Wednesday, May 30, 2007

You Hate Evolution Because Your Dad Wouldn't Take You to the Circus

Resistance to Science Has Early Childhood Roots

By Dan Vergano, USA Today
May 20, 2007

“Stem cells, global warming, evolution, vaccination — why do some scientific ideas push political and societal hot buttons? Proving that scientists can study practically anything, a pair of psychologists considered "resistance to science" as a subject in its own right. And they found deep roots, childhood ones, to some of the contention that increasingly crowds public discourse on science issues...

…In the last three decades, studies of children show that they quickly pick up an intuitive understanding of how the world works, say the researchers. For example, babies know that objects fall and are real and solid (even though physics experiments show they are mostly made of atoms containing empty space.) "These intuitions give children a head start when it comes to understanding and learning about objects and people. However, they also sometimes clash with scientific discoveries about the nature of the world, making certain scientific facts difficult to learn," the review says…”

I didn’t have to do any scientific research at all to recognize that this theory hits the nail right on the head. The people who reject scientific findings when they clash with their beliefs--tend to do so for personal and not rational reasons. And those personal reasons are often rooted in childhood.

When I was a doorman at a hotel in New York, there was an old retired guy on a pension, a little old man who was unalterably opposed to abortion. He knew every anti-choice argument that the Church put forth—he’d committed them all to memory and argued all of them passionately, telling me every time the subject came up (and he brought it up often) that a fetus was a human being and that its life must be protected. After listening to this for a couple of weeks, I began to wonder why this old man was so concerned, so passionate about the rights of a fetus. Then I realized that—of course this guy thinks that the life of a fetus must be protected at all costs. He himself looked a like a fetus! He looked like a five foot tall fetus, wearing a shabby old overcoat, with a scarf around his neck, and horn rimmed glasses. So with him, the issues was personal.

My theory was confirmed when one day he brought me some snapshots that had been taken of him as a child. The old black-and-white photos told the story: he had looked like a fetus when he was a kid, too! So of course he grows up thinking that the life of a fetus must be protected; he’s identified and been identified with fetuses his whole life. That’s how deeply rooted and personal his belief was.

How about all the people who reject scientific evidence of the immense age of the universe? A significant number of Americans, millions, still believe in that the universe is quite young, only six to ten thousand years old. (Some of them have even opened up a new “museum” that purports to show prehistoric human beings interacting with dinosaurs. Yes, they have.)

A scientist I heard on evangelical radio was passionately arguing the theory of a “young universe.” A caller pointed out to him that the astronomical evidence indicates that the universe is very old. For example, some of the starlight that is just reaching the earth now has traveled so far and so long that the star that emitted that light may already be burnt out. The creationist scientist rejected this argument, saying that God may have created the light to “look old” to us, and that some scientists were taken in by God’s “trick”, but he was not.

A likely explanation for that person’s dismissal of the scientific explanation is that he was abused as a child in such a way as to make him reject astronomical evidence. For example, his father may have been teaching him how to play dodgeball, pelting the little fellow with the ball over and over again as he made his clumsy, childlike attempts to evade it. And that plastic inflatable ball may have been decorated with stars; a not uncommon motif in the decoration of such toys. The grown creationist has repressed the painful memory of this childhood trauma, which now expresses itself in his categorical denial of the significance of astral evidence.

Another example (oh, come on, one more—I’m on a roll.) Many ardent creationists reject the notion that we are cousins of the apes. There is no principled scientific reason for disagreeing with this supposition—so the reason for their outright rejection of the theory must be rooted in some childhood experience. Perhaps when these people were children, they were embarrassed or abused by their cousins, the children of their uncles and aunts. Their cousins may have conducted themselves “like apes”—beating up the little creationist-to-be and taking his food, mating out in the woods, grinning and masturbating, shitting everywhere and anywhere any time the mood took them.

And so the little child grows up subconsciously rejecting the notion that he is in any way related to these “animals.” And this became the personal basis for his creation theory of his own "divine" origins—which he then seeks to rationalize with numerous pseudo-scientific arguments. He has long forgotten his sub-human cousins, ignoring their Christmas cards and appeals for help with their trailer payments—but subconscious scars remain and drive his anti-scientific bias. If this explanation seems unlikely to you, remember that many of these opponents of evolution grew up in rural areas.


Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Stillwater: The Gazette Editorial Page--My God...

A while back, I asked Kris Janisch, editor of the Stillwater Gazette, if I could get my regular column back in that fine organ.

He said no; but he was very diplomatic and professional about it. Which wasn’t surprising, really—Kris was a fine reporter before he was promoted to editor. The best part of the Gazette under his leadership is still its front page, its local news reporting.

But he declined my services, explaining that the main reason that they wouldn’t take me on again as a columnist was that (after being fired) I published “a private document.” This, I must assume, refers to an angry smear directed to the Gazette by local political activist Margot Rheinberger. In it, she demanded that I be fired, and so I was. My transgression was apparently that I printed a copy of that email in this blog after I was “terminated.”

So I understand the Gazette’s position: you don’t want to engage a columnist who might publish an “internal document” in his blog (yes, even if he prints it after you've fired him.)

I’m telling you this in the interest of full disclosure, because I’m about to criticize the Gazette—for the first time on this blog in about a year. The criticism is rooted in this question: who is doing their columns on local politics, these days?

No one, apparently, except the local politicians. Mark Hugunin still writes regularly, and his stuff is often interesting—but Hugunin is a some-time candidate for office, so his columns on local controversies are somewhat “careful”; whatever he writes can be thrown up to him the next time he seeks office. The editorial page stuff on Congress and the State House is regularly written by: the people serving in the Congress and the State House. George Thole is back occasionally, and he sometimes drops conservative views into his popular sports column—but he’s a local politician, too. Janet O’Connell, who was not a politician or candidate for office, used to bring a strong liberal perspective on local politics to the Gazette. But she is gone.

I’m not alleging that the Gazette won’t print strong liberal or conservative views; they will—especially if they’re coming from syndicated columnists who have no interest in or knowledge of the St. Croix valley. What I am alleging is that the stuff we’re reading on “the opinion page” these days has regularly descended to material like this:

“To kick off Memorial Day Weekend, here are 31 ways in which you and your friends can enjoy the St. Croix Valley:

1. Pay tribute to those who have served by visiting the Stillwater Veteran’s Memorial.
2. Go to Nelson’s Ice Cream Stand on Greeley and a single scoop of Caramel Cluster-Fun Ice Cream.
3. Take someone to Nelson’s for the first time and watch their amazement at the size of the cone.
4. Take a boat ride up the scenic St. Croix River. Then—it’s off to Nelson’s for a tremendous scoop of Strawberry Swirlie on a chocolate covered waffle cone.
5. Grab a Meister burger, order it with grilled onions and a side of fries, at Meister’s bar and grill. And for dessert—why, right up the street, make a turn, and you’re back at Nelson’s for their incredible mega-sized nuts sundae.
6. Head to Savories for their shrimp po’boy sandwich. Mm-mmm! That’s good.
7. Back to Nelson’s for more you know what.
8. Ask Hilda to be your server at the Gasthaus restaurant. Pickles galore!
9. Catch a concert at the local Lumberjack Days—only five minutes drive from Nelson’s, the home of the super-size serving cone!
10. People watch at Pappy’s bar; get shit-faced and talk about puffing local businesses on “The Opinion Page.” Then vomit ice cream off the pier.
11. Back to Nelson’s for more! Bubble Gum Ripple, that’s nummy. Then go to Joseph’s restaurant for a slice of Joseph’s famous incredible macadamia jelly pie. Then, brunch at the Lake Elmo Inn! Why not? And why not stop at Nelson’s one more time on the way home to pick up a take out gallon of their Hot Buttered Almond Joy Up Your Fudge-Packed Rocky Road ice cream --”

Et cetera, et cetera. And then he ends the list with this, my favorite:

“31. Support as many of the local stores, restaurants and merchants as possible.”

The columnist includes that suggestion, in case you didn’t get the message behind the first thirty.

Jesus Christ, Kris. Jesus Christ, Mark Berriman, publisher. Jesus Christ, Sun Newspapers. This is the Gazette’s Opinion Page, now? You guys are happy with that? This is the editorial page of the oldest daily paper in Minnesota? There's a war on, you know.


Saturday, May 26, 2007

I Wrote This After Interacting With Naderizers On The Daily Kos Blog

Bill: Today I am ceding my space here. In the interest of fairness and equal time, today’s entry will be written by Sinead Naderizer, who supports Naderizing the Democrats (i.e. not voting them back into power next election because they “sold us out” on the Iraq war issue.)

And so now it’s over to you, Sinead:

Naderizer: Thank you, Bill, you spineless hack lackey messenger boy for the sell-out corporatist Democratic party of secretly-planning-to-keep-the-conservatives-in-power. And thank you for this opportunity to address other like-minded individuals here in this, your personal Kos forum, you spineless ignorant deluded whore.

Bill: You’re welcome.

Naderizer: (to crowd) People—we all know that the Democratic Party has always claimed that it has been about one thing and one thing only—ending the war in Iraq, right now. In May of this year--they betrayed us on this, the only issue that exists in the universe.

I have become convinced that Senator Reid and Speaker Pelosi are triangulating with Republican conservatives, intentionally splitting their own party so that real anti-war liberals and progressives will be weakened. Yes, I am actually making such an argument in public.

It’s all a big conspiracy to disaffect and drive out people who truly want to end the war, so that conservatives can keep on prosecuting the war. And the only way to respond to this scheme is to do exactly what I am accusing them of wanting us to do—to leave off supporting the Democratic Party and thus return the political initiative to the conservatives who engineered this war in the first place and want to start even more and bigger wars.

(Cheers from crowd.)

Naderizer: Here is our plan. Some of us will stay home and sit on our hands at election time, a gesture of civil disobedience. The rest of us will form third parties to split the Dem vote. These parties will be organized around principles, like the new “Curse the Democrats Party” and the “We Failed to Learn the Lessons of the Chicago ’68 Convention Party.” And we’re going to wear earrings and ponytails, so that people will know that we’re rebels, like in the early nineties. I mean, the boys will wear earrings and ponytails. The girls can shave their heads. That will teach the Democrats. To see their daughters come home with shaved heads into their middle class living rooms one night! HA HA HA! We don’t care. We’re the rebels of the political process. We, and only we, see the truth—--things as they really are. We see right through the hypocrisy, cowardice and continue-the-war-forever plan of the Democrats. By the way: did you know that lots of Democrats really do take money from corporations?

(Shocked gasp from the crowd.)

Naderizer: IT’S TRUE! I didn’t want to spring that bombshell on ya, but I just found out myself. Thus, no Democrat is worth voting for. They’re real dicks, man. And so are you, if you vote for them or point out that they don’t have the political strength to both end the war this year *and* keep conservative Republicans out of power after the 2008 elections. If you point that out, you *will* be called a dick.

So I am proposing that we bolt, now, and form a party to nominate candidates that will tell us exactly what we want to hear. No, they will not win office anywhere except maybe Berkeley—but they can delude enough people to ensure that GOP candidates will be elected to replace spineless Democrats. And then we are all sure to be happier, with GOP conservatives back in power, and the Dems punished for being so spineless. HAW HAW!

Crowd: HAW HAW! That will teach them not to ignore us. That is the purpose of politics, to get revenge on people who ignore our wishes. So we will marginalize ourselves.

Naderizer: And not only that, we will alienate the center--which is mythical@! And don’t worry about us ending up trying to occupy Iran, or a draft being imposed, or the next nomination to a vacant Supreme Court seat leading to a significant modification of Roe v. Wade—that shit could never happen! That’s just sell-out corporate liberals trying to SCARE us.

Crowd: Yeah! That stuff could never happen! The mood of the country is anti-war and always will be, even if there’s another terrorist attack on American soil. That will never happen, and if it does, it will not change the political calculus.

Naderizer: That’s right. Ignore the power of the evangelical right and the fact that the Republicans can raise $400 million to re-elect that right wing Republican moron without even breaking a sweat. Forget about the three million votes that put Bush back in the White House; those people are all on our side, now—you can count on it. And always bear in mind: there is no difference between conservative Republicans and liberal Democrats. On any issues. This last vote in Congress proves that the Nader voters who told us that were right. They were right in 2000, when they passed up a chance to put Al Gore in the White House and we ended up with--- well anyway, thank you. And stay pissed off—it makes all the difference, because the GOP is often willing to send money to pissed off splitters.

Thank you, and God bless America, and goddamn the Democrats.

(Thunderous applause.)

Bill: Thank you, Sinead.

Sinead: Blow me. It’s people like you that are the problem, Bill. And you’re mean-spirited, too.


Wednesday, May 23, 2007

But There's Good News For Bush, Too--Oh Wait, There's Not...

by William Prendergast

On May 19, the Associated Press catalogued yet another rotten week for the Bush administration.

The administration caved on supporting Wolfowitz and he was dragged away from his desk at the World Bank in the wake of a corruption charge. The humiliating search for a volunteer “war czar” ended when they settled for a three star general after all the four stars declined to play the fall guy. Democrats roasted Bush’s choice of a lobbyist for manufacturers at the helm of the Consumer Product Safety Commision, the agency in charge of recalls (“I nominate this fox to guard the hen-house.”) Iraq war fan Tony Blair goes overboard; his successor Gordon Brown has already announced that there are going to be some big changes around here, re: Iraq, I can jolly well tell you that!

And the “Gonzales should resign thing”—that was supposed to be over, but the revelations about Gonzo’s midnight trip to Ashcroft’s sickbed to convince him to ignore the Constitution revived that. And now Republican stalwart Arlen Spector is calling for Gonzo’s head, pushing for an historic “no confidence vote.” (Even my Senator, the deplorable Norm Coleman, R-MN, is calling for Gonzales to step down—and Coleman was Bush’s campaign chair in Minnesota!)

What a week! Not the worst one ever for Bush--but fuckin’ bad! Still, the AP writer opined, there was good news for the sinking Bush admin—there was the immigration issue! Look what the reporter wrote in the same article of May 19, 2007:

Bush Ends Week On High Note

…But the past week did bring one very good piece of news: Talks on an immigration overhaul produced a deal between the Bush administration and a bipartisan group of senators. The agreement fed hopes the president might achieve a long-sought goal and see his second term produce a significant domestic accomplishment. (Boy, that would be something…)
An elated White House threw everything it had at Thursday's immigration breakthrough. (And who could blame them? “I met a girl who sang the blues/and I asked her for some happy news…”)
It rushed out a Bush statement that celebrated the complicated compromise as containing everything the president most wanted. (“Everything the President always wanted, did you here that? Get the press down here!”) "A much-needed solution to the problem of illegal immigration," he called it. In case Bush's glee was not clear on paper, he came to the South Lawn 90 minutes later to make a statement before television cameras. (“Glee! Some much needed glee, at last! Is everyone recording this? Have they got us celebrating this bi-partisan triumph? My fellow Americans, as you know I have long sought this bipartisan triumph which proves once and for all that I am uniter, not a divider, and I can now confidentally state, as the world watches, that—“)

ERrrrRRK!—The needle skips over the surface of the triumphal music phonograph record, scratching up the melody! For no sooner has the President announced his triumph on this issue, than the whole immigration reform bill breaks down into shit, as does everything this President touches!

He thought it was a done deal, like the Dubai ports thing, and it blew up in his face like a fecal IED! Dems damn the bill (“It creates second-class citizens in the United States, it separates families, you jackass!”), the GOP conservatives and xenophobes howl it down (“You want to legalize twelve million people with swarthy skins who are going to vote Democratic, you jackass?”)

“Doh!” says the President, and runs back inside the White House, holding his hat in front of his face. Even Rush Limbaugh’s bitch, Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, is yelling at him. “Finished by Memorial Day? Memorial Day, Schmemorial Day! Dream on, Mr. Polling-Thirty-Two-Per-Cent-ident! The GOP is not going down on you on the immigration issue just so you can feel better about last week--Bush Boy!”

Here’s the FOX blurb:,2933,274435,00.html

A tough week, indeed!


Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Oxymoron: DFL Leadership

By Christopher Truscott

Anyone who thinks elections matter and public opinion is relevant should take a long look at the Minnesota Legislature.

On the biggest issue of this session, a small tax hike on the super rich, DFL leadership folded. They had Tim Pawlenty on the ropes and then chickened out and let the governor off the hook.

So desperate were they to launch their “Blame Pawlenty” tour, DFLers failed to fight the battle that needed fighting. If you’re not going to stand by it, a strong plan for property tax relief and education funding really doesn’t mean anything.

This governor has made it abundantly clear that he’ll stand with the wealthiest at the expense of everyone else. DFLers should’ve bludgeoned him with it rather than caving after the first round of vetoes. It was a stunningly gutless display from a newly empowered majority.

The party’s big names will crow about ending the session on time, but they failed. They failed to lead, deliver and, even worse, they failed to launch a convincing fight.

Christopher Truscott can be reached at He’s taking a summer vacation from politics.

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Sunday, May 20, 2007

Remember how liberalism was pronounced dead in 1994?

A trip down memory lane, to 1994: the words of another would-be prophet:

Liberal socialist welfare state died in Tuesday's election
Richard "Doc" Rioux • November 13, 1994

The Liberal Socialist Welfare State is dead! All over this country, the people have spoken. A political earthquake of January 17 proportions shook the land. Big Government Liberals sustained serious damage, and there isn't a retrofit program around that will restore the Liberal agenda.

The message handed the Democrats in almost every state was that there must be no more Haiti adventures, no more waste in government. It was an angry message, a loud, resounding message, a fiercely determined message...

The people have had enough, and they want a change in direction. They want smaller government, less government intrusion in their lives, more politicians who place the common good before partisan politics and re-election, protection of the family, and an end to gridlock.

The election of November 8, 1994 will go down in history as a major turning point, a watershed in American politics, a moment in time when the people went to the polls with a common voice to demand change in the way their government works. And Republicans were the beneficiaries.

...Democrat Tom Foley lost his seat in Washington State and will be replaced as Speaker of the House of Representatives by feisty Republican Newt Gingrich of Georgia. Even Texas' popular Democrat Governor Ann Richards was upset by Republican George W. Bush, son of the former president...

...Is Bill Clinton in trouble? Yes, he is. You had better believe it. In 1992, candidate Bill Clinton talked about being a New Democrat and moving his party from the left. He pushed for more social engineering programs and made getting abortions and fetal research easier to do. He raised taxes, proposed big government answers to health care reform, and appointed people like Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders to office who advanced condoms in elementary schools and the legalization of drugs. Mr. Clinton floundered in foreign affairs, then took us into Haiti without congressional approval or support from the American people...

Last Tuesday's election should be regarded as a clarion call to Liberals who still dominate the courts, the mass media, U.S. schools and universities, and film and television programming. The left-wing "political correctness" and social permissiveness they've foisted on us for forty (years) are no longer tenable. The average American believes in God, in the institution of marriage, wants family values promoted, and wants performance standards raised in schools and in the workplace.

For the better part of forty years, Democrats controlled Congress. The challenge to the now dominant Republicans for the next two years will be to deliver on their promises to the American people. If Republicans do, they can retain power. If they don't, Ross Perot is waiting on the balcony to form and finance a third party.

And the Red Sox will never win the World Series.

Okay, so this guy got one wrong—who can blame him? So did millions of other conservatives. All the organs of conservatism—the National Review, Human Events, the American Spectator, and of course, Rush Limbaugh and the hundreds of Limbaugh knockoffs all over America—crowed loud and long over the death of liberalism. “The generations of liberal rule have ended, once and for all--the generations to come, the future will be conservative!”

But the conservative revolution wasn’t a sea change in American politics; it was a political hiccup that was quickly dispelled after the disastrous and corrupt performance of the conservatives in power. Gingrich, Dole, D’Amato, DeLay all went to their political graves—Perot? A-hahahaha-ha, Perot… The despised Clintons, who’ve had their epitaphs written more times than any other American politicians, have survived them all.

And so has the liberal state. Twelve years after this article appeared, the leading candidates for president produced by the GOP are all liberal Republicans much to the dismay of the shrunken conservative faithful. (Marginalized by their own party, rank-and-file conservatives bear bumper stickers with the legend: “No Rudy McRomney!”) Seventeen months before the election, the GOP hasn’t produced even one viable, credentialed conservative capable of competing against a liberal Republican, much less a Democrat. And their twelve year reich—is gone.

But it was not the Democrats or the liberals who destroyed it. Never make the mistake of over-estimating the public mandate for liberalism. No—it took Republican conservatives in the White House to destroy conservative dominance of American politics.

(Footnote: Who was the author? Nobody famous. According to his web page, Richard "Doc" Rioux wrote a weekly column for The Signal (Santa Clarita Valley, California) from 1993 to 1997. A leader in his community of Stevenson Ranch (Los Angeles County), Founder of Old Town Newhall, USA, Executive Director of two of the nation's largest alcohol and drug treatment facitlities at Acton and Warm Springs, and an acclaimed author and photographer, Dr. Rioux died on April 28, 1997 at the age of 53.)


Saturday, May 19, 2007

Immigration Reform Needs Big-Picture Approach

By Christopher Truscott
The immigration proposal forged by a bipartisan group of senators seems just fine and marks a decent starting point in dealing with this contentious and important issue.

But if we only focus on reforming bureaucratic processes and increasing border enforcement we’re doing little more than treating the symptoms of a much larger problem.

If we truly want to reform our immigration system we have to play a leading role in breaking the cycle of unspeakable poverty in which millions from the Rio Grande to Cape Horn struggle to endure each day.

Absent that, no amount of border security, guest worker programs or pathways to citizenship will significantly stem the flow of northward migration – illegal or otherwise.

Thomas Jefferson once said, “Widespread poverty and concentrated wealth cannot long endure side by side in a democracy.”

Certainly if he were with us today he’d say the people of the Americas cannot meet their full potential so long as just one-third prospers and two-thirds languish.

Christopher Truscott can be reached at He thinks in the long-run places like Bolivia, Venezuela and Paraguay will be more important than Iraq.

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Thursday, May 17, 2007

Scandal: Wolfowitz in the Bunker!

by William Prendergast

Oh, boy, it's getting surreal again. Now Wolfowitz won't go even if they throw him out:

Wolfowitz Hangs On As Ouster Hits Wall
Day-Long Standoff Ends Unresolved; Talks to Resume

By Peter S. Goodman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, May 17, 2007; Page A01

The Bush administration spent much of yesterday trying to broker a graceful end to the ethics controversy consuming the World Bank, offering the resignation of embattled president Paul D. Wolfowitz, senior administration and bank officials said. But Wolfowitz said he would not leave, insisting on a measure of vindication.

On a day full of rumors, counter-rumors and closed-door meetings, the Wolfowitz saga turned into an only-in-Washington standoff...

Wolfowitz: Put that down! You leave that chair right where it is, or I’ll call security—

Mover: We *are* security, Mr. Wolfowitz. We gotta get your stuff outta this office today—

Wolfowitz: It’s not “this” office, it’s MY office! The office of the head of the World Bank (shakes his fountain pen at mover impressively), one of the most powerful men in the world, I can have people KILLED, how DARE you, you impertinent, low-rent—

Mover: (takes pen out of Wolfowitz’s hand, put it in drawer of desk he’s carrying out) Sorry, but we gotta work order, show him the work order, Abu.

(Abu hands Wolfowitz a work order.)

Wolfowitz:(reading aloud incredulously) “Get his shit out of that office, pronto, before the little dummy puts an even bigger media spotlight on us and our scams. Pronto, allez-vites, comprendo? P.S. I get his leather sofa and matching end tables—signed, the Board of the Directors.”

(Wolfowitz looks up in outrage, steam shoots out his ears. He tears up the work order and jumps up and down on it.)

Wolfowitz: Treacherous sons of bitches! There wouldn’t even be a world, if it wasn’t for me! (presses button on intercom) Miss Johnson! Get the Board of Directors in here, I’m calling an emergency meeting! Miss Johnson? Miss Johnson? What’s wrong with this thing it’s not working—

Mover: We already took out the intercom, Mr. Wolfowitz, that’s a cigar box you’re talking to. Here, put on your glasses, you’ll see. (Hands Wolfowitz his reading glasses, lets him take a peek at cigar box, then takes the reading glasses back, puts them in his pocket.) Can’t let you keep the glasses, either, Mr. Wolfowitz, they’re not on the World Bank health care plan. Hey, take this cigar box too, Abu. But wait a minute—you ever see this guy on the Sullivan show, when you were a kid? (makes the cigar box “talk” in very low Mexican accented voice) “S’okay?” “S’okay.”

(Abu laughs, Wolfowitz dashes cigar box to the floor.)

Wolfowitz: Fucking shenanigans! You joke even as they cut off my communications? All I wanted out of life was imperial power over four out of seven continents, the power to make or break third world governments and some head from a grateful woman, once in a while. Is that so much to ask? And they send you buffoons here to throw me out with your fucking Senor Huences imitations? Have all my dreams of empire and sexual satifaction come to this?

Mover: (snaps his fingers, looks at Abu) THAT was the guy’s name, Senor Huences—

Wolfowitz: GET OUT! Get out, the pair of you! I refuse to leave. (throws open the window to his office) Listen, world! This is your president, Paul Wolfowitz!

Cries from the street below: Jump! Jump!

Wolfowitz: I see you down there, you sons-of-bitches on the Board! You can’t fire me!

From below: Yes we can!

Wolfowitz: No, you can’t! I’m the ruler of the world! I have a right to use my high office to give out jobs and bonuses in return for pussy every once in a while! It’s in the charter!

From below: Come on out of there, Wolfowitz! The jig's up! Show a little class, for Christ's sake. The World Sheriff’s on his way over to evict you!

Wolfowitz: (shouting) I am here to tell you that I’m not going anywhere until I am cleared of this awful charge that I am guilty of! I’ll fight this all the way to the Supreme Court! I’ve got about thirty five Supreme Courts on payroll all around the world, Africa, South America, you name it! I hope you guys have had your shots, I hope you like quinine and malaria, because I’m going to fight this to the end. I’m not giving up until I’m vindicated for using my high office to reward a woman for fucking me!

(Takes out a bullhorn and starts singing the song from “Dream Girls” out the office window.)

And I am telling you
I’m not going
I’m the best man you'll ever know
There's no way I can ever go
No, no, there's no way
No, no, no, no way I'm leaving without dough
I’m not living without dough
I don’t wanna leave free
Im staying
Im staying
And you, and you
You're gonna love me, oohh ooh mm mm
You're gonna love me

(Moving man snatches away the bullhorn, carries it out.)


Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Compromise, Don’t Fold

Extra! Extra! Extra!

Bill Prendergast:

Of Falwell, Dobson and Gay Penguins -- The title says it all!

By Christopher Truscott

If the point of a legislative session is to merely end on time, let’s try something new. Rather than spending months proposing bills and debating Minnesota’s future, let’s just shut things down after the governor gives his State of the State address. Pass his agenda and go home. It’s that easy.

But if the point of a legislative session is to actually govern and produce results for Minnesotans, let’s try another tactic: Don’t fold.

Gov. Tim Pawlenty is vetoing the future of the state. No to property tax relief. No to transportation funds. No to money for schools. While his handling of Minnesota’s affairs certainly gives DFLers plenty of political ammunition for 2008, governing means more than simply preparing for the next round of elections.

First: override the gas tax veto. Nobody wants to pay a nickel-a-gallon more at the pump, especially with gas prices where they are today, but we need the money to fund long-neglected transportation needs. We can’t run from the issue. It’s only going to get worse if lawmakers fail to act – and if Republicans who support transportation refuse to stand up to their party’s leader.

Do what’s right and get Minnesota moving again – literally and figuratively.

During the disastrous 2003 session the governor and the Republican-controlled House ran the table. The DFL-led Senate was outgunned and it caved, giving the GOP the votes needed to put Minnesota where it is today.

After two election cycles, the winds at the Capitol have changed. The DFL has the majority and it’s the governor’s turn to give something, which brings us to Step 2:

Rework the proposed income tax hike on families making more than $400,000 a year. The governor’s veto doesn’t mean give up, do a press conference and start dreaming up ideas for direct mail pieces. Nor does it mean suddenly decide to start enforcing tax laws, which should be done regardless of the budget situation.

It’s time to scale back the income tax proposal. The DFL can show it’s willing to compromise, not just play the same political games that don’t produce results and rightly foster widespread public apathy toward politicians.

Taxes were higher during the economic boom of the 1990s than they are today. The notion that taxing the richest among us will kill jobs is absurd and opinion polls show most Minnesotans understand that.

Since the governor is apparently so concerned about the burden being placed on Joe Mauer, the tax plan can be scaled back a bit. Then Pawlenty can either concede we need a new revenue stream to do what needs doing or admit he isn’t helping families making $50,000, $60,000 or $70,000 a year, but instead standing blindly with those making at least eight times more than a typical middle-class household.

The Legislature has stood strong for five months and can’t fold now, tomorrow, next week or next month. It’s time to compromise in order to deliver long-overdue results. Ceding the field entirely to the governor has failed Minnesota time and time again.

Christopher Truscott can be reached at Since special sessions have become so common there really isn’t anything special about them. They need a new name.

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Of Falwell, Dobson and Gay Penguins

by William Prendergast

Jerry Falwell has been taken from us. The death of a clergyman is especially sad, and the loss is more grievous when the departed man of God had been rewarded in this life with so much political and economic success. The spiritual and financial assets of Falwell’s extensive ministry/empire will no doubt be diminished, now that he has gone.

I believe in God. But I am not a Christian believer. I do not share the late reverend’s belief in the Trinity, the divinity of Christ, the inerrancy of the Scripture, etc. But I respected the right of the reverend and his millions of fans to believe otherwise. And both believers and unbelievers will take comfort in the knowledge that if Falwell’s beliefs about the afterlife were correct, we can all be sure of where he is right now. His theology of mixing the sacred name of God with Mammon, political power, and partisanship has earned him this reward.

And Falwell has cast a long political shadow. Now, three decades after Rev. Falwell somehow managed to reconcile Christianity with the Republican conservative agenda and partisan political activism, his evangelical media successors are commonly admitted to and even welcomed in the GOP corridors of power. Witnesseth:

Bush met with Dobson and conservative Christian leaders to rally support for Iran policy

By Max Blumenthal

Published: Monday May 14, 2007

President George W. Bush met privately with Focus on the Family Founder and Chairman James Dobson and approximately a dozen Christian right leaders last week to rally support for his policies on Iraq, Iran and the so-called "war on terror."

“I was invited to go to Washington DC to meet with President Bush in the White House along with 12 or 13 other leaders of the pro-family movement," Dobson disclosed on his radio program Monday. “And the topic of the discussion that day was Iraq, Iran and international terrorism."

Should we find this disturbing? Why are unelected evangelical political activists being briefed by the President of the United States on matters affecting vital foreign policy and national security issues; matters of war and peace? Will Roman Catholic bishops, Buddhist monks, rabbis, etc. get similar briefings? By denomination?

Why is the President of the United States inviting the counsel of Dr. Dobson? Dobson does not claim to be an expert in foreign affairs. Indeed, his public statements would lead many citizens to question his native powers of judgment. Witnesseth, from December 2006:

James Dobson interviews syndicated conservative radio host Michael Medved about the penguin cartoon movie, "Happy Feet":

DOBSON: There is a movie that's out now, called Happy Feet. It's about penguins. It's obviously designed to pull children in and yet, you don't like it. I've read some of the things you've said about it. I haven't seen it and don't plan to see it but from what I've heard, I don't like it either…

…MEDVED: And then there's this whole subtext, as there so often is, about homosexuality. Not that the penguins are gay -- they're not gay -- but the one penguin hero doesn't fit in and the religious authorities -- the so-called religious right in the penguin world -- are very judgmental. They say, "You are not a penguin. You're not a real penguin." And then he makes this heartfelt plea, he says, "Dad, you have to accept me as I am. I can't change." And --
DOBSON: Are they getting at the idea that homosexuality is genetic? Is that what the subtle implication is?

The PENGUIN RELIGIOUS RIGHT? He thinks this CARTOON penguin’s queer because he wants to dance? And THIS is the man who is receiving a confidential briefing by the President of the United States himself--on whether we will “stay the course” in Iraq—or make war on Iran?

RIP, Reverend Falwell, RIP. This is your legacy to America...


Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Vetoing the Future

By Christopher Truscott

With just days to go before the legislative session is scheduled to end, the ball is in Tim Pawlenty’s court.

The DFL-majority in the Legislature has sent to the governor bills that would provide for property tax relief, education funding and investment in our state’s dilapidated transportation system.

The income tax increase on the wealthiest half-percent of Minnesotans to fund education and property tax relief is popular according to recent polls. The nickel-a-gallon gas tax hike is less desirable, but responsible governance means making tough choices.

Pawlenty, of course, rejected tax relief, education funding and money for highways. “No New Taxes” pledge or not, he’s still clinging to the reckless philosophy that got us into this mess. He was wrong in his first term and he’s still way off track.

Sloganeering is not a substitute for policy. Sound bytes are not a substitute for action. Governing by veto is not a substitute for leadership. Generating real results requires more than aiming to win each daily news cycle.

What is Pawlenty’s vision?

The DFL has been clear since the Legislature convened in January. The governor has been elusive.

The DFL is offering what we need. The governor is promising something for nothing.

The DFL is making tough choices. The governor is engaged, once again, in choosing the most politically expedient course without regard to the long-term consequences.

We deserve much better. When Pawlenty took office he touted Minnesota as an “awesome” state and he was right. But that didn’t happen by accident. Legislators and governors from both political parties made the tough decisions required to move Minnesota forward.

Pawlenty is taking a different course and is content to leave the problems of today to the leaders of tomorrow. This marks a sad new era in Minnesota politics – a depressing and dangerous departure from the proud legacy of past leaders.

Essentially the governor is vetoing the future for the sake of winning a political fight. Minnesota is too good for that and we deserve much more.

Christopher Truscott can be reached at He wonders whether Marty Seifert is gearing up for a 2010 gubernatorial campaign.

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Monday, May 14, 2007

Teachers simulate Columbine scenario with sixth graders

By William Prendergast

You who prize your feelings and self-righteous outrage above all:

Please refrain from judging these teachers until you have read both sides of the story.

Teachers stage fake gun attack on kids Sun May 13, 5:28 PM ET

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - Staff members of an elementary school staged a fictitious gun attack on students during a class trip, telling them it was not a drill as the children cried and hid under tables.

The mock attack Thursday night was intended as a learning experience and lasted five minutes during the weeklong trip to a state park, said Scales Elementary School Assistant Principal Don Bartch, who led the trip.

"We got together and discussed what we would have done in a real situation," he said.

But parents of the sixth-grade students were outraged.

"The children were in that room in the dark, begging for their lives, because they thought there was someone with a gun after them," said Brandy Cole, whose son went on the trip.

During the last night of the trip, staff members convinced the 69 students that there was a gunman on the loose. They were told to lie on the floor or hide underneath tables and stay quiet. A teacher, disguised in a hooded sweat shirt, even pulled on locked door.

After the lights went out, about 20 kids started to cry, 11-year-old Shay Naylor said.

"I was like, 'Oh My God,' " she said. "At first I thought I was going to die. We flipped out."

Principal Catherine Stephens declined to say whether the staff members involved would face disciplinary action, but said the situation "involved poor judgment."

I’m sorry, but I can’t see how. This is a situation that these children are very likely to have to deal with, if they grow up in a culture that makes handguns available to any nut with a grudge.

True, ten years old is a little young. The numerous student shooting incidents that have won our nation fame usually involve older students.

But you’re never too young to learn something about safety—whether it’s a fire drill (or back in my day, “what your school should do in case of nuclear attack”)—or, in our day, “what to do if an armed maniac attacks your sixth grade class in the middle of the woods at night.” Children must learn that they must be prepared for these eventualities, however unpleasant.

Traumatic? Perhaps. But childhood is filled with many traumas—the destruction of the World Trade Center on TV, the first inexplicable appearance of pubic hair, etc. The traumatic aspect of the exercise must be weighed against its positive benefits.

And, displaying typical mainstream media bias, the news coverage fails to mention the latter. What about the fact that these sixty-nine sixth graders (normally unruly and undisciplined) were very, very well-behaved for the remainder of their weeklong trip to the state park? Why is that left out of the new report? If you have ever been an adult charged with supervising a large group of elementary school children, you are sure to see the value of such an exercise.

Indeed, this practical application of crisis psychology is similar to and in fact key to the present White House administration’s tenure of office and its continuing ability to control 35% of the electorate.

I realize my point of view is unpopular and unlikely to receive a warm reception in this forum. But the hell with you, anyway.


Under Cheney’s Terms: Mission Accomplished

By Christopher Truscott
If Vice President Dick Cheney’s interview with Fox News is any indication as to the administration’s goals, Mission Accomplished.

“We didn’t get elected to be popular,” Cheney said. “We didn’t get elected to worry just about the fate of the Republican Party.”

How refreshing! But one shouldn’t forget that he and President George W. Bush were elected for a reason and do have non-political responsibilities they have shirked time and time again.

They were elected to worry about the fate of our country. They were elected to make us better off than we were when they took office. They were elected to strengthen America’s standing in the world. They were elected to lead in a time of crisis – even if it defies traditional ideological restraints.

By these standards the administration fails miserably. From the economy to losing Osama bin Laden to Hurricane Katrina and to Iraq, they have allowed their own rigid agenda to get in the way of the best interests of the country.

It’s great that Cheney can admit – much to Karl Rove’s chagrin – that he and the president weren’t elected to be popular and advance their political party. But after more than six years, it’s time they do what they were actually elected to do. America has waited for too long.

Christopher Truscott can be reached at He wishes Cheney would throw his hat in the ring for the Republican presidential nomination. It would be fun.

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Saturday, May 12, 2007

Soon to become Minnesota’s longest running play: “Enter Coughing”

by William Prendergast

Today’s inspiration comes to us from the boys over at Minnesota Public Radio. Their excellent Polinaut blog featured this rather cynical observation about our state’s proposed smoking ban:

Extras needed!

Posted at 11:42 PM on May 11, 2007 by Tom Scheck
The Minnesota House is taking up the smoking ban bill at 11:20 on a Friday night. The bill bans smoking in bars and restaurants throughout the state. There are a few exemptions. They include a a disabled veterans rest camp, farm buildings, heavy commercial vehicles and theaters where an actor can light up.

That leads to this question: What happens if a bar owner puts a stage in his place and has a regular play going on throughout the night? Afterall, all the world is a stage. A true cultural legacy bill. Audience participation encouraged.

(Scene: An empty stage in a popular bar in downtown Minneapolis. Set: Simple furniture, two chairs, a table, and a respirator. Time: the present.)

(“Bar Patron” enters. Bar is an idealistic young smoker out for a night on the town. He strolls casually out on to the stage, a cold Leinie’s in his hand.)

Bar: Ah, what a night! What a night, for life, for love, and for—(takes a pack of cigarettes from out of his pocket and holds it up, waggles his eyebrows)—theater!

(He sets his beer on the table, reaches into his pocket for a Bic lighter and lights up a smoke.)


Bar: Mmmm…that tastes good. So soothing, so mellow… so round, so firm, so fully packed. But what’s this?

(Another Bar Patron enters, stage right. She is also round and firm and fully packed.)

Another: Hey, there.

Bar: Hey, yourself. (to audience) Never have I seen such a bewitching goddess. Could it be that she, too—

(Sees that she is lighting up a cigarette.)

Bar: Oh, joy! Oh, rapture! (to Another) You too are a smoker?

Another: And why not? Is not all of life a stage, and all of us merely players?

Bar: Will you be mine and bear my addiction-prone child?

Another: (lowering her eyes) Well…

(Just as she is about to say “yes,” an anti-smoking Nazi appears. Armband, jackboots, ticket book.)

Anti-Smoking Nazi: Stop! I command you both in the name of the Land of Ten Thousand Lakes! Extinguish those cancerous baubles, or (waves ticket book) or feel the wrath of the state!

Another: Oh!

Bar: Fear not! He has no power here, my treasure. For this is land of magic and illusion, where (cough) the law’s writ (coughs) does not run! We are all but characters (gasps) in a drama, and must play our (coughs) parts. (takes a hit from the respirator.)

Anti-Smoking Nazi: (to audience) Can this be true? That the mighty solons of the legislature have left at least this much freedom abroad in the land—the freedom to play at smoking on the stage?

Another: True indeed, and the truth will set you free! Light up, minion of oppression. (extends her lighter to him) This is the flame of freedom, which burns for all!

(Anti-Smoking Nazi takes out a cigarette, takes the light, inhales.)

Anti-Smoking Nazi: (looks about him, astounded) Then it is true! Here we are free!

Bar: We shall always be free--at least, here in our little world of make-believe. (to audience) So now—join us on stage, you who would inhale the sweet smoke of freedom! Join us on stage, take part in our play, light up and improvise amongst yourselves, ‘til the curtain rings down on us all.

(The audience clambers on to the stage and smokes and ad-libs dialogue until closing time, when a play about after hours drinking and cheap one night stands commences out in the parking lot.)

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Friday, May 11, 2007

Couple of Good Headlines Today...

by William Prendergast

First, the vice president warns terrorists again before sitting down to negotiate with them. How much does it cost to send two U.S. carrier groups to the Gulf to convince Cheney's conservative talk radio fans that the fact that we're negotiating with Iran is not necessarily an admission of the Bush adminstration's weakness?

Cheney warns Iran, assures allies on Gulf visit

"I warn you Iran--you keep on doin' what you're doin' in Iraq and we're going to negotiate! I mean it!We're serious this time, you hear that? We're coming in there to cave on a couple of issues! And this is not our final offer!"

"And you--our allies! This is Dick Cheney of the United States government, officially assuring you that our administration will bring the same diplomatic skills, political know-how and record of success to protecting your governments and lives as we have brought to the other nations of the Middle East. That's my guarantee to you."

And here's the next headline:
Pope, in Brazil, Urges Youth to Shun Sex, Drugs

"I did, and so did this kid with the flag--and look at us now! Pretty cool, eh?"

Seriously, though, kids: the Pope's right, stay away from drugs. That stuff will make you crazy, you lose your mind and start wandering around all over the place wearing weird clothes and talking to God and thinking God's talking back. You don't want to end up like that.


Time for Congress to Follow City Hall

By Christopher Truscott

Eagan’s Mike Maguire recently joined 22 other Minnesota mayors in signing the U.S. Mayors’ Climate Protection Agreement, which calls on participants to work toward meeting or exceeding in their communities the standards outlined in the Kyoto Protocol.

Nationwide mayors in nearly 500 cities, with a combined population of 64 million, have accepted that in the 21st century we cannot afford to duck and cover and hope the grave threats posed by global climate change will magically disappear. These leaders understand that generating real solutions requires more action, less empty rhetoric and fewer hollow proposals.

The Minnesota mayors, like their counterparts across the country, serve citizens from all walks of life and recognize this is an issue that transcends the red-blue politics and urban-suburban-rural divisions that all too often mar important debates.

Unfortunately, however, this growing list of mayors willing to lead in their communities, country and world isn’t enough. They need the unconditional support of their federal government.

Isn’t it time members of Congress wake up and acknowledge what the people on Main Street have been saying for a while now?

Christopher Truscott can be reached at He opted to roll down his car windows rather than use the air conditioning yesterday. It sucked, but he’ll do it again.

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Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Hamas "Mickey Mouse" Ripoff Calls For Revolution!

Hamas 'Mickey Mouse' wants Islam takeover

By DIAA HADID, Associated Press Writer
59 minutes ago

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip - Hamas militants have enlisted the iconic Mickey Mouse to broadcast their message of Islamic dominion and armed resistance to their most impressionable audience — little kids.

A giant black-and-white rodent — named "Farfour," or "butterfly," but unmistakably a Mickey ripoff — does his high-pitched preaching against the U.S. and Israel on a children's show run each Friday on Al-Aqsa TV, a station run by Hamas. The militant group, sworn to Israel's destruction, shares power in the Palestinian government.

"You and I are laying the foundation for a world led by Islamists," Farfour squeaked on a recent episode of the show, which is titled, "Tomorrow's Pioneers."

"We will return the Islamic community to its former greatness, and liberate Jerusalem, God willing, liberate Iraq, God willing, and liberate all the countries of the Muslims invaded by the murderers."

Farfour, you copyright-violating little prick in a felt costume, I will chase your phony rat’s ass through the Gaza Strip in my F-16!

Every nation is plagued by an evil icon who sets out to control unformed minds. They’ve got a radical militant Mickey Mouse, we’ve got Rush Limbaugh.

I hope this evil scheme fails. Otherwise it’ll catch on in the United States and we'll see McCain on TV in a Barney costume singing "I think the surge is working!"

But Hamas ripping off the Disney corporation--this is the last straw. How would they like it if I went on TV in a giant felt Osama bin Laden suit saying, “If you see me on the street, turn me in, kids! You’ll win an Ipod!”

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Monday, May 07, 2007

GOP’s ‘Plan B’ Far Too Late

Extra! Extra! Extra!
Bill Prendergast is back in Minnesota after another unsuccessful search for Osama bin Laden. All isn't lost, however. He has the latest details on the war czar position.
By Christopher Truscott

The headline on the Washington Post Web site really jumps off the screen: “GOP Could Seek ‘Plan B’ on Iraq in September.”

If it was still 2003 or 2004 one could be thankful for the leadership, but today the Republican back-peddling is far too late. Wedded to a reckless policy of escalation, the president’s allies are trying to buy even more time before admitting they have been and remain absolutely wrong.

The time for “Plan B” in Iraq has long since passed. We’re now down to final options. It’s time for members of the Iraqi government to scrap their recess and take control of the country they were elected to lead.

The American military toppled Saddam Hussein and paved the way for democracy. It’s up to Iraqis to do the rest. Our soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines can win any fight but they can’t instill in the Iraqi leadership the capacity to actually lead. That has to come from within.

While Republicans bristle at the notion of “artificial deadlines” and “handcuffs on our generals,” as if civilian control of American foreign and defense policy isn’t enshrined in the Constitution, the rest of us know we’ve been down this path before.

We’re sifting through sand in the Middle East today for the same reasons we slugged through the jungles of Vietnam in the 1960s and 1970s: nobody could admit they were wrong and that old, dead-end policies needed to be tossed aside.

In 1965, as American involvement in Vietnam was on the rise, Arthur Schlesinger paraphrased comments made by President John F. Kennedy four years earlier:

“The war in Vietnam could be won only so long as it was their war. If it were ever converted into a white man’s war, we would lose as the French had lost a decade earlier.”

Though he ultimately played a role in moving us down the deadly path toward a full-scale shooting war in Southeast Asia, the thirty-fifth president’s first instincts were absolutely right. Americans couldn’t – and still can’t – effectively solve an internal conflict in a foreign land.

Just as Washington couldn’t will the South Vietnamese government to take effective measures to defend itself, today’s leaders can’t force Iraqis to end their own civil war.

No level of American troop surge, no amount of American cash and no number of American casualties can change the fact that only Iraqis can settle Iraq’s problems.

Christopher Truscott can be reached at It doesn’t bother him that GOP leadership doesn’t know basic American history, but at least they can try to read a newspaper from time to time.

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Sunday, May 06, 2007

Iraq: YOU Might Be The Next Iraq "War Czar"!

By William Prendergast

They’re still lookin', so why not go for it?:

White House Searches for War Czar
May 6, 12:21 PM EDT


WASHINGTON (AP) -- Now that the White House is searching for a "war czar," it begs the question of who has been coordinating U.S. involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan the past four years.

A team of West Wing players led by national security adviser Stephen Hadley has tried to keep turf-conscious agencies marching in the same direction on military, political and reconstruction fronts. A few Bush aides say privately, however, that the White House probably should have recruited someone to oversee the war effort a year ago.

I already did this one right after Rumsfeld got canned—it was a reality TV show called “America’s Next Top War Czar” or something, with a bunch of war czar wannabes living in an apartment together, participating in photo shoots, and surviving elimination challenges. (eg, one week they all had to placate a Shi’ite militia while walking down the runway with a bowl of fruit balanced on their heads.)

But that won’t work anymore because they waited too long and now no one wants to be Rumsfeld’s replacement. There are no more “war czar” wannabes, which indicates that the general consensus in the American military insider establishment is that the war really is unwinnable and in fact counter-productive. It produces more enemy combatants than it eliminates and weakens America politically, which results in weakening America militarily—and Pentagon insiders don’t like that, they don’t wanna play that. Look at this, from April 11th of this year:

3 Generals Spurn the Position of War Czar
Bush Seeks Overseer For Iraq, Afghanistan

By Peter Baker and Thomas E. Ricks
Washington Post Staff Writers
Wednesday, April 11, 2007; A01

The White House wants to appoint a high-powered czar to oversee the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan with authority to issue directions to the Pentagon, the State Department and other agencies, but it has had trouble finding anyone able and willing to take the job, according to people close to the situation.

At least three retired four-star generals approached by the White House in recent weeks have declined to be considered for the position, the sources said, underscoring the administration's difficulty in enlisting its top recruits to join the team after five years of warfare that have taxed the United States and its military.

"The very fundamental issue is, they don't know where the hell they're going," said retired Marine Gen. John J. "Jack" Sheehan, a former top NATO commander who was among those rejecting the job. Sheehan said he believes that Vice President Cheney and his hawkish allies remain more powerful within the administration than pragmatists looking for a way out of Iraq. "So rather than go over there, develop an ulcer and eventually leave, I said, 'No, thanks,' " he said.

They’re patriots, those guys--so they don’t want to help fuck up their country and get the kids killed just so the Bush admin and the GOP can avoid admission of failure. So they’re not lining up to volunteer their name and figurehead leadership skills for administration disaster.

To get a war czar, the President will have to ignore the traditional military channels (seniority, brilliance in the field, administrative achievement) and find a willing newcomer or outsider. He’s gone eight months now with no one officially in charge, if he doesn’t find someone soon, his remaining supporters are going to start blaming *him* for the way things are going over there. So:

Scene: An Army Recruiting Station in a strip mall in Stillwater, Minnesota. Signs outside read “Army” “Navy” “Air Force” “Marines”. A kid comes through the front door, simultaneously setting off a little bell that jingles, waking up a recruiter--a Sergeant Bilko type who’s snoozing away behind his desk.

Recruiter: Holy cow, kid, you scared the heck out of me. What do you want?
Kid: I want to join up, sir. I just turned eighteen and my older sister is already serving over there, and I believe in the war, and it’s kind of a family tradition with us to go into the service, so—
Recruiter: (leaps out of chair) Is this a put-on? Did the Navy guys send you over here, just to pull my leg again, kid?
Kid: (stares, then) No, I’m serious, I want to sign up—
Recruiter: (leaps over desk, gives the kid a big kiss) Don’t move! Stay right there! (calls into back room) Doberman! Doberman, get out here, on the double HAR! HAR! HAR! on the double!
(Private Doberman stumbles out of the back room with a half-finished sandwich from Subway in his hand and mouth.)
Doberman: What’s up, Sarge?
Recruiter: We gotta volunteer! (pinches kid’s cheek) Oh, you wonderful boy, you marverlous—stay right where you are—Don’t take your eyes off him Doberman, lock the door.
Kid: But I’m not leaving, Sergeant, I *want* to sign up—
Recruiter: (grabbing paperwork, stops suddenly) Y’hear that, Doberman? Did you hear that? (places fist over his heart) Right here, that’s where it gets you, right here—(to kid)
Look at him, look at those bright blue American eyes sparkling—What’s your name kid?
Kid: Why—Anders Anderson—
Recruiter: Anders Anderson—Y’hear that, Doberman? Does it get anymore Americana than that? What are you waiting for Doberman, what are ya, a statue or something, get him the suit, get him the suit HAR HAR HAR, on the double—
Doberman: (hustling into back room) Right, Sarge—
Kid: Gee, I didn’t know I get a uniform so fast, I—
Recruiter: Uniform? (laughs deprecatingly, pats kid’s cheeks in a friendly manner) Uniform, this kid’s so sweet—for the job we have for you, you don’t *wear* a uniform, you little genius, you! You wear a suit, a two thousand dollar Brooks Brothers navy blue suit, with a red tie, a power tie like the Vice President (raises a finger, wags it impressively, then yells back) DOBERMAN!
Doberman: (running back in with the suit) Got it, Sarge!
Recruiter: Ah, here it is, look at that fabric, it screams “Authority!” “Command!”—here get this on—(rips off kid’s cap) You don’t want to wear a baseball cap, that’s kid’s stuff, that “baseball cap backwards” stuff—hmm… we’ll have to thin the hair a little, maybe give you a bald spot, too—Doberman, run in the back, get the clippers--that “gravitas” thing, for the press conferences, “gravitas”—hold your head up, boy, hold your head high—look proud, commanding—
Kid: (tries, then looks at Sergeant) Are you sure I’m in the right place—
Recruiter: The right place? (pinches his cheek) Trust me, boy, you’re the square peg in a square hole, that’s what you are son—sign here, here and here—but keep that chin up! Up up up! Authority—get the jacket on him, Doberman, we’ve got to get a picture for his security clearance—(gets on walkie-talkie) Come in, Pentagon! This is “Northern Fox” calling “Halliburton Chromedome”! “Northern Fox” to “Chromedome,” do you read me? Top priority! We have a “pigeon” in the “coop”, do you read me? “The pigeon is in the coop.” Over.—
Kid: (as Doberman shaves a bald spot on the back of his head) I don’t understand what’s going on here, I just want to sign up and join the Army—
Recruiter: (chuckles) Join the Army, join the Army—isn’t that beautiful, Doberman? I tell ya it gets me right here (fist over heart, wipes tear from eye, sniffs then) Listen, kid—in twenty minutes, you’ll BE the Army. (back to work) Now come on, they’re sending an F-16 for you right now, it’ll be here any second, c’mon get the pants on him Doberman, the pants the pants the pants—(holds up camera, prepares to take kid’s photo) This is for the press release, so don’t smile! No smiling! Get out of the shot, Doberman, ya dummy—the pants, Doberman, hold up the pants--
(Flash goes off, temporarily blinding the kid)
Recruiter: Beautiful, just beautiful. A new face,--do you believe this face, Doberman, whatta face—
Doberman: He’s gotta nice face, Sarge.
Kid: But what, what—
Recruiter: (big grin, pats him on the cheek) Questions, questions, all the time questions, what are you, on “Jeopardy,” kid? But he’s a bright boy, he thinks! Inquisitive! They’ll like that in Washington—now just pee in this cup, son, that’s for the medical—
Doberman: But I haven’t got the pants all the way on him yet, Sarge—
Recruiter: What are you saying Doberman, you think he’s stupid? You think the kid can’t walk and chew gum at the same time? So we’ll let the pants out a little, it’ll give him some class, some gravitas, nice—a nice slimming effect, you know—here kid, pee in the cup, c’mon, the plane’s on it’s way, and keep your chin up, high, that’s it, c’mon now, pee in the cup, pee proudly, you’re the war czar now, on the double HAR HAR HAR!


Saturday, May 05, 2007

Bachmann Supports Investment in Quagmire

By Christopher TruscottMichele Bachmann took to the floor of the House of Representatives last Wednesday and boldly proclaimed that America “must not be invested in defeat.”

Lest anyone misinterpret her overly simplistic and unsurprisingly naïve view of the world, the congresswoman went to great length to drive her point home:

“Again, I repeat, we must not, as a nation, be invested in defeat. Unilateral surrender may be the Democrats’ plan, but it will not lead to a safer America.”

Thank you, Congresswoman Bachmann. For a minute there 70 percent of Americans were ready to surrender New York and Washington to the “radical jihadis” you promised to protect us from. Thank you so much for setting us straight.

Of course the congresswoman who doesn’t know the difference between a Shiite and a Sunni isn’t one to let facts get in the way of her poorly formulated positions on U.S. foreign policy.

America isn’t made safer by plunging more troops into Iraq’s bloody civil war.

It isn’t made safer by inspiring more terrorists while the Iraqi government we’re propping up goes on a two-month recess.

And it certainly isn’t made more secure by the type of short-sighted bluster that has kept us bogged down in a desert hell for more than four years.

America’s future is predicated on picking off key terrorist leaders, working diplomatically and economically with the forces of freedom in countries around the world and taking steps to eliminate the horrific poverty that serves as a breeding ground for the likes of Osama bin Laden.

For one so concerned about creating a “safer America,” it’s also galling that Bachmann cast a vote against implementing more of the important recommendations of the 9/11 Commission.

Democrats, and more than a few Republicans, are working – and they’re by no means done – on formulating a foreign policy that best serves America’s needs in an incredibly complicated and dangerous world. It’s hard work that requires serious leadership.

Bachmann, meanwhile, continues to chase the mirage that is President George W. Bush’s Iraq policy. She has no answers and has invested everything in quagmire. Fortunately the American people aren’t buying it anymore.

Christopher Truscott can be reached at With her position on the House Financial Services Committee, you’d think Bachmann would have much better investment advice for the American people.

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Friday, May 04, 2007

Goodbye and Good Luck, Mike Hatch

By Christopher Truscott

It’s probably better that Mike Hatch is leaving the Attorney General’s Office. I was thrilled Lori Swanson arranged to keep him on and saddened that the experiment seems to have failed. It’s time for the new attorney general to stand on her own and move forward.

Nevertheless, Hatch deserves better than the treatment he got over the past week. Few have done as much as him for those who can’t take on the powerful by themselves.

In an era in which special interest groups run amok on both sides of the political aisle, we should applaud Hatch’s dedication to regular Minnesotans whose voice would otherwise have been drowned out over the past decade. We need more people in public life who share the same unflinching commitment to those who put them in office.

As Hatch leaves government, it’s time to stop the obnoxious piling on and thank him for his service to us. He deserves at least that much.

Good luck, sir.

Christopher Truscott can be reached at As a reporter he admired Hatch as one of the few politicians willing to tell it like it is. There are way too many wimps in politics.


Thursday, May 03, 2007

Bill is Alright--How Is Everyone Here?

My God, what an experience. I did a satirical post attacking Paul Wolfowitz for corruption and lechery on the Daily Kos--in the opening line I referred to Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson as "that fat black woman" from "Dreamgirls"--just a passing reference, the post wasn't about Hudson or fat black women at all--

And my GOD! The reaction from liberals and leftists on the blog! I mean, a few people got it, a few even recommended it--but all day, until well into the night I had about a dozen people jumping up and down on me in their Birkenstoks! They were furious!

It was like the end of the Benny Hill show, with me as Benny and a bunch of angry fellow Bush-haters chasing me around the park in fast motion while the saxophone plays...Dyaaaa-yadadadackadacka-dackadackadackadack-dack-dackadacka-dak-dak...for seven or eight hours! I'm exhausted! I think I have a tumor. Feel that lump there, right behind by temple, does that feel benign to you?

Jesus H. Christ. Look, this was the very first post I received criticizing my word choice--

"fat black woman"?
Fuck you.


Peace Lover

And that's how it STARTED. Some people didn't even read the piece or the next sentence, even! All they saw was "fat black woman" and then they went for their guns! It was awful! I was terrified...

Peace Lover said she was gonna report me to the Daily Kos Kops. Then another guy wrote in and said that HE was gonna report HER, and that he already had! There was blood on the fucking floor! People were writing in to tell *me* I was not funny! ME, not funny? I told them I would strike them all dead for their impertinence, with one of my "funnybolts." "Foolish mortals! Fuck off back to your copies of the Nation!"

Actually I didn't. I cowered, and then I hid, and then I made the mistake of trying to explain what "satire" was--

"You condescending prick, WE know what satire is! Yours isn't funny! We're investigating your posts to see if your a TROLL, as soon as we get through turning each other in--What have you got against obese people?"

"Nothing! I'm obese! The point of the piece was--"

"OH-HOOOO! SELF-LOATHING obese sexist racist bastard, eh?"

No way out! No way out! Got to think, distract them--"I see your point, I think have some herbal tea out in the kitchen, let me go check--"



I wouldn't give them the apology they asked for, but I went out and removed the phrase "fat black woman" from the opening line (because I felt it was somehow detracting from the effectiveness of the piece.) The rest of the piece, by the way, was described by my tormentors as "sexist trash, ripped off from 70s issues of Hustler Magazine." One woman said she was going to report me for defending Wolfowitz!
It was fucking nuts!

Anyway, one good thing came out of the whole experience. I found a book of poetry that seems very good to me--"The Fat Black Woman's Poems" by Grace Nichols. It includes poems such as "The Fat Black Woman Remembers" and "The Fat Black Woman Goes Shopping." I read one of them while preparing my defense brief. It's very euphonic, nice to read out loud.

I was going to send all my critics a copy as a present to show there were no hard feelings on my side, but I decided that would be passive-agressive--beneath me.