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The Top 10 Conservative Idiots
(No. 189)

March 7, 2005
Tax the Troops Edition

To mark the death of the 1500th American soldier in Iraq last week, Congressional Republicans (1) decided to slap veterans with a $230 "fee." Nice. While those Republicans are demonstrating their idea of "supporting the troops," George W. Bush (2,5) is getting ready to spend 60 days on the road lying about Social Security. And Jeff Gannon (3) is still hanging around, although he's starting to look decidedly wobbly. Meanwhile Ann Coulter (4) has decided to come out in support of gay rights, Bill O'Reilly (7) thinks the ACLU is a terrorist organization, and Tom Fuentes (10) has embarked upon a crusade against Spain. As usual, don't forget the key...

1Congressional Republicans just plain evil greed fiscal irresponsibility
What's the best way to support the troops, especially in a time of war? Republicans on the House and Senate veterans' affairs committees have got the answer: raise their taxes. Those Republican majorities voted last week to "impose an enrollment fee of at least $230 a year on 2.4 million veterans - one of every three now eligible for Veterans Affairs Administration health care," according to Military.com. Apparently half of those 2.4 million veterans used the VA health system last year.

Of course, you won't hear the word "tax" mentioned by the Republicans - these new charges are "fees." And in case you were wondering, that's the word Republicans like to use when they want to, um, raise taxes. The chairmen of the House and Senate VA committees wrote separate letters to committee members explaining that "difficult choices have to be made this year, given a tight VA budget and the number of new veterans returning from war with severe injuries." A tight VA budget? With a troop-supporting, Republican-controlled House, Senate and White House, how in the world could that be?

George W. Bush has been keen to insist that during a time of war we need to make sacrifices - it's just a shame that the sacrifices apparently have to be made by the soldiers he sent to war in the first place. I mean, I'm sure the top 1 percent who benefited hugely from Bush's tax giveaway could sacrifice, say, that fourth BMW in order to make sure veterans get the health care they deserve. But I guess the Republicans prefer to charge people who have sacrificed plenty already.

2George W. Bush flip-flopping fiscal irresponsibility excessive spin
Is Our Great Leader finally on the ropes? Having gotten his way on everything from the Patriot Act to tax cuts for the rich to the invasion of Iraq, George W. Bush may have gone a bridge too far with his plan to destroy Social Security. Last week Bush announced that he would be focusing on "the financial problems facing Social Security, signaling a shift in tactics amid a slide in support for his private account plan," according to Reuters. A recent poll revealed that 69 percent of respondents disapproved of Bush's plan when they found out that it would cut guaranteed benefits.

Mind you, never let anyone say that Dubya is a flip-flopper - last week he also "dismissed the notion ... that his campaign to create private accounts in Social Security was in serious trouble," according to the New York Times. See? He's staying the course, while simultaneously, um, shifting tactics. And just in case anyone had forgotten to be scared, Bush ratcheted up the fear saying that "something drastic has to happen" to save Social Security.

Good grief. Does everything this administration does have to be drastic? I mean, these days we seem to be invading countries before they can attack us with weapons they don't have, amending the Constitution so gays can't ruin straight people's marriages, creating record deficits through enormous tax cuts for the rich in order to "save" the economy... it's drastic, drastic, drastic all over the bloody place. Maybe the Bush administration needs to take a Valium.

3Jeff Gannon dumb dumb dumb
Having fallen from the position of popular White House correspondent (popular with Scott McClellan that is) to lowly right-wing lunatic fringe blogger, our Jeff appears to be losing it. First of all he's started asking imaginary "briefing questions" on his blog as if he were still a member of the White House press corps. "While I am on hiatus from the White House briefing room, I'm going to post the question I would have asked had I been there," writes Jeff. "It will be interesting to see if anyone else asks it."

Just a few comments: 1) I think Jeff needs to find out what the word "hiatus" means and realize that he's not on one. 2) Watch closely over the coming weeks as Jeff starts asking questions like "Why won't anyone talk to me?" and "Scott, why don't you call me any more?" 3) It's just a bit creepy.

Second, Gannon appears to be attempting to transform himself from "Bulldog," the 8" cut hot military m4m stud, into a red-blooded womanizing good-ol'-boy. On his blog, Jeff says "My faith and my ideology are rock solid" (interesting choice of words). And picking a bone - if you'll pardon the pun - with Maureen Dowd, Gannon refers to her as "this gal who probably needs a bit of the old Jeff Gannon to relieve some of that pent up whatever." Uh, sure thing, Jeff (wink). Quick question though: what page of the Conservative Morals And Values™ handbook is that on?

4 Ann Coulter homophobia racism
While we're on the subject of Jeff Gannon, Ann Coulter posed some curious questions in a recent article. "Are we supposed to like gay people now, or hate them? Is there a Web site where I can go to and find out how the Democrats want me to feel about gay people on a moment-to-moment basis?" This was, of course, in response to revelations that Jeff Gannon is a gay prostitute.

So I have a couple questions of my own: Are we supposed to like gay people now, or hate them? Is there a Web site where I can go to and find out how the Republicans want me to feel about gay people on a moment-to-moment basis?

It's just that I'm perfectly consistent in my support for gay rights. What I'm not comfortable with is the White House giving a real live prostitute with a fake name who works for a fake news organization that is actually a front for a Republican activist group free and easy access to press briefings so that the aforementioned prostitute can toss softball questions at the president to get him out of sticky situations.

But now we're in a bizarre situation where Republicans like Coulter are one day screaming about amending the Constitution in order to discriminate against gays, or telling me that gays are sinners who are going to hell, or that cartoon characters are secretly working on an evil gay agenda to corrupt our children, or that "tolerance" and "love" are secret gay code words, and then the next day they're telling me that I'm the homophobe and poor gay people like Jeff Gannon need to be defended from the likes of me and my awful liberal friends.

I mean, if gay prostitution is okay - which, according to all these Republicans who are now accusing the left of homophobia, it is - then gay marriage must be double-plus-good, right? Otherwise I just don't get the argument. How come, according to Republicans, it's fine for a gay man to sell himself for no-strings-attached sex with other men online, but it's not fine for two gay men to enter into a lifelong, loving marriage partnership?

Still, at least there's no ambiguity about the fact that Republicans think all Arabs are terrorists. In the same column, Coulter says, "Press passes can't be that hard to come by if the White House allows that old Arab Helen Thomas to sit within yards of the president." So while Ann may have suddenly had a dramatic transformation on gay rights, at least that ol' racism is alive and well.

5George W. Bush helping the terrorists excessive spin
Last week, at the swearing-in of the new Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff, George W. Bush said of Al Qaeda, "Stopping them is the greatest challenge of our day." Which is, of course, why Dubya has turned Iraq into a breeding ground for new terrorists. "We're on a constant hunt for bin Laden," he continued. Which is, of course, why Dubya is going to tour the country for the next two months in order to destroy... Social Security. He added "We're keeping the pressure on him, keeping him in hiding." Which is, of course, the complete opposite of smoking him out of his cave and capturing him dead or alive.

Let's face it - George W. Bush doesn't give a crap about capturing Osama bin Laden. It's much more productive to have him running around out there as a useful boogeyman whom Our Great Leader can evoke every time he thinks Americans aren't scared enough, or when it's politically useful, like during the last election. If only George W. Bush hadn't ignored all the people who kept telling him that "Stopping them is the greatest challenge of our day" before three thousand people were murdered on his watch. Oh well.

6Jim Gibbons excessive spin dumb dumb dumb
Rep. Jim Gibbons (R-Nev.) had some strong words for liberals last week. Speaking at Elko's annual Lincoln Day Dinner, Gibbons said, "How would [Lincoln] feel, what would he be thinking about, all of the dissension, all of the division, that the liberals and a few others, including some our movie stars and song makers, are trying to divide this country..." Well, I dunno. Bearing in mind that Lincoln was president during the the Civil War, he'd probably think things are pretty laid back right now.

But Gibbons went on: "I say we tell those liberal, tree-hugging, Birkenstock-wearing, hippie, tie-dyed liberals to go make their movies and their music and whine somewhere else." After insisting that all liberals wanted to be Saddam's human shields during the invasion of Iraq, Gibbons said, "I say it's just too damn bad we didn't buy them a ticket." Because then we liberals would all have been bombed to death, get it?! Going back to my point about the Civil War for a moment, I wonder how Lincoln would feel to see a congressman advocating for the deaths of half of the American people.

But to bring this unfortunate episode to a close, I should probably mention that Jim Gibbons is one dumb bastard. It turns out that his rant was actually plagiarized from a speech given by Alabama State Auditor Beth Chapman in 2003. Of the 21 paragraphs in Chapman's speech, 15 of them were read word-for-word by Gibbons. Turns out that he got it from an email, and his excuse was that, "It expressed what I wanted to express." That's right - Jim Gibbons isn't even smart enough to articulate his own hatred.

7Bill O'Reilly excessive spin dumb
Meanwhile Bill O'Reilly was doing his thing last week, referring to the American Civil Liberties Union as a "terrorist group" on his radio show. See, the ACLU (mission statement: to "work daily in courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States") is suing Donald Rumsfeld for "approving illegal interrogation methods that led to the torture and abuse of detainees in U.S. military custody," according to Media Matters. It turns out that O'Reilly is - naturally - for dubious government activities such as illegal torture and secret surveillance.

"So look, I'm declarin' war on the ACLU," said Bill. "I think they're a terrorist group. They're terrorizin' me and my family. They're terrorizing me. I think they're terrorists." Chill out, Bill - we get the picture. Anyone you disagree with is now a "terrorist." Hey, I've got an idea - why don't we kill two birds with one stone and get the government to torture the ACLU? I mean, since they're terrorists and all. I'm sure this is the sort of government activity that Bill O'Reilly would strongly approve of.

8Mitch Daniels excessive spin dumb
Mind you, calling people with whom you disagree terrorists is obviously a favorite ploy of the right-wing. Take Mitch Daniels, for example. Daniels - the governor of Indiana, and formerly George W. Bush's budget director - had some incendiary words for his Democratic colleagues in Indiana's state house last week. Democrats refused to vote on several bills they called "partisan power grabs," with which they had "legitimate, philosophical reasons for blocking votes," according to TheIndyChannel.com, and left the house.

Step forward Mitch Daniels, who said that "Indiana's drive for growth and reform was car bombed yesterday by the Indiana House minority." Car bombed, eh? How dare those Democrats stand up for their constituents! Shame on them for not rubber-stamping every single Republican proposal that comes down the pipeline. Clearly, disagreeing with the right-wing agenda makes them no better than Iraqi insurgents. Hey Mitch, why don't you just send them all to Guantanamo?

9 USA Next dumb
Here's a follow-up to last week's entry about USA Next and their dubious anti-AARP ad (see Idiots 188): it turns out that Mark Montini, the GOP strategist who produced the ad for USA Next, "illegally used a wedding photograph of a Portland, Oregon gay couple" for the ad, according to 365Gay.com. "Both USA Next and Montini initially said that they had bought the rights to the photo of Raymen and Hansen from the Portland Tribune." Unfortunately, that turned out to be a lie: last week "the Tribune issued a statement that it had not sold rights to the photo," because their policy states that "the paper won't sell photos for commercial use without the permission of people shown in the photo."

Apparently when Montini was informed that his use of the photo was illegal, he tried to buy a different photo from the Tribune's online library, but was rejected. Some people just don't give up, do they? Oh well, perhaps USA Next will get the message if they're forced to settle with the Tribune, as well as the two men whose picture was used without permission - apparently it could be a "huge payout." Serves them right.

10Tom Fuentes dumb dumb dumb
Tom Fuentes is the Chairman of the Orange County Republican Party, and a trustee for the South Orange County Community College District. Why is he an idiot? Well, last week he made the bizarre pronouncement that Saddleback College students should abandon their planned summer study trip to Spain because "Many of our students in this college, and of its sister college Saddleback and Irvine, past and future today, fight on the battlefield of Iraq under the flag that is behind us. Spain has abandoned our fighting men and women, withdrawing their support. I see no reason to send the students of our colleges to Spain at this moment in history."

So college students can't go to study in countries which didn't participate in the invasion of Iraq, or have since dropped out, eh? I hate to say it but that's going to limit the scope of student exchange programs somewhat. I mean, I'd look up the list of countries which Tom Fuentes does find acceptable, but unfortunately the White House has removed the dwindling Coalition of the Willing list from its website. Still, preventing students from studying abroad is probably a good thing. After all, we don't want them to, you know, experience new cultures, or learn about the world outside of the United States, do we?

+++

And finally, a quick note about the US death toll in Iraq reaching 1500 last week. According to icasualties.org, it took 295 days to reach the mark of 500 U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq, a further 242 days to reach the 1000 mark, and a further 177 days to reach the 1500 mark. Our brave men and women in uniform are dying in Iraq at an increasing - and alarming - rate, yet there is little mention of their plight in the American media these days. I saw the documentary Gunner Palace last week, which chronicles the lives of American soldiers in Baghdad in their own words, with very little commentary by the filmmaker. So this is my personal plug - I highly recommend the movie to anyone who is interested in finding out how our troops are really living, fighting and dying over there. Especially since the corporate media, who cheered these young men and women into Iraq on a wave of trumped-up patriotism, appear to have forgotten about them entirely. See you next week.

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