In case you missed it on TV last night, there's big news out of Pat Robertson World today, and if you're slow on the uptake like me, here's the skinny: The host of The 700 Club done went out Monday night and put him a Right-Wing Christian fatwa on Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez's commie-spic ass! Yee-haw!
David Corn of The Nation has a nice bit on it today, including this extended Robertson quote from last night's 700 Club:
There was a popular coup that overthrew him [Chavez]. And what did the United States State Department do about it? Virtually nothing. And as a result, within about 48 hours that coup was broken; Chavez was back in power, but we had a chance to move in. He has destroyed the Venezuelan economy, and he's going to make that a launching pad for communist infiltration and Muslim extremism all over the continent.
You know, I don't know about this doctrine of assassination, but if he thinks we're trying to assassinate him, I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it. It's a whole lot cheaper than starting a war. And I don't think any oil shipments will stop. But this man is a terrific danger and the United....This is in our sphere of influence, so we can't let this happen. We have the Monroe Doctrine, we have other doctrines that we have announced. And without question, this is a dangerous enemy to our south, controlling a huge pool of oil, that could hurt us very badly. We have the ability to take him out, and I think the time has come that we exercise that ability. We don't need another $200 billion war to get rid of one, you know, strong-arm dictator. It's a whole lot easier to have some of the covert operatives do the job and then get it over with.
Yes, this just reminds us all of the timeless question, "Who Would Jesus Snipe?" (Funny, this little story didn't make it into MY morning paper...)
By the way, the Media Research Center just sent me a "Media Research Center Media Reality Check CyberAlert Special Edition 'QuickTake' Newsbusters Posting" (I swear to God, I'm not making this up) with the title: "Riled by Robertson, Silent on Chavez."
The coverage of Pat's fatwa is biased, the MRC implies, because the MSM isn't pointing out that while, yes, a prominent conservative religious leader has called for a hit on the leader of a sovereign foreign nation, it hasn't done enough to convince people that Chavez really deserves to be whacked...
Since Chavez squashed a coup attempt in April 2002, the network morning shows have aired only three stories mentioning Chavez, none of which suggested he posed any kind of danger to the United States. But as Thor Halvorssen, president of the Human Rights Foundation, wrote in the August 8 Weekly Standard, Chavez is a committed enemy of the United States, made all the more dangerous because of Venezuela's huge oil revenues.
Which might make this as good a time is any to put up the link to the classic web document, "Quotes from the American Taliban."
Google Stories: So Google comes out and tries the micro-marketing idea for short-story publishing. Color me skeptical, and note that they're just trying to sell big name writers. This looks less like a new medium for fiction and essays and more like an experiment in "unbundling" for a la carte literary marketing.
"The Real News From Iraq": Ralph Peters is a retired Army officer and one of the best essayists I know (I haven't read his novels and so I won't comment on them). He isn't a Pentagon mouthpiece, and when I've mentioned his name among active-duty and recently retired Army officers they tend to break eye contact and get a little red in the face (in their eyes, Peters is a turncoat who left the military to criticize it). An intellectual maverick, not a company man, but Army to his bones.
I don't always agree with Peters, but I do I respect him? You bet. He's a hard-eyed realist who calls it like he sees it, and he usually see things pretty clearly. Which is why I'll have to do some thinking about this NY Post column, "The Real News From Iraq" (registration required).
If it turns out to be true that military recruiting is way up, as Peters states here, then the MSM have got some explaining to do. On the other, if the Pentagon is meeting its recruiting goals by lowering its targets (as it did earlier this year -- and still missed them), then Peters is gonna start sliding off the "smart people who can change my mind" list and onto the "slick bastards who have played me for a fool" list.
None of which, however, would address the central question on Iraq: What the fuck were we thinking, and what should we do now? Eugene Robinson of the WaPo says the Iraq situation is such a mess that "even the Democrats can't blow this one," a sentiment that I think is probably true, even if it's wildly and irresponsibly optimistic.
Here's the question I've been avoiding: If I had the power, would I just pull American troops out of Iraq? And I swear to Gawd, I don't know the answer. We've got to clean up this mess, but the question is, how?
And then, depression set in: President Bush's poll numbers hit a new low in the new American Research Group poll released Monday. He's down to 36 percent approval rating, a figure that political analysts will tell you represents the hard Republican base in the U.S.
In other words, if his numbers stay at or near this figure, and if other polls begin to track consistently below 40 percent, then you will be able to honestly say that the only people who approve of the President these days are the same partisans who would back Bush even if it turned out he was torturing baby harp seals and personally stealing retirement checks out of old people's mailboxes.
What does that mean? Well, if those numbers hold (the longer a number holds, the more valid it becomes), then we'll be able to say that GWB has hit rock bottom. It is basically impossible for him to sink beneath 35 percent.