Top Ten Conservative Idiots (No. 104)
Shock and Awe Edition
support the troops! Yes, we support preventing them from getting
killed by bringing them home to their families, and then giving
them a raise. Others, of course, support the troops by insisting
that they continue to get themselves killed for Our Great
Leader's trumped-up war on whatever it is this week. But enough
of that. As we all know, there's a war on, and rather than
state the obvious we thought we'd try and take a look at some
of the stories you may have missed over the last couple of
weeks. Of course we have George W. Bush at the top of the
list - first he decided Osama wasn't important, now it turns
out Saddam's not that important either. Enjoy, and don't forget
Okay. We already know that Our Great Leader has shunned world
opinion and launched a preemptive attack on Iraq which is
currently uniting the Arab world against America, while dramatically
increasing the likelihood that fundamentalist terrorists will
strike back at some point in the future. And we know that
he's also in the process of trying to pass yet more tax cuts
for the rich while cutting spending on essential services
for the poor, all while we face a record deficit which doesn't
even take the cost of the war into consideration. But we said
we didn't want to state the obvious so let's leave that aside
for a moment. Last week Dubya declared
through his mouthpiece Ari Fleischer that finding Saddam Hussein
was not included in his "definition of victory."
Now where have we heard THAT before, Mr. President George
We'll-Get-bin-Laden-Dead-Or-Alive Bush? Considering that the
Iraqis seem to be scared shitless that the U.S. is going to
love them and leave them like it did in '91, and Saddam will
come back and kill them and their families if they show any
support for the U.S., you'd think that actually finding the
guy would be an extremely high priority in the battle for
the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people. But I guess we already
secured the oil fields, so the rest is just details. Perhaps
we should also hope that Bush's "definition of victory"
doesn't involve American soldiers being killed day in and
day out by guerilla fighters for the next three years. Oh,
whoops, am I not supporting the troops if I say that?
Shortly after the war started, it became clear that it wasn't
going to be nearly as easy as expected. That's bad news for
everyone involved - including the fighting men and women of
the US military and the citizens of Iraq. But for Secretary
of Defense Donald Rumsfeld the news is a particular disappointment.
It seems that he and his advisors had been working under the
impression that Iraq would be a "cakewalk" and all
they had to do was "shock and awe" the opponent
with a whole bunch of bombs, and they'd just give up without
a fight. So they all low-balled the estimates of how much
firepower would be necessary. While I can sort of follow the
logic here, it seems to me that if you're planning a war,
the absolute minimal expectation should be that your enemy
is actually going to fight back. When critics wondered
what happened, Rumsfeld lamely responded
that he never actually used the word "cakewalk"
himself, nor did anyone he knows "in the Pentagon."
It turns out that a close friend of Rumsfeld, Kenneth Adelman,
actually used the word. But technically Rumsfeld wasn't lying
because Kenneth Adelman isn't actually "in the Pentagon"
- he's a member of an outside panel that advises the Pentagon.
Of course, the whole discussion of the use or non-use of a
particular word is totally missing the point, which is that
Rumsfeld blew it. Kinda makes you wonder if he would have
pushed so hard for this war if he knew it might actually be
difficult. Come to think of it, he probably would have.
After coming under scrutiny for its connections to the Bush
administration (Dick Cheney was Halliburton's CEO until he
became vice president) Halliburton has decided not to bid
for any Iraq post-war reconstruction work as a primary contractor.
How honorable to avoid such a conflict
of interest. But there could be a simpler reason for Halliburton's
gallantry - they already have a contract to put out
oil fires in Iraq. According
to Rep. Henry Waxman, who wrote a letter to the Army Corps
of Engineers recently, the contract has "no set time
limit and no dollar limit and is apparently structured in
a way as to encourage the contractor to increase its costs
and, consequently, the cost to the taxpayer." Not only
that, but the contract was awarded to Halliburton exclusively
- "without any competition or even notice to Congress."
Well gee, I wonder how that could have happened?
Geraldo Rivera. Now there's a name that conjures up quality
journalism. If you can count on anyone getting to the bottom
of the barrel - er, I mean, the story - it's Geraldo. Yes, while
other journalists were merely content to report from speeding
tanks or the middle of firefights, Geraldo Rivera took us one
step further - literally inside the minds of the commanders
in the field - by drawing U.S. battle plans in the sand on live
television. Unfortunately for Geraldo, U.S. commanders thought
that his idea of supporting the troops was a little, shall we
say, unorthodox, and promptly kicked him out of the country.
But despite the Pentagon telling reporters that Geraldo "compromised
operational security" and Fox News agreeing to remove him from
the war zone, Geraldo of course insists that he chose to leave
voluntarily. Phew - his dignity is intact!
You know things are getting serious when Republicans start
using the same tactics as the Chinese government. Take Minnesota
Governor Tim Pawlenty, for example.
Tim wants to make people who are arrested at anti-war protests
pay extra fees - essentially paying for the cost of their
own prosecution. I guess that used to be called un-American,
but America suddenly seems quite a different place, doesn't
it? And note of course that this special fee will only apply
to people arrested at antiwar protests, not to anyone
else who gets arrested - even pro-war demonstrators. Hmm.
Of course this wouldn't have anything to do with Tim's desire
to levy extra punishment upon people who are against the war,
would it? Ironically Tim's excuse for his suggestion is that
Minnesota is facing budget difficulties and he needs this
free speech tax for "homeland security expenses."
Funny, if the antiwar protestors had their way we wouldn't
be spending hundreds of billions of dollars on bombs, and
if it weren't for Our Great Leader's Great Economic Toilet
Flush then there'd be plenty of money to go around for homeland
security. But I guess the irony is lost on Tim.
Yep, these are pretty sick times we're living in, and Tim
Pawlenty is not the only person punishing people for promoting
peace. According to the Washington Post, 69-year-old
college professor Sudarshan Kapoor was recently "yanked
from his seat on the City of Fresno's Human Relations Commission
by his sponsor, city council member Jerry Duncan, who was
outraged that Kapoor and his colleagues had endorsed an antiwar
resolution brought before the council." Duncan said of
Kapoor (who considers Ghandi his mentor) and the Human Relations
Commission, "It was the last straw...The reality is they stepped
way out of line, to take a position against our president,
against our troops...It was just horribly wrong...This was
a narrow political agenda of a fringe element." Got that everyone?
Peace is now the "narrow political agenda of a fringe
element," and if you don't support Our Great Leader's
rush to shed blood then you're "horribly wrong"
and will suffer the consequences. I wonder if Jerry Duncan
is a Christian? I don't imagine Jesus would be terribly impressed...
Imagine you're an American soldier in Iraq. You're fighting
hard, you're putting your life on the line, and through it
all you're getting very dirty and working up quite a sweat.
There are probably few things you'd want more than a nice,
clean bath. With water extremely scarce, the members of Army
V Corps combat support system are fortunate to have their
own 500-gallon desert oasis, filled with clear, beautiful
H2O. But their Army chaplain, Josh Llano has taken command
and control of the pool, and won't let you bathe unless you
''It's simple," says Llano. "They want water. I
have it, as long as they agree to get baptized.'' For one
sweet, sweet bath, a soldier must through an hour and a half
of sermonizing in Llano's dirt-floor tent, and another hour
for the actual baptism. Apparently the whole "separation
of church and state" is completely lost on this guy.
Of course, to clueless American fundies, this is just more
proof of their own moral and spiritual superiority: Christians
smell so fresh and clean! Why are the Jews, Muslims, and Atheists
Meanwhile, in non-war-related news, Katherine Harris was finally
let down by a judge last week. In a move clearly designed
to showcase Republican family values, Harris has been suing
her own cousin and uncle in an "ongoing battle with fellow
heirs about how to divide her grandfather's multimillion-dollar
to the Associated Press. Yes, when it comes to piles and piles
of lovely money, conservatives do often discover than water
is thicker than blood. Why are we not surprised. Just as in
Election 2000, Harris didn't have a leg to stand on - but
unfortunately for her, this time the judge wasn't friends
with her boss and threw the case out. Yeah, I know, it's not
a big story. But let's face it - we all need something to
cheer us up in these times. Seeing Katherine Harris get smacked
down always does it for me!
When two gay men were arrested and fined in 1998 for having
consensual sex in the privacy of their own home, they fought
the case all the way to the Supreme Court. That's where they
bumped into Charles Rosenthal, the district attorney from
Harris County, TX, who desperately
tried to persuade the court that there was some rational explanation
for Texas's ridiculous and homophobic sodomy laws. Of course
Justices Rehnquist and Scalia were on Rosenthal's side, with
Scalia at one point suggesting that children taught by a gay
teacher "might be induced to follow the path to homosexuality."
But it was Rosentahl who took the cake by suggesting that
a) the two men (who have been fighting the conviction together)
may not have been having consensual sex, b) that Texas doesn't
ban sodomy between heterosexual couples because "it can
lead to marriage and procreation," and c) that gays are
fine, it's gay sex that's the problem. So that covers
"any homosexuals out there who have renounced the actual
having-of-sex, and are just gay for the privilege of being
stigmatized," as Dahlia Lithwick put it in Slate.
And finally, as the war rages on it's business as usual for
the Kansas State Senate, who recently got their panties in
an inextricable bunch over... you guessed it... The
Sex. Turns out that a class on human sexuality, taught
for 20 years at the University of Kansas by award-winning
professor Dennis Dailey, was reported by a concerned student
to Republican Senator Susan Wagle. Wagle took the matter to
the State Senate who promptly decided that learning about
your own genitalia was obscene, and decided to withhold $3
million in funding from the school. Yes, heaven forbid that
we admit people have... private parts. So congratulations,
Kansas State Senate, for getting your priorities right in
these difficult times. While the bombs are dropping and the
economy is in meltdown, it's good to know that there are concerned,
moral individuals out there who can put an end to the devastating
effects of voluntarily learning about one's naughty bits.
See you next week!
a Conservative for Next Week's List