Saturday, July 23, 2005

Frogmarch Watch: Rich connects the Gonzales dot 

Did Alberto Gonzales take time out from his busy day writing memos enabling torture to run the shredder when the first investigation opened into the Plame Affair? Frank Rich writes:

When the president decided not to replace Sandra Day O'Connor with a woman, why did he pick a white guy and not nominate the first Hispanic justice, his friend Alberto Gonzales? Mr. Bush was surely not scared off by Gonzales critics on the right (who find him soft on abortion) or left (who find him soft on the Geneva Conventions). It's Mr. Gonzales's proximity to [TreasonGate] that inspires real fear.

As White House counsel, he was the one first notified that the Justice Department, at the request of the C.I.A., had opened an investigation into the outing of Joseph Wilson's wife. That notification came at 8:30 p.m. on Sept. 29, 2003, but it took Mr. Gonzales 12 more hours to inform the White House staff that it must "preserve all materials" relevant to the investigation. This 12-hour delay, he has said, was sanctioned by the Justice Department, but since the department was then run by John Ashcroft, a Bush loyalist who refused to recuse himself from the Plame case, inquiring Senate Democrats would examine this 12-hour delay as closely as an 18½-minute tape gap. "Every good prosecutor knows that any delay could give a culprit time to destroy the evidence," said Senator Charles Schumer, correctly, back when the missing 12 hours was first revealed almost two years ago. A new Gonzales confirmation process now would have quickly devolved into a neo-Watergate hearing. Mr. Gonzales was in the thick of the Plame investigation, all told, for 16 months.

Thus is Mr. Gonzales's Supreme Court aspiration the first White House casualty of this affair. It won't be the last.
(via NY Times)

First, hubris. Then, nemisis.

And the bottom line:

The real crime here remains the sending of American men and women to Iraq on fictitious grounds. Without it, there wouldn't have been a third-rate smear campaign against an obscure diplomat, a bungled cover-up and a scandal that - like the war itself - has no exit strategy that will not inflict pain.

Iraq: More proof that we're winning 

Yessiree, the insurgency is in its "last throes."

Not. This story from the Times is full of odd details, straws in the wind. None of it's good:

They just keep getting stronger.

Despite months of assurances that their forces were on the wane, the guerrillas and terrorists battling the American-backed enterprise here appear to be growing more violent, more resilient and more sophisticated than ever.

"We are capturing or killing a lot of insurgents," said a senior Army intelligence officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to make his assessments public. "But they're being replaced quicker than we can interdict their operations. There is always another insurgent ready to step up and take charge."

At the same time, the Americans acknowledge that they are no closer to understanding the inner workings of the insurgency or stemming the flow of foreign fighters, who are believed to be conducting a vast majority of suicide attacks. The insurgency, believed to be an unlikely mix of Baath Party die-hards and Islamic militants, has largely eluded the understanding of American intelligence officers since the fall of Saddam Hussein's government 27 months ago.

On Tuesday, masked insurgents gunned down two moderate Sunni leaders who had been helping to draft Iraq's permanent constitution. The killings, carried out in the middle of a busy Baghdad street in heavy traffic, appeared to be calculated to squelch the voices of moderate Sunnis, and to prevent anyone else from stepping forward.

The immediate effect seemed to play right into the insurgents' hands: moderate Sunni leaders announced that they were suspending their efforts to help draft a constitution, laying down several conditions for their return.

Insurgents have killed moderate Sunni leaders before, but the shootings of Mejbil al-Sheik Isa and Damin al-Obeidi on Tuesday were especially striking: the men were killed after months of coaxing by Iraqi Shiite leaders and American officials intended to bring moderate Sunnis like them into the constitutional process.

In Baghdad, it is commonly understood that the recent success of the insurgency lies in part in the weakness of the Iraqi government. The Sunni leaders who were slain, for instance, were traveling with a single guard, whom one of the Sunni leaders had provided at his own expense. Pleas by the two Sunni leaders to the Iraqi government for protection had apparently gone unheeded.

Then, on Thursday, the rebels struck again, kidnapping the top Algerian diplomat in Iraq and a colleague. ... As with the slaying of the moderate Sunni leaders, the kidnappings have seemed, so far, to have secured exactly what the insurgents wanted. No Arab government has yet sent an ambassador to this country.

One other recent development in the insurgency - and a possible explanation of its ability to bring in recruits from around the Arab world - is the reach and sophistication of its public relations.

Most of the main insurgent groups - like Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia and Ansar al Sunna - regularly post updates of their exploits on the Web. Scarcely a day passes when one of the groups has not announced another attack with either video or printed notice.
(via Times)

So, lemme get this straight:

1. The insurgents are as strong as ever.

2. The insurgents have great PR and a steady flow of recruits.

3. American intelligence knows nothing about them.

4. The insurgents, because neither the American military, Negroponte's death squads, nor Allawi's government can provide security, have recently scored two major successes: (a) delegitimizing the effort to write the Constitution (needs to be done next month, remember) and (b) delegitimizing the Allawi government internationally by denying it consulates.

So maybe somebody can find the pony in here; I sure can't. And maybe some future historian can explain to all of us how Bush cured American of the VietNam syndrome once and for all by getting us bogged down on an urban battlefield in the middle east. Stalingrad, anyone?

In other Iraq happy talk, recruitment is tanking. Remarkable, isn't it, how all the spokesmen say that it's "war" that's the problem, instead of saying that it's this war, and the lies that got us into it, that are the problem. Also, nobody's making any sacrifices but the troops (and the dead Iraqi civilians, of course), and the troops are noticing. Why this would be surprising, I don't know; the deal Bush made with the country is pretty clear: "Go shopping," he said.

And to top it all off, as farmer points out (back) our soldiers are fighting and dying so that the sharia can be enshrined as the basis of Iraqi law. WTF?

At this point, someone is probably asking, "But lambert, what is your solution?!" Well, I know what Rove's solution is: Cut and run by the 2006 midterms and blame liberal traitors (back). But as a member of the reality-based community—and I know this sounds like a cop-out, so if someone has a better idea I'd love to hear it—I just don't see how proposing a solution is possible; the entire situation is so polluted by Republican disinformation that I don't see how it's possible to make any judgment about it.

So, the only solution is to get Bush outta there, first. Then we can start cleaning up the lies and go from there.

Perhaps Monsieur Would Prefer To Take The Mood Elevator? 

thorazineDid you ever read a Russian novel from the Tolstoy/Dostoevsky era? Do you remember the cozy booths in Moscow restaurants hidden by curtains, where lovers and ne'er-do-wells could escape to consummate their desires, and lose their miseries? I need one of those. And then a phaeton to get out of town fast and find a place where no human hand can find me.
Via Atrios, I see John Gibson, resident Fox News troll, speaks for the civilized Western world:
"I love the way the Brits have 10 million cameras sticking up the nose of every citizen no matter where they are, except in the loo."
If you need a cleverly worded satiric comment to bring home the horror of the implication inherent in this sentence, you're not going to get it here. I'm too numbed out by the infinite possiblity of human hatred.

Sometimes you just have to take what the universe serves up, and figure it out for yourself.

(Cross-posted, in the interest of full disclosure, blah blah blah.)

John Roberts: Portrait of a Stealth Nominee as a Young Man 

As Atrios says, Roberts is a "made man":

Roberts' writings stored at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library [from when Roberts was an assistant to then Solicitor General, Ken Starr] give a sense of a partisan eager to defend the president and keep lawmakers and bureaucrats in line.
(via WaPo)

But the (really idiotic) headline—"Roberts' White House Papers Show Sly Wit"—is just wrong; we also see a young man determined, even then, to leave no paper trail. At least in the counsel we have from Roberts (not all is yet availabe) he seems very concerned with brushing over the traces. Very carefully:

[ROBERTS] "There should be little press interest" ... "Those denials were, and continue to be, particularly controversial and there is no need to mention them" ... "Once you let the word out there's a blacklist, everybody wants to get on." [That sly Republican wit! Especially picquant considerding Nixon's enemies list and the McCarthy era!] ... [I]t is probably best simply to acknowledge receipt of his speech," Roberts told Fielding, "and tell him you look forward to reading it."

See what I mean? Of course, there are many papers that have not yet been processed by the archives. Naturally, with a candidate whose record is as thin—and whose commmentary is so deliberately elusive—there will be lots of questions to ask...

Dear Leader throws Dear Leader a lifeline 

Kim Il-Sung must think Bush is really, really in trouble:

North Korea has told the United States it would welcome a visit by President Bush or Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to help normalize ties, Japan's Kyodo news agency said on Saturday
(via Reuters)

Only Bush can go to North Korea... And it would be entertaining to watch the flipflopping as Bush rationalizes the trip—which will, no doubt, take place when Rove's indictment is an "imminent threat."

Will someone please tell Joe Biden he doesn't have a snowball's chance in hell of being President? 

Because if you play for the Washington Generals, you're playing for the team that always, always loses:

The committee's top Democrat, Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (Del.) met with Hughes privately Thursday and said in a statement -- read by Lugar at the hearing -- that he could not attend because of previous commitments but is "particularly interested in and supportive of the {Karen Hughee's] nomination [as an undersecretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs]," and that Hughes will bring "new energy and creativity to our public diplomacy efforts."
(via WaPo)

Gag me with a spoon.

NOTE Translation: "Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs" means "Republican Disinformational Warfare (Foreign Front)". As opposed to "Repubublican Disinformational Warfare (Domestic Front), which "the architect," Herr Rove, is still in charge of.

Bush torture policies: Dick "Fuck Yourself" Cheney's all for it! 

Well, that's all I need to know!

The Bush administration in recent days has been lobbying to block legislation supported by Republican senators that would bar the U.S. military from engaging in "cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment" of detainees, from hiding prisoners from the Red Cross, and from using interrogation methods not authorized by a new Army field manual.

Vice President Cheney met Thursday evening with three senior Republican members of the Senate Armed Services Committee to press the administration's case

It was the second time that Cheney has met with Senate members to tamp down what the White House views as an incipient Republican rebellion. The lawmakers have publicly expressed frustration about what they consider to be the administration's failure to hold any senior military officials responsible for notorious detainee abuse in Iraq and the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Golly! They "expressed frustration"! I bet they even went to far as to "share their concerns"! If these Repubublicans had an ounce of decency or honor (or had a custodial relationship with their testicles) they'd just pass the damn law! Or is rape OK as an instrument of US foreign policy? ("Shining city on a hill" and all that...)

Neither Cheney's office nor the lawmakers would say exactly what was discussed at the meeting, citing a routine pledge of confidentiality.

God, everyone's giving routine pledges of confidentiality these days, aren't they? I guess that's the first thing you do, after you drink the Kool-Aid. What's that old AA saying? You're only as sick as your secrets?

The Republican effort is intended partly to cut off an effort by Senate Democrats to attach more stringent demands to the defense bill regarding detainees. One group, led by Sen. Carl M. Levin (D-Mich.), has proposed an amendment calling for an independent commission -- similar to the Sept. 11 commission -- to look into administration policies on interrogation and detainee abuse.
(via WaPo)

Good idea. And let's ask Roberts what he thinks about Attorney General Gonzales calling a ratified treaty, the Geneva Convention, quaint, and writing the memos (back) to justify the torture at Abu Ghraib.

Separated at birth? 

OK, so I got the Dobbs thing wrong. Heck, I could use some slack myself (in fact, that's what I like about Philly.

But I think this time I've got it right:


Movie buffs out there, I'm sure you get this one right away...

The Washington Chestnut, July 23, 2009 

Washington Chestnut 2009

"Public and private freedoms are protected provided they do not conflict with moral values and public decency." ~ His Serene Eminence President Rick Santorum (in loco parentis).

Additional details: the new Constitution

in full (draft) here: Carnegie Endowment


Friday, July 22, 2005

Bush torture policies: Cover up, cover up, cover up 

Disgusting. Delay, stonewall, deny.

Someone should ask Roberts how he would rule. Would he allow Darby's Abu Ghraib photos and tapes to be released? Or "defer" to the executive and cover up the torture?

You know, there's a book, almost two thousand years old, that has something to say about this, something a propos.... I wonder if any of these [cough] Christians have ever read it?

For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.
(John 3:20

Sunlight is the best disinfectant.

And it's going to take a lot of sunlight to clean up the Bush administration.

UPDATE Wonder if those screaming boys being raped at Abu Ghraib is in the Darby material Bush is trying to suppress? Makes this little jape seem lighthearted and trivial, doesn't it?

UPDATE So much for the rule of law:

Lawyers for the Defense Department are refusing to cooperate with a federal judge's order to release secret photographs and videotapes related to the Abu Ghraib prison abuse scandal.

The lawyers said in a letter sent to the federal court in Manhattan late Thursday that they would file a sealed brief explaining their reasons for not turning over the material, which they were to have released by yesterday.

Somebody should ask Roberts, "Boxers or sealed briefs," eh?

No but seriously, folks: My understanding has always been that following the orders of a Federal judge isn't optional. Bush seems to think that it is. And I wonder what Roberts thinks? Does he believe in the rule of law and the seperation of powers? Perhaps somebody should ask him.

Frogmarch watch: Here comes the Rovian counterstrike 

From Julian Borger in the Guardian. Last paragraph:

Meanwhile, a parallel investigation is under way into who forged the Niger documents. They are known to have been passed to an Italian journalist by a former Italian defence intelligence officer, Rocco Martino, in October 2002, but their origins have remained a mystery. Mr Martino has insisted to the Italian press that he was "a tool used by someone for games much bigger than me", but has not specified who that might be.

A source familiar with the inquiry said investigators were examining whether former US intelligence agents may have been involved in possible collaboration with Iraqi exiles determined to prove that Saddam Hussein had a nuclear programme.
(via Guardian)

Of course, Seymour Hersh had this story in 2003, back... Although with a slightly diffent twist.

The logic is going to be just the same as the Rovian counterstrike on Bush being AWOL from TANG: Because the Killian memos were not provably true, all the other evidence on Bush being AWOL is false. (Say, has anyone ever collected the $10,000 reward for saying saying Bush was actually serving his country during his missing year?)

And in this case: Former CIA traitors deceived Bush in this one case, therefore CIA traitors deceived Bush in all cases...

Frogmarch watch: Bolton was a Miller Source 

So many dots, so little time!

According to Steve Clemons via Atrios.

Who wants to bet that the Echelon intercepts that Bolton got from the NSA—the intercepts (back) that Senators are not allowed to see, though Bolton, the under-assistant-secretary of something-or-other, was—had to do with the plot to out Valerie Plame?

Too tired to work out a timeline, but it would be irresponsible not to speculate....

NOTE Or, if not Plame, the broader disinformational warfare campaign run by the W.H.I.G. (back).

SCOTUS Watch: Who is John Roberts? 

Since he's only been a judge two years, and seems forgetful about his affiliations—oddly, has "no recollection" of whether he is, or ever has been, a member of the Federalist Society, back—we really have no alternative to asking a lot of questions... Based on documentary evidence (as opposed to hagiographical planted stories and personal testimony from oh-so-objective wingers).

And here's an interesting tidbit:

Democratic officials also said Friday they want access to all material regarding Roberts at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in California. Roberts served in the White House counsel's office from 1982-1986 [when his anti-Roe brief was filed]. He was principal deputy solicitor general in the administration of President George H.W. Bush.

The Reagan Library, in Simi Valley, Calif., holds an unknown number of documents relating to Roberts, arranged by subject matter. While material in some subjects are designated on the library's Web site as available to the public, most is not.
(via AP)

Well, getting these documents shouldn't be a problem. After all, the Reagan library (in Texas, naturally) is run by the National Archives—paid for with our tax money. And there can't be any national security issues, this is all domestic material.

So I'd expect this material to be released tout suite. After all, Bush's new attitude of taking the "advise and consult" clause seriously should extend to giving the Senate Judiciary Committee members the material they need to do their work. Eh?

More explosions 

Via Associated Press:
CAIRO, Egypt - As many as seven explosions struck the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheik on the southern tip of the Sinai Peninsula early Saturday, targeting several hotels and killing at least 25 people, witnesses and police said.

Saturday's explosions at 1:15 a.m., when many tourists would have been asleep, shook windows a mile away. Smoke and fire rose from Naama Bay, a main strip of beach hotels in the desert city popular with Israeli and European tourists, witnesses said.

A police official in Sharm el-Sheik said at least 25 were killed and 110 wounded in multiple explosions targeting the Ghazala Gardens and Movenpick hotels in Naama Bay and the Old Market area nearby. Other officials in Sharm said there may have been as many as seven blasts: three in Naama Bay and four in the market.

Amal Mustafa, 28, an Egyptian who was visiting with her family, said she drove by the Ghazala Garden — a 176-room four-star resort on the main tourist strip in Naama — and it was "completely burned down, destroyed."

continued..., see: Egypt Blasts Kill at Least 25, Wound 110.


SCOTUS Watch: Who is John Roberts? The Republicans know, but don't want to tell the country 

I love a charade!

I always felt that Bush calling in all those Senators for their "advice" on selecting Sandra "Swing Vote on Bush v. Gore" O'Connor's replacement was a charade, just because talking to anyone but lackeys and true believers from the base is the kind of thing Bush so obviously hates to do. (Exhibit A: Social Security "barnstorming" tour.)

But now I don't just feel it; I know it. The Times actually has a reporter willing to rise from his knees, look around, and do a little reporting. And efore we issue 50-year-old "blank slate" John Roberts a free pass to a lifetime appointment on the court, we might want to examine what the Republicans have been doing to make straight the way for him:

For at least a year before the nomination of Judge John G. Roberts to the Supreme Court, the White House was working behind the scenes to shore up support for him among its social conservative allies, quietly reassuring them that he was a good bet for their side in cases about abortion, same-sex marriage and public support for religion.

So much for "consultation," eh? The Roberts campaign is (yet another) example of a well-planned informational warfare campaign executed by the Bush White House—the current spate of hagiography being a typical component of such campaigns (as we know from the run-up to the Iraq war).

But with a series of personal testimonials about Judge Roberts, his legal work, his Roman Catholic faith, and his wife's public opposition to abortion, two well-connected Christian conservative lawyers - Leonard Leo, chairman of Catholic outreach for the Republican Party, and Jay Sekulow, chief counsel of an evangelical Protestant legal center founded by Pat Robertson - gradually won over most social conservatives to nearly unanimous support, even convincing them that the lack of a paper trail was an asset that made Judge Roberts harder to attack.

So, Roberts is a stealth nominee. Surprise!

Mr. Leo said he told wary social conservatives that even though Judge Roberts had not ruled on abortion or other issues his other opinions showed "a respect for the text and original meaning and a presumption of deference to the political branches of government."

For example, Mr. Leo told allies, Judge Roberts had supported the administration's argument that executive privilege protected Vice President Dick Cheney's meetings about energy policy...
(via NY Times)

Ah! Roberts is sound on the Cheney task force! Thank God. For a moment, I thought that ordinary, unsanctified citizens might be able to take a look at the decision-making processes of the Godly! (I hate to think what "deference" is a synonum for...)

But wait! There's more:

Supporters of Judge Roberts bolstered their case with the opinions of two leading legal thinkers in the movement to oppose abortion rights: Prof. Robert George of Princeton University and Prof. Hadley Arkes of Amherst.

At a dinner with friends after Judge Roberts's appeals court confirmation, Professor Arkes said, he had suggested that nominees questioned about Roe v. Wade should turn the tables to put the senators on the defensive, asking them whether they understood the implications of the ruling. "He didn't rule it out, but he didn't think the hearings could be turned into that kind of seminar," Professor Arkes said.

[Akers] had presumed they both believed [Roe] should be overturned, Professor Arkes said, because they were with friends who shared that view. But he said Judge Roberts never said so explicitly. "He is a very, very careful guy."

Yes, this has all the handwriting of a Rovian disinformational warfare operation:

1. The press "catapulting the propaganda" (all that hagiography)

2. The candidate's mysterious antecedents (no paper trail, "no recollection" (huh?) of being a member of the Federalist Society (back)

3. Discreet Republican operative ("very careful," no doubt, in the "private advice" he gave Jebbie in Florida 2000 as well (back)

And most revealing of all:

4. The winger dogs aren't barking in the night. That means they think they're going to get what they want (i.e., someone who's even loonier and has less regard for the Constitution than Albert "Torture Memo" Gonzales).

So, pay no attention to the man behind the curtain! There's no reason to ask Roberts any questions (since it's those pesky questions that eliminate the "fog of war" in disinformation campaigns). That, at least, is what the Republicans are counselling:

On his second day of making courtesy calls to key senators, Roberts generally received warm receptions, especially from Republicans who spent more time advising him how to handle his upcoming Judiciary Committee hearings than probing his judicial philosophy. Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), citing court nominees who won unanimous confirmation, said he told Roberts: "It seems like the less they say to the committee, the better off they are."

Good advice, Charles! Of course, Grassley's a winger, so he's part of the base, and already "in the know." Over the past year, he'll have been briefed, so he can emit his disinformation at the proper place and time.

But shouldn't the two-thirds of the country that isn't part of the base be given the opportunity to find out who Roberts really is?

Say, by asking questions?

Say, why are the troops fighting and dying so that the Iraqi constitution can take rights away from women? 

Just asking...

The Art Of Healthy Inquiry--An Open Thread 

Two days ago, in response to a query by Mrs. T about having a place to answer questions, famer threw open the door to Corrente Interrogation Chamber #001.

Correntians examine the facts.

As the responses meandered here and there for the better part of a day, Pansypoo suggested the possibility of an open thread.

I'm bogged down in work and didn't have time to write about David Brooks, that old stand-by, whose columns are now approaching weirdness on the level of a Furry convention.

Nor do I have time to write about the surpassing hypocrisy of Mr. We Don't Do Torture threatening to hold the US defense budget hostage if he has to be held accountable for the treatment of prisoners.

And I don't have time to point out the truly slapstick adventure of our dear Secretary of State in Sudan yesterday, whose staff got slapped around, and who was bereft of an interpreter for awhile because the Sudanese shock troops refused to let one in.

Anyway, I'll be out for a bit.

So have at it, all you seekers of slack.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Must... not... rub... his... head... 


Oh, man. Wow. Get a load of that one. How I want to. But it would be wrong. Very wrong. What would Mom say. Or Laura. If she were awake. Oh. O-o-o-o-h....

NOTE Julius blog has the full archive.


Karl Rove... Married to the guy with the most cigarettes...

Damn, it's all.. sticky 

Philly in the summer? No—the Roberts hagiography!

Please. Just spare me. I don't care about his cute kids, his nice guy demeanor... Any of that stuff. Two things I'd like to know:

Is Roberts, or has Roberts ever been, a member of the Federalist Society? The WaPo story is mysteriously unenlightening. The headline is "Federalist Affiliation Misstated". But the text of the story reads as follows:

And practically everyone -- CNN, the Los Angeles Times, Legal Times and, just yesterday, The Washington Post -- has reported Roberts's membership as a fact. But they are wrong. John Roberts is not, in fact, a member of the Federalist Society, and he says he never has been.

"He has no recollection of ever being a member," said Dana Perino, a White House spokeswoman who contacted reporters to correct the mistake yesterday.

How... very parseable. I mean, how could somebody forget? And isn't it interesting that the White House is actually calling reporters to, er, "correct" the story?

How this urban legend got started is not clear. The issue probably got clouded in part because the Federalist Society's membership is confidential; individual members must decide whether or not to acknowledge their affiliation

So the headline is wrong, isn't it? The headline should read that Roberts says he isn't a member of the Federalist Society, or, even more precisely, can't seem to remember whether he was or not. Look, I don't care if Roberts lied to us. He's a Republican, so we expect that. But should someone with a memory that bad really be on the Supreme Court? Why, he might forget about the Bill of Rights! Oh, wait...

And the other thing I'd like to know:

What "private advice" did Roberts give Jebbie during Florida 2000? As we noted yesterday (back) Roberts gave Jebbie "private advice" until the Supreme Court selected Bush. But it's hard to see why whatever Roberts said should remain private when he might be called upon to decide the next Bush v. Gore. It certainly does seem that Roberts made every effort to cover his tracks:

As the 2000 presidential recount battle raged in Florida, a Washington lawyer named John G. Roberts Jr. traveled to Tallahassee, the state capital, to dispense legal advice.

He operated in the shadows at least some of those 37 days, never signing a legal brief and rarely making an appearance at the makeshift headquarters for George W. Bush's legal team.

[U.S. Rep. Tom Feeney (R-Fla.), then speaker of Florida's House of Representatives]speculated that Senate Democrats might well ask Roberts for his view of the Bush-Gore recount outcome. But he advised Roberts to duck.

"I don't know that there is any political benefit to answering that question," Feeney said.

Well, I'm an optimist, unlike Feeney. I can't believe that Roberts, the son that Mother Theresa never had, would have anything to hide. So maybe someone should just ask him. E.J. Dionne agrees:

Like the chief justice, Roberts has been a loyal Republican Party operative. He was reportedly involved in the Bush legal effort in 2000 to block further recounts in Florida. We always knew that the Supreme Court conservatives who helped put this president in office were paving the way for an even more conservative court. Roberts's nomination is the fruit of that effort. Surely he should be questioned closely about one of the most outrageous decisions in the court's history and his role in the Florida fiasco.
(via WaPo)

Stealthy Republican operative ... No paper trail... No "recollection" of whether he's a member of the organization whose "elves" orchestrated the coup against Clinton... "Private advice" to Jeb Bush in the run-up to Bush v. Gore... Lots of questions. Lots and lots of questions.

And we haven't even gotten to Roe. Like, will "devout Catholic" Roberts stand up for "settled law" when the Pope decides Roberts can't take communion? And we haven't gotten to Gitmo, either. Or Roberts as corporate lawyer. (I guess that's better than being a trial lawyer, right?)

This one's not over. The Dems are smart to admit Roberts has got the credentials, let the story simmer, and keep the focus on Rove.

Watch the skies! 

And Raw story says, Bloomberg.

Bill of... Sorry, what was that? Bill of Rights? Never heard of it! 

Go read Billmon now.

And do what he says.

Corrente Interrogation Room #002 

crumblezoneCRUMBLEZONE! Flee to higher ground.

Public service announcement - blogroll additions follow:

5 new Liberal Coalition blogs:
1- Dodecahedron
2- firedoglake
3- Liberty Street
4- Science and Politics
5- Welcome to Gilead

Multilateral (an NTodd production) a hub of liberal blog alliances including Liberal Coalition members.

Watching America News from different sources around the world. Many include English translations. (thanks robin)

News America Now

Fire on the Prairie (In These Times blog/includes radio show feeds)

Blogometer (via The Hotline/National Journal)

Christian Right watch

Patriot Daily

And of course the immortal magician of Mortal Jive himself, MJS.
Mortal Jive

check those out and then report immediately to the interrogation room for donuts.


Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Separated at birth? 


Something about that... crazed look in the eyes....

And we know Roberts hasn't drunk the Kool-Aid why, exactly?

Because he's a member of the Federalist Society? (Someone should ask him if he approves of the "elves"—or if he was one). Because his wife is a pro-lifer Schiavo loon? Because he wrote a brief in suppport of overturning Roe? Because he gave Bush the kind of power at Gitmo that Nixon only dreamed of? Because he gave Jebbie "private legal advice" during Bush's coup in 2000?

If there's one thing we can learn from what Republicans have become under Bush, it's that they are utterly without personal honor; that's what "drinking the Kool-Aid (back) means. (I could write a list, but it's late and there's so little time.) So when it comes to saying Roe (or any precedent) is the "settled law" of the land, why on earth would we believe them?

The lesson of Bush 43 is that when the Republicans finally take power, they move very fast, very hard, and pesky old rules and past promises of moderation no longer apply.

So when the Republican radical right finally make O'Connor's swing vote their own, why on earth would we expect them not to behave the way that they already have?

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest 

Well, the honeymoon was nice while it lasted. London Mayor Ken Livingstone, whose eloquence in response to the terror bombings in his city moved nearly everyone across the political spectrum, has found just how far decency gets you when it doesn't serve the interests of the lunatics running the asylum. Speaking on Radio 4 yesterday of what drives suicide bombers, he stated the obvious:
"You've just had 80 years of western intervention into predominantly Arab lands because of the western need for oil. We've propped up unsavoury governments, we've overthrown ones we didn't consider sympathetic."
(via The Scotsman UK)

... and went on to hazard that the bombers just might have been motivated by concrete grievances, rather than free-floating homicidal rage. Really? Ya think? Four Arab youths with apparently no history of even political involvement, let alone radical activities, happily strap on backpacks full of explosives to kill as many innocent civilians as they can, and you think there might be an articulable motive (however morally unjustified)?

Certainly Tony Blair wants such DoublePlus Ungood thinking rubbished out, and the sooner the better. Doing what struck me as an uncannily creepy impersonation of President Pinocchio on CBC Television, Blair blathered on about the bombers' unappeasable armageddonite fantasies while familiar spasmodic smirks flickered across his face, his jaw periodically jutting foward like a barroom drunk trying to pick a fight. Is this tic diagnostic of the compulsive liar generally, I wonder?

Somewhere I read that one sign of the delusional mind is the conviction that the laws of the universe don't apply. And what else is this dogged belief that Western actions have no negative reactions, than a denial of Newtonian physics? On Riggsveda's recommendation last week, I went out and bought a copy of Paul Williams Roberts' A War Against Truth. Among its many virtues (controlled outrage, verbal dexterity, caustic irony) one that I did not expect was its merciless recounting of the cynical betrayal of the Arab world by the Western powers after World War I (and one that continues to this day)-- a story I, at least, knew only in general, if also unflattering terms. It was only then that I realized the larger actual scope of the book's title. Betrayed people have long memories.

A Canadian neighbor remarked to us the other night that during her years living in San Francisco in the late 80s, she was struck by how, even then, Americans still couldn't talk honestly to one another about Vietnam. I remarked that it looked like our collective neurosis was on its way to siring an offspring in Iraq. "Oh, but Iraq is even worse, because you have no idea how to get out."

As long as politicians can't even state the most elementary truths about the course they've set us on, that's not going to change.

UPDATE: Patrick Cockburn says much the same thing I was trying to, only better, here.

Dammit, I keep forgetting whether it's John Roberts or Robert Johns 

But look, he's a nice guy with a lot of integrity (as much as any Kool-Aid drinking Republican can ever be a nice guy. Or have integrity).

And even though he's only been a judge for two years, he's got great credentials. Heck, he's a member of the Federalist Society!

So, I think we should just trust the President on this one.

NOTE At this point, with so much so clear, is there any Republican who hasn't drunk the Kool-Aid.

UPDATE Here's an interesting little nugget from WaPo:

As a long-standing member of the Republican National Lawyers Association who gave Gov. Jeb Bush (R) private legal advice during the 2000 presidential election recount in Florida, Roberts has clear political loyalties.

Hmmm, I wonder what the nature of that "private legal advice" could have been? Maybe someone should ask him. After all, it would be nice to know how Johns (Roberts?) would have ruled in Bush v. Gore. Or whether he believes Bush v. Gore is "settled law." Say, I wonder if Jebbie recommended him to Inerrant Boy? With, say, 2008 in mind?

UPDATE Robert's (John's?) wife is the pro bono counsel for Feminists for Life. Nice site, slick marketing. So I poked around and found this little crotte of oozing sanctimony:

Feminists for Life expresses our heartfelt sympathies and condolences to the family and friends of Terri Schindler-Schiavo on her tragic passing. We extend our deep regrets to all who worked to save Terri's life. Her gentle and joyful spirit, though impaired and imperfect, touched many hearts. She reminded us that life is a precious and fragile gift that needs to be respected and protected--sometimes through great and heroic efforts. We mourn Terri's passing with deep sadness. Patricia Heaton, honorary Co-Chair of Feminists for Life, joins us in saying that "We have to honor her, and honor her life."

God. Terri's brain was atrophied and half its normal size (back). She was in a persistent vegetative state. If there is a God, She'll strike down the Republicans who used Terri Schiavo's living corpse as a political football. And Terri Schiavo will look down from Heaven and laugh.

So, maybe someone should ask Roberts what he thinks of the resolution of the Schiavo case. And maybe whether he gave Jebbie any "private legal advice" on that case.

Rove, Rove, Rove Yer Bloat 

Bush didn't really want to do this thing with the Dread Pirate Roberts for weeks yet, Wee Scotty's fanciful tales to the contrary. But President Rove really needed his little figurehead to get out and gibber loudly enough to take the heat off for awhile...

(via Froomkin)

...[According to a new survey from] the Pew Research Center, 49 percent [of the public] said they believe the president is trustworthy, while almost as many, 46 percent said he is not. Bush was at 62 percent on this measure in a September 2003 Pew poll and at 56 percent in a Gallup poll in April.

Asked to provide one-word descriptions of Bush, the top ten words that came to respondents' minds were: Honest, incompetent, arrogant, good, integrity, determined, liar, stupid, idiot, strong.

Compared to five months ago, the words "leader" and "fair" dropped out of the top ten, while "stupid" and "determined" made it in.
And what was it last night with the weird jaw-twitch at the end of every sentence? Can falling poll ratings cause TMJ? Rumor has it (not that I watch Cuckoo Bananas Travelling Babble Shows if I can possibly avoid it) that his little staged speech in front of Bored Uniformed People today showed him in full verbal meltdown. If I thought he was actually in charge of anything I'd be deeply concerned.

Off To The Great Ceilidh In The Sky 

Scotty finally beams up.
Enjoy the party, Mr. Doohan.

Diversionary Tactic 

Last night Lambert and Leah weighed in with their pieces on Bush's new nominee for the Supreme Court, John Roberts. Mine, also from last night but not yet posted here, follows:

Well, by God, this should prove an endless source of amusement for about a fortnight.

UPDATE: So it's Roberts, hand-picked by Bush for his current position on the D.C. Court of Appeals. Most recently he made the news last Friday by chiming in with that insufferable prick A. Raymond Randolph to uphold the decision that the military commission set up to try "enemy combatants" was constitutionally legal, in the case of Salim Ahmed Hamdan, a driver for bin Laden accused of war crimes:

"The court said it was well established that the Geneva Conventions "do not create judicially enforceable rights" - that is, accusations of a violation may not be brought in a lawsuit.
The appeals panel also held that Judge Robertson (the lower court) had been incorrect in maintaining that Congress had not authorized Mr. Bush to set up the commissions. Congress gave him the authority to do so, the panel said, in three resolutions dealing with terrorism. In one, the lawmakers authorized the president "to use all necessary and appropriate force" against anyone who had abetted the Sept. 11 attacks, and granted him the authority to act to prevent international acts of terrorism.
In addition, the appeals court said the commissions were not bound by the rules of courts-martial, like allowing for defendants to be present at all times."
Even allowing for the usual lawyerly exaggeration indulged in by defense attorneys, Hamdin's attorney's take on it sounds pretty close to the bone:

"Today's ruling," Mr. Katyal said, "places absolute trust in the president, unchecked by the Constitution, statutes of Congress and longstanding treaties ratified by the Senate of the United States."
To me as well, the ruling said that Bush had been empowered by Congress and the Constitution to do pretty much as he damned well pleased. And there's no one with whom I'd prefer NOT to entrust unchecked power over the country than that morally-challenged infant in the Oval Office.

This is who Bush wants to appoint for a lifetime of Constitutional rulings. Well, you knew it wasn't going to be Felix Frankfurter.

dominicus idioticus 

Father P-NissDestroying the family one ungodly marriage at a time. A call to sanctimonious action from Father P-Niss (you can call me Padre)

It Takes a P-Niss to know an asshole when he sees one (and I don't mean know in the biblical sense):
In "It Takes a Family: Conservatism and the Common Good," Santorum finds fault with two-income families, cohabitation before marriage and working women, who have chosen not to stay home with their children, he contends, "because of the influence of radical feminism, one of the core philosophies of the village elders." He also compares abortion to slavery.

"Judging from the blog traffic, women of nearly all ideological stripes are less than happy about what he's written about women working instead of staying home with their children," said Jennifer Duffy, an independent analyst with the nonpartisan Cook Political Report. "He appears to ignore that some women work because they have to." [See: GOP Senator in Democrats' Cross Hairs, By Faye Fiore LA Times]

"Cross Hairs", thats'a pretty good one...but anyway...

Frankly I don't really give a flying fornicating screw (metaphorically speaking of course) what or what not Rick Santorum finds fault with one way or another on almost any count. But that has never stopped me from beaming virtuous advice to my fellow man on behalf of the greater common good. That's just the kind of godsend fellow I am. Therefore, I must say, that if I had a daughter (and I don't mean had in the biblical sense) I wouldn't want her shacking up with a potential Rick Santorum either. Whether she intended to eventually marry the silly cluck or not, that wouldn't matter, because I just wouldn't like it. And, if they ever did eventually marry, I'd be tempted to fire off an email to the Pope himself and have the the whole unseemly business annulled. Come to think of it that isn't a bad idea.

So then, I implore all concerned parents out there - those of you with your cross hairs in a snarl - those of you who are the elders of wayward sons or daughters of the Catholic persuasion - who have children who are married to some asshole - those of you who have been subjected to such unholy matrimonial bonds preceeding forth from such romantic cohabitational evolutions on the part of those who hath sprang from your loins - I beseech each of you, my disabused brothers and sisters, take matters into your own elderly hands and communicate to the Holy See your self-righteous revulsion at your children's earlier obstinate insubordination to the Higher sway. pro bono publico!

Take immediate action now! Put the pious fear of God back into the irreverent sinners. Write to the Pope [address to: The Pope, Italy, forward: summer vacation residence] and demand an immediate annulment of your defiled backsliding children's unhallowed unions. For the greater glory of God and church and country and man!

Especially if the family feminazi bitch... i mean poor misled misses!... the poor dear misled help-mate better-half misses... is slipping out of the home each afternoon to service the needs of the local WalMart and ultimately the slave wage retail philosophies of the village elders.

Remember: It takes a family idiot to ruin a village! I think William Faulkner wrote that... or maybe not... whatever...

So write those letters now. Do it for Jesus and the children and the common good. And don't forget to tell 'em Rick Santorum sent you.

Keep those tithes and sweaters coming.

amor vincit omnia

Dirty Pretty Things American-Style 

IllegalAliensbg This is a bad joke, right?
"All of the estimated 10 million to 12 million illegal aliens in the United States would have to leave the country under an immigration bill introduced on Tuesday by two conservative Republican senators...
The Kyl-Cornyn bill calls for the creation of a machine-readable, tamper-proof Social Security card that would be issued to every American in the workforce to prevent illegals from getting jobs.
It would also fund the hiring of 10,000 new Department of Homeland Security personnel dedicated to weeding illegal immigrants out of the workforce and an additional 1,000 for detecting immigration fraud.
Companies that hired illegal immigrants would face tough fines.
Additionally, the bill would authorize the recruitment of 10,000 new Border Patrol agents over five years and a $2.5 billion investment in unmanned aerial vehicles, cameras, barriers and sensors along the Mexican border.
The senators did not give a total cost for the bill but a fact sheet distributed with their proposal contained partial costs of well over $12 billion."
Aside from collapsing the economies of California and Texas, and decimating gated communities throughout the country (what could be more poignant than the prospect of the wealthy cutting their own grass, raising their own kids, and cooking their own food?), this would drain huge amounts from the treasury at a time when we can't even pay our national bills as it is.

Illegal immigrants are some of the most dedicated workers and motivated people in the world, and because of their exploitation by our upstanding fellow-citizens, they make everyone's life easier and cheaper here in the land of the American Dream. They are focused on making their lives and those of their families better, and if what they do was done by a Kenny Lay we would call it admirable and worthy of millions in stock options. No truly punitive laws have ever been levied on the employers making their fortunes on the backs of these folks because the government has always known what a cornerstone illegals have been to the economy, and so they have effectively blinked at the millions of employer violations right under their noses, and illegals have become nearly slave labor in some areas, unable to complain about wages or working conditions for fear of reprisals.

Because of this, the proposed bill has about zero chance of passing , but it does make for a nice empty gesture toward creating a demon class at a time when they so desperately want to have an enemy to distract from their many power grabs and criminal endeavors. If we really wanted to deal usefully with the problem, we would find a way to absorb these folks into the economy and accept the gift of their skills and labor. Such acknowledgement would effectively raise their wages and working conditions, helping raise the wages of many low-wage Americans in the process. They give back far more than they take, and if we want to do anything, it should be to break the back of the black market that feeds on their labor and makes billions for American business in a scenario more reminiscent of a drug dealing empire than a legitimate economy.

Corrente Interrogation Chamber #001 

Mrs. T writes (in comments):
Corrente should put up a place for answering questions. I found a few things I wanted to see what you guys thought of. None of it fits into what everyone is posting though... just a thought.

Ok: submit questions in the comments below and everyone can answer away, or not answer away, or any combination thereof. Whatever the case may be.

Have at it.


Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Frogmarch watch: With the Republicans, it's all political 

Here's why Cheney thinks it's OK to tell Powell to go before the UN and sell the American people on war with Iraq when "the facts and the intelligence were fixed around the policy. Writes Derrick Jackson:

According to Vanity Fair, Cheney himself urged Powell to go ahead and stake his national popularity on the nonexistent evidence by saying to Powell, ‘‘Your poll numbers are in the 70s. You can afford to lose a few points.’’
(via Globe)

No question of ethics here. Or of Powell's own personal honor (now so sadly besmirched). All politics, 24/7.

Yes, with the Republicans, it's all politics, back. The Republicans really will say or do anything. They drank the KoolAid, back. No wonder they abuse their power.

Scandal? What Scandal? Time To Pack The Supreme Court 

And in primetime, too.

Sorry, Judge Roberts, no Rose Garden ceremony for you. Well, those were always quaint, weren't they. Not really in keeping with that high-octane, turbo-charged rightwing Republican Party of today, with all its powerful new ideas.

I'm writing about quarter of the hour when the President will appear before the nation, with his Supreme Court candidate. As if any one whose paid attention to this presidency could have any doubt about what we're about to see and hear.

This will be the accommodating President, the uniter, not the divider; he will present his choice of John Roberts as a gesture of moderation; the President will praise himself for his good-faith consultation with Senate Democrats, and them for consulting with him. That he essentially ignored all their concerns he will not point out. Nor will he, I'm guessing, portray Judge Roberts as a worthy successor to the judicial philosophy of Scalia and Thomas. Remember, this evening he will be uniting us.

The commentariet will pretend not to notice that both the President's phone calls and meetings with Democrats and his ultimate choice of a man closely identified with the most partisan policies of the Republican party, whom the President himself appointed to the Fifth Circuit, are mere gestures of reconciliation, or bringing the country together, not the thing itself. Is there any more constant characteristic of George W. Bush's presidency than this theatre of appearances?

There is no doubt that Roberts has the legal pedigree, and the smarts that will make it difficult oppose him. I'm not sure, myself, it's worth it for the Senate Democrats to mount too vigorous an effort.

Some effort, yes. If not to defeat him, to question his judicial beliefs as a way of demarking how they differ from liberal conceptions of jurisprudence. But on our terms, not the Republicans. I think the public interest groups would be well to do the same thing. This guy isn't Bork. We can't roll out that kind of effort. With a guy this young, I also think it's a mistake to permanently alienate him from any possibility of rethinking his own positions. That does happen, especially when the political winds shift sufficiently to make a Justice worry about being totally out of step with mainstream Americans.

I think there will be general interest on the part of the American public in this process of confirming the Roberts nomination. Perhaps we should see that process as an opportunity to roll out some new ways to talk about the big judicial issues liberals care about, and the underlying constitutional principles upon which they are based. Republicans have been winning the "define your opponents before they get a chance to" game for decades now, with great success. We know that were a majority of Americans to finally see what's underneath all those pretty, shiny, buzz-phrases, Republicans would not be able to say with such confidence that America is a conservative country. We saw just that happening when Republicans rolled out those same election-winning ideas to justify intervening in the Terri Schiavo case.

Ah, the President is approaching the East Room lectern...

UPDATE Via Buzzflash, Robert's Campaign contributions. $1000 to Bush...

Meanwhile, Dean gets to work at once:

"It is disappointing that when President Bush had the chance to bring the country together, he instead turned to a nominee who may have impressive legal credentials, but also has sharp partisan credentials that cannot be ignored.

"Democrats take very seriously the responsibility to protect the individual rights of all Americans and are committed to ensuring that ideological judicial activists are not appointed to the Supreme Court. The Senate Judiciary Committee will now have the opportunity to see if Judge Roberts can put his partisanship aside, and live up to a Supreme Court Justice's duty to uphold the rights and freedoms of every American and the promise of equal justice for all."
(via Americablog)

Not bad.—Lambert

SCOTUS Watch. I'd call that a smirk. Wouldn't you? 


Look out...

The Bad Magician Mixes Kool Aid with the Blood of the Savior 

Alert reader MJS heaves the following over the transom of The Mighty Corrente Building:

The Bad Magician is hot, cranky. He turns his head and breaks a window: he falls outside and keeps right on falling.

The battle for America was fought by Romans on Golgotha: they won but turned away and the Savior jumped off of his cross and tap danced in a dream all the way to Washington D.C. Information littered the hallways in vast, moaning piles. Arms flailed inside the mounds, withered, died. The capital building smelled like Crisco.

The Bad Magician spies a large punch bowl that men in suits stand next to. They are talking and laughing and dying. Inside the punch bowl the blood of the Savior makes a Sangria. Everyone drinks Vintage Jesus and spits it out and then drinks it in again. The heads of the men become the Kool Aid icon, and they crash into each other whenever they turn to make a point. Broken glass is everywhere, and the sticky blood of the Savior mixed with the Kool Aid turns the floor into a bus terminal. Large buses arrive and drive the Glass Head Men into the sky where they burst into firework displays, and ash falls like the dust of history all over the cars in the parking lot.

The Bad Magician pours himself the Kool Aid mixed with the blood of the Savior. He dreams that everything is God.

Karl Rove outs Jesus, and smirks and toys with his horns. The lights come on in the city. A judge is born.

Hot, cranky? I didn't know the Bad Magician was from Philly...

NOTE For the "Kool-Aid" post that seems to have precipitated this monster riff, see Delusional Republicans, back.

Frogmarch watch: With the Republicans, it's all politics 

Who knew?

And it's definitely not ethics. Let alone defense of the country or upholding the Constituion.

Of course we knew that.

Any party that would talk about "marketing" a war, and then use a war vote to fight (and win) the 2002 midterms, and would then use terror alerts as operant conditioning during the 2004 election (Gaslight watch, back)...

Well, as I say, we knew it. But now we're learning it all over again, except in excruciating, nauseating detail, point by talking point. Listen to how the truth manages to slip from the mouth of this unnamed Republican flak:

The anti-Rove agenda, said one, "is not going to win [the Democrats] a lot of red or even purple states." Said another surrogate, "After holding their collective breath early last week, the GOP is now breathing fire in defense of Rove. If there is no crime, there is only politics. Lay off, Democrats. Plus anytime Moveon.org starts protesting no small number of people say, 'Ah, more crap from the left.' "
(via Useless News and World Distort)

Don't you just love it when Republicans try to help Republicans win—and then beg us to lay off? All together now: A-w-w-w-w!

But savor those words: "If there is no crime, there is only politics." Seems everybody's agreed now that this is how the Republicans operate now. Howard Fineman of Newsweek quotes in CJR:

In the World According to Karl Rove, you take the offensive, and stay there. [E]verything is political -- and everyone is fair game.
(via CJR)

God, it's like we're all back on campus in the '70s, dealing with the Trots. Except the Trots have joined the Republican party and now they're running the country.

Frogmarch watch: Did Rove offer to resign? Bush won't say 

Of course, Rove would have been smart to offer, because Bush would never accept the resignation. Afer all, Rummy offered to resign, Bush wouldn't accept it, and Rummy's slaughtered a lot more people for no good reason than Rove ever has.

President Bush today sidestepped a question about whether his top adviser, Karl Rove, offered to resign over the leaking of a covert CIA operative's identity and said he would deal with the issue when an investigation into the case was over.

"My answer really hasn't changed from 24 hours ago. It's the same answer," Bush said at a news conference with Australian Prime Minister John Howard.

"I'll be glad to repeat what I said yesterday which is there is an ongoing investigation and people shouldn't, you know, jump to conclusions in the press until the investigation is over," Bush said. "Once the investigation is over I'll deal with it."
(AP Houston Chronicle)

Oh, man. Who ya gonna believe? Me or your lyin' eyes? One reason Bush is so insulting is that He must believe we don't keep track.

Way back at the inaugural, when at least some of us might have had hope, Bush's administration was going to be "the most ethical administration in history."

Yesterday we get this:

After originally saying anyone involved in leaking the name of the covert CIA operative would be fired, Bush told reporters: "If somebody committed a crime, they will no longer work in my administration."
(via WaPo

And today Bush wants us to believe he said this:

"Once the investigation is over I'll deal with it."

and that's the same thing as what he said Monday.

Reminds me of a kid who doesn't want to clean up his room. "A-a-a-a-w Mom, can't I do it tomorrow?"

Hey, I've got an idea! Why doesn't Bush just walk across the hall and ask Rove? How hard can that be?

NOTE And speaking of how hard can that be... I'm glad Bush has dropped that really unfortunate locution where He says he want to "get to the bottom" of TreasonGate. Bush must be reading Corrente! (back)

Frogmarch watch: The disinformation continues 

So many watches... What is this, Switzerland? [rimshot]

Well, the malAdministration is a target rich environment?

latest ridulous lie? It wasn't Novak who outed Plame, it was David Corn.

Oh. My. God.

SCOTUS Watch: Quack, quack? 

So, John Roberts.

It looks like Bush resisted poking the Dems in the eye with a sharp stick.

Since that's what He always does when he gets the chance, it seems like TreasonGate and/or His lame duck status has weakened him, and He's got to tack toward the middle.

Or appear to do so. The Department of Changing the Subject swings into action—On prime time

The early line on Roberts is that he's quiet and lawyerly, with a Souter-like lack of paper trail.

Then again, could Roberts be a submarine candidate? A stealth Scalia?

Could be. What Roberts said in his last confirmation hearing:

Pressed during his 2003 confirmation hearing for his own views on the matter, Roberts said: "Roe v. Wade is the settled law of the land. ... There's nothing in my personal views that would prevent me from fully and faithfully applying that precedent."
(via Newsday)

And why was he asked that?

Roberts did co-write a brief that stated, "We continue to believe that Roe was wrongly decided and should be overruled."

Of course, it may be that a war crimes trial for Gitmo was uppermost in Bush's mind:

Roberts was part of the three-judge panel that handed the U.S. government a critical victory last Friday, ruling that the military tribunals at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, could proceed.
(via Reuters)

Yeah, maybe Bush has nominated a genuine, responsible conservative who hasn't been divinely guided to the revelation that what Christ wants is a rollback of FDR's New Deal.

Isn't it pretty to think so?

Every time, every single time, we give Bush the benefit of the doubt, we get burned. Maybe the Roberts nomination will be the exception. I doubt it.

NOTE Apparently, Roberts is practicing Catholic. That used to be fine, until some Catholic bishops started denying their U.S. Senator and Representive parishioners communion if they supported Roe. If Robert's bishop did that, would it affect Robert's rulings? Perhaps someone should ask him.

UPDATE Here's the Alliance for Justice paper on Roberts (from Kos). Nothing "extraordinary" here (yeah, I know the baseline has changed), though it is interesting how Robert's all of a sudden argues for a living Constitution when a strict interpretation might suggest that a corporation has obligations to its retired workers.

Clusterfuck Watch: Delusional Republicans 

From Board of Directors, the MEPC (Middle East Policy Council) seem to be about as mainstream and establishment a think-tank as you can get: Lotta guys from Boeing, George McGovern balanced by Frank C. Carlucci, Yankel Ginzburg balanced by Fuad A. Rihani....

And what did they go and do? They published an article in their quarterly journal that reads like it was written by one of those nasty left-wing bloggers! Let 'er rip!

From W. Patrick Lang, formerly of the DIA:

Drinking the Kool-Aid
hroughout my long service life in the Department of Defense, first as an army officer and then as a member of the Defense Intelligence Senior Executive Service, there was a phrase in common usage: "I will fall on my sword over that." It meant that the speaker had reached a point of internal commitment with regard to something that his superiors wanted him to do and that he intended to refuse even though this would be career suicide. The speaker preferred career death to the loss of personal honor.

This phrase is no longer widely in use. What has taken its place is far more sinister in its meaning and implications. "I drank the Kool-Aid" is what is now said. Those old enough to remember the Jonestown tragedy know this phrase all too well.

What does drinking the Kool-Aid mean today? It signifies that the person in question has given up personal integrity and has succumbed to the prevailing group-think that typifies policymaking today. This person has become "part of the problem, not part of the solution."

What was the "problem"? The sincerely held beliefs of a small group of people who think they are the "bearers" of a uniquely correct view of the world, sought to dominate the foreign policy of the United States in the Bush 43 administration, and succeeded in doing so through a practice of excluding all who disagreed with them. Those they could not drive from government they bullied and undermined until they, too, had drunk from the vat.

The recent PBS special on Frontline concerning Iraq mentioned that senior military officers had said of General Franks, "He had drunk the Kool-Aid." Many intelligence officers have told the author that they too drank the Kool-Aid and as a result consider themselves to be among the "walking dead," waiting only for retirement and praying for an early release that will allow them to go away and try to forget their dishonor and the damage they have done to the intelligence services and therefore to the republic.

What we have now is a highly corrupted system of intelligence and policymaking, one twisted to serve specific group goals, ends and beliefs held to the point of religious faith. Is this different from the situation in previous administrations? Yes.

Instead of including such veterans in the planning process, the Bush team opted for amateurs brought in from outside the Executive Branch who tended to share the views of many of President Bush's earliest foreign-policy advisors and mentors. [T]his created an environment in which any shared belief could become sacrosanct and unchallengeable. A situation like this is, in essence, a war waiting for an excuse to happen. If there is no "imminent threat," one can be invented, not as a matter of deliberate deception, but rather as an artifact of group self-delusion. In normal circumstances, there is a flow of new talent into the government that melds with the old timers in a process both dynamic and creative. This does not seem to have happened in the Bush 43 administration. Instead, the newcomers behaved as though they had seized control of the government in a silent coup.
(via Middle East Policy Journal)

Hmm... "Seized control of the government in a silent coup..." I wonder why that would have been?

An alert reader pointed me to this article (can't remember which alert reader; let me know so I can give you a shout-out) and when I read it, I thought, it's all over for Bush. The establishment has finally turned against him....

Then I re-read the date of the article—Summer 2004.


I guess what the article does show is:

(1) We were right all along. The entire process by which we went to war was foully corrupt. We called it then, and we were right.

(2) The Bush administration seem to be (we can only hope, seems to have been) uniquely virulent in modern politics. In previous administrations, these guys would have been the "wise men" ushering Johnson or Nixon out of office, telling them gently that it was all over. No such luck.

(3) The entire Rove-ian saga—especially the continuous drip, drip, drip of leaks about the run-up to the war—is coming either from those who have drunk the KoolAid and repented, or those who saw formerly respected colleagues become like "the living dead."

(4) Deprogramming the remaining Bush loyalists is going to be very difficult. I can still remember Republicans raising their arms and swearing a personal oath of fealty to Bush. Once you've drunk the KoolAid that deep, it's going to be very hard ever to get clean.

Meet Your New Boss 

Human rights advocate Wayne LaPierre is incensed that:
a) Cities under seige from gun violence and desperate to make it stop have the temerity to try to defend themselves, and

b) He doesn't get to play banana republic dictator
Here's what the NRA hath wrought in Columbus, Ohio:
"Looking to punish this city for enacting a ban on assault weapons, the National Rifle Association announced on Monday that it had canceled plans to hold its national convention here in 2007, an event that was expected to pump more than $15 million into the local economy...
The announcement came five days after Mayor Michael Coleman signed legislation outlawing the sale of certain kinds of military-style semiautomatic weapons and requiring people who purchased such guns before the law's effective date, Aug. 12, to register them with the police.
Columbus officials and gun control groups condemned the rifle association's decision, calling it an effort not only to embarrass the Council but also to bully the State Legislature into passing a bill that would invalidate the Columbus ban and prohibit other cities from enacting similar measures. A Republican lawmaker is expected to introduce such legislation this fall."
But the blackmail could come to an end if only the state would see reason, and eliminate the citizenry of Ohio from this whole sticky democracy business:
"He added that the rifle association would consider holding a future convention in Columbus if state lawmakers passed a bill invalidating the Columbus ban and pre-empting local governments from passing similar measures. Cincinnati, Cleveland, Dayton and Toledo already have similar bans in place, gun control advocates said."
Why would the NRA think any state would let them shoehorn themselves into a position hitherto reserved only for the constituents of a state's elected lawmakers? Maybe this:
"More than 40 states have enacted such pre-emption laws, many of them as a result of N.R.A. lobbying. But Ohio has a long tradition, enshrined in its Constitution, of giving municipalities wide latitude to set local policies. As a result, any effort to stop cities from enacting gun restrictions would almost certainly face court challenges, gun control advocates said."
Bully for Ohio. Unfortunately for Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, PA has no such provisions, and the entire state has become just another chapter of the NRA. And federally elected officials have become merely lobbyists for their culture of life agenda.

Eric Rudolf would be damned pleased.

Inside the walls of West Wing 


follow the yellowcake road, follow the yellowcake road... follow, follow, follow, follow... follow the yellowcake road


Monday, July 18, 2005

Not in Kansas Anymore 

I read the Canadian news today, oh boy:
Same-sex marriage bill must stand, majority say
In wake of Tory vow to repeal legislation, poll suggests 55 per cent want it untouched

Ottawa — Canadians do not want their political leaders to undo historic legislation allowing gays to legally marry in the wake of a pledge from the Conservatives that they would do just that if elected.

In a new poll conducted for The Globe and Mail/CTV, 55 per cent of Canadians surveyed say the next government should let same-sex legislation stand, while 39 per cent would like to see an attempt made to repeal it. A further 6 per cent said they did not know.

The results appear to bolster Prime Minister Paul Martin's remarks two weeks ago that Canadians do not want to revisit the issue, despite a promise by Conservative Leader Stephen Harper that he would rescind the law if he becomes prime minister in an election expected next winter.

"The Liberals have been successful in defining same-sex as an issue of rights, not as a moral issue" said Tim Woolstencroft, managing partner of polling firm the Strategic Counsel.

"And that prevails. Rights will also win over other issues."
(via Globe and Mail)

Try to imagine the above quote in the mouth of any American political strategist. The idea of a polity largely separating its personal views from the issue of elementary human rights--why, it's almost fiendish in its pragmatism.

Pinching myself, I read on:

Pollsters said Mr. Harper's promise to repeal the legislation may be helping to consolidate Liberal support. For example, Canadians who are undecided on whether to support the Liberals or the NDP may find themselves opting for the Liberals if they fear Mr. Harper would follow through. Pollsters said they also found that while Conservative supporters are the most likely to favour an attempt to repeal the legislation, "potential" Conservative voters are more likely to prefer that the current legislation stand.

Mr. Harper's position may only consolidate his Conservative base, they said, and not expand his support to other groups.

A world where wedge issues backfire: When will the nightmare end?
He also said the issue has found surprising resonance with Canadians, who mentioned it as the second-most notable achievement of Mr. Martin's minority government since it took office in June of 2004. The health-care accord that promises billions of dollars in new cash to the provinces was first.

When offered a list of options, 19 per cent chose same-sex marriage as the most notable achievement; 28 per cent picked the health-care accord. The tsunami relief effort was next at 14 per cent, while a series of preliminary daycare deals was chosen by 10 per cent of respondents.

Daycare. Daycare. My guess is that "Staying clear of the clusterfuck in Iraq" wasn't on the list of options. I wonder what Americans would identify as their Administration's most notable achievements?

Priorities, priorities 

Via the now-much-profiled Man in the Grey Turtleneck we are directed to this little story about Times editor Bill "Helen" Keller (none so blind as those who will not see, eh?):

Keller also declined to discuss which legal options her attorneys were pursuing to possibly have Miller released early: "My hope would be that [Special Prosecutor Patrick] Fitzgerald would end the investigation and disband the grand jury so she can get out."
(via E&P)

Words fail me.

Well, no, they don't.

Keller really is in the tank for Bush, isn't he? Of course, you could write a politely worded missive to Byron "I don't suck like Okrent" Calame, and ask him.

Did they make Judy check her kneepads at the door, I wonder?

Frogmarch watch: The chuckling point? 

Laughter really is the best medicine.

In comments, Leah writes about Inerrant Boy's presser this morning:

[In this morning's news conference] with the Indian Prime Minister, there was an immediate question about Rove; from the moment the Prez started on the sentence "There is an on-going serious legal investigation in progress," or words to that effect, there was the rumble of audible laughter. Bush continued on to note with disapproval that instead of the serious investigation, the whole thing is being played out in the press. [And so on.]

The one thing an Emperor without any clothes can't bear is laughter.

Does anyone have a pointer to a video that includes the laughter? We should really try to propagate this.

UPDATE I suspect that the endlessly repetitive "always on message" behavior of the Bush and his creatures is what is (finally!) exciting derision among His knowing auditors. From philosopher Henri Bergson's "Laughter: An Essay on the Meaning of Comic":

We will now pass from the comic element in FORMS to that in GESTURES and MOVEMENTS. Let us at once state the law which seems to govern all the phenomena of this kind. It may indeed be deduced without any difficulty from the considerations stated above. THE ATTITUDES, GESTURES AND MOVEMENTS OF THE HUMAN BODY ARE LAUGHABLE IN EXACT PROPORTION AS THAT BODY REMINDS US OF A MERE MACHINE. [Caps in the original]

“The gestures of a public speaker, no one of which is laughable by itself, excite laughter by their repetition.” The truth is that a really living life should never repeat itself. Wherever there is repetition or complete similarity, we always suspect some mechanism at work behind the living.

("A really living life should never repeat itself"... What a suggestive critique of Bush's [cough] "culture of life"...)

It's really a classic case of karma, isn't it? Bush's repetitive, mechanical, speech, his talking points, are in fact an artifact of Rove's always "on message" political machine. The very success, the very pervasiveness, of Rove's machine is what excites laughter.

Note the irony: Rove's strategy has always been to attack his enemy's greatest strength and turn it to weakness. And here a great strength of Rove's machine—message discipline—is being turned into weakness before our eyes. We can but hope that as they have always done in the past, Bush and Rove will repeat their behavior, but more forcefully, since this will only excite greater laughter.

Maybe not a tipping point... But perhaps a chuckling point?

This picture needs a caption! 


So Much Shit, So Many Fans 

One doesn't know where to begin.

How about here? With a time-out from the several intersections of shit and fan, (Rove/Plame, Iraq, TGWOT, the new link between GITMO and Abu Ghraib, Supreme Court nominations), to take note of a subject too often overlooked, the condition of us working folk and that once-thriving institution, the labor movement, which used to have a major impact in the lives of all who toiled for others, whether or not they belonged to a union. Would that more of us who work for a salary realized the large negative impact on our working lives of the shrinking labor movement.

Check-out Nathan Newman's regular roundup of labor news, now available at the Labour Blog at TPMCafe. Been wondering what in hell is going on with the AFL-CIO and the five member unions who are threatening to pull out? Get the inside dope on that and stuff you didn't know enough to wonder about.

One of the linked to stories is a NYTimes piece on Costco, and its policy of decent treatment for its employees. Also at TPMCafe, Jonathan Cohn has an interesting piece on the NYTimes piece, "The Antidote to Wal-Mart," which asks some interesting questions about Costco as a model employer.

Michael at Reading Al zeros in brilliantly on a piece of the NYTimes piece that tells you all you need to know about Bush's ownership society; a hint; it has to do with how Wall Street feels about Costco's employment policies.

While there, do not miss Michael's equally brilliant dissection of Ben Stein getting "real," even a bit misty-eyed, as he offers an appreciation of "those who earn modest wages and keep the whole system going." Don't miss it; just click here!

Don't worry, we'll be getting back to those shit-hitting-the-fan subjects, so stay tuned. And as a start, while your at TMPCafe, check out this little gem from Anne Lamott about suffering, and not looking away, Ken Mehlman, and the way in which we're all Yossarian now.

Frogmarch watch: Defining deviancy down 

I always wondered what Bush meant when He promised "the most ethical admintration in history," and now I know:

Ethical adj. 1. Not actually convicted of any crime. 2. If convicted of a crime, pardoned.

I'm glad that's cleared up:

President Bush said Monday that if anyone on his staff committed a crime in [TreasonGate,] the CIA-leak case, that person will "no longer work in my administration."
(AP via WaPo)

Bush, meanwhile, keeps on dodging questions about the actual persons involved:

Bush yet again sidestepped a question on the role of his top political adviser, Karl Rove, in the matter.

Nor will Bush say if any wrong has been committed, which, from the "ethical" standpoint, is the real issue ("It Doesn't Matter," back. )

[Bush] did not respond directly to a reporter's question on whether he disapproved of Rove's telling a reporter that Wilson's wife worked for the CIA on weapons of mass destruction issues.

Meanwhile, Scott "Sucker MC" McClellen is still issuing carefully parsed non-denial denials:

And White House spokesman Scott McClellan has said Rove _ as well anyone who works now at the White House _ continues to have the president's confidence.

(I guess the AP story was so hot off the press that they couldn't turn the underscores into italics, so I did that for them.)

Hmmm... Anyone who works "now"? Who in the W.H.I.G (back) isn't working in the White House how? Condi and Hadley are over at State, KaWen Hughes is, wherever she is, Cheney's creatures are either in Cheney's hidden location or the EOB... Gee, seems like the only one Bush has any confidence in is Rove! Well, well.

Of course, there are other potential fall guys, especially if Rove's story that someone in the press told him Plame's name, instead of the other way round.... Like maybe Jeff Guckert? Treating Guckert as a member of the press for the sake of the argument? It would be irresonsible not to speculate!

Rove has not disputed that he told Cooper that Wilson's wife worked for the agency. But he has insisted through his lawyer that he did not mention her by name, nor did he intend to "out" her.

I've always wondered about the hidden subtext of "outing," eh? Funny how familiar everyone on this case is with the phrase...

Pass the popcorn!

Wednesday Noon 

Juan Cole has an excellent suggestion:

(via Informed Comment)
Al-Zaman says that the Iraqi parliament has decided that a moment of silence will be held throughout Iraq on Wednesday at noon in honor of the victims of bombings at New Baghdad and Musayyib. I hope my readers will consider observing it, as well. The bombings have been monstrous and have deliberately killed children and families.
We did it for the transport bomb victims in London. Friday alone, in Iraq, was, what, three and a half Londons?

(That sort of math is, admittedly, stupid and pointless, particularly when "another London"--defined as "around 50 people going about their normal lawful affairs killed by bombs"--happens about every day, day and a half in The New Iraq(tm).)

Who could possibly object? Yeah, I know, the Usual Suspects...but this is not, officially anyway, for all Iraqi bombing victims, just the ones killed that particular day by those particular incidents. Hell, if Glorious Leader had half a brain (or if said brain wasn't under intense investigation at the moment) he would propose it himself and order flags lowered that day. Fat chance.

A moment of silence seems so little to do as to be almost insulting, or at least meaningless...but it isn't

Remember--Wednesday noon.

Oh, THAT'S a Helpful Remark 

There does not seem to be anything in the realm of profanity--a subject to which I have given a certain amount of study--sufficient to cover a statement like this:

(via Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
DENVER — A Colorado congressman told a radio show host that the U.S. could "take out" Islamic holy sites if Muslim fundamentalist terrorists attacked the country with nuclear weapons.

Rep. Tom Tancredo made his remarks Friday on WFLA-AM in Orlando, Fla. His spokesman stressed he was only speaking hypothetically.

Talk show host Pat Campbell asked the Littleton Republican how the country should respond if terrorists struck several U.S. cities with nuclear weapons.

"Well, what if you said something like — if this happens in the United States, and we determine that it is the result of extremist, fundamentalist Muslims, you know, you could take out their holy sites," Tancredo answered.

"You're talking about bombing Mecca," Campbell said.

"Yeah," Tancredo responded.

Tancredo...had a 100 percent rating last year from the American Conservative Union his votes and positions on issues.
It's early yet, maybe later after caffeine intake I can think of a vile enough term for this idiot. Reader assistance is gratefully solicited. It would also be nice to think of a way to apologize to the world's one billion or so Muslims for the fact that this lunatic holds elective office of any description in this country.

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