Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Study hard, and you might avoid a tragedy

King George the Incompetent was out on the hustings today, campaigning for Mac Collins, candidate for the House in Georgia.

The president took aim at a familiar bogey-man, Senator John Kerry, the decorated war hero, who George quoted as saying:
You know education – if you make the most of it, if you study hard, you do your homework, and you make an effort to be smart – you can do well. If you don’t – you can get stuck in Iraq.
Dumb Dubya said, “The suggestion that the men and women of our military are somehow uneducated is insulting and it is shameful.”

George, George, George: you’re a dumb schmuck.

He wasn’t talking about the men and women of our military. He was talking about you, George. Maybe if you had studied hard, done your homework, and made an effort to be smart, you might have been able to figure that out. Also, our country might not have become mired in a morass in Iraq, which as of this date has resulted in over 3,000 American deaths, including 101 in this month.

The President’s lack of zitsfleisch* coupled with his chronic shit-for-brains state of denial, has resulted in a misguided effort, which has made life for Iraqis worse off than in the days of Sadam, has introduced greater instability in the mid-East, motivated terrorists, emboldened the most radical regimes such as Iran and Korea, and distracted us from the war against terrorists in Afghanistan, all for a cost a mere $339 billion dollars and rising.

That’s why John Kerry had to point out that this tragedy, which may also cost the United States its pre-eminence on the world stage, could have been avoided if Bush had taken the time to figure out what he was getting into. It is hardly news, but the chimp in chief is a bear of very little brain, and a man who is long on faith, but short on curiosity.

As if to prove the point, the former Yale cheerleader offered the following riposte to Senator Kerry’s scathing criticism of his intellect:
The members of United States military are plenty smart.
George Bush has spoken, and now, you can sit back and watch the lap-dog corporate press, and the receipients of talking points faxes from the Party of Bush debate whether or not John Kerry owes our servicemen an apology.

“… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”

*For the Yiddish-challenged, sitzfleisch means, literally, “flesh for sitting,” and refers to the ability to stick to one's studies.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Bush: "What, Me Worry?"

“They aren't even planning for if they lose.”

-- A “GOP insider who informally counsels the West Wing,” quoted by U.S. News & World Report on the Bush administration's “over confidence” about the midterm elections.
It is tempting to say that the Party of Bush has no exit strategy from power or that this is just so typical of the inability of these buffoons to deal with an inconvenient truth.

How is this different in kind from King George’s reaction to the report in Lancet that there have been over 600,000 Iraqi deaths as a result of the American invasion and occupation – a number 20 times the official U.S. estimate?

This was a scientific, peer-reviewed epidemiological study published in one of the world's most prestigious medical journals. The authors followed the same methodology that has been used to provide unchallenged estimates of deaths in other conflicts, such as the Congo.

Here’s Dubya’s reaction:
No question, it's violent, but this report is one -- they put it out before, it was pretty well -- the methodology was pretty well discredited. But I talk to people like General Casey and, of course, the Iraqi government put out a statement talking about the report.
Of course, King George has a vested interest in remaining ignorant of the extent of the death and destruction he has visited upon Iraq. But how will he profit from keeping his head in the sand vis-à-vis the end of Republican hegemony in Congress?

Assume there is a 20% chance of the Democratic party taking over both houses of Congress, and a 40% chance of them obtaining a majority in one house. Even Bush would have to deal with this possibility, since the possible consequences include impeachment.

You might think that Bush is sublimely confident because he has an October surprise that will swing the election. The problem with this theory is that anything that he might do just highlights people’s distrust of him. Invade Iran? I wouldn’t count on that to make people rally ‘round the flag-pole.

It is true that Bush has always benefited from bad news, 9-11 being the most conspicuous example. But it has worn thin. F’rinstance: did Dubya get a bump from North Korea exploding a bomb? I don’t think so.

Even if the plan for the Bushies is to have an October surprise, they had better have a plan B. And that is what scares me.

The way I see it, there’s only one reason why the Bush White House is not deeply concerned that they might lose the election. And that reason is … the fix is in.

Answer truthfully, if not out loud. Do you trust that the votes will be counted after the midterm elections? Are you willing to rely on Diebolt machines that leave no paper trail? My fear is that King George is, and that is why he’s not worried.

But you should be.

“… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”

Monday, October 09, 2006

An Issue with National Implications

The Washington Post today reported that the Party of Bush is bracing for a gloomy Election day, and may lose as many as 30 seats in the House as well as control of the Senate. Part of the problem is that the Republican Guard knew of Foley’s illicit emails and salacious chats for several years. They did nothing to protect the pages, instead focusing all of their attention on the scandal’s potential for political fallout.

The WaPo writes:
As part of that strategy, the Republican National Committee is seeking to convince conservatives that the debate is fundamentally centered on politics, not values. The RNC is shipping reams of information to conservative radio hosts, television commentators and bloggers. Those GOP talking points detail the Democratic connections of groups including the Center for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington and American Family Voices, which are working to turn the scandal into an issue with national implications.
What the hell?

How in the world can this not be an issue with national implications? Let’s review.

For 200+ years, during Democratic and Republican administrations, both Democratic and Republican congresses have accepted the responsibility of oversight of the administration as part of the job. This Congress has totally abdicated that responsibility.

They have failed to investigate the misuse of intelligence leading up to the war in Iraq, notwithstanding their promises to do so. They have failed to demand an accounting of the billions of dollars that disappeared into that sinkhole.

They have failed to hold accountable in any way the civilian leadership that ignored the advice of Generals and prosecuted a war without adequate troops, without even having adequate body armor for the too few troops in theater, and without an exit strategy.

They have failed to take the least grudging step against an administration that flouts the law by brazenly and contumaciously bragging “We don’t need no stinking FISA warrants.”

They have watched King George sign into laws bills while he announces that he reserves the right to break them, as if to say: “No man is above the law? Oh yeah? Just watch me, sucker!”

They have not lifted a finger to take action against torture and secret prisons. Indeed, the half-hearted attempt to score political points on the issue of torture turned into a repeal of the Constitution’s 5th Amendment protection of the Great Writ of Habeas Corpus.

They have acquiesced in the appointment of judges and Justices of the Supreme Court whose views are inimical to the rights of free men and women. They have tolerated the most transparent of lies during confirmation hearings, expecting us to believe that jurists fit for the Supreme Court have never opined about a woman’s right to choose.

They have tolerated all manner of incompetence in order to allow cronyism that places at danger all Americans, but especially the most vulnerable, as we have seen in New Orleans. And when this became no longer politically feasible, they have abided the scapegoating of one individual, rather than inquiring into the root causes of the problem.

And now we learn that when it turned out that a sexual predator was in their midst, they refused even to police their own, for fear of losing one seat in Congress.

Will Republicans protect us better than Democrats? The evidence shows that they can’t even protect those for whom they are entrusted to act in loco parentis.

All of this amounts to a stinging indictment of Republicans in Congress who are too craven in their lust for power to do even the least bit of oversight of the administration or of themselves.

But that is not all. This affair lays bare the claim that the Party of Bush is the Party of Values. Of course, anyone familiar with Dubya’s shady financial dealings, and his embrace of frat-boy values even after his so-called religious awakening, would know that he was as phony as wax fruit.

It is not simply Maf64’s immorality which stains the Republicans in Congress. It is the dawning realization throughout this nation that the Party of Bush will say or do anything to stay in power.

You’re damn straight this is an issue with national implications.

“… and tell ‘em Big Mitch sent ya!”

Sunday, October 08, 2006

What the Foley Affair Teaches Us About the State of Affairs in Our Country

We have known for some time now that a Republican Congressman was sending inappropriate emails, and having highly inappropriate chats with pages. The fact of the matter is that we all know that people have differing sexual predilections. As long as they do not behave inappropriately as a result of them, I say, it is none of my business.

We also know that some people with odd predilections will act on them, even when it is against our common conception of morality, as, for example, when it violates a trusted position, or when it proceeds from a position of inequality. This is bad, but it is not news. When Mark Foley did it, it was merely the latest example of immorality in high places.

Foley was the Chair of the Republican Caucus on Missing and Exploited Children. To say that you are surprised by hypocrisy is to reveal yourself to be a complete moron. So basically, nothing Mark Foley did surprises me.

Republicans covered up for Foley. They may be lousy at protecting the country, but they are masters of protecting their own. Dennis Hastert, a former teacher, had his priorities bass-ackwards, but who among us is surprised?

Maybe we will be surprised later with other revelations about Hastert, perhaps arising from the fact that he lives with a confirmed bachelor in a Georgetown townhouse, and has a reputation in the gay community for being a player, specifically, a catcher. Or maybe he simply showed too much empathy for someone accused of inappropriate contact with minor boys because he had been forced to give up his carreer as a wrestling coach as a result of similar allegations. Who knows?

The extent of the cover-up is a little shocking, but in their mendacity, greed and incompetence, Republicans have always shown themselves to be adherents to the “Go Big or Go Home” philosophy. Nothing new here.

It is hardly news that the ethics-enforcement mechanisms of the Congress have been eviscerated. This was not even news to discerning consumers of the news back when Tom Delay was exposed as a crook.

The concern that has been expressed by the Bush team is that if Hastert were to resign it would have a negative effect on the party’s chances in the up-coming election. The party of personal responsibility doesn’t believe that Hastert should be held personally responsible, even though he personally accepted responsibility, all the while denying any personal wrong-doing.

I don’t know what it means to accept responsibility, unless it also means to accept consequences, but the sachems or the Party of Bush believe that would be bad for them. To hell with what it means for the Republic.

This is how Denny Hastert explained it to Laura Ingraham: “If I fold up my tent and leave, then where does that leave us? If the Democrats sweep, then we'd have no ability to fight back and get our message out.”

Only 27% of Americans think Denny Hastert should remain Speaker of the House of Representatives, compared to 43% who think he should resign from Congress. Another 20% think he should remain in Congress but resign his leadership position, and 10% haven’t made up their minds. The Party of Bush has determined that it would be unwise for Dennis Hastert to resign his speakership. Why is the leadership of the party of values so out of touch with the values of the American people?

The answer reveals something truly new to our country.

Hastert doesn’t need to resign because he needs to be punished for his misfeasance. He needs to resign because his nonfeasance has demonstrated that he doesn’t have the judgment needed to oversee the House of Representatives, and by extension, the rest of the government.

The Party of Bush believes that whatever is good for their party is good for our country. That is why Rep. Alexander (R-LA), the first member of Congress to be alerted to the problem, says he first contacted the NRCC. That’s the House Republicans’ election committee, a political organization entirely separate from the House bureaucracy and the Congress.

And that is why when the story of Foley’s misconduct was breaking, the Republican Guard notified only GOP members of the Page Oversight Board. Denny Hastert said that the Foley matter was handled “within the party.”

And that is what is new and different.

I have written extensively on this blog about my concern that country is heading towards fascism. With Le Cage au Foley we see another milestone passed. When the Communists controlled the Soviet Union, when the Fascists held sway in Italy and when the Nazis ruled Germany, it was not the government calling the shots: it was the Party.

Who is making decisions in this country? Only the Party of Bush decides about whether there will be oversight of the congress or oversight of the administration. Who controls the mechanisms of elections in this country? The party of Bush does.

Descent into fascism by placing the instruments of power in a party rather than in the government? Sad to say, there’s nothing new here either.

“… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

A Democratic Sex Scandal?

Fair and balanced? We report. You decide.

“… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Republican sex scandal: do not judge too quickly.

It has frequently been observed that the crime is rarely as bad as the cover-up. So it was with Watergate.

In the case of a Republican congressman text messaging sicko sex talk to juvenile employees of the House of Representitives, the crime is so bad that it would have to be a really ugly coverup to eclipse the nastiness of this pervert's misconduct. Maybe this will be the exception that proves the aforementioned rule.

But wait! It turns out that Republican leaders knew about Mark Foley's odd proclivities for over 5 years. Yep, we may have a cover-up here that exceeds any we have ever seen.

The ABC News Blog reports:
A Republican staff member warned congressional pages five years ago to watch out for Congressman Mark Foley, according to a former page.

Matthew Loraditch, [pictured above] a page in the 2001-2002 class, told ABC News he and other pages were warned about Foley by a supervisor in the House Clerk's office.

Pages report to either Republican or Democratic supervisors, depending on the political party of the member of Congress who nominate them for the page program.

Several Democratic pages tell ABC News they received no such warnings about Foley.

Loraditch runs the alumni association for the U.S. House Page Program, and he is deeply concerned about the future effects this scandal could have on a program that he sees as a valuable educational experience for teens.
Are Republicans keeping us safe? Not if you are a congressional page, and happen to be a Democrat.

“… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”

A Young Turk's Point of View

Tip of the Hat to Cenk Uygur, on The Young Turks: Rebel Headquarters.

In a piece entitled The Republican Protection Racket, he points out this Congress’ failure to investigate Congressman Foley’s proclivity for adolescent Congressional pages, though apparently several Republicans knew about the disgusting emails and internet chats. Uygur contrasts this to the penchant for investigations shown by Congress during the Clinton administration.

Back in the mid-1990s, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, aggressively delving into alleged misconduct by the Clinton administration, logged 140 hours of sworn testimony into whether former president Bill Clinton had used the White House Christmas card list to identify potential Democratic donors. (He wasn't.)

Rep. Dan Burton (R-IN), then chair of the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee, investigated whether taxpayers were footing the cost of stationery and postage for the fan club dedicated to President Clinton’s cat, Socks. (They were not - and it turns out Barbara Bush’s dog Millie had a fan club too.)

Uygur writes:
Duke Cunningham took millions of dollars in bribes. The people who were buying him off bought him a yacht called the Duke-Stir. He had a bribe menu on Congressional letter head. How many ethics investigations? Zero. Zilch. Nada.

Bob Ney took gifts and favors from Jack Abramoff. He has confessed and is about to go to prison. How many ethics investigations? Zero. None. Not one.

Then there is Hastert's shady land deal. Bill Frist's insider trading. Tom DeLay's money laundering. The list goes on and on. Every one of them had their ass covered by the rest of their Republican colleagues, crooks, whatever you want to call them.

Not one investigation into what's gone wrong with the war in Iraq, the $9 billion dollars missing in Iraq, why a CIA agent's name was leaked, why Osama bin Laden hasn't been caught or any of the corruption scandals.
I guess it would be crazy to think that a Republican controlled congress with a record like this would investigate whether or not King George the Incompetent lied about pre-war intelligence. Even though they promised they would after the election. That would be the 2004 election. Check out the incredible history of lies and broken promises by Republican Senator Pat Roberts, of Kentucky here

“… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”

Vote for your favorite cover-up of the day.

As I reported here, there is some sort of faux controversy about who did more to defend the nation against al Qaida: President Bill Clinton, or the current pretender to the throne.

No one could have imagined that Secretary of State Dr. Rice would weigh in. Of course, I mean that in the same way that no one could have imagined that Bin Laden was determined to strike within the US. In fact, Dr. Rice did assert that the Bush team had been active, and though it was in apparent contradiction to all of the known facts, and she even went on to claim that the 9/11 commission validated her efforts.

A funny thing came out today, with the advances from the Woodward book, State of Denial. It turns out that George Tenet and his counterterrorism chief Cofer Black made a special visit to Condi Rice, on July 10, 2001. That was the day of the Phoenix memo, that an FBI agent in Phoenix sent to FBI headquarters, which advised of the “possibility of a coordinated effort” by bin Laden to send students to the United States to attend civil aviation schools.

Tenet and Black hoped that their surprise visit would underline the importance of their concerns. They went over top-secret intelligence pointing to an impending attack and “sounded the loudest warning” to the White House of a likely attack on the U.S. by Bin Laden.

Woodward writes that Rice was polite, but, “They felt the brushoff.”

It’s rather a shame, isn’t it, that our former National Security Advisor can’t be charged with gross negligence resulting in the deaths of nearly 3,000 Americans two months later. However, there is a possibility that criminal charges can be brought against her.

Writing on Think Progress, former counsel to the 9/11 commission, Peter Rundlet, writes:
Many, many questions need to be asked and answered about this revelation — questions that the 9/11 Commission would have asked, had the Commission been told about this significant meeting. Suspiciously, the Commissioners and the staff investigating the administration’s actions prior to 9/11 were never informed of the meeting.As Commissioner Jamie Gorelick pointed out, “We didn’t know about the meeting itself. I can assure you it would have been in our report if we had known to ask about it.”
Emphasis in the original.

Rundlet continues: “Was it covered up? It is hard to come to a different conclusion. … At a minimum, the withholding of information about this meeting is an outrage. Very possibly, someone committed a crime. And worst of all, they failed to stop the plot.” Emphasis in the original.

So, is this your favorite coverup of the day? Or is this?

“… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”

Is this your favorite cover-up?

The New York Times reports that “Top House Republicans knew for months about e-mail traffic between Representative Mark Foley (R-FL) and a former teenage page, but kept the matter secret and allowed Mr. Foley to remain head of a Congressional caucus on children’s issues, Republican lawmakers said Saturday.”

In case you have not had the stomach to follow this scandal, the Republican congressman discussed in internet chats with a teenage page his favorite positions for masturbating, his desire to undress the page, and his opinion that the mental image of the lad masturbating was a “nice visual.” The entire transcript is definitely NOT for the faint-of-heart.

Representative John A. Boehner (pronounced “Bayner”) the leader of the Republican majority, and Representative Thomas M. Reynolds of New York, chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, are among the high ranking Republicans who knew about their perverted colleague’s inappropriate interaction. Mr. Reynolds said in a statement Saturday that he had also personally raised the issue with Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, Republican of Illinois. Hastert says he doesn't remember this!

Over on Talking Points Memo, Joshua Micah Marshall cites to Roll Call which reports that “Chairman of the House Page Board, Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL) interviewed Foley last year about some of the contacts with the page. The House clerk, who is also a member of the Board, was also present. Speaker Hastert’s office was informed of the interview, but according to GOP leadership sources who spoke to Roll Call, Hastert himself was not informed” unless of course someone in Speaker Hastert’s office might have mentioned it to him.

If it seems like I am picking on Republicans, that might be because Rep. Dale Kildee (D-MI), the only Democrat on the Board, was not informed of the interview, according to Roll Call.

The money shot of the whole sordid event is reported by Josh Marshal here:
Finally, one detail here isn’t getting enough attention. Rep. Alexander (R-LA), [was] the first member of Congress to be alerted to the problem, [because the predator-Republican’s victim was a constituent. Alexander] says he contacted the NRCC. That’s the House Republicans’ election committee, a political organization entirely separate from the House bureaucracy and the Congress. (The head of the NRCC this cycle is Rep. Tom Reynolds (R-NY).) That is, to put it mildly, not in the disciplinary and administrative chain of command of the House of Representatives. Considering that the issue involved a minor, it seems highly inappropriate to discuss the matter with anyone not charged with policing the House. More to the point, however, you tell the head of the NRCC because you see the matter as a political problem. Reynolds is the one in charge of making sure Republican House seats get held. If an incumbent might have drop out or be kicked out you want him to know so that he can line up someone to replace him. You at least want to keep him abreast of the situation if you think a problem might develop. I cannot see any innocent explanation for notifying the head of the NRCC while not information the full membership of the page board.
This story if far from over.

“… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”