Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Simply political statements


AP headline: “Mass. Lawmakers Vote on Gay Marriage.” You know what would be a more interesting story? “Gay Lawmakers Vote on Mass Marriage.” Just saying.

Actually, there must be a lot of them in the Massachusetts Legislature, since the article keeps referring to “gay marriage proponents” and “gay marriage opponents.” It’s called a hyphen, Associated Press, use it!

So when there were riots in Afghanistan in 2005, in which at least 10 people died, over allegations that guards in Guantanamo were putting Korans in toilets, American officials pooh-poohed the possibility that the Koran would ever be treated with anything less than total respect. Now, the ACLU gets hold of an FBI report documenting many cases of religious-based as well as sexual abuses of Guantanamo prisoners, some of them a little on the elaborate side: “one interrogator bragged to an FBI agent that he had forced a prisoner to listen to ‘Satanic black metal music for hours,’ then dressed as a Catholic priest before ‘baptizing’ him.” Where, one has to ask, did the priest costume come from?

The WaPo says of the cell-phone footage of the Saddam hanging, “The video was the latest example of how amateurs using modern technology are exposing abuses and holding the powerful to account.” So it’s a Moqtada-Macaca moment?

Chief Justice John Roberts says that the low, low pay of federal judges (why, district court judges earn the same salary as a lowly United States senator, and Roberts himself makes only a little more than the vice president) (although judicial pensions are higher, 100% of retiring salary) amounts to a “constitutional crisis.” Gosh, there have been so many constitutional crises over the last few years that I’d completely overlooked that one. To arms, people! The republic is in peril!

Similarly, the Congressional Republicans are pushing something called the “Minority Bill of Rights,” which, surprisingly, is not about black people voting in the South or gay people getting married or Muslim members of Congress using the Koran in private ceremonies, but about protecting the “rights” of congresscritters in minority parties to get their amendments to the floor and that sort of thing. It’s always fun when Republicans use the language of civil rights. However, I’m willing to meet their “Bill of Rights” part-way and guarantee that they not have soldiers quartered in their house in time of peace.

George Bush is also reaching out to the new (well, a few hours from now) Congressional leadership, telling it in a Wall Street Journal op-ed piece that “we can’t play politics as usual.” Personally, I can’t think of anything more usual than a politician saying that we can’t play politics as usual. He says that it’s perfectly possible for the parties to work together, citing those happy by-gone days when Democrats gave him all the tax cuts and Patriot Acts he wanted. Good times, good times.

He says, “Our Founders believed in the wisdom of the American people to choose their leaders”. Of course if they’d met George W. Bush, they might have reconsidered that position. Continuing with his PolySci 101 lecture, he informs us that “The majority party in Congress gets to pass the bills it wants. The minority party, especially where the margins are close, has a strong say in the form bills take.” Since when?

He says that “Now is not the time to raise taxes on the American people.” No doubt he’ll be sure to tell us when it is the time.

What is it time for? “It’s time Congress give the president a line-item veto.” [sic]

Bush says that he will continue to govern on the basis of “common-sense principles,” like “wealth does not come from government” (tell that to John Roberts) and “I believe that when America is willing to use her influence abroad, the American people are safer and the world is more secure.” By influence, he means soldiers and bombs. He contrasts these common-sense principles with the base partisanship that’s all you can expect from those darned Dems, warning, “If the Congress chooses to pass bills that are simply political statements, they will have chosen stalemate,” adding, “To the new members of the 110th Congress, I offer my welcome--and my congratulations.”

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