Right Thinking From The Left Coast
We didn't lose the game; we just ran out of time. - Vince Lombardi

Saturday, September 30, 2006

A Van Down By the River
by Lee

As you all have undoubtedly heard by now, Rep. Mark Foley from Florida has resigned.

Rep. Mark Foley, R-Fla., submitted a letter of resignation from Congress on Friday in the wake of questions about e-mails he wrote a former male page, according to a congressional official.

Foley, 52, had been considered a shoo-in for re-election until the e-mails surfaced in recent days.

Campaign aides had previously acknowledged that the Republican congressman e-mailed the former Capitol page five times, but had said there was nothing inappropriate about the exchange. The page was 16 at the time of the e-mail correspondence.

Foley’s election opponent, Democrat Tim Mahoney, has called for an investigation.

The correspondence took place in August 2005 after the boy gave Foley a handwritten thank you note before returning to Louisiana.

Foley was running for re-election to a seventh term. He has represented his district, which includes West Palm Beach, since 1995. Florida Republicans could replace Foley on the ballot.

In his exchanges with the boy, Foley asked how old he was, what he wanted for his upcoming birthday, how he was doing after Hurricane Katrina and for a photo.

The e-mails were posted Friday on Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington’s Web site after ABC News reported their existence. The group asked the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct to investigate the exchange Foley had with the boy, who served as a page for Rep. Rodney Alexander, R-La.

A couple of other interesting nuggets about Foley.  Like all adult males who are trying to pick up on teenagers, he has a MySpace page.  Since it will undoubtedly be taken down soon, here’s a screen capture.  (Rule of thumb:  if you’re over 30 and have a MySpace page, you’re probably a pedo.)

So, what does a pedo do when he goes to Congress?  Why, he joins the Missing and Exploited Children’s Caucus.  Here’s a press release about one of his political victories in this regard.

WASHINGTON - Congressman Mark Foley (R-FL), Co-chairman of the Missing and Exploited Children Caucus, applauded Senate passage of legislation he authored and introduced overhauling our nation’s sex offender registration and notification laws.

“For too long our nation has tracked library books better than it has sex offenders [and Congressmen].  That day is coming to an end,” said Foley.  “Senator Hatch and Leader Frist have been resolute in keeping this legislation on track.  We are closing loopholes that sex offenders and pedophiles [like me] have used to prey on children [like yours].”

I can’t wait to see what John Walsh has to say about this on his show tonight.

Posted by Lee on 09/30/06 at 12:20 PM in Decline of Western Civilization  • (4) TrackbacksPermalink

Friday, September 29, 2006

Little Debbie
by Lee

Remember Debra LaFave, the world’s hottest pedophile teacher?  I think that this might go a long way towards explaining her predilection for teenage boys.

Nick Carter has revealed he lost his virginity to Debra Lafave, the Florida schoolteacher who shocked America by having sex with a 13-year-old pupil. The former Backstreet Boy told shock jock Howard Stern he dated LaFave for 18 months when they were classmates, but ditched her after learning “she had cheated on me with a girl.”

Carter kept quiet during the scandal, which thrust Lafave to notoriety, because his management team was worried about the controversy.

The singer says, “My publicist is like, ‘Stay as far away from that s**t as you can.’ She was probably my number one. But maybe that’s just because it was my first. Actually a lot of the girls I’ve had the best sex with or best anything with have been just normal girls.”

Okay.  She starts out with a somewhat effeminate guy.  She then cheats on him with a girl.  She gets married, and then cheats on her husband with a 16 year old boy.  Am I the only one who sees a pattern here?

I don’t care, though.  I’d still hit it.

Posted by Lee on 09/29/06 at 01:42 PM in Celebrity Idiots  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Speaking in Tongues
by Lee

Al Qaeda has just released a new tape.  And, as usual, it’s a regurgitation of Democrat talking points.

Al-Qaida No. 2 Ayman al-Zawahri condemned President Bush in a video statement released Friday, calling him a failure and a liar.

“Why don’t you tell them how many million citizens of America and its allies you intend to kill in search of the imaginary victory and in breathless pursuit of the mirage towards which you are driving your people’s sons in order increase your profits?” al-Zawahri said in a portion of the video released by the Virginia-based IntelCenter.

I’m not making this up.  “Bush is a failure who is killing America’s sons and daughters in order to enrich his corporate benefactors.” That has been a standard Democrat talking point since shortly after 9/11.  And it’s also the message of al-Qaeda.

Coincidence?  I report, you decide.

Posted by Lee on 09/29/06 at 01:29 PM in Left Wing Idiocy  • (2) TrackbacksPermalink

The Scarlet Forehead
by Lee

Sometimes you just have to admire prison justice.

An inmate serving a life sentence for molesting and murdering a 10-year-old girl named Katie was apparently forcibly tattooed across the forehead by a fellow prisoner with the words “Katie’s Revenge,” authorities say.

Anthony Ray Stockelman, 39, was removed from the general prison population for his own safety last weekend after authorities discovered the tattoo.

Prison officials said an inmate has been identified as a suspect.

A photo of Stockelman’s forehead appeared this week on a crime blog called “Lost In Lima Ohio” that focuses on news reports about crimes against children and women.

Two prison guards suspected of supplying the picture were fired for making unauthorized copies of an evidence photo, said Rich Larsen, a spokesman for the Wabash Valley state prison in Carlisle, north of Evansville.

Stockelman pleaded guilty to abducting, molesting and drowning Katlyn “Katie” Collman, whose body was found in a creek near her home in 2005.

If you click on the link and go to the blog to see the photo you find out one other interesting little nugget which wasn’t in the news story. 

The image below is Anthony Stockelman, the ruthless monster responsible for Katie’s sexual assault and murder. The photo was taken after his conviction, and after a relative of Katie’s managed to leave a permanent reminder of what Stockelman has done- upon his forehead. It seems that the two were serving time in the same jail when a situation allowing them to come into contact with each other occurred.

So apparently a relative of the little girl was also doing time in the same prison, and decided to mete out a little justice of his own.

Posted by Lee on 09/29/06 at 08:48 AM in Decline of Western Civilization  • (1) TrackbacksPermalink

Look, A Racist!
by Lee

Oh, the lefties are going apeshit over this remark by Trent Lott.

It’s hard for Americans, all of us, including me, to understand what’s wrong with these people,” he said. “Why do they kill people of other religions because of religion? Why do they hate the Israeli’s and despise their right to exist? Why do they hate each other? Why do Sunnis kill Shiites? How do they tell the difference? They all look the same to me. [Emphasis added]

This, apparently, is a “racist” comment.  Exactly what is unreasonable about it?  Imagine he’d been talking about Northern Ireland and said, “Why do Catholics kill Protestants? How do they tell the difference? They all look the same to me.” Would that be racist?  Or is it only racist when you make a perfectly legitimate comment about people of a different ethnicity?

This is one of those stupid rules created by the left.  If it involves another race, and you’re white, it’s racist.  Doubly so if you happen to be a conservative.  I’m not claiming that Trent Lott is a paragon of racial harmony, but claiming racist intent in what he said is, well, a stretch.

Posted by Lee on 09/29/06 at 08:32 AM in Left Wing Idiocy  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Giving Head
by Lee

Let the rioting begin!

Police have revealed they were investigating the dumping of a pig’s head outside a mosque on the first full day of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

The head was found outside the Jamia Mosque in Newport, southeast Wales, on Saturday. The Koran strictly forbids Muslims to eat pork.

“We treat all incidents of hate crime seriously and are pursuing a number of lines of inquiry to identify the offender,” said Gwent Police Superintendent Simon Prince on Friday.

Nobody at the mosque was available for comment but Sheikh Mohammad Thair Ullah, the chairman of the nearby Shah Poran Bangladeshi Jame Mosque, branded the incident “disgusting” and provocative.

“There is a good and bad in every community and I believe we have some young fanatics who could take this the wrong way,” he said.

“It is a very sensitive time for Muslims and since 9/11 we are facing a lot of problems which are unwanted.

“Muslims are peace-loving people which has been interpreted wrongly to show that we are all terrorists and criminals. That is the impression given by the world’s media and politicians which is totally wrong.”

The imam then stated, “As payback for this dastardly deed, we plan on severing the heads of three Christians according to the methods and procedures detailed by our blessed Prophet (PBUH).  This will demonstrate to the world what a peace-loving people we are, and will serve as a warning to the infidel vermin not to fuck with us.”

Posted by Lee on 09/29/06 at 08:24 AM in The Religion of Peace™  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Cleaning House
by Lee

Jim and I are optimizing the site and adding in a few new features.  If it looks screwed up to you please let us know.

Posted by Lee on 09/28/06 at 07:36 PM in Etcetera  • (3) TrackbacksPermalink

A Matter of Context
by Lee

Jonah Goldberg writes:  “I think you misunderstood the point of the column when you assume it’s a ‘pro-torture’ column. If that had been my intent or my position it would have been a very different column.” Fair enough.  He also had a lot of other interesting things to say but stipulated they were off the record, so I’ll respect that and not publish them.

Over at NRO, Jonah Goldberg has written a column about torture.  I think that most of the people who support the president’s position on this issue would find this to be a reasonable summation of their argument.  Before we begin, take a moment to read the column.

When confronted with the assertion that the Soviet Union and the United States were moral equivalents, William F. Buckley responded that if one man pushes an old lady into an oncoming bus and another man pushes an old lady out of the way of a bus, we should not denounce them both as men who push old ladies around.

In other words, context matters.

Not according to some. Led by Time magazine’s Andrew Sullivan, opponents of the CIA’s harsh treatment of high-value terrorists have grown comfortable comparing Bush’s America to, among other evils, Stalin’s Russia.

The tactic hasn’t worked, partly because many decent Americans understand that abuse intended to foil a murder plot is not the same as torturing political dissidents, religious minorities, and other prisoners of conscience.  … Comparing CIA facilities to Stalin’s gulag may sound righteous, but it is a species of the same moral relativism that denounces all pushers of old ladies equally.

It’s ironic that Jonah brings up with WFB argument, because I’ve used it countless times before both on this blog and in my personal life when arguing with the bleating liberals I find myself surrounded by here in California.  In the larger sense he’s absolutely right, context matters.  Driving 100 mph when you’re driving someone to the hospital is completely different than driving that fast when you’re running from the police.  But is context the deciding factor in every issue?  Can context excuse any degree of behavior?  Someone might be able to justify violating the laws against smoking marijuana by saying it’s a stupid law, but can someone use the identical justification for committing child rape?  That’s what NAMBLA does.  So not only does context matter, but the kind and degree of behavior is also vitally important.

Now, I’m not going to spend this whole post defending Sullivan—he’s perfectly capable of doing that on his own.  But I will say that I think it’s completely disingenuous of Goldberg to state that Sully has compared Bush’s America to Stalinist Russia.  What he has said, what is a point which Goldberg largely ignores, is that we are using many of the same techniques as Stalinist Russia.  So, then the question becomes, are there certain acts which are inherently immoral regardless of context?  Or can context excuse any immoral behavior?

Posted by Lee on 09/28/06 at 11:43 AM in Politics  • (3) TrackbacksPermalink

Back for the Attack
by Lee

You know that “progress” we’re supposedly making in Iraq?  I guess this is it.

In more signs of a deepening crisis, two polls Wednesday showed that solid majorities of Iraqis want American forces out and also support attacks on U.S. troops.

The polls and the partial release of a report by U.S. intelligence agencies saying that the Iraq war was fueling terrorism worldwide were in stark contrast to White House forecasts of steady political and military progress.

In Baghdad, Army Maj. Gen. William Caldwell, the chief coalition spokesman, gave a grim assessment of the spreading violence in the capital.

“Iraq is living a critical moment,” he said.

A State Department poll showed that 65 percent of Baghdadis want the U.S. to leave immediately.

A second poll of more than 1,000 Iraqis by the Program on International Policies at the University of Maryland showed that 71 percent want the U.S. out within a year and 61 percent back attacks on U.S. troops.

Although Iraqis are marking the holy month of Ramadan, “which is supposed to be a time of prayer and sacrifice,” Caldwell said, “we are seeing an increase in attacks.”

“This has been a tough week,” Caldwell said. “Bodies are found with clear signs of being bound, tortured and executed. Death squads and other illegal armed groups are responsible for this type of activity.”

Thank God we didn’t waste money on those extra 250,000 troops at the start of the invasion.  As we can clearly see, they weren’t needed.  Gotta stay the course, can’t let the terrists win…

You know, call me old fashioned, but I still tend to think that if you are going to order soldiers into combat, where many of them will die and many more will be maimed, the least you can do is give them everything they need to get the job done.  Because if you don’t, the sacrifices made by these warriors will be for nothing.  And I still have this kooky idea that the lives of our soldiers should not be so cavalierly tossed around like any other resource.  When you have a war as vitally important as this one, I think that from the get-go you need to be prepared to do whatever it takes to win.  But I guess that makes me an America-hating liberal.

Posted by Lee on 09/28/06 at 08:38 AM in War on Terror/Axis of Evil  • (8) TrackbacksPermalink

Police Academy: Iraq
by Lee

The mission of training a new police force is going completely to shit—literally.

A $75 million project to build the largest police academy in Iraq has been so grossly mismanaged that the campus now poses health risks to recruits and might need to be partially demolished, U.S. investigators have found.

The Baghdad Police College, hailed as crucial to U.S. efforts to prepare Iraqis to take control of the country’s security, was so poorly constructed that feces and urine rained from the ceilings in student barracks. Floors heaved inches off the ground and cracked apart. Water dripped so profusely in one room that it was dubbed “the rain forest.”

“This is the most essential civil security project in the country—and it’s a failure,” said Stuart W. Bowen Jr., the special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction, an independent office created by Congress. “The Baghdad police academy is a disaster.”

Bowen’s office plans to release a 21-page report Thursday detailing the most alarming problems with the facility.

Even in a $21 billion reconstruction effort that has been marred by cases of corruption and fraud, failures in training and housing Iraq’s security forces are particularly significant because of their effect on what the U.S. military has called its primary mission here: to prepare Iraqi police and soldiers so that Americans can depart.

Federal investigators said the inspector general’s findings raise serious questions about whether the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has failed to exercise effective oversight over the Baghdad Police College or reconstruction programs across Iraq, despite charging taxpayers management fees of at least 4.5 percent of total project costs. The Corps of Engineers said Wednesday that it has initiated a wide-ranging investigation of the police academy project.

Another stunning example of the sheer incompetence with which the entire Iraq gambit has been overseen.  “We can’t change construction companies. That would mean the terrorists would win. Gotta stay the course…”

Posted by Lee on 09/28/06 at 08:13 AM in War on Terror/Axis of Evil  • (1) TrackbacksPermalink

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

The View From the Right
by Lee

I was listening, as I often do when driving home for lunch, to the Michael Medved show.  He was interviewing Fred Barnes from The Weekly Standard.  Their conversation got me thinking about this question.  Most of the people who participate here would describe themselves as conservatives.  What I’m interested in knowing is what YOU happen to think conservatism is. 

In the comments to this post, list the five issues or beliefs that you feel best define conservatism.  In other words, what five things do you think you need to believe in order to rightfully call yourself a conservative.

And please, let’s refrain from snarky comments, especially from liberals.  I don’t want to see people listing “bigotry, hatred, and violence” simply to get a cheap shot in at the opposition.

Posted by Lee on 09/27/06 at 01:17 PM in Deep Thoughts  • (3) TrackbacksPermalink

Hugo A-Gogo
by Lee

7/11 could be the greatest company in America right now.

Convenience store operator 7-Eleven Inc. is dropping Venezuela-backed Citgo as its gasoline supplier at more than 2,100 locations and switching to its own brand of fuel.

The retailer said Wednesday it will purchase fuel from several distributors, including Tower Energy Group of Torrance, Calif., Sinclair Oil of Salt Lake City, and Houston-based Frontier Oil Corp.

A spokeswoman for Dallas-based 7-Eleven said its 20-year contract with Citgo Petroleum Corp. ends next week. About 2,100 of 7-Eleven’s 5,300 U.S. stores sell gasoline.

Citgo is a Houston-based subsidiary of Venezuela’s state-owned oil company, and the foreign parent became a public-relations issue for 7-Eleven because of comments by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

Chavez has called President George W. Bush the devil and an alcoholic. The U.S. government has warned that Chavez is a destabilizing force in Latin America.

7-Eleven spokesman Margaret Chabris said that, “Regardless of politics, we sympathize with many Americans’ concern over derogatory comments about our country and its leadership recently made by Venezuela’s president Hugo Chavez.”

Fuckin-A right.  As soon as the Citgo stops flowing, I’m going to 7/11 to fill my truck up.

Posted by Lee on 09/27/06 at 11:07 AM in Left Wing Idiocy  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Caesar’s Values
by Lee

I just received the following email.  Those of you who are Christian conservatives really need to read this.

As a Presbyterian pastor, I continue to be stunned by the unthinking support of many evangelicals for a policy that permits torture. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry when the so-called “Traditional Values Coalition” decided that torture was among the traditional values that they feel compelled to support.

When Jesus was put on trial and handed over to Pontius Pilate, he rejected violence and said, “My kingdom is not of this world.” He was then tortured and brutally murdered (three hours in a “stress position” on the cross, as one of your readers aptly noted). “Caesar”, of course, went on to torture and brutally murder innocent Christians who were “threats to the state.” Now, 2,000 years later, in their wordly lust for power, Christians are hopping into bed with Caesar and signing off on anything Caesar wants, especially if Caesar takes care of the Christian “base”.

In my Presbyterian tradition, we are called to stand outside the halls of power and speak truth to those in power, no matter what party is in control. We are not called to become that power ourselves; Jesus’ kingdom is not of this world; his values are not Caesar’s values.

Last year on Good Friday, my church had our traditional worship service at which we read the story of Jesus’ torture and execution. To make the story more than just a past event, we read three contemporary accounts of innocent individuals who had been tortured. If we were going to shed tears for our innocent Lord Jesus, we also needed to shed tears for other innocent victims of torture. One story we read was about Christians in China - “threats to the state” - including a mother who was brutally interrogated while hearing the cries of her son being tortured in the next room. Interestingly enough, the Christian Right would join me in expressing outrage against innocent Christians.

Another story was of a man who described these conditions:

“I saw a cell almost the size of a grave. 3 feet wide, 6 feet deep, and 7 feet high. The cell had no light in it; it only had two thin mattresses (two thin blankets) on the ground ... I was kept in that dark and filthy cell for about 10 months. The worst beating happened on the third day ... they were asking the same set of questions and they would beat me 3-4 times. They would sometimes take me to another room where I could hear other people being tortured ... at the end of the day I could not take the pain anymore and I falsely confessed of having been to Afghanistan.”

We read that story last Good Friday. The man’s name? Maher Arar, a Canadian citizen, who was arrested at JFK airport in New York. He was then deported by the American government via Jordan to Syria, where he was detained in the cell described above. Just last week Arar and his claims of innocence were completely vindicated by the Canadian government. The Traditional Values Coalition would probably respond: an unfortunate mistake, but torture is still a necessary policy.

And What Would Jesus Do?

Jesus wept.

Actually, I told a little fib at the top of this post.  This email was sent to Sully.  But, if I’d told you that at the beginning, none of you would have read it, because it came from him (boo hiss).  Are there any Christians reading this (and there are, as we all know, a lot of Christians who read this site) who can explain to me how their support of “coercive interrogation techniques” gels with their Christian religious faith?

Posted by Lee on 09/27/06 at 08:17 AM in Deep Thoughts  • (4) TrackbacksPermalink

Ducks and Roses
by Lee

Allow me to give you a clear example of the Republican Party’s decline into sheer vulgarity.  We’ve all heard the phrase “cut and run” to describe the views of a great many liberal Democrats when it comes to Iraq.  I’ve used it myself, and in many respects it’s absolutely valid.  For all the mistakes we have made thus far, I think pulling out of Iraq would let the Islamists score a massive propaganda victory, so if for no other reason we should stay.  The Democrats who subscribe to the cut and run philosophy would have us leaving immediately.  It’s not that the phrase is inherently unfair, but I don’t like the way it’s being used lately.  It used to be an easily-remembered phrase to describe the “immediate withdrawal” folks, but now it’s being used by Republicans to make their opponents seem like wimps.  Now, with that in mind, take a look at this story.

During an election debate at the weekend in the outskirts of Chicago, Peter Roskam, the Republican candidate for Illinois’s sixth district, trotted out the familiar line that his Democratic opponent wanted America to “cut and run” from Iraq.

His opponent, Tammy Duckworth, a former National Guard pilot who lost both her legs in Iraq last year when her helicopter was shot down by a rocket-propelled grenade, was visibly angry at the exchange. “I just could not believe he would say that to me,” said Ms Duckworth, who now walks on artificial legs with the help of a cane. “I have risked my life to serve my country and you cannot question my patriotism.”

One of seven Iraq war veterans on the Democratic ticket for the midterm elections that take place on 7 November, Ms Duckworth is thought to have an even chance of capturing what is a traditional Republican stronghold.

Take a look at the bio page on the Roskam for Congress website.  Not a word there about any military service.  In and of itself this is perfectly acceptable, I don’t think that anyone should be required to have served in the military as a prerequisite for public service.  However, Roskam ought to be praising the service and sacrifice of Americans like Tammy Duckworth, not denigrating her by using the phrase “cut and run” as some kind of pejorative.

A wealthy trial lawyer, Mr Roskam is a hardline social conservative who opposes the ban on assault weapons, and is against all stem cell research, not to mention abortion even for women who victims of rape and incest.

Ms Duckworth, who calls herself a “fiscal conservative”, stands as a clever riposte to the Republican charge that Democrats are weak on national security.

She recommends a “phased redeployment” of US troops in Iraq rather than – as some Democrats do – a clear deadline for withdrawal. She loses no opportunity to wrap her message in the stars and stripes.

Not should she.  I’m really turned off and disgusted by the idea that is so prevalent in conservative circles today that nobody with a D after their name can be any kind of patriot.  Roskam has never suffered so much as a hangnail in the service of his country.  Duckworth gave up both legs.

To me, this is a clear example of the way in which Republicans “support the troops,” which is to say that they do only insofar as it helps them to get votes.  Nobody who actually supports our men and women in uniform would ever have the gall to make such a statement about someone who so very recently sacrificed so much for her country, especially when they’ve never had the integrity to put on their nation’s uniform.  I can’t say I’d vote for Duckworth, I don’t know anything about her other than what is in this article.  That being said, I can guarantee I’d never vote for Roskam, based on this one remark alone. 

Tammy Duckworth, through her service and considerable sacrifice, has EARNED the right to speak her mind without having her patriotism questioned.  There are (if memory serves) eight veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan running for Congress this year.  I believe all of them, or maybe seven of them, are running as Democrats.  Frankly, I hope every one of them win, regardless of party.  When our political apparatus makes decisions about how to best prosecute the war on terror, I think it would be invaluable to have these veterans in the mix giving their opinions.  When it comes to the war, I’d value the opinion of one Tammy Duckworth more than ten Peter Roskams. 

This young woman deserves a hell of a lot more respect than this.  Disagree with her policies all you like, but to simply denigrate her as some kind of cowardly leftist is beyond the pale, especially coming from a representative of a party which claims to “support the troops.”

(For more info on these eight candidates, see Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans for America, a PAC dedicated to getting veterans of these wars elected to political office.)

Posted by Lee on 09/27/06 at 07:42 AM in Election 2006  • (6) TrackbacksPermalink

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Good and Bad
by Lee

I had actually written this up earlier this evening as a comment in response to one left by BB, but my browser crashed and I lost it.  Then I went to the supermarket, and while I was there I thought about it, and I think this would make an interesting post.  I’ve spent a lot of time lately being incredibly critical of Bush, and I think he’s deserved every bit of it.  That being said, allow me to take a moment and illustrate what I think are the good aspects of his presidency, and of him as a president.

No matter how much I disagree with his policies of late, I don’t for a second think that Bush is the kind of evil fascist madman that so many people on the left make him out to be.  I believe that he honestly believes that he is doing what he is doing to protect the American people.  He’s a very instinctual president.  Nobody has ever claimed that he’s any great intellectual, but that’s not really a problem.  I know a lot of brilliant people who are not intellectuals, and I know a lot of intellectuals who I wouldn’t hire to so much as wash my car.  While someone like Bill Clinton thrived in the minutiae, Bush is a big picture guy.  This is in many respects an extremely admirable quality.  I know a lot of people who have started their own businesses, and most of them are similar in their style to Bush—they worry about the big picture stuff, and let others handle the details.  I also admire Bush’s resolve.  He doesn’t govern by polls, he governs by what he thinks is right.  This, too, is a quality that should be admired.  And, no matter how much I oppose a lot of what he does, I still find the guy incredibly likable and personable. 

I’m sure that, for many of you, these are the qualities you admire in the president.  Now, let me give you the flip side.

While Bush is not a fascist dictator, it cannot be denied that a lot of what he has done since he has gotten into office tends to lead towards authoritarianism.  Since 9/11 we’ve seen warrantless wiretaps, increased domestic espionage, “enemy combatants” detained indefinitely without trial (including American citizens), torture (or, if you prefer, “coercive interrogation"), a total disregard for international law, a total disregard for constitutional concepts like checks and balances, and countless other intrusions on personal liberty.  Every one of these things is a tool used by authoritarian regimes the world over.  They use additional techniques, of course, so there’s not a direct comparison, but there is absolutely no denying the fact that we are far closer to authoritarianism than we were just a few years ago.  The justification, of course, is that this is a post-9/11 world, and we have to have some new rules.  Fair enough, I can buy that argument.  But what we have seen from Bush isn’t a new set of rules, it’s a policy of ignoring the rules that we already have.  And no matter what party you may be from or what ideology you hold, nothing good can ever come from a power structure which does not have strict controls limiting its actions.

Bush’s gut instinct style of leadership, as I said earlier, is in many ways admirable.  In many ways it isn’t.  Gut instinct often turns out to be wrong.  Have you ever thought someone had a crush on you, only to have them recoil in horror after you asked them out?  That’s the folly of gut instinct—it is often wrong.  It also does not permit a lot of wiggle room, because if the gut turns out to be wrong, then how do yo make future decisions based on the same instinct?  Once Bush makes a decision ("I’m the decider") he has no choice but to stick with it, no matter how wrong it might turn out to be.  This is not good leadership, and explains why Rumsfeld is still SecDef, despite his monumentally incompetent record since entering office—Cheney and other advisors recommended him, and Bush went with his gut.  The gut is never wrong.  Rumsfeld told Bush that he could fight the Iraq War with 1/3 the number of troops considered necessary to secure the country, and Bush’s gut told him it was the right thing to do.  Now his gut tells him to stay the course.  No matter what the facts, no matter how many things go wrong, his instinct tells him to stick with Rumsfeld.  Is this a strength or a weakness?  That’s for you to decide for yourself.

Why did I write this post?  Because I wanted to preface what I am about to write below with a general assessment of Bush.  While I have often disagreed with the president on a number of issues, usually social wedge issues designed to appeal to the evangelical base, none of those are really showstoppers as far as I’m concerned.  Every administration spends a good chunk of its time undoing the actions of the previous administration, and most of what gets done by Bush can be undone at some point in time.  The one significant exception to this is what is currently going on with Geneva.

I’ve gone over the torture issue a million times recently, so I’m not going to do it again.  (I can hear you cheering from here.) I will, however, say this.  International legal instruments like the Geneva Conventions and various UN human rights treaties have existed for almost six decades.  They’re rock solid, and their power lies in the fact that virtually all the civilized nations of the world have interpreted them the same way since they were written.  By “tweaking” them Bush is introducing the concept that these legal concepts don’t actually have to mean what we’ve all agreed they meant for sixty years.  This then opens the door for every other country in the world to “tweak” the treaties and obligations that they have with the United States.  Bush is, literally, weakening the entire concept of international law itself.

There are screw-ups, there are mistakes, and there are monumental fuck-ups.  Bush’s recent actions are so far past monumental fuck-up there isn’t even a word I can think of to describe them.  I don’t think that we’re going to immediately see any negative consequences; they’ll appear long after Bush is gone, perhaps decades after.  But we’ve just started a ball rolling, and none of us know how steep the hill is or just what is going to get smashed when the ball gets to the bottom.

Posted by Lee on 09/26/06 at 10:45 PM in Deep Thoughts  • (2) TrackbacksPermalink
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