Monday, July 30, 2007

What Impressed Me This Week

Gonzales: Is This Enough to Get Rid of Him?
That was the question everybody was asking about Alberto Gonzales after his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee this week, which was almost immediately contradicted by FBI Director Robert Mueller's testimony. Has he finally committed a provable perjury?

Probably. The best analysis of Gonzales' testimony I've found is on the blog Anonymous Liberal. And TPMmuckracker does a great job explaining what we know about the warrantless wiretapping program the administration is trying to keep Congress (and us) confused about.

Here's where we've gotten to: When Fox News asked Senate Republicans to appear on its Sunday talk show to defend Gonzales, nobody would. Even partisan right-wingers like Newt Gingrich and Orrin Hatch attacked him.

A lot of people jump from here to the obvious question: Will Bush fire him now? The answer is no. And the reason you ask at all is because you're putting the wrong model on the situation. When you think of Bush as an American president and Gonzales as a cabinet official, it's incomprehensible why Bush hasn't fired him, or why Bush would say (after the April appearance before the Judiciary Committee in which Gonzales said some variant of "I don't know" more than 60 times) that he was "pleased with the Attorney General's testimony". But when you think of the Bush administration as a crime syndicate, it makes perfect sense. Again and again, Gonzales goes to Congress and endures a great deal of embarrassment, but confesses to no crimes and refuses to finger anybody higher up. What more could a Mafia boss ask of a capo?

In Case You Missed It
In Thursday's Washington Post, former Marine Commandant P. X. Kelley and Reagan White House lawyer Robert F. Turner wrote this op-ed column about the administration's new guidelines on interrogation:
we cannot in good conscience defend a decision that we believe has compromised our national honor and that may well promote the commission of war crimes by Americans and place at risk the welfare of captured American military forces for generations to come.
We had another case of a Bush political commissar with no scientific background interfering with government scientific reports. This time it was the surgeon general's report on global health problems. Surgeon General Robert Carmona's mistake was that he had just written a report and not a piece of political propaganda. He was told: "You don't get it. This will be a political document, or it will not be released." The decider, in this case, was HHS official William Steiger. Steiger is a godson of the first President Bush and the son of a former Republican Congressman. He appears to have no other relevant credentials.

The New York Times ran a piece on Colonel Stephen Abraham, the military lawyer who blew the whistle on the Guantanamo tribunals that are supposed to decide whether the detainees deserve to be held as enemy combatants. Abraham served on a three-person panel to judge one detainee. They found 3-0 that the government had not made its case. Was he set free? Of course not. The detainee was re-tried before a different board, who found 3-0 that he was an enemy combatant. Abraham was never assigned to judge another case.

Talking Points Memo put together a great video summary of last week's Sunday news shows.

O'Reilly vs. DailyKos
Bill O'Reilly's campaign to smear the liberal blog DailyKos as a "hate site" has been going on for a while, but I haven't mentioned it because it's meaningless to anyone who doesn't either watch O'Reilly or read Kos. Well, this week it became amusing enough to call to your attention. In response to a charge that DailyKos had a post up "calling for the violent overthrow of the government," Kos blogger Hunter wrote the satiric article Comrades, the Revolution is Upon Us.
We shall not be defeated. Once the revolution comes, the American right will be crushed under the mighty weight of our agenda. We shall confuse them all by being nice to children and the elderly; we shall sap their resolve by allowing black people to vote unhindered. We shall confound them via our insistence that illegal actions even by rich people should be prosecuted. They will be wounded by our commitment towards health care for all, then we will double the injury by treating their wounds using the very same programs. Their lungs will burn from the oppressively clean air: their green, lush yards will be choked with our expanding forests. Freed from the toxic scourge of DDT, Bald Eagles will return to the countryside and crap on their cars. We will call it Freedom Crap, and it will contain fish bones of Justice and unidentifiable, jelly-like chunks of Liberty.
O'Reilly, like so much of the Right, is basically a bully. Laughing at him is the best weapon in our arsenal. Oh, in case you're wondering whether his charge is true: probably. DailyKos has thousands of posts every day. You can probably find one advocating anything you want. If not, you can post it yourself.

Max Blumenthal, Again
Last week I mentioned Max Blumenthal's humorous video Generation Chickenhawk about his visit to the College Republicans convention. This week he's conventioning again -- with the evangelical Christians United for Israel. I first heard of this group and its high-roller preacher John Hagee by reading the book A Match Made in Heaven: American Jews, Christian Zionists, and One Man's Exploration of the Weird and Wonderful Judeo-Evangelical Alliance by Zev Chafets. Hagee supports Israel for eschatological reasons: This is all part of the end times prophesied in Revelations.

In case you think this is a lunatic fringe that nobody takes seriously, the video shows a chunk of Senator Joe Liebermann's convention speech in which he compares Hagee to Moses.

Un Lun Dun
On my religious blog I discussed the children's fantasy novel Un Lun Dun by China Mieville, which is both incredibly imaginative and much more dangerous to the religious right than Harry Potter.


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