The Daily Sandwich

"We have to learn the lesson that intellectual honesty is fundamental for everything we cherish." -Sir Karl Popper

Location: Boston, Massachusetts, United States


Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Now back to our regularly scheduled disasters.

I'm back, after an unintentional and protracted absence. It was a mix of things-- connectivity issues, personal stuff, etc. And I can't escape the feeling that whenever I fall behind the news, there are some doozies waiting for me when I get back to it.

One of the biggest was the horrific bridge collapse in Minnesota-- the latest in several years worth of stories about America's infrastructure decaying over the last few decades (the most terrible being the defunding of New Orleans' levees by Bush and the GOP). Since there have now been a number of stories about this "time to pay the piper" reality of decades' worth of Republican tax cuts combined with Republican spending deficits, I'll let it lie for the moment. Although I'd sure love to see the ghost of Eisenhower appear before the nation. Of course, there's his prescient warning about the military industrial complex. But Eisenhower did a pretty bang-up job on infrastructure as well, particularly the nation's highways. Today's GOP? The collapse of health care, national infrastructure, diplomatic relations, the middle class... oh, but executives are paid about 500 times what the average worker earns. A new record!

Second, the Democrats' collective cave-in on FISA. It's truly disheartening to see how many are still caught up in the Beltway's DLC 'conventional wisdom' that Dems have to emulate the neo-fascists to get ahead. It's tough watching them utterly fail to learn one of the most basic lessons of the last decade: no matter what you do, the GOP will attack you mercilessly. So why not just do the right thing instead of giving them more ammo? These are pretty fundamental constitutional issues, after all. However, in an astonishing twist, many national papers are actually arguing that Democrats were 'strongarmed' into passing the legislation and had little time for consideration.

On to Iraq, where things are still terrible even though "catapulting the propaganda" here at home seems to be having an effect. There's been an increase in the number of Americans who think the 'surge' is having a positive effect, but it's hard to imagine why. There was the breathtaking re-emergence (I think I've even written about it in the past) of the story of missing firearms in Iraq. Not only has some $9 billion in US currency vanished there, but close to 200,000 submachine guns intended for the Iraqi police force have also disappeared. So, while the neo-fascists try to whip up support for a war with Iran by making dubious claims that they're arming the insurgents, the Republican leadership has managed to misplace hundreds of thousands of weapons and billions of dollars. Oops, I guess. Did I mention that Baghdad's residents have less electricity than at any point during the war?

Afghanistan keeps getting worse, too. The Taliban still holds 21 Korean hostages and recently launched a frontal assault on a small American base. In Bizarroworld, that is of course an indication of how powerless and desperate they are. Personally, I'd prefer such indicators as the Taliban losing ground instead of capturing it, and not launching rocket attacks. But what do I know? In spite of massive spending, BushCo and their congressional enablers have also failed (sound familiar?) to prevent the country from producing records amounts of opium poppies. That's bad enough, but a documentarian in the country has found that American troops-- who have to endure that hellish mix of tedium and anything-could-happen anxiety-- are one of the emerging markets for heroin.

Big stories all, and none of them good. But the GOP continues to provide gallows humor by the truckload, which appears to be the best we can hope for:

National Review: "Unlike badass Republicans, war critics would never serve their country."
Although the last thing we need is more evidence that the GOP is still obsessed with hippie peaceniks forty years after the fact, they are entirely serious.

GOP State Rep.: "I may be a racist, but it's not like I'm some sort of pansy!"
I'm generally the type to urge caution when people immediately argue that homophobes are invariably gay themselves. I'm sure it's a satisfying feeling for gays and lesbians, as it is for anyone to see hypocrisy laid bare, but I dislike absolutism and really dislike seeing one stereotype demolished only to be replaced by another. That said, the Republican party is making things very difficult for me these days.

State Rep. Bob Allen told police he was just playing along when a undercover officer suggested in a public restroom that the legislator give him oral sex and $20 because he was intimidated, according to a taped statement and other documents released Thursday. . . .

"I certainly wasn't there to have sex with anybody and certainly wasn't there to exchange money for it," said Allen, R-Merritt Island, who was arrested on charges of soliciting prostitution.

"This was a pretty stocky black guy, and there was nothing but other black guys around in the park," Allen, who is white, told police in a taped statement after his arrest. Allen said he feared he "was about to be a statistic" and would have said anything just to get away.

Yes, he's been described by a Florida gay rights group as "the worst of the worst" for their cause. And yes, the victims of family values hypocrisy are once again family-- in this case, his wife and child.