Right Wingers + Comedy Don't Mix?

Hopefully you've seen it by now, but if not: Colbert Roasts Bush (heck, he slays Bush!)

I shouldn't be surprised that dittoheads are convincing themselves that Stephen Colbert "bombed" at the White House Correspondents Dinner. After all, Dennis Miller and Ann Coulter set the bar for right-wing comedy. (A couple of localblogs easily spring that bar.) The saddest comment I've seen about Colbert comes from Ol' Man Hinderocket:

The big news story was that the featured comedian, someone named Steve [sic] Colbert, apparently bombed. He did a virulently anti-Bush routine that got few laughs. [...] I wasn't surprised by this, inasmuch as I'd never heard of Steve Colbert, and it's been a long time since I heard a political humorist who was very funny. Comedians, in general, don't seem very funny to me nowadays. For that matter, neither does politics. If you want to take a break from current events and remind yourself what it was like when comedians had no agenda other than being funny, check out this clip from the Jack Benny show on Power Line Video.

Hold your horses, grandpa. A time "when comedians had no agenda other than being funny"? Apparently Hinderaker's liberal Harvard education really didn't do much good - has he never heard of Benjamin Franklin or Mark Twain? Has he never seen a political cartoon before 1950? You see, Stephen Colbert and the Daily Show are standing on the very tall, old shoulders of American political satire. Satire harnesses comedy to expose foolishness in all its guises. If Bush and some of the press corps weren't smiling by the end of Colbert's fiery roast, it's because they were stinging from the barbs of brilliant political satire.

The obvious stopping point is when the view is from the stands.

John Kenneth Galbraith 1908-2006

One pleasure [in researching The Great Crash] was in the discovery in one of its manifold forms that the emperor has no clothes. Or, in more precise terms, it came from learning how the fashionable, smug, secure and pompous could arrange their own demise. This, after 1929, was the fate of the greatest men of the financial world -- of Richard Whitney, the vice president, later president, of the New York Stock Exchange whose brother George was a greatly eminent partner at Morgan's; of Albert H. Wiggin, the head of the Chase National Bank; of Charles E. Mitchell, the head of the National City Bank of New York; and of the great men of the investment house of Goldman Sachs, including, among others, their counsel and ally John Foster Dulles. All were riding the boom, as were the less pretentious speculators. All, with the exception of Wiggin, who was short in the stock of his own bank, were firm in their belief that the values they were helping create by their own mindless optimism were real. Every suggestion to the contrary was dismissed as subversive negativism. The Crash was a violent collision with reality from which none escaped. Mitchell only unexpectedly stayed out of jail. Whitney, the most intransigent defender of the Stock Exchange against any and all government regulation, was, as I have said, sent to Sing Sing. Wiggin was sacked. By investing in their own beliefs, all except Wiggin had ruthlessly defrauded themselves. The threat to men of great dignity, privilege, and pretense is not from the radicals they revile; it is from accepting their own myth.

[from A Life in Our Times, his memoir. I wonder what a public man so wise and committed thought when he saw history repeat itself, over and over, despite his own best efforts to prevent it?]


Tax Freedom Day

For those of you who are still out celebrating Tax Freedom Day, check out the Center on Budget and Policy Priority's annual dose of common sense. The CBPP (again) demonstrates that the Tax Foundation's use of old data and blurry demographics is meaningless, and possibly dangerous as a method of influencing policy. Tax Freedom Day could be today; it could also have been five weeks ago. The squishy projections, plus the fact that the American Tax Freedom Day seems always to hover around the third and fourth weeks of April tells us... well, absolutely nothing. Even less when it comes to individual states. It would be interesting to calculate a Blue Collar Tax Freedom Day (or conversely a Capital Gains Tax Freedom Day), and see how that moves, but I notice the Tax Foundation steadfastly avoids such dangerous ideas.

Snow lies his way to the smelly top

In honor of Tony Snow joining the big leagues of liars, I thought it would be appropriate to point to a chronology of the false and misleading reports he did at FOX. Of course he'll have to step up his game if he wants to hang with the big boys.

A movie for the ages

Ladies and gents, introducing Don Knotts as....Dubya.


GOP to public: "Don't go there"

GOP Blocks Measures Boosting Taxes on Oil Company Profits:

The actions of Republicans hashing out a tax bill behind closed doors indicate that, despite tough talk from the White House and Capitol Hill, the party is not ready to hit the oil companies hard -- even on measures that have broad support in the Senate.

House Majority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) made it clear yesterday that the leadership would only go so far in punishing an industry enjoying record-breaking profits if that punishment could have broader negative consequences. In January, Exxon Mobil Corp. alone reported the highest corporate profit in U.S. history: $10.71 billion for the fourth quarter of 2005 and $36.13 billion for the entire year.

"The windfall profits [tax], when it was tried in the '80s, failed miserably because it led to less discovery. It led to less production and was a failure," Boehner said. "There is no reason for us . . . to go there again."

To quote the President, "Every little bit helps." (n.b. Bush is on the record today as advocating a repeal of the oil company tax breaks: whether or not he plans to push harder against Boehner, we'll see). I actually like the Menendez Plan, which calls for a 60-day repeal of the federal gasoline sales tax, to be paid for by lifting oil company tax breaks. Sen. Lautenberg's quote today bears repeating: "President Bush investigating the big oil companies is like Bonnie investigating Clyde." (Fascinating fact! 84-year-old Lautenberg is one of the few current Senators who could actually recall the Bonnie & Clyde spree of the early 1930's. The others are Byrd, Stevens, Akaka, and Inouye. Possibly Specter too.)

Slightly on-topic: wind farm development is erratic because there is no permanent tax credit (or so the wind farm industry says).


Go with the Flow

Famously eco-friendly company Seventh Generation will send a pack of their tampons or pads to a women's shelter in your state for every virtual donation made at their website, TamPontification. The "donation" is completely *free* and only takes a couple clicks of the mouse. Since menstrual products can cost women an estimated $40-$70 annually (by my rough calculations), this campaign could help out a lot of poor women who don't have that kind of cash to spare each month. [Thanks to the Women's Press for publicizing it.]


Franken's vision

According to the new City Pages interview:

It's the vision of a more just society in all respects—certainly in economic respects. There was a report out in the New York Times recently from David Cay Johnston—who we have on the [Air America] show a lot—about how much the wealthiest Americans have benefited from the latest tax cut. Tax justice is going to be part of this [vision]. And simple things like the living wage. Fair-trade deals. Health care for everyone. Investment in our schools—which we in Minnesota used to lead, and now we're not anymore. Using science again [laughs]. Addressing the real problem, which is global warming—that's just a common-sense issue and a moral issue. Renewable energy, bio-fuels. Pension reform, making sure that people have safe retirements. Addressing the stupid bankruptcy stuff. Establishing a foreign policy where we respect the views of other countries—where we make ourselves more secure by doing that.

I'll vote for that.


Let them eat really tall pies

Here's something funny: The Gray Lady Wears Prada, in which Michelle Cottle ponders the New York Times' decision to create a new Thursday luxury porn section:

In fact, it's precisely this simultaneous mocking of, and wallowing in, our luxe-life obsession that makes "Critical Shopper" a creation of Frankensteinian genius. Plenty of Times readers may be dying to hear every last detail about the parking lot at Fred Segal's Melrose Avenue store, but some may feel a twinge of shame about their aggressive acquisitiveness. After all, the Times is bringing luxury porn to a much broader audience than, say, Millionaire or Rich Guy magazine. Those publications are preaching to the choir of conspicuous consumption--to readers who not only have scads of money but have few qualms, if any, about spending it ostentatiously. "Thursday Styles," by contrast, is seeking new converts, reassuring its more skeptical readers that there's really nothing wrong with showing off their good fortune. This is delicate work considering that even many ultra-affluent Times readers belong to the ambivalently wealthy ranks of the "Bourgeois Bohemians" profiled so piquantly in now-Timesman David Brooks's 2000 classic, Bobos in Paradise. A new breed of elites deeply conflicted about their material success, Bobos are morally appalled by any gaudy display that could make them look like "the vulgar Yuppies they despise."

In related news a vulgar Yuppie named Bloomberg has decided not to expand foodstamp coverage for able-bodied childless adults:

"It looked like we were departing from the Giuliani era's stinginess and cruelty when it came to dealing with poor people," said Douglas Lasdon, executive director of the Urban Justice Center, a nonprofit law firm that sued the city, under both mayors, over food stamp rules and procedures. "This has not been an administration that has bowed to the political winds. It is a bit petty and odd."

Councilman Bill de Blasio, a Brooklyn Democrat who is chairman of the General Welfare Committee, said he would hold hearings and try to change the mayor's mind. "It's a huge mistake," he said. "We have a growing hunger and poverty problem and we need this waiver. This has caught everyone off guard."

On the bright side, maybe the new Thursday Styles section will give starving New Yorkers some leads on posh dumpsters filled with half-eaten gold-dusted pork shank and suchlike. Hell, now that hunger, homelessness, and luxury porn are all on the rise, let us praise the smoothly functioning Bush economy for its boat-lifting tide, its lofty pies, and just that overall "can't-sleep-clown-will-eat-me" feeling.


Make the Pie Higher

Since it's not only tax day but the dead center of the cruellest month, I'll post a classic 2002 poem by George W. Bush, more relevant now than ever:

I think we all agree, the past is over.
This is still a dangerous world.
It's a world of madmen and uncertainty
and potential mential losses.

Rarely is the question asked
Is our children learning?
Will the highways of the Internet become more few?
How many hands have I shaked?

They misunderestimate me.
I am a pitbull on the pantleg of opportunity.
I know that the human being and the fish can coexist.
Families is where our nation finds hope, where our wings take dream.

Put food on your family!
Knock down the tollbooth!
Vulcanize society!
Make the pie higher! Make the pie higher!

Detailed exegesis and citation can be found here.


Fantasy World

Glenn Greenwald rocks. He takes aim at the sadly predictable response of parrot-like Bush loyalists to "those griping ex-generals":

There is no fact which can't be dismissed away, no source whose motives are beyond reproach, no event which can't be blamed on others. [...]

It is a resolute fantasy world that they cling to for dear life, because everything that matters to them resides in that world. And the most significant aspect of all is that the person most afflicted with this fact-immune syndrome is the person who resides in the White House and controls our Government, and will for the next 2 1/2 years. There are few situations more destructive and dangerous than for a volatile situation to be controlled by people for whom faith in one's own rightness is infinitely more persuasive, and more sacred, than facts and reality.

Having just watched Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room, I can't help but see the parallels. The shameless arrogance, the grand deception, cashing in on imaginary futures by sticking it to regular working people today.

Just look at the headlines from the same 24 hours. Former Enron CEO Jeff Skilling thinks he and Ken Lay were a "good team" that committed no crimes. President Bush says Rumsfeld has my full support and deepest appreciation. Well, you know what they say: Birds of a feather...


More Cheney Leakage

National Journal reports that Cheney sprang more leaks, just hours before the Plame leak. Specifically, "portions of a then-highly classified CIA report that Cheney hoped would undermine the credibility of former Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson."

There is a growing body of information showing that at the time Plame was outed the vice president was deeply involved in the effort to undermine her husband.

This administration is infested with corruption, and needs to be pulled out by its roots.


Freedom fighters fighting for truth through freedom

From the deparment of So What Else is New, comes evidence that Bush knew Iraqi trailers were not mobile WMD labs well before he loudly proclaimed "We have found the weapons of mass destruction."

And of course, he continued to call them mobile laboratories for many months. Shocking.

Here's another shocker:

After team members returned to Washington, they began work on a final report. At several points, members were questioned about revising their conclusions, according to sources knowledgeable about the conversations. The questioners generally wanted to know the same thing: Could the report's conclusions be softened, to leave open a possibility that the trailers might have been intended for weapons?

Guess what? We wuz conned.

Another general adds his voice to the chorus

A year ago, Maj. Gen. John Batiste was commanding a division in Iraq. Today he's hitting the road to call for Rummy's resignation.


Another general against the war

It's the elephant in the room. Some of the most passionate critics of the Iraq war are those who are prosecuting it on the nation's behalf. They hold the least hypocritical, most defensible position, really. Some of us on the left preach from our pedestals while offering few alternatives. Some on the right refuse to see any flaw in what's left of the plan, blinded to the carnage by the light of their zeal. But the generals are doing what they have been asked to do with the tools given to them by the civilians in charge. That's the constitutional imperative at work.

That's also why Condy's recent statements that the war was strategically correct but tactically wrong, were so offensive to the tacticians.

In this week's Time, Marine Lieut. General Greg Newbold becomes the third general after Zinni and Eaton to call for Rumsfeld's retirement:

I will admit my own prejudice: my deep affection and respect are for those who volunteer to serve our nation and therefore shoulder, in those thin ranks, the nation's most sacred obligation of citizenship. To those of you who don't know, our country has never been served by a more competent and professional military. For that reason, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's recent statement that "we" made the "right strategic decisions" but made thousands of "tactical errors" is an outrage. It reflects an effort to obscure gross errors in strategy by shifting the blame for failure to those who have been resolute in fighting. The truth is, our forces are successful in spite of the strategic guidance they receive, not because of it.

In his most brutal assessment, he convicts the entire roster of technocratic chicken hawks that dreamed up this fiasco:

My sincere view is that the commitment of our forces to this fight was done with a casualness and swagger that are the special province of those who have never had to execute these missions--or bury the results.

That's well said.


National Woman's Party Archives Go Digital

Uncle Sam: If I could only keep my left hand from knowing what my right hand is doing.

The National Woman's Party, based at the Sewall-Belmont House in D.C., has digitized much of its collection of photos, political cartoons, and other artifacts from the suffrage era through more recent years. Wandering through the collection is a little clunky, but the gems you'll find (including the ever-so-relevant cartoon above) are worth it. Forget about the Cheneys and Bushes for a little while, and go celebrate some real patriots.


Pro-life nation

When Lee Goodman asked anti-abortion protesters what the punishment should be for a woman who gets an abortion, most of them hemmed and hawed, unable (on camera anyway) to follow their "abortion is murder" formulation to its logical conclusion: the woman who has an abortion is a murderer, and murderers are put in prison for life, or executed.

El Salvador, on the other hand, had no such problem. For the last eight years, abortion has been completely illegal there, with no restrictions for the life and health of the mother. Fetuses have constitutionally protected rights from the moment of conception. Women are harshly punished for having abortions, and doctors are required to report evidence they find of an abortion to the police.

Jack Hitt explores this world in his forthcoming New York Times Magazine cover story this Sunday. You must listen to this interview with him. It is eye-opening to say the least. If the War on Straight People continues the way it's been going, this is where we're headed.

Libby sings

Of course Bush okayed the leak. It's the only thing that makes sense.

Papers: Cheney Aide Says Bush OK'd Leak.


Cracked up like the road

Here's your Wisconsin referendum results: very few surprises as a handful of midwestern communities vote to bring the troops home. Isn't democracy irritating?

More relevant is the megatrend which shows a majority of citizens in both Britain and the U.S. are opposed to the war. Not that we're hostile to intervention in foreign lands, it's just that our priorities are a tad different:

The US public holds a strikingly clear view of what Washington's foreign policy priorities should be. The goals the public highlights range widely. Those that receive the most public support are helping other nations when they are struck by natural disasters (71 percent), cooperating with other countries on problems such as the environment and disease control (70 percent), and supporting UN peacekeeping (69 percent). A surprisingly high level of support shows up for goals that represent the United States' humanitarian (as distinct from its political) ideals, such as improving the treatment of women in other countries (57 percent), helping people in poor countries get an education (51 percent), and helping countries move out of poverty (40 percent). Receiving less support are goals such as encouraging US businesses to invest in poor countries (22 percent). And receiving the least support is "actively creating democracies in other countries" (20 percent).

If we're going to intervene militarily in foreign affairs, let's do it for coherent reasons that serve the greater good. Bush's rhetoric about spreading democracy is really just window dressing, anyone can see that.

Bush Betrays America.... again!

Hughes for America writes:

Michelle Malkin, describing a protest in Los Angeles, said, "Mexican flags and signs advocating ethnic separatism and supremacy filled the landscape." Virginia Rep. Virgil Goode, making a blanket statement about protesters, said, "I say if you are here illegally and want to fly the Mexican flag, go to Mexico and wave the American flag." Goode's congressional colleague, Sen. John McCain, warned protesters that we're in "sensitive times" and said "the Hispanic community risks a backlash if it become unruly or too many Hispanic flags - and not enough American flags - are at these protests."

That's right folks, and now, our worst fears are realized. The President himself has gone "south of the border" - mentally and politically. Here he is waving a Mexican flag. What a traitor!

For some level-headed thinking, read To Become an American by Fareed Zakaria.


Delay won't seek re-election

I imagine we will hear much, much more about this as the news unfolds. Drunk on power and a belief system that is basically the antithesis of a constitutional republic, Delay typifies the kind of Republican that is either on the way to jail or out of power or both.

Chalk another one up for the country.

UPDATE: Not only won't he be running, he's going to resign. I think we can safely put the "Ronnie Earle is a partisan hack..." lie behind us. Unfortunately, what we have to look forward to now is a bunch of right wing windbags running around with tubes of lipstick trying like hell to gussy up the pig:

"He has served our nation with integrity and honor," said Majority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio

Say what? That's right. Tell it Hon. John Boehner. You just KNOW that the name Tom Delay means integrity and honor. That's why he was indicted and is resigning in disgrace. I just love that GOP, values party lipstick. Sooooeeee!