Saturday, November 26, 2005

Not Soon Enough

Methinks the Lying Sack of Shit Doth Protest Too Much

Vice President Dick Cheney has taken the offensive in attacking critics of the administration, and he has taken it to new levels of offensiveness. He distances himself from the same claims that he puts into the public dialogue, such as the assertion that dissent is hurting our troops’ morale in Iraq. The main gist of what he is saying is that dissent and debate are unpatriotic.

"The president and I cannot prevent certain politicians from losing their memory, or their backbone -- but we're not going to sit by and let them rewrite history," said Cheney.

According to Cheny, the claim that Bush or any member of the administration misled Americans before the war "is one of the most dishonest and reprehensible charges ever aired in this city."

What do we know so far? Here’s just one example of what a dishonest piece of work Fearless Dick Cheney is.

On Sunday, July 6, 2003, the New York Times published, “What I didn’t Find in Africa,” Joe Wilson’s account of his trip to Niger. As everyone knows by now, he reported that the President’s State of the Union Address was misleading in it’s assertion that Saddam was attempting to purchase uranium.

The Vice President obviously thinks it is reprehensible for Ambassador Wilson to say this, and he will not sit by and let it be said. So what is his plan of attack?

First, Cheney must claim that he had no idea that Wilson had gone to Niger and not found what he didn’t find. This is ridiculous on its face, since the mission to Iraq was a direct response to Cheney’s question.

Apparently Cheney wants us to think that the CIA responded to his question by sending Wilson to Iraq, but then forgot to pass along his findings.

Let’s listen to Cheney trying out this tactic. This is from his September 14 2003 appearance on Meet the Press:

I don’t know Joe Wilson. I’ve never met Joe Wilson. A question had arisen. I’d heard a report that the Iraqis had been trying to acquire uranium in Africa, Niger in particular. I get a daily brief on my own each day before I meet with the president to go through the intel. And I ask lots of question. One of the questions I asked at that particular time about this, I said, “What do we know about this?” They take the question. He came back within a day or two and said, “This is all we know. There’s a lot we don’t know,” end of statement. And Joe Wilson—I don’t who sent Joe Wilson. He never submitted a report -- that I ever saw -- when he came back.

How is that possible? Well, for an answer let’s look again at what Wilson said in the now famous article in the Times:

Though I did not file a written report, there should be at least four documents in United States government archives confirming my mission. The documents should include the ambassador's report of my debriefing in Niamey, a separate report written by the embassy staff, a C.I.A. report summing up my trip, and a specific answer from the agency to the office of the vice president (this may have been delivered orally). While I have not seen any of these reports, I have spent enough time in government to know that this is standard operating procedure.

Oh Dick, your pants are on fire. Of course you didn’t see his report – it was oral! And you know that this is standard operating procedure for the CIA, too. Go back to your undisclosed location, and think about the fact that America is on to you, you lying bastard.

... and tell 'em Big Mitch sent ya!

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Greeted with candy and flowers -- the update

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Iraqis are divided on almost all issues except (1) they want the U.S. to get the hell out of there, and (2) they think it is okay to kill our G.I.s.

CAIRO, Egypt (AP) - Leaders of Iraq's sharply divided Shiites, Kurds and Sunnis called Monday for a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S.-led forces in the country and said Iraq's opposition had a "legitimate right" of resistance.

The final communique, hammered out at the end of three days of negotiations at a preparatory reconciliation conference under the auspices of the Arab League, condemned terrorism, but was a clear acknowledgment of the Sunni position that insurgents should not be labeled as terrorists if their operations do not target innocent civilians or institutions designed to provide for the welfare of Iraqi citizens.

Readers, this is really bad news because it means that there were serious miscalculations about the whole invasion. I'm shocked, SHOCKED! Looks like W. is going to have to give out some more Medals of Freedom.

... and tell 'em Big Mitch sent ya!

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Thinking outside the box about thinking outside Iraq.

Need a solution to the mess in Iraq? Let's see what we know so far.

Some have called for an immediate withdrawal, like Representative Duncan Hunter, (R.–Calif.), who introduced Resolution 571, “Expressing the sense of the of the House of Representatives that the deployment of United States’ forces in Iraq be terminated immediately.” This was such a goofy idea that even Hunter voted against it along with 401 other members.

Others, like Representative Jack Murtha, (D. -Pa.) have taken a more reasonable approach. He suggested a phased re-deployment to get American soldiers out of harm’s way, where they will not be an instigation to further radicalism and more acts of terrorism. He was attacked by everyone from Jean Schmidt, (R.-Ohio) far right, who had a message for him (Cowards cut and run; Marines never do!) to White House spokesman Scott McClellan, who said that Rep. Murtha "had joined the Michael Moore wing of the Democratic party."

Subscribers to the Republican talking points memoranda including W, have stated that if we were to announce a withdrawal date, the terrorists would just lay low until that date, biding their time. The President called this “a recipe for disaster,” but Big Mitch says: Hey! Terrorists laying low -- that sounds like a good thing!

My suggestion therefore is to announce a withdrawal date two years down the road. Assuming that our President is right about insurgents laying low - and who would know better than he? - we will have just bought two years of peace.

With two years of peace at hand, we simply leave. Of course, we would have to be quiet about it. And it might not hurt to have a few bases with tall walls surrounding them. It is crucial that the walls be too tall to see over, because we don’t want anyone to notice that the bases are empty.

I know it sounds crazy, but it is so crazy that it just might work.

Speaking of crazy, I call Bush, Cheney, Rice and Rumsfield “The Dream Team,” because they say such wacky stuff that they must be dreaming. They warn us that Iraq will descend into chaos if we leave. What the hell do we have there now?

Here's a question: if you were the head of the Iraqi government, would you be hustling to get your battle troops ready, knowing that until you do, it's the Americans who will draw the fire? Don’t forget that as soon as your troops are ready, they will be caught up in a civil war, in which the insurgents will be firing at your troops rather than at the Americans?

Maybe that would explain why the number of Iraqi battle-ready battalions in the Iraq military had dropped from three to one from mid-summer to September 29, 2005. Frankly, if you’re looking for people who might be lying low until our withdrawal, the people you should look at are the Iraqi military.

Hey, Congress: It might not be such a bad idea to send a message to the Iraqi’s to get ready to take care of themselves, cause we’re bugging out.

... and tell 'em Big Mitch sent ya!

Monday, November 21, 2005

Still don't believe Bush needs an exit strategy?

Check out this clip.

... and tell 'em Big Mitch sent ya!

Saturday, November 19, 2005

For what things a man shall sow, those also shall he reap.

Today, the United States House of Representatives was rich with irony. It started earlier in the week when Jack Murtha (D. – Pa.) came out with a thoughtful call for a change in direction in Iraq.

Who is this guy? His website tells us that he had a long and distinguished 37-year career in the U.S. Marine Corps, retiring from the Marine Corps Reserve as a colonel in 1990, having risen from the enlisted ranks which he volunteered for in 1952. He is a decorated combat veteran of Viet Nam, the recipient of two purple hearts, the Navy Distinguished Service Medal, the Bronze Star with Combat “V” and the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry.

Murtha was elected to Congress in 1974, one of only 131 people in the nation's history to have served more than 30 years in the U.S. House of Representatives. He is ranking member and former chairman of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee. Congressman Murtha is so well-respected for his first-hand knowledge of military and defense issues that he has been a trusted adviser to presidents of both parties on military and defense issues.

As you can see in this clip, Mr. Murtha has a steely eyed, resolute look that quietly says, “No me hoda.” If you are not one to judge a book by its cover, (See, Beauty is as beauty lies.) than consider how Jack Murtha answered criticism of his position on Iraq from Dick Cheney:

I like guys who've never been there that criticize us who've been there. I like that. I like guys who got five deferments and never been there and send people to war, and then don't like to hear suggestions about what needs to be done."

Referring to Bush, Murtha added, "I resent the fact, on Veterans Day, he criticized Democrats for criticizing them."

Murtha has a realist’s view of war, and what it can accomplish. At the same time, Murtha speaks with heartfelt compassion for soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen, and their families.

Clearly, this man is the Republican’s worst nightmare. A true military hero, with a safe seat and impeccable credentials, he's a man who knows what he is talking about, and is not afraid to speak his mind.

And here's what he said:

The war in Iraq is not going as advertised. It is a flawed policy wrapped in illusion. The American public is way ahead of us. The United States and coalition troops have done all they can in Iraq, but it is time for a change in direction. Our military is suffering. The future of our country is at risk. We can not continue on the present course. It is evident that continued military action in Iraq is not in the best interest of the United States of America, the Iraqi people or the Persian Gulf Region.

His plan calls:

  • To immediately redeploy U.S. troops consistent with the safety of U.S. forces.
  • To create a quick reaction force in the region.
  • To create an over- the- horizon presence of Marines.
  • To diplomatically pursue security and stability in Iraq.

  • W, in his characteristically lame way, responded by saying that the plan for withdrawal was "a recipe for disaster." He overlooked the fact that not withdrawing is a recipe for a greater disaster. It is hard to know which is more appalling, W's ignorance, or his hypocrisy: it was learned that he has ordered the Pentagon to draw up plans for the withdrawal of approximately half the troops now stationed in Iraq, following the December elections.

    So what's a Republican controlled congress to do? Well, you might expect that they would attack him personally, and you would be right. We will see if they can trump up some ethics charge that will stick, but my money is against it. They couldn’t attack him in the well of the House because this guy is the real deal. Indeed, they praised Murtha so lavishly that he joked that people wouldn't need to attend his funeral, because they have already heard the eulogy.

    Instead, they employed one of the most cynical, dispicable, disgusting and dishonest tactics imaginable. They introduced Resolution 571, "Expressing the sense of the of the House of Representatives that the deployment of United States’ forces in Iraq be terminated immediately." They changed the rules so that the debate could occur on the same day the resolution was introduced, and then, debate it they did.

    They continuously referred to the counterfeit resolution as if it were Representative Murtha's. Mr. Murtha had talked about a 6 month redeployment, consistent with the safety of the troops there. The object of this low Republican enterprise was to get the Democrats on record voting against withdrawal. Later, they will take the vote out of context. If they are lucky, the candidate they are smearing will say something stupid, like: "I actually voted against the resolution before I voted for it."

    According to the principle that "turnabout is fair play," I offer the following suggestions for resolutions that Democrats can propose, so that we can have recorded votes from Republicans in time for the 2006 elections:

  • Be it resolved: that the sense of the House of Representatives is that we approve of the President's current course of action in Iraq.

  • Be it resolved: that the sense of the House of Representatives is the President has kept his promise to discharge from the White House personnel who engaged in or participated with others in the disclosure of Valerie Wilson's identity as an undercover agent.

  • Be it resolved: that it is the sense of the House of Representatives that the President has given to Congress all of the intelligence that was available relating to the War in Iraq, the justifications for the same, and he did so in a timely way so that the vote authorizing the use of force was fully informed.

  • Be it resolved: that it is the sense of the House of Representatives that Dick Cheney did not lie, and in fact told the truth to the American People on December 9, 2001, when he said, "that's been pretty well confirmed, that [Mohammed Atta] did go to Prague and he did meet with a senior official of the Iraqi intelligence service in Czechoslovakia last April, several months before the [9-11] attack."

  • Be it resolved: that it is the sense of the House of Representatives that Dick Cheney did not lie, and in fact told the truth to the American People when denied having said, "that's been pretty well confirmed, that [Mohammed Atta] did go to Prague and he did meet with a senior official of the Iraqi intelligence service in Czechoslovakia last April, several months before the [9-11] attack."

  • Let's demand to know what Republican's are willing to go on the record in support of. Oh, they will squeal like stuck pigs, but they started it. And as Paul said, For what things a man shall sow, those also shall he reap.(Galatians 6:8)

    ... and tell 'em Big Mitch sent ya!

    Thursday, November 17, 2005

    Why I am not in the White House Press Corps

    I would probably want to ask Scott McClellan a question like this one:

    "On March 19, 2003, President Bush sent a letter to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President Pro Tempore of the Senate in which he made Presidential determinations required by law to justify the use of force in Iraq. His second justification was:

    (2) acting pursuant to the Constitution and Public Law 107-243 is consistent with the United States and other countries continuing to take the necessary actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations, or persons who planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001.

    "I realize that this question arises in the context of an on-going investigation, but could you please tell the American people whether or not, two years into the war, we have found anyone in Iraq who “planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attack that occurred on September 11, 2001.”

    If you are reading this, and you happen to be in the White House Press Corps, please go ask Scott McClellan some tough questions.

    ... and tell 'em Big Mitch sent ya!"

    Wednesday, November 16, 2005

    Beauty is as beauty lies.

    White House Communications Director, Nicolle Wallace, leftand Senator Kit Bond, (R. -- Missouri)far right

    White House Communications Director Nicolle Wallace was on Hardball doing the dirty work of the White House. It was a remarkable performance and it should be an inspiration to any telegenic young person who has no regard for the truth.

    There are no limits to the heights such a person can reach, especially if she is a comely blonde with blue eyes, and well-straightened teeth. It is hard to reconcile such an attractive appearance with such a mendacious attitude towards reality.

    With Scott McClellan lying low, Ari Fleischer gone (but still a person of interest to the Special Prosecutor Fitzgerald in Plamegate) and the Vice President cowering in an undisclosed location, Ms. Wallace is doing the work of three men: Moe, Larry, and Curly.

    Lest I be accused of being sexist, I hasten to point out that Senator Kit Bond, (R -Missouri) followed her and he was just as faithful to the Republican script. No ingénue he, he was equally disingenuous. Bond, whose name itself betokens faithfulness, had a wizened, wide-eyed, down-home look of a sixth generation hard-scrapple man of the Puke State.

    It occurred to me that ‘wide-eyed’ and ‘bald-faced’ could both be used to describe this lying bastard. It made me want to puke.

    Tony Roberts, the motivational speaker, describes how to deal with the nay-saying self-talk that sometimes holds people back from accomplishing more. He suggests that you imagine the inner voice as Daffy Duck’s.

    In that spirit and as a public service, I offer herewith a selection of whopper’s from Chris Matthews’ show, together with Big Mitch’s comments in bold. Please imagine each delivered in the goofy voice of your choice by one of the individuals pictured above.

    WALLACE: It is a blatant lie to assert that somehow the president misled people. The French—and you tell me the last time the French, the U.N., the Russians, the Brits and the Americans, a Democrat administration and a Republican administration, all agreed on something? They all agreed, Chris, that Saddam Hussein had WMD.

    Are you smoking crack? The French, the U.N., and the Russian were not in favor of going to war, and they denounced the American effort to deceive them. The Democrat administration did not, as far as I can recall support going to war to remove Saddam’s WMD. The Brits were saying in their private meetings that:

    “For the P5 [the permanent members of the Security Council] and the majority of the Council to take the view that Iraq was in breach of [Security Council Resolution] 687: “they would need to be convinced that Iraq was in breach of its obligations regarding WMD, and ballistic missiles. Such proof would need to be incontrovertible and of large-scale activity. Current intelligence is insufficiently robus [sic] to meet this criterion.”

    The issue wasn’t whether or not Iraq had WMD at some time in the past. The issue was whether or not the regime of inspections and no-fly zones sufficiently restrained Sadam from posing a danger. On that question, the world was unanimous in its belief that the answer was “Yes!” Unanimous, that is except for the neo-cons in the White House.

    MATTHEWS: You know, sometimes I have to admire people for the strangest reasons. Vice President Cheney is absolutely fearless to take on an issue, which is so unpopular on its face. I mean, nobody wants to be out there it seems as the case advocate for torture as an option. And, yet, he has gone out there and done it. How did he get this job?

    WALLACE: Well, I agree with you on one thing, the vice president is fearless in his defense of this country, and he is fearless in the case that he will make to protect America.

    Oh-my-God! I think I am going to laugh myself sick! Dick Cheney, of recent undisclosed location fame, formerly known for skipping military service during one of the wars he favored because he “had other priorities”—this is the fearless Dick?

    MATTHEWS: But, what is wrong with outlawing cruel and degrading treatment of prisoners?

    WALLACE: Well, you know, again you are talking about the specific language of Senator McCain‘s amendment. And, you know, I have enough respect for Senator McCain to leave his debate and his policy discussions something private that doesn‘t get debated on TV.

    Har-Har-Hardy-Har-Har! Far be it from this White House to disagree publicly with people. Perish the thought! After all, this President used his Veteran’s Day address to troops to criticize and impugn the patriotism of anyone who disagreed with him, naming Democrats by name. You may say, “yes, but they respect Senator McCain.” Just remember: This is the crowd that said that John McCain had become mentally unstable as a result of the torture he endured in Viet Nam while Bush was busy not taking flight physicals. Maybe they had a point, considering the fact that McCain refused to denounce Karl Rove, who organized a whispering campaign to promote the idea that he had fathered an illegitimate black baby.

    WALLACE [regarding torture]: And I point out, and not enough attention is paid to this, Chris, when people operate outside the laws, when people are found to have treated inmates or prisoners in a way that is outside our laws, they are prosecuted and they are held to account.

    Just ask Pfc. Lynndie England. She’ll tell you that all of the people responsible for the Abu Ghraib have been brought to the bar of justice.
    Or maybe she won’t because (according to the school psychologist where she grew up) from the time she was in kindergarten, she struggled with pronounced learning disabilities made worse by a lack of oxygen when she was born and a severe speech impairment.
    That would explain why Lynndie England can’t name person above the rank of E-4 that was brought to trial. But why can’t Wallace?
    Actually, there is a sense in which Ms. Wallace’s statement is accurate. Recall that the President said in South America that “anything we do is legal.” That being the case, nothing is illegal, and therefore no one can operate outside the laws, and therefore no one needs to be prosecuted. Q.E.D.

    MATTHEWS: This is the time to think about how we eventually get out of there [Iraq], not why we got in.

    WALLACE: And not just, Chris, not how we get out of there, but how we win. The American people...

    MATTHEWS: … What do you think winning is over there?

    WALLACE: Well, I think that we see it every day. …

    But, I think we went from five battle-ready battalions to 91 in the last about 13, 14 months. And the debate in America gets boiled down to, are there - was there one battalion that can fight without the support or three.

    Do you think we’re stupid? Or do you think that we forgot that the commander of coalition forces in Iraq, Gen. George Casey, told the Senate Armed Services Committee on September 29th that the number of battle-ready battalions in the Iraq military had dropped from three to one since the last time he testified, three months earlier?

    Somehow the Iraqi’s picked up 90 battle-ready battalions in the last month and a half. Stranger things have happened, but none come readily to mind. That’s about 63,000 troops, about the number of men in all of Anchorage. Where did they come from? And how did they still have men left over to perform suicide bombings in Jordan?

    Let’s see if Kit Bond can lie any more convincingly.

    MATTHEWS: Well, you know, 58 percent of the American people think the president deliberately misled them on pre-war intelligence. Doesn‘t that doubt, that skepticism, which seems to be growing every week, because of the problems with the war itself have to be addressed?

    BOND: Unfortunately, our intelligence findings in the Senate Intelligence Committee, unanimously adopted by Democrats and Republicans, that said there was no pressure, no change.

    The intelligence was what it was at the time. The Silverman-Robb report said the same thing.

    Objection! Non-responsive, and you’re ugly, too! The question asked about the President deliberately misleading the American public. The Senate Intelligence Committee, and the Silverman-Robb report said that the President’s information was not very good. Harry Reid had to send the Senate into closed session in order to force the Republicans to investigate whether or not Bush just made shit up to get us into a war. Now why would that be? Because the Republican controlled committee decided that we didn’t need to know the answer to that question before the 2004 election. At least they promised to investigate the President’s deception after the election. And now that they have been called on it, they are going to have to keep that promise before the 2006 election. Or will they?

    MATTHEWS: Why did the vice president get a trip—when I asked Tenet, why didn‘t the vice president get a report back on a trip that his question had triggered, he says ask the vice president. There is something queer about this thing. Why doesn‘t the vice president get a report back if it was his question about the uranium deal in Africa that led to Joe Wallace‘s trip?

    Why didn‘t the CIA go back and say, well here Mr. Vice president, it turns out there is something to it, there is some kind of deal under works there? Why didn‘t he ever get that information back? I don‘t get it.

    BOND: Well, I can‘t tell you what the CIA thought about. …

    Shirley you jest! You’re a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, you’re shilling this B.S. position that we don’t need an investigation to find out if W knew that he was lying when he made the State of the Union address, and you can’t tell us whether or not Joe Wilson’s findings made it to the White House? You’re too ugly to tell a lie like that.

    ... and tell 'em Big Mitch sent ya!

    Friday, November 11, 2005

    Condemning Bush

    Few recent Supreme Court opinions have aroused as much public outrage as the June ruling in Kelo v New London, which affirmed the use of eminent domain to promote economic development.

    The decision was especially unpopular with Conservatives who envision a very limited role for government, and hold a reverential attitude towards private property. For example: a Committee for the Protection of Natural Rights sprung up in New Hampshire “To protect our National Righs as granted by our Creator …” Their website reports:

    “To that end we are currently encouraging the legislative body (the voters of Weare) to apply the logic found in the Kelo v. New London , CT decision and take by eminent domain the Property of US Supreme Court Judge David Souter who owns property in Weare NH.”

    On November 4th the NEW YORK TIMES reported that:

    “The House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly Thursday [11/03/05] to discourage the seizure of private property for private development by denying federal economic development money to local governments for two years if they take such a step.

    “The bill, similar to one being considered in the Senate, would bar the federal government, states and localities from using their power of eminent domain to seize property for projects like shopping centers or condominiums.”

    The bill will be passed into law with speed that would make Terry Schiavo's head spin, if she hadn't been brain dead for several years.

    The Associated Press reported that, "Several lawmakers who opposed the House bill said eminent domain has long been used by local governments for economic development projects such as the Inner Harbor in Baltimore and the cleaning up of Times Square in New York. The District of Columbia is expected to use eminent domain to secure land for a new baseball stadium for the Washington Nationals."

    The Bush administration, backing the House bill, said in a statement that "private property rights are the bedrock of the nation's economy and enjoy constitutionally protected status. They should also receive an appropriate level of protection by the federal government." This is nothing new for W. When he ran for Governor of Texas, he promised in campaign speeches, "I will do everything I can to defend the power of private property and private property rights when I am the governor of this state."

    Clearly, the President is on the side of private property, and against taking private property for public development such as Baseball Stadiums. But how long has he felt this way? You might want to ask Horace Kelton.

    Kelton owned land that the Texas Rangers, led by George W. Bush, wanted. The owners got Arlington to seize it, with the city paying less than $1.50 per square foot even though it had previously paid $10 a square foot for other land nearby. "It was an extremely low price, and that's why we had a court case that lasted seven years," Mr. Kelton recalled. Eventually, his family got $11 a square foot.

    Essentially, Mr. Bush and the owners' group he led bullied and misled the city into raising taxes to build a $200 million stadium that in effect would be handed over to the Rangers. As part of the deal, the city would even confiscate land from private owners so that the Rangers owners could engage in real estate speculation.

    Bush was given 1.8% of the team for $600,000 of borrowed money on the strength of a resume that included several years working at failing oil companies, and his political connections through his father. The investors, including W, tripled their money. But the partnership decided to give W a little bonus, namely 10% of the company.

    The main value of the team was the new stadium and 300 acres of vacant land the team acquired between the stadium and 5 Flags of Texas, which is next door. How did the Rangers acquire this very valuable property which the owners didn’t want to sell? Bush and his partners gave them only a lowball offer, and when it was rejected they arranged for a new government agency (the Arlington Sports Facility Development Authority, or ASFDA) to condemn it for them.

    The agency foreclosed the land and paid the owners a very low price, later judged by a jury to be only 1/6th of its actual value. The agency also floated bonds, guaranteed and repaid by taxpayers, to finance the purchase. This amounted to a $135 million subsidy for Bush and partners, compared with the $80 million they paid for the franchise. When they sold the entire franchise for $250 million, Bush and friends walked of with a tidy chunk of taxpayer's cha-ching.

    The saddest part of this story is that this small fortune, more than most of us will ever see, financed one of the most tragic events in American history: the entry of George W. Bush into politics.

    This sorry tale raises a lot of troubling questions. Here are some of the most obvious:

  • Since when do Conservatives favor Federal intervention into local issues of zoning, economic development, and land use?

  • When Bush and his partners got the Arlington to raise taxes to pay off bonds that benefitted the narrow business interests of his partnership, was he being a hypocrite, or had he not yet had his "all taxes are bad" epiphany?

  • How the hell did this guy get elected on a platform of ethics? Was it a cruel joke?

  • Is there no right wingnut group too extreme for the bozos in this administration to pander to?

  • Still think Bush was stupid for letting the Rangers trade Sammy Sosa?

  • ... tell 'em Big Mitch sent ya!

    Thursday, November 10, 2005

    Après Moi, le Déluge

    Before the last election, President Bush said that the average tax cut was $1,586. That’s true if you look at the mean tax cut, which is to say you average the huge tax give-aways to the multi-millionaires in the top 2 per cent with the relatively meager relief given to the rest of us. Look at the median, and it comes out that half of all individuals and families got less than $470, and half got more. Even allowing for the fact that 25% of taxpayers got zip, zero, nada, that’s still a lot of free dead presidents that W gave away.

    Originally, tax cuts were sold on the basis that the government was running a surplus, and that therefore, taxpayers deserved a refund. Well, in W’s own words, he hit the trifecta: national disaster, war and recession, and thus he no longer feels bound by his election year promise not to have deficit spending.

    Look, this is no time for the blame game, but some have pointed out that the disaster (9/11) could have been foreseen by the simple expedient of reading the Presidential Daily Briefing. These same critics would like to accuse the President of waging a war that was not, strictly speaking, necessary to neutralize Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction. Anyway, when it comes to the recession which started on Bush’s watch, you know what they say: “The buck stops with the previous administration.”

    What we do know is this: the budget surplus/taxpayer refund rationale basically was, to borrow a phrase, “no longer operative.” Those who say that the war in Iraq was a big waste of blood and treasure fail to take into account the lessons that the White House learned.

    The White House had learned that they could switch rationales faster than a three-card monte dealer makes the ace disappear, and people wouldn’t seem to notice. And so it was that the President announced the new, improved rationale for the tax giveaways to his billionaire buddies: Americans know how to spend their money better than the government does!

    Those nattering nabobs of negativity who criticize everything the President says and does leaped on this. Why, they asked, if Americans are so smart, didn’t those folks in New Orleans do the reasonable thing and invest their tax refunds in fixing up the levies? Surely they could have done this better than the Government what with all the bureaucracy and such.

    But these critics of President Bush don’t know the things he knows. For instance, who knew that, as W informed us, “no one could have anticipated the breach of the levies”?

    A lot of those nay-saying nudnicks thought that just because we had created a Department of Homeland Security we would be made more secure. Some of those knuckle-heads thought that in the brain-storming about terror scenarios, someone would have thunk about sabotaging the levies.

    These critics were so intent on finding fault with our President, that they failed to notice that the government had turned FEMA into a horse-and pony show, even though the head of FEMA had been replaced by the commissioner of judges at Arabian horse-and-pony shows.

    The Republicans used to criticize the Democrats for "tax and spend" policies. This crop of crooks has a new policy: "steal and spend." I call it "stealing" because they are borrowing the money from the next generation, and have no intention of repaying it.

    There is another big difference between the "tax and spend" policies of yesteryear, and the current legislative larceny. In the by-gone era, there was the idea that the spending was for the benefit of citizens. The Radical Republicans believe, as we have seen, that government has no role to play in helping, or even protecting, the citizenry.

    ... and tell 'em Big Mitch sent ya!

    Holy Cow! They Indicted Phil Rizzuto!

    Many commentators and columnists like John Tierney of the New York Times choose to ridicule I. Lewis Libby'’s nick-name, "“Scooter,"” which is taken from the Yankee great, Phil Rizzuto.

    During 13 seasons, Rizzuto helped the Yanks win 10 pennants and 8 World Series. A five-time All-Star with a .273 lifetime batting average, he was the American League's MVP in 1950, when he turned in a .324 average, 200 hits and .439 slugging percentage. After his retirement, he was the beloved radio announcer of Yankee games for four decades.

    Scooter Libby's chosen namesake was a consummate team player. Forty-nine times he advanced to first base by getting hit by a pitch, which places him 358th on the all-time list. From 1946 to 1956, Rizzuto was hit by a pitch more than any other short stop. Clearly, Scooter Rizzuto wasn't afraid to take one for the team.

    If Scooter Libby hadn't been willing to take one for the team, the nation might have been subjected to an election in which issues were debated on the facts. Indeed, his continued fearlessness may prevent us from finding out whether or not treason was countenanced at the highest levels of the White House in advance of the 2006 elections when voters will choose the next congress. What could account for Libby's lack of concern for his own freedom? Some suspect that it is the prospect of a Presidential pardon.

    Libby is facing a lengthy legal process, which he promises us will result in a trial. My prediction is that it will result in an appeal, too. The process could take a year even if we didn't have to wait a month or so for his attorney's to get security clearances. During this time, it appears that he will be out of custody.

    When Scooter Rizzuto took one for the team, he got a free pass to first base. Will Scooter Libby get a free pass for his obstruction of justice and perjury? What we know so far is that the President won't make a commitment not to pardon Scooter. The White House Press Secretary had this to say on the subject: "I'm not going to comment because this is in the context of an on-going investigation."

    America deserves an answer.

    ... tell 'em Big Mitch sent ya!

    Wednesday, November 09, 2005

    Old Joke -- Updated; Old Question -- Revisited

    There is an old joke that asks, “How can you tell if a politician is lying?” The answer: “His lips move.” I actually like politicians, and dislike generalizations. And yet, as with all humor, there is a grain of truth in that joke.

    To be more accurate, the joke should go something like:

    “How can you tell if a Republican politician is lying?"
    "He says the same thing over and over again. After all, if his lips are moving he may just be reading some Republican lying talking points."

    Admittedly, the joke is not as funny that way. Mainly that is because the joke is on us: we are the ones being lied to.What made me think of that old joke, and the deeper truth within it, was that I heard for the gazillionth time some Republican say, “Congress had the same intelligence that we had …”

    We might want to ask one question, namely, “Sez who?” This is not the same question that George W. Bush asked, which was “How many is a gazillion?” But still, our question bears looking into.

    We know that the White House had inquired of the CIA regarding the allegation that Iraq had tried to buy yellow cake from Niger. We know that Ambassador Joe Wilson IV, formerly the Senior Director for African Affairs at the National Security Council, was sent to Niger as a result of that inquiry. We also know that he came back with a report that debunking that allegation. We know that there were two other reports that came to the same conclusion. And we have every reason to believe that the White House was briefed on those reports, but that the allegation was repeated in the State of the Union anyway.

    We know the Congress did not have access to that intelligence. How? From the fact that during the State of the Union address, the members did not arise as one, and shout “Bullshit!”

    During my lifetime, I have met hundreds of criminals who complained to me that they were arrested even though they had "never done anything like this before." I was always struck by how unlucky these poor criminals were. A lifetime of unblemished virtue and the one time they fell short, Bingo! they got caught! It all seems so darned unfair.

    Now George W. Bush may be a criminal, but nobody can complain that he is unlucky or that life has been unfair to him. So, I am guessing that he didn't get busted on the very first time the WHIGs (White House Information Group) had intelligence that was not shared with Congress.

    Mind you it’s just a guess. But the 500,000th time that the Republican misinformation machine repeated “They had the same intelligence we had, and they voted in favor of the war,” we should have started asking questions.

    Though it’s not original with me, it is pertinent now as it was before:

    The question is, What did the White House know, and when did it know it?

    America deserves an answer.

    … and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!

    The Scooter

    There has been a lot written about Scooter Libby recently, and it may be difficult for people to sort out. Let me see if I can help.

    For about two years, many in Washington and throughout the country have wondered who, if anyone, would be implicated in the outing of a CIA agent. This is serious because no less a light than George Herbert Walker Bush called the outing of a CIA agent, “the most insidious form of treason.”

    This just shows how little imagination George Herbert Walker Bush had. It never occurred to him that someone could out a spy simply to discredit a critic who had the temerity to point out that the President of the United States was lying about the main justification for a war that has cost more in lives than the attack on the World Trade Center.

    George Herbert Walker did get one thing right. He called Joe Wilson a true American Hero. According to the Washington Post,

    In 1990, while sheltering more than 100 Americans at the U.S. Embassy and diplomatic residences, Wilson briefed reporters while wearing a hangman's noose instead of a necktie -- a symbol of defiance after Saddam threatened to execute anyone who didn't turn over foreigners.

    The message, Wilson said: “If you want to execute me, I'll bring my own fucking rope.”

    George W. Bush is a down-to-earth man of the people, and so he could not abide a show-boater like Joe Wilson. So much the more so when the President was saying stuff like “The smoking gun could come in the form of a mushroom cloud.” Wilson was showing off that he had been an ambassador, had investigated Iraq’s alleged efforts to get mushroom cloud fuel, and found that – to put it politely—it was a lie.

    But how to make Wilson pay for his impudence? The President himself was a brave, courageous leader and so the answer seemed obvious: he would use surrogates to attack Wilson’s wife. This might have been a problem because she was an under-cover agent of the CIA, and therefore care must be taken to leave no evidence pointing back to the President.

    Much of the rest of the story is well known. The CIA objected to one of its agents being outed. It seemed to be bothered by the fact that making her status known would endanger the life of the several people who worked with her, or dealt with her when she was supposedly an energy analyst at Brewster-Jennings.

    Things kind of spun out of control. Next thing you knew, there was a special prosecutor, a grand jury, and just a whole bunch of things. One of the best friends of the administration went to jail, and everyone got the idea that the White House was in deep kim-chee -- especially Karl Rove, whose nicknames compared him variously to Bush’s brain or excrement. Coincidence? Perhaps not.

    Anyway, it could have gone bad for the White House because the special prosecutor seemed like a serious guy, intent on doing his job. Once again, the pessimists misunderestimated the Bush White House.

    A team had been assembled that could do things that others would have thought impossible. For example, they lost two elections and still managed to show up in the winner’s circle on Inauguration Day. It seemed that whenever they needed a hero of their own, one would appear.

    And so it was that Scooter Libby burst onto the national consciousness. When the situation called for Obstruction of Justice, he was the administration’s go-to guy.

    So now you know exactly what George W. Bush meant when he said, "Scooter has worked tirelessly on behalf of the American people and sacrificed much in the service to this country. He served the Vice President and me through extraordinary times in our nation's history."

    ... and tell 'em Big Mitch sent ya!

    Why is it so hard for Democrats to say this?

    When Harry Reid brought attention to the slow-rolling Republicans in the Senate who are working day and night to make sure nothing is accomplished in the way of finding out whether or not the President lied to get us into the war, he was asked:

    Knowing what you know now, would you vote for the war in Iraq?

    My guess is that this is going to be a recurrent question from reporters who take their cue from the Republican disinformation machine. Therefore, as a public service, I am offering this simple answer for use by any Senator who needs it, whether or not she is running for President.

    Let’s get something straight right now. I didn’t vote for this war when I voted to authorize the President to use force.

    Knowing what I know now, I never would have trusted him. What we know now is that he was cherry picking the intelligence, and then twisting it to make his case. That’s what we know now and I suspect we will find out much worse when the full story comes out. So far, we know that the White House undertook a vicious campaign to ruin anyone who disagreed with it, and when they crossed the line into treason, the response was to lie to the FBI, lie to the Grand Jury and otherwise obstruct justice.

    We gave the President authority to use force at a time when we were trying to convey to Saddam Hussein that there was no alternative but to cooperate and produce the evidence of dismantling his WMD regime. But we did not expect the President to go into Iraq without adequate troops, without an exit strategy, and without a plan for the peace. If we had known that he would run the war like the incompetent bungler he has proved to be, if we had known that he would use the war as an opportunity for profiteering by his cronies, if we had known that it would be a distraction from the war on terror, and that because he would fail to listen to military planners the country would become a breeding ground for terrorists, well, don’t be ridiculous, of course we wouldn’t have voted to trust the President.

    ... and tell 'em Big Mitch sent ya!

    Impeach Bush? You'll need a smoking gun

    The President says he doesn't read polls. It's a good thing, too. The last thing we need is a dry-drunk with a serious case of depression and a finger on the nyooclear button. If did try to keep track of what his constituents want, he would learn that most Americans think he should be impeached if he lied to start the war in Iraq. Ironically, most Americans also think he lied to start the war in Iraq. Why is he not being impeached?

    Perhaps it is because people are not sufficiently convinced that he actually did lie to get us into the war. Here for the benefit of those with lingering doubts is the so-called smoking gun. (Note: it did not come in the form of a mushroom cloud.)

    The Overseas and Defence Secretariat memo dated March 8, 2000 is the smoking gun. Here is the link. It is one of the famous Downing Street Memos. You can find them on After Downing Street.

    Here are some pertinent quotes.

    29. In the judgement of the JIC there is no recent evidence of Iraq complicity with international terrorism. There is therefore no justification for action against Iraq based on action in self-defence (Article 51) to combat imminent threats of terrorism as in Afghanistan.

    30. Currently, offensive military action against Iraq can only be justified if Iraq is held to be in breach of the Gulf War ceasefire resolution, 687. 687 imposed obligations on Iraq with regard to the elimination of WMD and monitoring these obligations. …

    31. As the ceasefire was proclaimed by the Security Council in 687, it is for the Council to decide whether a breach of obligations has occurred. There is precedent. [Previous expulsion of UN inspectors by Iraq was determined to be a flagrant violation and led to UNSCR 1205 (1998) which] underpinned Operation Desert Fox. In contrast to general legal opinion, the US asserts the right of individual Member States to determine whether Iraq has breached 687, regardless of whether the Council has reached this assessment.

    32. For the P5 [the permanent members of the Security Council] and the majority of the Council to take the view that Iraq was in breach of [Security Council Resolution] 687: "they would need to be convinced that Iraq was in breach of its obligations regarding WMD, and ballistic missiles. Such proof would need to be incontrovertible and of large-scale activity. Current intelligence is insufficiently robus [sic] to meet this criterion.”

    ... and tell 'em Big Mitch sent ya!