Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Bush's ABC Interview

Just read the transcript from Bush's interview with Elizabeth Vargas. What a complete moron. Could he possibly be more out of touch?

VARGAS: When you look back on those days immediately following when Katrina struck, what moment do you think was the moment that you realized that the government was failing, especially the people of New Orleans?

BUSH: When I saw TV reporters interviewing people who were screaming for help. It looked — the scenes looked chaotic and desperate. And I realized that our government was — could have done a better job of comforting people.


But the chaotic scenes were very troubling. It just — it was very unsettling for me to realize our fellow citizens were in near panic wondering where the help was.

And my particular favorite:

VARGAS: So you don't agree with that report that calls the U.S. "woefully unprepared?"

BUSH: I think the U.S. is better prepared than woefully unprepared.

Well I guess that is a step in the right direction. This could be the tag line for entire Bush Presidency.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Does Scalia Support Drinking and Hunting? [Updated]

Gee, here’s an interesting story in the aftermath of Dick Cheney shooting a man in the face. With much speculation over possible alcohol use being the reason behind the lengthy delay in reporting the incident, and with conflicting stories already circulating on the matter, here’s Supreme Court Justice, Antonin Scalia, giving a speech about the glory of hunting to what appears to be a fraternal drinking organization!

The best thing avid outdoorsmen can do for the sport of hunting is to attack the stereotype that guns are only used for evil purposes, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia told the National Wild Turkey Federation's annual convention yesterday.

I wonder if Cheney has sent him out on a promotional tour in order to build up a level of tolerance for drinking and hunting! How long before he gives the same speech to the National Jack Daniels Society, or the Fraternal Order of Old Overholt?

Oh, what’s that you say? The National Wild Turkey Federation is a hunting organization? OK, then it all makes sense. He really is just trying to show that guns aren’t only used for evil purposes (ie: like shooting a man in the face,) but are also used to promote goodness and joy in the world . . .

. . . like shooting this guy in the face!

[Update] CNN has this version of the story, which includes the following beauty:

This month, a lawyer hunting with Cheney in Texas was wounded when he stepped in the way as Cheney fired at a bird.

Stepped in the way! Eventually, I’m expecting the story to morph into one where Whittington actually pulled the trigger himself! Then again, looking at the following picture, I can see how Cheney might have made the mistake if he had been hunting for wild turkey. There is a slight resemblance, particularly in the neck area!

[Update II] I realize that it wasn't very nice of me to say that Harry Whittington looks like a turkey! It just sort of happened. It was an accident. And afterward, as I looked over at the picture of Harry, looking like a turkey, it was one of my worst days - at that moment.

I've been through a lot, and I'm ready to move on to the priorities facing this blog. That's why I'm now waiting for Mr. Whittington to relieve me of my burden and ease the strain on my family - by apologizing, for looking like a turkey!

Sunday, February 26, 2006

A Million Little Human Interest Stories

When Oprah Winfrey berated James Frey on national television for including exaggerations and falsehoods in his supposed memoir, many Americans shared her outrage. Although some suggested that Frey deserved credit for being able to write an engrossing book that gave readers what they wanted to read, critics were quick to point out that Frey’s story dealt with the real issues of addiction and recovery, and those who were inspired by his work were harmed greatly by his deception.

After watching two weeks of NBC’s coverage of the Torino Olympics, I’m starting to think that perhaps Oprah needs to have a little talk with Bob Costas and Jimmy Roberts!

As a result of the public’s desire for heart-tugging stories of athletes’ triumphing over unimaginable adversity, Olympic coverage has gradually shifted toward more so-called “human interest” stories, and less actual competition. With the notable exception of ice skating, where every “twizzle” is thoroughly dissected, coverage of most events includes only the American athletes, medal winners from other countries, and any competitor who can possibly be portrayed as a tragic hero!

But how many times must we hear of athletes growing up with debilitating diseases, overcoming depression or addiction, rising from near homelessness, surviving deaths of relatives with cancer, strokes, heart attacks, or freakish natural disasters? Surely there are many competitors out there worthy of attention who simply succeed, though ability and hard work, without having to overcome personal tragedy.

While I can only speculate on the level of truth in many of these stories, I had the chance to view one of the many “human interest" stories about an athlete with whom I have some familiarity, having briefly met her and her family and being close friends with another member of her team. The story was, in my opinion, exaggerated wildly for maximum dramatic effect – for no other reason than to deliver more of what people want to hear (at least when they have to hear about non-American athletes!)

Janica Kostelic, the brilliant Croatian skier, is one of the most decorated female athletes in Olympic history. Her ability to overcome multiple injuries and return stronger each time should have been inspirational enough. But NBC, in order to ratchet up the sympathy factor to 11, insisted on characterizing her as coming from abject poverty in a war torn country. This is a heart-wrenching stereotype, but not really true. While NBC chose to show the unlikely image of Kostelic and her brother Ivica carrying their skis past a bombed out building, the reality is that her family lives in a part of Croatia that was relatively unaffected by the war, and nearly all of her training takes place outside of Croatia.

While her upbringing may seem like poverty to the average American skier in Aspen or Heavenly Valley, it was probably not much different from that of many other athletes whose parents had to make sacrifices to facilitate their training at a young age, but who always had food on the table and a roof over their heads. According to NBC, she was forced by poverty to sell her old skis to finance her training. Oh, the horror of not having the luxury of keeping stacks and stacks of old skis in the garage!

In short, NBC’s coverage, while giving people more and more of what they want to hear, distorts the perception of what it takes to be a successful athlete. Children who watch the Olympics and aspire to compete are likely to think that they can only follow in the footsteps of their heroes if they suffer the tragedies and hardships that are the central focus of nearly every event. Not unlike readers of Frey’s book who struggle with their own demons while thinking his story is a real-life example of how to overcome them. Just two sides of the same fake coin!

Something to Think About

I have been really busy at my real job working on a project dealing with HIV treatment and prevention. Earlier this week I spoke to a leading physician in the field. He had just returned from Africa where things are not good. A few of his statements really stuck with me.

"This administrations abstinence only education has set our AIDS prevention back 10 to 15 years."

"Right now in Africa there are more than 30 million orphaned children due to AIDS."

"Two weeks of the money spent on the Iraq War would pay for all the medications for every AIDS patient in the world for an entire year."

So much for a Culture of Life!

Friday, February 24, 2006

The Conservatives and Me.

Shortly after the UAE port deal story broke, I had the “opportunity” to take an unexpected trip by car through the Central Valley of California, driving from the Northern SF Bay Area to Fresno and back on successive days. During the 4 ½ hour drive down, I got a steady dose of outrage on liberal talk radio – but surprisingly, as I moved up and down the dial, I also found plenty of anger on conservative shows as well. Normally, I wouldn’t pause for more than a few minutes of these shows; but as I listened, it became clear that I suddenly had some common ground with the residents of the conservative bastion that I was driving through.

As I drove back the following day, I heard much more of the same – and it hit me that I could now actually consider having a reasonably pleasant conversation with the right-wing farmers and ranchers who occupied the region. I decided that I would stray from barreling up the I-5 freeway and divert onto Highway 33, which passes through the farming towns of Gustine, Newman, Patterson, and my target destination, Crows Landing. Crows Landing is the home of the only fiercely conservative relatives in my family – the ones I prefer to avoid at all costs. In fact, I had avoided them for so long that I have no idea where they actually live, but it was somehow liberating to feel that I could drive through their town, looking for the most redneck truck stop cafĂ©, and have a ready topic of conversation with any local I happened to meet.

Well, Crow’s Landing is small, and the only place to eat turned out to be a small taqueria that was operated out of a trailer in the parking lot of a feed store, so I stopped next to the tractors and pickups that were parked nearby. Since it was a takeout place, I never did get to have that conversation with a local conservative. I ended up eating my carne asada super burrito in the front seat of my car, in the shade of a large tree next to the Harvest Community Church, where I’m sure I would normally get the willies and have to leave immediately. It was quite relaxing! As I pulled out of town after finishing my lunch, I resisted the urge to stop and buy a cowboy hat from the guy selling them, like boxes of fruit, from the back of a large flatbed truck – to commemorate my new kinship with these conservatives.

And as I drove off down the highway, I imagined myself joining them in singing the chorus of a song that I had recently heard on the radio - a song with which they were surely familiar. We were singing it to George Bush in response to his support for the deal that would allow the United Arab Emirates to manage American ports. The chorus went like this (with "credit" to Toby Keith):

Justice will be served
And the battle will rage
This big dog will fight
When you rattle his cage
And you’ll be sorry that you messed
with The U.S. of A.
`Cause we`ll put a boot in your ass
It`s the American way.

We Are Too Scared to Trust You George!

I have now had a few days to read and digest accounts of the UAE Port deal. The early analysis from many of the Lefty Blogs was that this was another genius Rovian Plan to allow the Republicans running for re-election to distance themselves from Bush and his 37% percent approval numbers. I never gave this argument much credence and knew it wasn’t the case when I tuned in the local Rush wanna-be just in time to here him proclaim that "Bush’s entire second term is an unmitigated disaster" and that this port deal only proves it. If this scandal was a planned diversion this radio host would not have been trashing Bush’s entire 2nd term. He surely would have gotten the talking points and limited his comments. I believe his outrage was genuine.

My second point is that as Progressive Democrats we must not be so paranoid. Mr. Rove is not that smart. What good political moves has he engineered lately - Bush’s Social Security Plan? The Harriet Myers nomination? Please.

This is just another pay off to the Bush family business cronies and Rove is a two-bit political hack who is still likely to be indicted for his part in leaking the identity of an undercover CIA operative. A treasonous act from a political coward who’s not confident enough to debate issues in any fair or open way. Pay no attention to the man behind this political curtain.

My last point is that George has been doing his best to instill fear in all of us ever since 9/11. Suddenly he wants us all to calm down and trust that handing over our Ports to the UAE doesn’t in any way make us less safe. Well Mr. Bush you can’t have it both ways. We are either scared as a nation living in fear or we are not. Asking us to trust you after your laundry list of lies and failures would cost more than any political capital you could ever dream of having. With this port deal Mr. Bush, I think you have reached your credit limit.

The Bush Legacy is On the March!

In an earlier post, I concluded that despite George Bush’s efforts to focus on leaks regarding his NSA spying program, the number one story in 2006 would be the fate of the war in Iraq. Whether he likes it or not, this will be Bush’s legacy – success or failure!

Clearly, events of recent days have pointed toward failure, and no matter what phrase the media chooses to use to describe them – from “sectarian violence,” to having “an endangered future,” to “being at a crossroads” - it is now undeniably the beginning of a “civil war!”

George Bush’s civil war!

And, in many ways, it is also George Bush’s supporters’ civil war! They stood by his tough "bring it on" talk, but now that it is on, I wonder how long they can stand by him!

[Update]: looks like Fox News is trying their best:

Thursday, February 23, 2006

The Presidential Pendulum Wrecking Ball (Part 2)

In Part 1, I explored the premise that when the pendulum swings from one party to the other, Americans prefer to elect a President whose personal strengths offset the greatest deficiencies of the last President.

The theory breaks down a bit when you get to the transition from Clinton to Bush II, primarily because Bush wasn’t really elected over Al Gore by a majority of Americans. In this case, the pendulum was arguably shoved to the other side by a ruling of the Supreme Court. However, I think it can be argued that, along with electoral shenanigans, one of the main reasons Bush got close to enough votes to become President is that his born-again, “regular guy” persona was a sharp contrast to Clinton’s notable discipline problem and slick manner of talking his way out of it. Never mind that Bush was a phony, who hasn’t live up to any of the carefully cultivated perceptions that voters had of him. He was, in many ways, the Anti-Clinton.

As for Bush’s deficiencies, well - short of running out to buy a larger hard drive, I’ll have to pare them down to just the most prominent ones. First of all, he is dishonest. From calling himself a “compassionate conservative” to saying he has never met Jack Abramoff, and nearly everything in between, he is, plainly put, a liar! He also lacks a certain mental capacity that one would expect from a President - or even a dog catcher for that matter! Without the benefit of his family’s wealth and connections, it’s easy to imagine young George riding to school in the small bus! Lastly, he has an embarrassing lack of poise, frequently saying the most ridiculous things at the wrong times, with a petulant, irritable tone that often makes it difficult to tolerate hearing his voice.

With the direction America seems to be heading lately, given the right candidate on the Democratic side, the pendulum could be swinging with the power of a wrecking ball! So which Democratic candidate possesses the qualities that would best help Americans recover from the second Bush Presidency?

He or she would have to be someone with a sterling record of integrity and courage, who follows conscience rather than shifting with the political winds. After Bush, America will need a period that is free from political deception and opportunism from either party.

He or she would have to be someone who is highly intelligent, who can synthesize information, and who projects superior competence. After Bush, Americans will be desperately in need of a president who they perceive as being capable of coming up with better ideas than they can imagine – someone who will be too busy doing the job of President to sit down and have a beer with them.

And he or she would have to be someone who is eloquent and judicious in the use of language, who can adapt to different situations and communicate effectively without risk of embarrassing gaffes. After Bush, Americans will want someone they trust to improve our reputation in the world – someone who will generate respect instead of being frequent fodder for late night comedians.

At this point, nearly three years away from the next presidential election, I’m not going to speculate on which of the Democratic hopefuls seem to best display these qualities (though I have my current favorite in mind as I write). I will say that John Kerry isn’t the guy, and neither is Howard Dean, who I supported over Kerry in the 2002 Democratic primary.

For now, I will just say that these are the qualities that will be at the forefront of my thoughts, forming the yardstick by which I measure any potential Democratic presidential candidate.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Birth of a Euphemism.

Now that Dick Cheney has shot a man in the face, there are new phrases that have been introduced into our conversations. The phrase “Cheney shot a man in the face” seems to have caught on. A quick Google search yielded 417 hits. Leave out “Cheney” and it increases to 17,600 hits, with most of them being about Cheney. I can’t even say the phrase “Cheney shot a man in the face” without raising my voice, or type it without using italics and a bold font for emphasis!

Unfortunately, as much as I’d like to keep such a phrase in common use, it just doesn’t have many practical applications in normal conversation. With this in mind, I’d like to propose a better one, and promise to do my part to make it stick.

From now on, whenever I choose to take a deliberate risk (or see anyone else take a deliberate risk) I will no longer “go out on a limb.” I won’t “stick my neck out” or “live on the edge.” These phrases are now too pre-2/10! When I take a deliberate risk from now on, I’ll be “hunting with Cheney!

Here are a couple of examples of how this phrase could catch on:

“Hey, you are driving over 90 mph. You know you’re really hunting with Cheney!”

“No, I didn’t study for today’s test. I’ll be hunting with Cheney in class today!”

“I just bet a grand on the Raiders to win the Super Bowl. I’m hunting with Cheney, baby!”

As you can see, the phrase has lots of uses, it rolls nicely off the tongue and, best of all, it beats the hell out of trying to find ways to use “santorum” in normal conversation.

Monday, February 20, 2006

The Presidential Pendulum (Part 1)

Recent comments by Ken Mehlman regarding Hillary Clinton, while appropriately slammed by Left-Over, did get me thinking about the type of candidate Americans prefer to elect as President, particularly when the pendulum swings from one party to another. Conservatives are pushing the idea that Americans always like “cheerful” candidates with impeccable “manners” rather than “angry” ones. However, this seems like a calculated strategy to capitalize on the fact that they are currently giving any of their potential opponents plenty to be angry about! Ultimately, I think the real answer is that when the pendulum swings, Americans like a candidate who best compensates for the most glaring deficiencies of the last president.

To test this theory, I considered the succession of presidents since Nixon, and noted that there have been four pendulum swings: Nixon/Ford to Carter to Reagan/Bush to Clinton to Bush II. Admittedly, I am oversimplifying here, but with the idea that presidential elections often hinge on simple perceptions.

Nixon’s deficiencies clearly were characterized by his being secretive, paranoid and rather cold. He was not a likeable fellow, and was proven to be highly dishonest. Since Ford merely assumed the presidency after Nixon was forced to resign, I will consider him an extension of the Nixon presidency (as I will do with Reagan/Bush.)

Nixon/Ford were followed by the election of Jimmy Carter, an exceedingly warm, open and likeable man whose personal qualities could be considered to help wipe away the memories of Nixon. However, despite his intelligence and sincere desire to do what he thought was right, Carter’s glaring deficiency was that his openness led him to show the complexity of the job. He appeared indecisive, as exemplified during the Iran hostage crisis when his flaws were widely noticed by the public.

Carter was followed by Ronald Reagan - a charismatic actor who could confidently and without hesitation say anything his handlers told him to say. After Carter, America wanted a strong, John Wayne type who would never hesitate to know what to say or do. Unfortunately, what he did was to enact policies that were highly partisan and to many seemed underhanded (like Iran/Contra). Furthermore, he did not come across as a very intelligent man. With Reagan, it often seemed as if he was doing little more than charmingly reading a script he had been given by others. Bush was basically Reagan without the charm but a bit more involved in decision making.

After Reagan/Bush, America elected Bill Clinton, who was exceedingly bright and charming, and clearly able to run his own show. With Clinton, there was never any suspicion that he was merely reading someone else’s script. He was able to find ways to bridge the gap between liberals and conservatives that festered during the Reagan/Bush era, although a few of the latter still hated him for cutting Bush’s presidency short. By the end of his second term, however, Clinton revealed a notable deficiency in the area of personal discipline. In short, he couldn’t keep it in his pants, and even many liberals became disillusioned by his famously poor judgment regarding Monica Lewinsky!

Which leads to our current President, George W. Bush, whose “election” and deficiencies will have to be the topic of an entire post all to itself . . . .

Hard Lessons from an Accidental Shooting

It has now been more than a week since Vice President Cheney shot his “acquaintance” in the face. With a little perspective here is what I have learned from this incident.

First of all, shooting small creatures is relaxing even if you accidentally miss and shoot a man in the face.

It is OK to drink a beer before heading out with a loaded gun – as long as you drive around a while before you start shooting things.

When you do make a mistake and shoot a man in the face, it is helpful to have a team of secret service, doctors, and an ambulance near by – although probably not practical for most run of the mill hunters.

If I happen to become Vice President of the United States, it is nice to know that I have no responsibility to inform the President if I shoot a man in the face.

It is also good to know that there is no need to go to the hospital out of concern for the man that I just shot in the face. I can get on with my evening, fix myself a stiff drink and have a leisurely roast beef dinner with my GOP lobbyist ranch owner hostess.

It is also a relief to know that speaking with law enforcement officials is not required for many hours, because I suspect that after a long day of drinking beer, killing small creatures, shooting a man in the face, drinking some more, then consuming a large meal – I might be a little tuckered out. I’d probably be asleep as soon as my head hit that Vice Presidential pillow – especially with all that relaxing shooting I’d done that day. I’d be so tired I might even forget to take all my heart medications.

So you see Mr. Wittington is on the mend. He has apologized to the Vice President for being shot in the face. And, as a country we have learned some hard lessons about jumping to conclusions based on facts and evidence. With the passage of time I suspect that we will all come to understand the valuable lessons brought about by the simple act of the Vice President shooting a man in the face.

Thank you Mr. Cheney!

Why is This Man Smiling?

Because he just finished speaking on his favorite topic - "The War on Terra". I guess he thinks it is going well.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Cheney: A Lot of Bad Days

On Thursday during the now infamous Faux News interview Dick Cheney said:

"But the image of him falling is something I'll never be able to get out of my mind. I fired, and there's Harry falling. And it was, I'd have to say, one of the worst days of my life, at that moment."

This got me thinking. That if the day Cheney shot a man in the face was only one of the worst days of his life, what are the others? After some research here are:

Dick Cheney's Ten Worst Days of his Life

10. Cheney's first heart attack
9. Cheney's second heart attack
8. Cheney's first drunk driving conviction
7. Cheney finds out his daughter is a lesbian
6. Cheney's third heart attack
5. Cheney's second drunk driving conviction
4. Cheney's heart attack in his knee
3. Cheney shoots a man in the face
2. The day Slavery was abolished
1. Random stranger tells Cheney to go F--k himself on live television


Last week, when President Bush gave the details of the "foiled terrorist plot" to fly a plane into the tallest building on the west coast - he got the name of the building wrong - calling it "Liberty Tower" instead of "Library Tower".

This has left me a little confused. Is Laura Bush a "Librarian" or a "Libertarian"?

Thursday, February 16, 2006

I Guess Colin Powell Was Busy

One more point about Cheney shooting a man in the face. In his interview with Brit Hume, their was an exchange regarding the choice to send the ranch owner out to front the Cheney explanation of what happened. It was very telling.

(emphasis added)
Hume: Now, it strikes me that you must have known that this was going to be a national story -

Cheney: Oh, sure.

Hume: and it does raise the question of whether you couldn't have headed off this beltway firestorm if you had put out the word to the national media, as well as to the local newspaper so that it could post it on its Web site. I mean, in retrospect, wouldn't that have been the wise course -

Cheney: Well, who is going to do that? Are they going to take my word for what happened? There is obviously -

Hume: Well, obviously, you could have put the statement out in the name of whoever you wanted. You could put it out in the name of Mrs. Armstrong, if you wanted to. Obviously, that's - she's the one who made the statement.

Cheney: Exactly. That's what we did. We went with Mrs. Armstrong. We had -- she's the one who put out the statement. And she was the most credible one to do it because she was a witness. It wasn't me in terms of saying, here's what happened, it was -

Hume: Right, understood. Now, the suspicion grows in some quarters that you - that this was an attempt to minimize it, by having it first appear in a little paper and appear like a little hunting incident down in a remote corner of Texas.

Cheney: There wasn't any way this was going to be minimized, Brit; but it was important that it be accurate.

OK. First of all Cheney is admitting that he is not a credible source or at least that he realizes that no one would believe him. Next, his explanation of why he chose Mrs. Armstrong has an erie familiarity - "she was the most credible one to do it" - just like Colin Powel was the most credible one to present the false evidence of Saddam's WMD's.

It doesn't matter how ficticious the story is. It only matters that the person delivering it appears credible. And finally, accuracy has never been Cheney's forte. I'm sure it wasn't the driving force this time.

From all accounts, something is really fishy about how Cheney shot a man in the face. Either he had been drinking, or perhaps Cheney wasn't the shooter. What if he is covering for his hunting companion - to keep her from becoming the story?

Anyone know where she is? A secure bunker in an undisclosed location maybe.

At Last - The Story From a Talking Dick!

Just a couple of random thoughts about Dick Cheney’s recent interview with Brit Hume:

First of all, the biggest load of crap dumped by Cheney appears to be during this interchange:

Hume: Well, obviously, you could have put the statement out in the name of whoever you wanted. You could put it out in the name of Mrs. Armstrong, if you wanted to. Obviously, that's — she's the one who made the statement.

Cheney: Exactly. That's what we did. We went with Mrs. Armstrong. We had — she's the one who put out the statement. And she was the most credible one to do it because she was a witness.

Then how does Cheney explain this account of the incident:

Armstrong said she saw Cheney’s security detail running toward the scene. "The first thing that crossed my mind was he had a heart problem," she told The Associated Press.
So the most credible witness didn’t even know someone had been shot until after Cheney’s security detail arrived on the scene! If the goal was to have the statement come from the most credible witness who was not Cheney, how about, say, the other hunter who was standing right next to Cheney when the shot was fired? That would be Pamela Willeford, the Ambassador to Switzerland, who has apparently gone missing. [credit to Emptywheel for being the first blogger to bring some of these discrepancies to my attention]

In another matter related to Armstrong’s credibility, there was this interchange:

Hume: Was anybody drinking in this party?

Cheney: No. You don't hunt with people who drink. That's not a good idea. We had ...

Hume: So he wasn't, and you weren't?

Cheney: Correct. We'd taken a break at lunch — go down under an old — ancient oak tree there on the place, and have a barbecue. I had a beer at lunch.
Meanwhile, the "most credible" witness had this to say:

None in the hunting party was drinking alcohol, Armstrong said. "No, zero, zippo and I don't drink at all," she said. "No one was drinking."
Very observant witness, huh? And as any traffic cop will tell you, “a beer” undoubtedly means “several beers,” and “a couple of beers” undoubtedly means “a whole lot of beers!” So unless Armstrong was actually the one drinking the beers and ended up blacking out, she wasn’t witnessing a whole lot of anything that day!

Finally, I couldn’t help but notice the following series of answers:

Hume: How long have you known (Whittington?)

Cheney: I first met him in Vail,Colorado, when I worked for Jerry Ford about 30 years ago

Hume: Describe the setting.

Cheney: It's in south Texas . . . I've gone there, to the Armstrong ranch, for years. The Armstrongs have been friends for over 30 years.

Hume: How far away from you was he?

Cheney: I'm guessing about 30 yards.
Somehow, I am getting the mental picture of the delay before reporting the incident being used to run focus groups to determine the specific number that is the most likely to be blindly accepted by the general public when used as a part of an elaborate lie! Looks like the number is 30!

And for those conservatives who might suggest that I'm clinging to this story longer than it warrants, I offer you this promise:

I will quit talking about Dick Cheney shooting his friend with birdshot sooner than you were willing to quit talking about Bill Clinton shooting his friend with . . . well, you get the picture!

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Hume Grills Cheney - Big Question Still Unanswered

Finally an in-depth interview with the Vice President - who shot a man in the face on Saturday. But unfortunately the world will have to wait for the anwer to its most burning question.

From Faux news:

Hume: And you -- and I take it, you missed the bird.

THE VICE PRESIDENT: I have no idea. I mean, you focused on the bird, but as soon as I fired and saw Harry there, everything else went out of my mind. I don't know whether the bird went down, or didn't.

Dam it! Can't they ever give a straight answer to anything. What happened to that Bird?


Bush Administration Releases New Strategic Plan!

In response to criticism that the administration mishandled news surrounding Vice President Dick Cheney’s accidental shooting of his friend, the White House has released a new strategic plan designed to clearly show that they have one. The 38-page document includes detailed “strategic pillars” on such things as: demonstrating what the victim did wrong, praising Cheney’s marksmanship skills, and cleaning up any references to alcoholic beverage consumption.

However, analysis by computer document experts has shown that much like the National Strategy for Victory In Iraq, the National Strategy for Deflecting Blame From Dick Cheney was actually authored by a paid political consultant by the name of Vincent Wolf, also commonly known as “The Wolf.”

Left-Over has been able to locate the following photograph of Mr. Wolf, whose association and previous work for this administration remains a mystery.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

The Gentle Spray of Buckshot....That Wasn't!

CNN is reporting that Cheney's shooting victim has suffered a heart attack. It seems one of the pellets that gently caressed the man's chest penetrated deep enough to lodge next to his heart.

Cheney Should Resign . . . For The Children! [Updated]

After reading Left-Over’s commentary on efforts to spin the Dick Cheney shooting accident, I couldn’t help but recall that Cheney is a guy who campaigned with Bush under the slogan “Character Matters!”

Indeed it does, and what kind of “character” does Cheney show when he accidentally shoots a guy and then tries to keep the incident quiet as long as possible, doesn’t publicly apologize, and uses surrogates like former Wyoming Senator, Alan Simpson, to issue statements blaming the victim?

The same character that led Cheney to authorize Scooter Libby to leak classified information in order to smear a political enemy. The same character that led Cheney to get five deferments rather than serve in a military he so readily uses to achieve his own business objectives. The same character that led Cheney to push so hard for the freedom to secretly torture anyone the President labels an “enemy combatant.” The same character that led our frequent commenter, Anonymous Conservative, to suggest that “he embodies much of what is wrong with the (Republican) party; he's secretive, too close to the business community...in a word, creepy.”

Conservatives often talk about morals and family values – basically the importance of setting a good example for our children. On that argument alone, it seems clear that Dick Cheney should be forced to resign. He clearly doesn’t have the character to continue serving in a position where his behavior could be an example for future generations!

Then again, he also appears to be doing his best to make sure there aren't too many future generations to be influenced by his behavior!

[Update] Just added a link to the Hardball transcript with the Alan Simpson statement mentioned above. Here's the most baffling quote:

But when this man, the victim, the poor guy, it‘s a sad thing what happened to him, but it has less to do with Dick Cheney and much more to do with him. He apparently went for another bird, picked it up, came back and got behind the two other hunters and didn‘t say I‘m back, I‘m behind you, I‘m here. And if you don‘t do that, let me tell you, anything can happen.

So if I understand correctly, there were 3 hunters and one went to to get a bird and then came back and got behind the other two hunters (where he was apparently supposed to be) but did not announce he was behind them, so Cheney quickly turned and shot the guy from 30 yards away. I'm not a hunter, but I'm thinking at the point when Cheney turned, the guy was now "in front of him!" and was entitled to a fair opportunity to get back to an appropriate spot behind Cheney, before Cheney pulled the trigger! If the other hunters are supposed to be behind you when you are preparing to shoot, why would you turn and shoot without re-assessing where your partners are?

In other words, if you are back where you are supposed to be, you shouldn't have to announce your presence to avoid getting shot!

Monday, February 13, 2006

Play the Cheney Quail Hunting Video Game

From Huffington Post

Here is a link to help pass the hours until the Vice President sees fit to leak information about how he shot his hunting partner.

I use the term shot because "sprayed" or "peppered" or "sprinkled with a fine dewey mist" just don't seem accurate to me when describing how a man was hit in the face and neck, at close range, with buckshot from a shotgun blast - from which he needed to be airlifted to a hospital ICU unit. I don't know maybe I am being too literal.

Guns Don't "Pepper" People, Vice Presidents Do!

So I have been reading the news reports and blogs regarding Cheney’s shooting accident, and here is my take. As much as I would like to argue that this is one more distraction straight out of the Karl Rove playbook, I don’t think that it is. I also don’t think that it was just a minor incident that could have happened to anyone. The shooting itself is a terrible thing but what it confirms about Cheney and the White House is the scariest thing of all.

At a time when the administration almost daily asks the American people to trust them, this shooting and how Cheney seemed to have handled it once again proves that he is not trustworthy in any way. Not coming forward in a timely manner, then concocting a story to try and take the blame from his shoulders only highlight Dick’s incredible lack of character.

This was Cheney’s fault plain and simple. He pulled the trigger and shot a man. He is responsible - period! Taking 18 hours to wordsmith a story where you characterize the shooting of a man as “spraying” or “peppering” him with buckshot is unacceptable. And by the way when you “spray” the intended quail with buckshot – it dies.

For once in your life Dick, admit that you made a terrible mistake, take responsibility and apologize to the man in the ICU that you shot and to the American people. And while you are at it – apologize for the War in Iraq, the domestic spying, outing a CIA agent, the war profiteering and all the other bullshit that you have “peppered” the country with as Vice President.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

George, Jack & Karl - Photo of the Day

Time magazine has an interesting story up with a couple of juicy quotes from Mr. Abramoff and a ridiculous statement from McClellan.

Shown the photograph today, White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan said the White House had still found no record of Abramoff's presence but confirmed that it is Abramoff in the picture.

It is interesting that the NY Times article has the same photo but cropped the image to exclude Rove.

Friday, February 10, 2006

When Republican Allies Attack! [with updated Brownie Link]

It’s been a bad couple of days for President Bush. Several Republicans, including Rep. Heather Wilson of New Mexico and Rep. James Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin stepped up and publicly questioned his program of illegal domestic spying. Then it was released that Scooter Libby says he was “authorized” to leak classified intelligence information to reporters by his superiors in order to undercut the credibility of Joseph Wilson. Jack Abramoff has e-mails showing that Bush invited him to his Crawford ranch. And finally, Michael “Brownie” Brown threatened to spill the beans on the administration's poor response to Hurricane Katrina. Ouch!

It got so bad that Bush had to pull out boasts of a 4-year-old foiled terrorist plot on Los Angeles’ Liberty Tower to try to get something positive in the news. But oops again – It was actually the Library Tower!

The best line of the day (paraphrased) – from Keith Olbermann – “I don’t know if this mistake indicates a subliminal affinity for the word ‘liberty,’ or an aversion to the word ‘library!"

[Update] Reddhedd has a great summary of Brownie's testimony, which clearly shows the White House knew immediately how bad Katrina was. It also includes some links to timelines that pull the rug out from under the administration spin, and a reminder that the guy placed in charge of the Katrina reconstruction that is going so well (snark) is Karl Rove! Heck of a job, Rovie!

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Who's Afraid Of The Big Bad Rove?

Over the last five years, Republicans have frequently pushed the idea that Democrats are weak, while the GOP are the party of toughness and resolve. They tell us they are the party who won’t back down from America’s enemies because only they have courage and conviction!

Now look who is cowering in fear as the big bully of the political playground, Karl Rove, threatens to steal their lunch if they don’t support the President’s program of illegal domestic spying! What a bunch of spineless sniveling cowards are the current crop of Republicans. Digby brilliantly compares them to Eunuchs in Bush’s harem, while I’ve got my own take on the situation.

This scenario reminds me of watching kids on the real playground as I was growing up. There were always a few bullies who used the image of power – either from superior size, a reputation for toughness, or an aura of sheer insanity - to intimidate and manipulate other kids.

The Democrats seem like the kids who simply tried to stay away from the bully, proudly coming to school every day knowing that they would occasionally be singled out and harassed, or have their lunch taken from them every once in a while. But they remained independent and determined to steer clear whenever possible, carrying on a normal social life with their circle of friends despite the misfortune of having to share the playground with a bully.

On the other hand, this group of Republicans seem more like the other kids. The ones who tried to spare themselves from harassment by kissing up to the bully and doing whatever the bully asked of them, no matter how demeaning. They would follow the bully around the playground like puppies after their master, as they hoped upon hope that he would continue to allow them to be close to the power they vainly wished they had.

These kids would wait for the bully to choose a victim, or even egg him on with hollow praise, and then act tough as they joined in the harassment of someone they knew wasn’t a threat to them. They would hurl taunts from safely behind the bully’s back, and if the bully ever hinted that he might turn on them, these kids shriveled into the pathetic, boot-licking sycophants they were.

These are today’s Republicans in Congress as Rove browbeats them into staying in line with his threats of turning his wrath on them. Unless some of these Republicans refuse to bow to Rove’s authority, whenever I hear them play the “tough guy” role, I will only see the weak-minded kids in the playground pretending to be tough as they cower behind the bully.

Oh yeah - eventually someone always came along who was tougher than the bully and ALL the kids laughed as the bully got his ass kicked!

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Russ Feingold Speaks For Me!

Russ Feingold has been solid as a rock throughout the controversy surrounding the Patriot Act, and now in response to George Bush’s illegal domestic spying program. He posted this diary on Daily Kos today calling for support in his efforts to fight the more troubling aspects of the Patriot Act, and then he gave an eloquent floor speech on NSA wiretapping that is inspiring to read. Through reading his words, it is suddenly possible to imagine smart, principled and poised leadership - something America has not seen in quite some time. Here are a few highlights from the speech, but go read the whole thing. It’s long, but every word is golden!

The President issued a call to spread freedom throughout the world, and then he admitted that he has deprived Americans of one of their most basic freedoms under the Fourth Amendment -- to be free from unjustified government intrusion.

The President was blunt. He said that he had authorized the NSA's domestic spying program, and he made a number of misleading arguments to defend himself. His words got rousing applause from Republicans, and even some Democrats.

The President was blunt, so I will be blunt: This program is breaking the law, and this President is breaking the law. Not only that, he is misleading the American people in his efforts to justify this program.

How is that worthy of applause? Since when do we celebrate our commander in chief for violating our most basic freedoms, and misleading the American people in the process? When did we start to stand up and cheer for breaking the law? In that moment at the State of the Union, I felt ashamed.


To find out that the President of the United States has violated the basic rights of the American people is chilling. And then to see him publicly embrace his actions - and to see so many Members of Congress cheer him on - is appalling.

The President has broken the law,and he has made it clear that he will continue to do so. But the President is not a king. And the Congress is not a king's court. Our job is not to stand up and cheer when the President breaks the law. Our job is to stand up and demand accountability, to stand up and check the power of an out-of-control executive branch.


The President's actions are indefensible. Freedom is an enduring principle. It is not something to celebrate in one breath, and ignore the next. Freedom is at the heart of who we are as a nation, and as a people. We cannot be a beacon of freedom for the world unless we protect our own freedoms here at home.

The President was right about one thing. In his address, he said "We love our freedom, and we will fight to keep it."

Yes, Mr. President. We do love our freedom, and we will fight to keep it. We will fight to defeat the terrorists who threaten the safety and security of our families and loved ones. And we will fight to protect the rights of law-abiding Americans against intrusive government power.

As the President said, we must always be clear in our principles. So let us be clear: We cherish the great and noble principle of freedom, we will fight to keep it, and we will hold this President - and anyone who violates those freedoms - accountable for their actions. In a nation built on freedom, the President is not a king, and no one is above the law.

All I have to add is "Bravo, Senator!"

Ken Mehlman is Ugly!

Here's another perfect example of what is wrong with the "traditional media". On Sunday morning Republican Party Chairman, Ken Mehlman called Hillary Clinton "angry". He went on to say:

"I don't think the American people, if you look historically, elect angry candidates. And whether it's the comments about the plantation or the worst administration in history, Hillary Clinton seems to have a lot of anger."

This is a typical ploy from the right. Throw out some "swiftboat" style attack on a political enemy. It's par for the course. We all expect it.

But what the media does with it is appalling. I personally saw three TV news programs that did stories or had discussions yesterday where they asked the question "IS HILLARY TOO ANGRY TO BE PRESIDENT?" Not only did they do the stories but they teased them over and over before they got to the segments. GOP mission accomplished!

All of this planted by a political enemy - and, the TV producers and newspaper editors just act like sheep and go with it. A better story might have been - why is the GOP so worried about Hillary that they are taking shots two years before the next presidential election?

Here is my suggestion for the next big story - IS KEN MEHLMAN TOO UGLY TO CONTINUE AS GOP CHAIRMAN?

Monday, February 06, 2006

Gonzales Still Bush's Boy

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales' performance today testifying in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee was in a word - Pathetic. Reddhedd at Firedoglake has the play by play. I won't attempt to go into that amount of detail, but I do want to give my initial take on today's testimony.

AG basically refused to answer any specific questions regarding the "illegal domestic spying program". Several times he was left stuttering and stammering in a desperate attempt not to be backed into a corner. His every answer seemed heavy with the weight of the administrations web of deceit strapped to his back. Many times it appeared as if he was having trouble remembering the myriad of arguments that the administration has floated as justification for their program.

But while Alberto's answers were intentionally unclear, what was all too clear is that today's testimony from the Attorney General of the United States of America was only about protecting George Bush. At one point Gonzales referredered to the President as "my client". Now I'm sure that this reference was entirely innocent (cough cough), kind of like when Condi referred to George as her "husband".

But the fact is that Alberto Gonzales is the Attorney General for the entire country. He is no longer the personal lackey of George Bush. He has the responsibility to protect all of our rights, not just the so called "inherent" rights of the President.

Here is the United States Department of Justice Mission Statement - directly from the DOJ Website:

(emphasis added)
To enforce the law and defend the interests of the United States according to the law; to ensure public safety against threats foreign and domestic; to provide federal leadership in preventing and controlling crime; to seek just punishment for those guilty of unlawful behavior; and to ensure fair and impartial administration of justice for all Americans.

BBQ Tips For Grilled Weasel!

In case you thought the issue of illegal domestic spying would finally be the slap in the face that spurred Senate Republicans to stop running interference for the Bush Administration, think again! Apparently the entire party is so deep in denial, deception or doo doo that they have no option but to keep piling lies upon lies upon more lies, in the hope that they can find a way to weasel out of the mess they have allowed to develop on their watch.

After pronouncing Bush’s domestic spying program “illegal,” Arlen Specter started off the “testimony” of Alberto Gonzales with the decision to allow him to forego being questioned under oath, essentially giving the Attorney General a “get out of the truth card” before he had to answer his first question! Clearly, the game plan for the Republicans was to coax Gonzales through the proceeding by eliciting carefully planned answers that will warrant no more than a slight hand slap for the President, while showing just enough concern for civil liberties to claim they care about ordinary citizens.

Fortunately, the Democrats had other ideas, seeming considerably tougher than during the Alito hearings. Russ Feingold, in particular, was brilliant with his rapid fire peppering of AG, getting him to admit, contrary to conservative claims that Bush was only doing what other presidents had done, that no other president had ignored the FISA laws since its inception in 1978. Charles Schumer also was able to cut through the shucking and jiving by getting AG to specifically decline comment on whether any US citizens had their homes bugged, or whether Bush’s political enemies had been under surveillance. This was a nice contrast to AG’s repeated qualifier that his answers referred to “the program that we are discussing today.” Certainly make you wonder what “programs” we haven’t found out about yet!

Perhaps I missed it, as I was trying to listen in while I worked, but I definitely would have liked to have heard more emphasis on the fact that the program was undertaken despite internal questions about constitutionality. By deliberately avoiding the FISA warrants, the Bush administration may have further jeopardized national security by creating a loophole that would torpedo prosecution of any terrorists they happened to catch with the program!

When it was all said and done, however, the day ended with the clear indication that the majority Republicans are going to do everything they can to “stage manage” the hearings to minimize political harm at the expense of our democracy. Unless the people rise up in November and express their outrage by voting them out of the majority, these Republicans are going to stick to their game plan of using 9/11 as a political tool to manipulate the American people until the very end!

Saturday, February 04, 2006

New Framing for Spy Issue?

The talk radio junkie that I am - I just heard a caller refer to the NSA spy program as Bush's "Unwarranted Domestic Spy Program".

I think this framing has more juice to it than just calling it "warrantless".

I'm curious to know what you all think.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Only Smart Get Smarter

So the Bush Administration's new catch phrase is "American Competitiveness". He used it numerous times in his SOTU speech. And has set out to different parts of the country to drum it into our collective heads .

My first thought is that sports teams say that they want to be competitive when they know that they aren't very good. It's a little more positive than just admitting that they suck. By pushing this "competitiveness" phrasing as a new direction for the country, Bush is simply admitting that we are losing our competitive edge.

This is not the strong, macho message that Bush usually tries to front. And if you carry the line of reasoning any futher - it leads directly to questions about why we are failing to maintain our status as a world leader under Bush's Presidency. I can't wait for the MSM to ask these questions at Bush's next press conference, but I won't hold my breath. I know it is really just rhetoric with no substance behind it as usual, but it shows me that Bushco are really off their game. George is floundering for anything that might give him a bump - any bump in the polls.

Today during a photo-op at a Charter High School in Texas Bush said:

Laura and I are here because we believe it's important to spread AP classes all around the country. This is a unique place. The students here are really impressive people. They have decided to focus on the sciences and math and engineering. And this school helps lift their sights -- and one way it does so is to encourage them to take AP.

Well that sounds good doesn't it? But AP courses have been around since the mid 1950's. And these courses are for the highest achieving students who will be successful anyway. Investing precious education funding in AP courses to fix the education system is like giving tax breaks to only the wealthiest of the wealthy to spur the economy. The rich get richer and the smart get smarter and the rest of us are left out in the cold.

Same As It Ever Was!

There’s been a recent flurry of new Plamegate news, starting with minor skirmishes over access to evidence, missing e-mails, and this great Murray Waas article, all dissected in great detail by Reddhead, emptywheel, and eriposte, among others.

To give the nano-summary of it all, Libby looks more and more like the firewall for Cheney and the rest of the WHIG, in an effort to keep the depths of the conspiracy to attack Joe Wilson from becoming public. Cheney still looks like the big fish, who has been lying all along, and Fitzgerald still seems to be playing them all like a violin.

And if you are having trouble keeping track of all the legal proceedings involving the current array of scandals, Josh Marshall has just posted the Grand Old Docket.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

The Final Straw

With each revelation regarding the Bush Administration I can’t help but wonder when mainstream Republicans will reach the tipping point? How much corruption, illegalities and lies are they going to defend? Every day when I read the days headlines and surf the Blogs I think this has got to be the day.

Just look at a few of today’s articles:

Bush 'plotted to lure Saddam into war with fake UN plane'

Bush to Request $439.3B Defense Budget

Blair-Bush deal before Iraq war revealed in secret memo PM promised to be 'solidly behind' US invasion with or without UN backing

Iraq, Niger, And The CIA

These two are particularly pathetic so I will include a clip:

Bush energy advisers clarify his statements on Mideast oil Tennessean News Services

WASHINGTON — One day after President Bush vowed to reduce America's dependence on Middle East oil by cutting 75% of imports from there by 2025, his energy secretary and national economic adviser said yesterday that the president didn't mean it literally.

Bush Urges Confidence in His Leadership

President Bush said Wednesday he understands why the nation he has led for five years has become more anxious, and he urged people to have confidence in him.

How confident in his leadership can we be when the day after his most important speech in a year, they have to issue a clarification. How long before Bush just starts claiming he never said it?

It is only a matter of time before Bush's supporters start jumping ship. I wonder what will be the final straw?

[update by seenos]

I don't know what the final straw will be, but it will look something like this:

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

SOTU: America’s Latest Disaster! [Updated]

There’s not too much to say about last night’s SOTU . Think Progress has the line-by-line debunking here, while I prefer this more graphical rebuttal to this year’s stream of lies by the President

I’ll just add a few additional random comments.

First of all, I found it notable that with Samuel Alito’s head bobbing in the front row, Bush could begin the address with a glowing tribute to the “noble dream” of Coretta Scott King, and from there his credibility could go steadily downhill!

I think it bottomed out when he introduced the “American Competitiveness Initiative” and emphasized the need “to encourage children to take more math and science, and to make sure those courses are rigorous enough to compete with other nations.” As if other nations are going to be threatened by the math and science skills of a nation who twice elected a president who pushes Intelligent Design, and safe, clean, nuke-u-lar energy!

My favorite part of the address was when Bush mentioned Congress’ failure to pass his Social Security Initiative, and the Democrats stood and cheered wildly. Bush’s face flushed with anger as he glared at them and warned “the rising cost of entitlements is a problem that is not going away.”

But right before that, he bragged about reducing “the growth of non-security discretionary spending” and staying “on track to cut the deficit in half by 2009” – all while we are pouring money down the black hole that is Iraq, national debt is up to $8.2 Trillion, and China has already indicated the intent to diversify away from US dollars, meaning the national credit card is about tapped out! Talk about a problem that is not going away!

Also on the economy, he turned to a frequent feel-good statement, that the “American people have turned in an economic performance that is the envy of the world.”

No George. That isn’t the world's envy of our economic performance. It’s PENIS ENVY, because they recognize that our President is a big dick!

[Update] I totally forgot about this wonderful line (with my emphasis added):
Tonight I ask you to pass legislation to prohibit the most egregious abuses of medical research: human cloning in all its forms, creating or implanting embryos for experiments, creating human-animal hybrids, and buying, selling, or patenting human embryos.

Come on George! Without human-animal hybrids, how is America supposed to win the scientific race to put a mermaid on the moon?