The Top Ten Conservative
Idiots (No. 156)
May 17, 2004
Inhofe's Enough Edition
Last week's news was particularly sickening all round - from further revelations in the Abu Ghraib torture scandal to the abhorrent execution of Nicholas Berg. But there were plenty of conservative idiots ready to take this news and run with it: James Inhofe (1) was outraged that anyone was outraged about torture and Right-Wing Execution Enthusiasts (2) were keen to exploit Berg's beheading. Meanwhile, Donald Rumsfailed (3) suddenly became very concerned about the Geneva Convention and Dick Cheney (4) suddenly decided that Rumsfailed is the best defense secretary the world has ever seen. Elsewhere, the Appleton Post-Crescent (6) is having difficulty maintaining its balance, George W. Bush (8) is keeping cool, and the Republican Party (10) really needs to take a look in the mirror. Enjoy, and as usual, don't forget the key!
If there was one idiot who summed up the complete and utter shamelessness of the American right-wing last week, it was Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK). At a Senate hearing on the Abu Ghraib prison abuses, Inhofe stated that torture tactics are A-okay in his book. "I'm probably not the only one up at this table that is more outraged by the outrage than we are by the treatment," said he. You know, he's probably right - there was probably at least one other Republican at the hearing who's as big a scumbag as Inhofe. But never mind that. "These prisoners, you know they're not there for traffic violations. If they're in cellblock 1-A or 1-B, these prisoners, they're murderers, they're terrorists, they're insurgents. Many of them probably have American blood on their hands and here we're so concerned about the treatment of those individuals." Well, maybe - except for the fact that the Red Cross estimates that 70-90% of the prisoners at Abu Ghraib had been "arrested by mistake," and General Taguba's report indicates that the guards weren't even keeping track of which prisoners were in which cells. So were they in there for traffic violations? Who knows. Ah, what the hell, let's stick bags over their heads and sodomize them anyway. (This actually kinda reminds me of Rush Limbaugh's theory that the death penalty is never meted out incorrectly, because if you end up on death row, hey, you must have done something.) But one of the strangest things to come out of this whole affair is the new-found moral relativism on display by the right-wing. Conservatives have always derided liberals for this "failing" - as far as they're concerned, all that exists is good versus evil. Except suddenly it's okay for America to torture prisoners of war - because even if we're forcing them to masturbate, stuffing things up their rectums, and beating them to death, at least we're not drilling holes through their skulls. So meet the new conservative moral relativism - say goodbye to good versus evil, say hello to not-quite-as-evil-as-evil, uh, versus evil.
They've spent the last several months complaining that there hasn't been enough good news coming out of Iraq, but you wouldn't know it from last week's performance. The right-wing were suddenly overjoyed when an American civilian was beheaded by alleged al-Qaeda terrorists, because Nick Berg's terrible misfortune was a boon for conservatives who had spent the week busily defending the Abu Ghraib torture photographs. The brutal beheading was captured on videotape and posted to an Islamic militant website, where it was promptly downloaded by several news organizations before disappearing as suddenly as it had arrived. Sean Hannity and Michael Savage played audio of Berg's murder on their radio shows, and many prominent conservatives took to the airwaves and pontificated about how the video was a reminder of why we need to torture random brown people. Uh, I mean, a reminder of "what we're fighting against." Odd. I mean, they may need a reminder, but I don't know anyone who's forgotten what happened on September 11, 2001, nor do I know anyone who's forgotten why it's imperative that we track down and destroy terrorist scum. What I'm not entirely sure about is what any of that has to do with occupying Iraq and committing mass violations of the Geneva Convention.
Speaking of the Geneva Convention - you know, that treaty we signed which says we're not allowed to torture prisoners of war - Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfailed came up with his own interesting insights into what it all means last week. According to Don, we're not allowed to see any more pictures of the Geneva Convention violations which took place inside Abu Ghraib, because displaying such pictures would, uh, violate the Geneva Convention. Well, shit. We wouldn't want to violate the Geneva Convention, would we? But wait - according to the defense secretary, what happened in Abu Ghraib doesn't violate the Geneva Convention anyway. Riiiiiiight. Fair enough though - personally I've pretty much seen enough to know what went on in there, and the reports coming from our elected representatives who saw a further 1800 pictures on Capitol Hill last week were plenty graphic. But it is certainly curious that Don is so concerned about the Geneva Convention all of a sudden - or should I say, selectively concerned. I mean, he didn't seem that bothered about it in January (which is when he claims he first knew of the torture at Abu Ghraib). But when several American POW's were captured near the beginning of the invasion of Iraq in 2003, he said, "You know, under the Geneva Convention, it's illegal to do things with prisoners of war that are humiliating to those individuals." Hmm. Geneva Convention. Prisoners of war. Humiliating. Shouldn't that have rung some bells for Rumsfailed?
All this seems to have gone right over Vice President Crashcart's head though, because according to him, Rumsfailed is "the best secretary of defense the United States has ever had" (even better than George H. W. Bush's secretary of defense from 1989 to 1993, uh, Dick Cheney). Mind you, this is the same guy who was banging on about weapons of mass destruction waaaay after everyone else had realized that that dog wasn't just not going to hunt anymore, it had gone rabid and had to be put down (see Idiots 141). Cheney also told the world to "get off [Rumsfailed's] case and let him do his job," last week. Yeah! Get off his case! These bloody great groups of congresspeople who keep getting together and looking at hundreds and hundreds of photos of acts of torture committed by American troops are just getting in his way. Show Don some respect fer crying out loud.
Gallup, Pew, the American Research Group, Zogby and others had some devastating new poll results for the Chimp in Charge last week - not that you'd know it from the newsroom spin. The Media Whores are still desperately stuck trying to paint the race as a neck-and-neck nailbiter and John Kerry as a boring candidate who's going nowhere. Unfortunately for Bush, the evidence suggests that if he doesn't do something to stop his ratings slide, he could be screwed. According to Gallup, "no incumbent president in the post-war era won re-election after falling below 50 percent approval at this point in an election year." (Bush is currently at 44%.) In addition, every incumbent who has won re-election has had a double-digit lead over their opponent at this stage in the campaign. That's right - John Kerry is 11 points stronger against George W. Bush at this point than Bill Clinton was against Bush's father in 1992. Heard about that on Fox News lately? Nope - but you may have heard the Media Whores spreading stories about Democrats wanting to ditch Kerry. After all, when the party's nominee is doing better than any challenger in recent memory, it's always a good idea to, uh, get rid of him and find someone else. At least, the Republicans would certainly appreciate it if that could be arranged.
If polls aren't your thing and you prefer more anecdotal evidence that Bush isn't doing as well as he should be, check out this plea from the Post-Crescent of Appleton, Wisconsin. Last week the daily newspaper asked its readers to submit more pro-Bush letters to the editor, because they want to "balance things out." That's right. In a notice to their readers, the editors of the Post-Crescent wrote, "We've been getting more letters critical of President Bush than those that support him. We're not sure why, nor do we want to guess. But in today's increasingly polarized political environment, we would prefer our offering to put forward a better sense of balance... Since we depend upon you, our readers, to supply our letters, that goal can be difficult. We can't run letters that we don't have. If you would like to help us 'balance' things out, send us a letter, make a call or punch out an e-mail... We'd love to hear from you." So let me get this straight... The Post-Crescent takes it for granted that the country is "polarized" - split down the middle between conservatives and liberals. They are then faced with strong evidence to the contrary in the form of increasing numbers of letters critical of George W. Bush. So what's a good newspaper to do? Run the letters as they come in? Note that the increase in anti-Bush letters may indicate a drop in support for Our Great Leader? Nope - they ask for readers to send in more pro-Bush letters to "balance things out." After all, their job isn't to to "guess" why this might be happening, is it? No - their job is to simply parrot conventional wisdom. And if reality happens to indicate that conventional wisdom may be false, what else is a good newspaper to do but manufacture evidence to the contrary? Thank goodness for the fourth estate.
Back to the Middle East for a moment... According to the Associated Press, current King of Iraq Paul Bremer announced last week that "the United States would leave Iraq if requested to do so by the new Iraqi government." Said Bremer, "I don't think that will happen, but obviously we don't stay in countries where we're not welcome." Hmmm... let's see here. So they've killed almost 800 of our soldiers in the last year or so, we've killed 10,000 or so of them, 80 percent of Iraqis now want us out of the country... but hey, we wouldn't want to be anywhere we're not welcome. Strangely enough, this news came hot on the heels of an announcement by Undersecretary of State Marc Grossman, who told reporters that U.S. forces "would not leave if asked by the interim government." But it's okay, because that announcement came hot on the heels of Grossman's appearance before the House International Relations Committee where he was asked, "If they ask us to leave, we will leave, will we not?" and he answered, "Yes." So I'm glad our policy in Iraq is now perfectly clear to everybody.
Iraq and the economy aren't looking too good for Bush at the moment, so he's falling back on his third-string campaign issue, education. Bush's massively underfunded No Child Left Behind act is driving up education costs everywhere as schools try to conform to rigid standards, and it's certainly having an effect on Parkersburg South High School in West Virginia. When Bush made a campaign stop - sorry, my bad, a "presidential visit" (that means the taxpayer gets to pay for it) - there last week, the school was a little sweaty - except George lucked out as usual. "We've got 1,200 students sitting over there in an un-air conditioned auditorium watching this (on television) with fans blowing on them to keep cool," said Parkersburg South librarian Brenda Brum. "Here, we've pumped in air conditioning for the President. I resent that." Ah, Brenda, at least you didn't have to lay down asphalt for him to walk on (see Idiots 147). Now shut up and go resuscitate that student. I think he's come down with heatstroke.
How dumb can you get? Last month Wall Street Journal pundit Dorothy Rabinowitz wrote a scathing indictment of Kristen Breitweister and the 9/11 widows which was published as an op-ed. This month, Breitweiser wrote an op-ed of her own and submitted it for publication in the Journal. Rabinowitz got wind of the op-ed and dashed off an email to deputy editorial page editor Tunku Varadaraja asking him not to publish it. She called Breitweiser's article "total and complete - not to mention repetitive - nonsense from people given endless media access to repeat the very same stupid charges." But that's not all... "My thoughts - we don't publish nonsensical contentions that offer no news, no insight - solely on the grounds that those who feel attacked get a chance to defend their views. For that we have the letters column." Wow. But wait a second, you're asking yourself, how do I know what was in the email? Simple - instead of sending it to Tunku Varadaraja, Rabinowitz accidentally sent it to Kristen Breitweiser. Shortly afterwards she sent another one: "Rabinowitz, Dorothy would like to recall the message, '9/11 Widows' Response - the 'jersey girls.'" Like I said: how dumb can you get?
And finally, thanks to the great DailyKos.com for tipping us off to this one... An alert Kos reader realized that parts of the Republican Party Platform at the 2000 GOP Convention reads like an exact indictment of everything Bush has done since coming to power - check it out: "The arrogance, inconsistency, and unreliability of the [Clinton] administration's diplomacy have undermined American alliances, alienated friends, and emboldened our adversaries" ... "Gerrymandered congressional districts are an affront to democracy and an insult to the voters. We oppose that and any other attempt to rig the electoral process" ... "Nor should the intelligence community be made the scapegoat for political misjudgments. A Republican administration working with the Congress will respect the needs and quiet sacrifices of these public servants as it strengthens America's intelligence and counter-intelligence capabilities and reorients them toward the dangers of the future." Can you believe it? See you next week!