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The Top Ten Conservative Idiots (No. 104)
April 7, 2003
Shock and Awe Edition

We 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 the key!

1George W. Bush warmongering warmongering warmongering warmongering warmongering warmongering warmongering warmongering warmongering warmongering covering your ass
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?

2Donald Rumsfeld warmongering warmongering warmongering warmongering warmongering warmongering warmongering warmongering warmongering warmongering covering your ass
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.

3Halliburton warmongering warmongering warmongering warmongering warmongering greed
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?

4Geraldo Rivera dumb
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!

5Tim Pawlenty warmongering dumb
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.

6Jerry Duncan warmongering dumb
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...

7Josh Llano religious nut
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 get baptized. ''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 so stinky!?

8Katherine Harris election stealing dumb
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 estate," according 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!

9 Charles Rosenthal homophobia
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.

10Kansas State Senate dumb
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!

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