To Valerie Plame, wherever you are: I sincerely hope you smoke those evil bastards in court.
Anyway. I'm just saying.
Had a nice birthday last week. Wee and I got our culture on and went to see a Moliere play, "Don Juan", at the Old Globe theatre in Balboa Park. Written in 1665, this was the first staging of the play as originally written (the original version was censored almost right after it premiered, for being too raunchy and derisive of the aristocracy; a copy was found in Holland, I think, a few years ago, and was translated from the French by the same guy who directed the play). We were surprised at the timeliness of a speech Don Juan made toward the end of the play, when he thinks he's struck upon a way to mend his terrible reputation as a gadabout by becoming born again and practicing his perversions more discreetly instead of being up-front about them. He rails, half-scornfully, half-admiringly, about the hypocrisy of people in power who preach piety (now there's some alliteration for you) and condemn sin, yet behind the scenes do things that are as bad or worse than the people they condemn, but get away with it out of a sense of mutually-assured destruction among the others of their ilk who may know about the sins but are equally guilty themselves. (DJ, sadly, ends up pissing God off for the final time with his comeback plan, and descends into the pits of Hell.) There were a lot of wry chuckles during the speech, and I heard more than one person walk out commenting, "Sounded just like he was describing Bush and Cheney!" I guess a lot of liberals bought tickets that night. Anyway, all through the play I was thinking of how odd it was that a play written over 300 years ago could say things that are still so relevant to today's society. (Insert clichéd remark about the timelessness of human nature here.)
In other birthday news, Wee showered me with lovely presents (as always - he's so amazing at picking out presents for me that I love but would never have expected to get) - a perfect Seiko Presage watch with a titanium band, and a super-cool set of 13-gram poker chips and acetate playing cards in their own aluminum carrying case. I've been lusting for a set for a while now, but thought they were too extravagant. They're terribly nice, though. I've been trying to teach myself to do fancy chip tricks, but my poor fingers aren't nearly as nimble as they need to be. Anyway, Wee rocks.
Another excellent and totally surprising birthday gift came from Wyoming and Todd, who gave me a pair of fire-bellied toads. They are terribly cool. I've named them Hogarth and Henry. So far, they seem to mostly want to hang out underneath the big hollow grapevine log in their aquarium, but sometimes they sing... It's a funny little squeaky sound, like a barking puppy. So, this brings the frog count in the house to four total. Not to mention the Betta fish, and the lovely Indy. Between the menagerie inside and the garden outside, I've suddenly become Mother Farkin' Nature...
From the "No shit, Sherlock" files:
Same stuff I was talking about in my entry from January 30. I'd written that entry before we'd even really tucked into this little war in Iraq that at this point has cost our nation over $113 billion dollars and counting. Now is not the time to be sinking another $53 billion into a pie-in-the-sky (or should it be "fry-in-the-sky"?) weapons program that many of the nation's leading defense-technology experts reject as being unfeasible and foolish.
What the fuck is wrong with this Administration? Really, what's their deal? It's as if they're pushing this shit for fun... Let's see if we can invade a country without adequate provocation and justify it with outright lies; let's see if we can just toss out the Geneva conventions when dealing with prisoners we take in military actions, and gloss over our actions with technicalities, or crocodile tears of contrition when cornered with proof of abuse; let's see if we can play favorities by issuing massive non-competed defense contracts to companies in which we have vested interests or long-standing associations... Let's see if people will mind if we sink a boatload of their tax money into a weapons program that will never, ever competantly perform the job it's intended to do, while at the same time seeing the gradual degradation of things like Social Security and social programs across the board for lack of funds. And we got on the prior President's case for getting a blow job? I think the current Administration has us all on our knees, when you get right down to it...
I have so much hope that the eyes of American voters are being opened up with the news that comes out about the decisions this Administration is making on our behalf; I guess we'll know for sure 6 months from now.
(OK, E & D, you rant enablers, this is for you... heh)
Condoleeza Rice's offer to testify to the Sept. 11 Commission in private instead of as part of the public hearing is a bullshit compromise that should be summarily dismissed as the half-assed gesture it is.
Is Rice, or is she not, a public servant?
Given that this is true, then as a public servant - an employee of the taxpaying public - isn't it incumbent upon her to be accountable to her employers?
Judging from the onslaught of press conferences and talk show appearances she's using to make her case, she obviously has plenty to say for herself - but I'm baffled as to how she can justify using the press as any sort of viable substitute for going under oath to say her piece.
I'm aware of the concept of "executive privilege" and the long-standing policy of National Security Advisors declining to testify. Yet in hiding behind these conventions, she undermines the credibility of any information she then decides to proffer in the safe, controllable forum of commercial media. How can we be blamed for being skeptical of her recollections if she's unwilling to swear to their veracity?
I'm frustrated because I want to approve of Condi Rice - like Madeleine Albright, she's been a much-needed role model for intelligent, motivated women who want to serve in the Executive branch of government. I think she's fundamentally a forthright person who cares about serving the public interest. I realize that her refusal is largely based on the advice of White House counsel. Still, I think in this case they have made a misjudgment.
Her credibility also isn't helped by the fact that some of her sound bites have been self-contradictory, which makes any assertions about the variability of Clarke's recollections, as well as his ulterior motives, seem fairly hypocritical. Right now Condi and company are spinning so hard I'm surprised any of them can still walk straight. I find it ironic that the Administration thinks a good strategy for maintaining the good will of the voting public is to evade and shift blame, be it to the Clinton Administration (really, does anyone believe that Clinton could've launched a massive, prolonged military action against Al-Qaeda without being crucified for it both domestically and internationally?), or someone like Clarke, who simply isn't in a position to be bullied into gilding the truth anymore.
Honestly, I don't hold Rice or any Administration official responsible for what happened on 9/11. Whatever priority - or lack thereof - was given to monitoring Al-Qaeda and its activities, I think there's little chance that anyone could have predicted or prevented this particular attack. The Sept. 11 Commission is simply tasked with examining and sharing with the public what happened and what perspective our intelligence and security operations had at the time, and identifying ways that we can learn from and correct whatever weaknesses were exploited by the attackers.
People feel a deep personal investment in this investigation. We know that we all remain targets of terrorists, and we want to be able to hear our leaders acknowledge the factors that left us vulnerable 16 months ago. We want penance in the form of truthful, sworn testimony and a deconstruction of what could've been done better to ensure our safety. Most of all, we want this from the one person who, as much as anyone besides the President himself, had a mandate to be the vanguard of our nation's security efforts. As it stands, however, she has the power to influence executive policy but refuses to submit to any accountability for the results of her influence. That's wrong.
If Rumsfeld and Tenet can step up, so should Rice. Until she does, she can say whatever she wants to a reporter's microphone... but only her appearance before this committee and under sworn oath will convince me to listen.
Oh, and by the way... I know it's old news, but - Bush publically making fun of the flawed intelligence he used to justify a war that resulted in the loss of thousands of Iraqi lives and hundreds of American ones (so far)? So, so funny. Not at all tasteless nor disrespectful of the dead and their survivors. This is a man who obviously understands the gravity of what he's done in the world over the past year.
Or as RosenRosen on Fark said -
Okay, let's try some other jokes using the same template:
OJ Simpson (looking under couch): I'm sure I can find the real killer here somewhere!
Clinton (looking under couch): I'm getting randy! Where's an intern handy when you need one?
Osama (looking under couch): I was sure I saw a couple of towers here just a minute ago!
You're right! It's not inappropriate at all!
Bush is a fucking asshat.
Is my new category for my rants against the current Administration, which I fear will become more frequent as campaign season shifts into high gear. I apologize in advance for any inconvenience this represents for any of my half-dozen readers who are either politically apathetic or staunchly behind Shrub 2004.
That being said, here's the indignity du jour: Bush has angered 9/11 victims' families and firefighters by using images of the WTC bombing and footage of firefighters carrying out one of their dead in one of his recent ad campaigns.
I share their view that it's incredibly tacky and disgraceful for the Bush team to capitalize upon this devastating loss as a means of manipulating the voting public's emotions and sentiments for political gain. I'm not surprised that they're doing this; pandering to voters' "hearts" through simplistic sentimentality has always been a lynchpin of the Bush administration's strategy. I feel sad for anyone who sees those ads, gets all emotional, and doesn't realize that those very valid emotions are being cheapened for having been evoked for the sole purpose of furthering Bush's re-election prospects. The memories of that terrible time are sacrosanct to me; I can't abide seeing them used for profiteering of any sort, be it commercial, personal or political. I'd feel the same way if a Democrat was trying to use them.
I realize that not everyone who supports Bush will find this particular ad campaign compelling, and that in fact some of his supporters may not approve of these ads but will stand by him for other reasons. Still, I hope his proponents really take a look at this and question what Bush is bringing to the table this election year, if a pandering exploitation of a national tragedy is all his campaign can offer by way of an opening shot across the Democrats' bow... Is this really the best means they have to sell this President to voters?
I wonder if I should just go ahead and create a new entry category called, "Reasons Why George Bush and His Entire Administration Should Be Mulched"?
Today's reason: In cajoling / misleading Tony Blair into providing British backing for the invasion of Iraq, a process that included urging his Administration to spy on the UN through means that may or may not have been in violation of international law, Bush may well have helped destroy Blair's career as Prime Minister.
Blair is one of the best leaders Britain has had in modern history, and one of the most intelligent and competant heads of state in the world today. Now, because he supported the U.S. even in defiance of many members of his own party when we asked it of him, based on information that even our own intelligence sources now admit was flawed, he might be forced to relinquish office amidst controversy and condemnation from both sides of the House of Commons. With friends like George Bush, who needs enemies?
Alan Greenspan is suggesting that, in order to compensate for the massive deficit that's accrued over the course of the Bush administration, the government should cut benefits for future Social Security recipients.
I always figured that by the time my generation got to retirment age, there would be no way we could count on Social Security being there to support us in any substantial way... But it still makes me very angry to think that I'm paying money into a system that I will in all likelihood reap very few benefits from.
Basically, what I appear to be doing instead is providing free capital to help offset the damage that Bush has done to our economy with things such as his incredibly misguided tax policies (did anyone's lives change substantially for getting that one $300 check?), and a full-scale war against a sovereign nation that didn't represent an imminent threat to our national security but with which Pappy Bush had a score to settle.
Between his bungling of the nation's economy and his increasingly extremist right-wing social policies, I fear for what will happen to our country if this man gets elected for another four years.
Quote from a Reuters news item about Bush's newest budget proposals today:
"The (Bush) administration seeks to boost funding for its controversial missile defense program by 13 percent to $10.2 billion next year from $9 billion requested for fiscal 2004...
"The Pentagon's plan to begin deploying the initial parts of a missile defense shield by September has drawn sharp criticism from some U.S. allies and Democrats who say it has not been adequately tested and could spark an arms race in space."
Assholes. Assholes. Assholes. My bet is that the entire reason Bush busted out with his recent announcement about expanding NASA's funding is nothing more than a thinly-veiled means of stepping up R&D for his own new-millenium space-based defense program. I did a lot of research about his dad's version of the program back in '92 as part of my Poli Sci major. In doing so I became (and remain) convinced that there is no way we could ever deploy a system that would be reliable enough to work and have sufficient resistance to countermeasures.
Moreover, the question of whether a system could be reliably developed is, to me, secondary to the question of whether or not such a system should be developed. I think that it's not only politically but absolutely morally wrong to militarize space - either unilaterally, or even worse, with the result of creating a multilateral space-based arms race.
Adding to the bullshit-plan factor, Bush is initiating this kind of spending in an economy that's only just beginning to achieve some tentative recovery from recession. With shit like megafunding space-based defense research and persisting in touting the dubious benefits of tax cuts as a way to stimulate the economy, this administration is doing all it can to run the nation's budget not only into the ground but all the way down into the fucking molten core of the Earth. From nailing Saddam to renewing the Strategic Defense Initiative, this entire neofascist Administration seems hell-bent on nothing more than rectifying unfinished business left over from the Reagan and Bush I administrations, under the guise of "national security", and fattening the pocketbooks of their cronies in the process. One more item on the checklist of "why those responsible for 9/11 should be flayed alive and rolled in salt" is that they gave Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, and the rest of Bush's puppetmasters all the justification they'd ever need for implementing their dream agenda of renewed world dominance and profiteering.
My vote for President this year? Anybody but Bush, baby. Feh.