Happy Hour Discurso

Today’s opining on the public discourse.

It ain’t just the Department of Justice that’s filled with partisan political hacks. We’d do well to remember that Bush’s plan to infest the entire government with loyal Bushies doesn’t begin and end there:

The Department of Justice has been taking a lot of heat lately for the inspector general’s report detailing pervasive, illegal partisanship among upper-level officials.

But former employees from the Office of Special Counsel say they’ve been complaining about the exact same problems for more than three years, and the White House is blocking a public report about misconduct in that office.


A lawyer for the former employees, Avi Kumin, wrote a letter today to the White House Counsel, urging for a formal, public report.

Kumin rattled off several examples of parallels between DOJ and Bloch’s office.

My clients’ complaint reported that OSC officials hired several career employees primarily because they attended the Christian, conservative (and at the time only provisionally accredited) Ave Maria Law School. …

My clients reported years ago that Mr. Bloch fired them because of their perceived sexual orientation or perceived support for enforcing sexual orientation protections for federal employees. …

My clients’ compliant about OSC raised significant evidence that Mr. Bloch and his staff evaluated whistleblower and Hatch Act investigations based on partisan politics.

Ave Maria Law School. That sounds legitimate. I thought they only hired from Liberty University – guess it didn’t matter where you got your piece of paper as long as it was stamped by neo-theo-con lackwits who would’ve given a million dollars for the opportunity to personally plant their lips on Bush’s butt cheeks.

We’re going to be decades sweeping up this mess.

We’re not likely to get any help from les enfants terrible:

House conservatives engaged in political theater today, storming the floor after Congress was adjourned “to attack Democrats for leaving town without doing something to lower gas prices.” Politico reports, “At one point, the lights went off in the House and the microphones were turned off in the chamber, meaning Republicans were talking in the dark.”

“Bring the Congress back. Let’s have a real up or down vote,” House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) proclaimed. In fact, there was a real up or down vote on gas prices just two days before. And Boehner is well aware of it because he was responsible for ensuring it didn’t pass. Dan Weiss explains on the Wonk Room what occurred this week:

During yesterday’s vote on the Commodity Markets and Transparency Act (H.R. 6604) to rein in oil profiteers, House Republican leaders pressured 13 of their members to switch their vote from “yes” to “no.” Thanks to these strong arm tactics and weak members, the bill to lower gasoline prices by controlling profiteers failed by a vote of 276-151, falling ten votes shy of the two-thirds majority required for passage under the suspension of the House rules. Once again, the GOP leadership used their power to help keep oil prices and profits high, while hurting the average driver.

Boehner strong-armed his own conservative members to ensure a bill didn’t pass because he wanted to engage in today’s political theatrics. After killing a bill that would have addressed gas prices, House conservatives have decided they want to blow hot air in the dark.

Get that? Playing martyr was so important to these fuckwits that they engineered a defeat they could then decry. Dday compares them to a bunch of 9 year-olds on a sleepover, but he’s being too generous – I’ve known kindergarteners more mature than this. Our fellow countrymen really have elected into office the most immature, inane, and tantrum-prone bunch of buffoons they could possibly find. I hope to fuck enough of the voting public grows up this election cycle to realize that maybe real adults could do a wee bit o’ a better job governing the damned country.

But that doesn’t seem likely. Our fellow Americans are all too willing to swallow any feel-good lie they can find:

Up until a couple of months ago, John McCain was strongly opposed to expansive coastal drilling, arguing that it was a bad idea that would do nothing to help consumers. Then, as the political winds shifted, McCain shifted with them, and exploited public frustration for all its worth. He effectively told voters, “Wait, did I say coastal drilling wouldn’t help? I meant coastal drilling is great!”

Barack Obama, meanwhile, has stood firmly behind a reality-based policy, trying to explain to the public that drilling won’t help. To date, his efforts haven’t exactly paid off — polls show Americans endorsing this dumb idea in huge numbers, and Obama’s policy has become the McCain campaign’s biggest and most frequent target.

With that in mind, yesterday, Obama shifted a bit. It’s probably not quite fair to characterize this as a complete reversal — Obama thought coastal drilling was a bad policy before, and he thinks it’s a bad policy now — but just yesterday, I praised Obama for sticking to his guns on this. A few hours later, he became considerably more flexible.


I would have much preferred to see Obama continue to reject this obvious and transparent nonsense out of hand. He’s been treating voters like grown-ups, telling them the truth.

But it hasn’t been working.

I looked at this week’s CNN poll with some amazement. A combined 83% of Americans believe “federal laws that prohibit increased drilling for oil offshore or in wilderness areas” are contributing to high gas prices. A combined 69% support “increased offshore drilling,” which is similar to the numbers in other polls.

Republicans have been screaming about drilling at the top of their lungs,
the media has been treating the GOP position has a legitimate policy, and voters are so filled with anxiety, the desperation has clouded their judgment. It’s a difficult environment for a presidential candidate to say, “You’re all completely wrong.”

I was talking to a friend this week who does focus-group work, and he told me that even Dems and self-described environmentalists have been hedging on this issue — saying things like, “Maybe we should invest in more alternative energies and expand drilling. You know, best of both worlds.”

Yup. No interest in reality whatsoever. And here I used to think that a respectable number of the people who lean liberal had a decent handle on a) facts, even when unpleasant and b) how to avoid getting sucked in by Republicon lies. But if they can get hoodwinked by something so blatantly false as the drilling = solution schtick, even my qualified optimism was sadly misplaced.

You want some truth? I’ll give you some for free. Even if offshore drilling would help relieve the pain at the pump (which it won’t), it’ll cost us far more in environmental damage later on. This is like a heroin addict believing everything’s okay as long as they can find just one more vein, while the real solution was to just stop fucking using heroin.

After all that depressing news, isn’t there one bright spot in the firmament of American pollyticks? Isn’t there some glimmer of optimism, some chance that some good will be done?

There surely is:

Last Friday, police in Des Moines, Iowa arrested four people who attempted to make a citizens’ arrest of former top White House aide Karl Rove, who was in town to speak at a GOP fundraiser. A retired minister and three members of the Des Moines Catholic Workers community were cited for trespassing. However, according to a press release, the judge presiding over the case praised their efforts:

[Mona] Shaw was the first called before Polk County Fifth Judicial District Associate Judge William Price.

After entering her plea, the judge asked Shaw, “Mamn [sic], what were you doing at the Wakonda Country Club?”

“I was attempting to make a citizen’s arrest of Karl Rove, your honor,” Shaw answered.

“Well,” the judge looked up and said, “it’s about time.”

You betcha.

Happy Hour Discurso

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