Monday, November 19, 2007

I go on the Sunday morning politics talk shows

No one ever invites me to go on those Sunday morning political talk shows, probably because I sleep in. But here’s what I would say if I was a commentator on those shows.

First, here I am on ABC’s This Week, going head to head with Fred Thompson on the right-to-die thing:

ABC’s This Week: Senator Thompson, a legal and political battle unfolded over whether doctors should remove Terri Schiavo's feeding tube and let her die, as her husband wanted, or continue to sustain her, as her parents wanted. How would you resolve situations like that in the future?
Thompson: When family members cannot agree, the first recourse needs to be state government. I would side with the parents in, you know, keeping that child alive.
Bill: Why the hell should the parents have the final word? Schiavo was an adult, she’d expressed wishes about how she wanted to die. Where does the law say that your parents have the final word, and not your spouse or the courts? You’re contradicting yourself, you say the first recourse should be the state government but the parents should have the final say? What kind of bullshit is that, Fred, you’re talking out of your ass.
Thompson: How could you decide otherwise, if they told you that the child was going to continue to live?
Bill: What about her husband? What about his opinion? What about Terri Schiavo’s opinion, on how she wanted die—what she said before she entered a semi-vegetative state? What about the state court findings of fact on *her* expressed wishes? Do you chuck all that out the window as if it’s so much shit, just so you can court the evangelical right?
ABC’s This Week: Senator Thompson, what about the broader legal concerns surrounding end-of-life issues, do you have a legal position on that?
Thompson: I don’t have a legal position, other than it ought to be resolved in a state court system.
Bill: You play a lawyer on TV, you have a law degree, *pretend* you have a legal position. You’re supposed to be running for President, for Jesus’ sake, take a position. And the Schiavo case *was* resolved in the Florida state court system, you jackass. The evangelicals didn’t like the way the state court system resolved it, that’s how it became talk radio politics and finally ended up on the floor of the GOP Congress. Your comment is irrelevant, it shows you’re not even paying attention. Wake up, you geezer, don’t you even read the papers anymore? (to other commentators) Somebody wake this guy up.

Now here I am on Fox News Sunday, giving Mike Huckabee a much-needed dressing down...

Fox News Sunday: What about these ethical questions that have recently been raised about your tenure as Governor of Arkansas?
Huckabee: There's something Arkansas-esque about it. If you look at the politics of this state, the people who are not happy that I was governor -- remember, I was only the fourth Republican elected in 150 years.
Bill: (stares at him is disbelief, then says) That’s it? That’s your answer? Someone asks you a question about ethics violations while you were governor, and all you can come up with is “I was only the fourth Republican elected governor in 150 years?” “Arkansas political trivia,” that’s how you rebut ethics allegations? How are you gonna answer a question about your ties to the religious right, you gonna tell us what the official state fruit is? (to the other commentators, jerking his thumb) Can you believe this numbnut?
Fox New Sunday: Governor, what about your first Iowa television spot featuring your celebrity endorser, Chuck Norris?
Bill: Chuck Norris? An endorsement from Chuck Norris? What kind of fucking--
Huckabee: (interrupting)It probably doesn't convince anybody. The spots we'll run next week will start doing that. But what it does do is exactly what it's doing this morning: getting a lot of attention, driving people to our Web site, giving them an opportunity to find out, who is this guy that would come out with Chuck Norris in a commercial.
Bill: Chuck Norris will come out for a feminine hygiene spray in a commercial, if the money's right, what the hell does that prove? That's the most credible endorsement you could come up with, Chuck Norris? What, was "Batman" unavailable or something? What kind of idiot would be impressed by an endorsement from Chuck Norris? We're at war, for Christ's sake, tens of thousands of people are being killed every year, and you're trying lock up the "martial arts" vote in Iowa? What are you, some kind of right-wing cartoon character or something?
Fox News Sunday: Please, Bill--
Bill: I'm not kidding, this is supposed to be serious shit we're discussing here, and this guy brings out a Bruce Lee knock-off to endorse him--am I the only serious person up here?

Finally, calling out John Edwards on CNN:

CNN Late Edition: Senator Edwards, can Hillary Clinton win the presidency?
Bill: What kind of a stupid ass question is that? Don’t answer that, John.
Edwards: I think that remains to be seen. That's why we have campaigns. I mean, what I know is that I can. And I think the empirical evidence supports that.
Bill: See? I told you not to answer that, but you went ahead and answered it anyway. And now you just look fatuous. We all know you think you can win the presidency, that’s why you’re running. But that doesn’t answer the question they asked you, which is whether Hillary can win. So what we’ve got now is a non-answer to a stupid question, which is a waste of everyone’s time. Let’s go to commercial.
Edwards: When I talk about shaking up Washington and making this place actually work for the American people, it is an interesting thing to watch that the people who are inside Washington, including Senator Clinton and her campaign, they circle the wagons and start protecting Washington politicians.
Bill: And what are you? A non-Washington politician? You were a senator and a vice presidential candidate, for Christ’s sake, how is that “not a Washington politician?” What are you now, a “baker from Idaho” or a “plumber from New Jersey” now, all of the sudden? This is a stupid discussion, you’re just digging yourself in deeper, it’s depressing. Let’s go to commercial.

No, wait there's one more! Here's me with Edwards on Face the Nation:

CBS's Face the Nation: Senator Edwards, isn’t this mudslinging, this criticism of Hillary?
Edwards: I reject the notion that this is mudslinging. I mean, we're talking about substantive issues of war that are going to face the next president of the United States.
Bill: No, you’re not, you’re talking about “what’s wrong with Hillary.” How the hell is that a solution to the substantive issues of war? Less about Hillary, more about the war, come on. We’ve already got McCain running around laughing with approval when his supporters call her a bitch, we get quite enough of that shit from the other side.
What are all these "horserace" BS questions for this guy, why doesn't someone ask him to spell out his plan for withdrawal instead of what he thinks about Hillary? We're on television, this is supposed to be about the issues, even Fred took a Schiavo question. For Christ’s sake, I don’t know why I bother to show up here. Who watches this shit, hoping to learn something?

Here’s the questions and answers without me, if you want to read it without my input, as millions do.
A weekly roundup of the buzz from the Sunday talk shows
Monday, November 19, 2007; Page A02

Monday, November 05, 2007

Fred Thompson adviser and fundraiser dealt COKE!

Tough to capture the family values vote when you've been caught red-handed working as a pro-choice lobbyist--and, oh my GOD, one of your top men has been busted for DEALING!

Thompson Adviser Has Criminal Past
By Matthew Mosk
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, November 4, 2007; A01

Republican presidential candidate Fred D. Thompson has been crisscrossing the country since early this summer on a private jet lent to him by a businessman and close adviser who has a criminal record for drug dealing.

Thompson selected the businessman, Philip Martin, to raise seed money for his White House bid. Martin is one of four campaign co-chairmen and the head of a group called the "first day founders." Campaign aides jokingly began to refer to Martin, who has been friends with Thompson since the early 1990s, as the head of "Thompson's Airforce."

Martin entered a plea of guilty to the sale of 11 pounds of marijuana in 1979; the court withheld judgment pending completion of his probation. He was charged in 1983 with violating his probation and with multiple counts of felony bookmaking, cocaine trafficking and conspiracy. He pleaded no contest to the cocaine-trafficking and conspiracy charges, which stemmed from a plan to sell $30,000 worth of the drug, and was continued on probation...

...Karen Hanretty, Thompson's deputy communications director, said yesterday that "Senator Thompson was unaware of the information until this afternoon. Phil Martin has been a friend of the senator since the mid-1990s and remains so today." Thompson communications director Todd Harris added that Martin was not subjected to the campaign's standard vetting process because "he's a longtime friend."

"Okay, Freddy, just two more stops and we can turn this baby around for refueling."
"I been meaning to ask you about that, buddy. Why the heck do you have to go all the way to Peru to refuel the plane?"
"Cheap gas, Freddy-boy. Trust me, I don't lose any money on this deal. You leave the flight plan to me, all you got to worry about is remembering your stump speech." The pilot snorted, sniffing as if something was caught up his nose.
Thompson suspected the man had a cold, and he felt a little guilty about how much time and effort his longtime friend had put into this aerial campaign tour. "Hell, I don't want you to think I don't appreciate this, buddy. One of the boys on my campaign figured it out the other day, he reckons you've saved me more than $100,000 in transportation costs."
"Well, you're my homey, my main man--and I can't have my main man flyin' coach, now can we?"
Thompson chuckled appreciatively, loudly enough to be heard over the roar of the Cessna's twin engines. He twisted in the co-pilot's seat to look at the view. It was a beautiful day, not a cloud in the sky; far below the plane mountaintops drifted by majestically. Where were they now? Thompson had lost track; it didn't look like Iowa, that was for sure--
The pilot turned up the radio, shouting "Oh, man, this is my song!"
"Yeah, that's a catchy tune, alright, what is that?"
"Superfly!" his companion shouted back, and began singing along. "Oooo, ooo, Super-fly! You gonna make your fortune by-and-by...but if you lose, don't ask no questions why--" The pilot began to dance in his seat, shaking his head, and slapping the instrument panel in time to the funky beat.
"Hey, take it easy there, little buddy, you're liable to lose control of this thing--"
"Calm your ass, down, Freddy my man! The name of the tune is "Superfly," not "Freddy's Dead," HA HA! Now hang on, we're comin' in for a landing real sharp, we got another meet-and-greet for you down there--"
The plane nosed down steeply and the engine screamed as it went into a dive. Thompson prayed between clenched teeth and gripped the arms of his chair, white-knuckled, as the plane landed on an impossibly short dirt runway.

"Whew! I wish you'd take it a little slower on those landings, pardner. I ain't exactly no spring chicken no more, you know." Thompson wiped the sweat off his brow with the sleeve of his jacket as he stumbled out of the door of the plane. "Where the heck are we? What is this place, I don't see any state fair or anything, who am I supposed to shake hands with way up here in the mountains?"
"Don't you worry, Mr. Future President, they'll be here soon enough." The pilot was already busy pulling a suitcase out of the back of the cabin. Thompson watched uneasily as he struggled with another burden--
"What the hell is that for?"
"What, this? This is nothin' Don't worry about it. This is just to create an impression."
"What is it, some kind of big machine gun or--"
"Yeah, but don't sweat it, I said! The voters here, they're big into gun rights. They'll love it."
"Oh...okay, then. I guess it's okay if there's no media around--"
"There better not be," said the pilot and trained the gun on the hills. As if by magic, dozens of surly looking Latin types had appeared from nowhere, cautiously approaching the plane. Thompson realized his friend was right, the locals were "into" guns--some held pistols, others had AK-47s and Uzis. Better give this bunch the same spiel I give the NRA boys, he thought.
But his friend waved him back. The crowd stopped in their tracks when he began to address them in his halting, poor Spanish. One of them gestured angrily at Thompson with his machine pistol and asked a question--he sounded scared and furious.
"Goddammit, don't these people speak English?" said Thompson. He'd regularly turned down opportunities to talk to Hispanic voters; there was no percentage in it for a conservative Republican candidate--
"Take it easy, Freddy," said his friend. His bright, pin-prick eyes never left the Latinos. "They think you're the heat. Keep your hands out where they can see them." Without lowering the heavy machine gun he jerked his head, indicating Thompson, and yelled at the armed men: "No es verdad policia! Es Fred Thompson, del television's "Law and Order!" No es verdad policia! Es un protagonista, un actor! Es el proximo Presidente del Estados Unidos!"
"They don't seem to be buying it, whatever you're telling them--"
"Something's gone wrong here. These aren't the usual peeps, these guys are Columbians; fuckin' animals--"
"Columbians? You said we were going to a shopping mall in Southern California--"
"I said a lot of things!" hissed the pilot. "If you want to fly out of here without an extra hole in your ass, just go straight into your stump speech and act like nothing's wrong! I'll cover you, but I gotta close this deal while I'm doing it--" He kicked the suitcase toward the nearest armed man. "Tengo el dinero! Tienes el yay-yo?" he shouted. Then he hissed at Thompson:
"The speech, Freddy, the speech! And make it sound sincere--"
Thompson was sweating again, but he was afraid that wiping his brow would alarm his audience. So he drew himself up to his full height and began:
"My friends--amigos--(he ad libbed that)--I am here today to tell you that America is at a crossroads." He droned on at the uncomprehending faces before him, whose attentions seemed to be divided between watching for sudden moves by Thompson and keeping an eye on the pilot, who was dipping his pinkie into a flap in a brown paper parcel held out by the man with the machine pistol.
"I think it's sad that I am still the only one of the Republican candidates who has been talking about the debt crisis, and what it means for the American economy--"
Thompson thought he might be winning some of them over; the one with rocket launcher seemed to be nodding sympathetically when he mentioned a possible cut in the capital gains tax. Then again it might have been some trick of the sun--
A voice behind him roared, in English: "THE SHIT'S NO GOOD! IT'S A SETUP, WE'RE FUCKED!"
Thompson had never served in the military--but some deep, previously unsuspected instinct inside him impelled him to hit the dirt when the pilot's machine gun began to explode behind him. The Columbians scattered for cover as Thompson's longtime friend sprayed death all about them.
"SAY HELLO TO MY LITTLE FRIEND!" screamed Thompson's close adviser, as a burst from his weapon nearly cut a man in half. But the element of surprise had been lost--fire from automatics was now peppering the ground behind Thompson; he heard it strike the airplane behind him. He felt himself being dragged up by the collar, and then everything went black...

"Sorry about that, Freddy, old compadre." Thompson was recovering consciousness. They were in the plane, once again soaring above the mountains. "Little business deal of mine that went bad." The pilot was flying with one arm, bleeding profusely from the other, soiling the adjoining chair and Thompson's jacket. His longtime friend had managed to improvise a kind of tourniquet from a bunch of "Thompson 2008" bumper stickers, but Fred could see that he was fighting to stay conscious. "You might have to land this baby, Freddie old boy. Just listen to what they tell you over the radio--thing practically lands itself--" He stopped to cough up some blood, and then his voice drifted off into a sing-song--"the game he plays, he plays for keeps--hustlin' times on ghetto streets--" Here he broke into a falsetto "Tryin' to get over---tryin' to get oooo-ver"--he passed out suddenly, collapsing on the joystick.

As he tried to pull the plane out of its dive, Thompson thought that maybe he had been wrong to fight Jeri on this one--maybe background checks on all his friends--and a bus--was the way to go, after all--
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Saturday, November 03, 2007

U.S. Diplomats on Baghdad: "Hell no! We won't go!"

Well! Apparently morale at our embassy in Baghdad is not all it could be, these days.:

Envoys Resist Forced Iraq Duty
Top State Dept. Officials Face Angry Questions

By Karen DeYoung
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, November 1, 2007; A01

Uneasy U.S. diplomats yesterday challenged senior State Department officials in unusually blunt terms over a decision to order some of them to serve at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad or risk losing their jobs.

At a town hall meeting in the department's main auditorium attended by hundreds of Foreign Service officers, some of them criticized fundamental aspects of State's personnel policies in Iraq...

...Some participants asked how diplomacy could be practiced when the embassy itself, inside the fortified Green Zone, is under frequent fire and officials can travel outside only under heavy guard...

Service in Iraq is "a potential death sentence," said one man who identified himself as a 46-year Foreign Service veteran. "Any other embassy in the world would be closed by now," he said to sustained applause.

Harry K. Thomas Jr., the director general of the Foreign Service, who called the meeting, responded curtly. "Okay, thanks for your comment," he said, declaring the town hall meeting over...

The funny thing is that people were talking like this at a meeting of American *diplomats.* It would seem to me that if you're a professional diplomat, use of the phrase "potential death sentence" in connection with your own country's embassy would be--well, not too diplomatic. They're not displaying the usual "sang froid" over at Rice's State Department, these days.

But I think the Director General handled that well, don't you? When the meeting starts to turn ugly like that (“YOU’RE SENDING US ALL TO OUR DEATHS!”), the best thing for senior management to do is "gavel that fucker" and rattle off a quick “Wellthankyaverymuchforyourinput, and I now declare this town hall meeting over, and I understand there are some lovely refreshments waiting for us—“
Director General: There is, I believe, a marvelous antipasto platter from Dean & DeLucca—
Director General: --and of course, a lovely pastry selection, along with freshly made coffee and individual tiramisu cups, so I hope—
Director General: --so I hope some of you will stay after the meeting so we can get to know each other a little better—
Another voice: (sobs) I DON’T WANT TO DIE! I HAVE CHILDREN!
Director General: --and later on, I hope you’ll join us in some “team building” activities—
Director General: I understand that some of these activities are quite fun—for example, one is called “Star Light, Star Bright.” We all stand in a circle and cut out stars from construction paper, which we will now pass around—
Another voice: AAAAAAAHHH! (jumps through plate glass window)
Director General: --and we say the rhyme, "Star light, star bright, first star I see tonight; I wish I may, I wish I might, have the wish I wish tonight” and then each of you come forward one at a time to place your stars in the circle on the floor and make a wish for the team--
Director General: Put down that scissors. Put it down! I’m serious.


Thursday, November 01, 2007

Shouldn't they waterboard Mukasey to get him to answer?

I mean, either it’s a legitimate interrogation technique or it isn’t. And this guy is being interrogated, right? And he’s refusing to answer. And it’s a really important question to get an answer to right now, right?

So—why don’t they waterboard Judge Mukasey at the hearings? Live, in front of the Congress. Don’t get all bent out of shape; I can’t be the only one who’s thinking this.

I mean, Congress is the government; they’re sponsoring this stuff, too. And we need an answer, right away. Because—if it turns out he “does” think it’s torture, and he’s not saying so—well, you can’t let a US Attorney General lie to Congress so he can continue to help the administration sponsor torture, right? And if he “doesn’t” think it’s torture—no harm, no foul, right?

The point is: everyone agrees this is an effective way to get someone to talk. And he’s not talking. If there’s some question about whether this “controversial interrogation procedure” is torture—it seems to me this is the best way to get an answer out of this guy. You get experienced interrogation personnel in there, show Mukasey the equipment, ask him if he thinks it would be illegal for the government to do that to him. And if he really hasn’t made up his mind--he’ll make up his mind in no time, I guarantee you, once they get started on him. He’ll give you an answer in no time flat, probably the first time he comes up for air.

It’ll be instructive for the Congress and the voters to see how “the technique” works, too. Maybe it’s not as big a deal as everybody thinks it is, we should see for ourselves. I can’t be the only one who’s curious, and this guy’s as good a place to start as any, since he won’t talk.

The only remaining problem is that information given under torture is notoriously unreliable. So if he does say it’s torture after they start in on him, we can’t take his word for it. So, I don’t know. Maybe it’s a bad idea.

Anyway—on to lighter matters. This man is the next likely Prime Minister of Australia:

Australian laments ear wax eating video
1 hour, 15 minutes ago

CANBERRA, Australia - Australia's opposition leader lamented his past behavior on Wednesday, as images of him picking his ear wax in Parliament reached a growing audience via the Internet.

The embarrassing footage was captured by Parliament's official television camera at least six years ago as Kevin Rudd, then a junior Labor Party lawmaker, sat in the House Representatives listening to a colleague question a government minister.

Rudd, who is likely to become Australia's prime minister next month, is seen in the background absent-mindedly probing his left ear before apparently placing the same finger in his mouth.

That’s nothing, Australia. Here in America we’ve got tons of video footage of all public statements the Administration has made on the Iraq War. So this "eating earwax" thing is nothing, to us--we’ve been watching George W. Bush and Dick Cheney eat shit for the last four years.