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BOW Award: Dubya Makes it Two In a Row!

A delayed BOW (Buffoon Of the Week) Award this week.  I was going to post it yesterday afternoon, but (this is a true story) just as I sat down to write the thing, a thunderstorm moved into the area and we lost power.  No computer.  No satellite, no internet.  Fortunately I hadn't actually started writing, so I didn't lose anything, but that's why this is delayed by a day.

It had been a somewhat quiet week in the buffoonery realm, but you can't keep a good buffoon down for long; a flurry of stupidity at the end of the week gives us several fine choices for this week's award.

Our first nominee actually comes from one of my readers who called my attention to the tale of Massachusetts State Representative James Fagan, a Democrat and full-time defense attorney, who was arguing against a state law that would have established a 20 year mandatory prison term for the rape of a child under the age of 12.  Fagan was quoted as saying that he would “rip apart” 6-year-old victims on the witness stand and “make sure the rest of their life is ruined.” Fagan went on, “when they’re 8 years old they throw up; when they’re 12 years old, they won’t sleep; when they’re 19 years old, they’ll have nightmares and they’ll never have a relationship with anybody.”  Sounds like a total jerk, doesn't he?  I mean he's against the mandatory sentencing law for this unspeakable crime, and he speaks with relish of destroying the victim's life in his courtroom cross examination.  The right-wing press and blogs were all over him.  For good reason it seems.  Except that things aren't always as they seem.  Here is the entire quote, with these remarks in context:  (The “it” in “it’s so wrong” is the proposed mandatory sentence of 20 years):

“Let me tell you why it’s so wrong, It’s so wrong because in these situations . . . that 6-year-old is going to sit in front of me, or somebody far worse than me and I’m going to rip them apart. I’m going to make sure that the rest of their life is ruined. That when they’re 8 years old they throw up; when they’re 12 years old, they won’t sleep. When they’re 19 years old they’ll have nightmares and they’ll never have a relationship with anybody. And that’s not because I’m a nice guy. That’s because when you’re in court, and you’re defending somebody’s liberty, and you’re facing a mandatory sentence of those draconian proportions, you have to do every single thing you can do on behalf of your client. That is your obligation as a trial lawyer.” 

We can argue the merits of mandatory sentencing guidelines and have legitimate disagreements on the issue.  But as you see here, he's not relishing the idea of tearing these victims apart.  He's saying that would be, in his opinion, the tragic consequence of imposing the mandatory sentences.  Context does matter.  His wording was poor; he did himself and his cause a disservice by phrasing his remarks the way he did.  But this guy doesn't seem like a monster to me.

On the other hand, Karl Rove is, in my book (and this is my blog, after all)  just about the definition of a monster.  The fact that this man, who could soon be under indictment for his role in any number of Bush Administration scandals, is now given a forum at legitimate news outlets like the Wall Street Journal from which to dispense his partisan tirades makes me want to scream.  But that's beside the point.  For a while now, Rove and his wingnut buddies have been trying to come up with some kind of attack on Barack Obama that will make a dent in Obama's relatively small but consistent lead in the polls.  It seems the best they can come up with is to call Obama and his wife "elitists" and hope that the realities of Obama's poor upbringing in a single-parent household, and Michele's difficult childhood in Chicago's South Side, won't get in the way of this fiction.  So Rove said earlier this week, in describing Obama, "He's the guy at the country club with the beautiful date, holding a martini and a cigarette that stands against the wall and makes snide comments about everyone who passes by."   Let's see how many ways this is wrong.  First off, the snarky guy Rove is describing is actually already in the White House; Rove helped put him there.  Second, most of the country clubs Rove has been to with his rich GOP buddies wouldn't even let Obama in the front door because of the color of his skin.  Third, and this is the one that gets me most angry, Rove doesn't have the courage to say what he really wants to here.  He's too afraid, because he knows that calling Obama "uppity" would get him in a world of trouble.  But that's the real message.  It's not just that Obama is urbane and smart, it's that he's Black and urbane and smart.  That's what bugs him.  And that's how he thinks the attacks on Obama ought to be framed.  

But these two were basically all I had heading into the weekend.  Then came the flurry.  First there was Mitt Romney dismissing nuclear non-proliferation and energy efficiency as "Liberal issues" in an interview with John Roberts on CNN.  Apparently conservatives don't care who gets a nuclear weapon or how much oil and gas we import from foreign nations.  I have some very conservative friends who would be surprised to hear this.....

You ever hear of Grover Norquist?  He's a long time conseravative activist who is particularly associated with anti-tax campaigns, and also with indefensibly stupid comments.  A few years ago, while being interviewed by Terry Gross on Gross's wonderful NPR program, "Fresh Air", he said that the estate tax was the moral equivalent of the Holocaust.  Yes, he really did.  This week's statement was less disgusting than that (one reason he doesn't get the award:  I want his winning comment to be a personal best.....) but still unconscionable.  In talking about Obama's liberal issue stances, he said that the candidate was, "John Kerry with a tan."  Which is great, because what this campaign season needs is a bit more racial tension.  Idiot.

John McCain has an entry this week, as he usually does.  After opposing the Webb/Hagel GI Bill to expand educational benefits for returning soldiers, and then failing to show up for the Senate vote on the bill (Obama was there and stood with the majority in a 92-6 vote), McCain went on TV and started talking about how pleased he was to have been part of the effort to promote the bill and expand educational benefits for returning GIs.  He actually tried to take credit for a bill he tried to defeat, a bill he couldn't be bothered to vote for or against.  This is why I call the man Flippy McSame.  He changes his stances on major issues from one week to the next, one day to the next, sometimes one moment to the next.  And when he's not doing that, he's parroting White House talking points.  Flippy McSame.  If the name fits, use it.

But this week's winner, pulling it out at the very end of the week, is none other than our Buffoon In Chief, George W. Bush.  That's right, after going for weeks without winning even one BOW Award, ole George has now won two awards in a row.  And this week he and his Administration don't even have to share the award with John McCain or Congressional Republicans.  No, this week he has it all to himself.  Why, you ask?  Well, for months now the Bush Administration has been coming under fire out West for abandoning all pretext of environmental concern and vastly expanding the amount of public land open to oil drilling.  And as we all know, over the past couple of weeks, the President and his lackeys have been pushing for drilling in protected coastal regions and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.  You might think it funny, then, to learn that the Administration has suspended all new solar energy projects out of concerns for their impact on the environment.  This is from the New York Times:

“Faced with a surge in the number of proposed solar power plants, the federal government has placed a moratorium on new solar projects on public land until it studies their environmental impact, which is expected to take about two years. The Bureau of Land Management says an extensive environmental study is needed to determine how large solar plants might affect millions of acres it oversees in six Western states.”

Has the Administration suddenly gone green?  Has the President finally figured out the meaning of the word "irony"?  Is this Administration so screwed-up that they actually don't see the inherent contradiction in destroying the land in pursuit of energy options that will further degrade the environment, while simultaneously seeking to protect the land from energy projects that have the potential to save our planet?  Or do they just not care anymore how obvious it is that they are doing the bidding of the world's giant oil companies?  Whatever the reason, this week's BOW Award goes to George W. Bush and his Administration for environmental policies that are breathtakingly insensitive AND mind-bogglingly incoherent.  Take a BOW there boys, you're earned it.

Is it January yet?


( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 29th, 2008 07:49 pm (UTC)
Is it January yet?
204 days (and some change.)

Yes, I'm counting. ;)

Jun. 29th, 2008 08:33 pm (UTC)
Re: Is it January yet?
-- Sigh -- Yeah, okay. I can wait a bit longer. I guess.
Jun. 29th, 2008 11:21 pm (UTC)
Soon this gibbering murderer will be gone.

But the damage he and his criminal NeoCONS have done to our country and our Constitution will never be forgotten.
Jun. 30th, 2008 01:45 am (UTC)
I agree. And I'm not sure that some of the damage they've done will ever be undone.
Jun. 30th, 2008 12:48 am (UTC)
Fagan: "But this guy doesn't seem like a monster to me" Really? Perhaps he was being truthful, but what he was suggesting wasn't getting to the truth of whether or not his client actually committed such a vile act, but how he would demean and degrade a 6-year-old in order to get his client off. And we actually wonder why lawyers are so respected eh?

Rove: Come on Karl, just use the 'N' word. You know you wanna. And, he made Obama sound more cool than elitist. Who wouldn't want James Bond as Prez? If he wanted to break the image of Obama as a Kennedy brother, that ain't gonna do it.

Grover: How many neocons does it take to have a thought? If they ever predict something that actually comes true, I'll vote GOP in the following election. Yeah, not much risk there.

McCain: Blasted Obama for his decision not to accept public financing by saying, "Sen. Obama's word cannot be trusted." Not sure what Mr John "I flip-flop more before 9 am than most people do all day" McCain thinks he can hope to accomplish. What is impressive is the useless tripe they're throwing praying that something, anything, sticks because they have...nothing.

As I watched the repeats of George Carlin's HBO specials this weekend, I wondered who would take up the comic mantle of challenging power and putting it up to our faces. I saw McCain say, "We need to ween ourselves off of foreign oil" and I wondered when he added the foreign. It hasn't always been in his vocabulary. This is just another example of poor planning and being able to sway people in a crisis to do absolutely the wrong thing. I wonder what George would do with that?

In his last special this comment made me think of the FISA Bill debate going on now:

"And rights aren't rights if someone can take them away. They're privileges. That's all we've ever had in this country is a bill of temporary privileges. And if you read the news, even badly, you know that every year the list gets shorter and shorter and shorter."

You're not a fan of the Clean Skies or Healthy Forests Initiatives? I guess Bush hopes his legacy is pictures of oily seals... They had Jim Cramer (of CNBC who was telling his listeners not to sell Bear Stearns the Friday before it went belly up) on MSNBC agreeing with McBush about off-shore drilling. Said that our technology has improved. Ok. They why the push for drilling whether than alternative sources? Can't we do both?

So far this year, McCain has received $791,777 from Oil and Gas companies. Obama, $316,149. Seems like the hedge is a bit higher for McCain. Can you say, Dick Cheney, Secretary of Energy? :-)

Finally, doesn't Dubya have a Lifetime Achievement BOW Award and is retired now? Sort of like Olbermann going after O'Reilly. Not really a sport. :-)
Jun. 30th, 2008 01:44 am (UTC)
Thanks for the thoughtful comments, as always. I appreciate them. I won't comment on all, but will on some. Fagan: Yeah, I think he was being honest about what defense attorneys do. Our justice system, which for all its faults and quirks has worked fairly well over the centuries, doesn't demand that a defense attorney get at the truth. It simply demands that he or she raise reasonable doubt. This is how it's done, and Fagan's point was that when you raise the stakes with a mandatory penalty, you encourage attorneys to become more aggressive. I'm not certain how I feel about mandatory sentencing, but I think his argument has some validity.

Carlin was an amazing social critic and will be missed. He was the first stand-up comic I ever listened to; I used to memorize his routines. I'll miss him.

And yeah, giving the BOW to Bush is a bit like shooting fish in a barrel. But I have other readers who complained about him never getting one. Y'all can't have it both ways.... :)
Jun. 30th, 2008 10:45 am (UTC)
As a defense attorney, I feel I ought to weigh in on the Fagan issue. You're totally right about defense attorneys not being charged with getting to the truth of the matter, David-- that's what juries are for. Defense attorneys are for making sure the government has to prove its case before they can lock someone up.

But to Fagan's greater point, what disturbs me (other than his absolutely horrible choice of phrasing) is that a mandatory minimum shouldn't increase the vigor with which he defends his client-- he has a duty to defend his client to the best of his ability anyway. There are numerous arguments against mandatory minimums, which are truly awful things, but I won't get into that here. But saying "gosh, if he's going to get that much time, I should probably actually do my job" doesn't really ring true to me.
Jun. 30th, 2008 03:08 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the perspective, JP. You raise an excellent point, one I should have been on top of when I wrote the piece.
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )


Australia, Ghost Gum
David B. Coe

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