Thursday, May 04, 2006

Lost Faith and Voices Found

[[M I S C.]] * George W. Bush famously claims to ignore public opinion polls. However, he might not be able turn his nose up so reflexively at a new one coming from the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press. It shows his job approval among white evangelical Christians--his core constituency--having “fallen to a new low, with nearly half agreeing ... that they are ‘tired of all of the problems associated with the Bush administration,’” as the Financial Times reports. The Pew survey shows that “55 percent of white evangelicals approve of Mr. Bush, down from the start of his second term when he had 72 percent approval ratings; 35 percent have an unfavorable view of Mr. Bush, against 21 percent of evangelical voters in October 2004.” These findings are especially interesting, given that 64 percent of white evangelicals in the United States identify themselves as Republicans, while only 29 percent describe themselves as Democrats. And still, Dubya can’t hold onto their allegiance? Not good. Not good at all.

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Bush simply doesn’t get it. Apparently, today is America’s National Day of Prayer, though I defy you to find any two people in close proximity, outside of the nation’s capital or a church full of right-wingers, who could tell you that. And in celebration of this day, the prez said at the White House that “America is a nation of prayer. It’s impossible to tell the story of our nation without telling the story of people who pray. ... At decisive moments in our history and in quiet times around family tables, we are a people humbled and strengthened and blessed by prayer.” He added: “In my travels across the great land, a comment that I hear often from our fellow citizens is, ‘Mr. President, I pray for you and your family.’ It’s amazing how many times a total stranger walks up and says that to me. You’d think they’d say, ‘How about the bridge?’ Or, ‘How about filling the potholes?’ No, they say, ‘I’ve come to tell you I pray for you, Mr. President.’”

Let’s put aside the fact that any American with a functioning frontal lobe knows that the federal government isn’t in the business of filling potholes. The funniest thing here is that the prez thinks all those folks he says are praying for him either love or respect him. Not so fast. I’d suggest they’re praying that he doesn’t screw up the United States and its relations abroad any worse than he already has. Amen to that.

(More on Bush’s prayer delusions comes from State of the Day.)

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Joseph Hughes of Hughes for America on the continuing controversy over singing “The Star-Spangled Banner” in Spanish:
Look, Republicans should be excited about “Nuestro Himno.” Beside themselves. They should be thankful someone still wants to take pride in America, considering all that Republicans have done in her name since Bush took office. After Abu Ghraib, Guantánamo Bay, white phosphorus, secret prisons, outsourced torture and warrantless wiretapping alone, that anyone still wants to take pride in this country is amazing to the point of disbelief. Yet the right pitches a fit when someone wants to translate the anthem into another language? Hell, Republicans ought to be passing out lyric sheets. In Klingon.
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And The Carpetbagger Report’s Steve Benen points out today that Laura Bush may now surpass even her hubby’s speed and audacity in flip-flopping. Apparently, her understandable disagreement with King George about the appropriateness of how the U.S. national anthem should be sung lasted all of 25 seconds, before she stated exactly the opposite viewpoint, telling CNN interviewer John King, “I think it should be sung in English, of course.” Catch the video of her switcheroo here.

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From Limbo’s “Didn’t We Know That Already?” file: The Associated Press reports that, as his poll ratings plummet toward Nixonian territory and the Iraq conflict becomes more of a bloody disaster, TV comedians have turned Bush from a leader into a laughingstock. “During the first three months of the year, Bush has been the punch line of 307 monologue jokes by Jay Leno, David Letterman and Conan O’Brien, according to the Center for Media and Public affairs, which studies this sort of thing. That compares,” the AP says, “to 197 jokes during the same period last year. For all of 2005, the center’s statisticians counted 544 Bush jokes.”

My favorite such jape of recent date comes from Late Night funnyman O’Brien, who said:
“The new issue of Rolling Stone magazine features a cover story about President Bush called ‘The Worst President in History.’ President Bush said, ‘That’s not fair, I’m also the worst president in math, English and geography.’”
For a widely diverse selection of late-night jokes told at Dubya’s ultimate expense, click here.

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By the way, a new article at AlterNet picks up on Rolling Stone’s theme, but takes it in another direction, compiling evidence against what may be the “worst U.S. governors in history.” Bill Owens of Colorado, Robert Ehrlich of Maryland, and Sonny Perdue of Georgia all earn a big thumbs down. My only question: What about Mike Rounds, governor of South Dakota, who recently signed legislation banning abortions in his state except in cases where the mother’s life is at risk--and has seen a dive in his approval ratings as a result? That’s bad news for Rounds, who’s up for re-election in November.

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In the wake of the hubbub surrounding Stephen Colbert’s recent ironic criticism of the prez, Hullabaloo’s Digby delivers a must-read takedown of mainstream media suggestions that liberal blogs are particularly loud or crude in objecting to the Right’s misbehavior, arrogance, and manifest short-sightedness. She writes in part:
For the last twenty years we have had your right-wing radio, your right-wing TV, your right-wing publishing, your right-wing speakers bureaus and your right-wing magazines and your right-wing pulpits. Then you have your imbalanced panels on news shows, your intermarried politicos and journalists and your faux liberal punditocrisy. Yet, our little blogswarms have the entire journalistic establishment all atwitter, wondering what has happened to the discourse?

The entire D.C. establishment went stark raving bonkers for eight years, followed by nearly five years of a kind of courtier sycophancy we haven’t seen since Louis XVI. I do not know the explanation for why this happened, although I have my suspicions. (The question brings out almost as many possibilities as “why did we invade Iraq?”) But it happened. I saw it with my own eyes. Now they decide that something’s gone wrong?

Are we “louder” now? Certainly. We were veritably silent before. But the entire right-wing media infrastructure still spews out its disgusting bile on a daily basis. perhaps the sound of it has become so familiar to those who live and work in Washington that they no longer hear it. To those of us in the “fever swamp” it is a little alarming. On 6/6/06, Ann Coulter will release her new book about liberals called
Godless. This is on the heels of Ramesh Ponnuru’s new one called The Party of Death. Hannity’s last book was called Deliver us from Evil: Defeating Terrorism, Despotism and Liberalism.

You see, the real difference between the Right blogoshpere and the Left is that the Left blogosphere is angry at the ideology and governance of the Republican party and the media who report on it. We believe the political press has been complicit where it has not been weak and we are taking our complaint directly to them, loudly and in no uncertain terms. It’s angry and vitriolic, but it’s political.

The Right blogosphere, on the other hand, is no longer outraged at the Democratic Party. They think they are clowns--they can barely get off a good Teddy Kennedy joke before nodding off. And except for the war correspondents whom they believe are cowardly and are refusing to report the good news in Iraq, the energy has gone out of their liberal media critique. But, make no mistake, they are still very, very angry--at rank-and-file Americans like me.

The gripe on the Right side is that “liberals” literally shouldn’t exist. We are Godless, death-loving traitors whose very existence is a blight on the American way of life. They don’t hate our leadership. They hate us personally.

(The “Colbert Has Stones” T-shirt, by the way, can be had for $20 from The Feed Store. Wear it proudly.)

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Would anybody really eat a sandwich named after sleaze-TV show host Jerry Springer? Well, now you can.

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As I’ve noted before, nobody believes anymore that Bush is capable of vetoing legislation, no matter what expenses it may include. And that’s become a real problem for Republican office holders, who may be turning off conservative constituents disappointed in the GOP-dominated Congress’ fiscal profligacy. But with the U.S. midterm elections coming up in November, the odds narrowing of a Democratic takeover of one congressional chamber, if not both, and Republicans starting to panic about their party’s future, I’m wondering if maybe the Busheviks haven’t decided that the “emergency-spending” measure for Iraq and Afghanistan now wending its way through the hallowed halls of Capitol Hill--and picking up costly provisions along the way--could help salvage the prez’s rep, if not also restore the faith of Republicans in their beleaguered party.

Already, Dubya is making noises about vetoing this legislation, which he insists shouldn’t carry a price tag higher than $94.5 billion, but which the Senate has already loaded up to the tune of $109 billion. Meanwhile, the House version of the bill would cap spending at about $92 billion. As representatives from the two chambers look forward to working out their differences in conference, typically bombastic House Republicans are denouncing the Senate’s spendy ways, while a handful of safe GOP senators, such as Mississippi’s Trent Lott (who so far faces minimal opposition for re-election this year) and Tom Coburn of Oklahoma (who doesn’t face voters again till 2011) have taken opposing sides in the spending debate, with John McCain (also safe until 2011) throwing in the occasional despairing comment about his colleagues’ wasteful ways, always trying to burnish his own fiscal conservative credentials. (“I hope [the additional spending] gets stripped out, but I’d be surprised.”) And what is Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tennessee) doing to calm the waters? Not a hell of a lot. And maybe that’s part of the plan. Maybe Bush wants the two chambers to tee up something he can finally veto. Then, appearing to have grown a backbone again, he can resume his hoary denuncations of spendthrift Democrats, without giving off the stench of hypocrisy. The downside to this scheme, of course, would be that Capitol Hill Republicans who approved the overpriced legislation could be held accountable for their acts; but then, those men and women could always turn around and claim that they had no choice, that the money for Bush’s ceaseless wars had to be made available--and besides, why let others feed their communities at the public pork barrel, without also finding a place for their own constituents?

I didn’t say this was a brilliant scheme. But it may be part of the Republican Party’s “hail Mary” strategy for the fall election season. We’ll have to wait and see.

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Finally, because I have become a big fan lately of the blog The (Liberal) Girl Next Door, and because the perpetrator of that feisty site has two new posts up punching at “President in Fact” Dick Cheney, I want to direct you to them. Seek enlightenment (and a few bitter chuckles) here and here, my friends.

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