The Festivus Airing of Grievances

It is an annual tradition to air one’s grievances on Festivus. I began this on a previous Festivus by airing the ways in which George Bush disappointed me and let down his country. In 2007 I aired my grievances against many of the candidates who were seeking to replace him. I had the least complaints about Barack Obama:

I am still waiting for more of the promised specifics of your plans. You do show an excellent ability to at least show consideration of all views, but I’m not yet certain if this is a matter of framing or ideology which will impact the final policy. My suspicion is that in a couple of years I will be writing a number of blog posts disagreeing with some of your actions as president, but things will be far better than if any of your major opponents were to win.

My prediction came true and I will begin this year with my grievances concerning Barack Obama. On health care he abandoned his opposition to mandates. It is hard to see how remaining in Afghanistan will be worth the cost, both in lives and dollars. He has preserved some of the secrecy policies of his predecessor. He opposes marriage equality at a time when I believe we are approaching a tipping point where such discrimination will no longer be acceptable–and leaders such as Obama could make this happen more quickly if he chose to do so.

While I have grievances against Obama, I also have grievances to air against the Obama bashers, both from the left and the right. On the right we have claims that he is a Muslim, a socialist, and not an American citizen. These attacks are ridiculous, but the right wing has deteriorated into an authoritarian cult primarily made up of people who are morally and intellectually bankrupt, lacking understanding of history, politics, economics, science, and, most importantly, of ethics or morality. We can no longer be shocked by their hatred and ignorance as this is what now defines the American right wing.

What is harder to understand is the Obama bashing from the left. I am not referring to those who disagree with Obama on issues but those who act as if they were deceived or betrayed, and claim he is no better than George Bush.

Obama might not be right on all the issues but, with some exceptions (and far less than most politicians) he is governing exactly as he said he would as a candidate. Obama ran as a centrist politician who sought to find common ground with others. He did not run as a Messiah, or as a far left politician. His health care plan remains very close to the plan he ran on. He stated his intention to remain in Afghanistan as a candidate. At least, in contrast to his predecessor, he did give some actual thought to the issue. It should have been obvious to anyone listening to him that he was not likely to prosecute members of the Bush administration for their crimes and he would move gradually to reform the system.

You can disagree with him, but don’t act shocked or betrayed–and certainly do not claim he is anywhere near as bad as George Bush.

And now for some briefer grievances to air:

Joe Lieberman, Ben Nelson, Bart Stupak, plus  the entire Republican Congressional delegation for getting in the way of what could have been a far better health care plan.

The insurance industry for developing a business model based upon increasing profits by denying care and dropping customers when they get sick.

Glenn Beck, who deserves the Misinformer of the Year Award.

Sarah Palin, who personifies everything which is wrong with the know-nothing attitude of the right wing, and who deserves to be honored for telling the Lie of the Year.

The tea-baggers. I respect their right to protest, but wish they at least had some basic understanding of the issues they were protesting about.

Acorn, just because everyone is supposed to hate them, regardless of the facts.

The hackers who stole the East Anglia emails. Once the stole the emails and it didn’t show anything meaningful it was time to shut up as opposed to continuing to make claims about the content of the email which were untrue.

Michigan football which has been so disappointing for the second year in a row. (I could include the Detroit Lions for a much longer time period, but why bother?)

Buy.com–the internet company which makes its money by selling defective merchandise at a discount, and then failing to respond to complaints.

Howie Mandel for being a spokesman for a crooked outfit like Buy.com.

The big box stores who offer discounts on electronics and then rip off the customers with extremely over-priced cables.

Fox for screwing up Dollhouse and not giving what could have been a great science fiction show a real chance.

J.J. Abrams for destroying Vulcan and failing to fix the time line (but at least he did save Star Trek).

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Happy Festivus

I hope everyone has a happy Festivus. If you don’t, Festivus is still the perfect holiday as you can spend your Festivus dinner airing your grievances as to why you didn’t.

The tradition of Festivus begins with the airing of grievances, which will be following.

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Memories of Festivus Past

(It is almost the start of Festivus. Before beginning this year’s celebration I’ll look back at the traditional Festivus Airing of Grievances from 2005. The Grievances were aimed at then-president George Bush.)

Today is Festivus, the nondenominational holiday made famous on Seinfeld. The Festivus celebration includes The Airing of Grievances in which each participate at the Festivus Dinner tells each other all the instances where they disappointed him or her that year. In the spirit of George Lakoff’s “strict father” model for Republican leadership style, for Festivus this year I rant to one and all about all the ways in which George Bush has disappointed me:

George, you twice took an oath to preserve and protect the Constitution and you claim to support judges who look to the intentions of its framers. Yet you take executive powers, and the powers of the commander in chief, far beyond what the framers ever intended. Emergency powers are intended to allow for immediate response to a crisis, not to allow for an indefinite expansion of your powers without legislative approval or judicial review.

You failed in the most important duties of your office, protecting the country when under attack. You ignored the warnings about al Qaeda from your predecessor upon taking office. You ignored warnings in your own intelligence briefings that terrorists planned an attack involving hijacked airplanes, and then on the day of the actual attack you sat down to read a book, possibly for the first time in your life. I hope you enjoyed The Pet Goat. Now if you would only read a few books explaining the background to the problems you have been mishandling.

After failing to take action to protect us from an imminent attack, you totally screw up in retaliating against the wrong country. Your failure to settle matters in Afghanistan before attacking Iraq allowed Bin Laden to escape at Tora Bora when he could have been captured.

Who has your foreign policy helped? You sure helped al Qaeda grow, as Saudi and Israeli studies showed that it was opposition to the war which radicalized those fighting American troops. The other big winner has been Iran as you have spread our military too thin to respond to problems beyond Iraq.

You even considered bombing al-Jazeera. Listen, if you really wanted to get rid of a bunch of religious fanatics and political extremists who were using biased news reports to prop up a corrupt government and reduce freedom you should have gone after Fox News. If Pravda had been as effective in deceiving the public as Fox News and the rest of the right wing noise machine is, the Soviet Union would probably still exist.

Then there’s this Medicare plan of yours. Those in Medicaid programs had their prescriptions paid for at negotiated discount prices, but your plan prevents such discounts in the Medicare programs providing a financial windfall to the pharmaceutical industry at the expense of the taxpayers. What a great deal for the pharmaceutical companies who donated fortunes to you–plus you gave them a great excuse to eliminate their patient assistance programs. Of course don’t forget the insurance industry, which also makes out great thanks to the subsidies you are providing for Medicare managed care plans–plans which have historically been so inefficient that insurance companies will only get involved if they receive such subsidies, again at taxpayer’s expense.

You sure are great for your friends in the pharmaceutical and insurance industries. Then there’s the oil companies. How much did they stand to gain if you got away with the ANWR drilling? I’m sure they would have gotten a better deal than the consumers who would have save a whole one cent per gallon at the pump.

Besides undermining our national security and harming the environment, you have run up record deficits to undermine our financial futures while giving huge tax cuts which primarily benefit the rich. You have undermined important parts of the Constitution as you have engaged in illegal surveillance of American citizens, worked to destroy the checks and balances which have so far saved us tyranny, and you have harmed the separation of church and state which is so important to guarantee that everyone can practice (or not practice) religion in the manner they desire.

Your disdain for the democratic process was especially seen in your campaign last year. You both avoided contact with all but firm supporters, and avoided discussing any real issues. You were too afraid of a real discussion of the issues, knowing in such a situation you would be rejected, so instead you based your campaign upon distorting the positions and record of your opponent. I don’t think you ever commented on a single position actually held by John Kerry.

You were even so far off the wall as to suggest that intelligent design be taught in schools as an alternative to evolution. At least you aren’t flip flopping this time (which is something you and not John Kerry has been guilty of). Supporting such superstition over science is consistent with your overall disregard for science. Calling intelligent design a valid alternative to evolution to explain the development of life is as nonsensical as promoting the belief that earth quakes occur because the gods are angry as a valid alternative to geology.

Traditionally, at the Festivus dinner we have the The Feats of Strength. This year I propose that we show our strength by working to remove from Congress those who have collaborated with you and replace them with new members who are willing to vote for your censure or impeachment and restore Constitutional rule as intended by the Founding Fathers. You already have the distinction of being the first President to admit to an impeachable offense in your illegal surveillance, and your lying us into war was an even worse crime. Both are certainly more deserving of impeachment than a private sexual affair and creative uses of cigars.

Next year, when we have a Congress willing to take action against you and to reestablish the form of government envisioned by the Founding Fathers, we can call it a Festivus Miracle.

Now, in the spirit of Festivus, I invite you all gather around an aluminum pole to air your grievances or perform a feat of strength.

Update: Thanks to The Atlantic and others for linking to this airing of old grievances. This year’s airing of grievances, ranging from Barack Obama to the Obama bashers (left and right) to J. J. Abrams (for destroying Vulcan) are posted here.

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Tea Baggers And Republicans Get Ready For War on Christmas

The tea-baggers talk about limiting government but, as with most conservatives, their idea of freedom is the freedom to do what they think is best. One tea-bagger has proposed a law making Christmas carols mandatory for the schools:

Merry Hyatt has found allies in her quest to put an initiative on the ballot next year requiring public schools to play Christmas carols.

Hyatt, who moved to Redding four months ago, said she joined the Redding Tea Party Patriots and recruited several members to help her collect the 433,971 signatures needed by March 29.

Hyatt said she has partnered with a couple of churches in Redding and one in Wildomar in Southern California to collect signatures. All the signature pages must be turned in together to the Shasta County registrar, she said.

The initiative would require schools to provide children the opportunity to listen to or perform Christmas carols, and would subject the schools to litigation if the rule isn’t followed.

I don’t suppose she’d go for Nine Lessons and Carols for Godless People. Would she like or if we forced her kids to sing the Dreidel song, or perhaps make viewing of the Seinfeld Festivus episode mandatory?

Conservatives will probably see opposition to this as being part of their imagined War on Christmas. Congressional Republicans are also out to protect Christmas:

South Carolina Rep. Henry Brown, Jr. and 18 of his fellow House Republicans this week introduced Resolution 951, which makes it clear that Christmas should not be watered down for political correctness.

“I am troubled by the growing sentiment that the phrase ‘Merry Christmas’ is not appropriate,” Brown said in a statement on his web site. “I am worried that attempts to celebrate a ‘politically correct’ holiday season may cause the loss of some of the traditions sacred to this widely celebrated holiday.”

The nonbinding resolution states that it was never the intention of the Constitution’s authors to “prohibit any mention of religion or reference to God in civic dialog” when they prohibitied the establishment of an official religion.

It goes on to say that the House “strongly disapproves of attempts to ban references to Christmas,” and “expresses support for the use of… symbols and traditions by those who celebrate Christmas.”

“I believe it is important to preserve the right for everyone to worship as they believe,” Brown said. “As a Christian, I feel it is also important that I have the right to celebrate Christmas and observe its significance as a national holiday and I strongly believe that wishing someone ‘Merry Christmas’ should never be met with disapproval.”

To further bring his point home, Brown commented that while Christmas is a national holiday, its true meaning is to “celebrate of the birth of Christ.”

Will we also get a law to protect Hanukkah?

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Cut the Messiah Crap

During the campaign opponents of Barack Obama tried to dismiss the support for him as a cult following a Messiah figure. After Obama won the nomination and then the election I had hoped this nonsense had come to an end but Dana Milbank revives it in an op-ed in The Washington Post.

Obama received millions of votes. Undoubtedly different people had different reasons for voting for him and saw him differently. To dismiss his support as a cult was absurd back then, and it is equally ridiculous to repeat the claims that his supporters saw him as some sort of Messiah.

During the primary campaign it became clear that Barack Obama was the only candidate I found acceptable who I thought had a reasonable chance to both beat Hillary Clinton and beat whoever would win the Republican nomination. Milbank believes Obama supporters did not see him as another politician. I never had any illusion that someone who could get to that stage was not a politician. The point is not that he was not a politician but that his type of politics was preferable to that practiced by both Hillary Clinton and the current Republican Party.

Milbank misunderstands the response to Obama’s decision to remain in Afghanistan. Yes, of the millions who voted for him I am sure that some were surprised and felt betrayed. Many more of us were fully aware that the current plan is totally consistent with the plans Obama discussed as a candidate. The fact that Obama had said he planned to remain in Afghanistan as a candidate does not mean we cannot criticize the policy. Campaigning on a policy does not give a candidate some sort of immunity to being criticized for the policy–even by those who supported the candidate. We knew that he was not a Messiah who would always be right.

I bet that many Obama supporters predicted, as I had, that Obama would do many things we would disagree with. Back in December 2007 I wrote my annual list of Festivus grievances, that year airing my grievances with the major presidential candidates. On Obama I wrote:

My suspicion is that in a couple of years I will be writing a number of blog posts disagreeing with some of your actions as president, but things will be far better than if any of your major opponents were to win.

Milbank concluded with reaction to Obama’s decision on Afghanistan, describing some of the opposition and writing:

His Afghanistan policy, likewise, is above all a pragmatic, nonideological strategy. He stayed true to his campaign promise to take the fight to the Taliban, but he also tried to build a consensus. You’d think his supporters might applaud this sort of thoughtful, methodical leadership as a repudiation of the Bush style of government by political theory.

Yes, it is true as Milbank also wrote, that some on the left have gone overboard in attacking Obama over this and other areas where they disagreed with him. Some have even unfairly compared Obama to George Bush. Just earlier today I wrote that “I Might Not Agree With Obama On Afghanistan But At Least He Seriously Considered The Issues.” The post praises Obama for at least seriously considering the ramifications of his policy and attempting to avoid past mistakes, along with contrasting Obama’s decision making style to that of George Bush.

Over the Thanksgiving weekend I listened to a large portion of the audio book of David Plouffe’s book on the Obama campaign, The Audacity to Win, while driving or while following around family members as they went shopping. Obviously David Plouffe’s portrayal of Obama must be taken with a grain of salt but while listening I was thinking about why the Messiah line never really hurt Obama. Even while Plouffe was obviously building up Obama, it wasn’t as any sort of Messiah but as an intelligent man (repeat: man) who seriously considered the issues and who did represent a change from the politics of the Clintons and the Republicans (which over time had become virtually identical).

Obama will continue to make mistakes, or at least make decisions I do not agree with. What is important is that we have a president who seriously looks at the facts and asks questions before making deciding. That is not being a Messiah, but it is being vastly superior to his predecessor. I might disagree with some of Obama’s decisions, and certainly never saw him as any type of Messiah, but I still believe, as I did back in 2007, that we are better off than we would be if any of the other candidates had won.

Update: Public Policy Polling puts liberal dissatisfaction with Obama in perspective. While many do disagree with him on specific issues such as Afghanistan, overall only three percent of liberal Democrats disapprove of him.

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The Festivus Airing of Grievances

Festivus, the holiday popularized on an episode of Seinfeld, continues to receive attention. The Miami Herald was among the newspapers noting the event today. A traditional component of the holiday is the airing of grievances at family gatherings.

In past years I  modified the observance on line to include an airing of grievances against political leaders. Last year I posted my grievances against the major presidential candidates of both parties. I had the least grievances against Barack Obama, but the section on him did predict that “in a couple of years I will be writing a number of blog posts disagreeing with some of your actions as president, but things will be far better than if any of your major opponents were to win.”

In previous years my grievances were directed towards George Bush. As this is the last opportunity to do so, and as the grievances remain relevant, I will repost them below. Note that this was originally written when the Republicans controlled Congress with hopes for a Festivus Miracle of a Congress which would hold Bush accountable. Below are my grievances against George Bush as originally written:

Today is Festivus, the nondenominational holiday made famous on Seinfeld. The Festivus celebration includes The Airing of Grievances in which each participant at the Festivus Dinner tells each other all the instances where they disappointed him or her that year. In the spirit of George Lakoff’s “strict father” model for Republican leadership style, for Festivus this year I rant to one and all about all the ways in which George Bush has disappointed me:

George, you twice took an oath to preserve and protect the Constitution and you claim to support judges who look to the intentions of its framers. Yet you take executive powers, and the powers of the commander in chief, far beyond what the framers ever intended. Emergency powers are intended to allow for immediate response to a crisis, not to allow for an indefinite expansion of your powers without legislative approval or judicial review.

You failed in the most important duties of your office, protecting the country when under attack. You ignored the warnings about al Qaeda from your predecessor upon taking office. You ignored warnings in your own intelligence briefings that terrorists planned an attack involving hijacked airplanes, and then on the day of the actual attack you sat down to read a book, possibly for the first time in your life. I hope you enjoyed The Pet Goat. Now if you would only read a few books explaining the background to the problems you have been mishandling.

After failing to take action to protect us from an imminent attack, you totally screw up in retaliating against the wrong country. Your failure to settle matters in Afghanistan before attacking Iraq allowed Bin Laden to escape at Tora Bora when he could have been captured.

Who has your foreign policy helped? You sure helped al Qaeda grow, as Saudi and Israeli studies showed that it was opposition to the war which radicalized those fighting American troops. The other big winner has been Iran as you have spread our military too thin to respond to problems beyond Iraq.

You even considered bombing al-Jazeera. Listen, if you really wanted to get rid of a bunch of religious fanatics and political extremists who were using biased news reports to prop up a corrupt government and reduce freedom you should have gone after Fox News. If Pravda had been as effective in deceiving the public as Fox News and the rest of the right wing noise machine is, the Soviet Union would probably still exist.

Then there’s this Medicare plan of yours. Those in Medicaid programs had their prescriptions paid for at negotiated discount prices, but your plan prevents such discounts in the Medicare programs providing a financial windfall to the pharmaceutical industry at the expense of the taxpayers. What a great deal for the pharmaceutical companies who donated fortunes to you–plus you gave them a great excuse to eliminate their patient assistance programs. Of course don’t forget the insurance industry, which also makes out great thanks to the subsidies you are providing for Medicare managed care plans–plans which have historically been so inefficient that insurance companies will only get involved if they receive such subsidies, again at taxpayer’s expense.

You sure are great for your friends in the pharmaceutical and insurance industries. Then there’s the oil companies. How much did they stand to gain if you got away with the ANWR drilling? I’m sure they would have gotten a better deal than the consumers who would have save a whole one cent per gallon at the pump.

Besides undermining our national security and harming the environment, you have run up record deficits to undermine our financial futures while giving huge tax cuts which primarily benefit the rich. You have undermined important parts of the Constitution as you have engaged in illegal surveillance of American citizens, worked to destroy the checks and balances which have so far saved us tyranny, and you have harmed the separation of church and state which is so important to guarantee that everyone can practice (or not practice) religion in the manner they desire.

Your disdain for the democratic process was especially seen in your campaign for reelection. You both avoided contact with all but firm supporters, and avoided discussing any real issues. You were too afraid of a real discussion of the issues, knowing in such a situation you would be rejected, so instead you based your campaign upon distorting the positions and record of your opponent. I don’t think you ever commented on a single position actually held by John Kerry.

You were even so far off the wall as to suggest that intelligent design be taught in schools as an alternative to evolution. At least you aren’t flip flopping this time (which is something you and not John Kerry has been guilty of). Supporting such superstition over science is consistent with your overall disregard for science. Calling intelligent design a valid alternative to evolution to explain the development of life is as nonsensical as promoting the belief that earth quakes occur because the gods are angry as a valid alternative to geology.

Traditionally, at the Festivus dinner we have the The Feats of Strength. This year I propose that we show our strength by working to remove from Congress those who have collaborated with you and replace them with new members who are willing to vote for your censure or impeachment and restore Constitutional rule as intended by the Founding Fathers. You already have the distinction of being the first President to admit to an impeachable offense in your illegal surveillance, and your lying us into war was an even worse crime. Both are certainly more deserving of impeachment than a private sexual affair and creative uses of cigars.

Next year, when we have a Congress willing to take action against you and to reestablish the form of government envisioned by the Founding Fathers, we can call it a Festivus Miracle.

Now, in the spirit of Festivus, I invite you all gather around an aluminum pole to air your grievances or perform a feat of strength.

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The Festivus Airing of Grievances

Today is Festivus, the nondenominational holiday made famous on Seinfeld. The Festivus celebration includes The Airing of Grievances in which each participant at the Festivus Dinner tells each other all the instances where they disappointed him or her that year. In past years I have done an blog version in which I aired my grievances about George Bush. As Bush is now a lame duck, it is time to move on to those who are seeking to replace him.

John McCain: My disagreements with you regarding your support for George Bush and the war, as well as your views on social issues, apply to most of the Republican candidates. In your case I will add one other grievance–your claim that the United States was founded as a Christian nation.

Mitt Romney: After governing in a blue state you had the opportunity to help bring this country together by stopping the pandering of the Republican Party to the religious right. Instead you flip-flopped on issue after issue, the result being that you are trusted or respected by neither the left or the right. I hope you have learned your lesson as the Republicans are rejecting you for your religious views while liberals couldn’t care less what religion you are as long as you are willing to respect our heritage of separation of church and state.

Rudy Giuliani: You could have also brought liberal social values to the Republican Party, but like Mitt you preferred to pander to the religious right. Your demagoguery on 9/11 and national security can only work for so long, and your lack of respect for civil liberties is even making some conservatives nervous.

Mike Huckabee: You don’t know much about foreign policy, and your tax ideas are somewhat weird also. You share the same problems with all the Republicans on foreign policy and social issues, but the manner in which you bring religion into politics even makes some conservatives like Peggy Noonan feel uncomfortable.

Fred Thompson: I’ll deal with you when you wake up from your nap.

Ron Paul: Unlike the other Republican candidates you are right on Iraq and civil liberties, but anyone who takes opposing the federal government as the default position on all issues is bound to be right quite often. Your defense of the Constitution would make more sense if you were defending the Constitution as the framers actually intended it as opposed to ignoring those aspects which you personally disagree with, such as separation of church and state. Denial of this basic principle, as well as your views on states rights could lead to less as opposed to more freedom in much of the country. Your denial of basic science seen in your uninformed comments on evolution, along with your belief in ridiculous conspiracy theories raises serious concerns about whether you are out of touch with reality. Your ethics are also questioned when you fail to understand why a contribution from a white supremacist should be returned. Your past writings about blacks being prone to violence and lacking sensible opinions only exacerbates these concerns, which are not relieved by your claims that your newsletter was actually authored by others.

Bill Richardson: I had much higher hopes for you earlier in the race but, barring a late miracle, it doesn’t look like your campaign is going anywhere. I had hoped you would bring a real debate to the race over economic policy but we had to settle for a simplistic push for a balanced budget amendment.

Hillary Clinton: During the CNN/You Tube debate you tried to distance yourself from the word “liberal.” Too often you often seem to want to distance yourself from liberal positions as well to make yourself more acceptable to conservative voters. The only form of liberalism you consistently practice is big government liberalism of the worst type as problems are only addressed by increased government management of people’s lives. This was most clearly seen in HillaryCare I, but remnants remain in HillaryCare II making me question if you learned anything from the first fiasco. Your foreign policy views are not reassuring either as what counts was knowing whether it made sense to go to war before it occurred, not to jump on the anti-war bandwagon years later.

John Edwards: I doubt that there has been a candidate in recent history who has shown such a chance of winning a major party nomination who is so poorly qualified. Bob Shrum got it right in calling you a “lightweight,” a “hyper-ambitious phoney” and “a Clinton who hadn’t read the books.” Your only real skill is an amazing ability, seen in your legal, business, and now political careers, to convince some that you have altruistic motives when your real goal is to increase your own wealth and power. There’s little difference between the junk science you used to win legal cases and the junk economics you now are using to try to win the Iowa caucus. Your commitment to liberal principles is even more suspect than Hillary Clinton’s between your relatively weak commitment to reversing the expanded power of the presidency to your health care plan which would make everything, including preventative care, mandatory.

Barack Obama: I am still waiting for more of the promised specifics of your plans. You do show an excellent ability to at least show consideration of all views, but I’m not yet certain if this is a matter of framing or ideology which will impact the final policy. My suspicion is that in a couple of years I will be writing a number of blog posts disagreeing with some of your actions as president, but things will be far better than if any of your major opponents were to win.

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Memories of Festivus Past

(This was originally written for Festivus 2005 but remains relevant for this year. Later, in celebration of this year’s Festivus holiday, I will post my grievances for this year, but the old grievances against George Bush remain worth repeating. Note that the Festivus Miracle I wrote about partially came true. We got a Democratic Congress, but they have not accomplished as much as I had hoped, which is my first grievance for this year.)

Today is Festivus, the nondenominational holiday made famous on Seinfeld. The Festivus celebration includes The Airing of Grievances in which each participant at the Festivus Dinner tells each other all the instances where they disappointed him or her that year. In the spirit of George Lakoff’s “strict father” model for Republican leadership style, for Festivus this year I rant to one and all about all the ways in which George Bush has disappointed me:

George, you twice took an oath to preserve and protect the Constitution and you claim to support judges who look to the intentions of its framers. Yet you take executive powers, and the powers of the commander in chief, far beyond what the framers ever intended. Emergency powers are intended to allow for immediate response to a crisis, not to allow for an indefinite expansion of your powers without legislative approval or judicial review.

You failed in the most important duties of your office, protecting the country when under attack. You ignored the warnings about al Qaeda from your predecessor upon taking office. You ignored warnings in your own intelligence briefings that terrorists planned an attack involving hijacked airplanes, and then on the day of the actual attack you sat down to read a book, possibly for the first time in your life. I hope you enjoyed The Pet Goat. Now if you would only read a few books explaining the background to the problems you have been mishandling.

After failing to take action to protect us from an imminent attack, you totally screw up in retaliating against the wrong country. Your failure to settle matters in Afghanistan before attacking Iraq allowed Bin Laden to escape at Tora Bora when he could have been captured.

Who has your foreign policy helped? You sure helped al Qaeda grow, as Saudi and Israeli studies showed that it was opposition to the war which radicalized those fighting American troops. The other big winner has been Iran as you have spread our military too thin to respond to problems beyond Iraq.

You even considered bombing al-Jazeera. Listen, if you really wanted to get rid of a bunch of religious fanatics and political extremists who were using biased news reports to prop up a corrupt government and reduce freedom you should have gone after Fox News. If Pravda had been as effective in deceiving the public as Fox News and the rest of the right wing noise machine is, the Soviet Union would probably still exist.

Then there’s this Medicare plan of yours. Those in Medicaid programs had their prescriptions paid for at negotiated discount prices, but your plan prevents such discounts in the Medicare programs providing a financial windfall to the pharmaceutical industry at the expense of the taxpayers. What a great deal for the pharmaceutical companies who donated fortunes to you–plus you gave them a great excuse to eliminate their patient assistance programs. Of course don’t forget the insurance industry, which also makes out great thanks to the subsidies you are providing for Medicare managed care plans–plans which have historically been so inefficient that insurance companies will only get involved if they receive such subsidies, again at taxpayer’s expense.

You sure are great for your friends in the pharmaceutical and insurance industries. Then there’s the oil companies. How much did they stand to gain if you got away with the ANWR drilling? I’m sure they would have gotten a better deal than the consumers who would have save a whole one cent per gallon at the pump.

Besides undermining our national security and harming the environment, you have run up record deficits to undermine our financial futures while giving huge tax cuts which primarily benefit the rich. You have undermined important parts of the Constitution as you have engaged in illegal surveillance of American citizens, worked to destroy the checks and balances which have so far saved us tyranny, and you have harmed the separation of church and state which is so important to guarantee that everyone can practice (or not practice) religion in the manner they desire.

Your disdain for the democratic process was especially seen in your campaign for reelection. You both avoided contact with all but firm supporters, and avoided discussing any real issues. You were too afraid of a real discussion of the issues, knowing in such a situation you would be rejected, so instead you based your campaign upon distorting the positions and record of your opponent. I don’t think you ever commented on a single position actually held by John Kerry.

You were even so far off the wall as to suggest that intelligent design be taught in schools as an alternative to evolution. At least you aren’t flip flopping this time (which is something you and not John Kerry has been guilty of). Supporting such superstition over science is consistent with your overall disregard for science. Calling intelligent design a valid alternative to evolution to explain the development of life is as nonsensical as promoting the belief that earth quakes occur because the gods are angry as a valid alternative to geology.

Traditionally, at the Festivus dinner we have the The Feats of Strength. This year I propose that we show our strength by working to remove from Congress those who have collaborated with you and replace them with new members who are willing to vote for your censure or impeachment and restore Constitutional rule as intended by the Founding Fathers. You already have the distinction of being the first President to admit to an impeachable offense in your illegal surveillance, and your lying us into war was an even worse crime. Both are certainly more deserving of impeachment than a private sexual affair and creative uses of cigars.

Next year, when we have a Congress willing to take action against you and to reestablish the form of government envisioned by the Founding Fathers, we can call it a Festivus Miracle.

Now, in the spirit of Festivus, I invite you all gather around an aluminum pole to air your grievances or perform a feat of strength.

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Top Ten Lists for 2006

The end of the year continues to bring lists. Slate lists the top 10 most outrageous civil liberties violations. Richard Clarke has an op-ed in the Washington Post listing problems which got out of hand partially due to the Bush administration being bogged down in Iraq, such as global warming, Russia’s move back towards authoritarianism, and Latin America’s move to the far left. Juan Cole, who previously listed the top ten myths on Iraq, now lists the top ten ways the United States enabled Saddam Hussein.

Below the fold I’ll repost  my list from last New Year’s of Five of the Most Absurd Right Wing Arguments.  We sure don’t hear much talk about that Republican mandate coming off the 2004 election any more.

Posting will be reduced for early January, but the good news is that Liberal Values will be reporting from the happiest place on earth. Finally I’ll get to see how Pluto is doing after his big demotion last summer.
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The Festivus Airing of Grievances

(This was originally posted for Festivus 2005 but remains applicable for this year and I have reprinted it with minor editing and updating of links. Note that the Festivus Miracle I wrote about appears to be coming true.)

Today is Festivus, the nondenominational holiday made famous on Seinfeld. The Festivus celebration includes The Airing of Grievances in which each participate at the Festivus Dinner tells each other all the instances where they disappointed him or her that year. In the spirit of George Lakoff’s “strict father” model for Republican leadership style, for Festivus this year I rant to one and all about all the ways in which George Bush has disappointed me:

George, you twice took an oath to preserve and protect the Constitution and you claim to support judges who look to the intentions of its framers. Yet you take executive powers, and the powers of the commander in chief, far beyond what the framers ever intended. Emergency powers are intended to allow for immediate response to a crisis, not to allow for an indefinite expansion of your powers without legislative approval or judicial review.

You failed in the most important duties of your office, protecting the country when under attack. You ignored the warnings about al Qaeda from your predecessor upon taking office. You ignored warnings in your own intelligence briefings that terrorists planned an attack involving hijacked airplanes, and then on the day of the actual attack you sat down to read a book, possibly for the first time in your life. I hope you enjoyed The Pet Goat. Now if you would only read a few books explaining the background to the problems you have been mishandling.

After failing to take action to protect us from an imminent attack, you totally screw up in retaliating against the wrong country. Your failure to settle matters in Afghanistan before attacking Iraq allowed Bin Laden to escape at Tora Bora when he could have been captured.

Who has your foreign policy helped? You sure helped al Qaeda grow, as Saudi and Israeli studies showed that it was opposition to the war which radicalized those fighting American troops. The other big winner has been Iran as you have spread our military too thin to respond to problems beyond Iraq.

You even considered bombing al-Jazeera. Listen, if you really wanted to get rid of a bunch of religious fanatics and political extremists who were using biased news reports to prop up a corrupt government and reduce freedom you should have gone after Fox News. If Pravda had been as effective in deceiving the public as Fox News and the rest of the right wing noise machine is, the Soviet Union would probably still exist.

Then there’s this Medicare plan of yours. Those in Medicaid programs had their prescriptions paid for at negotiated discount prices, but your plan prevents such discounts in the Medicare programs providing a financial windfall to the pharmaceutical industry at the expense of the taxpayers. What a great deal for the pharmaceutical companies who donated fortunes to you–plus you gave them a great excuse to eliminate their patient assistance programs. Of course don’t forget the insurance industry, which also makes out great thanks to the subsidies you are providing for Medicare managed care plans–plans which have historically been so inefficient that insurance companies will only get involved if they receive such subsidies, again at taxpayer’s expense.

You sure are great for your friends in the pharmaceutical and insurance industries. Then there’s the oil companies. How much did they stand to gain if you got away with the ANWR drilling? I’m sure they would have gotten a better deal than the consumers who would have save a whole one cent per gallon at the pump.

Besides undermining our national security and harming the environment, you have run up record deficits to undermine our financial futures while giving huge tax cuts which primarily benefit the rich. You have undermined important parts of the Constitution as you have engaged in illegal surveillance of American citizens, worked to destroy the checks and balances which have so far saved us tyranny, and you have harmed the separation of church and state which is so important to guarantee that everyone can practice (or not practice) religion in the manner they desire.

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