Tuesday, March 29, 2005

The ice is spring-thaw thin, but he's still skating

"If you've seen a chicken in the barnyard get a peck on his head so a little blood is showing, then the other chickens all rush in and peck him to death, that is the danger for Tom DeLay right now. He's got a little blood on his head, and sometimes that is enough to get you killed."

-- Charlie Wilson

Charlie Wilson was my congressman for 25 years. He represented the 2nd district of Texas when it still represented the southeastern counties of the state. I mean deep east Texas, where the piney woods still hide moonshine stills and the most fun a teenage boy can have on a Saturday night is to go hunting deer with a spotlight in his pickup. You may remember him as "Good Time Charlie", who usually had a bottle blonde on his arm and a cocktail in his hand. Or as the saviour of the mujahideen, the Afghanistan rebels who kicked the first leg out from under the Soviet Union.

Charlie's a lobbyist now, has been since he retired from Congress in '97. Which means he's plugged snugly into the rumor mill. Republicans always liked him because he was a staunch anti-communist; Democrats because he was liberal on domestic issues like fiscal and social policy (more so even than the rest of the Texas delegation, which once upon a time was as overwhelmingly Democratic as it is Republican today). So he's in an enviable position in that everybody talks to him.

If the Wall Street Journal and Charlie Wilson say Tom DeLay's in serious trouble, you can bank that.


"My conservative colleagues rely heavily on the Wall Street Journal, but recognize the paper has an agenda different than social conservatives," said Richard Viguerie, a pioneer in conservative political direct mail and founder of the Conservative Digest magazine. "The Journal is concerned about stable leadership for big business," said Viguerie. "But for (social) conservatives, DeLay is one of our own. He walks with us."

And there's also this:

"He can raise money for them, he can get them important leadership assignments, he can help them get re-elected," said Michael Franc, a government expert for the conservative Heritage Foundation. "In return, there are about 200 members of the House who are willing to lay their bodies on the line for him."

Emphasis mine.

I'm pretty much convinced at this point that until those 200 Republicans feel it necessary to make a change, there won't be a change. And they probably won't feel it necessary unless there is an indictment.

And if that drags all the way out to the 2006 elections, that might be a very good thing for Democrats.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Irresponsibility generating chaos

This post is cogent. I'm going to sample a couple of pieces of it, but please go read the whole thing:

Over the last three days or so, however, the coverage on the Little Three news networks -- Fox, CNN, MSNBC -- has ceased to be humorous. There is a difference between bad coverage and willfully irresponsible coverage, and another line between willfully irresponsible coverage and dangerously irresponsible coverage. In the last three days, those lines have been crossed. Repeatedly ...

Against this background of exploitation and misinformation, the usual bevy of archconservative media pundits has in the last several days begun to increasingly endorse a premise that is, to any rational mind, remarkable: the notion that because the courts have ruled in this particular fashion, it is now time for individuals and government figures to disregard the courts, and take matters into their own hands ...

Unless you are deeply stupid, you can see where this is leading. There have now been about a dozen individuals arrested for trying to enter the clinic to give Terri food or water, an action that (because she cannot swallow) in and of itself stands an excellent chance of killing her. Both Judge Greer and Michael Schiavo are under police protection; Florida lawmakers are finding their pictures on "Wanted" posters; home addresses of Greer and other judges are being distributed ...

Now, there are times when the news media is simply sloppy; there are times when journalists simply get stories wrong, and there are times when, as in the trials of Michael Jackson, Kobe, O.J., Martha Stewart, etc., the news channels are simply swept away by their natural tendency towards low-cost voyeurism. But this isn't one of those times. This isn't petty irresponsibility or sloppiness, to be chalked up to the dwindling resources of corporate newsrooms.

This is a decision on the part of producers to willfully bend the lines in a manner that promotes sensationalism and potential violence, by intentionally tossing known-false information into a wire-taut public conflict to enhance the "ratings value".

That's it, exactly.

William Randolph Hearst would be so proud.

Steve Gilliard reaches a similar conclusion, with Bush the president, Bush the governor, and DeLay and Frist taking the blame. And yes, they most certainly are at fault; but there'd be no grandstanding without a grandstand to stand on.

This charade is right on the verge of turning violent.

Friday, March 25, 2005

CNN declared brain-dead

by James Wolcott:

Two prominent neurologists who have asked to remain anonymous have examined CNN behind closed doors and determined that the network is irreversibly brain-dead, as flooded with cerebral fluid as the hull of the S.S. Poseidon. It still retains some primitive reflexes and signs of animation, but a brain-scan revealed the sort of minimal activity usually associated with punch-drunk prizefighters condemned to a flophouse cot, or a broken toaster. "CNN barely has two brain cells left to rub together," one doctor said, lacing up his tennis shoes for a quick getaway.

Yes, my advice is to pull the plug. DNR.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Kinky in town tomorrow

Kinky Friedman, the erstwhile novelist/musician/2006 Texas gubernatorial candidate will sign & discuss his novel Ten Little New Yorkers on Friday the 25th at 6 pm at Murder By The Book (2342 Bissonnet, Houston TX 77005, 713-524-8597 or (888) 4-AGATHA).

"The professionals gave us the Titanic, amateurs gave us the Ark. Career politicians are ribbon cutters. They see the governor's office as a job; I see it as an opportunity to make that Lone Star shine again. I'm an Independent, which is the party of George Washington, Teddy Roosevelt, Sam Houston, and Davy Crockett."

Yes; well, he's nuts, but that's never been a disqualification to stand for political office in Texas ...