Wednesday, May 24, 2006

LIGHT BLOGGING AHEAD Things are going to get even quieter over here at CONTRAPOSITIVE during the next couple weeks. We know, we've been falling down on the job as it is.

It's hard to explain why it should have grown more difficult, over the last couple months, to muster outrage proportional to our circumstances. Bloggers Brad DeLong and Atrios, for example, don't seem to be having any difficulty conveying the scope and texture of their frustration.

Clearly, we've had trouble rising to the challenge.

Consider: What is one to say about revelations like this one--appearing thirteen paragraphs down in a weekend report from The New York Times about the Iraqi police force:

Bernard B. Kerik, the former New York City police commissioner sent to Iraq in 2003 to lead the police mission, said Pentagon officials gave him just 10 days notice and little guidance.

"Looking back, I really don't know what their plan was," Mr. Kerik said. With no experience in Iraq, and little time to get ready, he said he prepared for his job in part by watching A&E Network documentaries on Saddam Hussein.
More than five years into the homegrown catastrophe known as the Bush administration, is there anything to be said about this sort of news that is in any way illuminating?

Are there any genuinely new lessons to be learned--or shared--about this group's incompetence, its dysfunctionality and its disdain for expertise?

And is there any evidence that enablers like Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS) and Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) are ready to hold the administration accountable for its errors and misdeeds?

We'll be spending the next couple weeks mulling over those questions--and others.

Meanwhile, we hear that there's some sort of crazed hippie movement gathering in steam in Connecticut. Might be worth learning more about.

And finally, switching gears, we'll close out the month by drawing your attention to a new theatre production, landing in August at the Minnesota Fringe. More on that in future posts.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

SLEAZY TEXAS BUDDIES Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) wants it bad. Really bad.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

ALL IN ONE Josh Marshall sees the light:
After more than a little trying I think I've finally gotten a handle on this immigration debate. Or at least the president's slice of it, which goes by the name of 'comprehensive immigration reform'. If I understand this right, 'comprehensive' reform is reform that's so comprehensive that it reforms the thing in question in every way possible at the same time.

So, for instance, comprehensive sex reform -- which, given how things are going in Washington, could be just around the corner -- would mean expanding abstinence education and reducing the number of sexually active teenagers while also fulfilling the universal dream of teenagers everywhere to get laid.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

MY QUESTION FOR BROOKS David Brooks on the NSA phone records story:
I think, basically, people think this is a legitimate way, if the NSA professionals want to do this, they're prepared to defer to the NSA professionals who seem to be doing it by the book within the NSA, which is a pretty good agency.
My question for Brooks: David, when you say that the NSA professionals, "seem to be doing it by the book"--which book are you talking about?

Or is "doing it by the book" just shorthand for "heeding the whims of the President"?

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

DEPT. OF EXEGESIS Why did Porter Goss leave the CIA? I think it's because he's implicated--at least tangentially--in the burgeoning corruption, government contracts and hookers scandal.

But that's just a hunch.

What is clear now--and was clear by Monday night: Even if Goss had no role in the scandal, Goss appointee and CIA Executive Director Kyle "Dusty" Foggo (make that former Executive Director) is up to his ears in it.

By late Monday it was common knowledge that Foggo was under investigation by the FBI and the CIA's Inspector General. And it had been reported that Foggo may soon be indicted.

And yet here's how The New York Times portrays his ouster in Tuesday's piece on the firings and hirings at the CIA:

In another sign that the White House was trying to make the change in C.I.A. leadership politically palatable to Congress, the agency's No. 3 official, Kyle Foggo, told colleagues in an e-mail message on Monday that he, too, was stepping down.

Have Elisabeth Bumiller and Carl Hulse been taking silly pills? Do they really believe that Foggo was let go to please Congress rather than to insulate the administration politically?

Bumiller and Hulse just aren't stupid enough to believe the White House line here. They know Foggo is at the center of a scandal, and that he may well be indicted for his role. And yet they parrot the administration's "bureaucratic shuffling" narrative all the same; as if there job wasn't, instead, to puncture just this type of spin.

Why are New York Times reporters doing Tony Snow's dirty work for him?

Friday, May 05, 2006

GOSS IS OUT It may be a while before we find out why CIA Director Porter Goss has resigned.

But his resignation is certain to draw more attention to this unfolding story.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

FLUENT IN SPANISH The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, August 3, 2000:
The GOP presidential candidate's first words were in Spanish.

"Vamos a ganar," said Bush, before bringing former foe John McCain and his wife, Cindy, on stage.

Bush, who is fluent in Spanish, was telling the crowd, "We are going to win. "
The Palm Beach Post, October 27, 2000:
Texas Gov. George W. Bush, fluent in Spanish and with considerable Mexican-American support from his home state, has much to lose if the GOP is seen as the party that oppresses immigrants.
The Associated Press, September 20, 2000:
Hispanics have tended to register and vote as Democrats, but Texas Gov. George W. Bush, the Republican candidate for president, is fluent in Spanish and is believed to hold wide appeal for that group.
Los Angeles Daily News, February 24, 2000:
Bush, who is fluent in Spanish but chose to speak English, appeared at a town-hall forum with Latino voters organized by Univision, the Spanish- language television network, held at Loyola Marymount University in Westchester.
Wonder where these media outlets (and many others) got the mistaken impression that Bush is fluent.

Monday, May 01, 2006

WHERE'S THE OUTRAGE? To the mainstream media, it's almost as if Stephen Colbert didn't attend Saturday night's White House Correspondents Dinner. Truly stunning.

Tonight on (Keith Olbermann's) Countdown, Dana Milbank seemed to suggest that Colbert's performance has been ignored simply because it wasn't funny. And Milbank's right: Colbert wasn't funny--at least not in any conventional sense of the word.

Heck, how funny can you be when you're standing ten feet from the President and telling "jokes" like this one:

I stand by [the President]. I stand by this man because he stands for things. Not only for things, he stands on things. Things like aircraft carriers and rubble and recently flooded city squares. And that sends a strong message, that no matter what happens to America, she will always rebound with the most powerfully staged photo ops in the world.
Funny? Maybe in a very dry, very dark way. But "discomfiting" or "jarring" would be just as apt a description.

Whatever you call it, though, the bottom line is that the President doesn't get called an empty suit, to his face, every day. Satirical or no, Colbert's performance deserved notice.

CONTRAPOSITIVE is edited by Dan Aibel. Dan's a playwright. He lives in New York City.