Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Aid and comfort to the enemy

Or how about "embracing defeat"? Wasn't that what it was called when Congressman Jack Murtha said we should withdraw from Iraq ASAP? What is it called now that Rush Limbaugh and Bill O'Reilly agree with Jack Murtha, who said, "Peter Pace told me this last night: They know militarily they can't win this" and recommended we "we redeploy (American troops) as quickly as possible."

Murtha: 2
Wingnutosphere: 0

Update: Actually, I'll give the wingnutosphere a half a point if, within 24 hours, they're crawling up Rush Limbaugh's and Bill O'Reilly's asses calling them appeasing, cowardly douchebags. Unfortunately for the rightards, neither of those bastards has an exemplary military record or battle-earned medal to tarnish...

Accident or signal?

From the Washington Post:
The Senate flag, which flies atop its building when the chamber is in session, was raised around 10 a.m. Friday. But there was one problem: It was upside down. That's the universal distress symbol.
From United States Code Title 4 Chapter 1:
§8. Respect for flag

No disrespect should be shown to the flag of the United States of America; the flag should not be dipped to any person or thing. Regimental colors, State flags, and organization or institutional flags are to be dipped as a mark of honor.
  1. The flag should never be displayed with the union down, except as a signal of dire distress in instances of extreme danger to life or property.
Just diagnosing the situation in the Senate through my TV, I'd say that sounds about right.

Republicans are suddenly interested in port security

But why are they just now realizing it's important?

They don't need your stinkin' laws, Part 1006

Bush and his cronies just don't care about your petty little legislation. But, according to their lawyers, they don't have to, even when the benefactors of their lawbreaking are great pals of Osama bin Laden.

And, by the way, you're picking up the tab for Republican corruption and lawlessness, one way or the other.

This day in history

1371 Robert II succeeded to the throne of Scotland, beginning the Stuart dynasty.

1403 Charles VII, King of France, is born.

1630 Indians introduce pilgrims to popcorn, at Thanksgiving.

1732 George Washington is born.

1744 Battle at Toulon English-French & Spanish fleet.

1770 Christopher Snider 11, Boston, becomes 1st martyr of US Revolution.

1777 Archibald Bulloch dies under mysterious circumstances.

1810 Frédéric F Chopin is born.

1819 The U.S. acquires Spanish Florida.

1819 James Russell Lowell is born.

1832 Johann Wolfgang von Goethe dies.

1847 Battle of Buena Vista begins.

1854 1st meeting of the Republican Party, Michigan.

1856 1st national meeting of the Republican Party (Pittsburgh).

1860 Shoe-making workers of Lynn MS, strike successfully for higher wages.

1864 Battle of West Point, Mississippi.

1865 Tennessee adopted a new constitution abolishing slavery.

1888 John Reid of Scotland demonstrates golf to Americans (Yonkers NY).

1891 "Chico" Marx is born.

1892 Edna St. Vincent Millay is born.

1900 Luis Bruñel is born.

1902 A fistfight breaks out in the Senate. Senator Benjamin Tillman suffers a bloody nose for accusing Senator John McLaurin of bias on the Philippine tariff issue.

1917 Mussolini wounded by mortar bomb.

1918 Montana passes law against sedition.

1924 Calvin Coolidge made the first presidential radio broadcast from the White House.

1925 Edward Gorey, American writer and illustrator, is born.

1926 Pope Pius rejects Mussolini's offer of aid to the Vatican.

1932 Purple Heart award re-instituted.

1932 Edward Kennedy is born.

1935 Airplanes were no longer permitted to fly over the White House.

1942 President Roosevelt to MacArthur: Get out of the Philippines.

1944 US 8th Air Force bombs Enschede, Arnhem & Nijmegen by mistake/800+ die.

1944 C.S. Lewis writes in a letter: "Heaven enters wherever Christ enters, even in this life."

1946 George Kennan sends "long telegram" to State Department.

1948 Arabs bomb attack in Jerusalem, 50 die.

1950 Disney's Cinderella opens.

1950 Julius Erving is born.

1956 1st British soccer match at Kunstlicht Portsmouth vs Newcastle United.

1965 Westmoreland asks for Marines

1967 Suharto takes full power in Indonesia.

1967 Operation Junction City becomes the largest U.S. operation in Vietnam.

1969 LtCol. Donald E. Paxton and Maj. Charles Macko go MIA in Laos, despite DoD claims we weren't in the country.

1971 Terry of Nitpicker is born.

1973 Israeli fighter planes shoot down a civilian Libyan Arab Airlines Boeing 727 killing 108.

1980 The "Miracle on Ice" takes place.

1980 Afghanistan declares martial law.

1983 Hindus kill 3000 Moslems in Assam, India.

1991 Bush & US Gulf War allies give Iraq 24 hours to begin Kuwait withdrawal.

1993 The U.N. Security Council approved creation of an international war crimes tribunal to punish those responsible for atrocities in the former Yugoslavia.

1994 Double agent Aldrich Ames is arrested.

1997 Dolly the sheep is cloned.

(Sources here, here, here, here, here and here)

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

People are wising up

The Wichita Eagle is a pretty reliable source of Republican support, but even they can see that my senator, Pat Roberts, has become a partisan hack.
Many Kansans, including members of The Eagle editorial board, have long admired Sen. Pat Roberts for his plainspokenness and reputation for fair brokering of issues.

So it's troubling that Roberts, chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, is fast gaining the reputation in Washington, D.C., as a reliable partisan apologist for the Bush administration on intelligence and security controversies.

We hope that's not true. But Roberts' credibility is on the line.

From Abu Ghraib abuses to secret CIA detainee prisons to the Valerie Plame affair, critics say, Roberts has become a dependable shill for the White House, ever ready to shield Bush policy from criticism and ever willing to compromise Congress' legitimate oversight role.

A prime example: He has dragged his feet on a promised but long-delayed Senate investigation into whether the White House cherry-picked and amplified prewar intelligence to fit its preconceived goal of invading Iraq.

This week, Roberts sidetracked a Senate Intelligence Committee inquiry into the possibly illegal National Security Agency wiretap program, saying the White House had agreed to brief lawmakers more regularly and to work with him on a behind-the-scenes "fix" of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act...

What's bothering many, though, is that Roberts seems prepared to write the Bush team a series of blank checks to conduct the war on terror, even to the point of ignoring policy mistakes and possible violations of law.

That's not oversight -- it's looking the other way.
Writing blank checks? Where have I heard that before?

And, as long as we're reminding people today about the kind of people Republicans used to pretend to be, let's recall something Roberts once said.
Are we to have standards for the President different from standards applied to other citizens? Americans long ago rejected the imperial presidency. The President is not above the law. He is not a king.

In arriving at the conclusion this President should be removed from office I weighed whether his actions damaged the national security of the United States. Again, I concluded that the President, by his actions, has severely damaged his ability to act as a leader in the community of world nations at a time when solid leadership is needed.

This President has lost respect of our allies. His actions have emboldened our potential enemies, creating opportunities for them to act adversely to U.S. interests. Our foreign policy is adrift. The consequences to this generation and future generations are severe...

What is material is that the President of the United States is not credible. He is not trusted. He cannot act in the best interest of America.

He has lost the moral mantle of leadership.

He has selfishly placed this nation in jeopardy.

It is precisely this kind of situation, I am convinced, that worried America's founding fathers as they devised the impeachment mechanism to remove a sitting president whose actions endangered the republic.

Rumsfeld v. McClellan

Someone's full of shit and my money's on McClellan.

This time.

Just a big bowl of bad

Former Ashcroft counsel says president is above the law

Holy shit.
Legal challenges against Bush's efforts are likely to fail because the president has constitutional power to act as commander in chief and conduct foreign affairs, said Kris Kobach, former counsel to Attorney General John Ashcroft.

"Article II will trump anything Congress tries to do through statute," Kobach said.

(Link via Thoughts From Kansas)
Do I have to remind you again how Republicans used to talk?
Bill Frist: I will have no part in the creation of a constitutional double-standard to benefit the President. He is not above the law. If an ordinary citizen committed these crimes, he would go to jail. Many senators have voted to remove federal judges guilty of perjury, and I have no doubt that the Senate would do so again. Those who by their votes today confer immunity on the President for the same crimes do violence to the core principle that we are all entitled to equal justice under law.

John McCain: Presidents are not ordinary citizens. They are extraordinary, in that they are vested with so much more authority and power than the rest of us. We have a right; indeed, we have an obligation, to hold them strictly accountable to the rule of law.

Chuck Hagel: The President violated his Constitutional oath and he broke the law. His crimes do rise to the level of high crimes and misdemeanors prescribed in the Constitution. The President's actions cannot be defended by dancing on the pin head of legal technicality. Every American must know actions have consequences. Even for presidents. All Americans must have faith in our laws and know that there is equal justice for all. The core of our judicial process is the rule of law.

Larry Craig: The Framers of the Constitution believed that governments are established in the first place to protect the rights of the governed. It follows that the most serious breach of duty in public office--the most serious threat to the order of society itself--is for the enforcers of the law to break the law. How much more grave that breach becomes when it is committed by the one individual in the nation who personifies the federal government: the president.

Spencer Abraham: The President's role and status in our system of government are unique. The Constitution vests the executive power in the President, and in the President alone. That means he is the officer chiefly charged with carrying out our laws. Therefore, far more than any federal judge, he holds the scales of justice in his own hands.

In the wrong hands, that power can easily be transformed from the power to carry out the laws, into the power to bend them to one's own ends.

The very nature of the Presidency guarantees that its occupant will face daily temptations to twist the laws for personal gain, for party benefit or for the advantage of friends.

To combat these temptations, the Constitution spells out--in no uncertain terms--that the President shall "take care that the laws be faithfully executed," and the President's oath of office requires him to swear that he will do so...

Indeed, we Americans take the rule of law so thoroughly for granted that while it has been much invoked in these proceedings, there has been little discussion of what it means or why it matters. Simply put, the rule of law is the guarantee our system makes to all of us that our rights and those of our countrymen will be determined according to rules established in advance. It is the guarantee that there will be no special rules, treatment, and outcomes for some, but that the same rules will be applied, in the same way, to everyone.

If America's most powerful citizen may bend the law in his own favor with impunity, we have come dangerously close to trading in the rule of law for the rule of men. That in turn jeopardizes the freedoms we hold dear, for our equality before the law is central to their protection.

Sam Brownback: Indeed, we Americans take the rule of law so thoroughly for granted that while it has been much invoked in these proceedings, there has been little discussion of what it means or why it matters. Simply put, the rule of law is the guarantee our system makes to all of us that our rights and those of our countrymen will be determined according to rules established in advance. It is the guarantee that there will be no special rules, treatment, and outcomes for some, but that the same rules will be applied, in the same way, to everyone.

If America's most powerful citizen may bend the law in his own favor with impunity, we have come dangerously close to trading in the rule of law for the rule of men. That in turn jeopardizes the freedoms we hold dear, for our equality before the law is central to their protection.
Remember, if you don't believe in the "unitary executive," then you have to see that the laws concerning FISA and wiretapping were written to restrain a vast machinery of investigation and law enforcement. If you do, as Bush does, believe in the "unitary executive," then that law was written to restrain one man: The President.

I guess my belief in the checks and balances inherent in the Constitution is part of my "pre-9/11 mindset."

Republicans are proving more and more every day that their party stands for nothing and the "Republican Revolution" was all just pomp and circumstance leading up to a coronation.

Update: The Agonist says it sure is going to be fun to use Article II once Bush is gone.

Supporting the troops, GOP style

If you've ever doubted that Republicans who tell you to "support the troops" really just want you to quit saying bad stuff about Bush, this is the story for you (via Rakkasan).
Nearly three years ago, someone in the community started a memorial to the teenage Marine killed in Iraq. It started with a large photograph and people added flags, flowers, cards and rosaries. The family surrounded it with some white bricks.

Andy was laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery, so this was the nearest place for Norma and Oscar to see their son.

Norma Aviles, Marine's mother:
"It is Andy there. His picture... I used to come to clean his picture, wipe his face. And it used to bring memories of wiping his face when he was a little boy."

They came every week with flowers. But on Valentine's Day, their hearts were broken once again. The memorial was gone. Someone had swept the place clean. No picture, no flowers, no flag, and no respect.

Norma Aviles, Marine’s mother:
"Oh, it was like somebody really put a knife in my heart."

Oscar Aviles, Marine’s father:
"My heart dropped. It was very, very painful. And I still feel the pain."

The Aviles' say state and city workers didn’t remove the memorial. So with President Bush here on Friday, the couple speculates that perhaps someone is trying to shield the President’s eyes from the reality of war.

Oscar Aviles, Marine’s father:”I would hate to think that is the reason, and I’m hoping it isn’t”
Sad.

Monday, February 20, 2006

We're all "liberal media" members now.

Despite Sisyphean efforts (make that Sissyphean for you Chickenhawks) on the part of the rightwing bloggers to accuse the media of acting spoiled and petulant over Cheney not speaking out sooner, they're still, as they like to say, outside the mainstream. It seems that roughly two-thirds of Americans believe he should have spoken up sooner.

Sorry, Hugh. Most of America thinks you're wrong. Again.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Happy Presidents' Day!

On this day, let us pause and recall a few especially poignant words spoken by George Washington and recently read on the Senate floor by Sen. Ken Salazar (D-CO).
It is important, likewise, that the habits of thinking in a free country should inspire caution in those entrusted with its administration, to confine themselves within their respective constitutional spheres, avoiding in the exercise of the powers of one department to encroach upon another. The spirit of encroachment tends to consolidate the powers of all the departments in one, and thus to create, whatever the form of government, a real despotism. A just estimate of that love of power, and proneness to abuse it, which predominates in the human heart, is sufficient to satisfy us of the truth of this position. The necessity of reciprocal checks in the exercise of political power, by dividing and distributing it into different depositaries, and constituting each the guardian of the public weal against invasions by the others, has been evinced by experiments ancient and modern; some of them in our country and under our own eyes. To preserve them must be as necessary as to institute them. If, in the opinion of the people, the distribution or modification of the constitutional powers be in any particular wrong, let it be corrected by an amendment in the way which the Constitution designates. But let there be no change by usurpation; for though this, in one instance, may be the instrument of good, it is the customary weapon by which free governments are destroyed. The precedent must always greatly overbalance in permanent evil any partial or transient benefit, which the use can at any time yield.
Amen.

Another service member against Bush

This is the values debate we ought to be having.
The Navy's general counsel warned Pentagon officials two years before the Abu Ghraib prison scandal that circumventing international agreements on torture and detainees' treatment would invite abuse, according to a published report.

Legal theories granting the president the right to authorize abuse despite the Geneva Conventions were unlawful, dangerous and erroneous, then-General Counsel Alberto J. Mora advised officials in a secret memo. The 22-page document was obtained by the New Yorker for an article in its Feb. 27 issue...

Mora said Navy intelligence officers reported in 2002 that military-intelligence interrogators at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, were engaging in escalating levels of physical and psychological abuse rumored to have been authorized at a high level in Washington.

"I was appalled by the whole thing," Mora told the magazine. "It was clearly abusive and it was clearly contrary to everything we were ever taught about American values."
Remember, Republicans believe Bush can do whatever he wants because, as Senator John Cornyn put it, "None of your civil liberties matter much after you’re dead." They're still too scared to stand up for true American values.

What has been pointed out about that argument is the idea that life itself is the end-all-beat-all of human existence, that principles are transitory and malleable and not worth dying for.

Is it any wonder, then, why so many service members then are turning on these Republican cowards? The idea that living is the only real value basically says that anyone who puts his or her life on the line is a sucker. It means that a person's service, his oath to the Constitution and even the lives they've given mean nothing more than extending the lives of others. Unfortunately for Republicans, most of the people I've met in the military know what real American values are.

And more and more of them are speaking up.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Reading the zeitgeist's dipstick

Funny thing. I don't really pay a lot of attention to how people get to my website, but a couple of days ago, I was linked to by Howard Kurtz.

Yes, I had hit the big time.

What amuses me is that Howie has two jobs commenting on culture and the media, for which I would guess he makes a pretty penny, and has written some books about same. But when he dropped a link to me in his blog, I got four, maybe five hits from it.

When Atrios or Crooks and Liars or any number of other blogs points me out, though, I get thousands.

Take from that what you will.

Follow this!

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Right wing bloggers to attack Bush administration?

Numerous rightie bloggers were pissed that anyone would say that the Danish editor might not have been very smart to publish the Mohammed cartoons. As I pointed out a few days ago, National Review's own soulless automaton of an academic, Victor Davis Hanson, was appalled:
Like the appeasement of the 1930s, we are in the great age now of ethical retrenchment. So much has been lost even since 1960; then the very idea that a Dutch cartoonist whose work had offended radical Muslims would be in hiding for fear of his life would have been dismissed as fanciful.

Insidiously, the censorship only accelerates. It is dressed up in multicultural gobbledygook about hurtfulness and insensitivity, when the real issue is whether we in the West are going to be blown up or beheaded if we dare come out and support the right of an artist or newspaper to be occasionally crass.
Imagine my shock, of course, when I read V.D.H. defending the press, when he had only recently complained that the press should keep its complaints to itself.

But, if Hanson and the bloggers who have discovered, finally, the value of a free press really believe what they wrote about the Danish cartoons then they have a chance to show it. The Pentagon wants journalists to quit showing stuff they don't like. Here's the Pentagon's viewpoint in an article published in the exact opposite of a free press, the American Forces Press Service.
Publicizing more images depicting alleged abuse of detainees at Iraqi's Abu Ghraib prison could bring harm to U.S. servicemembers, a senior Defense Department official said here today.
The release of more Abu Ghraib images "could only further inflame and possibly incite unnecessary violence in the world and would endanger our military men and women that are serving in places around the world," DoD spokesman Bryan Whitman told Pentagon reporters.

"The abuses at Abu Ghraib have been fully investigated," Whitman said. "As you know, it's been the policy of this department - it has been and continues to be - that all detainees in our custody will be treated humanely."
Have at 'em, wingnuts.

You first, Vic.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Get peppered! Everybody's doing it! Of course it's legal...

I haven't been reading the rightie blogs in the past couple of days, but Atrios has and he says that he's learned some things.
Every conservative on the internet is an avid hunter and they've all been shot multiple times.

Shotguns aren't really guns, just toys. You can't really hurt people with them, only animals.

It's standard hunter etiquette to yell and scream at your fellow hunters as they're stalking their prey.

The most dangerous place to be is behind the people with the guns.

And Dick Cheney was not drunk, so stop saying that.
I've already shared my own opinion on the "it happens to everyone" defense, but it seems it keeps popping up. John Dickerson said he's been hearing it a lot.
If you're thinking about getting into quail hunting, you should know one thing: You're going to get "peppered." It comes with the license. It hurts, but so do a lot of things in life. Only media elites run around trying to spread Neosporin on everyone who gets into a little hunting accident.
That doesn't seem to be quite true. According to the state of Texas's own analysis of hunting accidents (PDF link), between 1966 and 2005, there were 42.3 million annual hunting licenses were sold in the state, but only 2,616 accidents occurred. Leaving aside that there's no way of knowing how many people hunted without licenses, so we have no real idea of how many actual hunters were in the field in a during that time), that means that only .00006 percent of hunters were involved in accident during that time and that's only if the same idiot didn't make the same mistake more than once.

So the "it happens to everyone" meme is ridiculous, though it can hardly be blamed on the first person to toss it out, right? As far as I can tell it came from Katharine Armstrong first and she only served on the Texas Wildlife and Parks Commission for four years, two as Chairman (PDF link, see page 4). How could she know anything about it?

What I find most offensive here is how Cheney acted after being caught hunting without the proper stamp on his license. No, I don't mind that he didn't have it. That happens. For example, when I renew my clearance for the military, I still report that I have a misdemeanor charge of fishing without a license on my record. It cost me $75 for what would have been a $10 license.

And, in my story, you'll see the problem.

I pointed out when this first happened that I saw a pattern here. Aside from this administration's habit of shooting first and asking questions later (not to mention lying: everybody gets shot while quail hunting), you can also see their disdain for the law.
Vice President Dick Cheney was hunting illegally - without the required $7 stamp on his license for quail - when he accidentally shot one of his hunting partners, Texas Parks and Wildlife officials said Monday.

And so was Harry Whittington, 78, who was recovering Monday from a shotgun blast to the face, neck and chest.

In its report, the state agency that oversees hunting and fishing said it found that neither Cheney nor Whittington had purchased the game bird stamp required to hunt quail in Texas, although both had valid hunting licenses. Both will get warning citations, and there will be no fine or other penalty.

Cheney's office said Monday he hadn't realized he was lacking the proper stamp and has since sent a $7 check to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.
You see that? Cheney committed a class C misdemeanor, which means he should have been charged between $25 and $500.

These are small sums for Cheney, certainly, but the fact that Cheney believes he can retroactively pay for something he should have had in the first place shows that he just doesn't care for the law. Will no one else be charge with this misdemeanor if they're caught? Can I drive without a license plate and, when stopped, just give the policeman a check for what the plate would cost? Hell no. I'm not Dick.

You may think I'm stretching, but this is, again, an example of how this administration thinks on larger issues. According to the Washington Post lawmakers seem to be backing off from their investigations of Bush's warrantless wiretapping program. But that's not all they're doing.
Senate intelligence committee member Mike DeWine (R-Ohio) said in an interview that he supports the NSA program and would oppose a congressional investigation. He said he is drafting legislation that would "specifically authorize this program" by excluding it from the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which established a secret court to consider government requests for wiretap warrants in anti-terrorist investigations.
In other words, the White House has broken the law, but the Republicans are going to rush in and make it all better by making it legal now. This is just like Cheney sending in his $7 check and calling it good. Bush won't have to pay for his illegal acts and those who should be watching over this administration are going to act like he was always able to tap Americans' phones without warrants.

As David Ignatius writes today, this administration has "blown past the usual rules and restraints" put upon past presidents. Seriously, though, what's stopping them? They've decided repeatedly to violate the law and the Constitution and, lucky them, they don't even have to send in a check to pay for their crimes.

The Republicans in Congress are volunteering to write those checks for them.

And they appear to be blank.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Jonah v. Jonah

Jonah Goldberg went after Glenn Greenwald's excellent post about the intellectual bankruptcy of the rightwingers yesterday. While Glenn's point is that the Republicans seem to actually stand for nothing anymore except blindly following whomever they believe will keep them in power, Jonah chose to take an obviously hyperbolic statement literally, in which Glenn says that all it takes to be labeled a liberal these days is to oppose Bush. Jonah says it's bullshit:
I defy either of them to attempt to demonstrate this assertion factually. Andrew has quoted countless conservatives' criticisms of the President (the merits of the criticism vary widely). They aren't all suddenly liberals -- even in the eyes of Bush "loyalists" -- for criticizing Bush.
He has a lot more and names names--John McCain and Bob Barr among them--but, his point is, really that it's wrong because he says it's wrong and no one can show him any different.

He fails to mention, however, that Greenwald is just pointing out a modus operandi that Bush supporters were using even before he took the White House, but has become nationalized by his position as President. What left-wing wacko would sink so low to accuse Bushies of this kind of mindless namecalling?

You guessed it. It's Jonah Goldberg:
I don't know about you guys, but I think this is fun. Actually, I do know about some of you guys, because you're the ones sending me angry and hysterical e-mails calling McCain a baby-killer, a "sicko," a Communist, etc. Which gets to the real point here. If John McCain is a Communist — or even a liberal — what on God's green Earth is Al Gore? What vocabulary is left?...

This lack of ideological depth perception in some quarters is stunning and very embarrassing. If there is a political chasm between Bush and McCain, then even Robby Knievel — with a rocket strapped to his back — couldn't cross the distance between McCain and Gore, let alone Bradley...

I'd like to respond very briefly to the hordes of people accusing me of treachery, opportunism or — egads! — liberalism. These people think I am wildly pro-McCain. One interlocutor thinks I should be writing for Salon. Several think I secretly want a job in the Gore administration. I don't really mind the criticism; as I say, this is all fun to me. But rather than type out responses to every correspondent I thought I would just cover my bases here.

As pretty much the only NR writer not supporting Bush, I'd like to say you people need to take a couple of deep breaths. Is Pat Buchanan a Leftist for not supporting Bush? Is Alan Keyes? What about Steve Forbes or Gary Bauer? Do you think they're all bucking for jobs in the Gore administration?...

I welcome all criticism — and even reprint it. But, just so you know, when you people write me and say I am a Leftwing zealot because I don't support George Bush — whom I would gladly support if he got the nomination — you make Bush supporters look really silly. If you've got arguments, make them. But don't embarrass yourselves.
Later, though, Jonah jumped on the Bush bandwagon and became disenchanted with McCain, saying he was "spiral(ing) farther and farther into self-caricature" and then, suddenly, he had become a full-fledged member of the you, sir, are a liberal brigade. This is how he described a Franklin Foer piece about William Kristol:
The essence of his piece is that Bill Kristol has become a liberal. That's a bit too provocative; if you pick almost any public-policy issue, with the possible exception of campaign-finance reform, Kristol will give you a conservative opinion of it. But Foer isn't being irresponsible when he calls Kristol a liberal either...

I also think what's happened is a shame because it seems like Kristol is in a corner intellectually. "Why are conservatives so upset? It isn't that we supported McCain; it's that we haven't apologized for supporting him," Kristol tells Foer, "There's something sick about a movement like that." Well, yes and no. Maybe some people are asking Kristol for a full kowtow for his McCain support; Lord knows my brief endorsement of McCain caused some readers to spit their Diet Cokes out of their nostrils and onto their screens.

But in a sense an apology is in order. During the campaign Kristol suggested more than once that to be a Bush supporter was tantamount to being a hostage to evil corporations that put profit above patriotism.
Of course Jonah, as we read, said the Bushies themselves had no arguments, so there's that.

My one brief exchange of e-mails with Jonah actually centered around his defense of Ken Tomlinson, the Bush-appointed head of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting whose slanted survey of PBS broadcasting was performed by a fellow right-wing hack who decided Chuck Hagel and, yep, Bob Barr should be considered liberals because they disagreed with Bush.

But, Jonah, who, it must always be pointed out, earned his position as a conservative pundit by being the fruit of the poison womb, does give himself an out here. Yes, he'll come back and point out that he said he couldn't remember when the McCains of the party had been "automatically and unreflectingly labled [sic] 'liberal' by anyone of any substance or prominence on the Right." Get that? It may have been a game played by the entire Bush apparatus during the election, by appointees of the administration and by the right wing talking heads (Hannity called John Sununu a "liberal Republican" because he was concerned about NSA spying and the Patriot Act, but despite the senator's perfect rating from the American Conservative Union), but Jonah can always look down from the perch on which he was placed by birth and decide those using that tactic weren't substantive or prominent enough to meet his criteria.

Hell, they might even have been closet liberals.

Shorter Victor Davis Hanson

Christians lie for the Bug Man

Are Christians supposed to lie? I forget.

It seems, however, that the people over at Pat Robertson's Christian Broadcasting Network think it's just fine. Note their recently posted interview with Tom DeLay.
The House Ethics Committee actually admonished DeLay three times in 2004, all on complaints that he used his political influence improperly. Eventually, they were all dismissed.
None of these complaints were dismissed.

Read and remember what a great, ethical man DeLay is.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Deadeye Dick is one shitty hunter

Yep, Bush "Pioneer" Katharine Armstrong is trying to cover for Dick Cheney in his shooting incident by blaming it on the shooting victim, Harry Whittington.
Armstrong said she was watching from a car while Cheney, Whittington and another hunter got out of the vehicle to shoot at a covey of quail.

Whittington shot a bird and went to look for it in the tall grass, while Cheney and the third hunter walked to another spot and discovered a second covey.

Whittington "came up from behind the vice president and the other hunter and didn't signal them or indicate to them or announce himself," Armstrong said.

"The vice president didn't see him," she continued. "The covey flushed and the vice president picked out a bird and was following it and shot. And by god, Harry was in the line of fire and got peppered pretty good."
Remember that this is the same Dick Cheney who mocked John Kerry by calling his camouflage outfit an "October Disguise."

But, if Dick was a real hunter, he would know that hunters are supposed to have "zones of fire," areas which are theirs for the picking. Other areas, for safety reasons, are off-limits. Hell, the Texas Hunter Education website teaches this to children--I learned it myself at about 12 years of age. For you non-hunters, an example is below.

So, unless Harry Whittington went apeshit and dashed out in front of men wielding shotguns, Dick Cheney violated one of the most important rules of hunting--a rule that got my butt whipped by my grandfather once, which was all that was needed--and spun around shooting either to the rear or to the side. Some hunter he is.

The funny thing is, blaming it on not understanding the full situation is just another way of saying he received "bad intelligence." I guess the classics never go out of style.

Update: Who the hell are these people?
Armstrong said Cheney is a longtime friend who comes to the ranch to hunt about once a year and is "a very safe sportsman." She said Whittington is a regular, too, but she thought it was the first time the two men hunted together.

"This is something that happens from time to time. You now, I've been peppered pretty well myself," said Armstrong.
No, this doesn't "happen from time to time." I can't remember a member of my family ever shooting another hunter or being shot on a hunting trip and, adding up all of my hunter family members, that would mean no shooting incidents in tens of thousands of hunting trips. If a shooting incident occurs once, it may be an accident. If it occurs from "time to time," it shows a lack of seriousness about the responsibility and power inherent to hunting.

A pattern

Bush promises to get Osama bin Laden "dead or alive." He doesn't.

The administration says they need to allow American citizens to be wiretapped without warrants because it brings in valuable intel. Turns out they were tapping regular shmoes who are no longer suspects.

Cheney tries to shoot a quail, hits a 78-year-old man.

Someone should tell the members of this administration that real hunting, like real leadership, is a lot different that having the game you're hunting tossed at you.

Friday, February 10, 2006

The Bushies are making a mockery of the military

Fuckers.
(T)he Bush administration is going directly to the public with its war message. Raul Damas, associate director of political affairs at the White House, has been on the phone directly to Republican county chairmen to arrange local speeches by active duty military personnel to talk about their experiences in Iraq. To some Republican members, this unusual venture connotes a desire to go directly to the people to sell the president's position without having to deal with members of Congress.
This is incredible. It's time for everyone who believes in having an apolitical military to go here and file a complaint with the DoD's Inspector General.

Bruce Bullshit

Bruce Bartlett wrote a column a couple of days ago that basically says Republicans isn't the party of racism, that's the Democrats. He's got a point. I've said before that if I had been born a 100 years earlier, I would have been a Republican. However, his history pretty much stops at 1964 with the Civil Rights act.

I wanted to do a more lengthy post about just how stupid Bartlett thinks his readers are, but I keep getting too pissed. So I'll just leave you with a few points.
  1. There's a reason that many left the Democratic Party for the Dixiecrat Party in the 1960s and, later, ended up in the Republican Party.

  2. There's a reason that modern Republicans continue to harp on the same "states' rights" argument that the Dixiecrats spoke of whenever they wanted to roll back civil rights.

  3. There's a reason that Ronald Reagan gave his "states' rights" speech as his first campaign speech in Philadelphia, Mississippi, the site of the murder of three civil rights' workers.

  4. There's a reason a Republican Governor got elected by promising a referendum to put an homage to the Confederate Flag back in his state flag.

  5. There's a reason that Southern Partisan magazine called itself the "fastest growing conservative magazine in America" and, while calling Lincoln a traitor, interviewed only Republicans like John Ashcroft.
As Kos put it the other day, not every Republican is a racist, but every racist sure does seem to be a Republican.

Dear Mr. Scarborough

In 2003, Joe Scarborough wrote:
Jayson Blair is, borrowing the words of Miami Herald writer Carl Hiaasen,"a sick puppy." The self-described former coke-head stole stories, lied about locations, made up facts, and committed fraud on America.
Will he now go after the Washington Times?

Perhaps we should ask him. E-mail him at joe@msnbc.com.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Someone else to smear

Now it's Paul R. Pillar.
Paul R. Pillar, who was the national intelligence officer for the Near East and South Asia from 2000 to 2005, acknowledges the U.S. intelligence agencies' mistakes in concluding that Hussein's government possessed weapons of mass destruction. But he said those misjudgments did not drive the administration's decision to invade.

"Official intelligence on Iraqi weapons programs was flawed, but even with its flaws, it was not what led to the war," Pillar wrote in the upcoming issue of the journal Foreign Affairs. Instead, he asserted, the administration "went to war without requesting -- and evidently without being influenced by -- any strategic-level intelligence assessments on any aspect of Iraq."

"It has become clear that official intelligence was not relied on in making even the most significant national security decisions, that intelligence was misused publicly to justify decisions already made, that damaging ill will developed between [Bush] policymakers and intelligence officers, and that the intelligence community's own work was politicized," Pillar wrote.

Pillar's critique is one of the most severe indictments of White House actions by a former Bush official since Richard C. Clarke, a former National Security Council staff member, went public with his criticism of the administration's handling of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and its failure to deal with the terrorist threat beforehand.

It is also the first time that such a senior intelligence officer has so directly and publicly condemned the administration's handling of intelligence.
Clearly this political hack has just been hiding his leanings as he served in the CIA under five presidents.

And, while he's at it, the Bushies are going to have to attack the whole intelligence community (again), since they're killing his "we stopped a terror attack" buzz.
White House officials, who were unwilling to publicly disclose details of the alleged plot as recently as last fall, said they decided in the past three weeks to declassify the case so that Bush could have an example to provide the public.

But several U.S. intelligence officials played down the relative importance of the alleged plot and attributed the timing of Bush's speech to politics. The officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they did not want to publicly criticize the White House, said there is deep disagreement within the intelligence community over the seriousness of the Library Tower scheme and whether it was ever much more than talk.
So, this was most likely "spitballing" they put an end to.

On a related note, the administration also stopped my last-minute attempt to join the USA's Winter Olympics team; they kept Sean Hannity from making an honest assessment of the situation in Iraq; and they cockblocked Waukeegan Illinois 15-year-old Tim J. Bondenhoffer, who (I'm told) was a this close to "making it" with Jennifer Aniston (if he could get some money and a plane ticket and track her down).

Update: Pillar's full article.
The administration used intelligence not to inform decision-making, but to justify a decision already made. It went to war without requesting -- and evidently without being influenced by -- any strategic-level intelligence assessments on any aspect of Iraq.
In two sentences, Pillar shows how we got to Iraq and why we fucked up so badly once we were there.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Playing to type

After Republicans made so many arguments during the Alito nomination that Sandra Day O'Connor's seat didn't need to go a moderate or a woman, it appears that they do believe that some positions should be given to a certain type of person. It seems they've got seat designated for their worst crooks on the Appropriations Committee. (Link via Kos.)
Indicted Rep. Tom DeLay, forced to step down as the No. 2 Republican in the House, scored a soft landing Wednesday as GOP leaders rewarded him with a coveted seat on the Appropriations Committee.

DeLay, R-Texas, also claimed a seat on the subcommittee overseeing the Justice Department, which is currently investigating an influence-peddling scandal involving disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff and his dealings with lawmakers...

DeLay was able to rejoin the powerful Appropriations panel — he was a member until becoming majority leader in 2003 — because of a vacancy created after the resignation of Randy "Duke" Cunningham, R-Calif. Cunningham pleaded guilty in November to charges relating to accepting $2.4 million in bribes for government business and other favors.
The fact that he now gets to yank the purse strings of the Department of Justice just shows that Republicans have no intention of even pretending to be serious about ethics reform.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Bye bye, Baby Brownie

Aaawww...
George C. Deutsch, the young presidential appointee at NASA who told public affairs workers to limit reporters' access to a top climate scientist and told a Web designer to add the word "theory" at every mention of the Big Bang, resigned yesterday, agency officials said.

Mr. Deutsch's resignation came on the same day that officials at Texas A&M University confirmed that he did not graduate from there, as his résumé on file at the agency asserted...

Mr. Deutsch, 24, was offered a job as a writer and editor in NASA's public affairs office in Washington last year after working on President Bush's re-election campaign and inaugural committee, according to his résumé. No one has disputed those parts of the document.

According to his résumé, Mr. Deutsch received a "Bachelor of Arts in journalism, Class of 2003."

Yesterday, officials at Texas A&M said that was not the case.

"George Carlton Deutsch III did attend Texas A&M University but has not completed the requirements for a degree," said an e-mail message from Rita Presley, assistant to the registrar at the university, responding to a query from The Times.

Repeated calls and e-mail messages to Mr. Deutsch on Tuesday were not answered.

Mr. Deutsch's educational record was first challenged on Monday by Nick Anthis, who graduated from Texas A&M last year with a biochemistry degree and has been writing a Web log on science policy, scientificactivist.blogspot.com...

A copy of Mr. Deutsch's résumé was provided to The Times by someone working in NASA headquarters who, along with many other NASA employees, said Mr. Deutsch played a small but significant role in an intensifying effort at the agency to exert political control over the flow of information to the public.

Such complaints came to the fore starting in late January, when James E. Hansen, the climate scientist, and several midlevel public affairs officers told The Times that political appointees, including Mr. Deutsch, were pressing to limit Dr. Hansen's speaking and interviews on the threats posed by global warming.
I don't see what's so bad about Bush nominating unqualified, politically-motivated idiots to sensitive policy-making positions. It worked so well in Iraq and New Orleans.

Just like the girl that married dear old dad



Doesn't it look like Laura is pissed that the Reverend Doctor Lowery is forcing her to waste her beautiful mind on the poor, who, as we all know, are doing very well.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Electronic wiretapping throughout history

Oh, man. Alberto Gonzalez is funny.
President Washington, President Lincoln, President Wilson, President Roosevelt have all authorized electronic surveillance on a far broader scale.
Gonzales went on to say that if we'd just quit talking about the fact that we can secretly intercept terrorists' communications, they might just forget.

I'm not kidding.

It's odd how quickly things can go from funny to scary. I just remembered that Alberto Gonzales controls the F.B.Fucking I.

FISA is a one man law

Look, Bush and his cronies have for some time been pushing the idea of the "unitary executive." The term, you'll remember, was pivotal during the confirmation hearings of Samuel Alito, who supports the concept. Bush himself has inserted the term into his "signing statements" repeatedly, writing, for example, that he would implement the 21st Century Nanotechnology Research and Development Act "in a manner consistent with the President's constitutional authority to supervise the unitary executive branch and to recommend for the consideration of the Congress such measures as the President judges necessary and expedient."

In a nutshell, this idea of unitary executive means that everyone in the executive branch--the people whose job it is to enforce the laws and regulations of the United States--must enforce those rules according to the president's wishes. In other words, Bush and Alito and Gonzales and the rest believe that the president is the executive branch and, whether or not he can change the law, can change how laws are enforced.

The question, though, is this: For whom but the president could the law requiring warrants to wiretap American citizens be designed, especially if you believe that the president is the executive branch. Wouldn't that mean that the law is saying, "Mr. President, the people in your charge must get warrants before tapping the phones of American citizens?" If you believe in the "unitary executive," then you have to believe that the law isn't just a blanket statement for law enforcement, but a direct statement to the president which limits his actions.

If you believe in the "unitary executive" and you don't see the law this way, then the only possibility left is that the president simply cannot be restrained by law.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

It would be funny, if...

Remember these widely repeated talking points?
If indeed Plame was a covert agent, why wouldn't the CIA take "affirmative measures to conceal" her identity? The answer may turn on the legal definition of covert. As we also noted in October, an employee is a "covert agent" for the purposes of the statute if and only if he "is serving outside the United States or has within the last five years served outside the United States." - James Taranto, OpinionJournal, July 12, 2004

In the end, we will learn that Rove was not Bob Novak's source, Plame was not covert, and Joe Wilson remains a liar. - Mark Levin, The Corner, October 29, 2005

Plame was working a desk job at CIA headquarters. Furthermore, never mind that the secret identities of CIA covert agents are, in my experience as a foreign reporter, one and the same as the secret identities of Superman, Batman, and Robin: Everybody knows except for a few designated comic book characters. - P.J. O'Rourke, The Weekly Standard, July 9, 2005

The law (Patrick Fitzgerald is) allegedly enforcing, the Intelligence Identities Protection Act of 1982, was almost surely not broken when Valerie Plame's identity was revealed by Bob Novak two years ago. According to numerous legal experts — including Bruce Sanford and Victoria Toensing, who helped write the law — the facts don't fit the requirements of the law. Valerie Plame wasn't a covert field operative... - Jonah Goldberg, Jewish World Review, July 8, 2005

As her weirdly self-obsesssed husband Joseph C. Wilson IV conceded on CNN the other day, she wasn't a "clandestine officer" and, indeed, hadn't been one for six years. So one can only "leak" her name in the sense that one can "leak" the name of the checkout clerk at Home Depot. - Mark Steyn, Chicago Sun-Times, July 17, 2005

So far Karl Rove appears guilty of telling reporters something he had heard, that Valerie Wilson (a k a Plame), the wife of Ambassador Joseph Wilson, worked for the CIA. But because of several exceptions in the 1982 law forbidding the disclosure of a covert operative's identity, virtually no one thinks anymore that he violated it. The law doesn't seem to apply to Plame because she apparently hadn't been posted abroad during the five previous years. - John Tierney, The New York Times, July 19, 2005
Of course, that's just a small sample of the righties who decided to echo that talking point. You probably won't be surprised to find out that they were all full of shit. Newsweek:
Newly released court papers could put holes in the defense of Dick Cheney's former chief of staff, I. Lewis (Scooter) Libby, in the Valerie Plame leak case. Lawyers for Libby, and White House allies, have repeatedly questioned whether Plame, the wife of White House critic Joe Wilson, really had covert status when she was outed to the media in July 2003. But special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald found that Plame had indeed done "covert work overseas" on counterproliferation matters in the past five years, and the CIA "was making specific efforts to conceal" her identity, according to newly released portions of a judge's opinion.
Of course, accepting the truth requires a willingness to be a member of the reality-based community. Don't expect apologies.

Jane has the documents.

The death knell of Republican control

While I've been out of the blogging loop lately, but it's been damn fun these past couple of weeks watching Republicans so badly misread the way the political wind is blowing. Today, the Washington Post gives us further evidence of just how poorly aimed their moral and political compasses seem to be.
Newly elected House Majority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) said he opposed efforts to ban privately funded travel for members of Congress and provisions in spending bills that fund lawmakers' pet projects...

Democrats pounced on Boehner's remarks as evidence that Republicans were not serious about anti-corruption efforts. "Increasing lobbyist disclosure to an ethics committee in the House that hasn't functioned for years is hardly the way to restore integrity to Washington and end the culture of corruption," Sen. Barak Obama (D-Ill.) said in a statement responding to Boehner. "It shows that some in Congress simply aren't serious about reducing the influence of lobbyists and ending the culture of corruption that has plagued Washington."
Considering the way the lobbying issue is polling--Americans are ready to cut lobbyists out of the system completely--and the obvious threats to Republican control that are taking shape in certain elections, you have to wonder why it isn't obvious to Republicans that they should be trying to own the issue of ethical reform. Why, then, aren't they?

My opinion is that many of them just don't care. As I said a while ago, DeLay and Frist and Blunt and the others feel like they're entitled to live above their means. I think these scumbags would rather give up their seats than have to live lives where they were forced to live by the rules the American public expected them to follow; say, not getting wined and dined and escorted around the world by the people they're supposed to be regulating?

There's another possible motive. Many people see the DeLay/Santorum "K Street" project as simply a method to solidify connections between donors, lobbyists and Republicans, but who's to say that it couldn't also be seen as a way to prepare a comfy landing zone for Republicans when they left office?

No matter their motives, Republicans have decided to step in the same pile of crap again and again. Not only are the political winds already alerting Americans to the scent of their malfeasance, but the Republicans have decided that their best move isn't to try to clean up the tracks they've left. They've decided to rub the voters' noses in their mess.