Saturday, July 07, 2007

Longing for the Good Old Days

When kids knew their goddamned place.

It's all Mr. Rogers fault...or so says LSU (pronounced "Less-U") Finance Professor Don Chance, thus proving that stupidity is no barrier when it comes to tenure.

To be fair, Chance issued a retraction, but this is the second time this week I've been treated to idiocy from academia...fortunately, they don't speak for the profession as a whole, although I'm of course embarrassed that a prof from one of the two universities here in Red Stick has stepped in it big time.

What's particularly troubling is that neither Chance nor Thorson seem to have any problem with the delusional whining and moaning from wingnuttia in general and Team Bush in particular. In an astonishingly short amount of time, this adminstration has managed to kill or maim hundreds of thousands, loot the treasury, display epic ineptitude in dealing with natural and not-so-natural disasters, shamelessly gut our most important democratic institutions (and indeed, democracy itself, as they whined and tantrumed their way to sham victory in Florida and the Supreme Court). In other words, they've displayed an almost unbelievable sense of false entitlement while at the same time squandering resources at a level unmatched by the greediest of trust-fund babies...but I don't recall any Team Bush official making mention of Fred Rogers as an inspiration.

Oh, and even as Professor Chance complains about those darned kids disrupting his office hours (I wonder if he also wants them to "get the hell off his goddamned lawn"), he conveniently ignores the fact that college itself has become a luxury that fewer and fewer kids can afford...although there's surprisingly small complaint from these supposedly "coddled" children. Indeed, many of them opt for quite the sacrifice in hopes of eventually affording higher education: they join the military, and in doing so, literally place life and limb on the line, especially given Team Bush's arrogant insistence that our military is now basically a disposable institution.

I wonder of Professors Chance and Thorson have considered that academic institutions might also be something this administration considers "disposable." And it's not like either is particularly suited or qualified for the general labor force.

Friday, July 06, 2007

How to Welcome David Brooks to Your Neighborhood

Ok, so maybe it's better to just send a letter.
Bush & Cheney: About as Popular as a Couple of Sacks of Shit

Hey, sacks of shit can be useful...for fertilizer...or for pulling pranks on the neighbors.

Team Bush, on the other hand...

Your tax dollars in the grubby paws of Chimpy McShrub. Upwards of $1.4 TRILLION dollars, most of which will be doled out to the usual suspects.

And in the end, we'll have thousands of deaths, hundreds of thousands maimed, an Islamic Republic--or republics--in Iraq, the continued crumbling of United States infrastructure...and the loss of an entire region.

Some accomplishment.
Fantasy Sacrifice Island

July 6, 2007
Op-Ed Columnist
Sacrifice Is for Suckers
On this Fourth of July, President Bush compared the Iraq war to the Revolutionary War, and called for "more patience, more courage and more sacrifice." Unfortunately, it seems that nobody asked the obvious question: "What sacrifices have you and your friends made, Mr. President?"

On second thought, there would be no point in asking that question. In Mr. Bush’s world, only the little people make sacrifices.

You see, the Iraq war, although Mr. Bush insists that it’s part of a Global War on Terror™, a fight to the death between good and evil, isn’t like America’s other great wars -- wars in which the wealthy shared the financial burden through higher taxes and many members of the elite fought for their country.

This time around, Mr. Bush celebrated Mission Accomplished by cutting tax rates on dividends and capital gains, while handing out huge no-bid contracts to politically connected corporations. And in the four years since, as the insurgency Mr. Bush initially taunted with the cry of "Bring them on" has claimed the lives of thousands of Americans and left thousands more grievously wounded, the children of the elite -- especially the Republican elite -- have been conspicuously absent from the battlefield.

The Bushies, it seems, like starting fights, but they don’t believe in paying any of the cost of those fights or bearing any of the risks. Above all, they don’t believe that they or their friends should face any personal or professional penalties for trivial sins like distorting intelligence to get America into an unnecessary war, or totally botching that war’s execution.

The Web site Think Progress has a summary of what happened to the men behind the war after we didn’t find W.M.D., and weren’t welcomed as liberators: "The architects of war: Where are they now?" To read that summary is to be awed by the comprehensiveness and generosity of the neocon welfare system. Even Paul Wolfowitz, who managed the rare feat of messing up not one but two high-level jobs, has found refuge at the American Enterprise Institute.

Which brings us to the case of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby Jr.

The hysteria of the neocons over the prospect that Mr. Libby might actually do time for committing perjury was a sight to behold. In an opinion piece in The Wall Street Journal titled "Fallen Soldier," Fouad Ajami of Johns Hopkins University cited the soldier’s creed: "I will never leave a fallen comrade." He went on to declare that "Scooter Libby was a soldier in your -- our -- war in Iraq."

Ah, yes. Shuffling papers in an air-conditioned Washington office is exactly like putting your life on the line in Anbar or Baghdad. Spending 30 months in a minimum-security prison, with a comfortable think-tank job waiting at the other end, is exactly like having half your face or both your legs blown off by an I.E.D.

What lay behind the hysteria, of course, was the prospect that for the very first time one of the people who tricked America into war, then endangered national security yet again in the effort to cover their tracks, might pay some price. But Mr. Ajami needn’t have worried.

Back when the investigation into the leak of Valerie Plame Wilson’s identity began, Mr. Bush insisted that if anyone in his administration had violated the law, "that person will be taken care of." Now we know what he meant. Mr. Bush hasn’t challenged the verdict in the Libby case, and other people convicted of similar offenses have spent substantial periods of time in prison. But Mr. Libby goes free.

Oh, and don’t fret about the fact that Mr. Libby still had to pay a fine. Does anyone doubt that his friends will find a way to pick up the tab?

Mr. Bush says that Mr. Libby’s punishment remains "harsh" because his reputation is "forever damaged." Meanwhile, Mr. Bush employs, as a deputy national security adviser, none other than Elliott Abrams, who pleaded guilty to unlawfully withholding information from Congress in the Iran-contra affair. Mr. Abrams was one of six Iran-contra defendants pardoned by Mr. Bush’s father, who was himself a subject of the special prosecutor’s investigation of the scandal.

In other words, obstruction of justice when it gets too close to home is a family tradition. And being a loyal Bushie means never having to say you’re sorry.
At the Company Store

It's shaping up to be a busy morning. Looks like any posting today will be this afternoon...back then.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Putting the Nut in Wingnut

We're truly talking about some weird, sick, demented people. Hell, jail's almost too good for them.
Dick's Bitch

Dick-as-in-Nixon, that is, but world class chump Fred Thompson no doubt hearts him some Dick Cheney, too...though back in the day, it seems old Fred had no problem with sticking his fat, ugly thumb on the scales of justice.

I dunno--maybe that's just his version of "small town values." Or is it small mind values?
Heckuva Job Redux

Team Bush ponders the mystery of ice preservation.

Can this administration do anything right? Geez.

I saw a television report on the local news yesterday--ice purchased by FEMA almost two years ago never made it to the Gret Stet. Instead, it sat in a Memphis warehouse, and now it's melting into a watery mess. A fitting metaphor for Team Bush.

In yesterday's report, a passerby noted the waste, and also made quite a prescient observation: plenty of unemployed folks would have been willing and able to move the bags to where they were needed, had the administration bothered to hire them. Similarly, plenty of New Orleanians would no doubt take jobs doing construction work, but Team Bush has gone out of their way to ensure that immigrants of, ahem, uncertain legal status, are being hired instead.

Well, what do you expect from people so stupid they don't know how to keep ice from melting?
O'er the Land of the Freaks...

Well, you can't say "there goes the neighborhood" just because Michael Jackson's looking for a home there...the neighborhood's been gone for some time now...

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

While You're At It

...might as well do this, asshole.

Res Ipsa Loquitur has a 130 line list...but it's still not comprehensive when it comes to the mix and match of ignorant fuck ups and arrogant contempt for the law embodied in the Bush administration.

On that note, Happy Independence Day. Here's hoping I'll have reason to celebrate come July 4, 2009...
White House Design Modification

The South Portico has been changed to the South Bunker.

Watching Shrub's short show struck me--two questions, no doubt screened in advance, plus you've got Walter Reed hospital as a backdrop (hell, I'm surprised he didn't drag a wounded soldier out of rehab and force him or her to function as a human prop)--yeah, he might well be able to beat the rap/run out the clock, but he sure as hell sounds guilty of something. In fact, his whole demeanor is that of someone who damn well knows he's up to his eyeballs in something just plain wrong...but he still won't admit it. Neither will he admit the other painfully obvious fact: that he lacks the ability and capacity to do the job.

As for Scooter, well, this other TPM video is interesting: Shrub says the leaker "will be taken care of." I guess he meant that in the way that the mafia takes care of someone who doesn't talk.
In Other News

Charles Manson Joins GOP, Bush Considers Sentence Commutation

Washington, DC and Corcoran, CA--Refusing to "rule out" a full pardon, President Bush indicated he's considering commuting the prison sentence of Charles Manson, recent GOP convert rumored to be the front-runner for Chief-of-Staff to Vice-President Cheney.

It's said that Manson and Cheney have developed a strong bond of late, based on mutual appreciation and common aspects of personal taste.

Writing on behalf of Manson, David Brooks insisted that it was "exactly right," and pointed out that while "Helter Skelter" was certainly a "terrible tragedy, the fact was that it all started, as these dark comedies are wont to do, with a strutting little peacock with the unimaginative name of Roman Polanski, who's a child molester anyway, and besides, Manson himself neither pulled the trigger nor thrust the knife blade...and it's been such a long time that you could argue there really was no underlying crime..., etc. etc. etc."

Bush himself said that he "respects the jury's verdict;" however, he's said to think that commutation is appropriate because it "leaves in place a harsh punishment for Mr. Manson...The consequences of his felony conviction on his former life...will be long long-lasting." Mr. Bush also expressed his concern for "Mr. Manson's family."

When told of the development, Vice-President Cheney withheld comment, but visibly smiled.
Changing the Tone in Washington



I don't really need to link to any particular expression of justified outrage--I'm sure you've seen most if not all. But note for the record that Shrub, regardless of his motivation, seemed to be focused and right on top of things when it came to bailing out his good buddy. Hell, you could even call the commutation nuanced, if not goddamned clever, with the promise of pardon on the horizon but only if Scooter keeps his fucking mouth shut, etc., etc. etc.

Funny how efficient and effective Team Bush can be when they feel like it. Makes you wonder why they don't apply the same focus and intensity to other things--like Gulf Coast and New Orleans recovery. Unless maybe it's just that they don't want to...

Monday, July 02, 2007

Scooting Straight to Jail

Um...Guess I Need a Different Title...and Picture

The son of a bitch (and, to paraphrase Huey Long, I'm not insulting him, but referring to the circumstances of his birth)...anyway, the son of a bitch commuted Libby's sentence.

Hmmm...I guess it is within the scope of presidential power to commute sentences, and not just issue a blanket pardon.

Still...what an asshole.

4th anniversary of "Bring em on." Make a wish--I'd recommend wishing that you don't choke on the pretzel.

So, how stupid was this? So stupid he eventually apologized for having said it, although only after declining to do so on multiple occasions.

Of course, it's now obscenely and bitterly apparent that the arrogance expressed in the You Tube clip above was profoundly misplaced. But even then, it of course struck anyone with even a few functioning brain cells as being really, really dumb. "Bring 'em on" is something you expect from a slobbering drunk in a bar, not someone who's literally in a command position. "Bring 'em on" GUARANTEES needless casualties--it's a taunt to the enemy, who might well decide to DO JUST THAT, at the expense of a soldier or soldiers who, for whatever reason, might find themselves in a vulnerable position at some point. But, then again, Team Bush has always managed to do the stupid thing. That--and their infinite greed--will define them to future generations. It's their only consistent behavior pattern.

Bring 'em on. God, what a dumbfuck.
The Fine Print

"Section 118, Paragraph 3, Subsection (d)--ick"

July 1, 2007
When the Vice President Does It, That Means It’s Not Illegal

WHO knew that mocking the Constitution could be nearly as funny as shooting a hunting buddy in the face? Among other comic dividends, Dick Cheney's legal theory that the vice president is not part of the executive branch yielded a priceless weeklong series on "The Daily Show" and an online "Doonesbury Poll," conducted at Slate, to name Mr. Cheney's indeterminate branch of government.

The ridicule was so widespread that finally even this White House had to blink. By midweek, it had abandoned that particularly ludicrous argument, if not its spurious larger claim that Mr. Cheney gets a free pass to ignore rules regulating federal officials' handling of government secrets.

That retreat might allow us to mark the end of this installment of the Bush-Cheney Follies but for one nagging problem: Not for the first time in the history of this administration — or the hundredth — has the real story been lost amid the Washington kerfuffle. Once the laughter subsides and you look deeper into the narrative leading up to the punch line, you can unearth a buried White House plot that is more damning than the official scandal. This plot once again snakes back to the sinister origins of the Iraq war, to the Valerie Wilson leak case and to the press failures that enabled the administration to abuse truth and the law for too long.

One journalist who hasn't failed is Mark Silva of The Chicago Tribune. He first reported more than a year ago, in May 2006, the essentials of the "news" at the heart of the recent Cheney ruckus. Mr. Silva found that the vice president was not filing required reports on his office's use of classified documents because he asserted that his role in the legislative branch, as president of the Senate, gave him an exemption.

This scoop went unnoticed by nearly everybody. It would still be forgotten today had not Henry Waxman, the dogged House inquisitor, called out Mr. Cheney 10 days ago, detailing still more egregious examples of the vice president's flouting of the law, including his effort to shut down an oversight agency in charge of policing him. The congressman's brief set off the firestorm that launched a thousand late-night gags.

That's all to the public good, but hiding in plain sight was the little-noted content of the Bush executive order that Mr. Cheney is accused of violating. On close examination, this obscure 2003 document, thrust into the light only because the vice president so blatantly defied it, turns out to be yet another piece of self-incriminating evidence illuminating the White House's guilt in ginning up its false case for war.

The tale of the document begins in August 2001, when the Bush administration initiated a review of the previous executive order on classified materials signed by Bill Clinton in 1995. The Clinton order had been acclaimed in its day as a victory for transparency because it mandated the automatic declassification of most government files after 25 years.

It was predictable that the obsessively secretive Bush team would undermine the Clinton order. What was once a measure to make government more open would be redrawn to do the opposite. And sure enough, when the White House finally released its revised version, the scant news coverage focused on how the new rules postponed the Clinton deadline for automatic declassification and tightened secrecy so much that previously declassified documents could be reclassified.

But few noticed another change inserted five times in the revised text: every provision that gave powers to the president over classified documents was amended to give the identical powers to the vice president. This unprecedented increase in vice-presidential clout, though spelled out in black and white, went virtually unremarked in contemporary news accounts.

Given all the other unprecedented prerogatives that President Bush has handed his vice president, this one might seem to be just more of the same. But both the timing of the executive order and the subsequent use Mr. Cheney would make of it reveal its special importance in the games that the White House played with prewar intelligence.

The obvious juncture for Mr. Bush to bestow these new powers on his vice president, you might expect, would have been soon after 9/11, especially since the review process on the Clinton order started a month earlier and could be expedited, as so much other governmental machinery was, to meet the urgent national-security crisis. Yet the new executive order languished for another 18 months, only to be published and signed with no fanfare on March 25, 2003, a week after the invasion of Iraq began.

Why then? It was throughout March, both on the eve of the war and right after "Shock and Awe," that the White House's most urgent case for Iraq's imminent threat began to unravel. That case had been built around the scariest of Saddam's supposed W.M.D., the nuclear weapons that could engulf America in mushroom clouds, and the White House had pushed it relentlessly, despite a lack of evidence. On "Meet the Press" on March 16, Mr. Cheney pressed that doomsday button one more time: "We believe he has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons." But even as the vice president spoke, such claims were at last being strenuously challenged in public.

Nine days earlier Mohamed ElBaradei of the International Atomic Energy Agency had announced that documents supposedly attesting to Saddam's attempt to secure uranium in Niger were "not authentic." A then-obscure retired diplomat, Joseph Wilson, piped in on CNN, calling the case "outrageous."

Soon both Senator Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia and Congressman Waxman wrote letters (to the F.B.I. and the president, respectively) questioning whether we were going to war because of what Mr. Waxman labeled "a hoax." And this wasn't the only administration use of intelligence that was under increasing scrutiny. The newly formed 9/11 commission set its first open hearings for March 31 and requested some half-million documents, including those pertaining to what the White House knew about Al Qaeda's threat during the summer of 2001.

The new executive order that Mr. Bush signed on March 25 was ingenious. By giving Mr. Cheney the same classification powers he had, Mr. Bush gave his vice president a free hand to wield a clandestine weapon: he could use leaks to punish administration critics.

That weapon would be employed less than four months later. Under Mr. Bush's direction, Mr. Cheney deputized Scooter Libby to leak highly selective and misleading portions of a 2002 National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq to pet reporters as he tried to discredit Mr. Wilson. By then, Mr. Wilson had emerged as the most vocal former government official accusing the White House of not telling the truth before the war.

Because of the Patrick Fitzgerald investigation, we would learn three years later about the offensive conducted by Mr. Libby on behalf of Mr. Cheney and Mr. Bush. That revelation prompted the vice president to acknowledge his enhanced powers in an unguarded moment in a February 2006 interview with Brit Hume of Fox News. Asked by Mr. Hume with some incredulity if "a vice president has the authority to declassify information," Mr. Cheney replied, "There is an executive order to that effect." He was referring to the order of March 2003.

Even now, few have made the connection between this month's Cheney flap and the larger scandal. That larger scandal is to be found in what the vice president did legally under the executive order early on rather than in his more recent rejection of its oversight rules.

Timing really is everything. By March 2003, this White House knew its hype of Saddam's nonexistent nuclear arsenal was in grave danger of being exposed. The order allowed Mr. Bush to keep his own fingerprints off the nitty-gritty of any jihad against whistle-blowers by giving Mr. Cheney the authority to pick his own shots and handle the specifics. The president could have plausible deniability and was free to deliver non-denial denials like "If there is a leak out of my administration, I want to know who it is." Mr. Cheney in turn could delegate the actual dirty work to Mr. Libby, who obstructed justice to help throw a smoke screen over the vice president's own role in the effort to destroy Mr. Wilson.

Last week The Washington Post ran a first-rate investigative series on the entire Cheney vice presidency. Readers posting comments were largely enthusiastic, but a few griped. "Six and a half years too late," said one. "Four years late and billions of dollars short," said another. Such complaints reflect the bitter legacy of much of the Washington press's failure to penetrate the hyping of prewar intelligence and, later, the import of the Fitzgerald investigation.

We're still playing catch-up. In a week in which the C.I.A. belatedly released severely censored secrets about agency scandals dating back a half-century, you have to wonder what else was done behind the shield of an executive order signed just after the Ides of March four years ago. Another half-century could pass before Americans learn the full story of the secrets buried by Mr. Cheney and his boss to cover up their deceitful path to war.
On Spinning Creepiness

Bring em on + 4 years has the WaPo whoring themselves for pimp Karl Rove reflecting on Shrub's "legacy." I dunno...maybe it was a manners thing, or maybe Broder threatened to have himself a big old hissy fit, but such stellar examples of Shrubian character like "Bring em on," "Mission Accomplished," or his well-known penchant for imperious behavior are tastefully ignored. Instead, we're told--a little too insistently, if you ask me--about a man who, no really, reads a lot of big books with no "pitchers" like A Savage War of Peace. We also learn that Shrub is a religious man...funny how it's always the religious people who are so goddamned comfortable with either killing, or exploiting death (except for when death and destruction can't be exploited, like Hurrincane Katrina and the New Orleans levee failures. Then these same religious people blame the victims).

And finally, in case you were wondering just how mawkish it can really get in Shrubworld, here's George letting out his inner five-year old:

[Rep. Peter] King, the GOP congressman, introduced [Bush] backstage to a soldier injured in one eye. Bush teared up and asked the young man to take off his dark glasses so he could see the wound, King recalled. "Human instinct is when someone has a serious injury to look the other way," King said. "He actually asked him to take them off. He actually touched the eye a little. It was almost as if he felt he had to confront it."

No, Peter--its a sign that the president has the mentality of a child going to the freak show. That's his legacy. Worse still, it's a freak show of his own creation, and, thankfully, most of the country is repulsed by this, as well as the whole juvenile attitude he embodies.