Dan Froomkin does a great job in today’s Washington Post of summing up the ignominious legacy of U.S. Premier George W. Bush:

He took the nation to a war of choice under false pretenses — and left troops in harm’s way on two fields of battle. He embraced torture as an interrogation tactic and turned the world’s champion of human dignity into an outlaw nation and international pariah. He watched with detachment as a major American city went under water. He was ostensibly at the helm as the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression took hold. He went from being the most popular to the most disappointing president, having squandered a unique opportunity to unite the country and even the world behind a shared agenda after Sept. 11. He set a new precedent for avoiding the general public in favor of screened audiences and seemed to occupy an alternate reality. He took his own political party from seeming permanent majority status to where it is today. And he deliberately politicized the federal government, circumvented the traditional policymaking process, ignored expert advice and suppressed dissent, leaving behind a broken government.

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If you’re interested, there is a great discussion going on in the comments section of a post I wrote last week: A Fundamental Truth About Israel/Palestine.

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Glenn Greenwald points us to an excellent little snippet from a seminal Supreme Court case dealing with the admissibility of coerced confessions:

‘Coercing the supposed state’s criminals into confessions and using such confessions so coerced from them against them in trials has been the curse of all countries. It was the chief iniquity, the crowning infamy of the Star Chamber, and the Inquisition, and other similar institutions. The Constitution recognized the evils that lay behind these practices and prohibited them in this country. . . . The duty of maintaining constitutional rights of a person on trial for his life rises above mere rules of procedure, and wherever the court is clearly satisfied that such violations exist, it will refuse to sanction such violations and will apply the corrective.’ — Fisher v. State, 145 Miss. 116, 134, 110 So. 361, 365


The Buffalo Beast released its annual 50 Most Loathsome People in America list. My favorite:

43. You

Charges: You think it’s your patriotic duty to spend money you don’t have on crap you don’t need. You think Hillary lost because of sexism, when it’s actually because she’s just a bad liar. You think Iraq is better off now than before we invaded, and don’t understand why they’re so ungrateful. You think Tim Russert was a great journalist. You’re hopping mad about an auto industry bailout that cost a squirt of piss compared to a Wall Street heist of galactic dimensions, due to a housing crash you somehow have blamed on minorities. It took you six years to figure out what a tool Bush is, but you think Obama will make it all better. You deem it hunky dory that we conduct national policy debates via 8-second clips from “The View.” You think God zapped humans into existence a few thousand years ago, although your appendix and wisdom teeth disagree. You like watching vicious assholes insult each other on TV. You support gun rights, because firing one gives you a chubby. You cuddle falsehoods and resent enlightenment. You think the fact that 43% of whites could stomach voting for an incredibly charismatic and eloquent light-skinned black guy who was raised by white people means racism is over. You think progressive taxation is socialism. 1 in 100 of you are in jail, and you think it should be more. You are shallow, inconsiderate, afraid, brand-conscious, sedentary, and totally self-obsessed. You are American.

Exhibit A: You’re more upset by Miley Cyrus’s glamour shots than the fact that you are a grown adult who is upset about Miley Cyrus.

Sentence: Invaded and occupied by Canada; all military units busy overseas without enough fuel to get back.


Okay, so maybe my studying for the bar is making me a bit cranky. But every time I read stories recounting the Republicans’ overt strategy to obstruct Obama’s stimulus plan in order to place him at the helm of a sinking ship so that they can, in four years, point to him and yell ‘FAIL!’, I always get an image in my head of Nero fiddling while Rome burned. Considering that Bush and the Republican-led Congress drove us so far into the ditch, why are they considered to have any credible say in the matter?

Here’s a flavor of how Republicans view their noble, high-minded, ‘Country First’ historical imperative:

At least some Republicans are starting to muster an anti-stimulus drive, claiming that President-elect Obama’s package will not help the economy. Their drive is centered on what they claim is a careful rereading of the history of the New Deal. According to their account, President Roosevelt’s policies actually lengthened the Great Depression.

In their story, we would have been better off if we just left the market to adjust by itself… [F]rom the standpoint of Republicans, the more ominous lesson of the New Deal policies is that it left the Democrats firmly in power for more than 20 years. The Republicans did not regain the White House until 1952, 20 years after President Roosevelt was first elected…

[T]he Republicans can be expected to adopt a strategy aimed at delaying and diluting the stimulus. We can expect their leaders to find every conceivable argument to slow down the spending that the economy desperately needs right now to prevent further job loss. While some of their concerns may be legitimate – we should all support efforts to restrain wasteful pork barrel spending and rein in corruption – these concerns should not be the basis for obstructing stimulus. The public should be careful to distinguish legitimate concerns from simple delaying tactics.

In short, we should realize that the main concern of some of those opposed to stimulus may not be that it will fail, but rather that it will succeed. Most of us don’t have the same set of concerns.

Yep, while our economy teeters on the brink of collapse, Republicans fiddle their obstructionist song in the craven interest of preserving what little is left of their political power.

‘Country First’ my ass…

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During the election, I didn’t pay much mind to Joe the Unlicensed Fraud Plumber. I viewed him as something of an unfortunate self-aggrandizing sideshow — milking the limelight in the great American tradition.

Boy, was I wrong to ignore this guy. He is actually a dangerous nutjob who the media has anointed as being worthy of “serious” commentary. He recently gave a rambling interview in which he basically said that journalists should be banned from reporting on wars:

I’ll be honest with you. I don’t think journalists should be anywhere allowed war. I mean, you guys report where our troops are at. You report what’s happening day to day. You make a big deal out of it. I think it’s asinine. You know, I liked back in World War I and World War II when you’d go to the theater and you’d see your troops on, you know, the screen and everyone would be real excited and happy for’em. Now everyone’s got an opinion and wants to downer–and down soldiers. You know, American soldiers or Israeli soldiers.

I think media should be abolished from, uh, you know, reporting. You know, war is hell. And if you’re gonna sit there and say, “Well look at this atrocity,” well you don’t know the whole story behind it half the time, so I think the media should have no business in it.

This is scary stuff and not to be taken lightly. Although he is just one man, he represents a worldview to which millions of reactionary, fear-driven fellow travelers adhere.

Update: Here’s the video. Watch if you dare:


Here’s David Letterman’s Top 10 George W. Bush moments. My favorite is #1.

What will comedians do once this bumbling idiot is cooling his heels in Dallas?

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Why did I move to the Midwest again?

The winters in New York were bad enough but the snow we get here is unreal. Could be worse…

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