Monday, October 31, 2005
"The hardest part is explaining it to friends," [Diana] Schillinger [the Los Angeles lab manager at the country's largest sperm bank, California Cryobank] says. "But we do have stories." Like what? "Like the donor who was in the room for the longest time. We had a big discussion about who was going to check on him. Turns out he thought he had to fill up the entire specimen cup."
I choose to let this alone for the sanity of those who may read this blog... Insert your own joke in the comments.
Ms. Vega makes an exceptional argument that this administration may be charged with a criminal conspiracy to defraud the United States:
The President's deceit is not only an abuse of power; it is a federal crime. Specifically, it is a violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 371, which prohibits conspiracies to defraud the United States...
The Supreme Court has defined the phrase "conspiracy to defraud the United States" as "to interfere with, impede or obstruct a lawful government function by deceit, craft or trickery, or at least by means that are dishonest."
Finally, "fraud" is broadly defined to include half-truths, omissions or misrepresentation; in other words, statements that are intentionally misleading, even if literally true. Fraud also includes making statements with "reckless indifference" to their truth.
This means that the infamous sixteen words included in the presidents state of the union, “The British Government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa”, does not mean president Bush is not culpable for deception by including the modifier "The British Government has learned". Say George and Tony are riding in a car which is waiting at a stop light. If George is distracted by the stereo, and Tony decides to proclaim the light is green, and George then looks at the light which is still red and steps on the gas, when the cop is writing up the ticket George cant absolve himself of liability by proclaiming that Tony said the light was green. American intelligence had already debunked the uranium claim, and with held it from previous speeches given by the president. While the British Government may have reached a conclusion on this issue (it did, but not the conclusion the administration wished for), it was not Tony Blair giving the state of the union.
This applies to a wide variety of tactics used by the administration in the run up to the Iraqi invasion. For an administration official, on background, to be the source of a story by Judy Miller for publication on the front page of the N.Y. Times on Sunday, and then to have the same official on all the talking heads programs trumpeting the fact that since the Times ran it, it must be true is deceptive. Nearly every feature in the selling of the Iraq war was fraudulent.
So which governmental function was impeded you may ask? It was the function of the U.S. Congress to authorize the president to use any means necessary to enforce U.N. sanctions. The Congress was quite clearly a victim of the misrepresentations of the administration. The sixteen words in the state of the union, a constitutionally mandated presentation to the congress, is just one example of this. They were not provided with accurate intelligence and they made the decision based upon this misinformation. No amount of faux Republican congressional hindsight via committee report can reverse that fact. Also we the people were impeded by this concerted effort to sell the war and a majority at the time based their opinions on this misdirection. This also led to pressure on Congress to give the president carte blanche with Iraq.
Read the report by Ms. de la Vega and then get ahold of your congressional representative to demand accountability from the administration. This is absolutely an impeachable offense. No one died over a stained blue dress.
Friday, October 28, 2005
Only the beginning...
Fitzgerald is not packing up and going home which means he is interested in other aspects of this whole affair. I think what he's done is a long time tried and true prosecutorial tactic. He loads up charges on someone who is privy to the whole affair and then turns them. With this indictment Libby is now no longer a member of the White House team so it would not be surprising in the least should he wind up turning states evidence to avoid a lengthy jail term. Of course it may be the case that Libby falls on his sword for the team and Fitzgerald must carry on without his cooperation. But I rather suspect Fitzgerald has his eye on other targets and Libby will wind up helping the special counsel nail them.
I would be very nervous if I were Karl Rove or John Bolton with the wording of the indictment. Fitzgerald does everything but name them by name as people of interest in this whole affair. And now one of the key players is outside the circle and facing the heat.
One thing is certain however. This special counsel is all business and no fluffery. Tucker Carlsons fixation on proving leaks are coming from Fitzgerald is just laughable. Carlson even points to stories being attributed to the lawyers of the White House players as evidence of special counsel leakage. When the reporter says "A lawyer for such and such says" how desperate must the wingnuts be to discredit the special counsel when they jump up and down and scream "Fitzgerald is leaking!" It must be very hard to have to crank out these talking points when the truly ludicrous nature of the argument is so apparent to any person with the intelligence of the average four year old.
Page 4 has a bunch of stuff about an "Under Secretary of State" It is clear that Libby had no clue where the unattributed source for the Kristoff column run on May 6 was coming from, but to get to the bottom of it Libby tries to get info from the under secretary. Upon review of this piece of the indictment I see no impropriety in having the under secretary provide this info to the vice presidents chief of staff, who holds a security clearance. I would bet... something very valuable... that the under secretary in question here is John Bolton. Thus if Boltons sole involvement in the affair is in responding to information requests, he's off the hook. BUT... (the entire next paragraph is speculation)
Page 8 point 1 brings up an interesting point for consideration. Libby discusses an upcoming article from columnist Robert Novak with "Official A", (presumably Karl Rove) in which official A says Novak is going to out Valerie Plame. We know that the investigation does not conclude now that Libby is indicted. The way in which Novak found out about Ms. Plame is not discussed in the indictment of Libby. Might Fitzgerald be investigating a possible conspiracy to out Ms. Plame? If so it is clear that Bolton is involved with researching the Plame angle of the story early on in the proceedings. I would speculate (purely speculate) that Bolton would figure prominently in any conspiracy to out Ms. Plame. Also, if this be the case I believe the conduit for this would be Judy Miller. If this be the case I believe Ms. Millers attorney would be in a bit of hot water. He assured the special counsel as part of the deal to release her from jail for not testifying, that having reviewed Ms. Millers notes, Karl Rove was the only substantial source for Ms. Miller in this affair.
Libby on page 9 is charged with lying to the FBI regarding a conversation he had with Tim Russert of Meet the Press. Libby claims Russert called him to discuss the status of Valerie Plame saying that her status with the CIA was widely known by Washington D.C. reporters on July 10 or 11. The indictment on page 7 point 20 specifies Libby spoke to Russert on July 10 but that Plame was not discussed. One is left to wonder why Libby would be spilling the beans about the entire Washington D.C. press corps knowing Plames identity according to Russert, early on in the FBI investigation, if that conversation with Russert actually didn't touch on the issue. This sounds like a misdirection from Libby to the FBI, with Libby knowing that the press was being supplied with Plames identity. This also points to a conspiracy to release this classified info. The steps taken by Libby to discuss the Plame issue on a secure phone as described on page 5 point 1 clearly show he understood this was classified information. [Update: I should have realized this phantom conversation with Russert was Libby trying to establish early in the FBI investigation that he heard the Plame business from the press rather than the other way around. As such this was indeed a misdirection from Libby to the FBI.]
Also just looking at the various points specified in the indictment where-in it is noted that Libby discussed the situation with various parties points to conspiracy. So the investigation continues, but this indictment offers some tantalizing clues.
Thursday, October 27, 2005
oooh... My X prediction is looking good...
Check out this story from Colonel W. Patrick Lang.
This source, supported by three others, alleged that it was a telephone call from the Department of State that first gave Libby the name of Plame.
The name of the caller? No one is sure. But these sources said that the call definitely came from the State Department office of John Bolton, then the arms control chief of the department.
These same sources alleged that two employees of Bolton, David Wurmser, a virullent pro-war hawk, first told Libby that Valerie Plame had sent Wilson to Niger to attempt to discredit the administration's line on Iraq's nuclear weapons programs.
Now if this pans out, and if the president issues pardons rather than having indicted administration officials resign, I will be expecting calls from major news media outlets around the nation wondering how I, a lowly working grunt from Oregon managed to foresee these major news events. (snark) That's still a couple of big ifs mind you. The presidential pardon thing would be especially earth shattering... But we shall see what we shall see.
More from the Christian values crowd
Here is a shining example of this holier than thou mendacity as related on MSNBC.
A former school board member who denied advocating that creationism be taught alongside evolution in high-school biology classes changed his story Thursday, after lawyers in a federal courtroom played a TV news clip that recorded him making such a comment.
William Buckingham explained the discrepancy by saying that he "misspoke."
...The clip that was shown later in the day came from an interview that he gave to a news crew from WPMT-TV in York later in the month.
"It's OK to teach Darwin," he said in the interview, "but you have to balance it with something else, such as creationism."
Earlier in Thursday's court session, Buckingham claimed that he had been misquoted in stories from two newspapers that reported his advocating the teaching of creationism to counterbalance the material on evolution.
"It's just another instance when we would say intelligent design and they would print creationism," he said.
When Stephen Harvey, the plaintiffs' lawyer, noted the similarity of the newspaper reports to what he told the TV crew, Buckingham replied, "That doesn't mean it's accurate."
Erm... actually Mr. Buckingham, that is PRECISELY what it means. It means the reporters were accurate and you quite simply were busted lying. Pretty embarrassing considering the ninth of the ten commandments. I'm certain if Mr. Buckingham were asked, he would also advocate the posting of the ten commandments in the classrooms. Even as he so blithely breaks the ones that don't fit his agenda.
Also, if it is your opinion, own it. These wingnuts have decided that since they can't railroad the teaching of creationism into schools they will change the word from "creationism" to "intelligent design". Both of these terms are part and parcel of the same belief. Stand for what you believe in rather than parsing words. I can just imagine the confusion if Jesus had seen fit to use this tactic when spreading his word. Instead of teaching us to turn the other cheek he could have instructed us to rotate the fleshy side of the face below the eye and above and to the side of the mouth. (To quote the Merriam-Webster online dictionary) Just because you gussy up your language that doesn't mean it changes what your advocating. And what these wingnuts are advocating quite simply is not science, but dogma. Pure and simple.
The very 1st post I ever blogged here covers my belief in this regard. Before you condemn me for being a atheistic commie check out the archives please.
Wednesday, October 26, 2005
Lets get real
Let us ponder this presidential nugget:
Every man and woman who volunteers to defend our nation in battle also deserves something else -- an unwavering commitment to the mission, and a clear strategy for victory. (Applause.)Unless I misread this, the president actually says we have a mission, and a clear strategy for victory. Let me re-read this... Yup! That's what he says. This is just silly. Unwavering commitment to the mission? We have seen the goalpoasts in this war moved so many times it is impossible to tell what the current justification for the war in Iraq is. How can you possibly have a strategy for victory when you don't even know why your fighting! What is the mission this week Mr. president? What is this strategy for victory? Just stay over there until all the natives are dead and then declare victory? Commitment to the mission, strategy for victory... what a joke. Unfortunately this joke has a deadly punchline.
Onto the next... headshaker.
On the morning of September the 11th, 2001, we saw the destruction that terrorists intend for our nation. We know that they want to strike again. And our nation has made a clear choice: We will confront this mortal danger to all humanity. We will not rest or tire until the war on terror is won. (Applause.)Yes Mr. president, we saw the destruction. And we saw the deer in the headlight look as you read to the schoolchildren. Then we saw Airforce one scuttle about the heartland. Later we saw the perpetrator of this evil cornered in Tora Bora and then for some reason that mystifies us to this day we saw you let him slip into the wilderness uncaptured. Later we saw you use this world changing event, this horror that galvanized nearly every nation to stand with us in the war on terror, we saw you use it as a platform to invade a nation that had ZERO to do with that attack. You have bastardized the call to arms to fit your neocon fantasies and in doing so you have alienated nearly the entire world against us. Nicely done Mr. president. One can only pray with great fervor that your administration will not provide us with further blunderous sight seeing until you are removed from office.
Our coalition against terror has killed or captured nearly all of those directly responsible for the September the 11th attacks; several of bin Laden's most senior deputies; al Qaeda managers and operatives in more than 24 countries; the mastermind of the USS Cole bombing, who was chief of al Qaeda operations in the Persian Gulf.Is it just me or is there an ELEPHANT in the corner. Lets pretend he isn't there! See... we have busted all these senior operatives... don't pay any heed to that elephant named Osama. We don't pay him much attention anymore. "Nearly all those responsible" This really is literally a case of ignorance is bliss. Nearly all, so lets be happy.
... we're determined to deny radical groups the support and sanctuary of outlaw regimes. State sponsors like Syria and Iran have a long history of collaboration with terrorists, ...Yada yada yada... if you're not with us you're against us. Unless your Saudi Arabia. With a rich history of support for Islamo extremists, and founding nation of the very wahabism that drives them ideologically. Or Pakistan who gets caught assisting Al-Queda by trying to pass them the nuclear cookie jar, then lets the scientist who did it off with a slap on the wrist. Come to think of it, this whole rationale worked great with the Afghanistan mission. Yet how does it fit with Iraq? Any knowlegable pundit before the invasion would not have included Iraq in the crowd of Syria and Iran (and Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, among many others we support). President Bush, of course not being knowlegeable, did include Iraq with Iran and North Korea in an 'axis of evil'. Putting these three nations in the same category would be akin to someone declaring that the Bush's, Hatfields and McCoys were an axis of familial redneckism. The Hatfields and McCoys (Iran and Iraq) could not stand each other and were constantly feuding while the Bush's (N. Korea) are now simply run by madmen who could give a hoot about what the Hatfield and McCoys or anyone else thinks. Yet now it seems we are embroiled in a boondoggle in Iraq which you continually insist is front and center in the war on terror. Nicely done again Mr. President. By invading a country which was not involved in the war on terror you alienated our friends and got us embroiled in a domestic insurgency that has become a breeding and training ground for our mortal enemies. You have killed two birds with one stone, from Osama's perspective that is.
Here is a presidential one liner...
We've heard it suggested Iraq's democracy must be on shaky ground because Iraqis are arguing with each other. (Laughter.) That's the essence of democracy. (Laughter.) You make your case; you debate those who disagree with you; you build consensus by persuasion; and you answer to the will of the people.Ha ha ha... they are fighting with each other. That's just hilarious! Nice to see that actually... that means they are being all nice and democratic. Each car bomb means more democracy as they make their voices heard. Besides, who are you Mr. president to give these platitudes about listening to those who disagree with you. You are famously incapable of dealing with anyone who doesn't hold your fantasy based views. Consensus by persuasion? We have seen nearly unanimous support both internationally and on the homefront evaporate with your conduct of this war on terror. Consensus? If you had needed consensus to take us to war in Iraq you wouldn't have needed to manufacture the evidence, to send your minion Powell to the U.N. with bald faced lies, to unilaterally invade a nation that did not represent an immediate threat except in your fevered imagination. I'm certain the Iraqi's are jotting down notes as president Bush lectures from across the sea about debate and consensus and so on. These notes make for great material on amateur night at the local comedy club.
There are many other such rich nuggets of wisdom in Bush's speech that could make for a much longer post. I'll leave it at this for the time being. Whoever writes these speeches must really be hitting the nitrous oxide. How else can you explain the giddy disconnect from reality?
Who is X?
I have no evidence for this guess. I have no inside connections and I am certainly not the source any admininstration leaker would choose to use. I'm just a working stiff from Oregon sitting at the keyboard and letting loose the occasional political insight. So this is purely speculation on my part.
I would not be the least bit surprised if X turns out to be John Bolton. Or someone closely associated with Mr. Bolton like an aide. His name has been bandied about throughout this investigation, but certainly not to the extent that Libby and Rove have been. I suspect this is because Libby and Rove were less than forthcoming in their original grand jury testimony and had to be brought back repeatedly to further enlighten the grand jury. Bolton has testified to the grand jury, and it very well could be the case that he just out and said what happened. There would then be no need to call him back repeatedly and his profile in the case would not be so high.
This type of activity doesn't seem so far fetched if we consider the case. John Bolton has been described as Dick Cheneys enforcer in the State Department. When he couldn't strong arm the neocon agenda at the State Department, he was used to spy onthe activities of those around him. There is no doubt that Cheney and his staff were highly interested in the Joe Wilson affair. And another interesting tidbit is that Bolton visited Judy Miller while she was in jail.
Once again I will close with a disclaimer. If it turns out Bolton is not Mr. X, I wouldn't be surprised. I'm just taking a shot in the dark and if I miss my mark it would not be the 1st or last time.
Let us just ponder the politics of this administration and how it has affected the lives of thousands of our service members who have died and been grievously wounded to lead us to this point. The milestones this administration wishes us to celebrate, the constant barrage of corners turned and number twos apprehended... Yet when we as a nation reach a milestone of tragedy that affects local communities and families, we are invited to witness yet another speech from our president rallying the nation. And this administration wishes for us to ignore this landmark of grief and tragedy that the day truly represents.
No amount of resolute cheerleading can make us forget this hallmark of your presidency Mr. Bush. The graves of the fallen can not be hidden even though your lying administration will not allow the caskets to be photographed. Long after you have left the oval office and your domestic and international disasters have been repaired, or mitigated by your successors, the families of these men and women will be there to remind us of the son that never returned. The father who will miss the child growing to adulthood. The mother who will never see the baby she left go to school the first time. The family member who must be cared for by their loved ones as they are wracked by pain and not able to care for themselves long after this disastrous cabal cut the programs that support our veterans. We will be reminded of this for many generations to come by witnessing the victims of your policies Mr. president.
These are families ruined by your ideological zeal in a cause without one shred of reality in its foundation. Your determination to create your own reality has cost these families unimaginable grief. It is this reality that you have spawned through your steely resolve and willfull ignorance of basic truth. When will you face this Mr. Bush? The answer is you never will if you can help it. Just so long as the handlers insure that everybody in the crowd you address has signed the loyalty oath, and doesn't have the wrong bumper sticker on the car they drive to the event. Your internalized reality consists of Iraqi children throwing flowers, and flowering democracy in the Middle East, and you will never face the truth. Even as the facade crumbles and we see the true scope of the disaster you have administered to this nation, you will resolutely cling to your own reality. And American families pay for this absolutely horrendous abomination of your creation with their flesh and blood.
Of course, not your family Mr. President. Your family lost all sense of duty to country in wartime as soon as your dad was discharged. You and the vast majority of those in your administration somehow were able to avoid the bloodshed wrought on the armed forces in your generation. In spite of your protestations to the contrary, it is obvious you do not understand the crushing grief borne by the families of the victims of your misbegotten failure of leadership. How could you? It never has hit home in your world. You were shielded from this unfortunate reality, so when you were prevailed upon to go to war it wasn't a soul searching agoninzing moment for you Mr. president. A last resort? All alternatives exhausted to avoid war? Hardly. And now look where you have brought us. The reality on the ground as the bombs explode and the medics try to save the lives of the victims of your ineptitude may not be the reality you identify with, but it is the reality of the nation.
We will not ignore this landmark Mr. president. You may have done yourself a favor, if only you had the dignity to acknowledge just for this one day, the caskets coming into Dover. By asking the nation to avert our eyes, to not notice the dead while only noticing the artificial benchmarks and rah rah balderdash being posited for our daily consumption, you demean the very sacrifice these Americans have made. Yesterday would have been a very good day to attend the burial of one of these people Mr. president. Instead you chose to give another speech.
Tuesday, October 25, 2005
Conspiracy Theory 101: Pardon me?
There would be an immediate firestorm. But really, how much worse can it get for President Bush anyway? He has basically reached rock bottom in the polls, the right has rebelled over the Miers nomination, Iraq is going south with 2k American dead and now he may lose his most trusted advisor. Unless he issues the pardon and weathers the firestorm. Lets face it, indictments right now would mean trials while the mid-term elections were heating up. If Bush can get through the firestorm until everything dies down the indictments/pardons may be a side issue in the mid-terms.
Besides, if Bush just cannot fathom governing without Rove holding his hand, unless they decide that Rove should remain on after an indictment in which case he would be very pre-occupied with the trial and probably not very effective, the only way out may be a pardon. This may also help to stop any embarrassing leaks as the trial progressed about the way the Iraq war was foisted upon us. Also, I doubt very seriously if anyone questions that anyone indicted on this will be pardoned when Bush leaves office. He probably would rather not see them go to trial and maybe jail in the meantime.
This would undoubtedly create a massive backlash. But when president Bush changed the rules for administration figures being forced out from "anyone involved" to "anyone convicted" he may have given a hint of things to come.
Finally let me close this with a disclaimer. I think the chances of this actually happening are remote. But I do believe this presidents style makes it a good deal more likely than I'm comfortable with. If the pardons don't follow the indictments, I won't be surprised, but if the scenario I lay out here does occur... remember you read it here 1st.
Monday, October 24, 2005
When it's only a crime if you are talking about a Democrat.
I certainly hope that if there is going to be an indictment that says something happened, that it is an indictment on a crime and not some perjury technicality where they couldn't indict on the crime and so they go to something just to show that their two years of investigation was not a waste of time and taxpayer dollars. So they go to something that trips someone up because they said something in the first grand jury and then maybe they found new information or they forgot something and they tried to correct that in a second grand jury.Basically what we are seeing here is the continuation of the wingnut refrain of late that perjury and obstruction charges in this case are not really that big a deal and actually not related to the original charge that Patrick Fitzgerald is investigating. The unmitigated gall of this crowd to go to this argument after the Clinton impeachment displays a shamelessness that is simply breathtaking.
According to Representative John Conyers on the Huffington Post, the White House and their Congressional Republican allies are engaged in a pre-emptive strike to discredit the special counsel if the charges brought are not directly related to the original charge regarding the outing of Valerie Plame. My belief is that this strategy is laughable on it's face and hypocrytical to the extreme for the politicians they wish to make the argument. Nearly every one of them is clearly on record from the Clinton impeachment wailing about the fall of our judicial system due to perjury and obstruction. I'm simply amazed the Hutchinson would float this balloon and to be honest I don't expect too many others to follow in her footsteps after the thrashing she's recieved since her appearance on Meet the Press. What they need is a Republican who defended Clinton during that time, but guess what? They are not easy to find, cuz they simply don't exist!
Friday, October 21, 2005
It appears that several papers across the country all have the same editorial, but with the various papers tossing in some touches of their own to put a local spin on it. How is this not plagiarism? The Merriam definition of Plagarizing is: to steal and pass off (the ideas or words of another) as one's own : use (another's production) without crediting the source. The various editorials are not credited. The post linked above has the writer of the editorial (who strangely enough used to be a White House communications staff member) defending the practice. Yet he is not credited with being the source of these editorials. Plagarism is not dependent upon the work of the author being stolen. It is the presentation of another authors work as your own that is the offense. Merriam: Plagarizing: present as new and original an idea or product derived from an existing source. It clearly is an unethical journalistic enterprise that is being carried forth here and of course, being unethical, it is coming from the wingnuts.
CARLSON: I just have trouble believing the prosecutor can actually do this, that is, indict, bring indictments for crimes, or alleged crimes, that aren't directly related to the original leak.I just have trouble believing the talking head can actually think this, that is, perjury and obstruction of justice relating to the investigation are somehow in his addled mind not indictable crimes.
CARLSON: ... even critics of the White House, even people who are not predisposed to like Bush or his White House, are going to say, "Well, hold on a second here. That wasn't the original crime. These are crimes that took place after the investigation."WRONG! These are crimes (at least whoever he is paraphrasing here got that part right anyway) that took place DURING the investigation. If indeed these crimes had occurred after the investigation Tucker, or those who aren't even predisposed to disagree with Bush, might have a point.
Once again I honestly don't believe Carlson really believes this. It is so patently absurd that it truly must be Carlson desperately casting about for some sort of cogent defense and talking points prior to the coming indictments. We can only perceive Carlsons odd remark about those who are not inclined to support the President as Tucker pointing those who don't agree with the war, but support the White House on idealogical grounds (like himself) to some sort of justification.
[Update: Here is a link to a Washington Post article on the special counsel launching a website. The interesting part that bears on Tuckers seemingly idiotic reasoning discussed above is "A Feb. 6, 2004, follow-up confirming that Fitzgeralds mandate "includes the authority to investigate and prosecute violations of any federal laws related to the underlying alleged unauthorized disclosure, as well as federal crimes committed in the course of, and with intent to interfere with, your investigation."" What makes this interesting is that besides allowing for Fitzgerald to prosecute for obstruction and perjury in the investigation, (duh...) by allowing for the special counsel to investigate all issues related to the disclosure this opens the inquiry quite substantially. Now if in the course of the investigation Fitzgerald finds other unlawful conduct related to the leak, (read the leakers were involved in a far greater conspiracy to mislead the public and Congress before the war and this leak was simply an attempt to cover up that deception) then he can investigate that as well. That should be the real cause of Carlsons dismay over a supposed fishing exbidition, yet it is clear the special counsel purview is not limited to investigating the issues "directly relating to the original leak". "Related to" in the above quote may be construed to give very broad powers to the special counsel as the degree of relation is not specified. Carlson obviously wishes "related to" to mean "directly related to" where-as Fitzgerald may take "related to" to mean tangentially related to. And if Fitzgerald is investigating crimes tangentially connected to the leak and decides to issue indictments, it's hard to imagine the judge determining that those laws should not be enforced. One can only speculate on what it was that had Fitzgerald request this clarification. And one can only assume that Tucker, by making a silly argument regarding obstruction and perjury charges being outside the scope of the investigation, is predicting a broader investigation and pre-emptively trying to strengthen an argument that the wider scope of the investigation would be uncalled for.]
Onto the Horowitz segment. Heres a debatable point by Mr. Horowitz:
This is the first time in American history that a major political party has defected from a war that it supported.I think the Vietnam war is a case where just what Mr. Horowitz says has never happened actually happened. The Democratic party controlled Congress when the Gulf of Tonkin resolution was passed giving the President broad based authority to conduct the war in Vietnam, yet Johnson was so politically damaged by his conduct of the war that he didn't seek reelection in 68. Regardless... I would also argue that never in American history has an administration based the call to war so completely on falsehoods. The Gulf of Tonkin resolution was a false pretext to allow the Vietnam war, but it was understood by all parties going in that Vietnam was a side show in the cold war. The overall context of the war in Iraq going in was that Saddam represented an immediate threat, and it turns out this context was drawn from misinformation and exaggeration. So once the truth of the matter comes to light, of course you can expect to see major disaffection with the policy that led us to this war. And it is not just the Democrats jumping ship. There are many Congressional Republicans publicly expressing views not supported by the White House. Furthermore to say that only one political party has defected is to ignore the fact that actually a strong majority of the American public have defected as well.
HOROWITZ:...the president has been the target of relentless attacks, the most vicious attacks in my memory, that is in my whole lifetime. I have never seen a president...I think the ending of my previous post deals with this issue well enough so read that, and I'll leave it alone for the time being.
CARLSON: And most of them are stupid, I think.
HOROWITZ: ... I have ever seen a president attacked like this.
Thursday, October 20, 2005
Fitzgerald Fishing or Carlson Confusion?
There isn't a transcript on MSNBC right now so I'm flying from the seat of my pants. Basically his take on the Special Counsels investigation into the Plame outing is that should Mr. Fitzgerald bring indictments based upon White House officials lying to investigators or committing perjury before the grand jury, that this would be a terrible miscarriage of justice. His reasoning is that these charges would not have anything to do with the original issue under investigation, and thus constitute a veritable fishing expedition by Fitzgerald.
Mr. Carlson can not be so naive as to actually believe this, so I must chalk it up to him being disingenuous or blindly defending the White House in the name of partisanship. And repeatedly pointing to the fact that you don't support the war in Iraq doesn't mean you are then able to blithely ignore certain truths about the people who brought us this war and say you are somehow being balanced on the issue Mr. Carlson. But let us dissect the whole 'bringing charges on obstruction of justice or perjury is a fishing expedition' line of thinking.
The special counsel is charged with finding the facts of the Valerie Plame case and if necessary to bring any criminally culpable players to justice. Part of the investigation involves interviewing the various players in the case, both by the FBI and the grand jury. It would indeed be a novel legality that would allow a player in the investigation to obstruct justice or commit perjury without being charged for hindering the special counsel. Only in the wingnut world of Carlson would someone be castigated for prosecuting what is an obvious crime! And Mr. Carlson is just outraged by this supposedly self evident truth which he alone seems to understand. Fishing expedition? Try running an investigation into real estate dealings in Arkansas into a tell all report on the Presidents sex life!
And then Carlson brings that right wing freakazoid David Horroritz [sic :P] onto the show who is in full emotional breakdown because the ebil democrats are attacking Dear Leader. David actually says that he has never seen a President attacked so viciously! HELLO?!? I believe it was YOUR crowd that swung this nation into a full fledged constitutional crisis and really tried a right wing congressional coup over a stained blue dress! Vicious attacks? Lets just take a look at some words from Conservative Wondergirl Anne Coulter:
"If you don't hate Clinton and the people who labored to keep him in office, you don't love your country."And believe me... I could pull up 50 other such outrageous quotes in less than 10 minutes by simply searching Google with the words "Clinton" and "(insert conservative hatemonger here)" And now Bush is being attacked... Well BOO HOO!!
Basically a pretty popular blogger from India named Sabnis had the temerity to post a bit of an expose on this institute. The institute then gets all high and mighty and demanded Sabnis delete the offending post, or they will huff and puff and blow his house down. The institute then contacted Sabnis' employer, (IBM) and demanded they fix the problem or they will have their students burn all their IBM laptops on campus in front of the IBM building. Sabnis then resigned to not cause IBM a difficulty.
Sabnis told his story to fellow blogger Amit Varma. He said he was taking a stand on principle and if he didn't do the right thing he couldn't live with himself. She posts and whammo! The story takes off and suddenly almost every blog in India is not just posting about the politics of it all, they are investigating IIPM! And they are finding some real good stuff on them too. Made up diplomas for the Dean of the school, false offices in Toronto... that kind of thing. IIPM has been the number one hit on Technocrati (a search engine that finds stuff on blogs) for over a week now. So what I'm doing now by posting this, besides just telling what I think is a cool story, is hopefully bumping up the meter on the IIPM hits with Technocrati a particle.
I think IIPM should recognize what a blunder they have made of this and apologize, whilst interceding on behalf of Sabnis to get his job back. Until then, good luck to all you investigative bloggers in India bringing up the juicy stuff on IIPM.
And if perchance you run a blog yourself, be a trooper and make a post with IIPM in the title...
Wednesday, August 31, much of New Orleans is under water. A FEMA official inside the Superdome sends an urgent Blackberry message to his boss, director Michael Brown. Marty Bahamonde, said to be Brown's eyes and ears within the city, writes, "The situation is past critical. Hotels are kicking people out. Thousands gathering in the streets with no food or water. Estimates are many will die within hours."This Browny character is still employed at FEMA in case you didn't know. He, strangely enough, is actually the guy tagged to investigate the response to Katrina by FEMA. Even if the apologists fall back on an argument to the effect of, 'this is just his secretary, it doesn't reflect how Brown was actually feeling', wouldn't it make sense for Browns gatekeeper to understand the importance of having Browns eyes and ears on the ground in New Orleans having fast access to Brown? It is really appalling that Brown still draws a government paycheck, and the position he currently occupies is truly a farce.
Bahamonde tells Senate investigators he doesn't remember getting a response to that e-mail but later was forwarded this one. Brown's press secretary fretting about Brown's dining plans for that evening. "It is very important that time is allowed for Mr. Brown to eat dinner," she writes. "Given that Baton Rouge is back to normal, restaurants are getting busy. He needs much more than 20 or 30 minutes."
Wednesday, October 19, 2005
Uh... yeah... Uh... hmmm....
The talk goes for over an hour and a half so grab some popcorn. But it is just simply a must see in my humble opinion. Believe me, this guy is not some bleeding heart liberal. He says some things I don't agree with, but his overall message is simply spot on.
"He [President Bush] made his displeasure known to Karl," a presidential counselor told The News. "He made his life miserable about this." ...President Bush was questioned by prosecutors regarding the Plame outing for over an hour in the Oval Office on June 24, 2004. The President was not under oath, or the title to this post would have questioned if President Bush also committed perjury. If it is true that the President knew that Rove or anyone else was involved with this leak, and did not inform the prosecutors of this, how would this not fit the definition of obstruction of justice?
...sources confirmed, however, that Bush was initially furious with Rove in 2003 when his deputy chief of staff conceded he had talked to the press about the Plame leak.
The question then is, did the President know who the leakers were? And did he tell this to the prosecutors. Is there anyone who really thinks he would tell the truth in this interview if he did know who leaked? If so... I have a bridge I'd like to sell you.
Tuesday, October 18, 2005
Righty world: If you don't say the righty things you don't say anything at all...
The 1st link details the fate of a Congressionally mandated report on the effects of offshore outsourcing on the economy. This report was requested by Congress in December of 2003 with release to be made in June of 2004. When the report was issued in July of 2004 its release to the public was delayed by the White House and the Republican controlled Congress until the 2004 election had passed. The report was created by analysts from the Technology Administration, but that report went under the knives of political appointees from the Commerce Department and White House. What emerged was unrecognizable from the original report and contained none of the research by the Technology Administrations analysts. Of course, as you may be less than shocked to learn the report was rather vague in its findings as to the impact of outsourcing. But lo and behold, 2 researchers who contributed to the original report now are talking about what they actually found... and guess what? There's a lot more detail than what the gussied up report that saw the light of day actually shows. Surprise surprise, it is now proven that political appointees censored the real report from the analysts, to cast a more favorable light on the issue from the administrations perspective. They didn't even bother to critique the original report, which is sort of unusual according to people who write these types of documents. I think this would sort of be like the editor of Gone With the Wind, editing that classic film in such a way as to make a 1/2 hour sitcom, and just not being able to get back to the producers about what happened to the original creation.
The 2nd link takes you to a story about the Armed Forces Radio Network and their reconsideration of allowing a liberal perspective to take to their airwaves. Rush Limbaugh currently enjoys airplay on Armed Forces Radio. Should there not be equal time for the other perspective? I mean our tax dollars fund this network. Do only conservative citizens taxes pay for this I wonder? In case you're wondering, Ed Shultz is a meat eating, gun toting, SUV driving lefty. He sort of reminds me of... well me! Cept I'm driving a little red Toyota. The point here though is he isn't some radical bomb thrower liberal eco terrorist type. He supports the troops at every turn and I'm sure this made him appealing when consideration by the Armed Forces turned to a possible Rush counter. But wait a minute here. It seems that Mr. Schultz saw that laughable "give and take" by the President with the troops in Tikrit the other day and spent just a bit too much time lambasting Allison Barber. She is a bigshot communications aide at the Pentagon who was shown on the satellite feed prior to the Bush/troop laugh-a-thon coaching our service men on what questions would be asked and what answers should be given. Guess who is the one who actually called the Schultz people on the morning the program was to debut to inform them their time slot on Armed Forces Radio was not available? It is such an obvious answer I won't even insult your intelligence by saying her name. **coughallisonbarbercough**
These are such blatant attempts by the administration to pretend that those people they don't agree with don't deserve to be heard. Whether it is a report they don't like or a radio talk show host who doesn't tow the line the answer is the same. Just do what it takes to make them go away. I guess we can just thank our lucky stars that the Administration hasn't yet dared to yank the broadcast license of stations that air liberal talk... but one can't help but wonder just how tempting that must be for this crowd.
Monday, October 17, 2005
Secretary Rice tries another Iraq war rationale...
I'm quite certain, Tim, that when the American people see every day what they see on their screens, which is violence and, of course, the deaths of Americans and coalition forces, it's very difficult to take. We mourn every sacrifice. But the fact of the matter is that when we were attacked on September 11, we had a choice to make. We could decide that the proximate cause was al-Qaeda and the people who flew those planes into buildings and, therefore, we would go after al-Qaeda and perhaps after the Taliban and then our work would be done and we would try to defend ourselves.This is just about the closest I can think of any administration official justifying the Iraq war because of 9/11, while admitting Iraq had nothing to do with it. And to be honest Secretary Rice makes an admirable attempt to connect the dots here. But the fallacy of her reasoning should be apparent to anybody who cares to look at the issue beyond the sloganeering being generated by this administration, which is a disappointment because the answer by Secretary Rice appears to be an attempt to go beyond these pat answer talking points and intelligently address the issue.
Or we could take a bolder approach, which was to say that we had to go after the root causes of the kind of terrorism that was produced there, and that meant a different kind of Middle East. And there is no one who could have imagined a different kind of Middle East with Saddam Hussein still in power. I know it's difficult, but we have ahead of us the prospect, and I think the very good prospect of a foundation for a democratic and prosperous Iraq that can solve its differences by politics and compromise, that becomes an anchor for a Middle East that is changing.
First, when Secretary Rice says, "when we were attacked on September 11, we had a choice to make. We could decide that the proximate cause was al-Qaeda and the people who flew those planes into buildings and, therefore, we would go after al-Qaeda and perhaps after the Taliban and then our work would be done and we would try to defend ourselves...", she proposes an either/or solution. Either we tackle the broader issue of democracy in the middle east immediately, or we just take care of the Afghan issue and then defend ourselves. What's wrong with taking care of the Afghan issue first, then broadening our goals? It now seems we are engaged in the course of taking care of neither problem, by not finishing the Afghan mission and making a horrible botchery of the Iraqi democratization campaign. Furthermore, our handling of the Iraqi issue has not resulted in the weakening of the terrorist cause but is a source of recruitment and training for them. Therefore the Iraq invasion has resulted in exactly the opposite outcome Secretary Rice argues is our goal.
Also... who is the we Secretary Rice refers to here? If our (the administrations) argument for going to war was to democratize the middle east as part of a long term goal to fight terrorism, they should have made that case prior to launching the invasion. By making our (the administrations) case originally that war was justified based on WMD's and then shifting the argument continuously, we (the administration) have weakened the argument of Secretary Rice. If the Iraqi democratization case had been made up front, and we (the people) had approved the plan and proceeded under those conditions then we (the people) certainly would have been better prepared for a protracted engagement. To throw us into a conflict against our sworn enemy in a way that is guaranteed to generate controversy (read lying) is to set us up for internal conflict and acrimony that can only weaken the effort as we proceed. This applies in the international arena as well. The nature of the war on terror is such that international support is indispensable in the struggle. To blithely toss that away with you're either with us or against us, when we in fact are wrong in our course of action is foolhardy.
Onto the most glaring deficiency in the argument of Secretary Rice. It is just common sense to deal with the leadership of the movement that struck us on 9/11 as the first step in the war on terror. It sends a signal that we are irresolute in our cause when we allow Osama to escape the noose around Tora Bora, and then shift our goals before he is dealt with. This war is truly the greatest strategic blunder in American history. To promote such a disastrous policy, before the actual perps of 9/11 are brought to justice no less, is simply mind boggling and I can't imagine the justification that can be made for this. The equivalent would be to bomb Japan in response to Pearl Harbor, then to invade Chiang Kai-shek controlled China in an effort to set of a wave of democratization in Asia in response to Japanese tyranny. If President Roosevelt had felt the need to set up an office of disinformation and lead a propaganda blitz to lead us down that road, he may have been able to get the political muscle to go there. But history would have shown it was a tremendous blunder, as is the invasion of Iraq in relation to the war on terror.
Lets face it. This flowering of democracy argument is from the pre war on terror planning script of the neocons. The notion was that we would be welcomed as heroes, the military conflict would last for several weeks tops, Iraqi oil would pay for the entire operation, and once the rest of the mid east saw the shining example of their Iraqi brethren the desire of the people for democracy would sweep the region. American military might would be proven and our status of lone world super power would be cemented for decades to come. The need for international support was actually to be discounted to show that we could, in effect, do as we wish in furtherance of our declared interests. Things have not quite panned out as the neo con map had predicted. In the process of the real world debunking of the neo con Iraqi myth we have dealt a grievous blow to our cause in the war on terror. I wonder if Secretary Rice has any notion about how "we" can get ourselves out of this one.
Saturday, October 15, 2005
The test of wills.
It means that this administration chose to engage in a test of wills with our enemies in such a way as to nearly guarantee a defeat for America. It seems to me that you should engage in the test of wills with your mortal enemy in such a way as the entire nation agrees that is where and how the test should occur. Thus the true test of wills in the war on terror prior to the invasion of Iraq was occuring in Afghanistan. And it should still be. To shift the test of wills in a way that is certain to generate controversy on the homefront, and do so in a theater that had nothing to do with our enemies in the 1st place, is just asinine. Furthermore to lie yourself into this predictament, and then completely botch the aftermath of your immediate military victory while carrying on a test of wills with your mortal enemy strengthens your enemy. The more you look at this situation, the clearer it becomes that this administration truly might as well be the Washington D.C. branch of Al Queda. They have managed to turn the aftermath of 9/11, a sacred day in world history and a clarion call to the world to stand against Islamo extremism, into the side of Freedom and progress fighting a needless war based on lies and losing nearly unanimous international support in the process. Nicely done George. Osama must be proud.
Friday, October 14, 2005
The October 11, 2005 order issued by NPS Director Fran Mainella requires that the selection criteria for all civil service management slots (Government Service grades or GS-13, 14 and 15) include the "ability to lead employees in achieving the...Secretary's 4Cs and the President's Management Agenda." In addition, candidates must be screened by Park Service headquarters and "the Assistant Secretary [of Interior] for Fish, and Wildlife, and Parks," the number three political appointee in the agency.
The 4Cs mentioned in this quote are from a slogan used by Interior Secretary Gale Norton: communication, consultation, cooperation, all in the service of conservation.
Wow... you now have to support President Bush's goals if you want to be a park ranger. Could you have imagined this six years ago? So if you don't like having increased mercury levels or clear cutting of old growth forests etc..., that would disqualify you from ever breaking through the ideological ceiling at the Park Service. This really is outrageous. And furthermore these characters want their park rangers "leading employees" in achieving the Presidents goals? This must be a joke right? I mean what if Park Ranger Bob finds out his subordinate Jr. Ranger has voted for a Democrat? Is it off to the education camp for Jr.?
I declare this to be today's piece of news that casts the administration in an even more embarrassing light than the previous days news. And every day you have to wonder, how can they make it worse tomorrow?
The greater issue is control of information. If anything good comes out of the Iraq war, it has to be a realization that bad things can happen to good people when the administration -- any administration -- is in sole control of knowledge and those who know the truth are afraid to speak up. This -- this creepy silence -- will be the consequence of dusting off rarely used statutes to still the tongues of leakers and intimidate the press in its pursuit of truth, fame and choice restaurant tables.
All restaurant table snarkiness aside, the problem with this statement is that this "leak" was hardly an attempt by administration sources to enlighten the public about some important fact that without the benefit of the leak would have been covered up. Let there be no doubt, if Valerie Plame had not been an undercover agent with the CIA, the attack on Wilson would have been a very public affair. They had to 'leak' this because of Plames status. So the question then is did this leak somehow enlighten the public in such a way that otherwise would not have occurred without the leak? Lets examine this issue.
The leakers are purporting that Joe Wilsons affiliation with his wife demonstrates that his findings are clouded with the specter of nepotism, and this is what is important for the public to understand. For the time being, let us set aside the issue of whether or not Wilsons findings would be clouded in this way. The issue then is: was this fact finding trip to Niger by Wilson instigated by his wife, or by others in the CIA who approached Valerie Plame to approach her husband? Check out this article from the Washington Post for a bit of a primer on who said what to who in order to generate the mission to Niger by Wilson. What strikes me about this article is that all the so called proof that the trip is initiated by Plame are from Republican Congressional sources. Whereas the evidence supporting the Wilson/Plame side is from "the CIA", "intelligence officials" (so called in order to not out them I'm sure) and a cable to officials in Africa asking their consent to the choice of Wilson. If on the other hand the supposition is that the entire mission Wilson undertook was created by Plame, why is the office of the Vice President interested in finding the facts regarding the Niger charges as early as February 12th? Did Plame just happen to decide to employ her husband on the very same issue that Cheney had expressed an interest in prior to her involvement by pure happenstance? Highly doubtful.
Looking at this from the outside, I must say that recent revelations regarding the administrations decision making process as to who to appoint to various positions fits very nicely with the Wilson/Plame side of the issue. They found a Republican insider (a veritable diplomatic hero in Bush 1's Iraq war) whose wife was currently in administration employ, and probably thought it would be a good idea to pick him for the job. Unfortunately for them he actually went to find the facts and not tow the administration line.
So the leakers are supposedly letting the public know that the findings of Mr. Wilson may be inaccurate due to nepotism. What does not make sense with this supposition is that the CIA at the time was very interested in finding supporting evidence for administration claims about the supposed threat from Iraq. So if a CIA operative (Plame) were to somehow influence the outcome of the fact finding mission, would it not make sense for that outcome to favor the administrations conclusion which the CIA is trying to prove?
The obvious answer to this is simple. The leakers wanted to discredit Wilson, while sending a message to others who may not tow the line going forward. That message was: "We'll do what it takes to punish you, even if it means breaking the law". They knew they were breaking the law or they would have just attacked Wilson regarding his wife in public.
Thus when Cohen pontificates:
"If anything good comes out of the Iraq war, it has to be a realization that bad things can happen to good people when the administration -- any administration -- is in sole control of knowledge and those who know the truth are afraid to speak up. This -- this creepy silence -- will be the consequence of dusting off rarely used statutes to still the tongues of leakers and intimidate the press in its pursuit of truth,..."he is right, for the wrong reasons. When the information flow is so controlled that only one side is allowed to hold forth on the issue in question, and that side is allowed to use the flow of information to punish those who do not tow the line, this leads to what Cohen purports to wish not to happen. It was not the leakers who were afraid to speak up here. It was the administration figures who did not tow the party line who were silenced, and then punished when they spoke the truth. Those were the tongues silenced. Even to the point of ruining their family members careers. Those who know the truth are afraid to speak out Mr. Cohen not because of the investigation by Fitzgerald, but because of the actions of this administration that led to that investigation. As if the leakers had any care for what the truth actually is or seeing to it that the public understands the facts Mr. Cohen... you should really know better and I suspect you probably do.
Thursday, October 13, 2005
This administration is rapidly becoming a farce of a joke of a sitcom of an embarrasment... President Bush just cannot get it right! It is well past time to stop the stage managed photo-ops, stop the pre-screening of the public you interact with, stop the lying, stop governing like you won a landslide, stop thinking if you repeat it enough it will come true, just STOP IT!
I dont doubt that nine out of ten times, President could pick any ten soldiers out of a random company in Iraq and just get bombarded with praise and adoration. But the prospect of having some liberal non-com (they do exist) pop off with a tough question must have just terrified the Bushovichs as they contemplated this photo-op. So they had to go and stage the event... and just come off looking like bufoons in doing so. I didn't think they could look any worse than they already do, but everyday brings about some new embarrasment. I wonder what it will be tomorrow?
McCLELLAN: Well, Helen, the President recognizes that we are engaged in a global war on terrorism. And when you're engaged in a war, it's not always pleasant, and it's certainly a last resort. But when you engage in a war, you take the fight to the enemy, you go on the offense. And that's exactly what we are doing. We are fighting them there so that we don't have to fight them here. September 11th taught us --
THOMAS It has nothing to do with -- Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11.
McCLELLAN: Well, you have a very different view of the war on terrorism, and I'm sure you're opposed to the broader war on terrorism.
You go girl! If being honest about the situation means you are against the broader war on terrorism I guess that makes about 60% of the American public who want either a plan for, or immediate withdrawal from Iraq, a bunch of Islamo-extremist sympathizers. Clearly this course of action is not a part of the administrations plan in the war on terror. If simply stating the obvious truth means you don't support the war on terror, what does that truly say about our cause. To me it says we are being led by people who must rely on the public being misinformed in order to further their agenda.
Iraq was and is one of the worst blunders in warfare in human history. To attack a country that has no bearing in the struggle you are involved with and allow that unrelated conflict to become front and center in your effort to win the original war is just asinine. I feel certain of this one fact. History will judge this war as a failed and disastrous blunder by this administration. They are handing OUR mortal enemies a military victory, strengthening their ranks and fortifying their original prejudices by acting in this manner. We MUST win the war on terror, and the Iraqi debacle has been a devastating blow to our cause. A defeat not given us by the hand Al Queda, but a victory handed them by this administration. And those who think this are against the war on terror I ask? In my way of thinking, it is you Scott McClellan and your overseers who have harmed this cause, not the Helen Thomas' of the world.
Wednesday, October 12, 2005
WHIG: White House Iraq Group or When Honesty is Ignored by George.
Definitely a political problem but I wonder, George Will, do you think itÂs a manageable one for the White House especially if we donÂt know whether Fitzgerald is going to write a report or have indictments but if he is able to show as a source close to this told me this week, that President Bush and Vice President Cheney were actually involved in some of these discussions.
What he may be hearing on background is that special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald has determined that the White House Iraq Group was behind the outing of CIA undercover operative Valerie Plame. This could actually lead to a far broader investigation of the role the White House Iraq Group played in the leadup to the Iraq invasion.
This group was set up in August of 2002 for the express purpose of "educating the public" about the supposed danger posed by Iraq in the leadup to the invasion. The problem with this mission quite simply was that the facts did not support the perception of Iraq as being a deadly threat that the administration desperately needed the American public to hold in order to gain Congressional support for the invasion. The solution to this problem was to simply lie about the evidence. And when the evidence the administration lied about to support their claims was partially refuted by Joe Wilson, the response was to out his wife. This was the 1st time the administration stepped over the legal line in such a public way in handling Iraq propaganda, and this action leads to the introduction of the special counsel. So the question now is, what if in the course of investigating the Plame outing the special counsel uncovers a conspiracy by the administration to knowingly lie to the American people and Congress in order to lead the U.S. into war?
There is evidence that Fitzgerald focused on the role played by the Iraq group early in the investigation. And if the past is any guide we know that what may appear to be a straight-forward investigation when the special counsel is appointed may morph into a far reaching examination of many aspects of wrongdoing not known to have occurred when the investigation commenced. Ken Starr originally was appointed to investigate Whitewater. The Nixon presidency was brought down by an investigation and resulting coverup of a third rate burglary. It will be very interesting to see how this all comes out in the wash. What we do know now is it is apparent that the White House set up an office for the express intent of misleading us into an unnecessary war. Which makes this administration a weapon of mass deception.
Tuesday, October 11, 2005
Repost: Scott McClellan interviews Baghdad Bob!
The setting: A morose B.B. sits naked on a chair, wires attached to his testicles. The only light in the room is a giant spotlight trained full in the face of B.B. He faces a huge wooden desk but cant see who may be behind it due to the blinding light. The blasting Charley Daniels music is suddenly cut off, as a shadowy figure stands up from behind the desk and leans forward. Upon hearing the voice for the 1st time a slight look of understanding passes over B.B.'s face. His interrogator this time is the replacement of his former counterpart from Washington when B.B. was spinning his own reality. He will now answer the questions posed by Scott McClellan.
Q: Do you remember the press briefings you gave during the invasion of Iraq?
A: Yes, quite clearly.
Q: *slightly tense voice from Scott* I want to know how you managed to keep a shred of your self respect when you were denying obvious truths evident to any person over the age of two?
A: Well when the big guy tells you to say what-not you just say it... AAAAAAUUUUGGGGHHHHH!!!!
McClellan waved off the reservist holding the crank and felt sorry for B.B. as a wisp of smoke rose over the chair. He took the crank and placed it on the desk. He somehow understood what must be Bobs sense of hopelessness as he faced a questioner who already knew the answers, and he felt compassion for Bob. Besides, these flunkies with the cranks were notoriously quick with a turn of the wrist... Bob really hadn't even said anything untruthful with that last answer actually!
Q: I'm sorry about that Bob... Now when you say the big guy you mean...?
A: You know... the great leader. The one who knows all. The great teller of truth. He who cannot be wrong. The fount of wisdon, the purvey...
McClellan was wrestling the reservist away from the desk... so he missed the remainder of the answer. He decided to dismiss the flunky and then continued the questioning.
Q: Remember the day you insisted Baghdad was not under attack, and then you took the press on a tour and there were American tanks rolling through the streets? How could you possibly continue to justify that response?
A: Well if you recall, that matter was still under investigation by the republican guard.
Scott could tell there was no getting through to Bob with the use of reason alone. He decided to try another tack.
Q: When Saddams sons in laws and daughters fled to Jordan in fear of their lives were you aware that they were high level operatives in your countries weapons programs?
A: Well the daughters were in Iraqs Who's Who in Government book so they weren't actually what you would call operatives. Further the sons were placed in that position only because some relative of theirs suggested they were good for that job so they were discredited for that reason alone.
Scott sighed and called for the flunky again... he could not bring himself to be the one who twisted that handle but it was just so freaking difficult talking to this moron! In some small way though, Scott felt he had seen the enemy, and it was him...
Monday, October 10, 2005
News from Oregon...
On Dr. assisted suicide. I find is very interesting that those who are so vehemently opposed to this state law are the same ones who so publicly wail and gnash their teeth on the issue of states rights. Yet it is the "conservative" side of this argument who insists that federal drug laws do not allow for the use of a the drugs necessary to allow a dignified death in this way. Let us be clear here. To assert that Doctors who wish to see terminally ill patients are given this alternative are breaking the laws intended to govern the use of narcotics, is to argue that idealology ought to take the place of medical service. The federal drug laws are intended to stop the recreational use and/or for profit sale, and to insure Doctors prescribing the drugs do so safely. If the federal government were to wish to outlaw assisted suicide, Congress ought to pass a law banning the practice. I doubt they would however, because most people who aren't religiously motivated to be "pro life" understand that this issue is one they wish, if they could, to have reserved for their own judgment.
I also believe if a person is certain to die you reach a gray area where it may not even be considered suicide in the classic sense of the word. If for example you were trapped in a burning structure and had vainly attempted every recourse for escape, would you actually be committing suicide by throwing yourself out the window to your death? Are there those amongst us who believe the people who faced this awful choice in the twin towers on 09/11 and jumped are guilty of suicide as the term is applied in society? To say they were suicidal as commonly understood is a cold and heartless examination of the facts as they are presented at the time. I suppose using the arguments of the fundamentalist, a miracle may have saved those victims. By making that choice they did not grasp to the last straw of life and allow every avenue of salvation from their doom to come to fruition. Yet again the fact remains that most clear thinking people see the stark choice given these victims of 09/11, and would not gainsay their decision. Say a Doctor had been present at that moment. Would they have been guilty of assisting the suicide if they had thrown a chair through the window to allow the victim to jump? What then is the difference between that awful choice, and the choice of the cancer victim, wracked by excuciating pain and unable to control their body in the final days? The length of time of the suffering of the victim? It actually seems a worser case to have your death extended in the case of the cancer victim than to be consumed in the flames until your death, which would be but several minutes of excruciating pain compared to the days of pain of the cancer victim. So let the states have this right and stop being so hypocritical about this states rights business unless it doesn't fit your religious principles.
Onto the case of Mr. Louis Brees. It seems there are 3 cases under investigation in which Mr. Brees is accused of molesting family members. 2 of these cases are so old that they have passed the statute of limitations for the offense. The 3rd however may fall within the statute guidelines. This case involves the molestation of a family member while she was in elementary school. The story can be read here.
My belief is that there is a particularly awful spot waiting in hell for those who publicly proclaim their righteousness, and insist that all those about them must believe as they do or be condemned as sinners, and then turn out to have this type of conduct in their private lives. In the interest of fairness however, until an indictment is actually handed down on this fellow I will forego the characteristic chest pounding that is currently the rage with other blogs of my persuasion. I do think however... they probably have a point.
The previous post where-in I discuss the need of the Whitehouse to start governing based upon the facts as they are and not the facts as President Bush wishes them to be is very much in evidence here. Lets look at a couple of examples.
The President on Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers:
I know her well enough to be able to say that she's not going to change, that 20 years from now she'll be the same person with the same philosophy that she is today. She'll have more experience, she'll have been a judge, but, nevertheless, her philosophy won't change.
Unless the President has suddenly gained psychic powers, this assertion simply doesn't stand the laugh test. How can anyone KNOW that another person will have the same philosophy they currently hold in 20 years? You can't even know that about yourself. And it appears that based on Miers past, she actually is prone to philosophical changes. Approximately a decade ago Miers converted from Catholicism and the Democratic party to a Protestant Republican. How does the President really know that in another decade she won't convert to Islam and become a Green? The answer obviously is he can't know what he claims he does because he's not omniscient. The honest answer here would have been "Ms. Miers may not be the most qualified candidate, but she's got my back so I've got hers".
The President on Iraq:
Q Mr. President, thank you, sir. A couple of weeks ago, you stood here in the Rose Garden with Generals Abizaid and Casey, and you cited the accomplishments regarding the standing up of Iraqi troops there; you said that there were 12 battalions that were working out of Fallujah and the western part, 20 in Baghdad, 100 across the nation. And then that afternoon, Abizaid and Casey went up to Capitol Hill, and said, well, there's one battle-ready battalion, which led some Republican senators to say, well, the situation is getting worse. So the question is, sir, it appears between what you said and what they said, something is not adding up here.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, what is happening in Iraq is the following: More and more Iraqis are able to take the fight to the enemy. And that's important to achieve our goal. And the goal is for a stable, democratic Iraq that is an ally in the war on terror.
Right now there are over 80 army battalions fighting alongside coalition troops. Over 30 Iraqi -- I say, army battalions -- Iraqi army battalions. There are over 30 Iraqi battalions in the lead. And that is substantial progress from the way the world was a year ago.
Huh? The point of this question was how many Iraqis can actually fight without U.S. support. Clearly this number has decreased rather than increased. More and more Iraqis are able to take the fight to the enemy? Sure... as long as they're being driven there in American Bradleys and Humvees and have American servicemen there to hold their hands. I have no doubt that for the foreseeable future Iraqi units will be able to fight alongside Coalition forces. The President has repeatedly said "as the Iraqi's stand up, we will stand down". But if the only way they can stand up is for us to keep propping them up, everybody is left standing around not quite knowing when we will stand down. It is clear that the testimony of Generals Abizaid and Casey hardly supports the rosy outlook that President Bush is operating under. They detail a weakening of independently capable Iraqi units and that's that. All the fluff the President falls back on in public really is just numbers babble and an intended smoke cloud to obfuscate the true state of affairs. Thank goodness the Generals were under oath before Congress. It really is refreshing to get the true answers every now and then... I can only imagine the hilarity if President Bush were ever forced to tell the truth. The honest answer here would be "the ability of the Iraqi army to independently operate has been a disappointment. But frankly we are afraid to give them the equipment and training they really need because we just don't know how this is all going to wash out and we don't want to wind up arming the Teheran wing of the Shiite Army of the Islamic Republic of Iraq. So we're holding our cards close to the vest for the time being".
The President on Social Security reform:
Well, Social Security, for me, is never off; it's a long-term problem that's going to need to be addressed. When the appetite to address it is -- that's going to be up to the members of Congress. I just want to remind people, it's not going away... And I did make some progress convincing the American people there was a problem. And I'm going to continue talking about the problem
Erm... Mr President. Do you not see the inherent contradiction in this response? Social Security is not off the table for the President, it's just a matter of Congressional appetite to tackle the issue. Hello?! It's off the table Mr. President, precisely because your drive early this year to make it an issue was a flop. The Republican leadership in Congress has already said it's over . So in order to get it back on the table is going to take a pretty significant push by the Whitehouse, but evidently this wont be happening anytime soon because the President just said it's now up to the Congress to move. I mean if something is a huge issue to the President, does it make sense to then fall back to the position that it will take Congressional appetite to move the issue when the Congressional appetite clearly is not there? The honest answer here would have been: "The American people clearly are not prepared for a significant change to the Social Security system so we are putting this issue to bed".
The President on his response to Hurricane Katrina:
Q: Is there anything that you, yourself, personally, could have done, or would have done differently now?
THE PRESIDENT: You know, look, as I said the other day, to the extent that the federal government fell down on the job, I take responsibility. And I command a large, vast administration, and people I put in place, I take responsibility for the decisions they made. One area where I hope the country takes a look at is the responsibility between federal, state and local government when it comes to catastrophic events, highly-catastrophic events. In other words, is there a need to move federal assets more quickly, in spite of laws on the books that may discourage that. That's an area where I think we ought to take a good, hard look.
We have taken a look at FEMA. We've made decisions inside of FEMA. We're continuing to take a look at FEMA, to make sure FEMA is capable of dealing with an emergency of this size. And so there's a lot of analysis going on, not only to the response in the immediacy of the hurricane, but continuing to analyze, to make sure our response is a wise response.
Q But you, yourself, sir, anything you could have done?
THE PRESIDENT: I'll take responsibility -- I'll take all the responsibility for the failures at the federal level.
The question here is not so much "what do you think of the federal response to the disaster", as it is "what do you think of YOUR response to the disaster". As usual President Bush gives a long drawn out non-answer. Then when he is dragged back to the topic he takes responsibility for the federal response. There is nothing about what he could have done at the time. I'll take responsibility? How about caring enough about what happened to have an independent investigation of the matter. How about not appointing the man who oversaw this disaster of a disaster response to internally investigate the response? The honest answer here is "Yeah... Maybe I shouldn't have eaten cake with John McCain, and then the next day strummed a guitar after Katrina hit. I mean golly... To actually be seen as Marie Antoinette AND Nero while this was happening was truly a p.r. disaster. Where was Rove when that happened? Oh right... boning up for his grand jury appearance... Next question!!"
Honest answers sure can be enlightening, but don't expect them from this President.
P.S. This post was posted a few days ago and somehow I stuck it into my draft posts... So it is a bit out of context in the progression of the blog but oh well.
Friday, October 07, 2005
Time for some facts!
How did this precipitous drop in approval happen? I contend that the governing style of this administration is finally catching up with them. 09/11 was a great unifier of America and the President enjoyed nearly unanimous (96%) approval immediately following that tragedy. The president chose to spend a good deal of this political capital by going to war in Iraq. This war, if handled in a competent manner, certainly would not have proven to be the drag on his approval that it has now turned into. In this sense, contrary to his promise in the 2000 election to be a uniter not a divider, inflammatory as this may sound, it is Osama Bin Laden who was the uniter, and George Bush the divider.
So what is it in the governing style of the President that is so demonstrated by his conduct of the Iraq war? The answer my friend is that his governance is not based upon what the facts are, but rather what the President WISHES the facts to be.
This has been evident throughout the Presidents term in office and is now coming home to roost. The President may know in his soul of souls that we will be greeted as liberators, that the proceeds of Iraqi oil will pay for our efforts to remove Sadaam, the entire Arab world will flower with democracy while the Islamo extremists amongst them see the light and vote with the ballot rather than the bomb and the Arab would lie in peaceful meadows with the Jew as a result of the Iraqi invasion. But the FACTS simply never supported this Utopian view of things. Much the same as the Presidents certain knowledge that his reason for the invasion in the first place (WMD's) would be found was in fact based on faith, when the true state of affairs became apparent, this was the cause of some embarrassment to the likes of Collin Powell.
And it is not simply the conduct of the Iraq war that brings this phenomena to the fore. The entire approach to governance by this administration is replete with examples of this non-fact based style. A glowing example of this are the recent -resignations of two FDA officials in protest of continued delay of allowing the plan B contraceptive for sale over the counter. The scientific facts support allowing this contraceptive to be sold, yet the FDA refuses to do so on political grounds alone. This administration has all but declared total war on science. I mean it really is uncomfortable when the facts as you wish them to be are contravened by established science. Take for example the administration approach to mercury emissions . In the same vein how about the Orwellian name given the Clear Skies Initiative which actually weakened laws protecting air quality when it passed, and the Healthy Forests Initiative which under the guise of forest fire control reduced environmental protections on our national forests. So what we have here is an administration who will not approach the facts, but attempts to make the facts in the image they wish them to appear as. My contention is that as the true state of affairs becomes apparent as has happened with Iraq and sundry other issues confronting this administration both internationally and on the home front, the non koolaid drinking public begin to turn away from this style of governance. So... what may be done to turn this around if you are President Bush?
The answer is quite simple really, and also something that President Bush will never bring himself to do. He must put aside the ideological millstone that has brought him to this sorry pass and begin to govern based with facts as the guiding principle. I propose he could really signal a shift in his governing style by tackling global warming. It clearly is accepted by the vast majority of the scientific community that this issue is being worsened due to human activities and that this warming will have extremely serious consequences on our way of life. Let the President signal a change in his way of thinking by proposing initiatives to slow this trend. If he were to do so would this not signal the public that the days of dogmatic adherence to ideology as a guide for governance have reached a conclusion?
Of course I don't believe that this one shift would bring back the poll numbers in one fell swoop. The shift signified by this would have to reach to all areas of the administration. Would is not be refreshing to hear the President tell us the truth about Iraq? About the Middle East in general. So a conversion in just one area would not be enough to change the malaise currently being suffered by the administration, but a change to the entire outlook would be met with welcome relief, by both the public, and consequently the administration as well.
Do I think thee could actually happen? Of course not. For this to occur would involve yet another action that President Bush cannot bring himself to do. To admit that he is wrong. By this I mean that by changing his style he would implicitly be admitting that his governing to this point has not been correct and we simply KNOW he is incapable of this. But... Should he by some miracle decide to change in this manner, I would suggest he hurry up the process. Otherwise the midterm elections may force him to face some very uncomfortable facts which he won't be able to wish away. And I'm not sure that the TBOR laws being contemplated for various states will really help in this regard. What is TBOR you ask? That my friends will have to wait for another post!
Thursday, October 06, 2005
The President as Pope
Nabil Shaath (the Palestinian foreign Minister) says: "President Bush said to all of us: 'I'm driven with a mission from God. God would tell me, "George, go and fight those terrorists in Afghanistan." And I did, and then God would tell me, "George, go and end the tyranny in Iraq..." And I did. And now, again, I feel God's words coming to me, "Go get the Palestinians their state and get the Israelis their security, and get peace in the Middle East." And by God I'm gonna do it.'"
Way to go George! You've just reinforced the worst impression of Americans as religious crusaders widely held throughout the Muslim world. After this, unfortunately, they may actually have a point.
The notion that God commanded President Bush to get involved with the current situation we see in Iraq is just inconvievable. I don't doubt the President honestly believes this, but to me this simply points out the great danger of installing religious zealots into office. Doesn't it make sense that once God had held forth with the President that invading Iraq was a swell idea, that God would also guide him in the very simple matter of post war governance? Having heard the Lord, did President Bush ignore the guidance to, say for example, place guards on the ammunition dumps scattered about the countryside rather than just let them be looted by the populace? Or to send in troops that had proper body armor and up armored vehicles?
I think President Bush's God is a very vengeful God. He causes the deaths of hundred of thousands who would still be living based upon falsehoods. He ignores basic tenets that were taught by his son and our savior Jesus Christ. It is hard to imagine Jesus holding the position that "pre-emptive" (read unprovoked) war is justified. There is no doubt in my mind that were Jesus to run for President in these times the Republican machine would grind him into the dust, calling him weak on terrorism and twisting his words to make him sound like an unpatriotic criminal. I can see the attack ads now. A solemn, low toned and slightly breathless voice intones "Jesus was found guilty of sedition against his government... and now he wants to be President?"
The conduct of this administration has run counter to the teachings of their professed lord and savior at nearly every turn. To think that President Bush is out there proclaiming he is getting guidance from God is truly frightening. We can only pray that George doesn't wake up some night in a cold sweat with a revelation that God wants him to nuke Iran. Which country, by the way, is currently being run by a bunch of religious fanatics that also believe they have a direct line to God.
Which brings up another interesting point. Mankind throughout history has been plagued by leaders who war in the name of God. Surely not every war fought on religious grounds or with the supposed blessing of God has been justified. The fact is that Osama Bin Laden also claims a holy seal of approval. All this killing in the name of God, I believe, does not speak well of the various dogmas promulgating the suffering and death.
I will include a disclaimer in closing. Neither I nor you, nor George can truly understand God. We are just humans hopefully doing our best to get along in a way that would please him. Knowing this, I can not claim to understand his workings and manifestations. Based on this belief, my reaction to this article may be entirely baseless. I am after all not claiming to be under the guidance of God while I'm sitting at this keyboard and hoping this article will be included in the bible as inspired by God. But if my reading of the situation is right, God help us.
P.S. In fairness, Check this Whitehouse denial which was updated sometime after I 1st posted this.
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