charles pierce

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Charles Pierce I hope does not nail it again with this little paragraph out of Altercation, but it may be true, it may be so. Somebody say it isn’t so!

I have no hope for the next 56 days. None whatsoever. Reality’s relevance was lost somewhere between Invesco Field and the Xcel Center. We’re going to get lofty post-partisan dreariness from both presidential candidates, and a vicious 1992 culture-war brawl under the radar, which will be thoroughly deplored in public by the people who profit from it most. I shouldn’t have to watch Karl Rove tell me about the American people and how they vote. I should get to watch Karl Rove being hauled off in chains to Danbury. The major television networks will curl up into a ball roughly five minutes from the start of the first presidential debate. The whole campaign is now going to be conducted on the level of pure mythology. If they had any intellectual honesty whatsoever, the people on TV would dress in white robes and divine the campaign through the movement of waves and the burning of laurel leaves. For a minute back in the spring, it seemed like the country was ready to admit to itself that it poisoned itself with bull***t over the past seven years and was prepared to issue itself a corrective. Not any more. We’re back to “personality” and “character” and “narratives” and all the other stuff that keeps anyone from thinking about what’s really at stake here.

Karl Rove in chains to Danbury — now that’s a good idea.

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Here’s Charles Pierce again:

This should have been John Yoo’s week for being roasted on the public spit. His memos came out. There’s an interview in Esquire where he attempts (badly) to get out from under his role as the waterboarding consigliere. He stands — behind a podium at a respected law school — revealed as the almost perfect apparatchik, a guy who would have found a way to make the trains to the internment camps run on time. The Frontline series on Bush’s war demonstrates pretty clearly that moral courage was in short supply in and around the Avignon Presidency. (Secretary Powell? Isn’t this your soul in the sink? Hello? Bueller?) But the people who really are astonishing are people like Yoo, who sprang with such alacrity to the task of dismantling America. A guy picks up the phone at the DOJ over a weekend and he’s blue-penciling the Bill of Rights, and the respective role of the Congress and the president, and the integrity of international treaties, and virtually everything that differentiates the United States from East freaking Germany? Too bad the janitor didn’t pick up the phone. Is there any doubt that, if C-Plus Augustus had wanted a legal opinion that allowed him to pick off pedestrians at random from the Truman Balcony, Yoo would have written a memo to that very effect? He should be pumping gas in the Imperial Valley for a living. He should be kept away from the law for the same reason we keep Charlie Manson out of the cutlery drawer. He should have been the story but, of course, Barack Obama went bowling.

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Here’s Charles Pierce again, the last paragraph of his Friday piece in Altercation:

For those of us of the Papist persuasion, Good Friday services always came as two hours of existential dread. Purple swatches all over the sanctuary. Gloomy hymns. Latin intoned with an extra-special kind of lugubrious Lugosiness. More to the point of the past week, the Good Friday liturgy was a carnival of anti-Semitism, an extended exercise in Jew-bashing so egregious that even the Vatican came to notice it several centuries on. Now, I know I sat through this. I know Russert, and Matthews, and Maureen Dowd, and Pat Buchanan — and JFK and John Kerry, as well — also did. This wasn’t the improvised rhetoric of one pastor in one church. This was the formalized celebration of Christ’s Passion, performed in exactly the same way in front of millions of people in thousands of churches all over the world. So here’s the thing, Mo and Tim and Chris. (I leave out Buchanan because, hell, he probably thinks the liturgy was too diverse.) Did sitting through this make you anti-Semitic? And to what degree? And have you ever rejected and renounced 2,000 years of popes — to say nothing of the church over which they presided — because they authorized this dangerous thooleramawnery? If you haven’t, you should probably lay off Barack Obama and his minister, is all’s I’m saying.

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OK, back to politics. Charles Pierce has a wild way with words. Here’s his latest (last paragraph) from Eric Alterman’s Altercation:

That story this week about how the war in Iraq has fallen off the general radar is almost incomprehensibly sad, and not merely because it advantages The Saintly Straight-Talkin’ Maverick Dude, which it does. It’s sad because it’s of a piece with the whole effort by the Avignon Presidency to run everything about the response to the 9-11 attacks off the books. Go shopping. You don’t need to know why we’re going to war, and we’re going to lie to you about it anyway. Don’t photograph the coffins. Don’t count the dead. Keep the cost out of the federal budget and off television. If they didn’t need the children of ordinary people to die to get what they want, they might have been able to turn the whole thing into a gated community of the soul. And now, nobody’s paying attention, and nobody’s angry when the people who get paid to pay attention run around yelling about Eliot Spitzer’s banging hookers and the latest blurp from a crotchety old fool like Geraldine Ferraro. Also this week, the Pentagon went out of its way to bury the news that it’s own study has concluded that one of the primary casus belli — the Iraq-al Qaeda connection — was the moonshine that several previous studies said it was. The news dropped with a thud and life went on. The country was told, in a hundred different ways, not to care about this war — or, really, the one in Afghanistan, either — and it has learned the lesson all too well. I don’t know how I’d feel if I were a soldier, or the father of one. But this country is nowhere near as balls-out angry as it ought to be, and none of the contending candidates seem willing or able to become the vehicle of righteous democratic-small-d rage. I don’t want to come together with these people. I want them in irons until they tell me where my country went.


For an excellent discussion of the issues raised by Geraldine Ferraro, see this post by Brian Donohue.

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Here’s Barack Obama’s victory speech in Iowa last night.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yqoFwZUp5vc[/youtube]

Nothing like a good speech.

Charles Pierce admits it was a good speech, but…

As to Obama, well, I’m still waiting. He gives a good speech and he plainly can get people off the parliamentary side of their arse. However, after seven years of God Told Me To Screw This Up, and people telling me that it’s the president’s job to “protect” me and my family — Give me a break. I wouldn’t hire the incumbent to park my car — I am very wary of messianic appeals to the better angels of my nature. I don’t want reconciliation with this party full of vandals until we have truth first. Does the current frontrunner have an opinion on what should happen to the people who stonewalled the 9/11 commission? Is that something we have to “get beyond” so as to march together into bipartisan Shangri-La? Well, f**k that. How’s the damage get repaired that way? If it’s OK, I’m not kneeling at the grotto just yet.

Good point, Charles.

But here’s a counter to Charlie I just found:

Charlie’s going to continue to be disappointed in Obama if he thinks the candidate must come forward and say he’s going to prosecute the Bush administration. I’m not saying I wouldn’t relish that announcement, but it’s completely counter to the narrative Obama’s weaving. Frankly, I think that’s a good thing because despite how much I want to see the incumbents criminally charged, tried, convicted, and sentenced, singing that tune won’t get anyone elected.


Should Obama be elected, there’s nothing to prevent the Attorney General whom he appoints from naming a special prosecutor to look into all of the corruption of the last 7+ years. As a constitutional scholar, Obama would owe the country that much in order to restore the constitutional integrity of the government. I think he’s up to it, and I’m willing to listen to speeches about hope and healing for the next year in order to get there.

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