San Francisco -- Do you think the Bush administration is going after the press? The San Francisco Chronicle said on the front page, "Cameraman Jailed for Not Yielding Tape," whereas The New York Times reported, "U.S. Wins Access to Reporter Phone Records." I'm feeling like a bunny trying to outrun a pack of wolfhounds.
Sometimes the press enjoys scaring itself or pretending it is about to be made into a bunch of martyrs. This is not one of those times. We are under full attack now, and it is time to fight. I am not infuriated by the performance of the press so far, but I am disgusted. Bob Novak is the most notable traitor, but others are leaping for political favors as they rush to insist The New York Times shouldn't print the news (and occasionally, quite old news at that). I fail to see how Fox News and other right-wing outlets have so little imagination they cannot picture themselves in the same corner come a Democratic administration. What goes around comes around and all that good stuff, but to set it up so that payback is hell for yourself is tragically, deeply dumb. I have watched the D.C. press corps play courtier to Bush since he openly insulted Helen Thomas, who is not only a first-rate journalist but a lady as well. Shame on you all. No principle, no guts, no grace.
On another topic, I was talking to a guy named Andy the other night when he observed that unlike President Bush, he had learned firsthand that diplomacy works with skunks. He was speaking of the striped, tail-up-bad-sign kind, but they seem a perfect metaphor for the rest of what he laughingly calls Bush's diplomatic strategery -- at which point the proper response is to ask, "What diplomatic strategery?" Has anyone seen a foreign policy lately? Does anyone still know what containment means? These are, after all, the people who were against arms control because Bill Clinton was for it.
One feels like Casey Stengel looking at the early Mets: "Doesn't anybody here know how to play this game?" In the most contemptible act of irresponsibility imaginable, the neocons who pulled together to start this war now reject any responsibility for it. Mr. Wolfowitz is busy running the World Bank; it's no longer his business.
The rest of this crew of moral pygmies is too frightened of Dick Cheney to point out that this entire war is a disaster, or a fiasco, as Thomas E. Ricks, author of the new book "Fiasco," puts it. I think the Bush foreign policy -- when in doubt, send Condi Rice home -- is a public relations ploy to keep the Israeli-Lebanese war going long enough so that Americans won't notice Iraq has completely collapsed in the meantime. And it has collapsed. I suggest our military figure out how to get out of there before it loses an entire effing army on the way.
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In Washington, the sophomore wienies who now staff the administration are far too terrified of Cheney to speak up, even if they had enough sense to notice it's going rather badly. Oh, for heaven's sake -- send Cheney back to south Texas so he can shoot at caged birds there. The Wizard of Oz had more credibility.
I think they're running around the Middle East looking for a red heifer. (For those of you who don't read your news straight from the Book of Revelations, a red heifer is needed to set off the Rapture. We're working on it.)
Well, if you can't get any global action from this outfit, how about some plain old legislation? Nope. The Republicans' latest effort was to pass a callous imitation of a minimum wage increase ($2.10 an hour over two years) after 10 years with no raise. They may fall over in gratitude. And, in the same bill, mind you, this crew of crazed philanthropists insisted on another multibillion-dollar cut in the estate tax. For really, really rich people. Rep. Zach Wamp gloatingly told the Democrats, "We have outfoxed you." Outfoxed? A tiny increase in the minimum wage and a huge tax cut for multimillionaires. Does this make any sense? Does this even make politics?
In a splendid display of incompetence, the Republicans went on to make hay of pension reform plans.
Meanwhile, I have yet another complaint to lodge against George W. Bush. "The man is a moron!" is not political debate. Not helpful. Not even prudent, as his old man would say. But that is precisely what he leaves us saying: "But, he is a complete moron." Someone needs to pick up this discussion and point out that at least he's our moron and say something encouraging like someday maybe he'll learn to pronounce nuclear. We can count on him not to change his mind about stem cell research no matter what people learn. And, the only foreign leader he's necked with is female.