31 January 2006

Leave it to His Majesty to refuse to be out-dumbed

Honestly, this makes Sheehan's meet-and-greet with Hugo Chavez look positively inspired, in comparison.
Capitol Police arrest antiwar activist Sheehan

Cindy Sheehan, the mother of a fallen soldier in Iraq who reinvigorated the antiwar movement, was arrested and removed from the House gallery Tuesday night just before President Bush’s State of the Union address, a police spokeswoman said.

Sheehan, who had been invited to attend the speech by Rep. Lynn Woolsey, D-Calif., was charged with unlawful conduct, a misdemeanor, Capitol Police told NBC News. Sheehan was taken in handcuffs to police headquarters a few blocks away and her case was processed as Bush spoke.

Capitol Police Sgt. Kimberly Schneider said Sheehan had worn a T-shirt with an antiwar slogan to the speech and covered it up until she took her seat. Police warned her that such displays were not allowed, but she did not respond, the spokeswoman said.

The T-shirt bore the words “2,245 Dead — How Many More??” in reference to the number of U.S. troops killed in Iraq, protesters told NBC News.

Police handcuffed Sheehan and removed her from the gallery before Bush arrived. Sheehan was to be released on her own recognizance, Schneider said.
And I thought the Dems' standing O for Dear Leader's, "Congress did not act last year on my proposal to save Social Security, " line was some funny stuff.

With the army of operatives and spin doctors necessary to save the preznit from himself, how could they let that happen? You'd think one of them would've had an iota of foresight on this one. What did they think would get more press, Sheehan sitting there, wearing her t-shirt, or being arrested and led out in handcuffs for it? Whatever stage Sheehan would've had, they just threw a spotlight on it.

She couldn't have asked for a better scenario. Her (attempt at) silent protest was on all the newsfeeds in minutes, and El Presidente continues his pattern of stifling dissent and ends up looking like the despot he is. Cindy really ought to send him a thank you note.

El Presidente is beginning his 45 minutes of saying nothing

Sorry, can't bring myself to suffer through Dear Leader's "State of the GOP Agenda" address. (John at Americablog leaked the prepared text in advance, anyway).

If I really want to watch a worm squirm around through a fantasy land, I'll throw in the new Dune DVD I picked up earlier tonight.

"Justice" Alito

'Cause those words go together so well, right?

Well, in what comes as a surprise to no one, Sam A-lie-to was sworn in to the Supreme Court following a virtually party-line confirmation vote in the Senate. Said vote was taken after an eleventh hour filibuster push, championed by John Kerry and Ted Kennedy, mustered only 25 votes against cloture.

Like many, I'm disappointed about this filibuster. Alito has absolutely no place on the court, and should've been blocked. However many glowing bar association reviews he's had, his record and his confirmation hearings revealed him to be nothing more than a mendacious, GOP supplicant who will say anything to get a job, and is dedicated to the subservience of powers rather than their separation. That being said, unlike some of Left Blogsylvania, I'm not tarring the Democratic Senators who broke ranks and voted to bring the nomination to it's "upperdown" conclusion. What disappoints me, is that those senators who refused to fall in behind the honorable gentlemen from Massachusetts in this slap-dash stunt--were dead right.

The march to filibuster should've happened as soon as ScAlito's confirmation hearings were gaveled to a close. One or two spokesmen (and not the bland Kerry or the cartoonish Kennedy) should've immediately stepped forward and hammered away on the non-answers, evasions, and contradictions left in Sammy's wake. His name should've been inexorably linked to the "signing statements" he championed and the clear disregard for the law they represent. Ditto, broken promises of recusal, and his lame reversals on abortion views he described as "legal positions in which I personally believe very strongly."

Without the Dems laying that ground work, the average American was left with a guy who just didn't seem that bad. Pretty hard to overcome that perception and show the man to be a threat in 72 hours, to say nothing of doing so over a weekend. Hell, I love this stuff, and I more than occasionally take a break from it starting at Happy Hour on Friday. Joe and Jane Sixpack? They're almost certain to see this as much ado about nothing. And those who opted out of Kerry's filibuster gambit knew that very well. A damn shame (for all of us) that more people weren't so enlightened.

If you "keep your powder dry" for too long, sometimes you forget when to aim and fire.

30 January 2006

An open letter to Cindy Sheehan

From the AP:
CARACAS, Venezuela - Cindy Sheehan, the peace activist who just announced that she is weighing a run for Senate, plans to protest again outside President Bush's Texas ranch, Venezuela's president said Sunday with Sheehan by his side.

Hugo Chavez, his arm around Sheehan's shoulders, told a group of activists that Sheehan had told him that during Holy Week, in April, "she is going to put up her tent again in front of Mr. Danger's ranch."

"She invited me to put up a tent. Maybe I'll put up my tent also," Chavez said, to applause from an audience invited to his weekly broadcast on the final day of the World Social Forum, an annual gathering of anti-war and anti-globalization activists.

Sheehan, whose 24-year-old soldier son, Casey, was killed in Iraq in 2004, thanked Chavez for "supporting life and peace" and she was impressed by his sincerity.

"He said, 'Why don't I run for president?'" she said. "I just laughed."
Sweet merciful Christ.

Don't get me wrong, Cindy, I like you. I'm 110% behind what you're trying to accomplish. You were asking some hard questions that desperately needed to be asked, and (despite some people's efforts to the contrary) your unfortunate status as the mother of a soldier killed in action in El Presidente's war gave you an unassailable credibility many war opponents lack or find easily stripped by the GOP noise machine.

But standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Hugo Chavez?

As amused as I was watching him stick it to Big Oil for rights to drill in Venezuela, I'm not sure the O'Reilleys and Hannitys of the world could have dreamed of a better image to use for the "puppet of the radical left," accusation they tried to smear you with. You may have started as one mother looking for answers, but, like it or not, those days are far behind you. Intentional, or not, thrust upon you, or not, your story has made you "someone," now. You have a voice, the likes of which, most of us could never hope to have.

And, though it's cliche, that brings with it responsibility.

No one naturally knows how to deal with that sort of thing, and you're no exception. You don't have to be a puppet to benefit from some guidance in the role in which you've found yourself. But that guidance has to be carefully sought, as well. That said, you have to see that this latest meeting/photo op was some bad counsel. Cindy, if you believe in the goals youve stated, you've got to be smarter about how you pursue them. There are people all over this country that believe in you and what you're working for, but there are some places they won't follow. If any answers are to be had for your son, you need them and they need you. Unfortunately, there are people who'd stop you every step of the way.

Don't make it easier for them.

26 January 2006

Quote of the Day

Today, a tie, both from everyone's favorite despot:
"I don‘t see how you can be a partner in peace if you advocate the destruction of a country as part of your platform." -- Bush on Hamas' success in Palestinian elections.
"There's no doubt in my mind it is legal." -- El Presidente on his ILLEGAL domestic spying program.
At last we can agree. I, too, have no doubt, in your mind, it is legal, Chimpy.

24 January 2006

Throw another fib on the liar

White House Was Told Hurricane Posed Danger

WASHINGTON, Jan. 23 - The White House was told in the hours before Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans that the city would probably soon be inundated with floodwater, forcing the long-term relocation of hundreds of thousands of people, documents to be released Tuesday by Senate investigators show.

A Homeland Security Department report submitted to the White House at 1:47 a.m. on Aug. 29, hours before the storm hit, said, "Any storm rated Category 4 or greater will likely lead to severe flooding and/or levee breaching."

The internal department documents, which were forwarded to the White House, contradict statements by President Bush and the homeland security secretary, Michael Chertoff, that no one expected the storm protection system in New Orleans to be breached.

"I don't think anyone anticipated the breach of the levees," Mr. Bush said in a television interview on Sept. 1. "Now we're having to deal with it, and will."
Wow. That one's right up there with:
"Now, by the way, any time you hear the United States government talking about wiretap, it requires -- a wiretap requires a court order. Nothing has changed, by the way. When we're talking about chasing down terrorists, we're talking about getting a court order before we do so. It's important for our fellow citizens to understand, when you think Patriot Act, constitutional guarantees are in place when it comes to doing what is necessary to protect our homeland, because we value the Constitution." -- 04/20/2004
Or maybe even:
"Listen, I know of nobody -- I don't know of anybody in my administration who leaked classified information. If somebody did leak classified information, I'd like to know it, and we'll take the appropriate action." -- 09/30/2003
Or (my favorite):
"First, we must always maintain the highest ethical standards. We must always ask ourselves not only what is legal, but what is right. There is no goal of government worth accomplishing if it cannot be accomplished with integrity." -- 10/15/2001
And that doesn't even touch the "lies-by proxy" coming out of Scott McClellan's mouth on a near-daily basis. Stunning, really, bordering on the pathological. Are we ever going to see his bullshit reach critical mass?

Amazingly, "Man/dog" Santorum manages to put himself beneath contempt

What do you really is Latin for "asshole."

From Little Ricky's latest attempt to mobilize his supporters (Gracias, Santorum Exposed):
"And yet we have brave men and women who are willing to step forward because they know what's at stake. They're willing to sacrifice their lives for this great country. What I'm asking all of you tonight is not to put on a uniform. Put on a bumper sticker. Is it that much to ask? Is it that much to ask to step up and serve your country? To fight for what we believe in, to fight for the values that make this country the greatest country?...We will only stay that country if we continue that fight, and I'm asking you to help me do that."
There's a natural parallel for you: a soldier sacrificing his life in Iraq and some GOPer slapping a "Vote Santorum" bumpersticker on his SUV. (The video of his performance is really something to behold; just be sure you haven't eaten recently).

Invoking the memory of our troops and their sacrifices has never been done more repugnantly, and given the company Santorum keeps, that's saying a lot. His choice of crass exploitation is particularly digusting, though not entirely surprising. Who knows, it might even strike a chord with the chickenhawkish, bumpersticker/trunk-lid magnet patriots who've long felt such things constitute "stepping up and serving one's country."

23 January 2006

Quote of the Day

"It would be our choice to not to have to talk about this at all." -- Dan Bartlett, presidential adviser, referring to George Bush's Illegal Domestic Spying "Terrorist Surveillance" program on ABC's Good Morning America.
The choice favored by most criminals, no?

22 January 2006

John McCain still doesn't get it, Exhibit #1,457

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., appearing on "Fox News Sunday," said the new threats emphasize a greater need for Bush to fully consult with lawmakers from both parties on the best strategy for spy programs within the confines of the law.

"Do I think that the president's leadership has been worthy of support of our party and our leadership? Yes," McCain said.

But McCain questioned efforts to paint Democrats as weak on national security.

"There's too many good Democrats over there who are as concerned about national security and work just as hard as I do," McCain said.

On Friday, Rove outlined a blueprint for Republicans to prevail in the midterm elections, suggesting that Democrats have undermined anti-terror efforts by questioning Bush's authority to allow wiretapping without getting court approval first.
As much as I want to like John McCain, every time I try, he does something to reaffirm the fact that his foremost duty is carrying water for El Presidente. In 2000, McCain was dragged through the mud by the Bush/Rove slime machine. Just weeks ago, after Dear Leader made such a big show about coming together with him on the torture amendment, he screwed McCain with his "signing statement" pledge to ignore the ban whenever he saw fit.

And now McCain goes on national television to deem him "worthy of our party and leadership" while, in the same breath, criticizing the attempt to smear Democrats as being soft on terror. As if the source of both those impressions somehow isn't the same man. In the same Fox "News" broadcast, he continued with the absurdity (via ThinkProgress):
WALLACE: But you do not believe that currently he has the legal authority to engage in these warrant-less wiretaps.

MCCAIN: You know, I don’t think so, but why not come to Congress? We can sort this all out. I don’t think — I know of no member of Congress, frankly, who, if the administration came and said here’s why we need this capability, that they wouldn’t get it. And so let’s have the hearings.
News flash, John: "lacking the legal authority?" That makes him a criminal. And it makes your habit of following up each of your pricipled "stands," with a return to servile praise and deference all the more disgusting.

George Bush a pariah on either side of the border

With the election looming on Monday, the Canadian airwaves are filled with sparring between Paul Martin and the Liberal party and Stephen Harper's Conservatives. While at the bar, watching Vancouver manhandle Montreal on Hockey Night in Canada, this one was in heavy rotation:
"Arguably the hardest hitting of yesterday's batch of ads recalls a story last month in the Washington Times.

A female voice reads from the article as a closeup of Mr. Harper's face looms into focus in the background: 'Canada may elect the most pro-American leader in the western world. Harper is pro-Iraq war, anti-Kyoto and socially conservative. Bush's new best friend is the poster boy for his ideal foreign leader. A Harper victory will put a smile on George W. Bush's face.'

The voice then adds the Liberals own comment: 'Well,' she says, 'at least someone'll be happy, eh.'"

(Mr. Harper responded to the Times column shortly after it was published with a letter to the editor in which he pointed to differences between his policies and those of American conservative politicians).

I almost did a spit take when I saw that one the first time. You would expect to see a link to the U.S. president used as a negative in countries like Iran. Win or lose for Martin and the Liberals, it's a pretty telling indicator of how low El Presidente has brought our country, when, even in Canada, his "endorsement" is an attack that must be refuted.

20 January 2006

If you can't be bothered to pay attention, just resign.

Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska, one of the most conservative Democrats in Congress, announced Tuesday in a statement that he had made up his mind to support Alito "because of his impeccable judicial credentials, the American Bar Association's strong recommendation and his pledge that he would not bring a political agenda to the court."
He pledged? Well then, clearly, there's nothing to worry about.

If anyone has a bridge they'd like to sell, I suggest contacting Sen. Nelson at his office line, (202) 224-5274.

No one has to take your freedom when you give it away, willingly

When your children ask us how El Presidente was allowed to use the Constitution for toilet paper and govern a democracy of 300 million like a banana republic, kindly direct them to the type of "discourse" our media is engaging in. From Chris Matthews' Hardball session with Russell Tice, former NSA staffer credited with exposing the administrations illegal wiretapping scheme:
MATTHEWS: If I were president of the United States and somebody said we had the ability to check on all the conversations going on between here and Hamburg, Germany, where all the Al Qaeda people are, or somewhere in Saudi [Arabia],where they came from and their parents are, and we could mine some of that information by just looking for some key words like "World Trade Center" or "Pentagon," I'd do it.

TICE: Well, you'd be breaking the law.

MATTHEWS: Yeah. Well, maybe that's part of the job.
There it is. Breaking the law is just part of the president's job. This is the same Chris Matthews who thinks it's reasonable to compare Michael Moore with Osama bin Laden. So what does advocating a criminal Executive make him?

17 January 2006

When you lie down with dogs...

From the L.A. Times:
WASHINGTON -- The Supreme Court rejected the Bush administration's challenge to the nation's only right-to-die law today and ruled Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft overstepped his authority when he sought to punish the Oregon doctors who helped terminally ill people end their lives.

The 6-3 decision was a victory for states and their independent-minded voters, and a defeat for social conservatives.

New Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., in his first significant decision, joined Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas in dissent.
What a shocker. Roberts wastes no time jumping into bed with Scalia and Thomas to try to insert the Federal government into individual medical decisions. Who would've thought a Bush nominee would weigh in on the side of the theocrats? Apparently not Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon (Thanks to BlueOregon):
The Oregonian, 08/10/05...Supreme Court nominee John Roberts declared that, in cases dealing with end-of-life care, he would "start with the supposition that one has the right to be left alone," Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., said after the two met for an hour Tuesday. ...

Roberts told Wyden that he would look closely at the legislative history of federal laws and would be careful not to strip states of powers they traditionally have held -- such as regulating the practice of medicine, Wyden said.

"You don't get the impression from how he answered that he'd let somebody stretch a sweeping statute like the Controlled Substances Act," Wyden said. ...

Roberts said the basic genius of the federal system is that it affords states the ability to approach problems in a way that is best suited to their different needs; imposing uniformity across the nation would stifle the intent of the founding fathers, Wyden said.
Well, Sen. Wyden, how does it feel to get Levin-ed? You remember your colleague, Carl Levin, don't you? He went along with Lindsay Graham on stripping detainees of the ability to use habeas corpus to challenge their indeterminate detentions with the understanding that it would only apply to new cases. In what should have been a surprise to no one (except, apparently, Carl Levin), only days after the law's passage, the administration moved to throw out all pending habeas cases, as well.

Now, we're faced with A-lie-to, a nominee (who's made it perfectly clear that he'll say anything to get a job) from a president who has no regard for the laws and the Constitution, let alone his own word. How many times will Dems like Levin and Wyden decide that they have to find out for themselves that the lit burner is hot?

11 January 2006

Burying the needle on the "shameless-o-meter"

In Louisville, Bush hosted a casual, town hall-type event reminiscent of his campaign stops. Bush paced, with microphone in hand, like a talk show host in front of signs that left no doubt about the administration's message of the day: "Winning the War on Terror."

After his opening remarks, Bush fielded about 10 questions from the audience of invited groups. White House press secretary Scott McClellan said the questions were not prescreened. Bush said no topics were off-limits, and even invited a question about Iran, but nobody asked one...

A 7-year-old boy's question — "How can people help on the war on terror?" — gave Bush an opening to score some political points against his critics and try to keep Democrats from using Iraq as an issue in this year's midterm elections.

"It's one thing to have a philosophical difference — and I can understand people being abhorrent about war. War is terrible," Bush said. "But one way people can help as we're coming down the pike in the 2006 elections is remember the effect that rhetoric can have on our troops in harm's way, and the effect that rhetoric can have in emboldening or weakening an enemy."

Let's do the rundown, shall we?

Delusionally upbeat signage? Check.

Guaranteed friendly audience? Check.

"Man of the people" routine? Check.

Servicemen/women windowdressing? Nowhere to be seen. Damn...but what's this?

Small patriotic child? Aww, yeah...Check.

Dissent hurts troops/aids enemy? Check and check.

I'll give him this, El Presidente was on his game, today. The confluence of propagana elements is quite impressive if you think about it; a veritable "perfect storm" of bullshit. Just yesterday, Bush assailed the "partisan critics who claim that we acted in Iraq because of oil, or because of Israel, or because we misled the American people," seamlessly equating Big Oil/Zionist conspiracies with the legitimate questions about intelligence (and the increasing mountains of evidence they're based upon). He scolded opponents for being "irresponsible," and "bringing comfort to our enemies." And now we just happen to have a wide-eyed, apple-cheeked youngster asking him (imploringly), "Please, Mr. Preznit, what can all of us do to help win the war on terror?"

Absolutely nauseous.

But nothing, nothing was prescreened, according to Spinnin' Scottie. Sorry, but going back well before the election, the next detail to be left to chance at a public presidential appearance will be the first. Despite that, the press tries to validate McClellan's empty assurances by pointing out that the president elicited comments about Iran.


How, exactly, is his willingness to address a situation that's (for once) proving itself worthy of his sabre-rattling, a sign of Bush working without a net? For all one has to do with the other, they could've just as easily said, "no topics were off-limits, Bush was even wearing his blue tie." If anything, referencing Iran was soliciting a line of questioning that's just begging for the sort of simple-minded, talking-point sloganeering that El Presidente both adores and, worse, considers to be indistiguishable from "policy."

A cardboard photo-op for a cardboard president.

GOP on Alito: "No fair doing what we've already done."

These guys are pathetic. When the AP did a piece on A-lie-to's blatant ducking and dodging on his own record (couched as "Democrats say answers inconsistent," of course), they dutifully included Sen. John Cornyn's regurgitated GOP talking point rebuttal:
Republicans complained that Democrats have already made up their minds about Alito.

"I do think that there are those who have already decided to vote against your nomination and are looking for some reason to do so," Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said Tuesday. "And I think one of the reasons that they may claim is that you've been nonresponsive." Cornyn said he saw nothing to derail Alito's confirmation.
Of course, not a day earlier, we were treated to this nugget from Lindsay Graham's opening statement:
"I don't know what kind of vote you're going to get, but you'll make it through. It's possible you could talk me out of voting for you, but I doubt it. So I won't even try to challenge you along those lines."
"You'll make it through?"

"I doubt you could talk me out of voting for you?"

It looks like making your mind up, in advance, is just fine if you make it the right way, huh, Sen. Cornyn?

You would think, for the benefit of the unwashed masses who still hold onto the fantasy that this is a democracy, that they'd at least make a token effort to give the appearance that their approval isn't a foregone conclusion. You'd be wrong, of course. At least the Dems, even if their minds are made up, go through the pretense of talking about "hard questions" and wanting adequate responses. Leave it to the GOPers to fall back on their hypocritical "attack where we're weak" strategy and try to turn looking for answers into a pejorative.

After the Harriet Miers curveball, it looks like GOP unity has been regained and "presumed qualified" is the confirmation mantra. In El Presidente's America, the openness of your mind is directly related to your fawning praise for his choices.

10 January 2006

Somebody hand Ted Stevens a tissue

More kicking and screaming from the world's oldest toddler. From The Anchorage Daily News, 01/10/06:
But Stevens said when he returns to Washington, he will no longer consider some Democrats his friends. The final (ANWR) refuge debate became too personal, he said.

"When I first went there, you would never hear a senator speak about another senator the way they were speaking about me that night," he said. "There are people I've considered to be personal friends without regards to politics, and they were turning into vipers as far as I was concerned."

Stevens said he has "written off" those friends..."I'm not traveling with them anymore, and I'm not going to play tennis or swim or do various things with them."
"And...and...I'm having a big birthday party, and I'm not inviting them, and we're going to play games, and eat cookies and cake and ice cream with rainbow sprinkles, AND THEY CAN'T HAVE ANY!!!"

Jesus Christ, Ted, what are you, five?

You're not going to SWIM with them anymore? Give me a break.

You hijacked a defense bill so you could fulfill your life's dream of turning out ANWR to the oil barons like a corner whore. You attempted to bludgeon the opposition into silence with the old "a vote against this is a vote against the troops" bit and it blew up in your face. If you callously exploit our fighting men and women by using them as a political tool, you deserve to be spoken about in whatever manner the opposition sees fit. After the base politicking that got you into this, your newly delicate sensibilities ring more than a little hollow.

Rather than running away, crying like some octogenarian Baby Huey, suck it up and accept it; you earned every last word of condemnation and criticism. Better yet, apologize.

09 January 2006

A-lie-to Goes to Washington, Day I

"The judge's only obligation -- and it's a solemn obligation -- is to the rule of law."
-- Samuel Alito, SCOTUS confirmation hearing, 01/09/06

"Since the president's approval is just as important as that of the House or Senate, it seems to follow that the president's understanding of the bill should be just as important as that of forcing some rethinking by courts, scholars, and litigants, it may help to curb some of the prevalent abuses of legislative history." -- Samuel Alito, on so-called "signing statements," 02/05/86
And thus is the story of Sam Alito: say what you have to, when you have to, to who you have to.

Not surprisingly, now that he's faced with having to try to talk his way into a spot on the highest court in the land, he stresses the differences between being a lawyer and being a judge.
"When I became a judge, I stopped being a practicing attorney. And that was a big change in role. The role of a practicing attorney is to achieve a desirable result for the client in the particular case at hand. But a judge can't think that way. A judge can't have any agenda, a judge can't have any preferred outcome in any particular case..."
Alito wants us to trust that he can assume whatever duties are required of the job at hand. Unfortunately, what seems closer to the truth is that he will assume whatever position is necessary to get the job at hand. In 1990, when the Senate Judiciary Committee posed difficult questions about cases involving firms he had a financial interest in, Alito said that he'd recuse himself. Ultimately, those assurances proved false, and he not only presided over, but joined in a ruling in favor of the Vanguard Group, a financial organization in which he had "substantial personal investments."

Further, when Alito was pressed on comments he made about abortion rights:
"Most recently, it has been an honor and a source of personal satisfaction for me to serve in the office of the Solicitor General during President Reagan's administration and to help to advance legal positions in which I personally believe very strongly. I am particularly proud of my contributions in recent cases in which the government has argued in the Supreme Court that racial and ethnic quotas should not be allowed and that the Constitution does not protect the right to an abortion."
He told Sen. Dianne Feinstein that he was "an advocate...seeking a political job." Only problem is, that's not a political view, that's a direct comment on the scope of the Constitution in which he, by his own admission, "personally believe(s) very strongly." The very same thing could be said of his justification of signing statements, which--in no small way--unequivocally pisses on the "rule of law." Of course, he'll claim the opposite; regurgitating the differences between his role as an attorney and that of a jurist.

But what reason has he given us to believe a single word he's said?

El Presidente thinks dictatorships are funny. Anyone laughing now?

Courtesy Buzzflash back in 2002:
"You don't get everything you want. A dictatorship would be a lot easier." Describing what it's like to be governor of Texas. (Governing Magazine 7/98)

-- From Paul Begala's "Is Our Children Learning? "

"I told all four that there are going to be some times where we don't agree with each other, but that's OK. If this were a dictatorship, it would be a heck of a lot easier, just so long as I'm the dictator," Bush joked.

--, December 18, 2000

"A dictatorship would be a heck of a lot easier, there's no question about it, " [Bush] said.

-- Business Week, July 30, 2001
You know what they say about many a truth being spoken in jest, right? Apparently after 9/11, he saw the opportunity to stop joking and start doing.

We've heard the fateful lying and his swiftly broken word, his jack boots are marching on

Since he's established that he believes he can ignore Congress' laws, or, alternately, rewrite them as he sees fit, it was really only a matter of time before El Presidente would conclude that he doesn't need that branch of government, whatsoever.

"President Bush's decision to bypass the Senate in filling posts at the State Department, Federal Election Commission and National Labor Relations Board drew protests Thursday from lawmakers and advocacy groups. Under the Constitution, the president may avoid the Senate confirmation process and make appointments while the chamber is in recess. Such appointments usually are short-term, expiring at the end of next congressional session. But because the Senate held a pro forma session Tuesday and then adjourned, the White House contends the second session of the 109th Congress has begun. Therefore, the White House believes Bush's nearly 20 recess appointments are valid until the following session, which won't conclude until the end of 2007."
Not two or three appointments, but twenty. Including such inconsequential, busywork positions as General Counsel of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, and Executive Director of the Office of State and Local Government Coordination and Preparedness at Homeland Security, not to mention Assistant and Deputy Secretaries of Defense. If those weren't egregious enough, the real kicker was the inclusion of Julie Myers to head up the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, a brazen crony appointment that drew criticism left, right, and center when proposed in the wake of Michael Brown's shameful run at FEMA.

Is there any power afforded to the office of the Executive that this man won't crassly abuse?

The silence on this end-run around Advise and Consent is deafening, especially in regards to this Myers debacle-to-be. Bush takes every opportunity to remind us that the country is one fateful decision (read: "checked presidential power") away from another 9/11. ICE is at the forefront of U.S. anti-terrorism efforts, yet Dear Leader saw fit to have it (and its 20,000 staffers and $4B budget) headed up by a well-connected insider with barely enough experience to spin as meeting the legal requirements. Under the best of circumstances that choice would be hard to swallow; to do so, post-Katrina, is truly boggling. Bush's largesse towards loyal cronies came under intense fire from all sides. Even dedicated apologists, like Michelle Malkin, went apopleptic when Myers name was floated, initially.

We've seen an American city lost, due, in no small part, to critical managerial responsibilities being left to woefully unqualified people. If the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result, what does this say about George W?

07 January 2006

DeLay run out on rail "abandons" bid to regain House leadership

WASHINGTON - Embattled Rep. Tom DeLay on Saturday abandoned his bid to remain as House majority leader, clearing the way for leadership elections among Republicans eager to shed the taint of scandal.

In a letter to rank-and-file Republicans, DeLay said, "I have always acted in an ethical manner."

At the same time, "I cannot allow our adversaries to divide and distract our attention," the Texas Republican wrote.
I bet the Hammer thought that that square-jawed, tough talk would just give everyone the vapors. Sorry Tom, but all the self-sacrificing posing in the world isn't going to hide the GOP boot in your ass:
Tide Turning Against DeLay

By Jonathan Weisman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, January 7, 2006; Page A04

Rank-and-file House Republicans took the first formal step toward permanently replacing Rep. Tom DeLay (Tex.) in the House's leadership by unveiling a petition to hold a special leadership election in the coming weeks.

The petition -- drafted by moderate Reps. Charles Bass (N.H.) and Christopher Shays (Conn.) and conservative Rep. Jeff Flake (Ariz.) with the support of as many as two dozen members -- is the latest blow to DeLay, who was forced to relinquish his post as majority leader in September after he was indicted in Texas on campaign finance charges..."People are worried about the other shoe waiting to drop," Flake said yesterday. "Fairly or not," he said, DeLay has "become the public face of a culture gone bad in Washington."
Beautiful. They're not even bothering with trying to spin this as DeLay getting a raw deal, anymore. Here are your adversaries, Tom: the members of your own party who recognize just how radioactive all your dirty deals have made you. Getting unceremoniously thrown under the bus couldn't happen to a more deserving guy.

Even GOPers think El Presidente has gone loco

In this day of loyalty to party over country, constituency, and common sense, this shows just how far around the bend Bush has wandered. From the Boston Globe:
WASHINGTON -- Three key Republican senators yesterday condemned President Bush's assertion that his powers as commander in chief give him the authority to bypass a new law restricting the use of torture when interrogating detainees.

John W. Warner Jr., a Virginia Republican who chairs the Senate Armed Services Committee, and Senator John McCain, an Arizona Republican, issued a joint statement rejecting Bush's assertion that he can waive the restrictions on the use of cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment against detainees to protect national security.

''We believe the president understands Congress's intent in passing, by very large majorities, legislation governing the treatment of detainees," the senators said. ''The Congress declined when asked by administration officials to include a presidential waiver of the restrictions included in our legislation. Our committee intends through strict oversight to monitor the administration's implementation of the new law."

Separately, the third primary sponsor of the detainee treatment law, Senator Lindsey O. Graham, Republican of South Carolina, told the Globe in a phone interview that he agreed with everything McCain and Warner said ''and would go a little bit further."

''I do not believe that any political figure in the country has the ability to set aside any . . . law of armed conflict that we have adopted or treaties that we have ratified," Graham said. ''If we go down that road, it will cause great problems for our troops in future conflicts because [nothing] is to prevent other nations' leaders from doing the same."
I'm really not sure which is the sadder commentary on our leaders: that it takes Bush essentially nullifying Congress for people to stop carrying water for him, or the fact that the culture of the GOP is so decayed that it's surprising they did so, even then. It's reminiscient of when the Rev. Frist broke from El Jefe's customary anti-science agenda and came out in support of stem cell research. His role as Executive lap dog is so all-consuming, that it made a doctor recognizing the obvious benefits of stem cell research a stunning development.

05 January 2006


Well, it's finally happened. El Presidente has declared himself not only above the law, but to be the law.

When it came to signing the McCain amendment regulating prisoner treatment (slipped in right before the weekend, of course), Bush did so with a so-called "signing statement" wherein he states how he will arbitrarily choose to interpret the law. The relevant portion of McCain's bill reads as such:

* (a) IN GENERAL.--No individual in the custody or under the physical control of the United States Government, regardless of nationality or physical location, shall be subject to cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment.

* (b) CONSTRUCTION.--Nothing in this section shall be construed to impose any geographical limitation on the applicability of the prohibition against cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment under this section.

* (c) LIMITATION OF SUPERSEDER.--The provisions of this section shall not be superseded, except by a provision of law enacted after the date of the enactment of this Act which specifically repeals, modifies, or supersedes the provisions of this section.

* (d) CRUEL, INHUMAN, OR DEGRADING TREATMENT OR PUNISHMENT DEFINED.--In this section, the term ''cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment'' means the cruel, unusual, and inhumane treatment or punishment prohibited by the Fifth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution of the United States, as defined in the United States Reservations, Declarations and Understandings to the United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Forms of Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment done at New York, December 10, 1984.
Pretty cut and dried, don't you think? That is, it was until El Jefe added this:
The executive branch shall construe Title X in Division A of the Act, relating to detainees, in a manner consistent with the constitutional authority of the President to supervise the unitary executive branch and as Commander in Chief and consistent with the constitutional limitations on the judicial power, which will assist in achieving the shared objective of the Congress and the President, evidenced in Title X, of protecting the American people from further terrorist attacks. Further, in light of the principles enunciated by the Supreme Court of the United States in 2001 in Alexander v. Sandoval, and noting that the text and structure of Title X do not create a private right of action to enforce Title X, the executive branch shall construe Title X not to create a private right of action.
Absolutely stunning. "We'll obey the law...except when we won't." The anonymous administration official dispatched to paper over this latest thumb in the eye of democracy actually had the nerve to declare that ''We consider it a valid statute. We consider ourselves bound by the prohibition..."

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Make no mistake, this provides for exactly what the Globe article described: unilateral ability to not only disregard the law, but further, claim that it cannot be enforced, anyway. Whatever your opinion of detainee treatment may be, this goes far beyond a "grey area" debate deciding what possible interpretation of constitutional protections apply to foreign nationals in U.S. custody. This is no hypothetical exercise; an explicit law exists, written by the U.S. legislature, applying to U.S. citizens, and agents of the U.S. government.

Measures such as this "signing statement" render that law-making power of the legislative branch utterly meaningless. If, after the fact, an executive can assert a right to disregard an established law of the land, without review, whenever and however he sees fit, there is no balance in the "balance of powers." There's no reason to even have a Congress if one man is the final arbiter of the meaning of a law, and its application and enforcement determined by presidential fiat.

Over the past five years, many hyperbolic statements have been made about imperialism, a monarchic presidency, and other such things. By and large, they were just that: exaggeration. However, taken alongside the recent brazen admittances of the willful disregard of statutes governing the surveillance of American citizens, this latest affront to the rule of law can be seen as little other than a dictatorial abuse of power.

How long until El Presidente begins appearing in public in full uniform, sporting imaginary combat ribbons?

Congressional Oversight: next on BushCo's "quaint" list

Following Bush's statement that he not only ordered the warrantless surveillance of American citizens in direct contravention of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, but will continue to do so, the outcry for hearings into the matter was immediate, even from members of his own party, such as Arlen Specter. When the press corps asked White House Minister of Information Spokesman, Scott McClellan, about administration participation, the answer was much as you'd expect from a ruling junta:
Q: And my question is, does the White House take this into account, will it try to talk to them, will it participate in the hearings?

MR. McCLELLAN: Like I said, and the President has said we’ve briefed members of Congress on more than a dozen occasions.

Q: But that’s not what they’re talking about.

MR. McCLELLAN: And in terms of discussions about this, the President talked about this at his end-of-the-year news conference. We shouldn’t be talking about intelligence activities, particularly in a time of war, in a public way. This is a highly classified authorization –

Q: Not anymore. I mean, it’s public now.

MR. McCLELLAN: No, it still is. It still is highly classified. The President has talked in a very limited way about the nature of this authorization and what it’s designed to do, and how it’s limited. And so we will continue to talk with members of Congress —

Q: Will you cooperate with a congressional hearing?

MR. McCLELLAN: — the Attorney General has been talking to additional members of Congress about this authorization, so that they do understand why this tool is so vital in our efforts to prevail in the global war on terrorism.

Q: But will you cooperate with a hearing?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I’m not going to get into talking about ruling things in or out from this podium. We’ll talk with members of Congress and make sure that they’re briefed and kept informed, as we have been.

They contend that what they did is perfectly legal, but stonewall any notion of participating in an investigation to see if those assurances actually have any validity, whatsoever. Inquiries into his illegal conduct elicit attacks (for "endangering the country," no less) against those who exposed him and declarations that this is something that "shouldn't be talked about." It really tells you all you need to know about El Presidente and his clear contempt for the other branches of the government. There are no coequal powers in BushCo's "America," only his own arrogant will, and whatever justification he manufactures when the aforementioned will just happens to conflict with the Constitution or other laws of the land.

Hope the NYT editors who sat on this until after the 2004 elections are feeling good about their decision.

01 January 2006

A (Hopefully) Happy New Year...

With aught six a scant few hours old and Village of the Damned droning on (hopefully not portentiously) in the background, a few wishes for the coming 365...

A DeLay conviction.

A Rove indictment/resignation.

An Abramoff-fueled congressional purge.

A Democratic Senate...and the resultant, long-overdue committee hearings on El Presidente's misdeeds.

A Santorum defeat.

A strident backlash against the unprecedented spying on American citizens in complete and total disregard of the rule of law.

A waking of the somnambulant public and media to the crimes being perpetrated against them.

An end to our troops' ongoing sacrifice for one man's arrogance and ego.

A return to being able to take pride in our nation and what is done in its name...

Christmas Present #3: Dems cowboy up, stick it to Ted Stevens' attempted backdoor pillaging of ANWR

For 25 years, Ted Stevens (R-AK) has looked at the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge like a pedophile priest looks at the alter boys in his new parish in Saskatchewan. His latest plan to satisfy his burning lust for penetration-by-proxy brought him to a particularly dog-eared page in the playbook: attach formerly unpassable legislation as a provision to a completely unrelated, yet crucial, defense bill, so anyone who dares vote against it can later be smeared as being a limp-wristed, bin Laden sympathizer who hates America and every member of the armed forces.

In an all-too-rare show of backbone, the Dems didn't bite, and openly called "bullshit" on Stevens' pathetic gamesmanship:
“'Our military is being held hostage by this issue, Arctic drilling,' fumed Sen. Harry Reid, the Democratic leader. The Nevada Democrat said the Senate could move quickly to pass the defense bill once the refuge issue was resolved.

'We all agree we want money for our troops. ... This is not about the troops,' said Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., a strong critic of letting oil development disturb the refuge in northeastern Alaska."

Reid's comments proved to be quite prescient and, when Stevens and the GOP fell four votes short of the sixty necessary to bring the bill, as written, to a final vote, an ANWR-less version was passed, overwhelmingly, 93-0. Excellent showing by the Dems, for not letting the GOP use defense appropriations to strongarm bill passage by invoking the memory of "Kerry voted against body armor for the troops."

After his attempted end-run was dropped for a loss in the proverbial backfield, Stevens, who recently threatened resignation (presumably while stamping his feet and holding his breath) if the Senate cut his $200+ million pork projects from the latest transportation bill, carried himself with similar maturity:

"Sen. Ted Stevens of Alaska, battered all week for using the defense spending bill to force through a home-state oil drilling provision, delivered an emotional plea to his colleagues as the Senate prepared to vote on the legislation.

'I ask every one of you, have you ever come to me as chairman of appropriations and tell me you needed help for your state and I have turned you down?' implored the Republican, who led the Senate Appropriations Committee until term limits forced him to step down this year...But last night, when the Senate voted to strike the drilling provision, Stevens did not take it well. 'This has been the saddest day of my life,' he said. 'It's a day I don't want to remember. I say goodbye to the Senate tonight. Thank you very much.'"
The only thing more disgusting than Stevens' attempts to set his opponents up for attacks on their patriotism is his pouting, "take my ball and go home," response when he fails to get his way. We can only hope the senior senator from Waaah-laska makes good on his farewells.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...