Friday, December 30, 2005

Our First Award

Congratulations are in order for seenos. His post Reflections on an Execution, aka “Terminator Does a Dookie Over Tookie!” was voted one of five Best California Posts of 2005 Awards by Speak Out California a site dedicated to highlighting bloggers writing about California issues.

This means they like you. They really like you!

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Spy vs. Spy

The continued reports of the Bush Administration’s domestic spying activity got me thinking. They argue that spying on U.S. citizens is necessary to combat terrorism by helping to prevent future attacks. Bush states that his powers as Commander and Chief in a time of war give him the “inherent” authority to do so. There is a mountain of arguments against this. All of which are supported by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Every constitutional law expert that I have seen or read (except those appearing on Fox) has stated that Bush has either broken the law or at best completely overreached leading us towards some sort of constitutional crisis.

But, putting all that aside for a moment and giving the administration an enormous benefit of the doubt, I would like to make a point that I haven’t heard discussed. If the president and the NSA is acting within their rights to intercept private citizens telephone and email messages, then surely the voting public is entitled to intercept all of our elected official’s telephone and email conversations. We “voted” them into office. They work for us. Shouldn’t we be allowed to tap George and Dick’s telephones? Or bug the oval office? Or what could be a win-win for the public and capitalist America - make the presidency a reality TV show on its own cable channel with cameras following these public servants 24 hours a day.

If there is anyone who has proven that they are a threat to national security it’s the Bush administration. We all know about the Bush family’s business ties to the Bin Laden family. And, I’m sure that they make a lot of international phone calls. They fit their own criteria.

Following this logic, as George takes it upon himself to snoop into our private lives we cannot, at the same time, allow Mr. Bush to continue as the most secretive leader this country has ever known.

John Dean wrote about this in “Worse than Watergate” nearly two years before the NSA spying story becoming public:

“Their secrecy is far worse than that of Watergate, and it bodes even more serious consequences. Their secrecy is extreme – not merely unjustified and excessive but obsessive.”

It was no coincidence that after the domestic spying story broke; Dean was one of the first to state that Bush was the first President in U.S. history to admit to an "impeachable offense".

In the end whether this was a crime and the issue of impeachment will be debated for the foreseeable future, but in the meantime I say if Bush is going to Spy on us, we dam well better spy on him.

The Condoleeza Rice Recipe.

After reading this recent article describing Condoleeza Rice as “the most popular member of the Bush administration”, I didn’t know whether to laugh or vomit. I realize this isn’t exactly glowing praise – kind of like saying that MasterCard is your most popular creditor, or that your neighbor’s beagle is the cutest dog that craps in your yard. But still, some people actually like this woman. Go figure.

Now we are reminded, as reported by the British-based Observer in early 2003, that Rice authorized NSA agents, at the request of George Bush, to secretly wiretap the home and office telephones and monitor private e-mail accounts of members of the United Nations Security Council. According to a leaked e-mail written by Chief of Staff for Regional Targets Frank Koza, these activities were not for reasons of national security, but for political reasons, with the purpose of gaining:

. . . insight as to how to (sp) membership is reacting to the ongoing debate RE: Iraq, plans to vote on any related resolutions, what related policies/negotiating positions they may be considering, alliances/dependencies etc. – the whole gamut of information that could give US policymakers an edge in obtaining results favorable to US goals . . . .
Don’t I recall correctly that her job title at the time was National Security Advisor? When the President comes to her and asks her to do something so underhanded, potentially damaging to the countries’ reputation, and basically downright stupid, don’t you think that her title gave her the responsibility to give some advice! Like, “Maybe that’s not such a good idea, Mr. President.” No, she just kissed his butt and said “Yes sir.”

I also recall during her testimony before the 9/11 Commission when she basically said (with a straight face, mind you) that the PDB entitled “Bin Laden Determined to Attack in the US” didn’t warrant advising (there’s that word again!) the President to consider stepping up security efforts before an attack happened. “Who could have predicted that Bin Laden was actually determined to attack in the US?” was essentially her best defense on that day.

So why do people like this seemingly incompetent woman? Well, she dresses nice, and has a haircut that reminds everyone of Lucy from their favorite comic strip. That’s something, I guess. But Michael “Brownie” Brown also was a “fashion god” and had a nicely coiffed head of hair, but he was despised for his utter incompetence. So it can’t just be the look.

After some research, I think I have found the key ingredient in the recipe for Condoleeza Rice’s success that is apparently enough to overcome the fact that she does little more than kiss up to the President and lie with a straight face. Unlike Brownie, whose resume was filled with horse judging and phony teacher-of-the-year awards, Condi knows how to look good on paper. Despite the fact that she couldn't advise her boss out of a paper bag, she sure knows how to pad a resume!

A look at her official White House bio shows that she has a PhD from University of Denver, and honorary doctorates from 7 other universities. She was a professor and Provost at Stanford University where she was twice decorated for distinguished excellence (or something like that.) She was a member of the Board of Directors, or provided “board service,” to no less than 15 corporations or community organizations. She has held 10 different titles within the Bush Administration, and was also somehow partly responsible for the reunification of Germany and the fall of the Soviet Union. She has co-authored three books with a combined total of 17 (mostly) big words in the titles. And that’s not even counting her being a “concert quality” pianist, speaking “fluent” Russian, having a namesake aircraft carrier, and being the perennial winner of her NFL fantasy league (OK I made the last one up!)

In fact, the only area where Condi has clearly done a better job than Brownie is the preparation of her resume, yet she has been promoted to Secretary of State while he has been relegated to starting a consulting firm in the one field where he is known worldwide as a failure!

I guess it counts for a lot to have a boss who reeaaalllyy likes having his butt kissed and who likes being able to say that you have an excellent “Kur-ik-yul-um Vi-tay!”

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

A Vast Two-Winged Conspiracy?

No, it's just the will of the people!

It started with his nomination of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court, and it's continuing with each and every new revelation about domestic spying authorized by George Bush in apparent violation of FISA laws.

Liberals have been attacking Bush’s motives and actions since the day he took office, but now conservatives appear to be climbing on the bash Bush bandwagon so fast its starting to look like a San Francisco cable car on a warm Saturday in August.

This week, the conservative business magazine, Barron’s, published an editorial calling for impeachment in particularly strong terms.

Willful disregard of a law is potentially an impeachable offense. It is at least as impeachable as having a sexual escapade under the Oval Office desk and lying about it later. The members of the House Judiciary Committee who staged the impeachment of President Clinton ought to be as outraged at this situation.
The Federalist Society, known for promoting conservative principles in the legal community, posted a document (PDF) on their website offering a critique of the administration’s policy on domestic surveillance that included stinging rebukes.

The text of FISA is unambiguous: “A person is guilty of an offense if he intentionally engages in electronic surveillance . . . except as authorized by statute."


The president has acted in the face of an express statutory prohibition. In my view, he has overreached.

Congressional Republicans like Arlen Specter and Lindsey Graham are among the many calling for a Senate investigation.

As George Bush is finding out, it’s one thing to ask the country to support him as a “war president” in a never ending “war on terror,” but it’s another thing altogether to belligerently claim to be above the law and beyond any judicial and legislative oversight because of it!

Unlike Bill Clinton, who could reasonably claim that the attacks on his presidency were “a vast right wing conspiracy,” this one seems to be flying with both wings flapping. And it’s moving in a big, but slowly shrinking, circle above the President!

Update: Add former Clinton era attack dog and Congressman, Bob Barr, to the chorus with this op-ed piece from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Reconnecting the Dots.

After considering President Bush’s stubborn refusal to back away from trying to claim authority to conduct secret domestic surveillance, I can’t help but look back at many of the previous stories that have come to light since 9/11 and consider them anew.

The Downing Street Minutes, the rollup of Able Danger, the ignored PDB about Bin Laden’s determination to attack in the U.S., the warnings given by Richard Clarke about Al Qaeda, torture at Abu Ghraib, Niger forgeries, and other events, all seem to take on new meaning now that Bush has brazenly chosen to claim presidential authority that appears to be above the laws of our country.

Another revelation sticks in my mind as well - a widely reported statement in the paper, Rebuilding America’s Defenses, published by the neo-conservative think tank, Project for the New American Century in September of 2000. It stated “the process of transformation, even if it brings revolutionary change, is likely to be a long one absent a catastrophic and catalyzing event, like a new Pearl Harbor.”

Now I’m not prepared to join those who have speculated that the Bush administration knew that 9/11 was going to happen. To paraphrase Condoleeza Rice, how could they possibly have known that 19 terrorists would hijack 4 planes and fly them into the Twin Towers, the Pentagon, and a field in Pennsylvania? No, they couldn’t possibly have anticipated what happened on 9/11.

However, when I look at all of the events that have come to light since 9/11, I am struck with all of the warnings signs that were available and ignored, despite tools and programs that might have been able to prevent the attack. I am struck by the contrast between how little they thought they could do before 9/11, and how quickly programs were put in place after 9/11. How did they immediately know exactly what needed to be done after 9/11, but knew nothing before?

As I consider these stories, the image emerges of a Bush administration that could have been doing everything they could do to try to anticipate and prevent a serious terrorist attack like 9/11. However, instead of paying attention to the warning signs, they were too busy making a shopping list of all the things they would want to buy if they were fortunate enough to be in power during the End-of-the-World Blowout Sale on Neo-Conservative Ideas - the new Pearl Harbor, in whatever form it might take.

1. Invade Iraq and remove Saddam Hussein from power. Check!

2. Expand presidential powers to avoid legislative and judicial oversight. Check!

3. Use defense and homeland security costs to justify cutting programs for the poor and middle class. Check!

4. Characterize the democrats as weak on security to build public support,lock up republican control for the future, and force them to go along with tax cuts and privatization of Social Security. Check!

5. End cooperation with the international community, disparage the U.N., and ignore the Geneva Conventions. Check!

6. Large no-bid contracts for friendly corporations like Halliburton, Blackwater, Et al. Check!

All of which leads me to remember another statement that came from the mouth of Dick Cheney during the 2000 Republican National Convention as he and Bush were preparing to run against Al Gore and Joe Lieberman. It is a statement that is more true now for Bush and Cheney than it ever was when Cheney levied it against Gore, and that statement is (repeat after me):


Saturday, December 24, 2005

Born Again.... Again: My Christmas Gift to George Bush

Dear George,

At the mid point of your life you were a miserable failure. You had been a lousy student, a drunk, an AWOL National Guardsman, a failed businessman and your family was in shambles. The day after your 40th birthday, Laura threatened to take the kids and leave you forever. That is when you found your lord and personal savior Jesus Christ and turned your life around.

Now I'm not one of your biggest fans and should be the last one to give you advice, but because it is the holiday season and I woke up in a giving mood, I am going to offer some.

Mr. Bush, it is time for you to become born again....again. I don't really believe that you suddenly found Jesus the first time, but whatever happened seemed to work for you. At least it worked for a while. But whatever it was, isn't working anymore. Your successes have now turned to controversy, scandal and tragic failures. Thousands of U.S. and Iraqi citizens perished on your watch, and the polls show that 60% of your own country and most of the world don't like you anymore.

So here is my solution. Admit that you were wrong. Ask for Cheney's resignation and then fire your entire cabinet. Blame it all on them. We all know that it was their fault anyway. You were just going along. They are the evil ones, not you. Tell the American people that you are sorry....very sorry, then go about changing the bad decisions that Cheney and Rove forced you to make.

You came to this realization once in your life Mr. President. Now it is time to see the truth again.

I think these actions are the only way to save your presidency, and it can only work because for some inexplicable reason many still want to like you. But at this point you have pushed the American people to the end of our "collective rope", and just like Laura we are about to take our country and leave you forever. So what do you say George? Can I get an Amen!

One last piece of advice. Next time don't wait until you have made a complete mess of everything before deciding to repent. Your life will go much smoother if in the future you recognize your mistakes and fix them along the way instead of letting them multiply to such colossal proportions.

Happy Holidays


Thursday, December 22, 2005

Left-Over's "The Year in Leakage!"

This article appearing yesterday in Raw Story got my attention for a couple of reasons. First of all, it includes all kinds of juicy speculation about the CIA leak case. If true, the investigation could quickly turn into a dream come true for many of us lefty bloggers. Second, it offers a convenient excuse to recap some of the coverage of this story that has appeared in Left-Over during its first three months of life.

Clearly there are any number of bloggers out there who consistently offer more detailed and insightful commentary than we could ever aspire to write. Emptywheel at The Next Hurrah and Jane and Reddhedd at Firedoglake spring to mind, but there are many others as well. Our contribution to the conversation, while perhaps containing some occasional and usually unintentional kernels of wisdom, usually can be characterized as good old-fashioned trash talking!

But trash talking has its place among the !!BREAKING!! news stories and meticulously researched position papers, and our readership has grown in recent weeks while many of our best rants are buried deep in the internet landfill we call “the archives.” With that in mind, I thought I would take a few moments to summarize our coverage of the CIA leak case. Besides, after reading the new Raw Story piece, I suspect that some of that old trash might actually end up being worthy of the Antique Roadshow.

In what was my virgin post on the site, Dumber than Watergate looked at the early administration strategy to defend accusations that they purposefully went after Joseph Wilson - by purposefully going after Patrick Fitzgerald! You can see how well the strategy worked here.

Shortly after Fitzgerald issued his five-count indictment, Scooter Libby, Lightning Rod posits the theory that Libby deliberately made himself look guilty to draw attention away from the other better-known and more politically exposed conspirators, and how Fitzgerald wasn’t really buying it.

Karl Rove’s last minute reprieve was covered in Did Rove Play the Pardon Card? Fortunately, this one won’t be making it out of the landfill, as Rover still looks destined to join Scooter in the big house.

In several wild-eyed, scream-at-the-keyboard rants, Fitzgerald’s prosecutorial strategy was compared to both coaching a football game and playing the cello. Fortunately, it appears Fitzgerald is closer to matching the proficiency of my cello playing idol than my football team!

Bob Woodward got a lot of attention here, as elsewhere. In various posts, he sprung a leak, was the subject of some chatter, went down in a massive fireball, and got a frustrated woody! His still mysterious source got some attention too. Stephen Hadley was thrown out for consideration in one post, but ultimately Woodward’s source was revealed in in another post that left me waaaay out on a limb sawing frantically without knowing which side of the cut the tree was on.

Which brings me back to the Raw Story piece, and what I’m still hoping turns out to be the million-dollar 18th century antique coffee table that got pushed off the page of Left-Over weeks ago. You see, the article in Raw Story contains the following disclosure:

More than two dozen people from the White House have been interviewed or testified before the grand jury since Fitzgerald was tapped to lead the investigation two years ago. Some of those people, who sources close to the case would only say were "senior level," have cooperated with the prosecutor in exchange for immunity related to their role in the case.


One of those individuals may be an unnamed State Department official cited in a Sept. 28, 2003 Washington Post story. The official told the Post that six journalists were called and told about Plame Wilson's undercover status in an attempt to discredit her husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, a critic of the Bush administration's prewar Iraq intelligence who challenged the veracity of the uranium claim.


The unnamed State Department official cited in the Post story appears to have intimate knowledge of the campaign to discredit Wilson. He also appears to have been sympathetic to the former ambassador.

The Associated Press also quoted an unnamed retired State Department official who told them of a Department memo describing Plame's alleged role in sending her husband to Africa and disputed the legitimacy of administration claims that Iraq sought to acquire uranium.

Sources close to the probe said the State Department official referenced in both stories is the same, and has been providing the special counsel with crucial evidence against certain White House officials for the past two years.

I don't know about you, but that “Senior Level State Department Official” sounds pretty darned familiar, don’t you think? Does anyone have any recommendations for a good wood stain remover?

"Nixon 2.0"

Howard Fineman at has a very interesting look at the domestic spying issue. He explains who knew about the "secret" spying and how it may have come about. Here are a couple of quotes:

(emphasis added)

As best I can tell, and this really isn't my beat,the only people who knew about the NSA's new (and now so controversial) warrantless eavesdropping program early on were Bush, Cheney, NSA chief Michael Hayden, his top deputies, top leaders of the CIA, and lawyers at the Justice Department and the White House counsel's office hurriedly called in to sprinkle holy water on it. Which presents the disturbing image of the White House as a series of nesting dolls, with Cheney-Bush at the tiny secret center.........

...........They used to demand this on the strength of the WMD issue, on the theory that the president had,lied us into war. Now the Bush foes will base their case on his having signed off on the NSA's warrantless wiretaps. He and Cheney will argue his inherent powers and will cite Supreme Court cases and the resolution that authorized him to make war on the Taliban and Al Qaeda. They will respond by calling him Nixon 2.0 and have already hauled forth no less an authority than John Dean to testify to the president's dictatorial perfidy. The "I word" is out there, and, I predict, you are going to hear more of it next year, much more.

The nesting doll analogy and Nixon 2.0 label are priceless. Great talking points for Democrats.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

An Open Letter to Members of the NRA.

I am writing this letter as a courtesy since many of you have been strong supporters of George W. Bush despite his apparent opposition to the civil liberties that are a cornerstone of your organization. Perhaps you did not notice that President Bush just admitted that he has authorized, and will continue to authorize, secret surveillance of United States citizens whose activities appear to him to contribute to a heightened level of threat.

These surreptitious surveillance methods have been employed against vegans and environmentalists, Quaker peace activists, and known international phone callers. Common sense suggests that it is only a matter of time before Mr. Bush extends his self-proclaimed authority to subvert the Constitution in the name of the “war on terror” to secret surveillance of gun owners like you.

Think about it! During the history of our country, we have had only one domestic incident of international terrorism despite the millions of tofu burgers consumed, and billions of bottles and cans recycled. But we have had a long history of gun-related violence. Which is more statistically significant as a predictor of potential threat to the country – gun ownership or international phone calling? You get the picture.

Mr. Bush’s current determination and insistance on unfettered ability to conduct surveillance on anyone he feels is in any way dangerous seems quite likely to end up focusing on people who own guns.

So what can you do to stop him? I am suggesting that, for your own benefit, you call or write to your elected members of Congress to demand a full investigation of the Bush administration’s use of secret domestic surveillance, and request a resolution defining the extent of presidential powers.

Do not wait for the NSA or the FBI to come digging through your underwear drawer looking for firearms or ammunition. Call or write today to demand a full investigation!

Yours truly,


Bush's Resignation?

Joe Conason has an interesting piece today in the New York Observer regarding impeachment. He concludes his article with this:

"If President Bush is totally unapologetic and says, "I continue to maintain that as a wartime President I can do anything I want "I don't need to consult any other branches," that is an impeachable offense. It's more dangerous than Clinton's lying under oath, because it jeopardizes our democratic dispensation and civil liberties for the ages. It would set a precedent that would lie around like a loaded gun, able to be used indefinitely for any future occupant."

There are politicians in both parties who know that Mr. Bush's trespasses cannot be allowed to stand. Only a bipartisan coalition can restrain and, if necessary, remove him. It is to be hoped that he steps back before such a struggle becomes inevitable.

Continuing this line of reasoning, I found this reference from a Peter Wallsten article discussing Nixon and the final days of "Watergate". It is very similar to what is going on now. Before reading this I must admit that I was not aware of George Senior's involvement.

As Republican Party chairman, George H.W. Bush flew across the country defending Nixon against the growing public sentiment that the president was not being truthful.
Taped conversations between Bush and Nixon reveal Bush's skepticism toward the news media. In one 1973 exchange, transcribed in Kutler's book, Bush assured Nixon the country was with him, "in spite of some of the crap you're reading."
In a July 1974 letter to his sons, Bush extolled Nixon's virtues and laid out his faults. But he kept returning to one conclusion: "I can understand the President's hostility towards press for they despise him," Bush wrote.

Bush later was among the first to tell Nixon he should resign.

I can't help but wonder if Bush Sr. will once again have to be the adult in the room.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Little Scottie Stonewall

Tuesdays Whitehouse press briefing was a barn burner! Required viewing for all politicos. The reporters peppered McClellan on the domestic spying issue. He did his best to stonewall but there was nowhere to hide in this feeding frenzy. Here are a couple of highlights:

Q But is it a tool that he doesn't have under either the Patriot Act or the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I just pointed out one of the problem areas that we're trying to fix. And so those --

Q Okay, if it is a problem area -- is it a tool he doesn't have under either the Patriot Act of FISA?

MR. McCLELLAN: Those are important tools, as well, and we use those tools. In fact, those tools have helped us address threats, too. But this authorization is an additional tool that we believe is needed for the reason I stated.

Q I know, but you could have three different types of branches, but if two branches do the job of all three, do you need to have the third?
The follow-up questions came rapid fire forcing Scottie to finally turn to my favorite administration phrase of last resort. It would have made a great drinking game back in my college days. When it is obvious that they have been nailed with an informed, insightful question – they indignantly reply “I reject your characterization”!
Q Do you think we're spreading democracy when you spy and put out disinformation and do all the things that -- secret prisons, and torture?

MR. McCLELLAN: I reject your characterizations wholly. I reject your characterizations wholly. The United States is helping to advance freedom in a dangerous region of the world.

Woohoo 2 drinks!

Finally at the end of the press conference just when Scottie thought he had weathered the storm a reporter asked about Bush’s reported Oval Office meeting with two New York Times editors prior to the publishing of the wiretapping story:

Q Did the President meet The New York Times editor on December 6th and ask him to not publish the eavesdropping story?

MR. McCLELLAN: I saw reports about that; I'm not going to get into discussing it, though.

Q No confirm, no deny?

MR. McCLELLAN: No, neither.

No rejected characterization there. Scottie obviously wasn’t prepared for this one and stumbled trying to come up the right words.

How much do you want to bet he found a few choice words in the hallway afterwards?

House Judiciary Democrats Release New Bestselling Horror Story!

At 273 pages, I’ve hardly had time for a full review of this new work, written under the direction of Rep John Conyers (D-Michigan), but I’m thinking it could rival “The Exorcist” in its ability to induce uncontrollable involuntary fits of nausea. Somewhere in it, there just has to be a chapter describing the times when Bush’s head spun around 360 degrees.

It looks like a great last-minute stocking stuffer!

Monday, December 19, 2005

The Last Commercial Break of The Bush Presidency

As anyone who watches television crime dramas will recognize, they often follow a distinct pattern in order to squeeze an entire story, with plot twists, into an hour format and still have time for commercials. It goes something like this:

A crime is discovered. The hero begins to gather evidence and characters are introduced. There is usually one character that is likable and earnest in his desire to help with the investigation. Other characters seem more ominous, and most casual viewers focus on them as the primary suspects. A clever and intuitive viewer might suspect the more affable character, but the script is written to discourage such thoughts, and most viewers will blindly follow the script.

As the story progresses, potential suspects are cleared and the audience eventually discovers something about the more helpful and likable character that suggests a darker side. This usually occurs right before the last commercial break.

During the final segment, the hero confronts the likable guy and viewers quickly find out that he is, in fact, hiding an obsession with power, jealousy, or a relentless thirst for revenge. The true villain is revealed and the episode ends, followed by scenes from the next week’s show.

At this point in the Bush presidency, most Americans have thought of him as a relatively likeable guy with a sincere desire to help rid the world of terrorism. He has made some mistakes and said things that turned out to be untrue, but most people have been willing to overlook these missteps because they could see several more obvious potential villains.

However, a couple of clues have been revealed in recent days that raise questions about Mr. Bush’s true character.

The first was the response of Scott McClellan after the President, who had insisted that he would not comment during ongoing investigations, chose to proclaim Tom DeLay innocent of the charges against him. McClellan’s response was that Bush broke his own rule because of “presidential perogative.”

The second was the revelation that Bush authorized the NSA to spy on U.S. citizens without prior FISA approval, a clear violation of law that Bush wants to claim does not apply to him.

Suddenly, the affable Bush doesn’t seem so well-intentioned. In fact, he seems a bit unstable and perhaps delusional about his presidential powers. Could it be that he is actually an evil sociopath with the ability to hide his true intentions behind a disarming and earnest charm?

Stay tuned after this commercial break!

Thanks to Left of Center for the graphic.

Bush - The Activist President

So our President, who has vowed to appoint strict Constitutional Constructionists to the Supreme Court, because he abhors judicial activism, is now using the excuse that his legal authority to spy on American’s is derived from the Constitution. I don’t think constructionists believe that we should be deriving anything. Especially when there are existing legal channels with oversight that allow domestic wiretaps - not to mention the Constitution's expressed right to privacy? Dan Froomkin has a thorough overview here.

Bush has also assured all Americans that domestic spying has only occurred against people with “known links to Al Qaeda and related terrorist organizations”. If that is in fact the case, which I find hard to believe, getting warrants to tap these phones would be a piece of cake. If we have taken the time to make sure that these people have known links, then surely there is time to petition the FISA court for a warrant to tap their phone. And, the argument that they might change their phone number is pathetically stupid. If N.S.A. officials have a warrant to spy on a specific individual connected to Al Qaeda – we are supposed to believe that the warrant could only apply to one specific phone number. How stupid would that be? Have you ever heard of the term "roving wiretap"? I'm sure the N.S.A. has.

Mr. Bush maybe you are dumb enough to believe this bullshit – but we are not! You have taken the Law into your own hands, trampled the constitution and lead us further away from our representative democracy. No amount of spinning or fear-mongering will change these facts.

War is Not a Game, Mr. Bush.

In his address to the nation last night, President Bush was soft spoken and open to considering advice from others. He showed heartfelt concern for the families of the dead and wounded soldiers. He showed a sense of seriousness and responsibility for his decisions. He showed all of those things his polling told him he should pretend to show, but his underlying message was the same as it has always been, either you are with me, or you are with the terrorists!

As I see it, the defining moment of the speech came when he addressed his critics (with my emphasis added):

I also want to speak to those of you who did not support my decision to send troops to Iraq: I have heard your disagreement, and I know how deeply it is felt. Yet now there are only two options before our country -- victory or defeat. And the need for victory is larger than any president or political party, because the security of our people is in the balance.

No. There would only be two options if war were a game of football, or a game of cards, where the outcome would eventually result in a clear winner and a loser! But war is not a game with the assurance of a clearly defined result. There is a third option!

A president’s choice to take a country to war is more like risking everyones' money and lives by going to the racetrack day after day and betting them on the same horse, without being able to show the people that the horse is in the race, or that the horse is even alive!

The horse could win and the country would be victorious, or the horse could lose and the country would be defeated. Or the country could find itself in the endless folly of persistently rooting for a dead horse!

Reasonable people whose president chooses to gamble their money and lives in a war should be expected to ask questions about the quality of the horse that they are supporting. If the horse has no chance to win, they would be foolish to allow the president to continue making bets on that horse day after day. On the other hand, Bush would call this a “defeatist” attitude because they aren’t blindly and enthusiastically cheering for what might be a dead horse!

I guess from President Bush’s perspective, there are only two options. If we win the war in Iraq by helping to create a true democracy there, Bush will be remembered as a successful president. If we don’t, he will be remembered as a complete and utter failure who accomplished nothing while costing many thousands of lives and many billions of dollars in the process.

The bottom line is that when the history books are written, it is all going to stick to Bush - like the glue made from the horse he’s been betting on!

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Wal Mart Update

Here is a quick AP article related to my "Jesus Doesn't Need Advertising" post from earlier in the week.

Its sort of a Left-Over Blue light special. Oops wrong mart!

King George the Almighty

Some initial thoughts about Bush's secret executive order to allow spying on U.S. citizens. This will be the straw that breaks the President's back. He admitted this morning that he has signed off on this more 30 times since 9/11. There is no way that he can blame this one on others. It is a clear abuse of Presidential power. I think congressional leaders will have to take a stand on this one. Bush basically spit in their face, subverted their oversight, and now is trying to say that some of them knew about the policy and thus approved it.

In his address this morning, Bush seemed more upset that the news of this policy was leaked to the press than concerned about whether or not he had subverted the Constitution. Oh, now he is suddenly worried about the leaking of classified information. For three years, the White House has acted as if the outing of a CIA operative did not hurt U.S. interests at all. F---ing hypocrites!

Bush finished his talk this morning proclaiming that he will continue this spying policy as long as he is President. He said it in a way that made me think he now understands that this might not be for much longer.

Let the hearings begin!

The Washington Post has a the story here and Firedoglake has a great diary here.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Feingold Shines

Today the U.S. Senate blocked a renewal vote on expiring provisions of the "Patriot Act". Senator Russ Feingold D-Wisconsin played the lead role and in doing so may have shown Democrats once and for all that sticking to your beliefs and voting your conscience are the only true ways to lead your party and your country.

In September of 2002, Feingold was one of the few Democrats to speak out and vote against authorizing the President to use force in Iraq. On the Senate floor he argued:

Mr. President, this proposal is unacceptable. The Administration has been talking about war in Iraq for quite some time now. Surely they had the time to draft a more careful, thoughtful proposal than the irresponsibly broad and sweeping language that they sent to Congress.

Apparently the Administration put forward such broad language as a negotiating tactic - asking for everything in the hopes of getting merely a lot.
But we are not haggling over a used car. We are making decisions that could send young Americans to war and decisions that could have far-reaching consequences for the global campaign against terrorism and for America's role in the world in the twenty-first century.

Feingold said this at a time when the country was still gripped by the immediate fear of the 9/11 attacks. It was not an easy position to take. Yet it was the responsible decision - the morally correct one.

When the debate over the original “Patriot Act” occurred, Feingold again stood strong, ending his floor speech proclaiming:

Congress will fulfill its duty only when it protects both the American people and the freedoms at the foundation of American society. So let us preserve our heritage of basic rights. Let us practice that liberty. And let us fight to maintain that freedom that we call America.

Although I suspect that many felt the way he did, Feingold was the lone nay vote that date.

Then came the current Senate debate on the renewal of the “Patriot Act”. Feingold once again displayed his willingness to fight for freedom and the American way of life. This time he did not stand alone as he made his statement:

We knew the time would come when we would have to take a stand. And now we have. We are united today, as we were then. This is not a partisan issue. This is an American issue. This is a constitutional issue. We can come together to give the government the tools it needs to fight terrorism and protect the rights and freedoms of innocent citizens.

With this kind of leadership and his willingness to take a stand on tough issues, Senator Feingold has sent a message to the Democratic Party. Do not shy away from unpopular decisions and do not cast your votes based on future political implications. Just do what is right.

Feingold stuck to his beliefs, defending our country and its constitution and as a result of today’s events has risen to the top of the democratic political heap.

Maybe in the end responsible leaders will finish first.

No Intel Inside!

On a recent episode of Hardball, guest Kit Bond (R-MO) made a comment that seems to be the new Republican line now that George Bush has admitted that intelligence used to justify the war in Iraq was bad. He said that “the information on which the president went into war was intelligence which was not adequate because our intelligence system had been substantially downgraded in the 1990‘s” - the good old “blame it on Clinton” strategy!

So how bad was the intelligence Bush was provided right after he took office, as Richard Clarke immediately told him Al Qaeda was the biggest threat to the country? After taking over the White House from Bill Clinton, Bush basically ignored the good intelligence that was being provided to him, and the result was the death of nearly 3000 people on 9/11!

Then he blindly followed the admittedly bad intelligence into a war that killed an additional 2000 U.S. troops, and over 30,000 Iraqis. Of course shortly afterward, when everyone else was already questioning the intelligence, Bush was giving speeches in which he insisted that he had “darn good intelligence!”

Apparently, Bush had “darn good intelligence” the same way that Brownie was doing “a heck of a job” during Hurricane Katrina – and it had more to do with genetics (and the likely aid of some substance abuse) than with anything Bill Clinton ever did!

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Helen Thomas Tortures Scott McClellan

For months now the Whitehouse has repeatedly denied that the U.S. Government is involved in any kind of torture. Despite the clear proof from Abu Ghraib, a mountain of evidence from Guantanimo Bay, and the reports of CIA Black Ops prisons throughout Europe - the Bush Administration continues to proclaim, “we do not torture” - while at the same time fighting like hell to defeat the McCain anti-torture legislation.

In these times of extreme partisanship, the issue of torture is about as non-partisan as it gets. Free societies do not torture, even their most hated enemies, because in the end, it always does more harm than good. This concept is simple. One I think even George Bush can understand. The fact that the press hasn’t asked more tough questions on this issue is an outrage. But Wednesday at the Whitehouse press briefing, Helen Thomas decided to play “Name That Administration Tune”. She exposed the absurdity of the their position – and she did it with very few words.

Q I have another question. You keep saying we don't torture, but you're trying to negotiate a compromise where we can, an exemption.
MR. McCLELLAN: That's not correct, and I've told you that before.
Q What is correct?
MR. McCLELLAN: The President has made it very clear that we do not torture and we do not engage in torture.
Q But you want an exemption.
MR. McCLELLAN: Now, what we do want to do is continue working with Senator McCain and others to come up with a good solution. And Steve Hadley had a meeting --
Q A solution to what?
MR. McCLELLAN: Steve Hadley had a good discussion with Senator McCain earlier today; it was a constructive discussion. We are continuing to work with Senator McCain and his staff to find a good solution on how we move forward. And Secretary Rice spoke about this at length just last week --
Q Why do you need a solution if we don't torture?
MR. McCLELLAN: -- and talked about the difficult issues that are involved here, because we're talking about the safety and security of the American people, and we're engaged in a different kind of war against a very dangerous enemy.
Q -- need an exemption? Isn't that what you're trying --
MR. McCLELLAN: That's not a correct assessment, Helen, because there are already laws that prevent and prohibit torture.
Q What's it all about then?
MR. McCLELLAN: I think we've made it very clear. Maybe you should go back and look at what we've said over the last couple weeks.
Q It has not been clear. I want to know why you need an exemption to torture.

Thank you Helen for calling a spade a spade. Is it a coincidence that Thursday the Whitehouse suddenly flip flopped and decided to sign on to the McCain legislation?

So Who’s Not Going to Comment on an Ongoing Investigation?

This post on firedoglake nails the hypocrisy of the Bush Administration to the wall!

For months and months, they have been repeating the mantra that they “are not going to comment during an ongoing investigation” whenever asked about the CIA leak scandal or any of the other scandals swirling around Washington. Scott McClellan has said this line so many times it might as well be tattooed on his forehead!

So now this comes out in the WAPO:

President Bush said yesterday he is confident that former House majority leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) is innocent of money-laundering charges, as he offered strong support for several top Republicans who have been battered by investigations or by rumors of fading clout inside the White House.

In an interview with Fox News, Bush said he hopes DeLay will be cleared of charges that he illegally steered corporate money into campaigns for the Texas legislature and will reclaim his powerful leadership position in Congress.

Bush went on to offer support for Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and Karl Rove, stating about the latter:

We're still as close as we've ever been," the president said. "You know, when we look back at the presidency and my time in politics, no question that Karl had a lot to do with me getting here, and I value his friendship. We're very close.
So if you are not going to comment during an ongoing investigation, then shut the f**k up! A comment is a comment, whether it’s showing support for your buddies, or telling the public what you know about potential criminal activity in the White House!

Hell, regarding the CIA leak, even the guy who first made the identity of Valerie Plame public says Bush probably knows who his source was. In a letter to the President, Sen. Chuck Schumer asks Bush to “clear this matter up quickly.” Since he is so quick to clear up the matter of how he feels about DeLay and Rove, he should also do the same regarding the CIA leak!

Next time Scott McClellan trots out the “we’re not going to comment during an ongoing investigation” line, he needs to be abruptly told that the President just commented!

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Reflections on an Execution, aka “Terminator Does a Dookie Over Tookie!”

In yesterday’s post comparing Stanley “Tookie” Williams to President Bush, I struggled with how to make my point without seeming to elevate Tookie’s plight too much. I have no idea whether he committed the crimes of which he was accused, and it really doesn’t matter to me since I don’t believe the State should be executing anyone! My point was simply that both men chose to promote violence and death, neither man has accepted full responsibility for their actions, and only one of them has taken any steps in the right direction. Whether Tookie took enough steps to avoid execution is an argument for those who believe revenge is debatable. That’s not me!

What I can debate, however, is the logic of Governor Schwarzenegger’s denial of clemency (PDF). Now that I’ve had a chance to read the document, I can only say that the Terminator’s claim to have been struggling with issues of conscience before making the decision seems as hollow as his characterization of Tookie’s claim of redemption!

The denial reads as if the Terminator had already made his decision, and then sent his Legal Affairs Secretary, Andrea Hoch, out to dig up some additional justification to kill the guy! And what justification did she find?

While awaiting trial, he wrote about an escape plan that was never executed. Um, first of all, this non-incident occurred over 20 years ago – well before Tookie even claimed to have begun turning his life around. So if he did want to escape from prison, a desire that could possess innocent as well as guilty prisoners, writing down his escape plan is, at most, an extension of the crimes themselves; and, at least, a potential screenplay for the sequel to The Shawshank Redemption!

The timing of the second murders “shows a callous disregard for human life.” This section includes the rather bizarre implication that murders less than two weeks apart are somehow worse than murders that are, say, three weeks apart! Perhaps Governor Schwarzenegger could give us a timeframe for more appropriate spacing of murders. Judging from his movies, I would expect it to be about 20 minutes! And again, both crimes took place well before Tookie claimed redemption anyway.

His books aren’t ending gang violence. Now this argument is downright stupid! The exact quote in the denial is that “ the continued pervasiveness of gang violence leads one to question the efficacy of Williams’ message.” So f**king what! This is like saying that because Arnold hasn’t ended partisan bickering in Sacramento, he isn’t trying to fulfill his campaign promises. Wait a minute, until he recently experienced redemption and hired a Democrat as his Chief of Staff, he wasn’t trying to fulfill his campaign promise of centrism! Only when he was “convicted” by voters rejecting all of his ballot initiatives did he decide that he would suddenly appeal to anyone but conservatives!

He included militant activist, George Jackson, in the dedication of one of his books. Here’s another ridiculous reach for a justification to kill the guy. So he included George Jackson in a long list that also included “countless other men, women and youths who have to endure the hellish oppression of living behind bars?” Perhaps it was because Jackson also wrote books from prison. Perhaps it was because Jackson once gave him a cigarette in the prison yard. Who knows why he was included on the list? But calling it “a significant indicator that Williams is not reformed” is no less absurd than saying the fact that he included Nelson Mandela on the list is an indicator that he is fit to lead a country!

He hasn’t apologized for the tragedy of gang violence. Schwarzenegger just couldn’t get through the clemency denial without at least one easily refutable lie. This one is right from Tookie’s own website. Sure, the apology wasn’t in the exact words that Arnold might have liked, but Tookie did apologize in his way for contributing to the violence of gangs, and he was doing something to try to stop it.

Governor Schwarzenegger’s clemency denial is notably harsh and without any sense that he approached his decision with respect, understanding and patience. Yet, inexplicably, he includes in a footnote the following editorial comment that has absolutely nothing to do with the case at hand:
Breaking the cycle of hopelessness and gang violence is the responsibility of us all, not just the most affected African-Americans or inner city communities. It is important to work together with respect, understanding and patience if we are one day to succeed.
Succeed at what, Arnold? Executing all of the gang members to rid them of their cycle of hopelessness? He ultimately concludes that Williams’ redemption “was just a hollow promise,” as he denied clemency. After nearly four years of hollow promises since becoming Governor, I guess he knows them when he sees them!

Hamburgers of Mass Destruction

Listening to Bush's speech this morning I was struck by one incredible paragraph. In his effort to sort of take responsibility for the "weapons of mass destruction" debacle, George may have used one of the most slippery sloped arguments ever devised.

(emphasis added)

When we made the decision to go into Iraq, many intelligence agencies around the world judged that Saddam possessed weapons of mass destruction. This judgment was shared by the intelligence agencies of governments who did not support my decision to remove Saddam. And it is true that much of the intelligence turned out to be wrong. As President, I'm responsible for the decision to go into Iraq -- and I'm also responsible for fixing what went wrong by reforming our intelligence capabilities. And we're doing just that. At the same time, we must remember that an investigation after the war by chief weapons inspector Charles Duelfer found that Saddam was using the U.N. oil-for-food program to influence countries and companies in an effort to undermine sanctions, with the intent of restarting his weapons programs once the sanctions collapsed and the world looked the other way.

So Bush is responsible, but not really and Saddam did not possess weapons - but he had acquired food, which he would somehow, eventually turn into WMD’s. That's the iminent threat?

Instead of sending weapons inspectors and troops into harms way we should have just sent the Hamburgler.

Thanks George, now you are speaking in terms Americans can understand. Come to think of it, this also might explain the video of those terrorists training on the monkey bars.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

A Tale of Two Killers!

Stanley "Tookie" Williams was a founder of the "Crips" who helped promote the gang lifestyle that led to widespread violence and death throughout Southern California in the early 70’s. He was convicted of killing 4 people in 1979, although he maintained that he did not commit the crimes. Witnesses, after striking plea deals, testified that he laughed as he pulled the trigger.

George W. Bush is the leader of a neoconservative movement that has promoted preemptive war leading to the death of over 2,100 U.S. troops and over 30,000 Iraqi civilians. His rationale for starting the war – a supposed connection between the 9/11 terrorists and Saddam Hussein - has been proven to be false with evidence available at the time he chose to go to war. He has said that he would “make the same decision again!”

Both of these men chose to promote values that ended up costing the lives of many other human beings. Both of these men would deny being directly responsible for the death of others, and have refused to accept accountability for choices that have indirectly led to violence and bloodshed. However, it is here that the similarities end, and the differences between these two men become quite striking.

One of these men has rejected the violent and destructive lifestyle he originally chose. The other frequently chuckles as he talks about his decisions, makes jokes after discussing the body count of his war, and still can't think of anything he has done wrong.

One of these men has demonstrated the intent to avoid promoting the mistakes he has made in the past. The other has promised to "stay the course" even if it means continuing to make the same mistakes again and again.

One of these men has done good work for others, trying to lead young people from following a destructive lifestyle. The other is fighting to keep the ability to torture his enemies, and to conduct war without national debate or significant international support and cooperation.

One of these men was executed this morning as a murderer. The other will get to keep living in the White House and representing the values of the U.S. to the rest of the world!

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Jesus Doesn't Need Advertising

At a large family holiday Party Saturday night, a relative told me that on his way to the party from out of town, he had stopped at a shopping center that housed a Wal-Mart store. Outside the front entrance he said were a handful of protesters carrying signs chastising Wal-Mart for not using the word "Christmas" in their "Holiday Ads". Fortunately, this family member was able to see the absurdity of the situation.

There are many reasons to picket Wal-Mart - their discriminatory hiring practices, their predatory expansion policy, their exploitation of cheap foreign labor -to name just a few. The shear stupidity and single-mindedness that leads these religious nuts to picket a Wal-Mart because they don't use the word Christmas is astounding and incredibly sad. A true Christian would be using their spare time in a more positive way - like feeding the hungry or caring for the infirmed or maybe protesting an illegal war for oil. In the end, Jesus doesn't care about Wal-Mart’s ad campaign. He can handle his own PR.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Stupid and Stupider

Yesterday George Bush made the second tour-stop on his new "Strategy for Victory Tour". Unlike his previous audiences this one was not present under orders by their commanding officers. The speech was given in front of some 300 members of the Council on Foreign Relations - a bi-partisan think tank. In other words, people with foreign policy expertise that understand what a gigantic mess we are in. Needless to say George didn't receive applause whenever he talked tough. Bush appeared stunned as the audience remained mostly silent, even as he delivered the lines with bravado and an erect posture. He even tried to talk slow and pronounce every syllable. None of it worked. I almost felt sorry for him.

After this performance, I can't help but wonder where they are going to find the next audience. How do they go about vetting these groups? Bush has already appeared in front of just about every military unit in the country that isn't deployed and the last time he tried to talk with the troops in Iraq - well lets just say it didn't go so well.

Then I realized that yesterday Ann Coulter revealed what I can only assume will be the new republican "Strategy for Audience Selection". Speaking to students at the University of Connecticut, Coulter was booed mercilessly and had to cut her talk short. Having learned from this experience she accidentally revealed the new strategy when she proclaimed - that she loves speaking to audiences who are stupider than she is.

Good luck finding one George!

Woodward's Source - Revealed!

With the identity of the person still a mystery, and after considering much of the available information, it seems reasonable to make a few assumptions about the identity of Bob Woodward’s source.

The following are things that we seem to know:

A. The source is a man (Woodward slipped during his interview with Larry King, referring to the source as “he.”)

B. The source is a “top administration official” who had long conversations with Woodward for his book on the Bush White House.

C. The source hopes to remain anonymous even though he is already known to both Woodward and Fitzgerald.

D. The source was not particularly reluctant to go to Fitzgerald to tell the truth about revealing Plame’s identity to a reporter before Scooter Libby who was indicted and labeled as the first administration official known to have done so.

So what kind of person fits these parameters, and what kind of scenario might have played out that is consistent with these assumptions?

In my opinion, a very likely scenario is suggested by this article by Steve Clemons, who posits that someone may be feeding information to help Patrick Fitzgerald build his case.

Here’s my theory:

What if Woodward’s source was someone who was in the room when a conspiracy to attack Joseph Wilson was hatched? What if the source was someone who disagreed with what was going to happen, but was powerless to stop it without going public as a whistleblower, and who did not want to take on such a public role in order to make sure that the conspiracy was revealed? What would such a person do?

One option would be to casually leak the information to Woodward – the reporter in the best position to disclose the inner workings of the Bush White House, whose reporting had already brought down one corrupt administration, and who has a history of having kept a source anonymous for over 30 years. Besides, Woodward was busy writing his book so he would not likely be the one to make the name public, since numerous others were likely to do it first .

This scenario would also explain Woodward’s contention that the information was given to him “casually” and that it didn’t seem like a big deal . . . because it wasn’t given to Woodward as a part of the conspiracy. It may have been just a hint to get him involved in the story.

If the case were to come under legal scrutiny, such a person might eventually choose to secretly help a prosecutor - either by leaking information anonymously, or by working directly with the prosecutor under an agreement that he would not have to testify.

If such a person was Woodward’s source, a number of confusing circumstances would be explained about how the conversation with Woodward became known. Here is Woodward’s description of the interaction with the source, as reported by Time Magazine:

Woodward realized, given that the indictment stated that Libby disclosed the information to New York Times reporter Miller on June 23, that Libby was not the first official to talk about Wilson's wife to a reporter. Woodward himself had received the information earlier.

According to Woodward, that triggered a call to his source. "I said it was clear to me that the source had told me [about Wilson's wife] in mid-June," says Woodward, "and this person could check his or her records and see that it was mid-June. My source said he or she had no alternative but to go to the prosecutor. I said, “If you do, am I released?'", referring to the confidentiality agreement between the two. The source said yes, but only for purposes of discussing it with Fitzgerald, not for publication.

Woodward further described the source’s response in his interview with Larry King:

And the source in this case at this moment, it's a very interesting moment in all of this, said "I have to go to the prosecutor. I have to go to the prosecutor. I have to tell the truth."

Why would anyone be so quick to run to the prosecutor claiming to be the first to discuss Plame with a reporter, unless he was confident that he would not be charged with a crime? And how could he be so confident unless he knew he could reasonably claim that he revealed the name only to help expose the conspiracy, or unless he was already cooperating with the prosecutor and had to fake surprise to avoid tipping off Woodward? And why would anyone insist on anonymity after talking to Fitzgerald unless he was confident that he would not be charged or required to testify in a public trial?

I should note that when I first started working on this theory, the person I had in mind as Woodward’s source was Colin Powell. I was inspired by statements made by Lawrence Wilkerson, Powell’s former Chief of Staff, reported here and here. I was operating on the assumption that Wilkerson’s statements were likely similar to those Powell might make, if he were not so calculating and reserved in his demeanor.

However, I have also read persuasive arguments that it could not be Powell.

First of all, a spokesperson for Powell denied that he was Woodward’s source, as did many other administration officials at the time. However, if someone fitting the above profile were the source, why wouldn’t he deny it? If the primary goal was to remain anonymous, then why not try to throw off the scent, particularly if you thought that the denial would never be publicly disproved.

Second, I have read of Wilkerson's comments about a growing rift with Powell over his harsh criticism of the Bush administration. Again, if the goal is to remain anonymous, why not distance himself from Wilkerson's views - even if he agrees with them?

Finally, I have read a lot of disparaging comments about Powell's role in the run-up to the war, and how his actions make it very unlikely that he would do anything to oppose the Bush administration. While I agree with many of the criticisms of Powell, it is conceivable that he, unlike the rest of the Bush gang, would eventually feel some remorse. It is he who coined the so-called "Pottery Barn Rule" - If you break it, you own it! While the "Powell Doctrine" originally applied to war, it is conceivable that he would also apply it to the breaking of trust with the American people, and eventually feel that he owned the responsibility to do something about it.

Whew! If you are still with me, congratulations! Or perhaps condolences are more in order! Anyway, the beauty of this theory is that if I am right, we may never find out the identity of Woodward's source.

So, if 30 years from now, we are still speculating on the identity of "Deep Throat II," just remember - I told you so! It's Colin Powell!

Addendum: In a classic example of why it is never a good idea to sit on a potentially timely post, today's WAPO had an article containing the following statement that seems to debunk my theory:

In a Nov. 14 deposition, Woodward answered questions under oath from Fitzgerald about the mid-June 2003 conversation with his source. The source, whose identity has not been revealed, had testified much earlier in Fitzgerald's investigation but did not mention the conversation, said two sources familiar with the investigation.

Since I don't know who the "two sources familiar with the investigation" might be, or how they would know about what wasn't in the earlier testimony of Woodward's source, I still hold (perhaps stubbornly) the belief that Woodward's source is someone who is helping the prosecutor with his investigation, and who has told Fitz everything he knows. According to various theories I've seen, that could be Powell, or it might be Tenet, or Armitage. Or perhaps someone else. My bet is still on Powell!

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Not Making the Grade!

Now that The 9/11 Commission has issued its report card, in which the President and Congress received a total of 12 D’s and 5 F’s in various aspects of protecting America’s security, I have to look back at the last 4 years and wonder what in the hell the Republicans have been doing. Well, “wonder” isn’t exactly the right word because I’ve seen what they’ve been doing. Perhaps, “seethe” is more like it!

Bush and the Republican-led Congress have wielded 9/11 like a shield, using it to deflect any criticism for not doing any of the other things they would normally be expected to do!

Reduce the federal deficit? We can’t – we’ve got to fight the war on terror!

Health care reform? Nope. Fightin’ the war on terror!

Disaster preparedness? Nope. War on terror! War on terror! War on terror!

It’s like the kid who is asked by his parents if he cleaned his room and who says, “I can’t because I’ve got too much homework!” When asked if he mowed the lawn, he says, “I can’t because I’ve got too much homework!” Did he take out the garbage? “Can’t. Too much homework!”

And then, at the end of the year the kid flunks all his classes because he didn’t do his homework!

Perhaps Bush thinks that by failing to do his homework, he will be held back to serve another term as President.

Nope! He and the rest of the Republicans currently running the Congress are going to be expelled from school and end up working at McDonald’s or living off of their parents!

That is, if we can take away all their ill-gotten gains like we did with the Dukester!

Graphic by Monk at Inflatable Dartboard.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Now Who Hates Christmas?

Bill O’Reilly, John Gibson and Fox News have a new enemy in their "War to save Christmas" and its - the White House? It seems this years first family's Xmas Card leaves out any mention of Mr. Bush’s lord and personal savior. Instead the card wishes its recipients the politically correct - "Best Wishes for a Happy Holiday Season". The Washington Post has a great story with some fun quotes.

Explaining the card selection Susan Whitson, Laura Bush’s press secretary states:

"Certainly President and Mrs. Bush, because of their faith, celebrate Christmas,"........."Their cards in recent years have included best wishes for a holiday season, rather than Christmas wishes, because they are sent to people of all faiths."

Exactly! Take that Bill! Finally some sense from a White House official - but it gets better. The Rev. Bob Edgar, a former Democratic congressman has the best line:

"I think it's more important to put Christ back into our war planning than into our Christmas cards".

Now there's a bumper sticker for ya.

My Plan to Stabilize Iraq!

After learning of the recently issued notice inviting grant applications for up to $1.02 billion for any type of entity with a plan to stabilize 10 cities in Iraq, I’ve been trying to come up with something that I think would work. $1.02 billion is a lot of money, and I am an entity! So why not give it a shot?

After racking my brain for several days as I attended the 1st Annual Left-Over Convention in Las Vegas, I had what Donald Rumsfeld would call an epiphany during my flight home. I was thinking about what makes it so much easier to stabilize cities in the United States than cities in Iraq. What do Americans have available to them that Iraqi’s don’t? And then I saw it, right in the pages of the SkyMall catalog. The Feell Bright Light - which now forms the first (and only) pillar in my plan to stabilize Iraq.

According to the notice, I need to stabilize 10 cities. Assuming there are an average of half a million people in each city, that means 5 million people. Violence is rampant and the electrical infrastructure is largely destroyed, leaving many of those people in darkness for lengthy periods of time, as they struggle from lack of sleep due to the risk of being blown up in suicide bombings. Unlike Americans, who are generally cheerful and happy, Iraqis are most certainly in a particularly foul mood these days. This leads to the details of my plan.

For $199 each, plus tax, I propose to purchase each citizen of these 10 cities a baseball cap, and a Feell Bright Light, which uses mobile clip-on flashlight technology to, among other things, “enhance brain serotonin, causing mood elevation. Without drugs!” It’s perfect. By allowing Iraqis in these 10 cities to experience the benefits of western innovation at it’s finest, they will have their moods elevated to the point where violence will no longer be an attractive option. Stability will be achieved. The mission will be accomplished!

Here is the budget of my proposed plan:

Baseball Cap (Incl. tax and 25% bulk disc.) ..................... $7.23
Feell Bright Light (Incl. tax and 20% bulk disc.) .............$170.44
Int. Shipping (cost per item) .................................... $22.33
Subtotal .......................................................... $199.90
Quantity ................................................. 5,000,000 units
Total Cost ............................................. $999,500,000.00
Net Admin Cost to seenos ............................ $20,500,000.00
Total Needed for Program ........................ $1,020,000,000.00

OK, now let’s see Halliburton come up with a plan that can compete with that!

Viva Las Vegas!

Just a quick note to let readers know that the 1st Annual Left-Over Convention, held in Las Vegas, NV, came to a conclusion yesterday. By all accounts, it was a huge success! All of our contributors were in attendance, as were approximately 10% of our regular readers. Details of the incredibly full content of the convention, unfortunately, will have to stay in Las Vegas!

Also, we did have a few minor gaffes in our first efforts at mobile blogging. A couple of posts were up, then down, then up in mangled form and then down again. At this point everything has been repaired and re-posted; so if you are interested, scroll down and see what we cooked up over the last few days.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Rumsfeld's Epiphany

Last week, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld claimed to have had an "epiphany" in which he suddenly realized that we should no longer use the word "insurgency" to describe the violence in Iraq.

Oooh boy! Thanks for the revelation!

If Rumsfeld was going to start having epiphanies, why couldn't it have been something more useful, like:

We're going to need enough troops to have any chance of being successful in Iraq!


Our troops need body armor!


Torture is bad!


I'm a doddering old fart who has no clue what's going on and should have retired a long time ago!

Frankly, I think the insignificance of Rumsfeld’s epiphany is pretty good evidence against the concept of intelligent design!

Why Does Bill O’Reilly Hate Happy Holidays?

There are a few things that we as American’s hold dear. Baseball, apple pie and the right to drive gigantic gas guzzling SUV’s. The one thing however, that working Americans can’t live without is “Happy Holidays”.

For some reason, with all that is wrong with the world, Bill O’Reilly has decided that he is on a crusade to do away with “Happy Holidays”.

All of us who work for a living and get two weeks of vacation per year eagerly look forward to holidays. It is golden time. I guess that is something highly-paid television anchors like Bill O’Reilly just can’t understand. His million-dollar contract probably allows for lots of time off.

The term “Happy Holidays” is also a good one, its friendly. It can be used in a multitude of situations - as a greeting on the telephone or to acknowledge someone as you pass them on the street while shopping. But what is best about “Happy Holidays” is that it refers to more than one day.

That’s more than one day that I will be paid for not being at work.

We must save Happy Holidays!

Now, I would be the first to admit that in America we celebrate a few less than worthy days. What is Arbor Day all about? I could do without that one. And, Valentine’s Day has sometimes left me in a bit of a lurch. I could let that one go too. But under no circumstances am I willing to give up my Happy Holidays.

Remember, I am just looking out for you.

P.S. Thinking ahead, I have purchased my wife’s Valentines Day present early this year – one enormous loofah.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Thinking like the Enemy

After finally mustering the energy to read through the National Strategy For Victory In Iraq, I've concluded that it is essentially like reports I see every day in the business world. You know the ones I?m talking about. They are filled with tedious and repetitive B.S. designed induce potential readers to just go along with the recommendations rather than actually reading it! They leave you scratching your head, wondering about the difference between a "strategic objective" and a "strategic pillar." They are filled with platitudes and bullet points up the ying-yang. Reading this document, I kept waiting to find a section on “the seven habits of the highly effective President!”

And then I got to Page 7, which really threw me for a loop, as it described in great detail, “The Strategy of Our Enemies!” How the hell does the Bush Administration know the strategy of our enemies down to a bullet-pointed list? And as I started reading the list, it seemed eerily familiar. It got my “reporting juices” flowing, and I went into “aggressive reporting mode,” tracking down a copy of the original strategy bullet points, with corrections made for inclusion in the National Strategy For Victory In Iraq.

Here is a copy:

The Strategy of The Republican Party Our Enemies.

Our Party The enemy seeks to …

> Weaken the Democrats Coalition’s resolve, and their families’ our resolve at home, through barbaric smear campaigns mass-casualty attacks, public outing slaughter of personal information Iraqi civilians and hostages, infliction of political casualties among Democratic on Coalition forces, and use of the media to spread propaganda and intimidate adversaries.

> Destroy confidence in American democracy the Iraqi government by sabotaging key essential service (gasoline and natural gas) supplies(oil and electricity) nodes, and by derailing the political process through rigged elections.

> Damage trust in governmental agencies Iraqi Security Forces through propaganda, infiltration by party operatives and cronies, and barbaric neglect of attacks on the weak and the innocent.

> Sabotage American Iraqi unity through propaganda against the Shi’a majority who believe in a woman’s right to choose punctuated with other wedge issues attacks intended to spark cultural sectarian conflict and civil unrest war.

> Establish Dick Cheney’s bunker safe havens to plan attacks and conduct intimidation campaigns.

> Expand Tom Delay’s plan of redistricting the fight to California neighboring states and other states beyond.

Bush AWOL Again!

In another perfect example of how President Bush is out of touch and a pitiful leader - this month he was summoned to appear for jury duty in his home state of Texas. And, even though he just spent the Thanksgiving holiday at his Crawford ranch, the White house says that Bush never received the document and only heard about it from published "media reports". Scott McClellan in his press briefing today explained that Bush has "other commitements" and has requested that the judge let him serve at later date.

Can you see the pattern here?

Maybe the judge will let him serve on a Alabama jury instead. I hear the cases there are really easy and once you're on the jury you don't even have to show up at the trial.

Meanwhile, earlier this month decorated war hero Senator John Kerry honored his commitment as a U.S. citizen and performed his civic duty in his home state of Massachusetts. Kerry displayed his natural leadership abilities and was elected jury foreman leading his jury to an organized and efficient verdict.

Obviously, Mr. Kerry went into the jury room with a clear exit strategy.