Thursday, April 21, 2005

April 20, 2005

April 20, 2005

A Rare Win
Being a Blue State voter has helped me understand what it must have felt like to be a Red Sox fan. It’s been such a long time since we won anything worth the winning. But yesterday we won one.
John R. Bolton's nomination to be ambassador to the United Nations suffered a setback yesterday when the Senate Foreign Relations Committee unexpectedly decided to spend three more weeks investigating allegations that he mistreated subordinates, threatened a female government contractor and misled the committee about his handling of classified materials. (Washington Post)

I had to pinch myself. And how did we win? We won because Democrats on the committee threw themselves into the fight against Bolton with a kind of sincerity and vigor we have not seen out of them in years.

Joe Biden and Chris Dodd in particular were spectacular. I got chills watching them. They were angry. No, seriously. They were really angry. Outraged that this administration would have the chutzpah to put such a crazy, mean, lying son-of-bitch up for one of the most important jobs in the world – representing the United States of America at the United Nations.

And look what happens when Democrats get angry and act on that anger instead of selling their souls to woo Red State voters.
"The dynamic has changed," said Republican Sen. Lincoln D. Chafee, who before yesterday's session had said he was reluctantly inclined to vote for Bolton. "A lot of reservations surfaced today. It's a new day."

Oh gawd I hope it’s a new day. How I hope so. I hope that this message infuses the rest of the Democrats on The Hill with the same take-no-prisoners fighting spirit. Not only would they begin winning more than they lose, but they would be able to even feel good about themselves again.

Look at how Biden and Dodd’s righteous indignation won the day.

Sens. Joseph R. Biden and Christopher J. Dodd spent nearly an hour attacking Bolton's record. They said he repeatedly tried to dismiss subordinates who had challenged him and later misled the committee about his efforts. Biden said committee aides had learned that Bolton, then working as a private lawyer, had chased a woman through a Moscow hotel in 1994, throwing things at her and falsely claiming to U.S. aid officials that she had misused funds and might go to jail. Melody Townsel of Dallas said in a letter to the committee that Bolton "put me through hell" when he represented a firm that was at odds with her client in a USAID project in Kyrgyzstan. Biden taunted GOP members pressing for a vote yesterday on Bolton's nomination, saying, "I guess you don't want to hear about that."

Biden’s face was so red it screwed up the color balance on my TV. Dodd shouted into his mic, "This ought to be indictable!"

For a change Casey did not strike out or throw the game, but knocked the ball out of the park with the bases loaded.
Memo to Democrats: We want a lot more of that and a lot less of the other stuff. Get on it.

Darwin Rules – or Should
The Bush administration’s scorn for any scientific result that gets in the way of making a buck has permeated corporate boardrooms. Look no further than the US auto industry. Here’s an industry that loves nothing better than to cozy into any fool’s paradise that suits them. And they will stay right there even as the fire alarms blare, warning them that their world is on fire.

Global warming: Forget about it. Not true. The weather’s never been better.
The world is running out of oil: Not true. There’s plenty of oil. Just have to drill a few more holes.
Those are the Bush administration’s beliefs and they suited Detroit perfectly. SUV’s and Hummers fill our roads and auto showrooms.

Which represents an appallingly flat learning curve by US auto companies. Back in the mid-70’s these very same companies got their asses kicked around the block by the Japanese. Back then; despite an Arab oil embargo and sky-high prices, Detroit kept building big, heavy, chrome-laden V-8 gas-guzzlers.

The Japanese saw the calligraphy on the wall and flooded the US market with thrifty little four-cylinder Toyotas and Hondas. Pretty soon almost everyone was driving a Japanese car. Then a Japanese pickup. That mistake almost killed the entire US auto industry. Taxpayers even had to step in and lend Chrysler money to keep it afloat and put import restrictions on Japanese autos. Even with all that, it was close call, and a real scare. One would have thought US auto companies learned something. But they didn’t.

So it’s Deja Vu all over again. As gas prices reach towards three bucks a gallon, Detroit finds itself up to its Adam Apples in gas-guzzlers – again. And, guess who’s just coming to market with a bunch of hot little hybrids – yep.. the Japanese.

Ford Motor Co., the nation's second biggest automaker, admitted last Wednesday its earnings had plunged 38.5 percent in the first quarter as automotive profits fell sharply.
And who has the hottest selling car on the market today? Toyota. It’s little hybrid, the Prius, is so hot dealers can’t keep them in stock. People are buying them at full-sticker price and reselling for several thousand dollars more.

Why? Well, let’s see. A Hummer, on a good day with the wind at its back while going downhill, gets about 12 miles to the gallon. A Prius gets up to 60 miles to the gallon.

Duh. Again.

And how is Ford reacting to this new threat? Ford released the following statement:
''Going forward, we will continue to focus on improving our quality, lowering our costs and delivering exciting new products, as well as taking actions that strengthen our finances, optimize our global footprint and lead to faster development of new products.''

Right, whatever the hell all that means.

I have a suggestion. This time let’s not bail out US auto dealers. Let’s play by Darwin rules. The same goes for the folks who bought these gas-guzzlers in the first place. When I see a Hummer at a gas station I flash the driver the “loser” hand sign. Then I floor my VW and buzz off before they can get the gas nozzle out.

DeLay-ing the Inevitable
A cartoon in today’s paper shows black smoke coming from a chimney atop the US Capitol building. A news commentator explains:

“The black smoke means Tom DeLay’s pants are on fire.”

Cartoons like that are to political junkies like me, what a bleeding animal is to a vulture. It says that it’s just a matter of time before dinner is served.

DeLay has turned for help to an audience he knows he can count on – right-wing talk radio – where high-expectations meet low IQ, s. Sieg Heil on your radio dial.
"We have the opportunity to set up courts; we can also dismantle courts and reorganize them," DeLay told Tony Snow on Fox News Radio. (Full Story)

DeLay got into trouble last month by threatening federal judges in the wake of the Schiavo case. But never mind, now he is threatening the Supreme Court justices as well.
"We've got Justice Kennedy writing decisions based upon international law, not the Constitution of the United States. That's just outrageous. And not only that, but he said in session that he does his own research on the Internet? That is just incredibly outrageous."

DeLay also indulged in some messenger-killing by lashing out at journalists who have who had the bad taste to write stories raising questions about his past relationships with lobbyists and the sources of funds for his overseas travel. Talking on Fox Radio.. no less -- he said this without a hint of irony.
"You talk about judicial activism," DeLay said. "We now have journalistic activism."

But there is good news. DeLay said that all the scrutiny "certainly has gotten me closer to God."

Still not close enough though.
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