Sunday, July 08, 2007

First, the Good News:

I'm going to be a guest of Ramabahama at about 8:33 tonight. They're an internet-based Mom and Pop liberal-progressive radio show out of Vermont.

The bad news? They seem to think that I'm Bob Herbert of the NY Times.

Oh, God, shoot me now and get it over with.

The Irony Factory

I wonder what Cyrus Nowrasteh and Sean Hannity have to say about this.

It's come out that Don Rumsfeld, the Sandy Berger of the Bush administration, put the kibosh on a "snatch and grab" raid on high-ranking al Qaida officials in Pakistan because he feared that they would piss off Pervez Musharraf.

This administration is nothing but one huge irony factory, you know that?

The opening sentence of the New York Times article says it all: "A secret military operation in early 2005 to capture senior members of Al Qaeda in Pakistan's tribal areas was aborted at the last minute after top Bush administration officials decided it was too risky and could jeopardize relations with Pakistan, according to intelligence and military officials."

But Rumsfeld's other reason, besides not wanting to ruffle Pakistan's dictator who to this day is giving safe haven to al Qaida as well as Taliban leadership, was "the operation, which had ballooned from a small number of military personnel and C.I.A. operatives to several hundred, was cumbersome and put too many American lives at risk..."

Aw, wasn't that nice of Rummy, to consider not only the sensibilities of a dictator that the next president will have to deal with like we had to deal with Saddam and bin Laden but also the military personnel that he'd once defined as low-quality biological intake that lost the Vietnam War.

That would be same Rumsfeld who'd famously said that you go to war with the army that you have, not the one you wish you had.

But I never realized that the prickly Rummy had such a soft, humanitarian side to him, a humanitarian side that has since early 2005 made possible al Qaida's seamless transition into the digital world that allows them to spread their propaganda all over the globe, an al Qaida that has since carried out the London transit attacks in the summer of that year (while Bush was at the G8 summit in Scotland), as well as God only knows how many other plans to make our lives less safe under the USA PATRIOT Act.

An al Qaida leadership that could have given us invaluable amounts of actual actionable intelligence provided we'd interrogated them properly, the FBI way, the way that actually got results.

And not going after these senior al Qaida officials has certainly paid off dividends in Pakistan when one considers that Musharraf is pissing off even his hero-worshipping buddy Prince George by giving safe haven to many of those same al Qaida officials to whom he's even now unofficially giving safe haven.

No doubt, the American Enterprise Institute will be nominating Rummy for the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize for his inaction that contributed to preserving the peace in Pakistan.

Worse Than Libby?

“My faith in the Constitution is whole; it is complete; it is total. And I am not going to sit here and be an idle spectator to the diminution, the subversion, the destruction of the Constitution.” - the late Congresswoman Barbara Jordan at the Watergate hearings.

Anyone who’s read Coleridge’s “Rime of the Ancient Mariner” knows fully well Coleridge’s symbolic use of the albatross. The albatross, on the basis of that poem, has become the symbol of a persistent problem that just never seems to go away. A curse, if you will.

Watergate is proving to be Fred Thompson’s albatross exactly 34 years after the hearings that made Thompson briefly famous and relevant, proving for him the springboard for a lobbying and political career that obviously has as much substance as the powerful but artificial men that he depicts in his acting career, roles that, to an amazingly stupid Republican voter base, alone seems to qualify Thompson to head the most powerful nation in the free world.

The Boston Globe’s article on the 4th of July that blew the lid on Thompson’s slight but ultimately pivotal role in the Watergate hearings proves the venality, dishonesty and partisanship that we still see today in the pardoning of Scooter Libby and the Republican operatives who cloistered and fumbled around him (including Thompson himself).

Regarding Fred’s involvement in the Watergate hearings, about the only thing that distinguishes him from the neocons of today is that he had the good sense to stop supporting Nixon once the Oval Office tapes proved his hero guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. But that’s erased when one considers two things: That Wrong Said Fred continued defending Scooter Libby and saying he was too sexy for the hair shirt for which he was fitted by Judge Reggie Walton and Thompson’s willingness to allow the cultivation of him being a hard-nosed minority counsel in the Watergate hearings who’d hounded the White House in his dogged defense of the Constitution.

Thompson, through his own admission 32 years ago, stepped on both Nixon’s and his own dick back in 1973 because Fred, rather than merely acting as minority counsel assisting Sen. Howard Baker to get to the bottom of the worst political scandal since Teapot Dome, had already formed an opinion that Nixon was innocent and that the release of the Watergate tapes would bear that out. At the very least, he was acting as Nixon’s personal attorney. At worst, he was thinking like a judge and already prejudged Nixon’s innocence before the most damning evidence had even come out.

Imagine the panic in the Oval Office when the Nixon administration learned that one of their own had publicly began pressing for the secret tapes that the White House had gone to extraordinary lengths for years to keep from the knowledge of the American public! Small wonder those 18 1/2 minutes wound up occupying that same comfortable hazy Republican netherworld as Bush II-era emails, dozens of RNC email accounts and TALON surveillance records, not to mention Ronald Reagan's memories of Iran Contra and Alberto Gonzales's own memories of the US attorney purge and the Bush-NSA wiretapping scheme.

Yet when called on his partisanship and opportunism and plainly illegal warning of the Nixon administration of the tapes (if he thought there was nothing incriminating on them, why bother with the secret smoke signal to the West Wing?), the first thing that came to Thompson’s mind was, “Finally! Someone read my book!”

Even a massive scandal such as Watergate, in Thompson’s solipsistic mind, relates to him. Republican priorities. You have to marvel at them.

In his book At That Point in Time, Fred wrote, "Looking back, I wonder how I could have failed to realize at once . . . the significance of the tapes. I realized that I would probably be thinking about the implications of Watergate for the rest of my life." No doubt, Fred was thinking of how Watergate would affect his future political ambitions.

But the GOP’s role in Watergate and the scandal thirty years later involving an obscure, minor player named I. Lewis Libby shows that the GOP is slimier and more partisan than ever, putting party loyalty above national security, a covert agent’s identity, even above the very Constitution itself. It’s a GOP that, so claimed outgoing Congressman Henry Hyde, had retaliated for the hearings against Nixon by going after Bill Clinton (Freeper alert) for the Monica Lewinsky affair (while conveniently sidestepping the fact that Hyde himself, a fellow adulterer, had made a big deal back in 1998 about Clinton lying under oath over what still boiled down to a sleazy blowjob).

At least the GOP 33 years ago had the good sense to walk away from Nixon in sufficient enough numbers to justify Barry Goldwater going to the Oval Office and telling Nixon that he no longer had enough Republican support to stave off impeachment. Libby, after his guilt was proven, after receiving a not unreasonable sentence for four convictions of perjury and obstruction, still had powerful friends lobbying for him, his most powerful one keeping him out of a well-deserved prison term in order to ensure his golden silence.

A year and a half ago, the late Molly Ivins wrote indelibly and damningly of Alberto Gonzales’s “testimony” to the still Republican-run Senate Judiciary Committee during the NSA wiretap hearings and their own clannishness in keeping Gonzo’s feet far removed from the fires of righteous enquiry by not insisting he swear to tell the truth. It was reminiscent of Alaska Senator Ted Stevens having a hissy fit over petroleum executives having to swear in prior to testifying before Congress as if they were potentates who shouldn’t be insulted by the shackles of Congressional rules as if they mere mortals.

This is how the late Congresswoman Jordan defined impeachment:
"(Impeachment) is designed to 'bridle' the executive if he engages in excesses. ... The Framers confined in the Congress the power, if need be, to remove the president in order to strike a delicate balance between a president swollen with power and grown tyrannical, and preservation of the independence of the executive. ... 'A president is impeachable if he attempts to subvert the Constitution.'"

Nixon would’ve been impeached for using the CIA to spy on his political rivals. So why isn’t Bush being impeached for using the NSA, a vaster agency than the CIA and one that specializes in spying on people, to spy on not just Democrats but ordinary American citizens both here and abroad when the Carter-created and Clinton-refined FISA courts would’ve given him all the latitude that he needed to combat terrorism?

And one doesn’t have to be a scholar in Presidential history to see that in his six and a half year-long squattage in the Oval Office, George W. Bush, “swollen with power and grown tyrannical” himself, had easily subverted the Constitution in more ways, and more novel ways, than the sinister and paranoid 37th president had during his darkest talking-to-paintings days. Indeed, looking back on her definition of impeachment, Congresswoman Jordan’s words even more closely define George W. Bush moreso than they did even Nixon.

Reread, also, these words by Barbara Jordan, then a freshman Congresswoman in 1973: “My faith in the Constitution is whole; it is complete; it is total. And I am not going to sit here and be an idle spectator to the diminution, the subversion, the destruction of the Constitution.”

Then compare it to Ronald Reagan’s equally famous 11th Commandment of “Thou shalt not speak ill of a fellow Republican” and Nancy Pelosi saying both before and after the midterm elections, “I have said it before and I will say it again: Impeachment is off the table.”

Read those three quotes and tell me which politician seems the most passionate about the defense of the Constitution. Reagan unashamedly said that no one, especially a fellow Republican, should ever blow the whistle on another Republican even if guilt is proven. If followed to the letter in 1973-4, Reagan’s 11th Commandment would’ve prevented impeachment from ever taking place, allowing Nixon to serve his full two terms.

Pelosi openly equates impeachment hearings with partisanship, thinking that the Republicans would actually welcome “the waste of time” that impeachment proceedings would create, thereby choosing bipartisanship that the Democratic party should know by now they’re not going to get from a party led by Karl Rove and his open call for a “permanent Republican majority.“ If she were Speaker of the House in 1973, the very necessary Watergate hearings wouldn’t have even come to pass .

Jordan, as with Ivins over three decades later, simply saw impeachment of a President who plainly deserved it as doing the right thing at the right time for the good of the nation. This is why her tombstone simply says, “Patriot” in the original and true sense, not the “Patriot” redefined by the despicable USA PATRIOT Act that has done nothing more than hobble the Constitution for which Jordan had tirelessly fought.

Watergate is just the latest example of what an opportunistic vulture Thompson was and still is, a bass-mouthed party hack who viewed Watergate as merely a stepping stone for his own political aspirations and bent whichever way the political winds blew while carefully not calling to attention his own errors, hypocrisy and even partisan treachery. In trying to defend his beloved Nixon administration, all Thompson did was inadvertently help the cause of justice by admitting the Trojan Horse of the Watergate tapes into the White House. But there’s a more important observation that we ought to make here:

We look back on Watergate with bittersweet fondness and recall a time when, even only if faced with the prospect of defending an indefensible president, the GOP worked with Democrats (Thompson’s treachery notwithstanding) to see justice done. The Libby scandal, which is only the tip of the iceberg, betrays to an already weary and cynical American public the lowering of the bar of both parties working in an antagonistic collusion but a collusion nonetheless, neither of which much interested in observing the rule of law for two entirely different reasons.

God must be bored with the world that He made. Otherwise He wouldn’t find it necessary to spice things up by making the good die young while allowing the wicked to age and prosper.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Frank Rich: A Profile in Cowardice

There was never any question that President Bush would grant amnesty to Scooter Libby, the man who knows too much about the lies told to sell the war in Iraq. The only questions were when, and how, Mr. Bush would buy Mr. Libby’s silence. Now we have the answers, and they’re at least as incriminating as the act itself. They reveal the continued ferocity of a White House cover-up and expose the true character of a commander in chief whose tough-guy shtick can no longer camouflage his fundamental cowardice.

The timing of the president’s Libby intervention was a surprise. Many assumed he would mimic the sleazy 11th-hour examples of most recent vintage: his father’s pardon of six Iran-contra defendants who might have dragged him into that scandal, and Bill Clinton’s pardon of the tax fugitive Marc Rich, the former husband of a major campaign contributor and the former client of none other than the ubiquitous Mr. Libby.

But the ever-impetuous current President Bush acted 18 months before his scheduled eviction from the White House. Even more surprising, he did so when the Titanic that is his presidency had just hit two fresh icebergs, the demise of the immigration bill and the growing revolt of Republican senators against his strategy in Iraq.

That Mr. Bush, already suffering historically low approval ratings, would invite another hit has been attributed in Washington to his desire to placate what remains of his base. By this logic, he had nothing left to lose. He didn’t care if he looked like an utter hypocrite, giving his crony a freer ride than Paris Hilton and violating the white-collar sentencing guidelines set by his own administration. He had to throw a bone to the last grumpy old white guys watching Bill O’Reilly in a bunker.

But if those die-hards haven’t deserted him by now, why would Mr. Libby’s incarceration be the final straw? They certainly weren’t whipped into a frenzy by coverage on Fox News, which tended to minimize the leak case as a non-event. Mr. Libby, faceless and voiceless to most Americans, is no Ollie North, and he provoked no right-wing firestorm akin to the uproars over Terri Schiavo, Harriet Miers or “amnesty” for illegal immigrants.

The only people clamoring for Mr. Libby’s freedom were the pundits who still believe that Saddam secured uranium in Africa and who still hope that any exoneration of Mr. Libby might make them look less like dupes for aiding and abetting the hyped case for war. That select group is not the Republican base so much as a roster of the past, present and future holders of quasi-academic titles at neocon think tanks like the American Enterprise Institute.

What this crowd never understood is that Mr. Bush’s highest priority is always to protect himself. So he stiffed them too. Had the president wanted to placate the Weekly Standard crowd, he would have given Mr. Libby a full pardon. That he served up a commutation instead is revealing of just how worried the president is about the beans Mr. Libby could spill about his and Dick Cheney’s use of prewar intelligence.

Valerie Wilson still has a civil suit pending. The Democratic inquisitor in the House, Henry Waxman, still has the uranium hoax underlying this case at the top of his agenda as an active investigation. A commutation puts up more roadblocks by keeping Mr. Libby’s appeal of his conviction alive and his Fifth Amendment rights intact. He can’t testify without risking self-incrimination. Meanwhile, we are asked to believe that he has paid his remaining $250,000 debt to society independently of his private $5 million “legal defense fund.”

The president’s presentation of the commutation is more revealing still. Had Mr. Bush really believed he was doing the right and honorable thing, he would not have commuted Mr. Libby’s jail sentence by press release just before the July Fourth holiday without consulting Justice Department lawyers. That’s the behavior of an accountant cooking the books in the dead of night, not the proud act of a patriot standing on principle.

When the furor followed Mr. Bush from Kennebunkport to Washington despite his efforts to duck it, he further underlined his embarrassment by taking his only few questions on the subject during a photo op at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center. You know this president is up to no good whenever he hides behind the troops. This instance was particularly shameful, since Mr. Bush also used the occasion to trivialize the scandalous maltreatment of Walter Reed patients on his watch as merely “some bureaucratic red-tape issues.”

Asked last week to explain the president’s poll numbers, Andrew Kohut of the Pew Research Center told NBC News that “when we ask people to summon up one word that comes to mind” to describe Mr. Bush, it’s “incompetence.” But cowardice, the character trait so evident in his furtive handling of the Libby commutation, is as important to understanding Mr. Bush’s cratered presidency as incompetence, cronyism and hubris.

Even The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page, a consistent Bush and Libby defender, had to take notice. Furious that the president had not given Mr. Libby a full pardon (at least not yet), The Journal called the Bush commutation statement a “profile in non-courage.”

What it did not recognize, or chose not to recognize, is that this non-courage, to use The Journal’s euphemism, has been this president’s stock in trade, far exceeding the “wimp factor” that Newsweek once attributed to his father. The younger Mr. Bush’s cowardice is arguably more responsible for the calamities of his leadership than anything else.

People don’t change. Mr. Bush’s failure to have the courage of his own convictions was apparent early in his history, when he professed support for the Vietnam War yet kept himself out of harm’s way when he had the chance to serve in it. In the White House, he has often repeated the feckless pattern that he set back then and reaffirmed last week in his hide-and-seek bestowing of the Libby commutation.

The first fight he conspicuously ran away from as president was in August 2001. Aspiring to halt federal underwriting of embryonic stem-cell research, he didn’t stand up and say so but instead unveiled a bogus “compromise” that promised continued federal research on 60 existing stem-cell lines. Only later would we learn that all but 11 of them did not exist. When Mr. Bush wanted to endorse a constitutional amendment to “protect” marriage, he again cowered. A planned 2006 Rose Garden announcement to a crowd of religious-right supporters was abruptly moved from the sunlight into a shadowy auditorium away from the White House.

Nowhere is this president’s non-courage more evident than in the “signing statements” The Boston Globe exposed last year. As Charlie Savage reported, Mr. Bush “quietly claimed the authority to disobey more than 750 laws enacted since he took office.” Rather than veto them in public view, he signed them, waited until after the press and lawmakers left the White House, and then filed statements in the Federal Register asserting that he would ignore laws he (not the courts) judged unconstitutional. This was the extralegal trick Mr. Bush used to bypass the ban on torture. It allowed him to make a coward’s escape from the moral (and legal) responsibility of arguing for so radical a break with American practice.

In the end, it was also this president’s profile in non-courage that greased the skids for the Iraq fiasco. If Mr. Bush had had the guts to put America on a true wartime footing by appealing to his fellow citizens for sacrifice, possibly even a draft if required, then he might have had at least a chance of amassing the resources needed to secure Iraq after we invaded it.

But he never backed up the rhetoric of war with the stand-up action needed to prosecute the war. Instead he relied on fomenting fear, as typified by the false uranium claims whose genesis has been covered up by Mr. Libby’s obstructions of justice. Mr. Bush’s cowardly abdication of the tough responsibilities of wartime leadership ratified Donald Rumsfeld’s decision to go into Iraq with the army he had, ensuring our defeat.

Never underestimate the power of the unconscious. Not the least of the revelatory aspects of Mr. Bush’s commutation is that he picked the fourth anniversary of “Bring ’em on” to hand it down. It was on July 2, 2003, that the president responded to the continued violence in Iraq, two months after “Mission Accomplished,” by taunting those who want “to harm American troops.” Mr. Bush assured the world that “we’ve got the force necessary to deal with the security situation.” The “surge” notwithstanding, we still don’t have the force necessary four years later, because the president never did summon the courage, even as disaster loomed, to back up his own convictions by going to the mat to secure that force.

No one can stop Mr. Bush from freeing a pathetic little fall guy like Scooter Libby. But only those who paid the ultimate price for the avoidable bungling of Iraq have the moral authority to pardon Mr. Bush.

I’d Hate to Meet the Other 55%.

According to this American Research Group poll, a full 45% want to see George W. Bush get impeached. If Georgie paid any attention at all to polls that don’t give him at least a 2% mandate for his failed initiatives, he’d be screaming, “ARG!” through a mouthful of leftover birthday cake.

In case you’re interested, 54% of those polled would like to see Dick “Separate But Equal” Cheney’s fat, pasty ass get impeached, as well.

After all, it looks as if close association with Bush is so toxic that it’s actually contagious, if Abbas’s poll numbers are any indication, not to mention Musharraf’s attempted assassination, and Tony Blair leaving as Prime Minister amidst cheers (not for his legacy but his long-delayed exit.).

Now, even his own party is tiptoeing off the stage, choosing discretion and their addictions to incumbency as the better part of the valor that they’d earlier championed years ago when Bush was still beating the war drums.

But what I’d like to know is, after everything this brain-dead bull in a china shop has done to this country and the world in general, how the hell could less than half of 1100 Americans polled think that we should give him a free pass? True, the ARG is based in New Hampshire, still a state filled with rock-ribbed Republicans, but even considering that over half those polled are registered Republican residents of New Hampshire, how brain-dead do they themselves have to be to think that the House shouldn’t start impeachment proceedings against Bush? Isn’t this show of leniency taking their state motto of “Live Free or Die” to ridiculous extremes?

What else does Bush have to do before Congress and a majority of the American people realize that impeachment of these two crime bosses will not harm the country but to start the healing process, the sense of closure, that we desperately need almost as much as we need the troops to come back home from Iraq?

Anyone who still doesn’t think that we live in a fascist police state is either a human ostrich or a fucking liar. The same goes for anyone who still refuses to believe that extra-legal wiretapping isn’t a big deal, that politicizing the DOJ, outing covert CIA agents, fattening up incompetent, Republican-friendly corporations at the expense of taxpayer dollars and veteran outpatient care isn’t quite bad enough to impeach for, while an extra-marital affair is.

This 55% shouldn’t be allowed to vote without a re-education in democracy and constitutional law. Failing that, they should then be chemically castrated.

I mean, do we have to substitute the stars on our flag with the swastika and order our soldiers to goosestep before they finally get the fucking idea? How much worse does it have to get before we decide that a President with a 26% approval rating is a President worth impeaching? How can 74% of the people disapprove of the job Bush is doing while 55% think that he’s not so incompetent that he ought to be impeached?

And how can almost half the nation feel the same way about Cheney after all the lies we’ve caught him in, after he’d thumbed his nose time and again at the Congress of which he seems to think the OVP is a part instead of the executive, after crafting an energy policy behind closed doors with petroleum executives that did nothing but roll back clean air standards and enrich said executives?

Meanwhile, grateful Iraqis had a suicide bomber detonate a truck that killed anywhere from 100-150 Iraqis, most of them, of course, civilians. It seems the only Iraqis who are grateful for George Bush’s presence are the homegrown al Qaida operatives who are pleasantly surprised by the recruiting effort that our occupation had turned into.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Bob Herbert: A Girl’s Fear and Loathing

In a column earlier this week I wrote about a cop who grotesquely abused his power by invading a high school classroom in the Bronx because a girl had uttered a curse word in a hallway. Not only did the cop handcuff and arrest the girl in a room filled with stunned students and a helpless teacher, but he arrested the school’s principal, who had attempted to reason with the officer.

The principal was suspended from his job immediately after the arrest in February 2005, but was reinstated when the charges — bogus from the very beginning — were eventually dropped. Still, the police commissioner, Ray Kelly, defended the police officer’s action, telling reporters at the time, “The principal was simply wrong.”

As I continued to look into this case, it became clear that police officials were trying to withhold important information about the officer, Juan Gonzalez. In response to a question, a spokesman for Commissioner Kelly said that Officer Gonzalez, now 29, had been placed on modified duty and that his gun and shield had been taken away.

But why? Despite repeated requests, the department would not say.

Then I found out through other sources that Officer Gonzalez had gotten into trouble for stalking, kissing and otherwise harassing a 17-year-old girl at another high school in the Bronx. The girl, extremely upset over the unwanted advances, notified school authorities and they notified the Police Department.

The Police Department confirmed this yesterday.

The encounter with the girl occurred in September 2005 outside Truman High School. The girl, questioned at a hearing by a lawyer representing the city, said she had just left the school and was on her way to a bus stop when Officer Gonzalez, in uniform, walked up to her.

He let her know that he had been watching her, and he followed her as she tried to walk away. He asked to see her school program, which lists, among other things, a student’s classes and schedule. She handed it to him.

According to the girl, the officer said, “It doesn’t have what I’m looking for.”

She said that when she asked what he was looking for, he replied, “Your address.”

The girl said Officer Gonzalez began touching her as they were passing another school. “He started touching my hair,” she said, “and pulling it all towards one side to touch my neck.” She backed up against a wall, she said, and the officer leaned over her, pressing his arms against the wall.

“I wasn’t looking at him,” the girl said. “I was turning my face away, and he touched my face and put my face to look directly towards, at him. He said, ‘Why can’t I look at him?’ And he touched my waist and pulled me closer to him, and he kissed me on my cheeks.”

The girl said, “I tried to push him away, but I couldn’t. So I had to duck under his arms.”

Officer Gonzalez followed her as she resumed walking toward the bus stop. He suggested they go out on a date. The girl said she told the officer, “I don’t think so.”

Then, she said, he told her what a powerful man he was, how he had kicked down doors and even arrested a high school principal.

This week, even as I continued asking questions about Officer Gonzalez’s status, the Police Department gave him back his gun and his badge and put him back on patrol.

It was a wildly irresponsible decision. Parents across the city should be warned about this officer.

Over the past several weeks I have heard one credible story after another of police officers ruthlessly harassing, and frequently arresting, youngsters who have done nothing wrong. Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Commissioner Kelly seem to be in denial about this problem, which is widespread. There is an astounding reluctance to criticize or properly discipline police officers, no matter how egregious their conduct.

The big losers are the good kids who are treated like criminals by bullies and predators masquerading as New York’s finest. Other losers are the many cops who routinely take their crime-fighting mission seriously, but are undermined by these lowlifes in blue.

Jonathan Moore, a civil rights lawyer who represents the girl harassed by Officer Gonzalez, said his client had agreed, with “some hesitation,” to my request to tell her story in a column. She is still afraid, he said, that Officer Gonzalez will “track her down and cause her harm.”

Why I'm Still Blogging

No, that's not Ann Coulter's favorite sex toy. That's a safety valve (which, in Coulter's case, I'd venture amounts to the same thing), a perfect visual metaphor for this post.

Now, I'm sure that my regular readers, at least those who've read my recent post, "Boot Camp is Over", are wondering why I've since resumed blogging without hardly skipping a beat. I was wondering that myself and I can no longer say with complete honesty, however strongly I feel about it, that the commutation of Scooter Libby's sentence is entirely to blame.

To put it simply, I need a safety valve to bleed out my political energies, energies that have hardly abated since I'd written my latest failed farewell. I still need this blog to ensure that the extensive rewriting of my novel remains completely separate from it. In other words, I have to ensure that my novel doesn't become my blog.

And with the heavily political (and new) content of this novel that will help drive and focus the radically altered plot, writing as a blogger and not a novelist (which requires a separate set of skills not to mention a level of craftsmanship that often eludes your run-of-the-mill political blogger) could be one of the worst mistakes I could ever make. In the publishing world, the resub rate is dismal, at best. If your manuscript isn't camera-ready the first time for both agent and editor... Well, like the toothpaste commercial said, you only have one chance to make a first impression.

This is an exerpt of the troublesome Chapter Four of which I've made mention and it's by far the most political chapter, one that makes me fear that I could be blogging a novel that deserves to be written by a valid novelist. As you'll note, I'm giving a lot of nods (for the first time) to real-life bloggers by attributing fictitious statements to some of the more well-known ones among us. These quotes on the legal controversy upon which much of the plot will turn are in themselves safety valves that touch on the real-life issues and controversies that have refocused and (hopefully) improved my novel. I'll get permission from the bloggers in question to attribute these quotes to them once I assure myself that I'll keep them in the galley proof.

This is how I get around what we novelists call "the dreaded expository lump", that blob of information that the reader cannot very well do without but which not a lot of novelists (including some A listers that I can name) can't competently handle. Using the media (TV broadcasts, headlines, swatches of magazine articles such as the one below) is a great way to impart backstory to the reader without making them think they're reading a technical manual.

So take a gander at Chapter Four and let me know what you think. I don't want to know what I'm doing right. I'm primarily interested in knowing what I'm doing wrong.
Time cover story, October 2nd

…and Justice for Most...

When the Supreme Court handed down their decision on September 29th, one could almost detect an audible sigh of relief ripple through the nation. An unidentified man, standing on the steps of the Justice Department, had relayed the word to the masses seconds after the high court’s ruling. Women cried. Men hooted. Car horns honked like angry Canadian geese.

Edd Corn would die by lethal injection at Varrick Federal Prison in Eastbridge, Massachusetts at one minute after midnight on October 17th.

In upholding the federal 1st Circuit Court of Appeals’ ruling, the Supreme Court had applied the first dressing on a country wounded and wearied by warrantless wiretapping, Iraq, the politicization of the Justice Department and the outing with impunity of covert CIA agents.

In three words, it was the high court’s collective way of saying, “Enough is enough.”

“In a nation rife with cynicism and softened by compromise, it is sad to consider how easily overjoyed we become when justice is truly served by condemning to death a child rapist/murderer like Edd Corn,” said Bill O’Reilly on Fox News’ The O’Reilly Factor.

Yet some would say that the sentence wasn’t harsh enough for the man who’d abducted, raped, killed and sometimes dismembered up to sixty little girls across four, perhaps five states, making Ted Bundy look like a man with a grudge. Others say the “no mas” attitude of our top nine justices will open the floodgates of hatred and vengeance manifesting itself in acts of “cruel and unusual punishment.” Then there’s the more controversial faction, albeit a small one thus far almost exclusively confined to the liberal blogosphere, insisting that, while Edd Corn ought to be executed for his crimes, it’s legally and morally inexcusable to be so for being a terrorist.

The suspension of habeas corpus from the 2006 Military Tribunal bill was eventually put to use when the Corn trial was stalled on various technicalities. The sudden change of tactics in the middle of the federal trial in Boston wasn’t lost on several prominent left-leaning bloggers who regarded the bait and switch as nothing short of suspicious.

Habeus corpus has finally soiled the sheets,” said Digby at Hullabaloo. “If Edd Corn, a child predator not unlike Albert Fish or other such animals, can be tried, convicted, sentenced and executed as a terrorist, then who else will the President consider a terrorist?”

Fellow blognosticator John Aravosis of AmericaBlog, himself a man with a legal education, noted, “The government’s case couldn’t be more nakedly obvious- Desperately needing actual terrorists who are scarcer than hen’s teeth, the DOJ puts Corn to death after labeling him a jihadist to streamline the trial, expedite the execution (Saddam, anyone?) and claim a victory over terrorism. Since Corn’s white and not middle eastern, there’s no fear of reprisal. Everybody wins except for Lady Liberty.”

In “Achtung, Motherfuckers!”, cult blogger the Rude Pundit wrote, “Now fuck knows the Rude Pundit doesn’t believe in capital punishment although he thinks the world would be a better place if a filthy child-killing, child-molesting wad o’ fuck like Edd Corn gets that antecubital cocktail. Yet, when all is said and done, the Rude Pundit also gives a fucked rat’s ass about how we go about doing the right thing. ’Cuz we go about doing the right thing for the wrong reasons, well, shit, we’ll all be goosesteppin’ down that hellish road of good intentions.”

Right wing blogs aren’t as concerned about the distinction between doing the right thing for the right reasons and doing them for the wrong reasons.

“Personally, I think this is a non-issue,” said Glenn Reynolds, aka Instapundit. “Whether Corn is executed for being a child killer five dozen times over or a terrorist, can anyone really quibble about the end result? It’s all good.”

John Hinderaker, another conservative lawyer and blogger from Powerline, concurs: “When all is said and done, not even the liberal moonbats can argue that there’s no downside to this. Either we strike a blow to domestic crime or a blow to international terrorism. Either way, America wins.”

The Supreme Court’s decision had attracted and polarized its opponents before it even convened. Protesters shouldering and jabbing into the air placards reading “Don’t make examples at the expense of the insane” and “Edd Corn is not a terrorist!” surrounded the buildings housing the Supreme Court and Justice Department. It was the largest protest gathering in SC history since Roe vs. Wade in 1972. Others were more cynical of the turnout.

“It’s really scary when you look at all the different groups here,” exclaimed one Capitol policeman who asked not to be identified. “It’s not as if it’s just NOW or the Christian Coalition or Greenpeace making a show of strength. I’ve counted at least four or five organizations so far.”

The grassroots support for Corn is sneered at by some, dismissed as mere partisan politics without any regard for the rights of Corn’s victims (aged 3-13). One man who understands partisan politics very well is former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, always an ardent apologist for the death penalty.

“These organizations, when they lose ground,” began the former Georgia congressman in a telephone interview from his office at Kennesaw State College, “are under that much more pressure to justify their existence. They root out and find causes, symbols. To the anti-capital punishment faction, Corn’s the flavor of the day. Personally, if I was looking for a symbol for the reverence of life, I’d have enough taste not to choose a barbaric terrorist like Edd Corn. His young and innocent victims would be more appropriate symbols.”

From the start, the government’s case for terrorism had always been on shaky ground and never seemed to get any firmer, especially with the grassroots. In one of his many jeering communiqués to the authorities, Corn had written, “I will bring this country to its knees.” Perhaps realizing how flimsy this evidence sounded, the US attorney then produced “evidence” that Corn was actually connected to al Qaida when one of Corn’s intended victims was the eight year-old daughter of a suspected operative of Osama bin Laden’s network.

According to testimony provided to the US attorney’s office by one Salam al-Hussein, one of four wouldbe terrorists apprehended near Boston, “We had caught him while he was stalking our friend’s daughter. We used him sort of as an extension of our jihad.”

The problem? Corn is a born again evangelical Christian with ultra conservative views, not a Sunni Muslim. And why would an al Qaida operative rape and murder the daughter of another al Qaida operative, a crime that is so far from what experts know of Islam as to be laughable anywhere except, apparently, in a federal courtroom?

So why didn’t the government prosecute Edd Corn just for being a serial killer? Why the problematic and controversial terrorism angle when they could’ve more easily tried him in what would’ve been a slam dunk case?

Ask any liberal blogger and they will immediately point to several reasons, chiefest among them the Military Tribunal Bill, which effectively rescinded habeas corpus, the increasingly desperate need to make gains on the war on terror and the fact that the Presidential election will be in a little over a year. With both Democrats and Republicans eager to prove to a simultaneously disillusioned and hypervigilant American public that they have a handle on how to combat terrorism, it only follows that the Corn trial and conviction hasn’t gone unnoticed by presidential contenders on both sides of the aisle.

Moreso than even the mainstream media, left wing blogs are leading the charge that the federal government overstepped its authority.

“In its overarching prosecution of Corn, who is no friend to civilized society, the government took a slam-dunk case and created for Corn unlikely allies (in sort of a reprise of what they’d already done in Iraq), ergo virtually making Corn a somewhat more sympathetic character than the President himself.

You would think that Icarus flew too close to the sun on this one. So why isn’t he conspicuously drowning?” - Jane Hamsher, Firedoglake

That is a question that begs to be answered more and more as Corn’s death sentence draws closer. If Hamsher’s Icarus is drowning, it’s in a sea of controversy. In the real world, the loudest questions are coming from the legal darling of liberal bloggers, the American Civil Liberties Union. The ACLU had been spearheading an effort to delay or derail Corn’s execution until the SCOTUS’s decision on September 29th.

“Forget how miserable a failure capital punishment is as both a punitive and deterring measure,” said ACLU spokesman Benjamin Greene. “Let’s focus instead on the parallel judicial structures- the conventional one with rights to habeas corpus, competent counsel, the right to be judged by a jury of one’s peers, access to all evidence. In short, the right to a speedy but fair trial.

“Then there’s the unconventional structure, the one we’ve set up just for so-called enemy combatants, one without any of those rights, no right to challenge the legality of your detention, no access to counsel, no right to hear the charges against you, one in which the only common denominator is speediness.

“Lastly, before you console yourselves that this second judicial structure operating in the shadows of the halls of justice is merely for foreign enemy combatants, consider how much the current administration is closing the gap between the two, that this Franz Kafka version of jurisprudence is for terrorists only. US citizen Jose Padilla, for one, can tell you all about it.”

How Would a Patriot Act? author Glenn Greenwald of Salon and Unclaimed Territory, yet another highly regarded blogging attorney, pithily summed up Greene’s all-too-real scenario thusly: “We’ve plea-bargained ‘Justice For All’ down to ‘Justice For Most.’ The truly scary thing is not what the government and the DOJ is attempting here: They’ve succeeded with our assent because that’s a downgrade of justice that many of us can live with. This is the Nexus phase of the USA PATRIOT Act.”

Enter James Forrest, the junior Senator from Massachusetts and one of the GOP’s two leading contenders for the Republican party’s presidential nomination next year, who led the movement to televise Corn’s execution, making it the first one to ever be put on the public airwaves.

Welcome to Pottersville put it thusly: “This is the GOP’s version of bread and circuses, minus the bread. Let’s bow our heads and pay our last respects to entertainment, news and its bastard hybrid, infotainment. Then, if we can squeeze it into the mass eulogy before the final commercial break, the rule of law and the government’s last shred of respect for public opinion.”

Speaking of which... public opinions are very welcome here.

Happy Birthday, Moron Junior

Whereby the author endeavoreth to show how Democracy reacts when Daddy comes back after abandoning it seven years ago.

Well, even though the White House’s official website modestly didn’t actually mention it, today is George W. Bush’s 61st birthday. And America isn’t too happy about Bush’s handling about, well, a lot of things, and even his own party isn’t too thrilled about Iraq. That’s right: New Mexico senator Pete Domenici, the crooked, partisan fuck who, along with Heather Wilson, helped force David Iglesias out of the Justice Department because he wasn’t a good enough Republican, is saying that Bush’s ongoing jihad against the late Saddam Hussein is a glistening, moaning squirming clusterfuck worthy of a Swedish XXX film.

Then there was CBS’s backhanded salute to the 61st anniversary of the founding of the plague that George and Barbara visited on our part of the cosmos. Sure, there was the news that Big Brother’s Winston Smiths had proudly trumpeted, such as the creation of 8.2 million jobs since 2003 (although they don’t say that almost half of them are Halliburton, KBR and Blackwater executive vice presidencies that were created since the invasion).

Then they had to go and spoil the birthday mood by harping on the fact that Domenici, Lugar and Voinovich had grave “doubts and concerns” about Iraq. “Doubts and concerns”, you have to admit, is in itself a comforting, euphemized version of the terror, anxiety and dread that’s felt by people who actually have skin in Iraq instead of mere petroleum or other corporate interests.

George Bush had decided to abandon democracy seven years ago when he’d gotten his now-mutinying party’s nomination in New York. And we’re not even talking about artful deception here, folks. He’d said that things would be a whole lot easier if the presidency were a dictatorship (as long as he got to be the Decider Dictator).

He called the Constitution, penned by our nation’s proto-Republican, Thomas Jefferson, “just a Goddamned piece of paper.” This was a man who was so ADD-addled and just plain incompetent that his father had to appoint Dick Cheney to appoint Dick Cheney to be his running mate.

So it’s only appropriate that on the 4th of July, George Bush came back to the America that he’d abandoned 7 years ago and replaced with a blood and feces-smeared palimpsest just before his birthday. He comes back like Rod Steiger in the Vonnegut movie or a brain-damaged version of Jack Nicholson's Francis Phelan, ex-ballplayer and unambitious drunk, in Ironweed. Except this time around, a bigger portion of the family isn’t in the mood for a touching fucking reunion. Plus, Phelan had the consideration to abandon his family after one dinner, knowing that he'd wind up doing it, anyway.

Luckily, there was still some clowns here and there who were still quite willing to sing “Happy Birthday” to Moron Junior even if it was hardly accompanied and off-key. And he wouldn't have it any other way.

Yet, more than ever, the American family that Bush had forsaken wishes that he'll go back out in the weeds and stay gone.

Paul Krugman: Sacrifice Is for Suckers

On this Fourth of July, President Bush compared the Iraq war to the Revolutionary War, and called for “more patience, more courage and more sacrifice.” Unfortunately, it seems that nobody asked the obvious question: “What sacrifices have you and your friends made, Mr. President?”

On second thought, there would be no point in asking that question. In Mr. Bush’s world, only the little people make sacrifices.

You see, the Iraq war, although Mr. Bush insists that it’s part of a Global War on Terror™, a fight to the death between good and evil, isn’t like America’s other great wars — wars in which the wealthy shared the financial burden through higher taxes and many members of the elite fought for their country.

This time around, Mr. Bush celebrated Mission Accomplished by cutting tax rates on dividends and capital gains, while handing out huge no-bid contracts to politically connected corporations. And in the four years since, as the insurgency Mr. Bush initially taunted with the cry of “Bring them on” has claimed the lives of thousands of Americans and left thousands more grievously wounded, the children of the elite — especially the Republican elite — have been conspicuously absent from the battlefield.

The Bushies, it seems, like starting fights, but they don’t believe in paying any of the cost of those fights or bearing any of the risks. Above all, they don’t believe that they or their friends should face any personal or professional penalties for trivial sins like distorting intelligence to get America into an unnecessary war, or totally botching that war’s execution.

The Web site Think Progress has a summary of what happened to the men behind the war after we didn’t find W.M.D., and weren’t welcomed as liberators: “The architects of war: Where are they now?” To read that summary is to be awed by the comprehensiveness and generosity of the neocon welfare system. Even Paul Wolfowitz, who managed the rare feat of messing up not one but two high-level jobs, has found refuge at the American Enterprise Institute.

Which brings us to the case of I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby Jr.

The hysteria of the neocons over the prospect that Mr. Libby might actually do time for committing perjury was a sight to behold. In an opinion piece in The Wall Street Journal titled “Fallen Soldier,” Fouad Ajami of Johns Hopkins University cited the soldier’s creed: “I will never leave a fallen comrade.” He went on to declare that “Scooter Libby was a soldier in your — our — war in Iraq.”

Ah, yes. Shuffling papers in an air-conditioned Washington office is exactly like putting your life on the line in Anbar or Baghdad. Spending 30 months in a minimum-security prison, with a comfortable think-tank job waiting at the other end, is exactly like having half your face or both your legs blown off by an I.E.D.

What lay behind the hysteria, of course, was the prospect that for the very first time one of the people who tricked America into war, then endangered national security yet again in the effort to cover their tracks, might pay some price. But Mr. Ajami needn’t have worried.

Back when the investigation into the leak of Valerie Plame Wilson’s identity began, Mr. Bush insisted that if anyone in his administration had violated the law, “that person will be taken care of.” Now we know what he meant. Mr. Bush hasn’t challenged the verdict in the Libby case, and other people convicted of similar offenses have spent substantial periods of time in prison. But Mr. Libby goes free.

Oh, and don’t fret about the fact that Mr. Libby still had to pay a fine. Does anyone doubt that his friends will find a way to pick up the tab?

Mr. Bush says that Mr. Libby’s punishment remains “harsh” because his reputation is “forever damaged.” Meanwhile, Mr. Bush employs, as a deputy national security adviser, none other than Elliott Abrams, who pleaded guilty to unlawfully withholding information from Congress in the Iran-contra affair. Mr. Abrams was one of six Iran-contra defendants pardoned by Mr. Bush’s father, who was himself a subject of the special prosecutor’s investigation of the scandal.

In other words, obstruction of justice when it gets too close to home is a family tradition. And being a loyal Bushie means never having to say you’re sorry.

Postscript: Commenter Davol White gives us this pearl:
I was watching a show on PBS with certain rightwing pundits exchanging ideas and opinions with lefties about this subject. I recall one righty talking about Valerie and Joe Wilson's upcoming movie and book deals saying, "I wish my career could be ruined like Valerie's". This ruffled my patriotism feathers at the time when I wanted to bitch slap that pundit for his treasonous comment, and remind everyone that this is about an act of treason that shut down a CIA operation, which was thwarting the proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction. This act of treason was so blatant, and so counterproductive to the proclaimed reasons for war that I'm inclined to think there is more to it then just bad-mouthing a critic of the war who had already done his editorial damage. I think Valerie Plame was onto these liars about WMD's, and I've read articles that she was instrumental in stopping a shipment of VX Nerve gas from entering Iraq through Turkey right before this war. I think if I was the CIA agent who stopped these neo-cons from planting WMD's in Iraq before the war I would be in danger of being outed too. As far as Libby goes, $160,000 a year job, no jail for my felony, among other perks. I wish my career could be ruined like Libby's.

Brilliantly expressed.

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Thursday, July 05, 2007

Our Nation in Pictures

Yep, that about covers it. Minus the paddles, of course.
(Courtesy of reader JennoftheSilentVoices.)

Now, if Rudy's campaign car ran on bullshit like he does, they'd be all set.
(courtesy of Nozell and The General.)

Meanwhile, in a similar vein…

(Courtesy Fearguth @ Bildungblog.)

(You know you’re getting old when your own Halloween masks look more lifelike than you.)

(Joe Lieberman demonstrates the technique by which he retains the Democratic party’s loyalty. Courtesy Maru the Crankpot.)

Finally, I leave you with this final image from my neck of the woods, via the Boston Globe:

Fred Thompson: America’s unsung superhero of Watergate. (Courtesy of radio personality Charles Laquidara at Big Mattress.)

Mutually Assured Distraction

Sure, our mainstream media could be putting Junior’s feet to the fire, asking him the kind of questions that give him cold sweats in these unguarded moments of his nightmares, questions asked by the likes of Helen Thomas, a resurrected Maureen Dowd, David Gregory and other journalists. Nightmares featuring no Tony Snow, Jeff Gannon or anyone else from the Wall Street Journal, Talon, GOPUSA or any other right proper patriotic news organ.

Such questions could consist of:

  • “Mr. President, if you installed Judge Reggie Walton in the federal judiciary for his tough, no-nonsense attitude on crime, how come you commuted Mr. Libby’s sentence and said Judge Walton’s sentence was too harsh?”

  • “Mr. President, why do we seem to be giving up on the once-important September benchmarks to be reported on by General Petraeus months ahead of time?”

  • “Mr. President, how do you account for the fact that 90% of the fatalities in Iraq since the invasion have been civilian? Isn’t that a lot of ‘collateral damage”?”

  • Ah, but as Norman Solomon tells us in War Made Easy, which was released as a DVD late this past spring, that would go against the grain of a media that’s more accustomed to and comforted by what I call “mutually assured distraction.”

    This is when the media distracts the nation from what the real news is and what it truly means and the Powers That Be in turn distract the media from the same.

    Instead, these are the kinds of press conferences and reactions to which we’ve gotten accustomed over the last six and a half years and calmly watch as if this is the way it’s supposed to be:

    President Bush: “Why did I commute Scooter’s sentence? You have a… Like my Grandpa Prescott used to say, just because you got an umbrella… it ain’t gonna help keep you dry if the wind’s blowing…”

    Brit Hume: “In summation, the President’s folksy meteorological anecdote brilliantly underscored the Libby commutation… uh, in a way that we shouldn’t have to explain to you.”

    “What did Saddam have to do with 9/11 and al Qaida? Nothing. It’s like… you ever been to a restaurant and every time you go to one, there’s always some feller that blows his nose? It’s sorta like that.”

    Bill O’Reilly: “Does this need any further explanation? The President brilliantly handled the blatantly partisan question with a folksiness that was far above the intelligence quotient of the moonbat liberal who asked him that invasive question.”

    President Bush: “The surge’s chances for success? There’s a saying that we have in Midland. Easy as… Easy as, uh… hell, pick your pastry. Ya’ll know what I mean“

    Charles Krauthammer in the Washington Post: “Empire be damned, say the liberals but the President’s open-ended rejoinder to the surge’s chance for ultimate victory in Iraq is a blank canvas upon which anyone could paint their own outcome, to be their own David Chase, so to speak. And this is in keeping with the agenda of empire, which is to have no agenda, to remain as open-ended regarding trivials such as exit strategies, nation-building, democracy-erections, etc.

    To bestride the planet like a spread-eagled colossus, our flaccid member dangling benevolently over the Middle East. If we break it, your oil revenue will have to fix it but we still get to break it. What a world we lord over!”

    This is what we’ve come to expect from our national discourse: mutually-assured distraction. Because, you know, preserving that access to bullshit leaks that at best tell half the story is better than having access to nothing. It’s not enough that clowns like Bob Woodward use their journalistic credentials to hoard information not for the benefit of editor and reader but for his publisher. It’s even worse when said clowns like Bob Woodward pre-emptively decide what’s real news and what is a non-issue (such as the Plame outing).

    We had taken back a small chunk of our government with the mid-term election. Now, how do we take back the watchdog of democracy, the media, and put an end to this mutually-assured distraction?

    (Sure, I said that I was gonna quit blogging for a while but Libby's commutation had the same effect on me as it did on Cindy Sheehan: It brought me back kicking and screaming. I'm still working on my novel, rest assured. But there's no way I can stop political blogging without having formaldehyde in my veins.)

    Wednesday, July 04, 2007

    Someone Had to Say It.

    I wish I had a fucking uterus so I can have this guy's baby.

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    Happy Fourth of July

    ...from three of the GOP’s biggest boobs.


    Tuesday, July 03, 2007

    Uncle Reamus’ Tales of Moralness

    The Bible says, somewhere, “Bring the children unto me” and that’s doubly true with the man who’d lied on a Bible twice. George W. Bush loves to have his picture taken with little American Africans, as he affectionately calls them.

    And during these endless photo ops, George magnanimously recognizes their heritage by not making them think of him as Bwana but as Uncle Reamus.

    Uncle Reamus, George’s own specially created character, travels from one black school to another spreading “tales of moralness” about the evils, dangers and temptations of monogamous homosexual marriage, pre-marital safe sex and Clintonian “liberalness.”

    Today, President George “Uncle Reamus” Bush interrupted his vacation in Maine to visit such a school. Finding it closed, the president was inspired by the Bible and commanded that the children also sacrifice a bit of their summer vacation and had them brought unto him to celebrate the 4th of July. And what better, more patriotic way to do this than to celebrate the independence not of America or of American Africans but the liberation of Scooter Libby?

    So let’s sit at Uncle Reamus’ feet and listen in:

    “Why’re you rubbing my head?”

    “It’s a habit I got into early in my preznitcy. I used to rub Colin Powell’s head for good luck every morning. God, I miss that. I still do it with Condi, even though it upsets her when I muss her hair up. She grumbles about reporting me to my Mom. But don't be fooled by the fact that she always looks like a Persian cat climbing out of a bathtub- she’s an old softy. She’ll never do it.

    “I still rub her head, though, ’cuz you can’t argue with the results.

    “Anyway, gather ’round, my children, and you shall hear a moralness tale of the virtue of being conservative. ’Cuz it worked for my and the Vice Preznit’s good friend Scooter Libby.

    “What was that, my dark little angel?”

    “Why do they call him ‘Scooter?’”

    “Well, that’s a nickname that I never had the chance to give him which kinda ticked me off on account of me likin’ to give people playful nicknames. Anyways, he got his nickname back when he was an infant, when his Daddy saw him scooting across his crib. Then a few years later his Dad got him a scooter and the name kinda stuck.

    “Anyways, some liberal named Patrick Fitzgerald got it into his head to indict Scooter for lying about a crime that was never committed and…"

    “Mr. President, in Civics our teacher taught us that special prosecutors or districts attorney don’t indict. Grand juries do.”

    “Yeah, but…”

    “Furthermore, teacher tells us that Mr. Fitzgerald is a Republican.”

    “Who’s the Preznit here, you or me? And don’t you want to hear the story? (whispers) Alright, Karl, get her out of here. I told you No Child Left Behind was a bad idea.

    “Now, where were we? Oh, yeah. Anyways, a couple of days ago I commuted Scooter’s sentence for lying about a crime that was never proven. Now, it ain’t a pardon in a strict sense because the conviction remains and he still has to have his legal defense fund pay the fine.

    "I hafta admit, it sure was fun watching Scooter runnin' out of one appeal after another tryin' to stay out of jail. It was also a hoot listening to his friends beggin' me to save Scooter. I intended to pardon him back when he was first indicted back in October of 2005. Hah!

    “So the moral of the story is, you can lie to a grand jury, little Miss Smarty Pants left behind out in the hallway, get convicted, pay a fine but, as long as you’re a Republican, you can always count on never seeing the inside of a jail cell.”

    “Mr. President, my uncle went to prison for ten years for stealing a loaf of bread. Can you help him?”

    “Well, if he was a white bootlegger or odometer diddler, then I could prolly do something. But stealin's a serious matter, so, I'm sorry.

    “Anyway, that’s it for now, kids. Uncle Reamus will be back to give you another story, like how Uncle Tom DeLay freed up the Northern Marianas Islands for free enterprise with the help of the Tan family. And, don’t forget, the good guys wear white hats, just like in the old westerns.”

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    Monday, July 02, 2007

    POS Pardons Libby, as per SOP

    This time we can’t accuse Junior of acting with his usual summer initiative just because Congress is on vacation. But the timing still cannot be anything but suspicious.

    Maybe the sense of urgency had something to do with this story out of federal appeals court stating that Libby had to go to prison soon.

    But Bush covered Libby’s ass just as Libby had covered his Dick’s fat, pasty ass. Let it not be said, however, that Bush isn’t tough on crime: He left Libby’s $250,000 fine intact. How, oh how is poor Scooter, a well-connected Republican with friends in the White House, going to come up with all that money?

    Now, according to the presidential powers of pardoning, an office within the Justice Department handles all pardon requests, so this means one thing: Al Gonzo’s DOJ is still dragging its feet regarding Waxman’s requests but they still move like greased lightning when one of their own stands to benefit from their participation.

    Bush has now pardoned 114 people, “including a Tennessee bootlegger and a Mississippi odometer cheat” according to the NY Times, so Scooter’s in some pretty exalted, select company. I must say, the only way that this pardon is in any way surprising is that Libby had barely begun the appeals process. According to the Presidential Powers of Pardon, wouldn’t Libby had to have exhausted the appellate process?

    Well, for those of you who still thought there was a God, some justice in the world, then Junior just did to God what the Russians did to Rasputin. At least the Lord put up a good fight.

    (As expected, Christy Hardin Smith at Firedoglake is already all over this like the stench of Republican corruption on a Brooks Brothers suit. Well worth a read. Oh, well, back to Chapter Four…)

    Update: In case you’re upset about the Libby “commutation” (how come the press isn’t calling it what it truly is? Gee, it couldn’t be a post Fordian reluctance to call it an actual, honest-to-God presidential pardon, could it?), in case you’re angry as you ought to be about all the time and work Pat Fitzgerald and his staff put into the CIA leak trial, not to mention all the taxpayer dollars that were wasted during the trial and the grand jury investigations, after the sad, sordid accounts of how much Scooter lied during the Old Home Week that the trial proved to be… take heart, people:

    Paul Wolfowitz, the smirking rat fuck who had to resign in disgrace from the World Bank after using that august financial institution dedicated to relieving third world poverty as a Republican welfare agency, has landed rather softly today at the American Enterprise Institute. Here’s a press release from the AEI: “Wolfowitz will work on entrepreneurship and development issues, Africa and public-private partnerships, the group said in a release.”

    Neither evil nor the irony ever dies with this administration, does it?

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