George W. Bush: American Idle

If there were ever any doubts that George W. Bush treated his presidency as just another misadventure in a life filled with misadventures, this video — captured surreptitiously at the annual Gridiron Dinner — should quell those doubts:

I cannot express the level of disgust and rage I feel when I listen to this. It is completely surreal that this fool is capable of being so cavalier about things that would embarrass the most hardened sociopath. The fact that he can joke, under any circumstances, about Scooter Libby, Harriet Myers, and his good friend Brownie and what they did to this nation is unconscionable.

If Bush were merely idle and his presidency were merely useless, that would be several rungs up the ladder from where we stand. His presidency has been actively destructive — of human lives, of our economy, of our standing in the world. I do not envy his successor who will face the task of cleaning up the biggest shit pile an American president has ever left behind.

(By the way, George, did you even know that this song is about a man facing execution? If you make it through to next week, you may want to make a better song choice.)

No Accolades, Please

With the news today that Karl Rove was making his departure from the White House came all kinds of speculation about why he was leaving and where he may be headed. But, interspersed with the conjecture came a number of comments piling praise on this Machiavellian pus-bag, some even going so far to repeat the prevailing neo-con “wisdom” that Rove is a genius.

How low have our collective standards gotten, when a fair-size segment of the population (which, until recently, has led the press by the nose) can mistake Karl Rove’s willingness to stoop to new lows to get his objectives met with genius? Let’s set a couple of things straight. Mozart was a genius. Einstein was a genius. Karl Rove is a criminal.

The weeping this morning in the White House Rose Garden — peppered with frequent references to the Almighty — was enough to turn even the most ironclad stomach. Rove’s greasy fingerprints are on just about every slimy thing this administration has done. But I guess the neo-cons can rest easy knowing that all of Karl’s dirty dealings have been done in the name of God.

It comes as no surprise that, for the most corporation-centric administration, the news of the departure of the administration’s strategic lynch pin of this gang of crooks broke in the Wall Street Journal. After all, it’s been part of Rove’s campaign strategy to blur the boundaries between corporations and government.

All America has to do to ensure that corruption continues is to fail to acknowledge that this man is the poster boy for all that is wrong with politics. So, please. No accolades. Rove deserves nothing but our profound collective scorn.

Outrage Overload

I guess most of us have become numb to the ‘outrage-a-day’ policies of the Bush administration. The primary tactic of this gaggle of traitors, liars, and thieves seems to have been to do at least one unbelievably stupid, arrogant, questionable, or downright illegal thing each day. While the press corps focuses (for a moment, at least) on that act, they’re already onto the next. The net result is the accrual of a sludge-pile of aberrant behavior so deep that no one can (or wants to) slog through it. It’s virtually impossible to achieve even a modicum of justice or truth. Make the scandal so dense, complex and multi-faceted that few have the time or inclination to attempt to challenge or even make sense of it.

Couple this modus operandi with the general malaise and scandal-fatigue of the American people, and you have a recipe for the deterioration of our government and our very way of life, the likes of which I believe this nation has never seen.

All that being said, there seems to be an escalation of the Bushies’ strategy of scandal bombardment. It seems like they take pride in outdoing themselves, and the events of the last few days seem to confirm that.

First, we have George once again attempting — like a broken record — to justify our continued involvement in Iraq. His entreaties have become less and less convincing, so much so that even many of those who have always marched in lockstep with him are publicly demanding a ‘change of course.’ (Unfortunately, in the Republican’s playbook, that’s not a euphemism for withdrawal of troops but rather for a change in policy. But at least it represents a small amount of progress.)

When George and his cronies realize that he’s not making any headway, welcome to the stage once again Michael ‘Mephistopheles’ Chertoff, our head of Homeland Security, informing us about his ‘gut feeling‘ that we’re about to have another attack by Al Qaeda on U.S. soil. (Am I crazy, or shouldn’t we expect better of our government than that? I seem to recall that the Department of Homeland Security was created and the rest of our government restructured around it so that we would be basing our policies and our actions on something a little bit more sound than opinions, fears, and folklore.)

But this, too, is a familiar play from the neo-con playbook: When public opinion turns against you, fill the populace with as much fear and anxiety as possible. It doesn’t matter whether it’s substantiated or not; in fact, the neo-cons seem to have learned that it’s actually better if it’s vague and unnamed. The more vague the fear is — using the ‘broken-clock-is-right-twice-a-day’ analogy — the better the opportunity down the line of using whatever may happen to falsely substantiate their claims.

You may want to take a deep breath here, because all of this is happening against a backdrop of Sara Taylor, the former White House political director, claiming executive privilege in order to refuse to answer any questions regarding the firings and hirings of U.S. Attorneys, in spite of a subpoena by the Senate Judiciary Committee. Then comes the news that Bush has ordered former White House counsel Harriet ‘Love Note’ Miers not only not to answer questions but also not even to appear before the Committee. On the count of three, everybody say ‘Jeezus H. Christ!’

Now add to the mix that former Surgeon General Richard Carmona told the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform that the Bush administration demanded that he withhold medical findings from the American public when those findings weren’t in synch with the non-scientific right-wing-religion-driven agenda. For example, he was forbidden from stating that abstinence-only programs don’t work. (Don’t forget, millions of taxpayer dollars got passed along to those faith-based organizations that W loves so much to espouse the bullshit that abstinence is the only way to prevent AIDS. Worse than the loss of taxpayer money is the loss of life that results from their failure to state the truth and consequent dissemination of misinformation.)

Now, I’m still reeling from the commutation of Scooter Libby’s sentence and the subsequent payment of his fine by an unnamed source. (I can’t seem to rid my brain of the image of some low-level neo-con operative going into an inside-the-beltway 7-Eleven and asking for a banana Slurpee, a pack of Marlboro lights, and a money order for $250,000. Oh, yeah, and one of them scratch tickets.)

So when things start stacking up like this, is it any wonder that most Americans simply short circuit from the overload?

Rumsfeld Bites the Dust

It’s all over but the laughing, now.

It’s astonishing, however, how cavalier Dubya was when he admitted — almost boasted — that he lied only a week earlier about Rumsfeld’s imminent departure because there was an election coming up. Pretty vile.

Well, at least he’s outta here. Good riddance, Don, you stubborn old coot. Don’t let the Pentagon door hit you in the ass on your way out.

The Neo-Con Artists’ Three-Card Monte

When I was but a sprout living in New York City, I was broke or nearly broke most of the time. As a struggling singer/actor/writer/whatever, I sometimes had to make tough choices in order to save money. I could either walk everywhere and save my subway fare so I’d have enough money to eat something, or I would spare my legs a few miles of walking and live with the ensuing hunger.

So when I spotted some guys playing three-card monte one afternoon in Times Square, I naively thought it looked like a way I could both eat and ride the subways. Uncharacteristically that day, I had $20 in my pocket. So I watched and waited for the right opportunity. I saw how people were making foolish mistakes, especially this one woman — repeatedly pointing to a card that anyone could see was not the Ace of Spades and apparently losing twenty after twenty. And then, every so often, she’d get it right and would get a payoff. I was sure I had it all figured out. I took my one shot and, of course, I lost my $20. The bill was no sooner snatched out of my hand than I realized the woman was the dealer’s accomplice and she was there to reel in suckers like me.

The loss of the $20 was a sting to my paltry budget, but more painful was the humiliation that I had been taken by these con artists. I never mentioned the incident to anyone for years afterward, because I was too embarrassed. I was supposed to be smarter than that.

I relate this story because I’m getting the sense these days that a whole slew of honorable, trusting Republicans are in that state of embarrassment about having championed the causes of the current administration. People who voted for Bush seem to be in that same interim state of denial because they don’t want to admit that they were so naive as to be taken in by this gaggle of mega-grifters.

They still want to believe — and who wouldn’t — that the kind of pervasive corruption with which the Bush administration is clearly riddled couldn’t possibly happen. That kind of blatant corruption only happens in Chicago city politics and in Louisiana, right? It couldn’t possibly be happening right under our noses.

Well-meaning Republicans, I invite you — no, implore you — to come into the light. Look at the facts. Seek out the information that is available about what is really going on. Get your information from someplace other than Fox News. Lives are at stake. Our form of government is at stake. Our standing on the world stage is at stake.

This administration has appealed to your own sense of morality while they have abandoned any morality of their own. They have breached your trust in ways that you couldn’t even imagine because your own mind couldn’t think such devious thoughts. They have squandered the lives of your children in a war that they deceitfully waged in order to further their own business and political interests. These are all of the hallmarks of con artists.

As an individual voter, no one really knows — in theory — who you voted for unless you choose to reveal it yourself. So, years from now, I guarantee that many actual Bush voters will be saying how they voted for Gore and Kerry. I can forgive you that little White House lie, because I know what that sort of humiliation feels like (on a somewhat smaller scale).

But what I have a hard time forgiving is the otherwise well-intended Republicans in the House and the Senate who continue to march in lockstep with this Administration. They are the political equivalent of that woman who kept feigning defeat as she fed twenty after twenty to her friend, the three-card monty dealer. Years from now, these Republicans will not be able to wash off the stink of corruption that stuck to them from rubbing elbows with the liars, thieves, traitors and killers in the current administration.

Family Second

The State Department announced today that president-whisperer Karen Hughes will be taking a post at State designed to change Islamic perceptions about America. How many different aspects of this announcement are there that are objectionable?

First of all, have our news media conveniently forgotten Karen Hughes’ ‘family first’ position of several months back? With a huge self-righteous fanfare, she left her post at the White House because her son supposedly came first and she claimed she wasn’t seeing enough of her family. It was time, she said, to return to Texas where they could spend time together.

But now all of a sudden it’s OK for her to travel extensively in the Middle East? Is it easier to get to Texas from Iraq than it is from D.C.? Have they perfected that ‘Beam-me-up-Scotty’ technology and I just didn’t hear about it yet?

Second, isn’t it more than a little disingenuous to attempt to control perceptions of the U.S. in the Islamic world? Isn’t this just a thinly vailed public relations campaign designed to make it possible for the U.S. to continue on exactly the same trajectory that it’s been on, without actually making any substantive changes in the way that the U.S. deals with the Muslim world? This is akin to the tobacco companies honking their own horns for their efforts to get people to stop smoking, while simultaneously racheting up their marketing efforts to sell more cigarettes.

Third, Karen Hughes? This is the administration’s idea of a diplomat? Karen Hughes’ professional life has been exclusively as a campaign professional and a television news reporter, most of it in Texas. What on earth on her resume would qualify her for a position at State? If she posted her resume on Monster.com, I bet she wouldn’t get a single inquiry for a diplomat job. And I’d also bet there are career diplomats all over the world who are screaming silently about this appointment.

No Right To Cry

The crying has begun in the red states, with the unveiling of Bush’s new federal budget. And, yes, it’s a disaster (or a collection of disasters) waiting to happen. There are plenty of things to hate about it, all of which are being discussed elsewhere, so I won’t bore you with the details. Basically, the budget boils down to taking money away from programs that benefit the poor and middle class (education, HUD, etc.) and giving more to the Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security.

The march-in-lockstep Bush apologists are already attempting to make a case in favor of this budget by saying, “Oh, this is a wartime budget and we all have to make sacrifices.” The hypocrisy of this, in case it already didn’t hit you in the head like a wrecking ball, is that the war in Iraq is a war of choice that Bush and his cronies got us into on totally false pretenses, and it’s now being used as the excuse for cutting social and education programs.

And, by the way, sorry, farmers. If you’re in a red state and you’re now complaining about the farm subsidies being cut, you’re not getting any sympathy from me. You had your chance. This is your guy doing this, not ours. You put this loser in office, not us.

The Real State of the Union

Since Dubya’s State of the Union promises to be just another extension of his campaign speech, I thought I’d take this opportunity to differ with him on a few items:

  • Bush and his administration have gotten the United States embroiled in a conflict that has nothing to do with us. Bush and his cronies sent American troops to war on false pretenses. Now, the only people bothering to mention that fact are the late-night comedians (which, perhaps, is o.k., since so many Americans use the nightly monologue as a their primary news source). Thousands of lives have been lost. And, yes, I count Iraqi civilian lives, in spite of our media’s tendency only to bother counting the lives of American soldiers and not mentioning any others. (Death counts are now reported like some ESPN ticker crawl: “Americans 1400, Iraqi Civilians 100,000. Yay! We must be winning!”)
  • While we’re on the subject of the media, don’t count on any independence from the media conglomerates, since they’re now pretty much in the pockets of the giant parent corporations, all of whom benefit greatly from the Bush administration’s policies.
  • The administration no longer seems to make any distinction between diplomacy and the military. It started with appointing a general as Secretary of State during his first term, and it continues with the appointment of Condi Rice as Secretary for his second term. (Ohhhh, gee, did you know she’s also a concert pianist? Notice how the administration managed to work that bit of hyperbole into every press release, fluff piece, and news conference in some foolish attempt to humanize this shameless lackey.)
  • Bush has taken his father’s “assassination insurance” to new depths. Bush 41 had Dan Quayle as V.P., which had the chilling effect of making the world realize how much worse it would be if the Prez were assassinated. Bush 43 has managed to populate the entire line of succession with people even more frightening or odious than he is. (And how far did he have to look the find persons more odious than he is? In most cases, no farther than his father’s administration.)
  • Bush has managed to tell a whole series of lies about the hottest hot-button issue — gay marriage. On the one hand, he claims that it’s a so-called “state’s rights” issue. But he has actively and vigorously campaigned in favor of a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. Could there be anything more blatantly hypocritical? And, I might as well say this again: Why do these friggin’ bible-thumpers take this particular issue so seriously and ignore others? If the institution of marriage is so sacred, why aren’t they campaigning in favor a consitutional amendment against divorce? (This is one of my big problems in life — I try to apply logic where none exists. I guess it proves only one thing: reason and religion don’t mix.)

More to come …

Who’s Supporting George?

I keep reading stories about Bush not having strong support in various groups. He doesn’t have the young voters. He has only 6% of the black vote. The AARP crowd is pissed off at him because of prescription drugs. Gay people certainly hate him. Women’s groups seem to hate him. He doesn’t have the Hispanic vote (perhaps because he’s made such a point of proving that he can butcher the Spanish language as much as he can butcher English).

So who, exactly, is supporting this guy?

Just What This Country Needs: More Hate Legislation

On the heels of George W.’s press conference yesterday, in which he informed us that his lawyers were working on a way to pass a national law to prevent gay marriage, the Vatican has launched a worldwide campaign to attempt to stem the tide.

Apparently, the blissfully unaware Bush forgot about D.O.M.A., the ‘Defense of Marriage Act,’ that his right-wing cronies managed to force through Congress. Or perhaps he’s worried that this essentially flawed piece of partisan hack legislation isn’t even remotely able to withstand judicial scrutiny should a state’s law put it to the test.

And apparently, the Vatican believes that marriage should only be between a man and a woman. And gay sex should only be between a priest and his altar boys.