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Political Stupidity, Stupidity, Campaign Stupidity

New Years' Smorgasbord

Greetings folks, and Happy New Year! I have some various points of interest to discuss.

First of all: The number of U.S. soldiers dead has risen to 3,000.  Said Dubya: "The sacrifice has been worth it. I haven't questioned whether or not it was right to take Saddam Hussein out. I mean, I've questioned it -- I've come to the conclusion that it was the right decision."

Secondly, there have been eight bombings in Bangkok, the capital of Thailand, killing two and injuring at least 20. Source: http://www.cnn.com/2006/WORLD/asiapcf/12/31/thailand.blasts/index.html?eref=rss_topstories. Additionally, an explosion at Spain's Madrid Barajas International Airport. 26 people have been injured, with two more missing. The explosion, according to the main page of Wikipedia, has also left two missing.

Thirdly, Saddam Hussein is dead. I'm frankly a little disgusted that on NBC News the night before they said that the execution would be filmed but not released (to prevent conspiracy theorists from claiming it never happened while keeping the pro-Saddam masses from completely freaking out), and then, what do I see on CNN the following day? That very video, which they had obtained a copy of, played right up until the moment where he was about to be hung. For that, we got reporter Carol Lin's in depth description of how he fell through the little trap door and hung there, etc. It couldn't have been more unsettling unless she'd held a flashlight under her chin. I don't know if the video's appearance was due to the Iraqis who did the hanging being either laissez-faire or receptive to bribery, or CNN's strongarming or willing to bribe, but there it is, something that by all accounts should not have been released. I was less than thrilled, but there to make me feel all better was Warren Ellis. He linked to this site: http://www.newsarama.com/ImageComics/NightlyNews/01/TNN01_full.html, which features a preview of an excellent comic by Jonathan Hickman called "The Nightly News." It is informative (in how many comics do you get a breakdown of news companies and their subsidiaries, or charts with the names of every leader of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank?), well-written, and even if you don't agree with the politics (the plot focuses on a cult of people who were wronged by the media--as in they published incorrect and libelous facts about them and did not take an effort to correct their mistakes) the art is absolutely phenomenal. I do not plan on writing any comic book reviews for this blog, but if I had to, this is the one I would have (and, I suppose, I have to some extent) reviewed. It's hard to read some of the writing in the preview's images, so I recommend saving every pic to your hard drive, and using an image viewing program to blow it up a little.

Next, the comment on my latest section of profiles on incoming congressfolk from a Loebsack volunteer got me thinking--how many people outside of the people I write this for actually read Politics For Dummies? Well, one person in Iowa at least, but are there more?
On to Google, doing a search for "politics4dummys" and I got 3 pages of data. Wow. I got a lot of pages from something called Technorati (I feel something, like all the computer nerds crying out in pain, then shouting "How do you not know about Technorati?" I have no idea if that actually is happening--it just has a name that, to me at least, seems like it's something special). However, I did find that we've been found out on something called stumbleupon.com (http://www.stumbleupon.com/url/politics4dummys.livejournal.com/5721.html)
Not only did we appear there, but whoever put us there gave us a favorable review. So if you're reading this, thank you, USSarge, whomever you may be.
Additionally we've been listed on something called Text Blog, which appears to simply be a blog search engine. We also popped up on ljseek.com, whatever it is, though not for long--had to grab the google-cache: "politics4dummys"&hl=en&gl=uk&ct=clnk&cd=20
Speaking of sites I can't identify, we popped up on Friggle Fraggle, but not long there either: "politics4dummys"&hl=en&gl=uk&ct=clnk&cd=17
We're also the top result when someone types "politics for dummy" at Freequery.com, which appears to be a sketchy looking search engine, run by something called AdBie, so I don't know if I'd go there to see.
We also appeared briefly at something called zewol.net: "politics4dummys"&hl=en&gl=uk&ct=clnk&cd=15
We pop up twice on something called r-mail.org, which appears to be yet another search engine. Google only picked up two hits from there, if you search for, of all things, "formulas" and "pombo", but I suspect this may go for other things as well.
Lastly, Google picked up a number of instances from something called realhotelwebsites.com, but it doesn't turn up anything legible. I think it's just a hotel-related data-miner, as its only mentioning me because I mentioned where Dubya was staying in Jordan during his latest trip there.

You like me! (Sniff) You really like me! I promise not to let this newfound fame get to my head. Right after all of you finish waxing my Maserati. OK, really, this isn't much, but I remain impressed and flattered about the stumbledupon one, and not just because it's the only one of these I'm sure isn't just a bot.  Even more optimistic is that anyone who types "Fantasy congress" and "Politics for dummies" into Google together gets 5 entries, all of which are either this blog, or people who link here.  I've noticed a lot of these links are coming from my talking about the next presidential election (one of the latter links is for a site trying to draft Bill Richardson to run for President, I wonder if they know I gave him fair chances to be VP, at best?).  If I talk about the Presidential election more (sans the obligatory mention now that John Edwards has entered the race (doing so after a day of yardwork at a Katrina survivor's house, a day after his campaign site prematurely launched), you'll know it's because I'm just hungry for fame.

Pushing inflating egos aside and moving on, it's time for two little bits of domestic news:
*Update on the FL-13 House seat, which you'll remember Vern Buchanan (R) won in exceptionally sketchy circumstances over Dem Christine Jennings. DailyKos has the word on what's happening with that: http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2006/12/31/155159/31
It's a good sign, in my opinion, that the Dems are going to let Buchanan take the seat for now, even though, by majority vote (and am I the only one who had to think for a minute about how they'd get the votes before happily realizing that the Dems are in the majority?), they could put Jennings in the seat instead. I think this for two reasons. Picture the angel and devil on my shoulders for a second here:
Angel: Like declaring we will not even consider impeaching Bush, this shows that Democrats aren't the vicious demons seeking revenge for years of being in the minority.
Devil: If (and, I believe, when) it is proved that something sketchy to the point of illegal happened in that race, Buchanan will have to resign in disgrace or be impeached (or whatever is happening in the story I linked to will kick in) and the media will get to frenzy over Votegate or whatever they'll call it, and for once the Dems will get to look good in a recount-related story.

I admit my biases: I like that devilish bit best.

*I mentioned a little while ago that Mitt Romney was trying to force the Massachusetts Legislature to make a decision on gay marriage in the state he will shortly no longer be mayor of. As I saw it, the Massachusetts Supreme Court could have done two things: It could have forced the vote through and limited the Legislature's perceived political power, or it could have told Romney that his Governor's seat was not enough. But instead they trimmed back their own power, giving Romney the finger as they did so, by ruling that it did not have the authority to force the Legislature to take action.

Now, I want everybody to take a moment to stop, take a breath, and just think about how classy that move is. That's a heckuva classy move. Not only do you make a laughingstock of Romney, who, as one site (http://www.queerty.com/queer/news/mass-court-wont-force-antigay-vote-20061227.php) put it, gave "new meaning to classy by suing his own state," but here's an issue, gay marriage, where there's one thing above all else that the right wing Republicans, the Christian Coalition, and all that lot LOVE to scream about more than all else. What is it? You know what it is, everybody, sing along!


And what did the Massachusetts Supreme Court, by refusing Mitt Romney, refuse to become? Everybody!


It's so brilliant, so classy, so wonderful.  I don't drink, but I can still raise a glass of sparkling something-or-other to the Massachusetts Supreme Court.  Oh? What's that? They picked on Romney more? I almost don't want to risk ruining the moment, but let's see what they said:
"Beyond resorting to aspirational language that relies on the presumptive good faith of elected representatives, there is no presently articulated judicial remedy for the Legislature's indifference to, or defiance of, its constitutional duties."
Or, as the site I referenced above phrases it, Romney tried to scare the Legislature via the courts with "a finger-wagging and the threat of having people vote against them."  OK, a dig at Romney being an immature jackass helps.  But this is just a single instance of Romney being immature.  What we need is one more good example of Romney sticking his head in the Virgil Goode position.  (I'm sorry, folks, I'm enjoying myself WAY too much to be impartial here.)

Oh, what's that?
Extra! Extra! Romney is threatening to WITHHOLD THE MA CONGRESS' PAY RAISES unless they vote on gay marriage!  Romney will be gone by the end of the week, and no doubt incoming Democratic Governor Deval Patrick will happily hand over that money.  Not only that!  Romney and his goons are  threatening to seek bar sanctions against all of the attorneys in the legislature if the vote doesn't happen.  Everybody hold on for a moment while I ask my dad the lawyer what a "bar sanction" is.

OK, in the wise words of my father, a bar sanction can be almost anything in terms of severity, from a reprimand, to a suspension of one's right to practice law, to being disbarred--yes, disbarred--Romney (assuming he's trying to be as harsh as he could, which I do), may be pushing for lawyers who disagree with him to be disbarred--not something that is done lightly.  If this was successful, it would mean that those legislators lose their backup job if they ever stop being a legislator.  That ain't right.  But judging from what my dad could tell me,  this threat is as likely to be carried out by any bar association as my following threat is likely to be carried out by me:
Mitt Romney: If you do not stop all this silliness I will squish you to death with seven tons of pineapples using only the power of my mind.

And it's not just Romney himself who is frothing at the mouth over this issue.  Apparently one of the VoteOnMarriage (Romney's allies) leaders, Larry Cirignano, who was to give a speech against gay marriage, took matters, and the head of gay rights activist Sarah Loy, into his own hands: http://www.gayrightswatch.com/2006/12/cathlolics-turning-to-violence-to-stop.html
"The Worcester Telegram & Gazette reports that Cirignano rushed from behind the lectern and tackled Loy to the ground. 'You need to get out. You need to get out of here right now,' he allegedly told her as her head was pushed into the concrete sidewalk.  As Loy lay bruised and bloodied on the sidewalk Cirignano reportedly returned to lectern, joining other leaders of the protest in condemning same-sex marriage and demanding the proposed amendment be put on the ballot."
More info and photos of this sickening incident here: http://worcester.indymedia.org/news/2006/12/6689.php
Letter written calling for Cirignano's resignation: http://livelovelearn247.blogspot.com/2006/12/don-gorton-calls-for-cirignanos.html

Now, I'm betting all of you would interpret everything I've mentioned as a tremendous defeat for Romney and his goons.  Right? Right?  Well, VoteOnMarriage has apparently informed me I'm wrong.  Their own website, specifically here: (http://www.voteonmarriage.org/news.shtml#sjc122706) declares an emphatic victory.  Apparently: "The SJC has made it crystal clear: the constitution requires a vote on the marriage amendment. As such, we expect a fair up or down vote on January 2, there are no more excuses for legislators to hide behind. "  Yup.  Because the Supreme Court thumbing their nose at Romney et al was obviously done so on Opposite Day.  And, if that wasn't enough, VoteOnMarriage would like you to know that they're rubber and you're glue, and what you say about them bounces off them and sticks to you.

Well, keep clapping if you believe, VoteOnMarriage.  At the rate of your progress, Tinkerbell will be hooking up with the Tooth Fairy within the next week.

If Romney & Co. are this desperate--and they clearly are more than a little desperate, it can only mean one thing--Romney has probably decided that he won't be able to truly establish himself as the conservative's Republican unless he can be the anti-gay crusader and come from a state that doesn't allow gay marriage.  Let's hope he's right.  Or rather, let's hope they're wrong, and that Romney, who I believe has a snowball''s chance in hell of getting elected President, tries and fails to become our 44th president.  Why will he fail? Hopefully because of a countrywide reaction like this: http://www.boston.com/news/local/articles/2004/05/24/romney_is_booed_at_suffolk_commencement/

OK, enough ranting.  For this post, at least.

Now, it's nearing 2007.  And of course, all our thoughts (after prying your imaginations away from Tinkerbell, sorry about that) are turning to what will happen during the coming year.  The AP was wondering the same thing: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20061231/ap_on_re_us/2007_predictions_ap_poll

Among the highlights are:
90% of Americans predict higher gas prices
70% of Americans predict a major natural disaster will hit the U.S.
70% expect worsening global warming
60% predict a terror attack in the U.S.
60% predict a nuclear or biological attack will be unleashed somewhere else in the world
57% predict another state will legalize gay marriage
35% predict a reinstatement of the draft
35% predict a cure for cancer will be found
25% predict the second coming of Jesus Christ
19% predict the discovery of extraterrestrial life.

I personally think that the fact that 90% of people have an opinion on gas prices basically guarantees more global warming, that the draft won't be reinstated, that a definitive "cure for cancer" won't be found, but some progress may be made toward treating, if not curing, some cancers.  As for Jesus and the Aliens (which would be a fantastic band name--you can use it if you give me a slice of the royalties and let me play didgeridoo) I'm sorry Christians and Roswell-theorists--I don't have much to offer you.

But, here are some things I do predict:
*Significant efforts will be made to clean up the U.S. Electoral system.
*Remember that meeting Dick Cheney had to decide on the U.S. energy policy?  The one where all the gas companies were invited behind closed doors?  We're going to find out at least a little bit about what happened there.  And though it doesn't make me happy to predict it, I suspect that if the subpoenas don't do it, the media will mumble a little and then move on to flashier things.
*What was the last big terrorist act on U.S. soil before 9/11?  Oklahoma City bombing.  The white supremacy kooks may be letting the other terrorists help Americans get a little more racist, but I have a sneaking suspicion that, between the gays and the immigrants being allowed to roam free under a Democratic congress, they're going to take matters into their own hands, and that's going to get ugly fast.  There was already an incident where a right-wing-blog fan and devotee to Ann Coulter (who lives with his parents, if that's not sad enough already) sent white powder to Jon Stewart, Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, David Letterman, and at least one other person.  The white powder wasn't anthrax. (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chad_Castagana.)  This incident is funny, the next one will not be.
*We won't get out of Iraq, and either it or Afghanistan will become dangerously close to getting out of U.S. control.
*Dubya's approval rating will slide below 30%, but it won't go lower than Nixon's record low of (I believe) 24% in August, 1974, because there are too many people for whom believing in Bush is quickly becoming (if it isn't already) a tenet of their religion.
*Something will happen in Russia, or to ex-pat Russians) that the Kremlin can't cover up.  There will be much more fierce and vocal outcry--it will be less-than-gently put down, and there will be murmurings in the U.N. before everyone remembers that Russia has veto powers.  Remember--when an ex-KGB leader runs your country, dissent is not a right--at least, not in practice.
*If Castro doesn't die, the Cuban government may wish he does, as he will be too physically weak to be a figurehead.
*If you don't already, you will learn to loathe Mitch McConnell, the new minority leader of the Senate.  Trust me.  He'll filabuster and filabuster, despite all those nasty things he said about doing so back during the "nuclear option" debate.  But that won't be the only reason.  Trust me.
*Somebody famous will say something so offensive they could never explain it away with the "Mel Gibson Defense."  Either they will try and everyone openly disbelieves them, or the person who says it couldn't say something like "I was drunk at the time" because it won't help their image.  I'm thinking Senator Brownback for this one, but it could be others. 

And now for some reaches--things that I wouldn't bet money on, but are interesting or amusing hunches:
*Joe Lieberman, currently placated with his chairmanship of the Homeland Security Committee, will get fed up enough to change parties or become an independent caucusing with the Republicans.  In 2008, more Dems will be elected to the Senate, and Lieberman will find himself in the minority.  He'll switch back, but the switch will lose him the next election, and cancel any chances of him being a Dem candidate for Prez or VP again.
*People will start investigating the Bush White House (does it matter what they investigate?), and find that there's so few records available on whatever subject is under investigation, that the only conclusion is that there was some heavy-duty shredding going on.
*More people will get their news from The Daily Show than CNN and Fox News combined.  This is a reach because I'm not sure if this is already happening or not.

And lastly (until I click "Edit Entry" and add some more to this list), one final prediction:
*The G.O.P. have stated that they have decided, in the wake of the 2006 elections, that they needed to be even more conservative.  Their efforts will either make me throw up or die laughing, all while typing so furiously keys fly off my keyboard.

I invite everybody to add their own predictions and reaches.


You play the didj, for real? You'll have to teach me circular breathing sometime, if you've got that down, and we can have a didjeridu jam session.

Also: 25% of folks surveyed predict the second coming of Christ? Whaaaaaat?

And: I already loathe Mitch McConnell. The senators from KY are a disgrace to the state. I want new senators!

Prediction: The radical right create a new bizarre and mostly irrelevant cause to support, casuing a media kerfuffle and a lot of exasperated facepalming and headdesking from the rest of us (e.g. Terry Schiavo, War on Christmas).

Prediction: I get unceremoniously dethroned in Fantasy Congress again.
By "play the didgeridoo" I mean "pretend to play the didgeridoo". I have tried and failed at the whole circular breathing bit. But you know what? If I got to be in a band called "Jesus and the Aliens", I would practice it 24/7, calling in all the world's experts and taking pilgrimages to Australia if that's what it takes.

As for the 25%, that's actually one of the lower numbers I've seen. Top of the "Things that could be satirical but sadly aren't" category for me is "The Rapture Index" and we are living under it's record high: http://www.raptureready.com/rap2.html

And I'm predicting not even getting a throne to be dethroned from again, but we'll see if the subjects of my repeated dibs-calling are any help.

August 2008



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