Friday, March 30, 2007

President Caligula, Your Chariot Awaits…

(Pic courtesy of All Hat, No Cattle.)

…the Senators are all oiled up, limbered up and are ready to run alongside it.

Yes, I’ll explain that all in due time but first, current events:

On March 9th, 2006, when Arlen Specter smuggled language like an Afghani opium dealer into Section 502 of the USA PATRIOT Act, changing Title 28 § 546 of the US Code that essentially gave the OPOTUS the latitude to appoint US attorneys without Senate approval, he opened the door allowing the likes of Harriet Miers, Karl Rove and Alberto Gonzales to begin the long night of long knives. In his waning moments of power, in the GOP majority’s sunset, former Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter once again gave George Bush another key from which to extricate himself from the shackles known as checks, balances and Congressional oversight.

And, whether by design or not, it essentially handcuffs the incoming Democratic majority in a way that’s reminiscent of a gutshot movie hero who, when the darkness and his enemies are closing in, detonates a hidden grenade. Sadly, this isn’t the movies. While Specter may no longer be in charge of one of the Senate’s most powerful committees, he’s still around to fight another day.

Yet, he and senators like Mitch “The Organic Roadblock” McConnell, Joe Lieberman and others will be known to historians as bitter old traitors who stabbed not Caesar in the back but themselves. They’ve essentially parted out the Senate by outsourcing oversight and legislation like an old Pontiac. There are no known instances of treasonous senators in Roman history (even though Caesar was assassinated for treason but that after he was a Senator). But this is not about historical parallels between today’s Senators and their Roman counterparts but another corollary.

History buffs may have already come across the strange parallels between Bush and Caligula. As with many emperors such as Caesar, Caligula had a contentious relationship with the Senate of his time.

One can make a case that the Bush/Caligula parallel could go a lot further. The first seven months of Caligula’s reign, as with the first several months of Bush’s, were pure bliss. There were free and fair elections (alright, Caligula has Bush beat there) and the masses loved the both of them. But that’s not my focus here. This is:

Here are two telling sentences from the life and times of Caligula that could come straight out of the front page of today’s Washington Post: “Though the exact cause of the argument between the young Caesar and the Senate is unclear, what sources remain seem to indicate that the Emperor had demanded a triumph and had been refused by the Senate… What is clear is that in 39 Caligula removed and replaced the Consuls without consulting the Senate, and publicly humiliated several Senators by forcing them to run alongside his chariot in their full robes.”

Consuls, in case you haven’t checked your dictionaries yet, were generally considered magistrates appointed by the Senate and served one- or two-year terms. It isn’t much of a stretch to see an eerie parallel between Caligula bypassing the Senate to appoint magistrates or Consuls and Bush bypassing the latter-day Senate in appointing US attorneys.

Then again, Rome didn’t have a USA PATRIOT Act and, as I’ve pointed out, the often weak and ineffectual Senate of ancient Rome was never guilty of actual treason and what Arlen Specter did in the final days of his greatest power was nothing short of treason. Oh, it’s not quite on a par with outing a covert agent, it may not be a hanging offense.

But it’s treason, nonetheless, and one that further undermined the delicate balance of power between the legislative and executive branches. And, as we all know, this isn’t the first time that Specter had transfused the blood of the Senate into the antecubital of Bush’s arm.

So can someone please explain to me Specter’s present stance that appears to oppose the Justice Department’s purging of at least eight attorneys under conditions that can only be charitably termed suspicious? And someone please rationalize to me this double-dealing scumbag's sanctimonious, holier-than-thou: "One day there will be a new attorney general, maybe sooner rather than later. But these [prosecutors] who were plastered across the newspapers all across the country, they will never recover their reputations." And this: “We have to have an attorney general who is candid, truthful and if we find that he has not been candid and truthful, that’s a very compelling reason for him not to stay on.” And then, there’s this pearl of conciliation after the House and Senate approved the use of subpoenas: "I counsel my colleagues, both Democrats and Republicans, to work hard to avoid an impasse. We don't need a constitutional confrontation."

Well, look who’s coming to the rescue to answer my questions but Arlen himself, who, during a Senate hearing on February 7th told the world that the real bad guy was Brett Tolman, a US attorney out of the US District Court in Utah. It was Tolman who changed the PATRIOT Act that essentially merged the Bush junta closer to the reign of Caligula. But even the feeble, corrupt Senate of that epoch of Roman history didn’t feature two-faced senators who’d willingly ceded their already eroding power to a despot, then put on a courageous, moralistic front by questioning the consequences of the fallout after blaming it all on someone else.

One has to wonder what Specter’s motivation was for rewriting Section 502 of the PATRIOT Act but one thing is clear: Specter and several other Senators must have known that something was up to warrant changing language in a specific section of the PATRIOT Act that paved the way for these politically-motivated “resignations”.

And, you have to admit, there’s a profoundly displeasing symmetry about Specter, the guy who helped bring all this about, participating in the very same Senate Committee that even now is struggling to determine how deeply illegal the purges were and how deeply in the White House the rabbit hole goes. A bad cop assigned to a case investigating his own crime.

So let’s all wait for the day when Specter and other loyal senators replace the Secret Service as they jog next to the presidential limo in their degradation.

I believe Cicero had the last word on the subject of governmental treason and this applies as equally to Arlen Specter as it does to the Plame outing:

"A nation can survive its fools, and even the ambitious. But it cannot survive treason from within. An enemy at the gates is less formidable, for he is known and carries his banner openly. But the traitor moves amongst those within the gate freely, his sly whispers rustling through all the alleys, heard in the very halls of government itself. For the traitor appears not a traitor; he speaks in accents familiar to his victims, and he wears their face and their arguments, he appeals to the baseness that lies deep in the hearts of all men. He rots the soul of a nation, he works secretly and unknown in the night to undermine the pillars of the city, he infects the body politic so that it can no longer resist. A murder is less to fear."

Thursday, March 29, 2007


File Under: Arguments, Specious

Have you ever heard the saying that it is often the loudest voice which advances the weakest argument? One would be hard pressed to find a more perfect example of this principal than The Bloviator, Rush Limbaugh, as sanctimonious a hypocrite as ever walked the earth. When not on trips out of the country enjoying a mixture of Oxycontin, Viagra and underage hookers, Limbaugh spends his time on his Reicht wing talk radio show complaining at length about the moral decay of people on the left. He holds virtual copyright on the technique of stressing the word Liberal in much the same way as the Church Lady would pronounce the word SATAN. He doesn't just quaff the Kool-Aid™, he mixes it up and passes it around for everyone else to drink. He has numerous connections to the slimy underbelly of the Republican party, and it is therefore no surprise that he is utterly devoid of the smallest shred of decency. His attack on actor Michael J. Fox's Parkinson's symptoms is particularly execrable, but by no means unique in a career of unprincipled manipulation. He wouldn't know a fact if it bit him on his bloated double-wide ass.

In one of my many daily web searches, I happened across a link to Limbaugh's website, and an article that advances a particularly vacuous argument: that the Democratic Congressional investigation into dismissal of eight federal prosecutors constitutes a 'perjury trap.' This is of course designed to advance the Republican theme that this perfectly legitimate exercise of congressional oversight authority is some kind of witch hunt carried out by Liberal (think SATANIC, see above) 'extremists.'

Limbaugh's website requires that one sign in to read it, something I am loathe to do. I strongly suspect that by doing so, I would be counted by Rush as one of his army of fawning supporters, and I will not give him even the slightest satisfaction in that. Hence I am forced to quote from younger brother David Limbaugh's column in the Sun Myung Moon-owned reicht wing rag, The Washington Times. The piece's title asks, 'Who's Politicizing Justice?' If you don't believe these opinions to be in lock step with the older brother, I have this quote from the header returned from Rush's site by Google, "Anyway, it's a perjury trap. They've all seen what happened to Scooter Libby." Anyway, here's David Limbaugh's version of the same argument:
"One reason I have been urging Republicans to man their battle stations against Democrats is that Democrats are in perpetual, full-blown war mode against Republicans. The Democrats' militant approach to the manufactured Justice Department scandal illustrates the point... why are they always alleging Republican scandal even before they have any idea what the facts are?
The answer is that it's all about discrediting the president and augmenting their own power, which is why they always try to tie Dick Cheney or Karl Rove personally to every event they mischaracterize (sic) as a scandal."
(emphasis added)
First off, observe how Limbaugh the Lesser repeatedly uses language designed to paint anyone who doesn't have a Republican empty pod husk under their bed as a foreign invader. Every time I hear language like this it brings back the shudder I felt when I heard Chimpy proclaim on Nov 12, 2001, "if you're not with us, you're against us" and the premonition that the definition of 'us' would get narrower and narrower as time went on. As we have seen, the premonition was not without merit - 'us' having by now been reduced to Bush himself, Laura, and White House dog Barney.

Second, the lame attempt to make the scandal go away by a simple redefinition of terminology - 'Manufactured', 'mis-characterize' and so forth. Finally, 'before they have any idea what the facts are?' And how, one might ask, is anyone supposed to know what the facts are when dealing with the most secretive government in the history of the U. S. A.? The Limbaugh brothers may want to deny the existence of documents and emails proving that White House and DoJ officials have been consistently lying about this affair, but that doesn't nullify the facts. I have to say, it looks to me like David Limbaugh is even stoopuder than his sibling. If Congress indeed has no idea what the facts are, that only serves to justify subpoenas, and witnesses testifying under oath.

Which reminds me of the exchange between Bill O'Reilly and Jonathan Turley the other night. When O'Reilly brought up the case of Scooter Libby in his argument, Turley responded very quickly with, "Well, see that's a bad thing to choose cause he's a convicted felon. A jury found him guilty of lying." The reight-tards just can't keep themselves from bringing up points that, when examined by anyone with an ounce of grey matter, actually undermine their case. Having faced nothing but softball questions from a complacent media for six years, they really have lost the skill of recognizing a logical fallacy when they see it. Or spew it.

Which brings me back to the Limbaugh brothers' use of the term 'perjury trap', because in essence that's the same argument O'Reilly is trying to advance. Monica Goodling is justified in invoking her fifth amendment rights because of what happened to Scooter. As of course by extension are bigger fish like Rove and Miers. Back to Limbaugh the Lesser;
Mr. Schumer's Democrats demand that the evil Mr. Rove and others shackle themselves in leg braces and shuffle over to Congress to volunteer themselves as witch-trial, perjury trap martyrs in the spirit of the fallen Scooter Libby. When at first you don't succeed at taking down Mr. Cheney and Mr. Rove, try, try again... We must encourage the president to hold his ground here and, the next time Mr. Schumer expectorates false charges against him, to reverse the charges. He should say to Mr. Schumer: "Senator, you are the one subordinating the law to politics. You are the one acting unethically and abusing your power, by wrongfully accusing public officials of wrongdoing and demanding their resignation without any evidence wrongdoing occurred. If you have a scintilla of evidence of wrongdoing, produce it, or hold your slanderous tongue. Before lecturing us again on politics and justice, explain to us why you routinely savage my highly qualified and ethical judicial nominees for crass political purposes."
The irony of using the terminology above should escape no-one's attention - when the Bush administration actually has prisoners in very real shackles and leg braces who have had no evidence proffered against them, and no opportunity to mount a legitimate defense. And this string of verbiage, "witch-trial, perjury trap martyrs in the spirit of the fallen Scooter Libby" - simply bewildering in the degree of mendacity displayed. Making Libby out to be some kind of hero when he was embroiled in a major breach of security that was entirely politically motivated and did material damage to the country is especially at odds with the facts.

The real meaning of the term perjury trap refers to a line of questioning directed at a witness already on the stand - one who it is suspected has already perjured themselves, and the 'trap' is in making them expose their duplicity. The specious argument coming from the right only shows that the White House and Department of Justice have crimes to cover up, and cannot testify truthfully without exposing those crimes.

If any trap exists, the administration has set and sprung it themselves. As any fool can plainly see, if they have nothing to hide they have nothing to fear.

Cross-posted at Ice Station Tango

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Wednesday, March 28, 2007

The Iraq News

Senate Passes Deadline, Bush to Veto, Saudi King Blasts
Occupation, Murtha, Murphy, McCain is Nuts, More

The Senate passed a non-binding call for troops to begin leaving Iraq in 120-days. Bush immediately burned rubber over to a podium at the National Cattlemen's Beef Association where he vowed to eat the yellow-liver of every Democrat in Congress. Seriously, this speech sucked. We need an intervention.

While Congress works on that, you can fuel your white hot rage with another sad installment of...

...The Iraq News:
VIDEO: Bob Geiger has the video of John Murtha and Patrick Murphy's floor speeches from last week.
VIDEO: John McCain tells Wolf Blitzer that there are sections of Baghdad that are perfectly safe for walking around in. Sure. Why don't you lead the way and we'll follow close behind, Senator.
VIDEO: Baghdad correspondant Michael Ware thinks John McCain is smoking some really good shit (Crooks and Liars).
VIDEO: CNN--Bush on Iraq, Then and Now.

Crossposted at Ice Station Tango.

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Operation Bite Off More Than Bush Can Chew

Here we fucking go again.

I don’t know if this is a hoax, paranoia dressed up as serious journalism, the classic echo chamber or the straight and skinny but Naomi at God Is 4 Suckers emailed me this link that indicates we’re attacking Iran. The story was relayed to our shore by Webster G. Tarpley, co-author of the book George Bush: The Unauthorized Biography.

It had gotten some play in the blogosphere the day and the day after the story came out but, eerily, it hasn’t hit the American mainstream media, indicating that either 1) This is a hoax that can’t be taken seriously by any self-respecting journalist, or 2) It’s true but so fantastic that it can’t be taken seriously by any self-respecting journalist.

If it is a hoax, then it’s a very plausible one, considering the blood-spattered backdrop of the Rapturish Bush administration.

According to Russian journalist Andrei Uglanov of the Argumenty Nedeli, we’re launching an assault on Iran on April 6th in a massive, 12 hour air strike called Operation Bite. Of course, this story, while it may be fairly new (March 25th), is hardly news. I’ve been saying for months now that we’re going to hit Iran anytime now and Global Research and the Arab Times have been saying the same thing since at least the middle of January. What’s notable is that the April date has remained intact all this time, which indicates a specific timetable and an unshakable, longstanding agenda.

Don't forget Bush's naming of Admiral William "Fox" Fallon to replace Gen. John Abizaid as head honcho at the Central Command early this year. At first it looked to be yet another bizarre, inappropriate appointment by our bizarre preznit until one re-examined Fallon's biography a bit more closely and realized that he was exactly the sort of guy that Bush would need for an air/naval war with Iran.

What’s scary is that the US and Great Britain may at last have their Gulf of Tonkin/USS Maine incident with Iran’s kidnapping of the 15 British sailors. What’s odd is you’d think the Iranian press would be screaming about this imperialist Anglo-American aggression. Yet not a word has come out and I’ve been to at least four or five Iranian newspapers online. Plus, the only sources for this story seem to be Tarpley, a syndicated columnist, who in turn got it from Uglanov. It’s impossible to double source this, much less triple source it but then again Sy Hersh is still the only guy reporting on the Cheney administration funding al-Qaida sympathizers through Cheney’s office and us sending special forces across the Iranian border to provoke unrest between religious factions.

So, if you were to seriously entertain this, Hersh is saying “Divide” and Uglanov is saying “Conquer.”

However, there is this story in Novosti, the Russian News and Information Agency, that, while not specifying a date for an attack, seems to bear out the Uglanov/Tarpley story. What’s eerie is this line: “He said the Pentagon is looking for a way to deliver a strike against Iran ‘that would enable the Americans to bring the country to its knees at minimal cost.’”

Gee, when did we hear that before? Oh, yeah. 2003.

The one nuclear power plant not slated to be hit by this hypothetical air strike in which 20 targets are specified, is the ironically-named Bushehr plant, which is supposed to get a free pass on account of the Russian engineers who work there. That would be the Russian engineers who were rumored a week ago to have left Bushehr over billing discrepancies (The Russians poo-poohed the exodus exposé while the Iranians claimed to have paid the Russian firm in full for the NPP fuel and construction costs).

Now, we all know that Bush considers criticism and advice from his detractors as "noise". If he wants to have his little Gibson-esque Apocalypto against them damned heathen Persians, then well, what Junior wants, Junior gets and time's a'runnin' out.

If this is all true then I agree 100% with, of all people, Pat Buchanan when he said on the 20th that if we ever launch an attack or, God help us, start a full-blown war with Iran, Nancy Pelosi’s going to have to eat it. It was Pelosi, don’t forget, who took a big blue eraser to the military spending bill that essentially gave Bush the power to attack Iran without Congressional approval because poor defenseless little Israel is afraid of big, bad Iran. No doubt news of Pelosi’s complicity produced many wet crotches at the last AIPAC conference.

And, as usual, when I said last year that Pelosi’s elevation to House Speaker would be an unmitigated catastrophe, I was ignored. When I told people that we were invading Iran I was ignored and derided.

Well, we’ll find out in just over a week and a half who was right and who was wrong and God help us all if I was right.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The Fifth Amendment

Exclusive Property of the Bush Administration?

Nothing brings the Bush administration's naked partisanship and arrogant contempt for the law into focus so much as do two of today's top news items. Both have strong connections to the fifth amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America. The first, the case of Monica Goodling, pictured to the right.
Goodling, 33, is a 1995 graduate Messiah College in Grantham, Pa., an institution that describes itself as "committed to embracing an evangelical spirit."

She received her law degree at Regent University in Virginia Beach, Va. Regent, founded by Christian broadcaster Pat Robertson, says its mission is "to produce Christian leaders who will make a difference, who will change the world."

E-mails show that Goodling was involved in planning the dismissals and in later efforts to limit the negative reaction. As the Justice Department's liaison to the White House, she could shed light on the extent of White House involvement in the dismissals.

Goodling took a leading role in making sure that Tim Griffin, a protege of presidential adviser Karl Rove, replaced H.E. "Bud" Cummins as the U.S. attorney in Arkansas. Documents released to Congress include communications between Goodling and Scott Jennings, Rove's deputy.
Ms. Goodling would be a key witness in the Congressional investigation into the dismissal of federal prosectutors if not for her invocation of her fifth amendment rights not to incriminate herself. This has already made a difference, and changed the world in a number of ways. First, it has pundits on the right actually defending the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, something they haven't been doing much since their beloved Führer President Bush infamously referred to the Constitution as 'that Goddamn piece of paper.' Second, it sends a clear signal to Congress that at least in Ms. Goodling's opinion laws were indeed broken in this case. Did I mention she has a law degree?

One other way she has changed the world is that now Monica Lewinski can breathe more easily - Monica Goodling seems well on her way to replacing Lewinski as the Monica whose name is most firmly associated with White House scandal in future history books.

Let us now shift our focus to the second case, that of Australian David Hicks (pictured to the left.) Hicks just plead guilty to terrorism charges after over 5 years detention at the infamous Guantanamo Bay - part of America's own Gulag Archipelago. Some great links courtesy of help one appreciate just what 'enemy combatants' have to endure. actually built a replica of his cell in Australia that people could visit, and took it on tour. The fact that it could be transported on the back of a truck should tell you something. Peter Murphy created a virtual reality model of the cell for those unable to make it to any of the Australian locations. Amnesty International has also taken up his case, and the World Socialist Web Site has details of his brutal treatment.
He explained that he was “beaten before, after, and during interrogations... [and] threatened, directly and indirectly, with firearms and other weapons before and during interrogations” during his three-year detention.

He also heard the bashing of other detainees during interrogations and saw their injuries. He states that he has been hit in the face, head, feet, and torso with hands, fists and other objects, including rifle butts.

“At one point, a group of detainees, including myself, was subjected to being randomly hit over a eight-hour session while handcuffed and blindfolded,” he said. His head was rammed into the ground several times.

Other elements of prisoner abuse exposed show that Gitmo was a testing ground for the regime of physical and psychological abuses that later would be associated with Abu Ghraib - sleep deprivation, threats with attack dogs, forced injections with unknown drugs, humiliation and intimidation of naked prisoners, and more.

Why was David Hicks treated this way?
“I was told there was an ‘easy way’ and a ‘hard way’ to respond to interrogation,” he said. ... “Cooperation with interrogators,” Hicks stated, “offered the only means of relief from the miserable treatment and abuse the detainees suffered. Those who failed to comply suffered abuse until they gave in.”
David Hicks has plead guilty to aiding the cause of terrorism, under a system of military tribunals that didn't even exist when he was incarcerated. He was previously charged with attempted murder, which charge has since evaporated. I think it would be perfectly reasonable to conclude that Hicks' plea came about because, “Cooperation with interrogators offered the only means of relief from the miserable treatment and abuse the detainees suffered." Prior to today Hicks' lawyers have consistently stated that he did not expect a fair trial. Let me make that point a little clearer.

- From
Marine Lt.-Col. Colby Vokey, [Canadian Gitmo detainee Omar] Khadr’s lead defence attorney, said he believes Hicks pleaded guilty simply to "escape the hell" of Guantanamo, because a deal with the Australian government will allow him to return home to serve his sentence... The guilty plea gives a boost to President George W. Bush, who was forced last year to abandon an earlier system of military tribunals after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled they violated international law... Hicks’ guilty plea sets a dangerous precedent because it came after a stormy, one-day tribunal hearing in which a U.S. military judge dismissed two of the Australian’s defence lawyers.
- From ABC News online (Australia), Aug., '05:
Two emails, which have been obtained by the ABC, were sent to supervisors in the Office of Military Commissions in March of last year - three months before Australian detainee David Hicks was charged and five months before his trial began.

The first email is from prosecutor Major Robert Preston to his supervisor.

Maj Preston writes that the process is perpetrating a fraud on the American people, and that the cases being pursued are marginal.

"I consider the insistence on pressing ahead with cases that would be marginal even if properly prepared to be a severe threat to the reputation of the military justice system and even a fraud on the American people," Maj Preston wrote.

"Surely they don't expect that this fairly half-arsed effort is all that we have been able to put together after all this time."

Maj Preston says he cannot continue to work on a process he considers morally, ethically and professionally intolerable.
The second email is written by another prosecutor, Captain John Carr, who also ended up leaving the department.

Capt Carr says the commissions appear to be rigged.

"When I volunteered to assist with this process and was assigned to this office, I expected there would at least be a minimal effort to establish a fair process and diligently prepare cases against significant accused," he wrote.

"Instead, I find a half-hearted and disorganised effort by a skeleton group of relatively inexperienced attorneys to prosecute fairly low-level accused in a process that appears to be rigged."

Capt Carr says that the prosecutors have been told by the chief prosecutor that the panel sitting in judgment on the cases would be handpicked to ensure convictions.

"You have repeatedly said to the office that the military panel will be handpicked and will not acquit these detainees and that we only needed to worry about building a record for the review panel," he said.
- From Leftwrites, just a few weeks ago:
So the US military has charged David Hicks—but not with attempted murder. What a slap in the face for all those who loyally mouthed the American talking points on Hicks!

The evidence against Hicks was so strong, they assured us, and the things he’d done were so heinous, that the man deserved nothing less than Guantanamo Bay. Rumsfeld (remember him?) told us that Gitmo contained only the "most dangerous, best-trained, vicious killers on the face of the Earth," and all the right-wing ditto-heads nodded their slack-jawed assent. Yet now, with the US under pressure to provide some proof, the attempted murder charge miraculously evaporates.

That, boys and girls, is the reason we have a legal process, since (gasp!) not everything that the authorities say turns out to be true.

In any case, now that the Americans no longer claim that Hicks actually tried to kill anyone, it will be interesting to see the basis on which the Right tries to defend the continuing violation of the rules of law in his case.
- And again from ABC News online Feb. 3, '07:
The US military has revealed details of the drafted charges that include attempted murder and providing material support for terrorism... Mr Hicks's US military lawyer, Major Michael Mori, has questioned the charge of attempted murder, pointing out that the US military prosecutor has acknowledged that Mr Hicks never fired a shot in anger.
To sum up, the so-called 'due process' of this case is a sham, fitting well with my earlier description of the Bush 'Potemkin Village' of justice. But to get back to my original point - let's act like good high school students, and compare and contrast the functional impact of the fifth amendment in the case of Monica Goodling compared to the case of David Hicks.

I believe it will eventually be revealed that Monica Goodling's hiding behind the fifth amendment is frivolous. If she did so to hide someone else's wrongdoing rather than her own, say Alberto Gonzales, Karl Rove, or someone even higher in the White House food chain, that would not be her right, that would be obstruction of justice. As a lawyer she should know that. But her frivolous and obstructionist misuse of the Bill of Rights is OK, because she is connected to this administration. And this administration is acting like the Constitution is their property.

There could be no more egregious breach of the principal that one cannot be made to bear witness against oneself than a coerced guilty plea, as that of Hicks appears to be. But he isn't in the White House 'in crowd', so he doesn't get to make use of 'their' Bill of Rights.

And sadly, neither do you or I.

UPDATE: If this article doesn't already have you seething at the inequity and iniquity of Bu$hCo™ justice, read this HuffPo piece.
U.S. District Judge Thomas F. Hogan threw out a lawsuit brought on behalf of nine former prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan. He said Rumsfeld cannot be held personally responsible for actions taken in connection with his government job... "This is a lamentable case," Hogan began his 58-page opinion Tuesday.

No matter how appealing it might seem to use the courts to correct allegations of severe abuses of power, Hogan wrote, government officials are immune from such lawsuits. Additionally, foreigners held overseas are not normally afforded U.S. constitutional rights.
Cross-posted at The Existentialist Corral

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Monday, March 26, 2007


(Custom-made pic courtesy of the always amazing Alicia.)

Right about now, George W. Bush probably fancies himself Leonidas, the leader of the vastly outnumbered Spartan army, defiantly bucking the odds as those sturdy old Persian warlords Leahy and Conyers bellow, “Our subpoenas will blot out the sun!” Because this generation’s mentally- and morally-crippled answer to Leonidas petulantly responds with, “Then we’ll do our finaglin’ in the shade… like we always do.” However, Bush is no King Leonidas, the tax-hating man credited with winning the Persian War. He’s more like that wily and treacherous con man Themistocles.

At the risk of losing whatever minuscule credibility that I've ever accreted, I give you as my authority the NY Times’ historian emeritus, Bobo Brooks:
But it’s worth pointing out that Leonidas didn’t win the Persian Wars. Themistocles did, and Themistocles had an altogether different set of qualities. He was not straightforward; in fact, he could be deceptive and manipulative. He was not self-sacrificing; there was an air of corruption and fierce ambition about him. He was not charming or cultured; historians from Herodotus on down have had trouble warming to him.

A bit later on, Brooks reminds us, “(Themistocles) apparently lied to the Persian king, Xerxes, by promising to commit treason, and so tricked the Persians into a hasty attack.”

As far as we can verify what happened in the Greco-Persian Wars nearly 2500 years ago, Bobo, despite his catastrophic failures as a writer and wouldbe neocon, seems to have a firm grasp of history.

Which is more than you can say for the administration. Because, true to Republican form, when caught in a scandal, the current administration points backward to the last administration as if American history begins with Bill Clinton. When will Slick Willie stop being the sacrificial goat tethered to the iron stake of talking points and offered up by Bush and his acolytes to appease the often-derided gods of public opinion?

The new talking point, reminiscent of the NSA wiretapping program that sidestepped the FISA courts, is, “But… but… Bubba fired all 93 prosecutors 14 years ago! He’s the one you want, he’s the one who gave us permission to fire those eight prosecutors! It’s all his fault! Boo hoo!”

And, as usual, their angry backward glances betray a flawed and selective view of history: The mass purging of US attorneys actually begins with Ronald Reagan.

The problem with using Bill Clinton as the scapegoat for this trend begins with the timing. President Clinton began replacing US attorneys in early 1993, at the very beginning of his administration. There was no sense of urgency to remove certain prosecutors who were useless for partisan political purposes. The midterm elections that saw the rise of the Republican revolution that would overtake the House was still almost two years off.

Bush’s own timing couldn’t have been worse. He waited until he was six years in before targeting certain attorneys who also refused to double as Republican operatives. The arm-twisting began before the midterm elections that Rove, Cheney and Bush surely knew was at least up in the air (otherwise, why the strongarm mob tactics if they thought the GOP could retain their majority in Congress on its own merits?).

Days after the election, Rove, Gonzo & Co. spitefully began fitting attorneys with cement overshoes, mailing their widows fish.

So, what are we to glean from all this?

That the Gang That Can’t Think Straight suffers from memory lesions when it comes to who attended what meeting, when, what was discussed and who pushed the button to out this agent or fire that attorney.

But the same gang remembers (and never in the proper context) which attorneys Clinton fired, when and what brand of panties Monica was wearing the night of the Cumshot Heard ‘Round the World.

Iran-Contra? Isn’t that some new hippity hop group? Help me out here, Mommy.

The major difference between the actual Themistocles and his latter day counterpart is that the real thing only pretended to commit treason.

Potemkin Village of Justice.

Perhaps you've heard of the architectural concept of the false front, where a humble building has a phony second floor added on to it to make it appear more substantial than it is. They were especially popular in the one horse towns of the old west, but thus far the pinnacle of achievement in deceptive architecture goes to the Potemkin village.
"Potemkin villages were, purportedly, fake settlements erected at the direction of Russian minister Grigori Aleksandrovich Potemkin to fool Empress Catherine II during her visit to Crimea in 1787. Conventional wisdom has it that Potemkin, who led the Crimean military campaign, had hollow facades of villages constructed along the desolate banks of the Dnieper River in order to impress the monarch and her travel party with the value of her new conquests, thus enhancing his standing in the empress's eyes."
America became, in effect, a Potemkin Village of Democracy in January, 2001 when George W. Bush, who had lost the federal Presidential election, was nonetheless appointed to his first term in the White House by five Republican-appointed Supreme Court Justices. The scaffolding was up to erect a higher, sturdier facade when Bush was 're-elected' by the 'democratic' process of Diebold voting. This process would more accurately be called demockracy, and should have been called out by the mainstream media - but they were too busy maintaining their own Potemkin Village of Journalism.

Efforts by the administration to create a 'permanent Republican majority' (without regard to the will of the electorate) could just as well be described as a campaign to suspend democracy permanently. Nothing so despicably serves that end as the subversion of the Department of Justice to the aims of the Republican party, even when those aims are in direct conflict with the people of the United States of America. This is not just corruption, but wholesale corruption of the system in order to enable ordinary corruption. Corruption squared, if you will - or perhaps metacorruption.

No-one personifies this process so much as Attorney General Alberto 'Abu' Gonzales.
- Firing Carol Lam in the middle of an investigation into who else was involved with GOP congressman Randy 'Duke' Cunningham in influence peddling. Lam had just "notified the Justice Department that she intended to execute search warrants on a high-ranking CIA official as part of a corruption probe." Carol Lam herself has been pretty taciturn on the circumstances of her dismissal - not so Josh Marshall, with this excellent post.
- Firing David Iglesias for NOT harassing Democratic candidates before the November elections.
- Firing H. E. Cummings in order to replace him with Karl Rove aide and designated GOP hitman J. Timothy Griffin.
- And why was John McKay fired, again? "A Democratic candidate won Washington state's 2004 gubernatorial race by just a couple of hundred votes. McKay didn't call a grand jury to investigate questions of voter fraud, and he heard about it when he sought a promotion."
Gonzales lied to congress repeatedly about the reasoning and process behind these dismissals, lies that were immediately and irrefutably exposed. In fact he has been a baldfaced liar from his confirmation on, and was called on it by Russ Feingold over a year ago. This is the guy appointed to uphold the sanctity of the law? WTF!?! Impeaching and convicting him for serial perjury would be a slam dunk except for the unmitigated partisanship of GOP senators and congresscritters. In fact, Stephen Crockett of Consortium News just espoused a theme I have advanced a number of times in past comments - that the entire Republican party is a criminal conspiracy as defined by the RICO statutes. Don't get me started on the likes of Arlen Specter or the execrable Orrin Hatch.

While Gonzales is certainly the point man in this perversion of the justice system he is not the main actor. As in the Libby case, all the documents point to the Cheney-Rove connection being the key. And like Libby, Gonzo runs the ever-increasing risk of being thrown to the wolves as a sacrifice if either of these principal players is threatened. Once again Josh Marshall comes through with the key statement,
"This isn't a case where Alberto Gonzales has fallen short of the president's standards or bungled some process. This is the standard. The Attorney General has done and is doing precisely what is expected of him... the president is fine with all of this. Fine with the fact that the Attorney General has not only repeatedly lied to the public but has also been exposed as repeatedly lying to the public. He's fine with at least two US Attorneys being fired for not giving in to pressure to file bogus charges to help Republican candidates.

Of course he's fine with it. Because it comes from him. None of this is about Alberto Gonzales. This is about the president and the White House, which is where this entire plan was hatched. Gonzales was just following orders, executing the president's plans. This is about this president and this White House, which ... let's be honest, everyone on both sides of the aisle already knows."
Gonzo took this job with the expectation he would emerge as the Mayor of Bush's Potemkin village of shame. More and more he is looking like just another village idiot.
One last thing, on the subject of the White House's declaration that they will 'stonewall' the Congressional subpoenas directed at insiders like KKKarl Rove and Harriet Miers. Pundits in the MSM will hammer on this as a 'constitutional crisis.' I don't buy that for an instant. A constitutional crisis would exist if Congress didn't confront the White House. Congressional oversight, examination of the administration's actions, and legal repercussions are what the Constitution expects and demands in these circumstances.

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Saturday, March 24, 2007

We’re on the Road to Nowhere

It was a common joke during the Kennedy administration (at least to the extent that Republicans can joke without resorting to death threats) that Kennedy’s rocking chair was the perfect symbol for his presidency: It offered the illusion of movement without ever actually going anywhere.

Har dee fucking har har. Now…

I give you pResident George W. Bush in his assembly line-driven car with an empty gas tank. That picture is emblematic of an administration led by a dry-drunk rube who’s still tickled pink that he’s the preznit, a preznit who has about as much sophistication, panache and dignity as a billionaire birthday boy, which, come to think of it, isn’t an analogy at all as much as it’s the God’s unflyblown truth since every fucking day at the White House is July 6th and Democrats, liberals and gays are the birthday boy's daily piñatas, an administration that’s mired in the petrified amber of its ossified way of thinking, the lies that have bejeweled this administration over and over like some terrible tiara. An administration on the road to nowhere unless you want to consider open space past the edge of a cliff a legitimate extension of the highway.

Look at that picture of Bush and Ford employee Barbara Neal. It looks like Ellen Degeneres on the worst date in the history of all Womanhood. The strained grin makes her look like a woman who’d rather be putting her eyes out with red-hot coat hangers and then rinsing them out with ammonia but for unexplained and unknowable reasons has been strongarmed into a date with a scion of a rich and powerful friend of the family, the idiot son who’s decided that he wants to settle down with the right woman provided she’s got wide hips suitable for child-bearin’ and a large fishing boat (send picture of boat, heh heh). A man in a technical sense only who likes to think that he’s putting himself in touch with the proletariat by visiting an actual place where actual work is being done (for now, at least) and wears shiny goggles and uses a spaz-out move that was patented by Ray fucking Charles a half a century ago.

The Rude Pundit’s already weighed in with this and I don’t pretend to bring anything more to the table that the Rude One has already but since when did that ever stop your prehistoric porcine?

You longtime bloggers, the ones that have been around even longer than me, remember when Bush was about to invade Iraq and the wingnuts claimed that we were unpatriotic and crazy? Remember when Bush got that great idea called the USA PATRIOT Act and when we pushed against it and the wingnuts screamed that we were unpatriotic? Remember all the times when we were right and they were wrong, wrong, wrong?

I give you the War in Iraq, which, if God is merciful and allows the histories to be written by liberals and the level-headed, will one day be referred to as The Moaning, Squirting, Glistening Clusterfuck to End All Clusterfucks.

I give you Abu Gonzo, whom we said over two years ago would be the worst fucking Attorney General in history, a guy who would actually wind up making John "I Got Beat by a Dead Guy" Ashcroft look like Bobby fucking Kennedy by conspicuous relief, a guy who wrote torture memos for his casually sadistic boob of a boss to sign off on, a partisan clown whom we told you would continue undermining the Constitution like a Mexican mole even more than he already had. To you Senators who voted for him those long two years ago and who are being lied to by him, save your buyer's remorse. The complaint window's closed.

I give you the USA PATRIOT Act, which, in a typically Republican development, was used as a tool to allow Bush to appoint “interim” US attorneys without Congressional approval, because Arlen “Magic Bullet” Specter muttered, in the waning moments of his chairmanship of the Senate Judiciary Committee, “The preznit must bypass us and make us redundant because, well, US attorneys and shitcanning them has everything to do with fighting terror and, oh shit, where’s the Motrin, I think my cancer‘s coming back?”

I give you No Child Left Behind, which was almost immediately defunded since it was never intended to be anything more than a recruiting tool to send to Iraq innocent kids like LaVena Johnson without providing any real apparatus to apprise parents that they could opt out and not allow their personal information to be sent to recruiters.

Now, you’d think that we’d’ve converted more wingnuts than Andrew fucking Sullivan since the Glorious Invasion of 2003 but no. Instead, we’re hearing the same shit we’ve been hearing since 2002, haven’t we? The only difference is they’ve somehow found a spot on the dial that’s actually louder than “10” and we’re hearing at “11”, “You hate the troops, you hate America, you have Bush derangement syndrome, you have, oh shit, where’s the fucking Valium?”

So you know something, you stupid fucks? I’m getting awfully sick and friggin’ tired of hearing about how wrong we were and still are when we were dead right all along, when we said that Iraq would only get good people on both sides unnecessarily killed, that tax cuts for the bloated fucks that Bushie calls his base was a bad fucking idea even before he started a war against an easily defeated nation that now has cost us half a trillion dollars and even the scaled-down Afghanistan mission is costing us $370,000,000 a week.

And, contrary to public pronouncements by our honorable Attorney General himself, emails prove that Gonzo was present at the hour-long 11/27/06 meeting that detailed out the “roll out plan” to the home state senators whose US attorneys would get the axe, while Tony Snow goes on TV and tells CBS’s Harry Smith that Congress has no oversight over what the White House does (“Checks and balances are solely banking terms, you stupid peasants.”) and this less than a month after Condi Rice told us that Congress ought to stop “micromanaging” the war.

And, I reiterate, Arlen Specter kindly wanted to lighten the workload on the incoming Democrat majority by making Congress a little more redundant by not having to worry about confirming US attorney appointments.

If the administration told us water was wet I’d stick my hand under the faucet. If they told us that day was light and night was dark, I’d assume for the moment that I lived in Alaska instead of Massachusetts because you cannot afford to believe anything that this Crooked Man Who Walked a Crooked Mile administration tells you at face value.

And there’s something disheartening, something sickening, something despicable about a man who brags about wanting to be surrounded by people who give him “candid advice” after defending firing US attorneys for partisan gain when he reacts like this when someone grows a set long enough to challenge him on his lies and says they want to get off this road to nowhere.


To die unsung would really bring you down
Although wet eyes would never suit you
Walk through no archetypal suicide
Die young is far too boring these days
- “Unsung“, Helmet

With the exception of several administration officials both past and present and every other rabid warhawk in PNAC and the American Enterprise and Cato Institutes, I can’t think of a single American who belongs in Iraq.

And 19 year-old LaVena L. Johnson certainly had no business being there.

If you do even advanced Google and Yahoo searches for LaVena Johnson, who was murdered in Balad, Iraq, a place not notable for either terrorist or insurgent activity, on July 19th, 2005, about half the hits you’ll get were written by fellow Missouri native Philip Barron, aka Shakespeare’s Sister’s Waveflux. I’m getting pissed off more and more seeing Barron going at this virtually alone in asking for real answers that explain this beautiful, intelligent, outgoing and accomplished young lady’s death.

Is it because she wasn’t a safety for the Arizona Cardinals? Was it because she wasn’t male? Or is it because she was black? Yet, these inevitable questions have, of course, already been asked. So let’s ask the questions that the United States Army, who wants to be all it can be except honest and forthcoming, has neither the balls to ask themselves nor answer for her family and the record. And before we can ask these questions, I first have to ensure that my readership knows the basic facts if they don’t already.

On July 19th, 2005, Pfc. LaVena Johnson was found dead in her tent, a single bullet wound to her left temple (she was right-handed). Her nose was broken. One of her lips was battered so badly that a mortician had to reconstruct it. Two of her front teeth were knocked loose. Her shoulder or elbow was dislocated. A trail of blood led from her tent to outside.

A slam dunk, right? You’d think even an Army sawbones half a step ahead of a civilian malpractice suit and the laziest, most jaded and indifferent Army CID officer would rule this a murder, right?

Instead, the Army initially ruled her death a “non combat-related” one as a result of a self-inflicted wound. Not officially a suicide, but a death due to an SIW. When pressed to reopen the case by a St. Louis television news station and Johnson’s parents, the Army then planted its second boot squarely and firmly in Bizarro World and ruled LaVena Johnson’s death a suicide.

And in the act of doing so, they practically begged the Johnson family to hire attorneys to force the Army to reopen the case that they’re now refusing to reopen. Basically, they’re saying, “That’s our ridiculous story and we’re sticking to it.” This, despite the fact that her CO went on record as saying that she was happy, a fact corroborated by her mother who spoke with her on the phone for an hour the day before her death.

The question that’s uppermost in my mind is, did the 5’ 1” LaVena Johnson allegedly shoot herself in the head with an M-16 before or after trying to set her own body on fire, loosening two of her front teeth by mutilating her lip, breaking her nose, dislocating her shoulder and/or elbow, losing the debit card that she’d used just two hours earlier to buy candy, wash her hands of the cordite and leaving a trail of blood before buttonholing back to her tent where she’d finally expired?

Another question I’d like to ask the hack who did the autopsy is who is the Army protecting? To be able to derail an autopsy report on a death surrounded by so many suspicious circumstances just about proves interference at the base command level or even higher. The interference was so successful, in fact, that the physical trauma to her body save for the bullet wound were never even mentioned in the autopsy report.

Dr. John Johnson, LaVena’s father, was in the Army for three years and worked for the government for 28. You’d think they’d give him the truth even if only out of common fucking courtesy to one of their own.

This story by Helen Benedict in Salon ought to be required reading for any girl or any parent about to send off a girl to Iraq, Afghanistan or any place abroad. If you want a possible scenario that may help explain the Army’s stonewalling of the Johnson case, read this paragraph by Benedict:
While commanders of some units are apparently less vigilant about policing rape, others engage in it themselves, a phenomenon known in the military as "command rape." Because the military is hierarchical, and because soldiers are trained to obey and never question their superiors, men of rank can assault their juniors with impunity. In most cases, women soldiers are the juniors, 18 to 20 years old, and are new to the military and war, thus vulnerable to bullying and exploitation.

That’s one possible explanation as to why the Army is trying so hard to keep this under wraps.

You also have to wonder if Johnson’s support unit had in it, however briefly and for whatever reason, independent contractors such as USIG and Blackwater. With tens of millions of dollars in private security contracts at stake, it would also throw up a plausible scenario as to why Johnson’s rape, beating and death are being so militantly covered up.

It could also be that the Army is afraid that, if they admit her death was due to foul play, they’d also have to admit that she was either the victim of a rape or an attempted rape, which may in turn result in a floodgate of investigations that shows how inept the Department of Defense has been at preventing rape and protecting whistleblowers from reprisal.

If you watch the KMOV news segment, her father believes it was to cover up a sexual assault. He knows his daughter had a physical exam to be checked for an STD and that she may’ve named someone, someone with a lot of protect.

Covering up the cause of female soldiers’ deaths in Iraq is, unfortunately, the order of the day. The rapes are so common in Iraq, for instance, that female soldiers refuse liquids at night so they don’t have to walk across the base to the nearest latrine where potential rapists await. As a result, several have died of dehydration. And even before LaVena was violated and murdered, rape in Iraq was already an all too common problem that, for some reason, had to be covered in a local and not a national paper.

LaVena’s death just eight days shy of her 20th birthday would be an excellent counter recruiting commercial as to why you should do everything in your power to keep your daughter from enlisting. The straight A student, who wasn’t ready for college right out of high school, wanted to travel, earn money for college for later. She was seduced by the siren call of a recruiter at Hazelwood High School who told her only what he wanted her to hear, what she wanted to hear. After her funeral, her father went through her drawer and found a recruiting brochure that said, “Earn $25,000 toward college.”

And, as sirens will do, she was doomed even though she was told that it was highly unlikely that she’d get sent to Iraq. In fact, she was sent right out of basic despite having failed her wet fire test in basic.

That’s right. LeVena couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn with a bazooka at point blank range yet was sent into what’s arguably the most dangerous nation on the face of the earth to support what’s arguably the most dangerous army on the face of the earth… to women. Just so some recruiter could inch his way closer to making quota.

Gone now are the pie in the sky promises of college and $25,000 for it. Now, her usefulness at an end, the Army cannot and will not even tell her family the truth about her death. Here’s what they will talk about: When LeKesha Johnson, the youngest of the five Johnson kids and the sole surviving daughter, became a senior, the Army began calling the family. When the Johnsons finally told them that they’d already lost a daughter in Iraq and that no one else would be enlisting, the calls kept coming, anyway. Back then, the Johnsons didn’t know they could opt out and prevent the DoD from using No Child Left Behind to get their contact information. Now they know but only too late.

And if LaKesha Johnson was dumb enough to walk into a Florissant recruiting station, they’d tell her the same fucking lies they told her sister. “Earn $25,000 for college, but first we may need you to run a little errand for us in Iraq. But since you’re female, the odds of you going there are slim (In point of fact, we’ve sent an average of just over 40,000 females a year to the Middle East since 2003, or 160,500, according to Benedict).”

Give us more and more of your dearest flesh. We need warm bodies for the Glorious Surge. And recruiters wonder in their reptilian, olive drab minds why parents and students set up counter recruiting stations.

Waveflux’s LaVena Johnson petition that implores the House and Senate Armed Services Committees to reopen her case isn’t getting enough traction, people. At last count, it’s gotten 1402 signatures and two of them are mine. The military only wants to talk to you and yours when they need IED fodder. Once they’re dead, they’ll lie to you to protect corporate and political interests. Pat Tillman and LaVena Johnson and so many others who’ve died mysteriously have proved that. But they may listen to Congress if enough pressure is put to bear by the Senate and House Armed Services Committees.

Freshman senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri may be new but new legislators tend to be pretty ingratiating. If you’re from Missouri and reading this, here’s some contact information that you can use to apprise Senator McCaskill of the stonewalling of the LeVena Johnson investigation:

PO Box 300077
St. Louis, Missouri 63130
(314) 918-VOTE (8683)
(314) 918-8696 -- Fax

She’d united with Senator Barack Obama to launch legislation aimed at improving conditions for outpatient soldiers at Walter Reed. My bet would be that she’s also amenable to twisting some arms to reopen this investigation so Dr. Johnson doesn’t have to have his daughter’s corpse exhumed. While you’re at it, send an email directly to Claire’s Senate office using this form.

Plus, Waveflux has some other suggestions as to what you can do. Perhaps part of the reason why LeVena’s death isn’t getting any traction is because people are treating it like a local story, that they cannot and should not get involved if they’re not from Missouri. Like Waveflux says, this is no more a local story than Iraq.

Those lovely, big brown eyes haunt me. Don’t they haunt you, as well? They seem to beg for answers, for justice. When I get too burnt out and depressed to write at times, it’s because of stories like this, stories like Gloria Davis, another African American female in the Army from Missouri shot and killed in Iraq under mysterious circumstances, stories like Jennifer Parcell and Holly McGeogh and so, so many others. They are always God-fearing, altruistic, patriotic, pretty. Exactly the kind of people we ought to be keeping alive and not wasting in Iraq. Exactly the kind of people more worthy of attention and admiration than the tabloid fixtures we see on TV and supermarket magazine racks.

Of course, LeVena Johnson’s not exactly what you’d call unsung. The problem is, all too many people are singing the wrong song.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Stonewall Jackass Rides Again

(Custom-made pic courtesy of the ever-incredible Alicia.)

To paraphrase John Lennon, Leahy is what gets in the way when you’re making other plans.

Try this on for size: George Bush threatening the Democrats if they insist on making Karl Rove, Harriet Miers and others testify before Congress under oath. Bush called it “a partisan fishing expedition.”

Now, that one statement alone has more ironies sticking out of it than a $50 Swiss Army knife has gadgets.

Let’s just ignore for the time being all the unflattering connotations associated with Bush and angling so I can address the more serious partisan angling and backlashing that started Gonzogate to begin with:

At the start of Bush’s second term, with the midterm elections less than two years away and getting dimmer by the second, the story goes that then WH counsel Harriet Miers wanted to fire all 93 US attorneys but the DOJ resisted. Finally, the WH, largely through Rove, decided to shitcan eight attorneys who either prosecuted Republicans (Carol Lam, whose job was largely done for her when Duke Cunningham pled guilty to bribery charges) or weren’t putting Democrats behind bars fast enough (or, say, just to pull a date out of a hat, by November 7, 2006).

Now General Stonewall Jackass is telling both Judiciary committees that they must agree to subvert the rules of their committees by not making Rove and Co. testify under oath or conduct the hearings openly and for their coffee klatch to not be recorded for posterity. Oh, and be grateful we’re giving you 100 pages of redacted documents. Take it or leave it and lick me, peasants.

Justifiably, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy is giving the White House back the “Fuck you” he got from Dick Halliburton almost three years ago, even though John Conyers, his counterpart in the lower chamber, is still struggling to get out from under Nancy Pelosi’s ass. The lower chamber’s already voted to allow the subpoenas and the Senate is sure to follow.

Yet, as the nervous wingnuts on the seedy side of the tracks keep screaming at us, US attorneys serve at the pleasure of the President, four year terms are common and the President can fire them at will whenever he wants (all of which, of course, is absolutely true.). Nothing illegal was done.

Right. Go on home, nothing to see here, folks.

So why the insistence on giving Rove, Miers, et al what amounts to pre-emptive immunity from perjury charges, forcing Chairmen Conyers and Leahy to subpoena them? What does Bush think the Judiciary Committees are, the 9/11 Commission?

And where was this fetish for secrecy and protecting federal employees when his own inner circle was busy scuttling around outing Valerie Plame to Bob Novak?

And if there was no partisan fishing expedition going on while they were whittling the shit list down from 93 to 8, how come one of the vacated positions went to a former aide to Karl Rove, whom we know orchestrated this purge from the shadows of the west wing (see Oath, Don’t You Dare Put Him Under)?

And since the GOP-led Senate late last year snuck in language allowing Bush to bypass Senate approval in making these “interim” appointments, how many Republicans saw this night of long knives coming? What did Arlen Specter and his henchmen know and how long ago did they know it?

And speaking of Specter and his wall of noise, I trust that none of my readers are fooled by his posturing as the Great Mediator by advancing a compromise in which WH aides still wouldn’t have to be placed under oath. This is an instance in which compromise is not an option because any conciliation would be a subversion of parliamentary procedure.

Even after all the evils perpetuated on this country by Nixon and Reagan, even they waived executive privilege. Bush clearly has no intention of doing any such thing. He’s archly and defiantly standing with swords crossed in front of his chest, guarding that closet door that surely contains more skeletons than Arlington National Cemetery.

It boggles the mind what he’s hiding, at what was redacted from those hundred pages of documents. And the longer Bush stands in front of that door, the livelier will get Congressional and public interest.

And as much as I’m gratified by it, I’m still at a loss to explain why the MSM chose to give this story legs (US attorneys getting fired for purposes of political partisanship and who’d ever guess the 100% Republican executive branch would ever be guilty of that?) while shrugging its shoulders at other stories and scandals. Stories such as Bush funding Sunni insurgent groups to the detriment of our Shi’ite allies in Iraq, money that could’ve possibly been stolen and illegally diverted from Iraq’s reconstruction funds, funds that came from their oil revenue.

And even as far as the press has taken this, it still irks me that they’re treating Bush’s position as if it’s a bland “constitutional challenge”, as if his stubborn refusal to come clean with the facts is on an equally high moral ground as Congress’s stance.

The US attorney scandal is serious and ought to be investigated, sure. But the MSM and Congress needs to make as much noise and expend as much energies getting to the bottom of why and how we’re subverting an already illegitimate mission in Iraq, at how the administration is laying the foundation of an equally illegitimate one in Iran and the severe abuses of our Constitution and our civil liberties.

Practical Applications of Purge Paranoia

The U.S. Attorney Purge grows more mythic by the day. The ramifications of these indefensible misdeed are myriad and of epic proportions. Similarities between The Purge and Watergate are obvious. By comparison, Watergate pales into insignificance. Whitewater looks like a speck of sand on the beach next to the leviathan that is this scandal. Bush, Rove, Cheney, Gonzalez and many others at the next highest level of government could (should) go down because of this.

So large is this turn of events that it almost defies narration. What we know now can't be squeezed into a blogpost. Even round-ups, a form I am quite fond of, fail to contain the scope of this baby.

I will narrow my focus here to one story. This one has not widely been covered in this wicked shitstorm of information, but it seems to characterize the taint placed on our entire government by this case.

From The Miami Herald:

Former Republican super-lobbyist Jack Abramoff, sentenced to almost six years in prison for his fraudulent purchase of a South Florida gambling fleet, can receive a reduced sentence if he continues to assist prosecutors in a far-reaching Washington public corruption probe, federal officials said Wednesday.

The U.S. attorney's office in Miami filed the paperwork seeking to reduce Abramoff's 70-month prison term stemming from the SunCruz Casinos case, but did not specify any time off his sentence.

Instead, prosecutors asked U.S. District Judge Paul Huck to delay that decision until a hearing is held to weigh Abramoff's value as a witness in the Washington influence-peddling investigation.

I placed the words "The U.S. attorney's office in Miami" in bold, italics and a larger than usual font because those are the key words here. This deal is being negotiated by THE U.S. ATTORNEY'S OFFICE IN MIAMI and JACK ABRAMOFF'S ATTORNEYS. The result of these negotiations is that Abramoff's jail time is going to be reduced. Do I have to spell this out? Every U.S. Attorney retained in this scam Karl Rove cooked up is tainted, because if they weren't tainted, they would have been fired.

Is there any doubt that Abramoff's sentence will be reduced and at the end of the day, all his alleged co-operation will amount to nothing at all? "That's justice for ya," is what they'll tell us. "We didn't have a case."

Maybe the conclusion I have jumped to is wrong. Doesn't matter. It's clear that the obvious politicizing of the Justice Department by the Bush Administration has only increased the density of the Orwellian clouds hanging over Bush's America. If you ever trusted them before, how can you trust them now or ever again?

UPDATE: For a clear example of the same kind of conflicts of interests caused by politcial meddling in prosecutions and investigations, there's the government's case against the tobacco industry. Not surprising that this case comes up as an appendage to the current scandal because anytime the winner in a court case says "wait, let the loser pay me $10 billion instead of $130 billion." I know I go around asking for $120 billion less than I'm entitled to in all my court cases. Want my card? I'm a great lawyer, really.

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God's Gays

Rev. R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, God bless him, has really caused a stir ever since he conceded that homosexuality might have a biological basis. But not to worry, he's busy in his secret underground laboratory divining a holy hormone patch that will convert the wayward chromosomes.

Harold Meyerson at Wapo yesterday explores the moral dilemma Mohlerites now face:
how to reconcile a God who creates homosexuals with a God who condemns practicing homosexuals to hell?
Unfortunately Meyerson is right, the Mohlerites - and their numbers are legion - will hardly skip a beat with this new revelation. They will smugly repeat their mantra, "Love the sinner, hate the sin." Only now they can be more empathetic, being as we now know that God made you a sinner, God bless you. And look on the bright side, they do affirm that aborting chromosomes that fail to convert is still inappropriate.

Here's my rant on homosexual behavior in the Bible. Mohlerites would like you to believe that all homosexual behavior is the same and all is sinful. Homosexual behavior in scripture is not our contemporary understanding of a mutual, consensual, loving relationship. Most often it was an older man exercising coercive power over a young boy, who most likely had been sold into the situation or won in battle. We're talking rape here and no one today would condone such behavior, homo- or heterosexual. With the popularity of 300 in some circles, I would suggest checking out The Spartans at PBS to see the homosexual behavior of that society.

And here is Desmond Tutu's rant:
"To penalise someone because of their sexual orientation is like what used to happen to us; to be penalised for something which we could do nothing [about] -- our ethnicity, our race," said Tutu. "I would find it quite unacceptable to condemn, persecute a minority that has already been persecuted."
There are a few Christian Americans who believe that all are created in the image of God and that everything God creates is good...even very good. God bless the United Church of Christ who will let anybody join their churches. My prayers go out to the Episcopal church where differences over homosexuality threaten to split the church. My own denomination, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), has a "don't ask, don't tell" policy when it comes to ordination. And, frankly, I don't believe our small numbers could survive a split.

But I say homosexuality is not a moral issue. It shouldn't be an issue for Christians at all. But I have gained a greater empathy for the Mohlerites who worship a God who creates for the sheer pleasure of smacking it down, God bless them, because deep in their hearts they fear that their God also enjoys a good game of what goes around, comes around.

P.S. to Mr. Meyerson, if you really are a modern man who wants to expand the scope of the word "man," dropping the capitalized Him would be a good next step.


Wednesday, March 21, 2007

April is the Racist Month

Or Reason #165 As to Why the South Should’ve Won the Civil War:

We wouldn’t have to admit to other countries that Georgia’s part of the union.

Al Swearengen at Dead Issue informed us last Saturday that Georgia did something extraordinary. Not only did they refuse to pass a bill to apologize for their role in slavery as did Missouri and Virginia (and in the latter case the bill still had to be introduced by two African American legislators), the Georgia state legislature is about to pass a bill designating April Confederate History and Heritage Month.

Al was concerned that we’d think this was a parody out of the pages of The Onion, so she provided a link to the Chicago Sun-Times, an article that could’ve been more accurately entitled, “No, Ya’ll, Not Only Are We Not Apologizing For Slavery, But We Wish We Could Get Away With Passing a Bill Bringing it Back.”

For good reason, I’ve been getting on Georgia’s case lately, especially in Assclowns of the Week, because it seems lately the most shithouse rat-on-fire insane people in the country come from this fetid, half-assed apology for a state. Between Newt Gingrich, Phil Gingrey, Zell Miller, Ben Bridges and his viral, anti-semitic memo, and now these redneck bozos, it seems that Georgia is bidding fair to outdo states like Texas, Utah, Idaho, North and South Carolina and Kansas as the most assbackwards, anti-science, hateful and collectively brain-damaged state in the union.

And in rejecting a bill apologizing for slavery and responding with something like this, a bill with actual traction that proposes celebrating the confederacy, they’re more or less openly embracing a legacy that gave us Jim Crow laws, the KKK and lynching.

So before some of my southern readers start giving me Hell like they did last November when I did a two part series about the deep south and how its politicians cater to the racist, mouth-breathing, miscegenation-fearing proles that make up their constituency, think of this. Think of all the southern US senators that refused to sign on to Mary Landrieu’s bill apologizing to the relatives of lynching victims, think of George Allen’s infamous “macaca” statement, the "Call me, Harold" campaign ad that got Bob Corker elected to the Senate, at how they’ve never elected an African American senator since Reconstruction, Genarlow Wilson's ridiculous conviction for child molestation and countless other recent instances of southern, Republican racism and their audacity to claim that the Democratic party was responsible for all the racism of the 60’s.

Those of you who are navy blue Democrats in red states, either you can stop reading here and except yourselves from what I’m about to say. Then cut me some slack.

Now, I’ve been forced to live in these swamps of alleged humanity where the word “nigger” is still in open use (provided there are no people of color within earshot), states in which the Aryan Brotherhood and KKK local chapters parade around in their dirty laundry and openly flaunt their idiocy courtesy of the First Amendment and the ACLU.

These people still long for the anti-bellum era in which vaporish ladies sipped mint juleps on the patio while the niggers cut their fingers to pieces picking their cotton 16 hours a day under the baleful glare and bullwhip of an overseer. Or so they seem to remember. Of course, their memories of what the confederacy used to be prior to the Civil War would have to be atavistic because obviously nobody alive remembers those days. But what little they think they know can hardly be considered enviable even by south of the Mason-Dixon line standards.

It was a time of extreme hardship for most in that part of the country. Education was spotty at best, the economy rickety. It was a violent, hateful and murderous period in a part of the country in which violence, hatred and murder flourished in ignorance, hunger and stupidity.

Come to think of it, this seems to be exactly what southern Republicans want to bring back, to look at the legislation they pass and oppose.

I have two African American boys, although I'm white, and when each of them was born, I made a promise that I would do everything in my power to ensure that they wouldn't have to share a world inhabited by people like the racist knuckle draggers who make up the Republican GA state legislature, people who probably rooted for Edward Norton's character in American History X, people who would still bring popcorn, Pearl beer and fried chicken to a lynching, people who would gladly bring lynching back if they knew they wouldn't suffer political fallout.

What’s Your Definition of Insanity?

You want mine? To paraphrase Einstein, it’s telling the same discredited lies over and over and over again even after they’ve been smashed flatter than dogshit under a steamroller and expecting more people to believe them.

But don’t listen to me. Who am I? Just another man on the street. Let’s listen to Charles Krauthammer, instead, since he rides sidesaddle with the insane clown posse in Washington, DC.

I’m not going to pretend to know as about dementia or any other mental illness as Charles Krauthammer. Even I have to play it smart and realize when I’m outclassed and out-educated. Still, in defending Dick Cheney from New Republic’s Michelle Cottle in her article, “Heart of Darkness”, how can a good, self-respecting liberal like yours truly possibly not at least briefly weigh in when two conservative authors wage open war over whether or not the dependably sinister Dick Cheney’s sanity is called into question?

The point that eludes Krauthammer as adroitly as the fact that Iraq is circling the drain eludes Cheney, is that it’s a very bad sign when two conservative columnists, one of them writing for Marty Peretz’s newly-sold New Republic, have to argue about whether or not Dick Cheney’s heart condition contributes to his incipient madness, it’s not a good sign for America or the neoconservative movement.
"Shoot a man in the face and not bother to call your boss 'til the next day?" Another way of putting that is this: After a hunting accident, Cheney tried to get things in order before going public. Not the best decision, as I wrote at the time, but perfectly understandable. And if that is deranged, what do you say about a young Teddy Kennedy being far less forthcoming about something far more serious -- how he came to leave a dead woman at the bottom of a pond? I am passing no judgment. I am simply pointing out how surpassingly stupid it is to attribute such behavior to mental illness.

Of course, the other point that escapes Krauthammer is that Ted Kennedy leaving a girl at the bottom of a river almost 40 years ago is not only not germane to the discussion at hand but it can’t possibly be equated with Dick Cheney shooting an old man in the face with a shotgun then keeping it under wraps. Ted Kennedy was a stupid, coddled young man when Chappaquiddick happened in 1969. But then, as now, Kennedy didn’t have a heart condition that can be plausibly advanced as a theory for some of the most bizarre behavior ever seen in Washington, DC.

Krauthammer then continues by saying, “I, too, know Dick Cheney,” something that no self-respecting neocon would ever brag about in public these days. But actually knowing Dick Cheney and merely mutually recognizing each other are two entirely two different things. There’s the public Dick Cheney, subdued, barely affable and baring his teeth in a gruesome Dr. Sardonicus approximation of a smile. I’m sure that Charles Krauthammer wasn’t at Cheney's elbow when he'd taken the helm in the first hours after 9/11 and how he’d ordered the power turned back on the Gulf coast for the refineries when there were two hospitals that obviously needed it more. I’m sure that Krauthammer never spent a day in Cheney’s office while he was actually conducting his arachnid-like business.

And if an inability to meet the facts at least halfway if not accept the facts into your home constitutes dementia, then color one third of the nation insane because that’s about the percentage of dead-enders there are in this country who still think that Bush is doing a bang-up job in Iraq. Of course 10% of that 30% never got into a cold car in their lives and the other nine tenths of that 30% probably fill their Mercedes’ gas tanks.

If you want the definition of insane, read the last page of Sunday’s Meet the Press transcript. On MTP with Tim Russert was Tom DeLay, Richard Perle and Rep. Joe Sestak, among others. DeLay… OK, I’m stumped here as to why Tim Russert had even let this malignant little freak onto the sound stage, to begin with. Former Rep. Andrews, I could understand. But Tom DeLay, a guy who flew a Big Tobacco corporate jet to his own arraignment and spent every waking moment dedicated not to serving his country but to enriching himself and ensuring Republican, one party supremacy, is simply about as relevant as the lint in my navel.

This is a priceless lesson in patriotism from Tom DeLay:
Well, I--it, it is my opinion that when you go to war, we ought to all come together. You can debate going to war, that's a legitimate debate. But once you have our soldiers and our, our young people dying on the battlefield, we should come together, and we shouldn't have what we had yesterday on the Mall of, of, of--in Washington, D.C. When the--those are not, in my mind--my opinion, patriots that are talking about impeaching the commander in chief, that are--that are--work as, as Tom's group works....

Now, even if any one of those sentences could be interpreted as semi-coherent by the most doting, supportive and forgiving of rhetoric and English professors, none of them would still make any sense. Because the import of what DeLay had said was not in what he said but in what he’s ignoring. It’s unpatriotic to criticize the president because he lied us into an illegal and totally unnecessary war. It’s wrong to advance a timetable for withdrawal because it emboldens the enemy because our military isn’t funded well enough or manned well enough or competent enough to finish a job by a specific deadline.

But while former Admiral Joe Sestak’s response was eloquent, you’ll have to read that through the link I’d provided because I’m going to work backward here to what Richard Perle, aka Nosferatu, had said just minutes earlier:

MR. PERLE: ...I never anticipated a five year occupation. There was nothing inevitable about a five year occupation.
FMR. REP. ANDREWS: Should've been planned for.
MR. RUSSERT: In fact, you were quoted as saying if you were Delphic that you probably would not have gone into Iraq?
MR. PERLE: Well, no. I think--I think Saddam Hussein posed a threat that had to be dealt with, and I think the decision to remove him was a correct decision. I think there were lots of things subsequent to his removal that might well have been--should have been done differently. But the fact is he posed a threat. Let me quote--I don't usually quote Senator Carl Levin, chairman of the Armed Services Committee, but on this occasion I will. These are his words. "The war against terrorism will not be finished as long as Saddam Hussein is in power." This was not an eccentric view. This was certainly not a Republican view. It was a widely accepted view.
MR. RUSSERT: But he did vote against the war.
MR. PERLE: This was his view of it. Remember Vice President Gore? I'm quoting him. "We know that Saddam has stored secret supplies of biological and chemical weapons throughout the country. Iraq's search for weapons of mass destruction has proven impossible to deter, and we should assume that it will continue for as long as Saddam is in power."

Of course, it goes without saying that Russert never challenged either of these out of touch sociopaths (Perle and DeLay) about their messy and ongoing divorce from reality. Heaven forbid any member of the corporately-owned media should ruffle the feathers of a PNAC maniac like Richard “Prince of Darkness” Perle and the Hammer.

But Perle’s insistence on Saddam being a threat to us when he was hardly even a threat to his own countrymen and the Iranians is nothing less than pathetic at this point. Equally pathetic is Perle conveniently renting Al Gore (and Carl Levin) some credibility by making it look as if he was adequately informed enough to advocate regime change, after all (Gore really did say that, as Glenn Beck gleefully pointed out in his 2004 “You Dems own this clusterfuck, too” article).

Consider, though, that Gore had been out of the loop for close to three years prior to making those 2003 statements. The likes of Bush and Cheney were not. In fact, as we all now know, Richard Perle was one of the major signatories of the PNAC letter imploring Clinton to impose regime change in Iraq. If anything, Perle helped create the loop of lies from 1998 on in which Gore, as had so many of us, had gotten entangled.

Insanity? What’s insanity? Continuing to believe that Saddam posed a grave and present danger to America, that the WMD’s existed, that the 9/11/Saddam/al Qaida connection is as valid as it ever was? That we’re enjoying enormous success in Iraq and will continue to enjoy enormous successes in Iraq? That Atta met with Iraqi intelligence officials in Prague? That even though Perle never saw a five year-long involvement way back when, has absolutely no problem with another five years of senseless bloodshed as long as George Bush’s fat can be pulled out of the fire with an unlikely victory?