Archive for February, 2008|Monthly archive page

Nanpa school

This guy is truly a man among men. He teaches a class in Japan on how to pick up women:

“I always teach my students that sex comes first,” he says. “Then you figure out whether the woman is worth marrying later.”

Bonus points: his technique even got a 26 year old virgin named Hachioji Robocop laid!

Note to Self

If anyone questions (again) why I would not consider voting for John McCain for president, it’s this.

He genuinely appeared to earn his “maverick” title in 2000.  He said things that made sense, even when they weren’t popular, and he gave people a sense that he valued, well, values over politics.  Since Al Gore was still a wooden stick figure back then, it’s quite likely I would have voted for McCain had he not been sabotaged by the Bush campaign in the South Carolina primary.

In the intervening years, unfortunately, he has relinquished any claim to his independence.  He has joined the ranks of the Party Over Country Republicans, voting against what I can only assume is his conscience (although perhaps he’s lost that too).  It was less than a year ago that he voted against another anti-torture bill only to remain silent while the president slipped another of his “this doesn’t apply to me” signing statements into it.  Now that he’s trying to capture the far right vote he has abandoned even that thin veneer of the appearance of moral certitude. He’s in full pander mode now, willing to say or do anything necessary to attract the votes of people who think gay marriage is the biggest problem our country faces.

So that’s it in a nutshell.  The Republican party is in a dangerous state of groupthink right now, and the result is the present state of affairs in our country.  I’ll be glad to consider them again for positions of leadership once they demonstrate that they’ve turned over a new leaf.  In the meantime, I’m not holding my breath.

Years from now when we’re looking back at the politics of this decade I hope we will be able to point to this week as the turning point in what had been a familiar congressional game of empty threats and paper tigers.  The US House finally did what Harry Reid and his Senate couldn’t muster the courage to do – they stood up to Bush.  What terrible tragedy befell them for their unthinkable insolence?  They won.

Despite all the laughable posturing and despicable fearmongering that we’ve come to expect from this administration, not to mention the overinflated importance of a bill that clearly had little to do with protecting us and much to do with administrative ass-covering, the House stood on principle and refused to be browbeaten into submission yet again.  It’s far too early to declare that fundamental change is at last underway, but it’s a heartening sign of the potential of things to come.

The progressive wing of the Democratic party, with which I am allied because they appear to be the only political contituency left that cares about the Constitution and the rule of law, is making great inroads into ousting old-school Democrat incumbents and replacing them with fresh progressive faces – Donna Edwards in Maryland’s 4th being the most recent example.

Lots of interesting things going on that lend themselves to a hopeful attitude.  The pragmatist in me says “just wait, the Dems will bork it up like they always do” but the long-absent and very well rested optimist in me believes we’re in a fundamental shift right now that will become more apparent as the weeks go by.

I’ll be interested in seeing the eventual analyses of this period, specifically the conditions that led to such change.  Was it Bush fatigue, Obama’s emergence, global warming, some combination of those and other causes?

Who knows.  What matters most right now is that little light at the end of the tunnel.

Happy FISA Day

Today is the day that the United States Senate, led by Harry Reid, sells the rule of law to our telecommunication companies for a few million in campaign donations.  This afternoon, without any knowledge of what happened or who the government wiretapped, our brave leaders will retroactively immunize the telecoms for breaking several laws that were enacted specifically to stop the activity they engaged in.

For Republicans to support this is a given; they’ve followed Bush in zombie-like lockstep throughout this disaster of a presidency.  What’s really disappointing is that the Democrats can’t muster enough votes to oppose this painfully obvious end-run on the rule of law and the wishes of the people.  Their desire to “go along to get along” is in stark contrast to the two-thirds of America who are clamoring for them to put a stop to this bullshit once and for all.  As Glenn points out today:

Analogously, in 1973, The Washington Post won the Pulitzer Prize for its work in uncovering the Watergate abuses, and that led to what would have been the imminent bipartisan impeachment of the President until he was forced to resign in disgrace. By stark and depressing contrast, in 2006, Jim Risen, Eric Lichtblau and the NYT won Pulitzer Prizes for their work in uncovering illegal spying on Americans at the highest levels of the Government, and that led to bipartisan legislation to legalize the illegal spying programs and provide full-scale retroactive amnesty for the lawbreakers. That’s the difference between a country operating under the rule of law and one that is governed by lawlessness and lawbreaking license for the politically powerful and well-connected.

I know one day this will get corrected, but it will be too late.  The constant fearmongering we’ve lived under for 7 years will be a distant memory, and no one will quite understand why the decision was made, but no one will be held responsible regardless.  The telecoms will have skated away with fistfuls of cash for their selfless cooperation (which, incidentally, ceased when a bill for $30k wasn’t paid on time) despite laws that clearly state what they did is illegal no matter who authorized it – President or otherwise.

On the bright side, this episode confirms a suspicion I’ve had for some time.  Every time Cheney comes out of the woodwork to rattle the terror cage, the topic is something uncomfortably close to administration wrongdoing.  In this case, were the telecom lawsuits permitted to proceed, we would learn the extent to which the White House violated the law in the years prior to warrantless wiretapping’s legalization. Thus, Cheney is revived and dispatched to some hyperconservative gathering to generate headlines that will remind the nation of the terrorists who are hiding under our patio tables and park benches.

When it comes to White House lawbreaking, Cheney is the canary in the coalmine.  Watch for his next appearance and try to figure out what he’s drawing attention away from.  50 points to the winner!