The Blind Executing The Blind

I’ve noted this to some extent in this space before: Just being alive these days and looking around can really allow a person to witness some mind-boggling bullshit. Take, for instance, the temporary stay on executions in two states this week.

It seems that the state of Florida went to put to death the some-would-say ironically named Angel Nieves Diaz, convicted of murdering the manager of a topless bar 27 years ago, and, as it turns out, killing a person has the potential to actually cause him a bit of discomfort. It took 34 minutes and two injections, and the autopsy later showed that the reason for the delay was the the initial needle pierce went into and through the intended vein, so the initial spurt of sodium thiopental, pancuronium bromide, and/or potassium chloride, entered his tissue, not his blood.

Following this case, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, fresh from watching his Daddy cry like a wimp over him, said he’d sign no more death warrants until we can decide whether killing a person by injecting three drugs into his body might hurt if it’s not carried out in a textbook fashion, or, um, even if it is. And, quite clearly exercising his rabid commie California values, a federal court ordered that state to “revamp” its system of state-sponored killing, calling the current state of affairs “unconstitutional.”

Am I a simpleton for thinking that whether it hurts or not is not the central ethical issue to be concerned with here? Isn’t it time for the United States of America to stop dragging its knuckles on this and to catch up with all the rest of the other “civilized” nations of the world by banishing state-sponsored executions into the trash heap to join slavery, virus-laden blankets, and wiping with pine cones?

A new compelling voice is speaking about this issue: Robert Meeropol. Meeropol knows a bit of something regarding this issue. He is the son of Ethel and Julius Rosenburg. He is also a board member on the Murder Victims’ Families for Human Rights, a victims’ rights group that opposes the death penalty. I heard him interviewed on what seems my perennial source, The Rachel Maddow Show, last week.

Meeropol offered what to me was the most compelling argument against state-sponored executions that I’ve ever heard. This barbaric practice only gives birth to more victims, he said (I am paraphrasing). It creates more orphans, more widows, more families who’ve lost siblings and children and cousins. More hauntingly, the state-sponsored killing helps the initial shit splattered by the initial crime to end up all over the faces of the criminal’s family members. People point at and fear relatives of the condemned. So, it would seem that an execution spreads the trial, conviction, and eventual sentence, on to the innocent, spreading stigma like E. coli in a Taco Bell crudette plate.

Ghandi is reported to have said that an eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind. Here we are in this country, stumbling around like Clarisse in Buffalo Bill’s basement, still splitting hairs about how and when it’s okay for the government to end an adult’s life. The official stance is that the act itself does not violate the Eighth, but if there’s pain involved, well, lock up the guillotine.

I personally oppose the “death penalty” among other reasons because it cheapens liberty in a country supposedly built upon the principle that liberty means more to us than life. But Jeb and Judge Jeremy D. Fogel have brought yet another to light: Our awkward ethical mambo regarding the issue makes us look like a bunch of damned fools.   

Question One About Iraq

I don’t know about you, but I find the release today of the Iraq Study Group report to be utterly annoying. After all, it says what Democrats have been saying for a few years now only to be pointed at and called “faggots.”

More annoying than that, though, is that its purpose is to address question three, while not even attempting for a moment to talk about question one.

Sorry, skipped ahead: There are three essential questions about Iraq.

The third question, addressed by the ISG report, is: “Well, now what?” It is obviously an important question, though I think questions one and two are just as important.

Question two is nicely discussed in Thomas Ricks’ Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq. It is: “Well, if you’re going to do that, shouldn’t you at least do it right?”

The first question, the one that’s been resolved the least effectively but the one that’s still vital, one many Amercans have just given up on or even one that they’re ashamed for some reason to want addressed, is: “What the hell did you do that for?”

Question one should be tattooed backward onto George W. Bush’s forehead. He should have an iPod stapled to his head looping nothing but Cindy Sheehan saying “What the hell did you do that for? What the hell did you do that for? What the hell did you do that for?” (which is, essentially, what she wanted to ask him in the first place). He should be forced to write a 500-word essay titled “What The Hell I Did That For,” and points will be taken off for spelling and grammar.

Because as of today, the number of Americans killed in this Dirty Big War has passed 2,900.

That’s the population of Hampshire, Ill. It’s the number of people killed in coal mining accidents in China. It’s 151 more people than were killed in the World Trade Center.

We watched George W. Bush and his closest staffers mouth like synchronized swimmers that, if we hesitated, the smoking gun could become a turnip truck. I mean, mushroom cloud. And they had to Zamboni away from that rationale and on down the road, until now, when, as noted in my first graf, all they’ve got left is to point at their opponents and call ’em homos.

We are nowhere near coming close to answering question one. We’re not even asking it anymore; we got shamed out of asking it anymore. But we can’t just shrug our shoulders anymore and figure that we broke it and bought it and had it bagged and that we’re on our way back to the car now so we might as well not ask what happened. It’s still relevant. It’s still important. It is still indeed Question Number One. So jot it down and stick it in your wallet for in case you run into your congressman or your mayor or your president tomorrow, so you can look him right in his eyes and go, Sir, I have an important question for you: What the hell did you do that for?  

 

O.J. Simpson for UN Ambassador

(Writer’s Note: Some phrases and central ideas in this were blatantly stolen from Air America Radio’s Rachel Maddow Show, 6-8 p.m. weeknights on your local AAR affiliate or XM167.)

JOHN BOLTON leaves big shoes to fill, big, stinky, gooey, angry shoes with an ugly mustache. Who should fill them? Who, who, who?

One report has it that none other than fresh ex-incumbent Rick “Man-On-Dog” Santorum might be nominated, a development that might prove nearly as entertaining as that video clip of Starr Jones getting beaned with a football. If said report is true, or even if it simply smacks of truthiness, the intended trend is clear and should come as no surprise to the administration that launched a thousand “Brownies You’re Doing A Heck Of A Jobs.”

After all, there’s not one person on-board at the White House today who didn’t pee a little upon first hearing the oft-quoted quoth from Grover Norquist that he’d like to make government so small he can drown it. Surely you’ve heard the rumor that they sometimes go paintballing and make Danny Quayle dress up like Big Government. That was, after all, the idea of sticking JOHN BOLTON at the UN.

You see, JOHN BOLTON padded his resume for the job with the following quote: “There is no such thing as the United Nations. There is only the international community, which can only be led by the only remaining
superpower, which is the United States.” At which point, fire erupted from JOHN BOLTON’s nostrils and left his mustache bizarrely and permanently grayed.

So you see, the most sterling qualification a person can have to work with this administration is to despise the very thing you’re being asked to serve. JOHN BOLTON is perhaps the best example of this principle at work EVAR.

If you can’t choose someone who hates the institution so much that they may very well be tempted to thrash it and pee on it, then you can settle perhaps for a captain of the represented industry, who can at least work to stack the deck while he’s in so he can benefit from fewer regulations and more loopholes on his way out. Or, you can just staff the position with someone so hopelessly incompetent and unqualified for the job that he’ll make the entire agency look so woefully horrible that you can tear the whole thing down and start over and hope nobody notices while you’re extracting its canines in the process.

I think, however, that in these bleak times for the lame-duck low-approval-rating Bush administration, there’s another option that has yet to be exercised: Use the nomination to convince the country that you’re raving lunatic batshit crazy and then remind everone that you’re the one with the launch codes. You nominate Orenthal James Simpson to be the United States’ Ambassador to the United Nations.

Hey. You could do worse.

(Namely: Congress could have approved the nomination of JOHN BOLTON.)

Gory Old Poopers

Ladies and gentlemen, another guest column from my Dear Old Dad:

Here is a puzzle. What does the GOP believe in? If you were a completely objective observer, standing on the outside looking in, what would you conclude they believe in? I know there are a lot of Republicans who are honest and sincere when they say they believe in small government, or are pro-business, or moral correctness, national defense, democracy.

Small government? Well, that’s a good one, except that there has yet to be a Republican administration that actually tried to do this, and I am not sure it is a valid basis for building a government anyway. The only administrations to reduce the size of the government in the last 50 years have been Democratic. Raygun thought it was more important to build up the military industrial complex. Busch has effectively neutered the government by establishing an incompetent kleptocracy, but he has not made it any smaller. The Raygun had it right, I think. A government needs to be as big as it needs to be to get the job done. If we have to beef it up to destroy the evil empire, then so be it. Raygun knew that. I will not speculate on what Dubya knows or does not know. My guess is he does not know much of anything.

Pro-business? A case can be made that Republicans are pro-business, but not necessarily pro-all-business. Republicans are pro-established business, like the oil business. By choosing industries to be for, they don’t necessarily help other businesses that might be more important to our future. Alternative fuels, for example. Pro the drug companies, opposed to the legitimate interests of small business in low cost health care for employees. Opposed to immigration, opposed to the legitimate interest of small businesses in low cost labor. Pro WallMart, opposed to Target.

Pro morality…There are absolute moralities and relative moralities. I suggest it is absolutely immoral to pervert the Constitution, invade the privacy of citizens, torture prisoners. Republicans think this is patriotic. Relativism makes this morality thing all the more complicated. So, whose morality? At what point in history? Had Republicans had their way, miscegenation would still be considered a moral imperative. Should government enforce the rigid morality of the Catholic Church? (I guess torture would be okay, then. They had the Inquisition, after all.) The gentle world view of the Quakers? Is it moral to deny the rights granted to heterosexual parents to same-sex parents? You can’t build a government on morality. Surely you can’t really build a political movement on it either.

National Defense. We would hope that the Republican party is in favor of national defense. Who isn’t? I think a case can be made that all those Republicans who favor an established religion would be more comfortable with Sharia than any Democrat. Certainly it is one of the dumbest notions Republicans have tried to promote that Free Thinking Democrats are somehow soft on Islamic terrorism. But do Republicans really care about National Defense? Would a true proponent of national defense create a phony war and squander our military power in the interest of winning an election? The most important issues of defense have been ignored by the Republican party for the last five years. They have payed lip service to homeland security and squandered billions on a useless bloodbath in Iraq. They have invested nothing in protecting our nuclear power plants, our ports, our major population centers from renewed terrorist attack. They have failed to establish any kind of intelligence network that understands Islamic cultures.  (The FBI trains Russian speakers, but has only 33 employees who have any familiarity (not fluency) with Farsi.) And we are no longer in a position to address the issue of Korean nuclear arms because we have no army to stand behind us. It’s tied down in Iraq.

Democracy? Republicans have openly and proudly participated in stolen elections and vote(re)/supression. They have had protestors arrested and or harrassed by police outside Busch and Chaney rallies, George Macaca Allen stood by while his stooges beat up a reporter, George Busch says people who do not agrtee with him are traitors. Sounds more like facism than democracy.

So what do Republicans believe in? Lining their pockets with government money. Taking that money from the middle class. Torturing captives. Censoring critics. Hating hispanics.

What?

Worst Person In The World

Has Keith Olbermann ever nominated President George W. Bush to receive this high honor, whether for gold, silver, or bronze? If not, he should.

The Hill reports on an exchange between he and my new senator, Jim Webb. Webb, as you probably already know, will be the only member of the 110th Senate who has a kid in Iraq. Webb campaigned in his kid’s combat boots and made quite an issue of the Dirty Big War.

Bush, or as I like to call him, “Rude Vile Pig” (sorry, Elton), asked Webb how his son was doing. Webb replied that what he’d really like to see is his son come home. Bush reportedly said, I didn’t ask you that, I asked how’s he doing. The Hill says Webb has admitted that at that moment, he wanted to slug the Resident. I’m glad he didn’t. I need him in the Senate, not San Quentin. But I sure can understand the compulsion.

So I’ll be watching the Countdown tonight and hoping for Mr. Olbermann to remove whatever presidential exclusion he’s had until now. Bush has certainly deserved to be the WPITW probably at least half the nights since the feature’s been running. But if he doesn’t take it for this Webb thing, something’s just not right in the world.

On a sort-of related note, if you can listen to today’s Randi, please do. Randi’s got her Sarnac hat on today. While the press is just now coming to grips with the reality that the Dirty Big War is a “civil war,” she’s gone to the next step toward the real deal: It’s “ethnic cleansing.” Why was Cheney meeting with the Saudis? Because they’re Sunni, and they’re nervous about how their Sunni friends in Iraq are being treated. Der. 

George Allen Is A Mean Nasty Little Girl

Update, 3:18 p.m.: Okay. So he conceded. He’s still a mean nasty little girl. 

*

George Allen has really misread the results of the 2006 mid-terms, hasn’t he?

Among the many messages that should be drawn from these results is that the American people mourn the loss of the hair-breadth degree of chivalry that George W. Bush stabbed in the heart in 2000. If you’re behind, George, you’re supposed to concede.

But there’s something terrifying about George Allen. Last week, Olbermann interviewed Mike Stark, the Calling All Wingnuts blogger who was uncerimoniously ejected from a George Allen campaign event. Stark pointed it out, that of all the people in the room who could have deflated the incident, George Allen could have been most effective. Yet, he did nothing. Nothing. He turned his back and allowed one of his constituents to be thrown to the ground.

That’s the kind of person George Allen is. He’s a mean nasty little girl who won’t concede when he’s clearly lost and who refused to step in when one of his own constituents is getting beat up. Not to mention, he’s the kind of person who points at the brown face in the crowd and says “Macaca” and the kind of person who thinks it’s “casting aspersions” to intimate that you might have Jews in your family.

Pray for Webb. That’s right. I said “pray.”

Begone The Dog And Pony Show

I have discovered two terms that distinguish different forms of mind-boggingly stupid statements made by Republigoats and their accomplices.

A “Tartlets Tartlets Tartlets” is a phrase or idea that is so unfathomable that if you attempt to argue it to yourself long enough, it loses all meaning. See “Friends,” “The One With The Stoned Guy,” guest starring Jon Lovitz. President Bush’s stance on stem cell research is an excellent example of a Tartlets Tartlets Tartlets.

An “If It Weren’t For My Horse” is a phrase or idea that is so utterly stupid that it should cause you to heed comedian Lewis Black’s warning about it: “Don’t—don’t think about that sentence for more than three minutes or blood will shoot out your nose.” If you’re unfamiliar with this iconic comic routine, please search for it at YouTube.

The notion fermenting that the Democrats who bulldozed the Republigoats were “conservative Democrats” is an If It Weren’t For My Horse—as is that idiocy’s twin idiocy that Madame Speaker-Elect Nancy Pelosi is some kind of Communist Goon Hippie Dope-Smoking Communist Faerie Communist Goat-Humping Pagan Communist (not that there’s anything wrong with that). No, friends, what happened was that the Democratic Party stopped taking America’s pulse with its thumb.

There was nothing more striking about the 2006 mid-term drive than the strident message against the President’s Dirty Big War. I can’t recall a single Democratic TV spot I saw that didn’t tout the candidate’s stance against the Iraq war and that didn’t accuse the opponent of licking the President’s belly button.

Contrast this election season with 2004: Dennis Kucinich said “the war is wrong,” and all the other candidates looked around and said, “Who farted?” And then Howard Dean bellowed, “The War Is Wrong!” and started getting results, so all the other candidates started trying to say the same thing but couldn’t quite hold their mouths right, so they ended up saying weird things like “The War Has Cheese!” And then Howard Dean got up in front of a crowd and transformed into a giant horny lizard creature and had to drop out of the race, leaving all the other candidates to run around in scatters screaming “The War Has Cheese!” “The War Has Cheese!” “The War Has Cheese!” And then John Kerry went snowboarding, causing George W. Bush to “win” “reelection.”

Remember?

Anyway. No way in Topeka did the Democrats win this by wearing Duncan Hunter masks. The ideas that swept the Democrats in were overwhelmingly “progressive” and do not in any way resemble the ideas put forward by the Republigoats. Sorry, Bob Schieffer.

Pelosi has some excellent stuff tacked to her clipboard, including the idea of fully enacting the 9/11 Commission recommendations. A novel idea: America needs to stop flapping its gums about that tragic event to actually manage the problems that were caused and revealed by it.

And we’ll do it, no matter what labels they’d like to slap on the Dems who are taking the saddle.

Get ready. Stuff is about to happen.

(Also published at The Smirking Chimp.)