the video: QT WMV Courtesy of Media Matters.)

The case against George Tenet is an easy lay-up.

George Tenet says that he deeply resents the fact that his “slam dunk” remark has been taken out of context.

We have seen the Vice President on Meet the Press saying that the administration was convinced that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. It is Cheny who quotes the CIA chief as saying that the evidence is conclusive, using the slam-dunk metaphor of Georgetown basketball-loving Tenet.

According to others, notably Bob Woodward, the comment came when King George the Incompetent listened to the evidence and questioned its sufficiency. My sense of it is that Dubya is a guy who likes a one-page memo, and likes a one-line summary even more. It is hard to imagine him saying that he needs more texture in his intelligence reportage.

For his part, Tenet says that he didn’t mean that the evidence was a slam-dunk case against Iraq. His story is that Dubya heard the evidence, and accepted it for decision-making purposes. The problem for Dubya was that he felt that the American people would demand a more persuasive case. “This is the best we’ve got?” one George asked the other.

Tenet, if he is to be taken at his word, understood this to mean, “Could you punch it up a little bit for Joe Public?” The other George told the president that would be no problem. “Slam dunk,” he said.

This is breathtaking, but we’ve seen this kind of excuse offered before by the Party of Bush.

When Cheney tried to excuse himself for not anticipating the level of violence in Iraq, I pointed out in Cheney admits guilt that this is not an excuse – it is an indictment of his lack of foresight. Remember when King George the Incompetent explained that he didn’t want to let the voting public know that he was about to shit-can Donald Rumsfeld because “didn’t want to inject a major decision about this war in the final days of a campaign?” So, he lied. As I said at Truth and Consequences,
Only one with total disdain for the electoral process would not be ashamed to admit that he had tried to mislead the public on this crucial matter. Someone with disdain for the electoral process like King George the Incompetent.
Again, the excuse offered is an admission of a greater offense.

At the risk of stating the obvious, the job of the Director of Central Intelligence is not to sell policy to Joe Public. That’s a slam dunk.

“… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”

Sunday, April 29, 2007

The scoop on Don Young

On April 23, I wrote a note about Don Young in which I said, “The Jack Abramoff/Tom Delay scandal relating to the Northern Mariana Islands, has Don Young’s fingerprints all over it,” and then I went to sleep.

The next morning, I woke to learn that “one of Young’s aides will be pleading guilty to Abramoff related corruption charges,” and I duly reported it in a note called Who knew? giving credit to the Anchorage Daily News.

Today, the Anchorage Daily News took up the challenge of linking Young to the Abramoff/Saipan scandal. Hats off to their reporter, a guy named Richard Mauer, pictured, who recently returned from Baghdad.

There’s another story here, one which is percolating up on Bill Moyers Journal. Why are we reading this kind of story in McClatchy papers but not in the the New York Times and the Washington Post?

In a nutshell, the New York Times and the Washington Post are hugely influential newspapers because every decision maker in the nation’s capital reads these papers. But this influence has a price. All of the Washington bureau reporters for these papers know that their subjects will read what they write. The cost of pissing off these insiders might be paid in restricted access. And so, the nation goes to war based on the uncritical reporting of folks like Judith Miller.

But McClatchy (f/k/a Knight-Ridder) doesn’t have to play that game. John Walcott, a skeptical reporter of the run-up to the war explains it this way on Bill Moyer’s Journal:
Our readers aren’t here in Washington. They aren’t up in New York. They aren’t the people who send other people’s kids to war. They’re the people who get sent to war.
And so, they can afford to dig deeper and question the official line.

Or it could just be that the McClatchy chain has reporters with shoe leather and balls. Guys like this Rich Mauer. Go get ’em Rich!

“… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”

Saturday, April 28, 2007

How to help ‘our candidates’

Back on April 23rd, I wrote a little piece about Don Young. I stated at the time:
The thing that made me think of Don Young recently is that over on TPM Muckraker they are reporting that 25 senators have demanded that the administration give some answers about GSA chief, Lurita Doan. Seems she has been trying to find a way to use the considerable buying power of the federal government to “help our [Republican] candidates.” In this effort, she employed a PowerPoint presentation which you can see here. (pdf)
I thought about it a little more since then, and here’s the question that I keep coming back to: How can the GSA help Republican candidates?

There are a couple of possibilities. One is by steering business into districts where the party has determined to make a stand because their incumbent candidate is vulnerable. By doing so, they can enable their candidate to point to his or her ability to bring home the bacon. As I pointed out in my Don Young piece, bringing home the bacon will win you votes. Not to put too fine a point on it, but it can be overdone. Witness the “Bridge to Nowhere.”

A more subtle variation on this text is that by spending money in a particular district, the GSA can improve economic circumstances there. Improved economic circumstances translate to increased satisfaction with the status quo, which in turn inures to the benefit of the incumbents. The problem here is that it is too subtle, too slow-working and too unreliable. This sort of program doesn’t get done at the management level that Ms. Doan was addressing with her PowerPoint presentation.

Here’s the real deal: If you want to engage in pork barrel politics, the way to do it is to get an earmark in some Christmas tree bill, and then show up at a ribbon-cutting ceremony. That’s the way to improve a local economy. But more importantly, that’s one way to make people feel good about their local incumbent. Notice that this does not involve the GSA.

So, how then can the administrator of the GSA help “our candidates?”

Let’s say you are a manufacturer of ballpoint pens in one of those districts that the Republicans need to defend. A contract for $20 million dollars worth of ballpoints can have a pronounced effect on your bottom line. So much so, that you might be grateful to the congressman or woman who steered the contract your way. It may even be enough to encourage you to make a big donation to that Congress member’s re-election campaign.

You know, a big donation would enable a candidate to pay for a media campaign. That’s another way to make people feel good about their local incumbent. Come to think of it, this technique works even if the candidate is a challenger.

So why is this a scandal? The answer is that if you are steering business to a company in order to get contributions to your Republican campaign committee, or even to the candidate’s campaign, and there is an explicit quid pro quo, then it starts to look a lot like you are shaking down local businesses for bribes.

And there’s a law against that.

“… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Another brilliant philippic from Keith Olbermann

countdown-sc-giuliani.jpg  Crooks and Liars had the following links to Keith Olbermann’s scathing Special Comment last night about the rank partisan fearmongering speech Rudy Giuliani gave before a New Hampshire Republican meeting Tuesday (CSPAN stream).

video_wmv Download | Play video_mov Download  | Play

“… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Who knew?

Who knew when I posted about Don Young last night that I would wake up to find the Anchorage Daily News reporting that one of Young’s aides will be pleading guilty to Abramoff related corruption charges. Of course, the article states that Young is not implicated. I wonder if it would be more accurate to state “Congressman Young is not implicated yet.

Anyway, here’s the lede:
A former aide to a committee chaired by Alaska Rep. Don Young is expected to plead guilty today to a federal conspiracy charge in connection with convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

Mark Zachares, who was part of Young’s Transportation Committee staff between 2002 and 2004, was named in charging documents Monday alleging a pattern of rewards and favors that he and Abramoff termed their “two year plan.”
“… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”

Monday, April 23, 2007

Don Young

When the next congressional elections occur, Don Young will have been a member of the House of Representatives for 35 years, representing Alaska, a state where the average age of residents is below 34. He, himself, will be 75.

In 2008, he received 57% of the vote, down somewhat from his previous performances, but hardly anything to make him worry, or even campaign. Diane Benson, his Democratic opponent, ran a good campaign, which some regarded as the first significant challenge to the man who calls himself the “Congressman for all Alaskans.” The activist playwright, actress and poet received roughly 40% of the vote.

Big Mitch feels that she didn’t hit hard enough. The Jack Abramoff/Tom Delay scandal relating to the Northern Mariana Islands, has Don Young’s fingerprints all over it. In 2000, the Senate unanimously passed Sen. Frank Murkowski’s (R-AK) Northern Mariana Islands worker rights reform bill. Basically the bill was intended to address the slave-like working conditions in Saipan, where garment manufacturers produce clothing labeled “Made in America.” Don Young blocked the bill and so it was never considered in the House of Representatives. Given the working conditions there – which included forced abortions for women pressed into prostitution – this could have been a good issue.

Lately, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that records show that Young’s campaign paid a $25,000 retainer to a law firm because the feds are looking into new truck-hauling rules that Young helped push through in 2005 as part of a major transportation spending bill. Dennis Troha, a Wisconsin businessman who personally benefited from the measure gave the Young $20,000 and he, too, has lawyered up.

All of which would make you think that Young is vulnerable in 2008. But you would be overlooking the fact that he brings home the bacon, and that counts for a lot in Alaska. After all, we are talking about a guy who in 1995, during the controversy relating to the homoerotic art of Robert Mapplethorpe, told an assembly of high school students that he opposed federal funding for any art that portrayed people doing “offensive things.” Pressed for an example by an inquisitive student, Young quickly answered, “Butt-fucking.” It’s pretty hard to defend his choice of words, but he gave it the old college try: He said that his answer would have lacked impact if he had used milder words.

The thing that made me think of Don Young recently is that over on TPM Muckraker they are reporting that 25 senators have demanded that the administration give some answers about GSA chief, Lurita Doan. Seems she has been trying to find a way to use the considerable buying power of the federal government to “help our [Republican] candidates.” In this effort, she employed a PowerPoint presentation which you can see here. (pdf)

Interestingly, said PowerPoint presentation indicates that Don Young may be vulnerable, and more importantly, that he may decline to run. It’s time for a Democrat to start gearing up to run for Congress.

“… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”

Everyone knows…

Everyone knows that the Congress is going to cave in to the President and send him an emergency spending bill without a deadline for withdrawing from Iraq. That’s because the Congress doesn’t have the spine to stand up to him, even though Big Mitch gave them a roadmap about how to do it.

By now, everyone knows that Harry Reid said, “I believe myself that the secretary of state, the secretary of defense — and you have to make your own decision as to what the president knows — that this war is lost, and that the surge is not accomplishing anything, as indicated by the extreme violence in Iraq yesterday.”

Everyone knows that Harry Reid is correct. Even William F. Buckley is saying the war has failed. The generals who say that are promptly fired, but everyone knows King George the Incompetent is not sending in 20,000 more troops because things are going so well. Everyone knows that our military is stretched beyond its limit. And deep within our hearts, everyone knows that this won’t be the last surge that Dubya proposes.

Want to know what the GI's in Iraq think? Look here:
Everyone knows that el Generalissimo Gonzales embarrassed himself last week. His testimony was incredible, incomplete, and internally inconsistent. His defense was that he takes responsibility for mistakes that were made, but no mistakes were made. He says he was in charge, but he didn’t know where the plan to fire 8 U. S. Attorneys came from. He says he thought it was a bad idea, but his chief of staff went forward with it anyway.

CORRECTION: Not everyone knows. Incredibly, the man Bill Maher calls “President Shit-for-brains” took the time today to tell us that Gonzo “is an honest, honorable man, in whom I have confidence.” He went on to say that Gonzales’ testimony “increased my confidence” in his ability to lead the Justice Department. He also said that he hadn't heard the testimony: he's relying on staff reports.

Congress’s power is in the power of the purse. If they are to stop this war, that is how it must be done. Congress can’t de-fund Alberto Gonzales, and impeachment is too disruptive. But everyone knows that he must go.

Someone in Congress needs to stand up and say that if King George the Incompetent has complete confidence in el Generalissimo Gonzo, then he can’t be trusted to run the war without some restraint imposed by Congress.

Memo to POTUS: You want an emergency spending bill to fund your war? Show Gonzales the door.

“… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”

Friday, April 20, 2007

Blame the Victim

Keith Olbermann has been handing out Worst Person in the World awards to right-wing pundits like John Derbyshire of the National Review On-line. Derbyshire blamed the victims who, he says, did not resist the well-armed psychotic murderer in Blacksburg, Va:
Where was the spirit of self-defense here? Setting aside the ludicrous campus ban on licensed conceals, why didn't anyone rush the guy? It’s not like this was Rambo, hosing the place down with automatic weapons. He had two handguns for goodness’ sake—one of them reportedly a .22.
Another Olbermann honoree, Nathaniel Blake, seconds the emotion in Where were the men?:
College classrooms have scads of young men who are at their physical peak, and none of them seems to have done anything beyond ducking, running, and holding doors shut.
Well, of course they are beneath contempt for their ersatz macho.

Nobody knows what was going on in the room where Seung-hui Cho did his murderous deeds. Moreover, nobody knows what he or she would have done in those circumstances. And, as the story does come out, we learn about incredible acts of heroism.

Then there are the regular right-wing nut cases, like Rush Limbaugh, who said,
Now, if this Virginia Tech shooter had an ideology, what do you think it was? This guy had to be a liberal. You start railing against the rich, and all these other things? This guy is a liberal. He was turned into a liberal somewhere along the line. So it’s a liberal that committed this act.
Let’s take a moment to talk about the victims. Since I know nothing about the individuals who were killed or maimed, I will not debase myself by talking about them. But in a sense all of America was victimized by this crime.

The right wing political dialogue is characterized by bullying and intimidation. Anyone who has tuned into Bill O’Reilly knows this. Indeed, O’Reilly revels it. Take for an example his defense of airing the Cho videotape originally mailed to NBC:
Evil must be exposed and Cho was evil. You can see it in his face, hear it in his voice. All of us who saw the tape will never forget it. And it made me and millions of others angry. Once evil is acknowledged, steps can be taken to contain it. And once anger is in the air, policy can change.
Do you get it? In O’Reilly’s weltanschauung, there’s good and there’s evil in the world, and the only way to confront evil, is with anger. And lest we forget, we have recently seen the firing of Don Imus for his bullyboy attack on the student athletes at Rutgers, followed in short order, by Tom DeLay trying to throw his weight around to punish Rosie O’Donnell.

Am I out of line to say that on the right side of the political spectrum there is a culture of bullying? Hell, I’ve called those bastards fascists, so this is nothing new. In his 1989 book, Our Contempt for Weakness: Nazi Norms and Values — and Our Own, Norwegian scholar Harald Ofstad argues that the bully mindset is at the core of the fascist personality, and it especially reveals itself in misogyny.

Today we read in the National Post (Canada) that Barbara Coloroso, an author and expert on bullying opines that Cho was a “bullied bully.” As a special-education teacher who was living in Columbine during the 1999 high school massacre, Ms. Coloroso believes most school killers are victims of extensive bullying. Of the 23 high school massacres she has studied, 18 of the gunmen had been bullied. Certainly, we see in Cho’s history of stalking and his later statements, his disdain for women.

I won’t blame the victims of this horrible crime. But it is right for us to look to the greater society and ask ourselves what could have caused this young man’s mental illness to manifest with such tragic consequences? Could it be the culture of bullying that is part and parcel of the right-wing zeitgeist?

I am just asking.

“… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”

Thursday, April 19, 2007

E-prime, or “To be or not to be.”

In 1965, D. David Bourland, Jr. proposed E-Prime in an essay entitled A Linguistic Note: Writing in E-Prime. The term refers to a modified English vocabulary, which excises all forms of the verb “to be.” The passive voice does not exist in E-Prime. More directly to the point, the proponents of E-Prime say that it forces the speaker to think differently. Consider the difference between the English sentence, “The movie was good,” and “I liked the movie.” The latter acknowledges the subjective nature of the speaker’s experience of the movie. Thus, E-Prime promotes clarity of thought.

E-Prime does tend to eliminate tautological arguments. My mind turned to E-Prime today, as I listened to a local radio show discussing the recent decision of the Supreme Court upholding the law outlawing a particular abortion procedure. A caller argued that the question is “whether or not the fetus is a human being.”

Calling a fetus a human being may lead to one answer, and doing the opposite may result in a different answer. As Shakespeare said, “What’s in a name?” If the decision to call a fetus a human being dictates the outcome, then the desired outcome dictates the decision. When someone says, “a fetus is a human,” he or she intends to say, “I recognize a fetus as something with rights I wish to protect, even if doing so comes at the expense of an innocent woman, as in the case of rape or incest.”

Big Mitch comes to the opposite conclusion. I value the right of a woman to control her own body more than any rights that a fetus may or may not possess, whether or not we define a fetus as a human being. Furthermore, I don’t accept the proposition that calling a fetus a human being inexorably leads to the conclusion that the mother’s reproductive rights must be restricted.

Consider this case: A virtuoso violinist with a rare blood type becomes ill and needs a transfusion. His devotees determine that only you can serve as a donor. You are assured that blood donation poses no risks to you. Do you have a right to refuse? If you do refuse, does anyone have the right to compel you over your objection? Do you reach a different conclusion if instead of a violinist we hypothesized a cancer researcher whose students argue that his future work may greatly reduce human suffering? Do you have a right to refuse if a street person needs blood that only you can donate?

Note that in each of these cases, nobody can question that a “person’s” life depends on the your willingness to donate blood. Still, we place a high enough value on the autonomy of the individual that we respect the right of people to withhold consent to the taking of their blood.

Also note that in the above hypothetical, we stipulated that blood donation poses no risks to the donor. The case of pregnancy always presents risks, and until yesterday, sufficiently severe risks to the health of a woman constituted good cause for an abortion.

Over on Alternet Amy Goodman put it this way:
The Supreme Court's decision to uphold a ban on late-term abortion without an exception for the health of the mother sends a signal that, in many respects, the court thinks legislators, not doctors, are the ones best positioned to make health decisions.
In other words, the decision of the Supreme Court means that in the future the decision of a woman either to get or not to get an abortion may include Shakespeare’s existential question: “To be, or not to be?”

I wonder how one would say that in E-Prime.

“… and tell ’em big Mitch sent ya!”

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Thirty-three

Thirty-three tragic deaths occurred this week on the campus of Virginia Tech. The event is justifiably called a massacre. I judge the suicide death of Seung-Hui Cho to be a tragedy no less than the others, since it is an obvious case of mental illness gone untreated with lethal results.

Some, notably Keith Olbermann, Larry Johnson and Thom. Hartman, have had the guts to point out that a similar number of young Americans are killed in Iraq every ten days or so. Why, these worthies ask, are they not grieved for in the same way? It is a question that deserves an answer.

The answer is that the students didn’t sign up to put their lives on the line. As I wrote here,
When brave Americans sign up for military service, they say in effect that they are willing to lay down their lives for our country. Such love cannot be abused. We must be sure of our purposes and our prospects for success, if we are to ask these valiant men and women to risk, and in some cases, to sacrifice their lives.
Of course, we weren’t sure of our purposes and our prospects for success when America sent troops into Iraq.

The civil war in Iraq takes 30 or more innocent lives every week, out of a country less than 1/10th the size of the United States. For the families and loved ones of these Iraqi casualties, their death is as senseless and achingly unfair as the loss of those innocent Hokies is to the Virginia Tech community.

The murderer in Blacksburg is being described as mentally ill. The killing in Iraq is equally senseless. It’s just plain crazy.

“… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”

Monday, April 16, 2007

Vox populi, Vox Dei

It bothers me a great deal that the right wing gets to use the media to re-publish the most outrageous lies of the Party of Bush, and rarely gets called on it. It seems to me that the right wing, exemplified by the Fox network, routinely engages in what can fairly be called hate speech. Every so often, Bill O’Reilley goes off the deep end, and he may be ridiculed on the Daily Show or Olbermann, but by and large his rants go unchallenged. Ann Coulter can say the most hateful things imaginable, but tell me what consequences have befallen her for calling John Edwards a faggot, or saying that 9/11 widows were reveling in their husbands death? None.

It is for this reason that from time to time, I have toyed with the idea of calling for a boycott of companies that advertise on the Fox network.

The problem is that if you are committed to ideals of free speech, you must realize that such an activity raises grave concerns. The idea of boycotting a media outlet to influence the content, smacks of fascism. It is this nagging fear that has caused me to hold off on advocating such an action.

But if you are not committed to ideals of democracy, then why not call for a boycott of companies who sponsors those you disagree with? Consider the case of Tom DeLay, the indicted and disgraced former congressman who demands that Rosie O’Donnell be fired as retribution for what happened to Don Imus. You can read his despicable call to direct action here.

What is it about Rosie that irritates right wing-nuts in the way that calling a high-achieving student athlete a “nappy headed ho” disgusts all right-thinking people?

In "DeLay v. O’Donnell, Round 1," Jim David puts forth a convincing argument that it’s because “she's a liberal, loudmouthed lesbian who has opinions, and conservatives just can't stand it.”

Right-wingers will tell you that their popularity means that they are speaking the truth to power. It’s crazy talk. As it has been said, “Nec audiendi qui solent dicere, vox populi, Vox Dei, quum tumultuositas vulgi semper insaniae proxima sit.” (Neither are those who are apt to say ‘the voice of the masses is the Voice of God’ worth listening to, since the tumult of the rabble is always close to insanity.)

The real lesson may just be that fascists like Tom DeLay will use any excuse to stifle opposing opinions. People who believe in the value of free speech are more circumspect.

“… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

REQUISCAT IN PACE ...

Kurt Vonnegut
(1922-2007)

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Imus in the morning, afternoon and evening.

It’s a slow newsday. Chris Matthews took the day off and Hardball was moderated by David Gregory. The entire show devoted to Don Imus. Tucker was essentially pre-empted by a very moving press conference by the Rutgers’ women’s basketball team. You could not have watched it and not been moved by the story of this Cinderella team nor impressed by the maturity and poise of these young women athletes.

Big Mitch would be remiss if he did not weigh in on the subject.

Don Imus may be a good guy, but if he called one my daughters a “ho,” losing his radio show would be the least of his problems. Any questions?

Don Imus tried to defend himself by saying that he was only doing comedy. Mr. Imus, do you want to share a laugh? Your wife is a whore. Get it?

“… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”

The President won’t support the troops.

The President promises to veto the so-called “emergency” spending bill that will fund the continuing operations in Iraq. Four years into this war, how is it that we have an emergency lack of funds for the troops in harm’s way? Big Mitch remembers seeing a sign in a judge's chambers that said, “Poor planning on your part does not constitute an emergency.” But I digress.

King George has two gripes about the funding bill that is headed his way. First, there’s the pork that was added in to the bill to obtain passage. It is too easy for the mouthpieces of the Party of Bush to complain about subsidies for peanut farmers in a bill ostensibly to fund the war. They should remember that we have elected as many peanut farmers to the presidency as we have members of Congress in the last 30 years.

More directly to the point, the administration’s request for $100 billion contained only $50 billion for military operations. But I digress.

What people must realize is that without a little logrolling the bill to fund the war would not have passed. It is a reasonable interpretation of the last election – not to mention the polls – that people want the war to end, and that means now. In the face of that sentiment, which is fairly overwhelming in some blue districts, voting in favor of funds to perpetuate the war is a repudiation of what members were elected to do. Please pass the pork: a little lard greases the skids.

Vetoing the bill is a stupid thing to do and therefore, we should expect Dumb Dubya to do it. It’s time to ask the question that we should have asked before we toppled Saddam, viz, “What next?”

This Congress was elected to end the war, and the way to do it is to exercise the power of the purse. But King George and his loyal scriveners have a pretty good talking point in that the funds are necessary for the troops. Well, do you support the troops or don’t you?

It’s a phony argument, not that we are surprised to hear it from King George the Incompetent. It is he who is vetoing funding for the troops. In point of fact, the bill passed in the House of Representatives contains 53 billion for military operations, including Iraq, and the Senate bill contains $49 billion. The administration’s request was only for 50 billion for military operations, out of a total request of $100 billion.

All right, then. Let’s talk about how the cow ate the cabbage. [fn. 1]

Sadly, a lot of the troops are coming home with head injuries. What are we going to do about that? Traumatic brain injuries [TBI] are some of the most horrific non-fatal injuries of the war. They are intractable in the current state of medical knowledge and they rob the victims of their dignity and in some cases, their personality. There is no prosthesis for the brain.

At present, the best hope for finding a medical cure for TBI is in stem cell research. Let’s see a bill to fund the war, with a timeline, and instead of the pork that so offends the Chimp-in-Chief, let’s have funding for stem-cell research. Well, Dubya, do you support the troops, or don’t you?

When the president of the United States says that we must support the troops, it may be time to ask another famous question, which was first posed by Tonto, the Lone Ranger’s faithful companion when they found themselves surrounded by hostile Indians. The Lone Ranger looked at Tonto and said, “It looks like we are done for, old friend.” To which the noble Tonto replied, “What you mean ‘we,’ White Man?”

Who is the “we” that must support the troops? Is it the richest Americans who saw their share of the tax burden go down during this war? Why not send a bill to the President repealing some of the tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans and use the funds to support the troops? Well, do they support the troops, or don’t they?

As Finley Peter Dunne observed, “Politics ain’t beanbag.” The Democrats have a tough row to hoe if they want to stop the war. But that’s why they were elected, and that’s why they get to pass out the big bucks. If they want to fulfill their responsibility, they have to be able to stand up to the phony attack that they don’t support the troops, and knock it down. If the President wants to keep vetoing bills to support the troops, send him some more of them.

Americans support the troops, and want them to come home on a timeline. Dubya doesn’t agree, and that’s why his approval rating is less than Sanjaya Malakar’s. That’s also why there’s a Congress led by the Democratic Party. It is their duty to let the public know that His Royal Codpiece is standing in the way of funding the troops because he doesn't want to bring them home.

“… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”

[fn. 1] “An expression to indicate the speaker is laying it on the line, telling it like it is, getting down to brass tacks - with the connotation of telling someone what he or she needs to know but probably doesn't want to hear. The expression has its roots in a story about an elephant that escaped from the zoo and wandered into a woman’s cabbage patch. The woman observed the elephant pulling up her cabbages with its trunk and eating them. She called the police to report that there was a cow in her cabbage patch pulling up cabbages with its tail. When the surprised police officer inquired as to what the cow was doing with the cabbages, the woman replied, ‘You wouldn't believe me if I told you!’” Source.