Saturday, March 17, 2007

Rudy: The Candidate of White Racism

A Sign of Beltwayness: Tyler Cowen, an economics professor at George Washington University, publishes a blog entitled Marginal Revolution: Small Steps Toward a Much Better World. One way that you tell that Cowen is a beltway guy is that he writes on art funding and ethnic cuisine. These kinds of posting topics are quite different from the frequent writing on religion and racism in a red-blooded, red-state blog like RSI.

The Foreign Policy Tide: Cowen writes that the continuing attention on the Iraq War helps the Republicans because a focus on foreign policy is always a help for the GOP. In light of this consideration, Cowen predicts that Rudy Giuliani will be the next president. There's a lot of evidence to suggest that Iraq is a stone around the neck of the Republican Party and will be a special burden to the Republican presidential nominee. The last polls I saw indicated that disapproval of Bush's Iraq policy stands at 67% while support for Democratic bring home the troops plans sometimes runs in the 70's. If the Republicans win in 2008, it will be despite their foreign policy not because of it.

Rudy's Long Shot. I have to admit that I have a hard time taking Rudy Giuliani seriously as a presidential candidate. Given that Giuliani has surged at least 15 points ahead of John McCain without really doing much of anything, that's obviously mistaken. Tyler Cowen predicts that Giuliani will become president. However, Giuliani's shot at the presidency depends on domestic policy and his reputation as a mayor who adapted a policy of aggressive policing of black communities, defended New York city cops when they pumped 41 bullets into the entirely innocent Amadou Dialo, and showed nothing but contempt for black civic and political leaders when they protested against these kinds of things. The implicit promise of a Giuliani presidency for right-wing columnists (here's Rich Tucker at is that Rudy will be just as aggressive towards Arabs, illegal immigrants, and other non-white populations as he was toward African-Americans in New York. In other words, Rudy's hope to win the presidency is that he is the man who can successfully apply the racial archetypes of white people to the America's conduct of the war on terror.

The RSI prognosis: To the contrary, I believe that the Bush administration's failure in Iraq has served to lessen the power of the Dirty Harry racial ideal of the hyper-aggressive white cop imposing order on a criminalized black population. The loosening grip of that kind of racial archetype on the white population and the mainstream media is one of the reasons why a black guy like Barack Obama can be seriously considered as a presidential candidate. Consequently, I don't think that Giuliani will be able to ride traditional white racial symbols into the White House even if he is able to sneak away with the Republican nomination.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Faith-Based Government

The mainstream media scoffs at the President of Gambia for saying that his ancestors had revealed an aids cure to him in a dream. Unsurprisingly, the media doesn't believe the Gambian health minister when he claims that the president has developed "herbal concoctions that are able to treat and cure patients with HIV-virus, which have been proven within all medical and laboratory parameters."

Nevertheless, I'd feel a lot more comfortable about Western superiority if my own President had not "become convinced that he is stronger than Churchill because [he] "has God" and Churchill didn't. "

Not that I want Bush to start listening to his ancestors either.

Are We Ready?

Chris Rock responding to a question about whether America is ready for an African-American president: "It's ready for a retarded president, why would it be ready for an African-American president?"

I've never thought that Bush was any less intelligent than Gore or Kerry, but there is something to the idea that Bush's presidency has helped prepare the country for an African-American or female presidency. Because Bush has worked so hard to project a sense of regular "white guyness," the failure of his administration has opened the door for Obama and Hillary to be taken seriously. The fact that Bush has also delegitimized appeals to "regular guy" white masculinity hampers white male candidates like Mitt Romney. It also tarnishes the ability of John McCain and Rudy Giuliani to bank on their reputations as "heroes."

By making it more difficult to appeal to symbols of white masculinity, Bush has levelled the playing field for female candidates like Hillary and African-Americans like Obamal.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

The Loser's Ball

Knight Lost! Right-wingers everywhere must be mourning today's defeat of Bobby Knight Texas Tech University by the blue-staters at Boston College. Bobby Knight is a perfect right-winger, in other words a bullying, arrogant prick and supreme hypocrite even if he is a great coach. By the way, I went to a Knight camp at West Point as a high school sophomore in Upstate New York. Like everybody else in Upstate, I was a Knight-worshipper when I arrived at West Point for two weeks of camping. But it was easy to see what a jerk he was even then.

Duke Lost! As a North Carolina alum, I've sworn a blood oath against the Duke Blue Devils and I am now hard into a bottle of scotch to celebrate their loss to Virginia Commonwealth. Not really! I'm allergic to most booze. But I can't stand Duke. It's bad enough that Coach K is a Knight protege, but he looks like Adolf Hitler with that little curl in his mouth. And then there's those super-smug Duke students who any decent person would want to see in jail even if the lacrosse team wasn't a bunch of rapists. To top it all off, my ex-wife is also a Duke history professor. So, I'm double-happy when they lose.

The Bush-Rove-Gonzales Axis of Failure--The two most Bush-identified of all the Bushies in government are Karl Rove and Alberto Gonzales and they are getting absolutely hammered in the fired prosecutor scandal. It's hard to say where speculation is going to go next--maybe talk of a perjury indictment for Gonzales' false testimony about the fired prosecutors to Congress or an obstruction of justice count for Rove's interfering with Carol Lam's investigation of Republican corruption. But it's going to get ugly. As Salon demonstrates, Rove has been up to his eyeballs in using government prosecutors for phony investigations of Democratic office-holders ever since his days as a punk political consultant in Texas.

But I'd still hate to see the dough-faced Rove resign. In the final analysis, Karl Rove is going to be the man most responsible for the Democratic Landslide of 2008. I'm hoping that he gets to watch the outcome of his handiwork from the Oval Office with President Bush.

So much for legacy!

The Indoor Golf Capital of the World

Yeah, golf baby! My university, Morehead State University in Morehead, KY, is raising $1.6 mill to purchase Eagle Trace Golf course in Sharkey, KY which is centrally located in the middle of nowhere. This is the case even though the university already owns one golf course and even though Eagle Trace is a big money-loser.

My university president explained the golf course purchase by saying that Eagle Trace would be a tourist attraction as the only 18 hole golf course in this part of the state.

Sure, golf would be a tourist attraction for the one month out of the year that it's not constantly raining.

Maybe the University should think about building a network of indoor put-put courses instead and make Morehead the "Indoor Golf Capital of the World."

Well, I have to get my umbrella so I can go out in the rain to take my daughter to see Steve Henry, as uninspiring a gubernatorial candidate as you can imagine, a guy whose main claim to fame is that he married a former Miss America.

Update: Steve Henry didn't show and his place was taken by a University of Louisville undergraduate who almost knew what he was talking about.

Hillary and the Coming Pooper Scooper Era

Last night, Hillary Clinton came out with a fairly nuanced position on Iraq, arguing that she would keep some troops in the country to guard against al-Qaeda, protect the Kurds, and prevent invasions from neighboring countries.

Matthew Iglesias expressed a rather respectful position of general disagreement.

I'm going to have to think about it though. Maybe I'll do some of that thinking here

The overriding reality for the next president if he or she is a Democrat is that they're going to have to devote most of their energies to cleaning up the Bush mess. The day Bush leaves office, the pooper scooper era is going to begin.

In that sense, Hillary Clinton is to be commended for outlining a coherent position on Iraq even though that position is hard to swallow for anti-war types like myself. Her idea is that American troops would serve as a kind of ballast to prevent the Iraq situation from getting horribly worse while the Shiites and the Sunnis negotiate or fight their way out of their problems.

It's not a bad idea especially because Hillary acknowledges (unlike neo-con delusionals) that the U. S. is not going to be able to dictate a winner in Iraq's sectarian conflicts.

But I agree more with the Pelosi/Murtha position that the American troop presence in Iraq should be limited to training Iraqis while the bulk of American forces would be withdrawn to Kuwait and other Middle Eastern spots and put into a wait and see mode concerning any possible al-Qaeda take-over in Anbar. Having American forces close by would deter Turkish or Saudi invasion while it might turn out that a large-scale withdrawal of American troops actually would diminish support for al-Qaeda in Anbar.

The Pelosi/Murtha position is hardly risk free, but I believe that minimizing the American mission in Iraq is the better way to go.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Speaking Truth on O'Reilly

Dennis Miller on a Bill O'Reilly segment plugging his new radio show: "I don't exactly know what's going on." Maybe he needs a better slogan.

Turning the Tables on Neo-Conservatism

In today's post for Salon, liberal blogger Glenn Greenwald savaged a dinner recently held by neo-conservative luminaries for President George Bush. Greenwald highlights a long list of ridiculous and/or failed neo-con ideas like George Bush's special closeness to God, the ultimate success of the war, and the extreme necessity of confronting Iran that made neo-con luminaries like Norman Podhoretz and Irving Kristol look like complete idiots. George Bush looked like an even bigger idiot for taking "lessons" from the neo-cons in precisely these bankrupt ideas.

This is what the world is like for the neo-conservatives and the Bush administration in general. What Rush Limbaugh used to be to the Clintons, the liberal blogosphere is now to the neo-cons. The neo-cons can't sit down for a little self-congratulatory ritual without having liberal bloggers like Greenwald pummel them for their arrogance, hypocrisy, and lazy thinking. The lazy thinking of the neo-cons especially caught the eye of Jacob Weisburg as he trashed the annual dinner of the American Enterprise Institute for Slate.

The same thing goes with neo-con opinion journalism. A few weeks ago, a neo-con think tanker named Frank Gaffney proposed the seemingly clever idea of hanging anti-war Democratic Congressmen like Carl Levin only to find himself hammered by Greenwald and Alan Colmes (of all people) on Fox.

I don't want to say that the impact of Greenwald or any other liberal blogger has Limbaugh's kind of audience. The last figures I saw had Limbaugh's audience at 13 million. However, the liberal blogosphere has succeeded in turning neo-conservatives into professional punching bags.

Speaking of Sobriety

The Bush administration should get off the sauce. There's an Associated Press report from Baghdad that the Bush administration is pushing for "a national front to take over for the political bloc now supporting [Prime Minister] al-Maliki."

Dreams die hard with people who are drunk on their own fantasies and it looks like the Bush administration is pushing yet again for a secular government in Iraq. The Bush administration's idea is that a secular government would be more broadly representative, less closely connected to Iran, and a better model of democracy for other Arab countries than a Shiite government.

All of that sounds good in theory, but there is hardly any support for secular government in Iraq. Perhaps the Bush administration hasn't noticed that Iraq has become a much more religious place since the invasion in 2003 and Ayad Allawi's secular party got Joe Lieberman numbers in the last Iraqi election.

If the Bush administration replaced al-Maliki with a secular alliance, they would be plucking "a thousand dangers" on their heads to paraphrase Shakespeare's Richard II. Most importantly, they would be exchanging a one front war against the Sunni insurgents for a two front war against Sunni insurgents and the Shiite political parties and their militias. Bush and his people want a war against the Shiite militias, but they forget that the militias have the support of the Shiite population. So, going to war against the Shiite militias would be the same as waging war against the whole Shiite population.

The Bush administration is also under the delusion that an Allawi secular government would be a strong government. How could that be? An Allawi government would be a loose coalition of mutually suspicious secularists, Sunni moderates, and Kurds that wouldn't have popular support among eithe the 60% of Shiites or the 15% of Sunnis. If the Bush administration thinks that the al-Maliki government is weak and indecisive, wait until they see how weak and indecisive a secular government would be. Given the mutual incompatibility of the Sunnis, Kurds, and secular groups, any secular government would be even more paralyzed than the current regime.
Another problem is that a secular government would be seen in Iraq as even more of an American puppet than the current regime. Such a perception would further weaken any secular government. Especially because it would be true.

As has always been the case with Iraq, the Bush administration seems determined to take a bad situation and make it even worse.

Perhaps Bush should follow Pope Benedict's advice and govern with more sobriety.

Toward a Sober Pope

Pope Benedict XVI issued a statement yesterday that, among other things, called for greater "sobriety" during Catholic Mass. When I mentioned this over the breakfast table, quick-witted and Catholic Mrs. RSI asked if that meant the Church wouldn't be using wine for mass anymore.
Myself, I think the Catholic Church would be more sober if they gave up the idea that wine and bread could be transfigured into the blood and body of Jesus.

Few things are less sober than cannibalism!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

The Doughfaces vs the Square-Jaws

Today, Alberto Gonzales assistant D. Kyle Sampson resigned over his role in the prosecutor purge. It was a case of the assistant taking the fall for the boss all the way. Sampson wrote an e-mail on criteria for evaluating federal prosecutors that linked the purge to the White House. So he had to go.

But, if you look at the pictures of Sampson at TPM Muckraker and CNN, you realize that he's a doughy-faced dead ringer for Karl Rove in the same vein as the even more doughy-faced Rush Limbaugh, Jerry Falwell, and some of the right-wingers on my campus. A lot of preachers and priests also have that same chubby little boy in old man's bodies kind of look. They all look like evil assistants to the arch-villain in James Bond movies. You can almost see them clearing out brush in George Bush's toy ranch to prove how tough they are.

This is where I wish that I could figure out how to put pictures into this blog. That's because David Iglesias (picture here) and most of the other fired federal prosecutors look like ram-rod straight district attorneys--no-nonsense, no irony, true, blue, all-American, hero types. The Pat Tillmans of the legal profession. Even Carol Lam looks like a macho hero compared to Limbaugh, Rove, or D. Kyle Sampson.

Expanding on an earlier post, the Bush administration has been characterized by an endless battle between doughfaces like Karl Rove and D. Kyle Sampson who waste their lives trying to prove how tough they are and principled square-jaw good guys like David Iglesias and Carol Lam.

As the Bush administration falls apart, it's obvious that the square-jaws are winning.

Polishing His Pandering Skills

When Sen. David Vitter of Louisiana endorsed Rudy Giuliani for President, he emphasized that "it's very clear to me that he's not running for president to advance any liberal social agenda."

I think that's safe to say.

But I wonder if Vitter asked Giuliani what he would do about New Orleans? Or Iraq?

Of course, Rudy might be running for president to advance his pandering skills more than anything else.

Bush vs Republicans in the Bureaucracy

This isn't my usual posting, but I'm in a paper grading frenzy right now. Here's Arianna Huffington on the prosecutor purge.

Not that we should be surprised by any of this. It's just one more vile example of how Bush treats every part of the executive branch: instead of protecting the environment, the E.P.A. is used to weaken it; the V.A. screws veterans; the State Department campaigns against diplomacy; the F.D.A. undermines food safety. And now the injustice at Justice. The Bushies have a long history of playing fast and loose with the law -- evading it, stretching it, getting around it, weakening it, ignoring it, nullifying it.

In most of these cases, the most determined opposition to the Bush agenda has come from Republicans in the federal bureaucracy.

Monday, March 12, 2007

You Know Things Are Bad When

Fred Thompson is talking about running for president. Today, the actor and former senator from Tennessee who hasn't been in politics since 2003 came out of the closet as a potential candidate for the Republican presidential nomination.

That's like George Foreman coming out of his million-year retirement to box again.

Talk about signs that prominent Republicans don't believe that John McCain, Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney, and Newt Gingrich could win a general election. This is interesting because McCain and Giuliani are running at least even with Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama in the polls. The Tennessee Republicans promoting the Fred Thompson boomlet, Howard Baker for instance, must think that the good poll numbers are an illusion.

And they're probably right.

The Fred Thompson speculation also raises the interesting possibility of all the national contenders losing steam and local Republicans making some noise as favorite sons of their states, regions, or micro-constituencies. You could have Fred Thompson from Tennessee, Tommy Thompson from Wisconsin, and Jeb Bush from Florida. You could also have Chuck Hagel representing both Republican anti-war voters, and Douglas Feith campaigning on behalf of incompetents everywhere.

Now that's a meltdown I'd want to see.

Having Your Cake And Pretending to Eat It

Robert Kagan is the neo-con think tank warrior whose stunningly mediocre Of Paradise and Power helped enflame American contempt for the European orientation toward international law, negotiations, and patience during the run-up to the Iraq War. As a senior associate with the Carnegie Endowment for Peace, Kagan got to enjoy living in Brussels far away from both the United States and the war in Iraq while pretending to eat the Europeans with his words.

Yesterday, Kagan came out with an editorial in the Washington Post defending the surge policy that was orchestrated by his brother Frederick Kagan, another battle-scarred conservative word warrior at the American Enterprise Institute.

Here's Matthew Yglesias' hilarious post on how the Kagans spread the family love around.

While The Weekly Standard has to make do with using Frederick Kagan's wife to write articles proclaiming the Kagan surge plan a success, The Washington Post believes in integrity and trots out brother Robert Kagan to do it instead. Maybe someday we can get [the deceased] Donald Kagan's take on all this. If only the whole world were made up of members of the Kagan family, then maybe George W. Bush would be a really popular president. At any rate, you're not supposed to mention Robert Kagan in polite professional punditry circles without observing that he's much smarter and a much more honest writer than your average neocon. This pearl of wisdom even has the virtue of being true. Sadly, as Glenn Greenwald exhaustively demonstrates, this really isn't saying very much. For a neocon, he has a great analytic track record on Iraq, which means his track record is horrible rather than, say, horrifyingly horrible. That he gets to slander his employers at the Post in the first graf of his terrible column merely demonstrates how nice it must be to be a conservative . . . well-worked refs are the best refs to have.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Square-Jawed Warriors Against Bushism

When the history of the decline and fall of Bushism is written, the most important opponents of the Bush agenda aren't going to be the Congressional Democrats, the mainstream media, or the left-wing blogosphere.

Instead, it's going to be square-jawed, rock-ribbed Republicans in the federal government, men and women who fell afoul of the Bush administration because of their belief in the Constitution, laws, rules, fairness, and fidelity to the best interests of the country. Spread throughout the State Department, uniformed military, CIA, FBI, and other federal agencies, the square-jawed warriors were disgusted with the relentless efforts of the Bush administration to circumvent the Constitution, distort data, ignore sound analysis, and obstruct established procedures. As a result, they began to resist the people at the top. Disaffected Republican bureaucrats objected to distorted findings, leaked unjustified intelligence claims to media outlets like McClatchy, ignored hints that they needed to be more partisan, and started testifying about Bush abuses to Congress.

Braver than the Democratic leadership and mainstream media and more mature than the left-wing blogosphere, the square-jawed Republicans of the federal bureaucracy have been the most effective force in slowly grinding the Bush administration to a halt. They deserve a lot of credit. When the time came, Republican bureaucrats risked their careers and their reputations to stop the Bush administration's effort to turn the federal government into a constituent part of the Republican Party apparatus. They acted because they put a higher value on the values of democratic government than the Republican Party agenda and partisan advantage.

Hopefully, they'll receive all the credit they deserve.

Senate Democrats For Truth, Justice, and the American Way

Democrats like Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware and Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York must be highly committed to good government or at least to getting as close to good government as we can while George Bush is president. Otherwise, they wouldn't be calling for the resignation of Alberto Gonzales as Attorney General.

Both Biden and Schumer know that Gonzales will be an extremely easy target for the negative ads of Democratic presidential, Senate, and House candidates if he stays in office. The torture memos, the firing of federal prosecutors, and FBI abuses of the National Security Letters--Gonzales is a living icon of Bush administration incompetence and corruption. When Democratic consultants got tired of bashing the Iraq War, they could run ads on Gonzales instead.

The ads would practically write themselves.

However, instead of seeking that kind of big partisan advantage, Senate Democrats are calling for Gonzales to resign.

That's kind of patriotism just brings a tear to my eye.

The Road To Rove

According to Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo, this morning's McClatchey story on the involvement of Karl Rove in the firing of federal prosecutor David Iglesias in New Mexico means that

"[w]e're now well past the point where anyone can pretend that Iglesias wasn't fired because he refused to use his office to advance the interests of the New Mexico Republican party by indicting Democrats."

Now the questioning shifts to San Diego where federal prosecutor Carol Lam was extending her corruption investigation from sad-sack Duke Cunningham to House Appropriations Committee powerhouse Rep. Jerry Lewis and into the CIA.

Did Karl Rove have Carol Lam fired to prevent further investigations into GOP corruption?

If so, that sounds a lot like obstruction of justice.

Brought to You By the Rain

A Surprising Lack of B. S. Last week at my sister-in-law's 56th birthday party, we started singing commercials for beer companies that have gone out of business. "Mabel, Black Label--Carling Black Label Beer." And "Schaefer /is the/ one beer to have when you're having more than one" and "Schlitz is a dry beer, a mellow beer, a hearty beer/blended into one beer/ a bright, light, fun beer/ Sc-c-chlitz/ Real Gusto in a Great Light Beer/ Schlitz.

We also got together a vigorous game of "Bullcrap."

Surprisingly, I didn't win.

This Beauty Sponsored By. Not having television anymore, I generally don't think much about commercials. But I was reminded yesterday when I saw a blooming pussy willow in my back yard early in the morning. My immediate reaction was to think about what a beautiful day it was going to be. But then before it clouded over and started raining.

Today, it's sunny again and the grass is beginning to spring back up. But perhaps there should be a sign that says:

"today's beauty brought to you by yesterday's rain."