Monday, February 27, 2006

New world record

Bush Job Approval 02/200601/2006 10/200511/2004
Overall 34% 42% 35% 31%
Iraq 30% 37% 32%40%
Economy 32% 39%34% 42%
Energy 27% ---------
Source: CBS News Poll

Sure it looks bad, but here’s the amazing news: He’s doing worse with G.I.s in Iraq.

Here’s what I read in the NY Times today:
The poll is the first of U.S. troops currently serving in Iraq, according to John Zogby, the pollster. Conducted by Zogby International and LeMoyne College, it asked 944 service members, “How long should U.S. troops stay in Iraq?”

Only 23 percent backed Mr. Bush's position that they should stay as long as necessary. In contrast, 72 percent said that U.S. troops should be pulled out within one year. Of those, 29 percent said they should withdraw “immediately.”
“… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”

I can't make this stuff up.

When I read stuff like this, written by Pamela Hess, UPI Pentagon Correspondent, it's hard for me not to think that this must be a joke.
WASHINGTON, Feb. 24 (UPI) -- A United Arab Emirates government-owned company is poised to take over port terminal operations in 21 American ports, far more than the six widely reported.

The Bush administration has approved the takeover of British-owned Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation Co. to DP World, a deal set to go forward March 2 unless Congress intervenes.

P&O is the parent company of P&O Ports North America, which leases terminals for the import and export and loading and unloading and security of cargo in 21 ports, 11 on the East Coast, ranging from Portland, Maine to Miami, Florida, and 10 on the Gulf Coast, from Gulfport, Miss., to Corpus Christi, Texas, according to the company's Web site.

President George W. Bush on Tuesday threatened to veto any legislation designed to stall the handover.
You can read the entire article here. As your reading it, try to keep in mind that we went to war against Iraq because they had ties to Al Qaeda that were far less substantial than those of the UAE.

If you laugh, it might help you keep from crying.

“… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”

Saturday, February 25, 2006

When they stand up, we'll stand down.

On Nov. 16, 2005, in a piece called, Beauty is as beauty lies I reported this snippette of conversation, between the comely Nicolle Wallace, White House Communications Director, and Chris Matthews on Hardball:
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.
As I ranted at the time,
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?
Here's the lastest update, courtesy of
The only Iraqi battalion capable of fighting without U.S. support has been downgraded to a level requiring them to fight with American troops backing them up, the Pentagon said Friday.

The battalion, made up of 700 to 800 Iraqi Army soldiers, has repeatedly been offered by the U.S. as an example of the growing independence of the Iraqi military.

The competence of the Iraqi military has been cited as a key factor in when U.S. troops will be able to return home.

"As we see more of these Iraqi forces in the lead, we will be able to continue with our stated strategy that says as Iraqi forces stand up, we will stand down," President Bush said last month.
Now, how could anyone spin that into good news? You would have to go to the go-to-guy, Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Republican John Warner of Virginia. (His ex-wife is pictured to the right.) Here he is on today’s Meet the Press:
There’s a hundred battalions of Iraqi military. Over 50 of those battalions are able to take the lead in a fight with minimal U.S. support.

In the last 3 months we’ve gone from 91 to 50+ battle-ready battalions. If there were 100 battalions on November 15th, we have gone from 91% to 50% good-to-go. Bad trend. And the number of independently battle ready battalions has gone from 3 to zero since September 29, 2005. This can’t be good.

When they stand up, we will stand down. As it turns out, they are standing up to leave the room.

“… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”




Friday, February 24, 2006

Secret Service agents say Cheney was drunk when he shot lawyer

The following article appeared in The Rant which can be found on Capitol Hill Blue, "the oldest political news site on the internet."

Feb 22, 2006, 07:35

Secret Service agents guarding Vice President Dick Cheney when he shot Texas lawyer Harry Whittington on a hunting outing two weeks ago say Cheney was "clearly inebriated" at the time of the shooting.

Agents observed several members of the hunting party, including the Vice President, consuming alcohol before and during the hunting expedition, the report notes, and Cheney exhibited "visible signs" of impairment, including slurred speech and erratic actions.

According to those who have talked with the agents and others present at the outing, Cheney was drunk when he gunned down his friend and the day-and-a-half delay in allowing Texas law enforcement officials on the ranch where the shooting occurred gave all members of the hunting party time to sober up.

We talked with a number of administration officials who are privy to inside information on the Vice President's shooting "accident" and all admit Secret Service agents and others say they saw Cheney consume far more than the "one beer' he claimed he drank at lunch earlier that day.

"This was a South Texas hunt," says one White House aide. "Of course there was drinking. There's always drinking. Lots of it."

One agent at the scene has been placed on administrative leave and another requested reassignment this week. A memo reportedly written by one agent has been destroyed, sources said Wednesday afternoon.

Cheney has a long history of alcohol abuse, including two convictions of driving under the influence when he was younger. Doctors tell me that someone like Cheney, who is taking blood thinners because of his history of heart attacks, could get legally drunk now after consuming just one drink.

If Cheney was legally drunk at the time of the shooting, he could be guilty of a felony under Texas law and the shooting, ruled an accident by a compliant Kenedy County Sheriff, would be a prosecutable offense.

But we will never know for sure because the owners of the Armstrong Ranch, where the shooting occurred, barred the sheriff's department from the property on the day of the shooting and Kenedy County Sheriff Ramon Salinas III agreed to wait until the next day to send deputies in to talk to those involved.

Sheriff's Captain Charles Kirk says he went to the Armstrong Ranch immediately after the shooting was reported on Saturday, February 11 but both he and a game warden were not allowed on the 50,000-acre property. He called Salinas who told him to forget about it and return to the station.

"I told him don't worry about it. I'll make a call," Salinas said. The sheriff claims he called another deputy who moonlights at the Armstrong ranch, said he was told it was "just an accident" and made the decision to wait until Sunday to investigate.

"We've known these people for years. They are honest and wouldn't call us, telling us a lie," Salinas said.

Like all elected officials in Kenedy County, Salinas owes his job to the backing and financial support of Katherine Armstrong, owner of the ranch and the county's largest employer.

"The Armstrongs rule Kenedy County like a fiefdom," says a former employee.

Secret Service officials also took possession of all tests on Whittington's blood at the hospitals where he was treated for his wounds. When asked if a blood alcohol test had been performed on Whittington, the doctors who treated him at Christus Spohn Hospital Memorial in Corpus Christi or the hospital in Kingsville refused to answer. One admits privately he was ordered by the Secret Service to "never discuss the case with the press."

It's a sure bet that is a private doctor who treated the victim of Cheney's reckless and drunken actions can't talk to the public then any evidence that shows the Vice President drunk as a skunk will never see the light of day.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Protecting our ports, Bush-style.

Today, the big story is that our government has contracted out the management of East coast ports to a foreign government. The foreign government is, of course, the United Arab Emigrates, one of three countries in the world to recognize the Taliban, and the country where the payroll checks of the 9-11 murderers were cashed. It was also the main transshipment point for Abdul Qadeer Khan, a Pakistani nuclear engineer who ran the world's largest nuclear proliferation ring from warehouses near the port, met Iranian officials there, and shipped centrifuge equipment, which can be used to enrich uranium, from there to Libya.

If it comes as a surprise to you that the United States was contracting out the management of our ports, don’t worry. You are in good company. The President of the United States just found out about it few days ago, according to the White House Press Secretary, Scott McClellan.

One thing that Dubya probably did not know is that there is a law covering this kind of deal. When “the acquiring company is controlled by or acting on behalf of a foreign government” the law requires a “mandatory,” 45-day investigation. What’s more, according to the NY Times, “Administration officials … could not say why a 45-day investigation did not occur.”

The Times also reported:
The administration's review of the deal was conducted by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, a body that was created in 1975 to review foreign investments in the country that could affect national security. Under that review, officials from the Defense, State, Commerce and Transportation Departments, along with the National Security Council and other agencies, were charged with raising questions and passing judgment. They found no problems to warrant the next stage of review, a 45-day investigation with results reported to the president for a final decision.
This not only came as a surprise to Dubya, apparently it was unknown to the Secretary of Defense, who also was reportedly unaware of the deal.

Obviously a lot of people are unhappy about this. A Republican member of congress from North Carolina sent the president a letter, which said, in its entirety: “In regards to selling American ports to the United Arab Emigrates, not just NO – but HELL NO! Sincerely, Sue Myrick.”

For his part, the President has threatened to veto any legislation that would examine or delay the contract. Tom DeLay (R—TX) said that any such veto would be over-ridden. Why would the President threaten to veto any legislation that would examine or delay the contract? We’re talking about a president that has never issued a formal veto in 5 years of service.

I say ‘formal veto’ because he sometimes signs legislation with a ‘signing statement’ that says, in effect, “yeah, I am signing this, but that doesn’t mean I am going to obey it.” A notable example is the President’s signing statement issued when he signed anti-torture legislation, which I discussed in Bush to Congress: Drop Dead. We’ll come back to torture in a moment.

David Sorota, has a theory that this issue is extremely important to the President because his power base, large multi-national corporations, dreads the idea of national security being interjected into trade. As he puts it,
That's what this UAE deal is all about - the mixture of the right-wing's goal of privatizing all government services (even post 9/11 port security!) with the political Establishment's desire to make sure Tom-Friedman-style "free" trade orthodoxy supersedes everything. This is where the culture of corruption meets national security policy - and, more specifically, where the unbridled corruption of on-the-take politicians are weakening America's security.
I have a different theory on why this is so important. It all goes back to the Unitary Executive Theory. The president believes that the Congress has no role to play in such things as spying on Americans, prohibiting torture, and making trade decisions. I’ve mentioned the use of signing statements as an egregious example of King George W’s contumacious disdain for co-equal branches of government.

Last evening I encountered a very enlightening piece of evidence regarding this unitary executive theory.

In January of 2003, Alberto J. Mora wrote a “Memorandum for the Inspector General, Department of the Navy.” He was the General Counsel for the Department of the Navy, and his memo was a “Statement for the Record” regarding his involvement in interrogation issues.

Apparently, in December 2002, he received a report of detainee abuse in Guantanamo. He documented his efforts to remedy the situation, concluding that by January 15, 2003, the cruel and inhumane treatment had indeed stopped. Along the way, he came face to face with a December 2nd memo signed by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.

The memo, in the view of Mr. Mora, “authorized interrogation techniques [that] could rise to the level of torture,” and surely rose to the level of cruel and inhumane practices which are unlawful. Rumsfeld signed it, and added a hand-written comment on the bottom of the memo regarding the four-hour limit on forced standing for detainees. Secretary Rumsfeld’s contribution: “However, I stand for 8-10 hours a day. Why is standing limited to 4 hours?”

What happened next appears, from Mr. Mora’s memo, to be a successful campaign orchestrated by him, to have the December 2nd memorandum withdrawn and the objectionable practices stopped. However, this was not to be before the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, produced its own legal analysis of the interrogation program. Here’s what Mora had to say about that document:
[T] the memo espoused an extreme and virtually unlimited theory of the extent of the President’s commander-in-chief authority. A key underpinning to the notion that cruel treatment could be applied to the detainees, the OLC formulation of the commander-in-chief authority was wrongly articulated because it failed to apply the Youngstown Steel test to the Guantanamo circumstances.
Now, all of this started to sound familiar, because that was the same objection to the same argument proposed by the administration in defense of the NSA spying on Americans: “An extreme and virtually unlimited theory of the extent of the President’s commander-in-chief authority.”

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has indicated a belief that there is no legislative remedy to be had if Congress wants to limit the President’s power to wiretap Americans. And you will recall that the only other time that W threatened a veto was in relation to the McCain amendment to outlaw the treatments of detainees that his administration defended under this extreme view of executive power.

So, here’s my hunch. I think the only history that this President has of willingness to go to the mat is when there is a threatened limitation of his presidential prerogatives. The president could have gracefully said, “I wasn’t brought into this until after the deal was done, but now I see that the required review wasn’t done, and so, we will have to hold up the deal until we can comply with the law. I am confident that when all is said and done the American people will see that this deal is in the best interests of our country and that port security will be enhanced." Instead, his reaction shows that he regards congressional action in this arena to be a real threat.

Congressional oversight is to George W. Bush, what kryptonite is to Clark Kent. And the case of the contract with the UAE to run our ports is one where the president must make a stand. After all, the Dubai firm in question, DP World, has at least two ties to the White House.

One is Treasury Secretary John Snow, whose department heads the federal panel that signed off on the $6.8 billion sale of an English company to UAE-owned company - giving it control of Manhattan's cruise ship terminal and Newark's container port. Snow was chairman of the CSX rail firm that sold its own international port operations to DP World for $1.15 billion in 2004, the year after Snow left for Bush's cabinet.

The other connection is David Sanborn, who runs DP World's European and Latin American operations and who was tapped by King George last month to head the U.S. Maritime Administration.

It also seems so convoluted and hard to follow, but really it is quite simple. This president is all about claiming executive power, and cronyism, and helping big business.

And what about national security? As they say on the docks in N.Y. “Fuhgeddaboutit.”

“… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

6 degrees of freedom -- the update

Back on November 15, 2002, Salon ran a story revealing that the U.S. Transportation and Security Administration (TSA) keeps a list of about 1,000 people who have been deemed a “threat to aviation.”

As the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) tells it:
The November 15th story features interviews with a number of people, including the CCR’s own assistant legal director Barbara Olshansky, who were stopped and subjected to close scrutiny as they boarded aircraft in the U.S. Salon reporter, David Lindorff, investigated the stories of several activists including members of Peace Action and the Green Party, who were questioned, and in some cases, taken off planes. Lindorff contacted the Transportation and Security Administration where an official confirmed that they have such a list stating:

“This list is composed of names that are provided to us by various government organizations like the FBI, CIA and the INS. . . We don't ask how they decide who to list. Each agency decides on its own who is a ‘threat to aviation.’”
That’s a lot of potential terrorists, and presumably if the government has enough cause to keep you off an airplane, it has enough cause to listen to your phone calls under the NSA’s program of warrantless wiretaps on Americans.

That goes for anyone you talk to, also. And anyone to whom they speak.

Now let’s do some math. Assume that each of the “threats to aviation” has 25 unique “affiliates,” by which I mean, not affiliated with any of the people on the TSA threat list or their affiliates. And just for the sake of discussion, let’s assume that each of these 2nd level affiliates also has 25 more affiliates. Then add one more degree of separation, and we’ve got 390 million plus potential wiretap targets.

I am guessing that the number of people on the TSA Threats to Aviation list has increased in the last 3 and a half years. Do you feel secure knowing that the government's program of domestic spying is only targeting “terrorists and their affiliates?”

“… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Mary Matelin, Mistress of Mendacity

The Vice-president of the United States of America shot a 78-year-old man in the face, neck and chest, a few hours after consuming alcohol with his lunch. Had the Vice-president observed the most basic protocols of gun safety this accident would not have happened.

It is beyond dispute that this was an accident, and a tragic one at that. The Vice-president has taken responsibility. He appeared on national television four days later, and clearly he has suffered the pain of knowing he had committed a terrible wrong.

It is incomprehensible to me, a non-hunter, that people could be so blaze about blazing guns nearly killing people. Here in Alaska we have special laws to actually encourage kids to go hunting. Is it possible that we want to encourage kids to engage in activities that routinely involve near-lethal accidents with guns? What does the N.R.A. have to say about this?

The official Republican line is that this was an accident, and what more is there to say? Only this: Oh, Mr. Vice-president, we are so sorry for the pain you feel.

Indeed, this is the answer that was suggested by Mary Matelin on Meet the Press, today. Paul Gigot, of the Wall Street Journal, was in complete agreement. He added that for the answer to be anything else, would suggest “the standards for scandal are really sinking.”

Here’s a different answer: Mr. Cheney you were involved in an avoidable accident. Good for you for taking responsibility for it. When you take responsibility for an avoidable accident, you are admitting that you were negligent and you must accept the consequences. In Texas, when you negligently cause serious bodily injury to a person over 65 years old by means of a firearm, you have committed a felony.

I don’t know if alcohol contributed to Mr. Cheney’s poor judgment, but I do know from everything I have heard since this tragic accident occurred that drinking before shooting is a gross departure from the standard of care that people are expected to adhere to in Texas. It must be sufficiently serious to be deserving of punishment, or why else would the Veep’s victim, and designated spokespersons lie about it?

Mary Matelin almost caused a serious injury to me today. That is because I nearly fell off my chair when I heard her say, “People who know the vice-president know that he is not a drinker.”

Mary, sober up! The man had two DWI’s and was kicked out of college for being a sot. He has never received treatment for his alcohol problem. That may seem a little unfair, since these things occurred 40 years ago, as one of my critics pointed out. But what about the fact that Mr. Cheney, by his own admission, had been drinking that day, just a few hours before the tragic accident that has caused him so much pain?

And what about the fact that before he called the President, Cheney fixed himself a cocktail. My judgment, harsh though it may seem to some, is that if you take a cocktail to steady your nerves before doing an important task like talking to your boss, the President of the United States, you might want to consider your relationship to alcohol. If, as it appears to be the case, you then blow off the business of calling your boss, you might want to talk to someone else about your alcohol problem.

Yes, the hunting accident was tragic. A man nearly died. But like the great tragedies of Greek theater, this tragedy involves the fall of a man with too much hubris, and not enough awareness of his own vulnerabilities. The Vice-president’s pattern of secrecy and undisclosed locations, with unpublished schedules, kept some of his vulnerabilities from the view of the American public, but now they are in full view.

Mr. Cheney’s apologists ask us to have compassion for the suffering he is going through now. Consider this my act of compassion: Dick, get help.

Note: I pointed out that a man nearly died. On Face the Nation this morning, Senator Bill Frist, once again exhibited that remarkable talent for diagnosis at a distance, and pronounced that Harry appears to be quite healthy. The phrase “for a man with buckshot in his heart” was assumed sub silento.

“… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”

Call the Texas Bar Association

Lawyers have lots of duties including a duty to be truthful. Lying to a sheriff’s deputy who is conducting an investigation into what may or may not be criminal behavior is a big no-no. Does it lead to disbarment? I suppose that in Texas it depends on how well-connected the attorney is.

The investigating officer from the Kenedy County sheriff's department, after interviewing Harry Whittington, Esq. in the hospital, reported that Cheney's victim “explained foremost there was no alcohol during the hunt.”

Turns out that the victim was foremost lying. My source: Vice-president Richard Cheney, and his designated spokesperson for the incident, Katharine Armstrong.

The Dallas Morning Newsreported on February 16 that “[r]anch owner Katharine Armstrong ... said Wednesday that the [Cheney's] group ate lunch about 1 p.m.” Cheney acknowledged that he “had a beer at lunch” and “didn't go back into the field to hunt quail until about, oh, sometime after 3 p.m.”

Sounds to me like Cheney was drinking about 2 hours before he took up arms.

Someone should notify the Texas Bar Association.

“… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”

Thursday, February 16, 2006

My favorite quote from Faux News interview of Dick Cheney.

Dick "Elmer Fudd" Cheney finally broke his silence about shooting a 78 year old man in the face and heart. Here's my favorite quote from the interview with Brit Hume. Much of the questioning related to the bumbled effort to keep the story out of sight. Cheney ended the interview with my favorite quote:

"One of the problems we have as a government is our inability to keep secrets."

Since I always strive to be scrupulously fair, I should mention that he wasn't talking about the fact that he nearly killed his hunting buddy because he failed to follow basic hunting safety. What he was talking about is the fact that the Administration's illegal program of spying on Americans has been outed. The Nation's slide into a dictatorship has been slowed, if not stalled, so you can understand why to Cheney it seems like "damage has been done."

Let's look at the bright side, Dick. All of this attention to you shooting, and nearly killing someone has taken attention away from the following stories:

  • Cheney erased emails during the relevant time frame in the Scooter Libby intvestigation.
  • Cheney authorized Libby to release state secrets to the press.
  • Republican lawmakers release highly critical report on Administration's failures in response to Hurrican Katrina.
  • Homeland Security Secretary Chernoff testifies in Senate: Hint: They're not keeping us safer.
  • Iraq situation getting worse according to Republican Senator Chuck Hegal.
  • More Abu Gharib photos.
  • Anti-American rioting in Pakastan
  • Government spends nearly two billion dollars on propaganda.
  • Hearings in Senate about treatment of whistleblowers in Federal Government.
  • Findings about who is at Guantanimo. Hint: It's not Al-Quaida nor enemy combatants.
  • U.N. urges shutdown of Guantanimo, citing torture by U.S. troops.
  • Jack Abramoff.

  • I could go on, but it's getting late. Get well soon, Harry.

    “… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”

    Wednesday, February 15, 2006

    Cheney admits to drinking before shooting his friend.

    Well, that was according to Fox News which will air an interview with him tonight. They are also stating that the Veep is totally unapologetic. Which one do you find more surprising?

    Let's be fair. The Vice-president only admits to having one beer at lunch before the shooting which is presumed to have happened in the late afternoon, around 5:30. On the other hand, people have been known to understate their alcohol consumption. Having defended hundreds of drunk drivers, I can tell you it is the rule, rather than the exception.

    Katherine Armstrong, the Vice-president's hostess, and designated media laison for this incident, told NBC News that there may have been "a beer or two available" during a picnic lunch that preceded the incident. Hmm, it sounds like the picnic lunch was a part of the whole hunting thing.

    I wonder if the complete police report sheds any light on when was the last time the Vice-president drank before the incident. By the way, MSNBC has taken the Kathrine Armstrong quote off their website, but you can see it as it originally appeared here.

    “… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”

    Move over Scooter Libby; Harry Whittington really takes one for the team.

    The Press Release of the Kenedy County Sheriff’s Office is available on The Smoking

    I found the following sentences to be a bit jarring:
    “Mr Whittington’s interview collaborated Vice President Cheney’s statement. The Department is fully satisfied that this was no more than a hunting accident”
    In my dictionary, “collaborated” is defined as:
    1. To work together, especially in a joint intellectual effort.
    2. To cooperate treasonably, as with an enemy occupation force in one's country.
    I had strongly suspected that the delay in interviewing witnesses was for the purposes of giving the Vice President time to co-ordinate his story with his witnesses. Maybe it was merely to give the Veep time to sober up. We'll never know. Or will we?

    The AP reports that Mr. Cheney didn’t agree to be interviewed until Monday morning:
    At least one deputy showed up at the ranch’s front gate Saturday evening and asked to speak to Cheney but was turned away by the Secret Service, [Secret Service spokesman Eric] Zahren said.
    From what I have seen on the net the police report does not relate that any witness statements were taken. I have seen a lot of police reports in my life, and I can tell you that this is odd. Perhaps it is something as simple as the complete police reports not being on the web.

    Or, perhaps not.

    “… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”

    Tuesday, February 14, 2006

    More from the Leftwing Mainstream Media

    There is nothing more mainstream than the CBS evening news. If leftwing media is defined as media that makes rightwing lunatics even nuttier, CBS is as leftwing as it comes. This is the network that had its evening news anchor, Dan Rather, forced into retirement for reporting what was essentially a true story.

    Tonight, CBS Evening News with Bob Scheiffer proved that it has learned its lesson, and that it will never again do anything to upset the Friends of Bush/Cheney.

    Our story begins on Saturday, Feb. 11th when the Vice President of the United States shot a man in the face and neck, allegedly at thirty yards. (Other reports had it at 30 feet.)

    It’s been over two hundred years since a vice-president shot somebody, and so, you might imagine that the story would have legs. On the other hand, no one got killed and, as they say, accidents happen.

    What was no accident is the fact that the story didn’t make it off the hunting ranch where the shooting occurred for 21 hours. This would have been plenty of time for Cheney to sober up.

    In fairness, we don’t have any evidence that he was drinking. For that matter, we don’t have any evidence that he was not. The only information we have on that subject is that he has a history of DWI’s and apparently he has never received treatment. Unlike the other un-treated alcoholic in the administration, Cheney does not claim to be abstemious.

    There is some suggestion that the Vice-president's office was not going to release the story at all, and that an employee of the ranch went to the local paper on her own initiative. This is from today's White House Press Briefing:
    Q: Katherine Armstrong talked to CNN Sunday evening. She said that she thought this was going to become a story, so she was going to go to the local press. She also told CNN that she did not believe the Vice President's Office was aware that she was going to go to the local press. How do you square that with your account that they were coordinating their --

    MR. McCLELLAN: The Vice President spoke with her directly and they agreed that she would make it public.

    They agreed as in: Armstrong: I am going to the local paper with this. Cheney: Okay.

    Anyway, by today, Monday, the story of the shooting was out, but not the story of why the cover-up. In today's White House Press Briefing, we heard the following exchange:
    Q: Scott, there's a report coming out of a Sheriff's deputy there who said that he was prevented from interviewing the Vice President by the Secret Service. Do you know anything about that? And is that appropriate?

    MR. McCLELLAN: No, I don't know anything about that. You ought to direct that to the Secret Service. My understanding was that Secret Service took the appropriate steps to inform law enforcement. But, again, check with Secret Service.
    Okay, Scotty, I have a follow-up question: Why do you think they call it the SECRET service?

    On Monday night, that bastion of liberal, Bush-hating media, CBS Evening News carried the story of the shooting. Here’s my unofficial transcript of a snippet of the broadcast. The reporter is Lee Cowan reporting from Kenedy County, Texas:
    Here, this is an investigation so routine, the local sheriff says that he didn't even send a deputy to interview the vice-president until the following morning.

    [video of Sheriff Ramon Salinas, Kenedy County, Texas Sheriff's Dept] "I mean, everybody knew it was an accident, and it's nothing criminal. So that's why he went the next morning."

    [Cowan] Of course, there's nothing criminal, but it sure is embarrassing.
    As demonstrated here, Cheney has probably committed a felony. It strikes me that at a minimum, when you shoot a shotgun and don’t know that there is a man in your fire zone, you are criminally negligent, though reckless is more like it.

    But what about the assertion that this is so routine that it doesn’t even merit an investigation by the Sheriff? Here are the facts:
    A new report shows Texas hunting accidents in 2004 decreased to the lowest amount since statistical records began in 1966. The number of people injured in hunting accidents in Texas decreased from 44 in 2003 to 29 in 2004, although fatalities increased from two to four during the same period.
    Source: Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

    “… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”

    Monday, February 13, 2006

    Dick Cheney is a felon.

    Here are some interesting snippets from the Texas Penal Code, Chapter 22.

    § 22.01. ASSAULT. (a) A person commits an offense if
    the person:

    (1)intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causes
    bodily injury to another, including the person's spouse;


    (b) An offense under Subsection (a)(1) is a Class A

    § 22.02. AGGRAVATED ASSAULT. (a) A person commits an
    offense if the person commits assault as defined in § 22.01 and
    the person:


    (2) uses or exhibits a deadly weapon during the
    commission of the assault.

    (b) An offense under this section is a felony of the second degree, … .

    § 22.04. INJURY TO A CHILD, ELDERLY INDIVIDUAL, OR DISABLED INDIVIDUAL. (a) A person commits an offense if he intentionally, knowingly, recklessly, or with criminal negligence, by act or intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly by omission, causes to a child, elderly individual, or disabled individual:

    (1) serious bodily injury;


    (3) bodily injury.

    (c) In this section: … . (2) "Elderly individual" means a person 65 years of age or older.

    (f) An offense under Subsection (a)(3) is a felony of the third degree when the conduct is committed intentionally or knowingly. When the conduct is engaged in recklessly it shall be a state jail felony.

    (g) An offense under Subsection (a) when the person acts with criminal negligence shall be a state jail felony.

    Texas Code of Criminal Procedure:

    § 1.07. DEFINITIONS. (a) In this code:

    . . . (17) "Deadly weapon" means: (A) a firearm or anything manifestly designed, made, or adapted for the purpose of inflicting death or serious bodily injury;

    “… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”

    It is more important than ever ...

    ... that the Vice President not take any more hunting trips with Supreme Court Justices.

    For the reason why, look here.

    Rare video of Cheney on hunting trip with Anton Scalia here.

    “… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”

    Sunday, February 12, 2006

    Republicans keeping us safer?

    David Broder is a very savvy reporter for the Washington Post and a frequent guest on the PBS weekly panel discussion, Washington Week. When it was noted that the President seemed to be making ground with the public on the domestic spying, Broder had an interesting insight.

    He agreed that the issue would benefit Republicans as long as they could spin it into the Democrats not being willing or able to defend America. His insight was that this will not continue if and when a court declares that it is illegal. For what it is worth, I agree.

    As I have said repeatedly, this is not about keeping America safe from terrorists. This is about whether or not the President should be bound by the rule of law. When the issue is framed that way, 49.8% favor Congress holding him accountable through impeachment and removal from office if “it is determined that President Bush broke the law” vs. 38.7 who oppose.

    Though they will not use the “I” word, it is clear that the Senators on the Judiciary Committee have very serious doubts about the program’s legality. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham was quite forceful in his criticism, and Arlen Specter was, too. Mike DeWine is joining the other Republicans and suggesting that Bush get his act together and seek amendments to the FISA law. For its part, the Administration is adamantly insisting that what it did is all covered by the FISA law, and therefore it opposes any ammendments. Surprisingly, ultra conservative Sam Brownbeck of Kansas, who is running for President, is not going along with the President on this one.

    Add in the eight Democrats, and you have the Senate Judiciary Committee split 12-6 against the legality of the Domestic Spying Program. Chairman Arlen Specter is urging the President to submit the case to the FISA court.

    So the Senate Judiciary Committee is leaning to the view that the warrantless domestic spying is illegal. If Broder is right, we still lack a Court to declare it so.

    Here’s the breaking news according to today’s Wall Street Journal: The FISA court has already revealed its view that the program is illegal. Here’s how it goes.

    As you know, illegally seized evidence is not admissible in court; it’s called the exclusionary rule. A corollary is the “fruit of the poisonous tree doctrine.” Basically, it says that if illegally seized evidence is used to get other evidence, that other evidence is also inadmissible.

    According to the Washington Post:

    Twice in the past four years, a top Justice Department lawyer warned the presiding judge of a secret surveillance court that information overheard in President Bush's eavesdropping program may have been improperly used to obtain wiretap warrants in the court, according to two sources with knowledge of those events.

    The revelations infuriated U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly -- who, like her predecessor, Royce C. Lamberth, had expressed serious doubts about whether the warrantless monitoring of phone calls and e-mails ordered by Bush was legal. Both judges had insisted that no information obtained this way be used to gain warrants from their court, according to government sources, and both had been assured by administration officials it would never happen.

    The two heads of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court were the only judges in the country briefed by the administration on Bush's program.

    Essentially, these two judges, the experts in the FISA law, and the only judges to have considered the question, have concluded that any use of material from warrantless wiretaps would be inadmissible, and any evidence it led to would be fruit of the poisonous tree.

    As Senate Judiciary Committee member Ted Kennedy pointed out, the evidence gathered against an actual terrorist will be thrown out of court if it was obtained illegally. Thus, King George W may have handed the terrorists a “get out of jail fee” card.

    Republican incompetence has not made us safer. As they say in New Orleans, “au contraire, mon ami.”

    You're doing a heckuva job, Alberto. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200.

    “… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”

    Friday, February 10, 2006

    You got to believe.

    This is huge. Murray Waas, reports in the National Journal, as follows:
    Cheney ‘Authorized’ Libby to Leak Classified Information

    Vice President Dick Cheney’s former chief of staff, I. Lewis (Scooter) Libby, testified to a federal grand jury that he had been “authorized” by Cheney and other White House “superiors” in the summer of 2003 to disclose classified information to journalists to defend the Bush administration's use of prewar intelligence in making the case to go to war with Iraq, according to attorneys familiar with the matter, and to court records.

    Libby specifically claimed that in one instance he had been authorized to divulge portions of a then-still highly classified National Intelligence Estimate regarding Saddam Hussein’s purported efforts to develop nuclear weapons, according to correspondence recently filed in federal court by special prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald.

    Why is this so huge? Join me as we revisit the heady days of yesteryear, when a President could get impeached for spying on Americans in violation of the law.

    Willie Mays hit his 660th and final homerun on August 17, 1973, and the Mets were 7 ½ games back in the National League East. They didn’t have a twenty game winner or a .300 hitter. They had a gutsy relief pitcher named Tug McGraw and once during a clubhouse meeting he yelled out, “Ya gotta believe.” It became the team’s rallying cry.

    Back in those days, the President was Richard Nixon, and the Vice-President was a common criminal named Spiro Agnew. He received envelopes of cash payments for graft when he was the Governor of Maryland. And quel horreur he failed to pay income tax on it.

    Look, tax evasion isn’t very sexy, but it’s what got Capone. And it got Agnew, too. Millions of Americans heard the term Nolo Contendre for the first time and Agnew resigned.

    Up until that moment, nobody took the impeachment of Nixon very seriously because there was not one person in either house of Congress who could bear the thought of President Agnew.

    The day that Agnew resigned, October 10, 1973, was a day that is carved in our nation’s history. The New York Daily News’ headline will never be forgotten:
    Agnew resigns
    As Casey Stengal once said, “You could look it up.”

    … and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!

    P.S. Polling question: “If it were determined that President Bush broke the law, do you support the U.S. Congress holding him accountable through impeachment and removal from office?”

    Support or Strongly Support ……… 49.8%
    Oppose or Strongly Oppose ………. 38.7%

    You gotta believe.

    Wednesday, February 08, 2006

    Defense incompetence from 1984

    Dick Cheney was on The News Hour with Jim Lehrer last night.You can view it here. Here's a snippet:

    JIM LEHRER: Stuart Vaughn, the inspector general I was just talking about, said, again on our program, that the reason reconstruction is going so poorly or hasn't gone any better -- let's put a different kind of phraseology there -- is confronting an insurgent -- we're having to confront an insurgency we didn't anticipate. Is that correct?

    VICE PRESIDENT DICK CHENEY: I think that's fair. I don't think anybody thought --

    JIM LEHRER: Why didn't we anticipate it?

    VICE PRESIDENT DICK CHENEY: Well, you can't anticipate everything. You know, we did anticipate a lot of things that didn't happen.
    I’ve heard Rumsfeld say the same thing, and at first it made sense. For example, they had to anticipate and prepare for a protracted land war, though one never materialized.

    Wait! Who in their right mind was predicting a protracted land war? Hadn’t we defeated a much stronger Iraq a decade earlier in a victory that was achieved in less time than it takes to rotate the tires on your car? In the intervening years hadn’t we had exclusive control of their airspace? If I recall right, the main thing that slowed us down in this war was the speed limit on our tanks.

    Okay, bad example.

    Didn’t we have to prepare against the use of WMD’s by Saddam? That’s another possibility that never materialized. Now there are two possibilities. One is that the sachems in the War Council actually believed that Saddam had WMDs. They would have had to be dopes. That’s a heckuva defense: we didn’t prepare for the difficulties we encountered in Iraq, because we screwed up the intelligence. But let’s look past that.

    The administration had dismissed the nuclear weapons threat before the invasion, even though they continued to claim, falsely, that Saddam had engaged in “nuclear program activities.” What about chemical and biological? The thing is that before any battle, American troops prepare against the possibility of gas attacks. It starts during the first week of basic training.

    Then there’s the possibility that the administration didn’t believe that Saddam had WMDs. And why would they? There has never been any evidence made public of chemical and biological weapons, notwithstanding the “artist’s conception” of mobile chemical labs that Colin Powell presented to the U.N. When British intelligence looked at the evidence that the U.S. possessed, they were unimpressed. So, if the administration didn’t believe there were WMD’s then, how hard could it have been to be prepared for them?

    Okay, then. What about the break down of civil society? Oops, didn’t mean to bring that up, seeing as how nobody was preparing for it in the War Council. What about a defeated and discontented Iraqi army? Not much preparing for that, either.

    But there was one thing that the geniuses in the White House did prepare for, which didn’t materialize. We were prepared to be greeted with candies and flowers.

    Nest time you hear someone say, “we were prepared for problems that didn’t materialize,” be clear. It’s Orwellian newspeak. It means: “We were completely wrong about what was about to happen. Basically, we didn’t know our ass from a hole in the ground.”

    “… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”

    Tuesday, February 07, 2006

    Why Republicans are supporting the President

    The White House has been twisting arms to ensure that no Republican member votes against President Bush in the Senate Judiciary Committee’s investigation of the administration's unauthorized wiretapping.

    Congressional sources said Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove has threatened to blacklist any Republican who votes against the president. The sources said the blacklist would mean a halt in any White House political or financial support of senators running for re-election in November.

    "It's hardball all the way," a senior GOP congressional aide said.

    You can read the entire article here.

    “… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”

    Monday, February 06, 2006

    The Genesis of a Controversy

    Alberto Gonzales was not sworn in before he testified at the Senate Judiciary Committee today. Here’s why I wish he had been.

    He stated that the program of spying on Americans in the United States was only employed when subjects communicated across national borders with “Al-Qaida and affiliate terrorist organizations.” Chairman Arlen Specter questioned him carefully about this, and General Gonzales re-iterated the statement at least three times.

    This is a significant change from what King George W said during the State of the Union address. Dubya said that he has “authorized a terrorist surveillance program to aggressively pursue the international communications of suspected al-Qaida operatives and affiliates to and from America.”

    It’s subtle difference, to be sure. But, as we read in the Good Book: "The serpent was more subtle than any other wild creature that the Lord God had made." Genesis 3:1. Look here to see why this difference is so important.

    One of the two Texans got it wrong. I am betting that it is Gonzales. I predict that we will hear a lot more about this.

    “… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”

    Tip of the Hat to Lindsey Graham

    The Republicans will argue that the Democrats are soft on terrorism because they are concerned about the erosion of our civil rights. That's horsepucky. The real deal is that Democrats are concerned about the President thumbing his nose at Congress. This is a significant concern because there is a law that says that it is the exclusive means by which electronic surveillance will be conducted, and the President says that law does not apply to him.

    Today, the Senate Judiciary Committee held hearings on the legality of the NSA program of surveillance under which U.S. persons in America were spied on. Here's one of the most telling exchanges:

    Lindsey Graham (R-SC) asked the Attorney General the following question:

    If the Congress decided to limit treatment or interrogation techniques of a detainee, would the President have to honor that? Is that part of our authority under the Constitution to regulate the military? Do we have the authority to tell the military you will not do the following things? Would that intrude on the inherent power of the President to run the military?

    A.G. Gonzales: The question is whether or not this is an interference of the day to day command functions of the Commander in chief or does it fall does it fall within that clause of Section 8 of Article I which says that Congress …

    Senator Graham: Do you believe it is lawful for the Congress to tell the military that you cannot physically abuse a prisoner of war.

    A.G. Gonzales: I am not prepared to say that Senator. I think that’s – you can make an argument that that’s part of the rule …

    Senator Graham: If we can’t do that, if we can’t during the time of war regulate the behavior of our troops then really we have no power in the time of war.

    There, I've done it. I said something nice about a Republican.

    “… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”

    Orin Hatch -- intellectually dishonest or just plain ignorant?

    Senator Orin Hatch questioned the Attorney General Alberto Gonzales about the program of eavesdropping on American citizens when they are in the United States. General Gonzales says it’s okay, as long as one party is overseas, and the NSA thinks that one party is a terrorist or an affiliate.

    Senator Hatch’s questions were leading and generally took the form of, “Isn’t it true that such-and-such case supports the view that you have expressed regarding the eavesdropping program?”

    One of the cases that Sen. Hatch inserted into that template was United States v United States District Court, 407 U.S. 297 (1972). You can read what I had to say about it here. Justice Powell wrote the unanimous opinion for the court. Here’s what he said:
    These Fourth Amendment freedoms cannot properly be guaranteed if domestic security surveillances may be conducted solely within the discretion of the Executive Branch.
    Go back to the law books, Senator Hatch.

    “… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”

    Sunday, February 05, 2006

    Six degrees of freedom

    The president claims that the program of spying on Americans living in America and placing or receiving calls from abroad is a “terrorist surveillance program.” The justification offered is “if you're talking to a member of al Qaeda, we want to know why.”

    Sounds reasonable to me.

    Of course, I would have thunk that if we had the phone number of a known al Qaeda member, we would just drop in and shoot the son of a bitch through the head. I’m okay with that, too.

    The problem is that the wiretapping didn’t just involve people talking to al Qaeda. The President said in his State of the Union Address,
    “I have authorized a terrorist surveillance program to aggressively pursue the international communications of suspected al-Qaida operatives and affiliates to and from America.”
    Hey, wait just a doggone minute! Who are these affiliates?

    See, when we talk about al Qaeda, it is difficult to know who or what we are talking about. On the one hand, it has been argued that al Qaeda does not exist apart from Osama Bin Laden and a small circle of close associates. On the other hand, the worldwide Islamist movement numbers in the millions. So, I guess it depends on how you define “affiliates.”

    Now King George W is not a guy to error on the side of caution, so I am figuring that he is going deep on the affiliates. Let’s just call it a million.

    Enter Stanley Milgram. Students of psychology will most readily associate his name with the Milgram Studies, which demonstrated that people are capable of incredible cruelty when instructed to do so by someone in a position of authority. The experiments were conducted the year after the Adolf Eichman trial, and the lesson that one should take from these notorious experiments is, “Question authority.”

    Less well known is his work documenting the “small world effect.” In a nutshell, the premise is that on average any person in the U.S. can be linked to any other by six degrees of separation. He demonstrated this by giving a package to people in Kansas, with instructions to pass it hand to hand to someone who would do the same until it got to the wife of a divinity student in Cambridge, Mass. It has been demonstrated ad nauseam that any actor or actress can be linked to Kevin Bacon in six steps.

    Okay, let’s do the math. Do you know someone who in the last 5 years has been in Europe or the Mid-east? That’s one degree. Three or four more will probably get you to one of the million Islamist radicals. That leaves you two more degrees to get you to the hard core of al Qaeda.

    Congratulations: you, too, can be the subject of NSA eavesdropping.

    Of course, all of this may seem far-fetched to you. That’s because you trust our leaders, in which case, you have failed to take to heart the lessons of the Milgram studies of authority, not to mention the sixties. But consider this: the NSA was turning over so many recordings to the FBI that it completely overwhelmed the Bureau’s capacity.

    The Washington Post recently that it has been reported that the number of American’s spied on is in the thousands, and one source put the number at 5,000.

    As the article documents, many more people are touched by the surveillance program. “Surveillance takes place in several stages, officials said, the earliest by machine. Computer-controlled systems collect and sift basic information about hundreds of thousands of faxes, e-mails and telephone calls into and out of the United States before selecting the ones for scrutiny by human eyes and ears.” Of the thousands selected for this level of scrutiny, fewer than 10 a year raise enough suspicion to justify the next level – an application for a warrant to monitor domestic calls.

    How many of those result in arrests? I don’t know: do you remember any? If you do, could you please tell me about the outcome of the trial?

    The President wants to make this an issue of who is tough on terrorists. He wants you to believe that he had to break the law to keep you safe. What it is really about is the rule of law, and W's invasion of privacy for no apparent benefit.

    Question authority!

    “… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”

    Thursday, February 02, 2006

    Nixon blamed his secretary, Rosemary Woods. Who will Cheney blame?

    It was barely a year ago that Rosemary Woods passed away. Woods began work for Richard Nixon while he was a freshman senator, in 1950. She would stay with him until his resignation in 1974.

    Woods will go down in history as the woman who was believed to be responsible for the erasure of 18 1/2 minutes of crucial evidence, before it could be turned over to Watergate investigators seeking to impeach Nixon. She posed for this photograph, in which she demonstrated how she managed to accidentally erase the tape by stretching one foot forward while reaching back to get the phone.

    I thought of her when I read this article, which talks about Plame-gate prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald's efforts to resist Scooter Libby's demand for production of all the documents that Fitzgerald has reviewed, including highly classified documents. Scooter's lawyers claim to need the documents to fight charges of perjury and lying to the FBI.

    The last paragraph was especially interesting:

    “Fitzgerald, who is fighting Libby's request, said in a letter to Libby's lawyers that many e-mails from Cheney's office at the time of the Plame leak in 2003 have been deleted contrary to White House policy.”

    “… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”

    Wednesday, February 01, 2006

    Thanks for the memories

    Let's take a walk down memory lane, all the way to last night's State of the Union Address.

    “We need to encourage children to take more math and science, and make sure those courses are rigorous enough to compete with other nations. We have made a good start in the early grades with the No Child Left Behind Act, which is raising standards and lifting test scores across our country. Tonight I propose to train 70,000 high school teachers, to lead advanced-placement courses in math and science … bring 30,000 math and science professionals to teach in classrooms … and give early help to students who struggle with math, so they have a better chance at good, high-wage jobs. If we ensure that America’s children succeed in life, they will ensure that America succeeds in the world.“

    That is so yesterday. C'mon, get with the program. Tell me what's happening today!

    The New York Times reports on what it calls a "close-fought victory [for] President Bush on the heels of his State of the Union address." The House of Representitives passed a bill would cut education spending by more than $16 billion between 2006 and 2010. Republicans cast it as an important step toward restraining programs that, they said, would gobble up the entire federal budget if left unchecked.

    Hey! Isn't that the same excuse they used last year?

    On December 21, 2005, in a 51-50 vote, the Senate approved nearly $40 billion in budget cuts, including cuts of $12.7 billion to federal student loans and nearly $7 billion in Medicaid funding as part of the Republican-sponsored Deficit Reduction Act (DRA). Five Republicans and independent Sen. Jim Jeffords (VT) joined all 45 Democrats in voting "no" on the measure, forcing Vice President Dick Cheney to cast the tie-breaking vote. The House approved the bill 216-214.

    Have they forgotten so soon that the President has a program to deal with the federal deficit? Again, I quote from his State of the Union address: “I urge the Congress to act responsibly, and make the tax cuts permanent.“ Translation: I want new tax cuts.

    But that is not the only budget cutting measure up the President's sleeve. There's the whole, move the Iraqi war off budget, for instance. How much does that cost? Well, start with this item from a year ago. Nearly $9 billion of money spent on Iraqi reconstruction is unaccounted for because of inefficiencies and bad management, according to an inspector general's report.

    “… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!“

    First take on the SOTU.

    Today our Nation lost a beloved, graceful, courageous woman who called America to its founding ideals and carried on a noble dream. Tonight we are comforted by the hope of a glad reunion with the husband who was taken so long ago, and we are grateful for the good life of Coretta Scott King.

    With these words, the President began a State of the Union Address that was the height of deceit and hypocrisy. It was the first of two times that he invoked the name or memory of the martyred civil rights hero. It was remarkable for the fact that the ghost of Martin Luther King, Jr. did not grab the President by his throat, and shake him like a rag doll.

    In case you are too young to remember, Reverend King was the victim of spying by a government that was hostile to him, because he was an outspoken critic of war and indifference to poverty. He was a revered leader of African-Americans, a group which today rewards King George W with a 2% approval rating. I am just guessing here, but I think that is lower than the approval rating for stomach flu.

    We have served America through one of the most consequential periods of our history – and it has been my honor to serve with you.

    I am not so sure what “consequential” means, but I might agree with W on this one, if by “consequential,” he means, “I am screwing up this country, and the consequences will be with us for a generation or longer.” The part that is either long on irony or short on self-awareness, is that he thinks it has been an honor. What the schmuck doesn’t know is that he is a disgrace of monumental proportions.

    To confront the great issues before us, we must act in a spirit of good will and respect for one another – and I will do my part.

    This is so clearly the most unmitigated horse manure that I almost have to give the man credit for saying it with a straight face. Look, the Republicans control all branches of government and the media, and this is the most divisive time since Nixon’s troops fired on protestors at Kent State. But let’s stay tuned and see how long this new spirit of civility lasts.

    Thirty-seven words later:

    We will choose to act confidently in pursuing the enemies of freedom – or retreat from our duties in the hope of an easier life.

    Well, that did not last too long. Either you are with me, or you are a coward shirking duties in hope of pursuing your life of leisure. How can anyone forget that W ran, and some would say, won, on a promise that he would be a “joiner, not a divider”? The only question left is this: can W evoke 9-11 in the first 400 words? The answer: yep.

    I’ll just skip over that part to get to this little gem:

    No one can deny the success of freedom, but some men rage and fight against it.

    Kinda makes you wonder who they would be? Could it be the Iraqis who have family members being tortured in American run prisons? Or the Palestinians who just saw their government hijacked by a terrorist group? But let’s move on. Or rather, let’s go back to a time in the recent past when we were actually hunting down Osama Bin Laden. Well, I’ll be darned, the President remembered him! Sort of.

    Speaking of “terrorists like Bin Laden” he said:

    Their aim is to seize power in Iraq, and use it as a safe haven to launch attacks against America and the world.

    You know, I thought I paid careful attention to the news, and yet, I don’t ever remember hearing any evidence that Bin Laden has aspirations for Iraq. My God, if that were true, it would probably be useful to have a secular strongman there who had every tool of brutal repression available to him in order to resist Public Enemy Number 1.

    Well, don’t get me wrong, I am not in favor of tyrants in Iraq. But given the choice between a tyranny by Saddam Hussein and a tyranny by Shi’ite fundamentalists, I might could go with the one that hates OBL. All other things being equal. (Of course, they are not equal. The Shi’ites have the Iranian connection, which will soon have nuclear capabilities, but I digress.) Back to the Misstate of the Union.

    And we are on the offensive in Iraq, with a clear plan for victory. First, we are helping Iraqis build an inclusive government, so that old resentments will be eased, and the insurgency will be marginalized. Secondly, we are continuing reconstruction efforts, and helping the Iraqi government to fight corruption and build a modern economy, so all Iraqis can experience the benefits of freedom. And third, we are striking terrorist targets while we train Iraqi forces that are increasingly capable of defeating the enemy.

    You call that a plan? I don’t want too many specifics, but could you give a clue about how long do you suppose it will take for this plan to be accomplished. Are we talking one, two, three decades here? You want to help Iraqis fight corruption? May I suggest you begin by doing something about American corruption in the reconstruction effort, not to mention the White House, and the Halls of Congress? And while you’re at it, why not take a swing at cronyism and incompetence?

    As we make progress on the ground, and Iraqi forces increasingly take the lead, we should be able to further decrease our troop levels – but those decisions will be made by our military commanders, not by politicians in Washington, D.C.

    Is this a policy shift? Because when you went into Iraq the generals from Tommy Franks on down said you needed more troops than you put in there. And Paul Bremer also said you needed more troops. So since when are you, as Commander in Chief, going to listen to commanders on the ground? Get this straight: supporting our troops doesn’t mean hiding your own incompetence behind men in uniform. It means giving them support, armor, and care when they return, all things that you, Mr. President, have compromised. Well, you go to war with the Army you have, as Rumsfeld would say, and you certainly are at war with your army.

    [T]here is a difference between responsible criticism that aims for success, and defeatism that refuses to acknowledge anything but failure. Hindsight alone is not wisdom. And second-guessing is not a strategy.

    Well I guess that explains why the Republican Congress is doing nothing to complete part two of the investigation into the pre-war intelligence failures. You know, the one they agreed to put off until after the 2004 elections, so as not to politicize them? Yeah, hindsight is not wisdom, but there is something to be said for learning from your mistakes. And I am just betting that later on you are going to talk about personal responsibility. Wouldn’t you want to know who is responsible, who should be held accountable, if, say, someone lied us into war? I know I would.

    A sudden withdrawal of our forces from Iraq would abandon our
    Iraqi allies to death and prison … would put men like bin Laden and Zarqawi in charge of a strategic country.

    Let’s just pretend we all didn’t know that this is absolute bullshit. What if Bin Laden and Zarqawi were in charge of Iraq? Is there any person on earth who could criticize the decision to decapitate that regime? Putting bin Laden and Zarqawi in the Presidential palace in Baghdad for a day, and then blowing him to smithereens, doesn’t seem like such a bad outcome, when compared to listening to the sickening voices of them mocking American impotency.

    You know, Clinton tried to hit them with cruise missiles, but the Republicans accused him of trying to wag the dog. Maybe it is just your aversion to anything that Bill Clinton did, which makes you so apathetic about bringing OBL to justice, or better yet, his maker.

    Well, you see where this is going. I haven’t even gotten to W’s lame and dishonest defense of his total disregard for the FISA law.

    The bottom line: W is a pathetic, dishonest, miserable failure, and a disgrace to America. And that’s putting it mildly.

    “and tell ‘em Big Mitch sent ya!”

    In my fantasy ...

    People are waiting with bated breath for pithy words of wisdom, dissecting the State of the Union Address. Unfortunately, it is not to be tonight, because there was so much crazy bullshit, that I literally do not know where to begin.

    Come back soon.

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