Monthly Archives: October 2005

How’s That Homeland Security Thing Coming?

From USA Today:

The Bush administration has missed dozens of deadlines set by Congress after the Sept. 11 attacks for developing ways to protect airplanes, ships and railways from terrorists.

A plan to defend ships and ports from attack is six months overdue. Rules to protect air cargo from infiltration by terrorists are two months late. A study on the cost of giving anti-terrorism training to federal law enforcement officers who fly commercially was supposed to be done more than three years ago.

"The incompetence that we recently saw with FEMA’s leadership appears to exist throughout the Homeland Security Department," said Mississippi Rep. Bennie G. Thompson, top Democrat on the House Homeland Security Committee. "Our nation is still vulnerable."

Congress must share the blame for the department’s sluggishness in protecting commerce and travel from terrorists, according to other observers.

Read the whole article.  It’s a real eye-opener.

Yup, the Republican Congress is to blame as much as the Republican President.

Personally, I think we should change the name of the "United States" to "Iraq", since Bush et al are more concerned about security there than they are about security here.

Speaking of Iraq, six U.S. soldiers were killed today:

Those deaths raised the death toll for October to more than 90, the highest monthly total since January when 107 American service members died. The latest deaths brought to 2,025 the number of U.S. service members who have died since the Iraq war began in March 2003.

It’s the "final throes" though, right?

My Obligatory Post on Samuel Alito

Busy day today for me, so I’ll just mention a few things about Bush’s nominee to the Supreme Court, and update this post (maybe) as the day goes on.

Yes, Alito is a conservative.  Yes, he’s a strict constructionist.  Yes, his nomination helps Bush politically by bringing Bush’s base back into the fold.  Yes, Alito has more experience than Miers. 

Which means . . . No, there is no reason to reject him.

Why not?  He’s qualified, that’s why not.  Or — as I have said before with Roberts — we lost this battle in Election 2004.

Now, there are some fear out there that he’s another Scalia.  Some are already calling him Scalito or Little Nino.  I’m not entirely convinced.  From what I heard on NPR this morning (from a liberal lawyer who tried cases against Alito, as well as argued in front of him), Alito believes strongly in precedent.  Scalia, for all his bluster, does not — he talks like he does, but he is quick to find ways to abandon precedent when it suits his political bias.  In other words, Scalia is an activist conservative; Alito appears to be, at worst, a passive one.

The talk already is about abortion.  It’s always about abortion. I have to be honest: I think the issue gets overplayed when it comes to Supreme Court nominations.  Roe v. Wade isn’t going anywhere.  It’s not only precedent, but it is long-standing precedent.  An entire generation has come of age in the post-Roe world.  And if indeed Alito is not a precedent-bucker, he’s not going to vote to overturn it.

What he will do, at worst, is chew at its edges.  When sitting on the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, Alito was the lone dissenter in Planned Parenthood v Casey.  That case involved a Pennsylvania law which would have required women getting abortions to notify their husbands.  Alito is seems would have upheld the law (although I haven’t read his dissent yet).  The rest of the Third Circuit deemed the Pennsylvania statute unconstitutional; as did the U.S. Supreme Court on appeal.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean that Alito is anti-choice.  It is possible, for example, to believe in choice so much that you think that the father of the prospective baby has a choice as well. 

In any event, that’s far different from actually being an indicator that Alito is anti-choice (I’ll have to read his dissent to be sure…)

Besides, even if Roe v. Wade is overturned by this new Roberts Court, all that means is that each state will have to decide whether or not to ban abortions.  Nationally, we are 60-65% pro-choice.  Most states will keep abortions safe and legal.  I believe only the reddest of the red states will ban abortions entirely — Mississippi, for example.  But all is not lost on this issue by far.

But, like I said, enough about Roe.  I think any concerns about it are a stretch.

So right now, my Alito mood is cautionary, but resigned.

As for more about Alito, I’ll borrow Scott Lemieux’s link round-up:

  • SCOTUSblog has the general overview.
  • PFAW on Alito, with particular emphasis on his dissent in Planned Parenthood v. Casey (he wanted to uphold the entire Pennsylvania law, including the spousal notification provision struck down by the Court.) There is every reason to believe, in other words, that at best Alito would gut Roe and at worse would overturn it. ["No, no, no!" – Ken]
  • Article III Groupie, as usual, has some very good links, and also reminds us that Clement was also supposed to be a nominee, so you never know.
  • Eric Muller has a personal account, suggesting that Alito is at least personally moderate.
  • Jack Balkin suggests, persuasively, that Luttig would get a tougher ride from the Senate than Alito.

MORE:  Yup. Alito’s got a blog, too.

MORE:  Ugh.  They’re using the dead Rosa Parks for an Alito photo-op:

Wasting no time, Alito went to the Capitol shortly after the announcement to meet Senate leaders. Accompanied by two of his children and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, Alito paused first to pay his respects at the coffin of the late civil rights pioneer Rosa Parks in the Capitol rotunda.

MORE — NOTED OPINIONS OF ALITO:

Before I venture into this, let me point out something very important: you cannot understand a judge by reading the bottom line of his/her opinions.  What a judge decides is completely irrelevant compared to how he decides.

Here’s an illustrative example:  Suppose the state legislature in State X passes a 10-cent gasoline tax.  A citizen’s group challenges the law in court as unconstitutional.  Judge Y throws out the lawsuit.  Does this mean that Judge Y "is a friend of the oil interests"?  No.  It just means that the law passed by the legislature does not violate the Constitution.  Judge Y could hate the law personally, but recognize that the law is constitutionally permissible. 

So one has to be cautious about trying to determine what a judge is like, based solely on "who won".  It’s how the judge thinks in reaching that decision that is important.  And with that, let’s look at some of Alito’s opinions.

A majority opinion in ACLU v. Schundler, 168 F.3d 92 (3d Cir. 1999), holding that the Establishment Clause was not violated by a city hall holiday display that contained a creche, a menorah, secular symbols of the season, and a banner proclaiming the city’s dedication to diversity.

I browsed this opinion.  I guess this was one of those cases where you had to see the holiday display in order to conclude whether or not it was promoting religion.  The original holiday display was clearly religious, so city hall threw in a sleigh and other secular symbols of the season, plus the aforementioned banner.  Not sure if it was a "sham" nod to diversity or not.

A majority opinion in Fatin v. INS, 12 F.3d 1233 (3d Cir. 1993), holding that an Iranian woman seeking asylum could establish that she had a well founded fear of persecution in Iran if she could show that compliance with that country’s "gender specific laws and repressive social norms," such as the requirement that women wear a veil in public, would be deeply abhorrent to her. Judge Alito also held that she could establish eligibility for asylum by showing that she would be persecuted because of gender, belief in feminism, or membership in a feminist group.

Didn’t read/browse the Fatin case, but if this summary is accurate, this actually is a plus from a feminist point of view.

A majority opinion in Saxe v. State College Area School District, 240 F.3d 200 (3d Cir. 2001), striking down as contrary to the First Amendment a public school district anti-harassment policy that extended to nonvulgar, non-school-sponsored speech that posed no realistic threat of substantial disruption of school work.

A bit troubling.  While I am a strong believer in the First Amendment, the plaintiffs in Saxe were Christians who feared that that their (Christian) sons and daughters would get in trouble for "harassment" when the spoke out in public schools about the evils of homosexuality, etc.  Legally speaking, the school policy was struck down because it was too broad, but one wonders if the result had been the same if the complaining parents were, say, pro-gay.

But, on the other hand, there’s this:

A majority opinion in Shore Regional High School Board of Education v. P.S., 381 F.3d 194 (3d Cir. 2004), holding that a school district did not provide a high school student with a free and appropriate public education, as required by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, when it failed to protect the student from bullying by fellow students who taunted the student based on his lack of athleticism and his perceived sexual orientation.

Now, the Shore opinion was interesting to read (okay, browse).  This poor kid was bullied and abused for being a "queer" (it’s not clear, nor relevant, whether the kid actually was gay or not).  It was so bad that it was impossible for this kid to get an education.  Overturning the lower court, Alito sided with the kid, and required the Shore School District to reimburse the kid’s parents for private tutelage, etc.

A majority opinion in Williams v. Price, 343 F.3d 223 (3d Cir. 2003), granting a writ of habeas corpus to an African-American state prisoner after state courts had refused to consider the testimony of a witness who stated that a juror had uttered derogatory remarks about African Americans during an encounter in the courthouse after the conclusion of the trial.

Not much to say about this.  It doesn’t point to anything, even in a racial context.  It merely says that the prisoner was entitled to a hearing based on the evidence that one of the jurors was racist.

A dissenting opinion in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, 947 F.2d 682 (3d Cir. 1991), arguing that a Pennsylvania that required women seeking abortions to inform their husbands should have been upheld. As Judge Alito reasoned, "[t]he Pennsylvania legislature could have rationally believed that some married women are initially inclined to obtain an abortion without their husbands’ knowledge because of perceived problems–such as economic constraints, future plans, or the husbands’ previously expressed opposition–that may be obviated by discussion prior to the abortion." Chief Justice Rehnquist’s dissent from the Supreme Court’s 5-4 [corrected] decision striking down the spousal notification provision of the law quoted Judge Alito’s dissent and expressed support for Judge Alito’s reasoning.

I discussed Planned Parenthood above; I still haven’t read it.  The quoted Alito language is a little disturbing.  It shows a slavish acquiescence to legislative intent — something not necessarily bad, but it can be overdone.  What troubles me is that he talks about what the legislature "could have rationally believed" — it seems to me that if the legislature didn’t make its intent clear, then the court should not engage in tea leaf reading.

More than that, Alito’s Planned Parenthood rationale smacks of forced speech.  I wonder if anyone has addressed the First Amendment implications — can the legislature constitutionally FORCE women to inform husbands of their pregnancy?  Doesn’t the right to free speech necessarily encompass the right NOT to speak?

Well, my Alito mood is still cautionary, but resigned.

YET EVEN MORE:

Two things have passed by transon which give me pause.  First, this comment from GW Law Professor Jonathan Turley:

TURLEY: Oh absolutely. There will be no one to the right of Sam Alito on this Court. This is a pretty hardcore fellow on abortion issues.

COURIC: Not even Antonin Scalia?

TURLEY: They’ll have to make a race to the right, but I think it will be by a nose, if at all. …

Yikes.

Second, many on the left are talking about Alito’s dissent in this case (PDF format) — a case where the Third Circuit said that police did not have qualified immunity when being sued by a woman and her 14-year-old daughter after they were strip searched.  Alito was the lone dissenter, opining that the search was constitutional under the warrent.  Unlike some of my liberal brethren, I don’t think this means that Alito is in favor of strip searches of minors.  The issue in that case was whether or not the strip search was authorized by the warrent (signed by a magistrate).  If it was, and you are angry about it, your beef is with the judge who signed the warrent, not with Alito.

What troubles me about Alito’s dissent, however, is that he chastized the majority for reading the warrent to strictly and literally.  He argues that the warrent should be read applying a "commonsense and realistic" approach.  Now, when judges use phrases like this, this could be construed as being "activist".  Or certainly not strict constructionists.  It suggests that Alito — like Scalia — can be more "small-l" liberal in his interpretation of the law . . . when it suits him.

So my Alito mood is quite disturbed (but still somewhat resigned).

STILL MORE:  Did you know that, with Alito, there will not be five Catholic males on the Supreme Court?

WOW!  I MADE AN IMPORTANT FIND:

I was perusing Alito’s dissent in U.S. v. Raybar.  That case involved whether or not Congress could regulate possession of a machine gun.

A little law geek stuff:  Under the Constitution, Congress can regulate many things.  One of those things is anything dealing with "interstate commerce" (commerce between one or more states).  Specifically, Congress can pass laws relating to anything "affecting interstate commerce".  "Affecting" is a fuzzy word — what does that mean?  In this complex economy, can’t any regulation "affect" state commerce — at least tangentially?

So the scope of the interstate commerce clause is a difficult and perplexing one.

Anyway, an important case came down in 1995 called United States v. Lopez.  That case involved a federal regulation which sought to restrict handguns on school playgrounds.  The question was whether or not Congress had the power to pass that law — i.e., was it a law which affected interstate commerce?  SCOTUS said "no" — the law exceeded congressional powers.

Okay.  Back to U.S. v. Raybar.  This was decided after Lopez, and the question (again) was whether Congress’s restriction on intrastate possession of machine gund (that is, possession of machine guns entirely within a single state) affected interstate commerce of machine guns.

In Alito’s dissent, he criticizes the majority.  In it, we find this language (note the section I placed in bold):

The majority’s second theory appears to be that Congress could have rationally  concluded that the purely intrastate possession of machine guns increases the incidence of certain crimes–the majority specifically mentions violent crime, racketeering, and drug trafficking–that are of "national concern." 

But Alito continues that "coulda" just doesn’t cut it with him:

I take this theory very seriously, but my problem with it is that it rests on an empirical proposition for which neither Congress, the Executive (in the form of the government lawyers who briefed and argued this case), nor the majority has adduced any appreciable empirical proof.

Now, let’s compare with the language in the summary above, from Planned Parenthood v. Casey:

As Judge Alito reasoned, "[t]he Pennsylvania legislature could have rationally believed that some married women are initially inclined to obtain an abortion without their husbands’ knowledge because of perceived problems–such as economic constraints, future plans, or the husbands’ previously expressed opposition–that may be obviated by discussion prior to the abortion."

Do you see what this is about?

In the machine gun case, Alito was not going to defer to Congress based on what Congress "could have rationally" intended.  No, Alito wanted "empirical proof" of what Congress intended.  (Real world result if Alito had his way: the ban on machine guns would be struck down).

But in the Planned Parenthood case, Alito was willing to providentally divine what the Pennsylvania legislature "could have rationally" intended with their spousal notification law. (Real world result if Alito had his way: a limitation on abortions by requiring spousal notification).

Now, assuming you have followed me this far, this is what I am concerned about.  It’s when a judge takes two different approaches to reach a result — a result that conservatives would prefer.  In one case, Alito is deferential to legislatures; in another, he is far less so.  A non-partisan judge would approach both issues consistently, regardless of whether the underlying issue is machine guns, or spousal notification of abortions, or whatever.

This brings to mind another judge who seems to lack a consistent judicial philosophy in order to reach a pre-destined result — Justice Scalia.

Color me deeply troubled.

UPDATE:  Alito’s dissent in Planned Parenthood v. Casey can be found here.  It’s interesting because he relies on O’Connor for his position. 

His position?  Wives telling husbands that they are pregnant does not pose an "undue burden" on a woman’s right to an abortion.

Does anybody believe that?  Suppose the wife wants to have an abortion and the husband does not — a non-fanciful situation that occurs thousands of times a day, I’ll bet.  The mere fact that she is legally required to inform the husband might prevent her from actually having the abortion at all.  Better to have the (unwanted) kid than to have the conflict, many women would say (rightly or wrongly).  In fact, that’s surely the reason why the law was enacted in the first place.

It’s that kind of micromanaging of people’s private lives that gets me up in arms.  Sure — in an ideal world, we would want women to tell their husbands, and we would want both of them to reach a decision about whether or not to have an abortion.  But we don’t live in an ideal world.  And no marriage is ideal 100% of the time.  And you can’t legislate idealism, people.

Anyway, back to O’Connor.  It is very interesting that the very test upon which Alito relied for his dissent — a test explained by O’Connor — was applied wrongly.  Alito applied O’Connor’s test and said that the Pennsylvania law did not create an "undue burden".  On appeal, O’Connor applied O’Connor’s test, and said that it did create an "undue burden".  So Alito got bitch-slapped a bit.  Heh.  Billmon has some additional thoughts here.

UPDATE:  Alito (as well as John Roberts) were both on Dobson’s short list.  No wonder some are calling Bush "the wingnut’s waterboy".

UH-OH:  Does Alito have a Vietnam/AWOL problem?

WHAT MAY BE MY FINAL THOUGHT/MOODMatt Yglesius said it best:

I see no reason to think this nomination will be all that different from the last time around [John Roberts]. Republicans will be thrilled. Democrats will be unhappy.

After an uninformative confirmation hearing, Alito will be confirmed by a comfortable margin to the general approval of highbrow centrist opinion. He’ll proceed to spend the next 20 years on the Court making America a somewhat worse place than it might otherwise be. Conservatives will continue to fail in their efforts to transform the country into some idealized version of the 1950s and will presumably blame this on college professors and Anthony Kennedy.

American Taliban Continues To Have A Stick Up Its Ass

I mean, really:

RALEIGH, N.C.  School principals from Newton, Mass., to Denver find themselves increasingly haunted at Halloween by this refrain: Get out, ye ghoulies!

Bowing to concerns of a wide range of groups – from Christians who consider Halloween to have pagan or satanic overtones to church-state separatists who object to the holiday’s religious roots – some elementary schools are canceling their customary costume parades and Halloween celebrations.

In their place are "Fall-o-ween" events, which take note of harvest and seasonal change but that eliminate all things spooky – or controversial.

"There’s been a steady growth of the number of people and the kinds of perspectives objecting to Halloween, and it’s become a real issue for schools," says Charles Haynes at the First Amendment Center in Arlington, Va. "There’s a lot of strangeness around this issue."

***

In Centennial, Colo., Red Hawk Ridge Elementary School, intoning Lemony Snicket’s Count Olaf, ordered: "No costumes. No parade. No Halloween." Costumes that do make it to school will be "neutralized." In Hammond, Ind., the district will be costume-free Monday. In Newton, Mass., principal David Castelline, who last year dressed up as Red Sox hitter Johnny Damon, acceded to demands from religious parents to banish Halloween.

Peggy Beasley-Rodgers, principal of Raleigh’s Washington Elementary School ("Home of the Wizards"), says pumpkins get decorated and teachers dress up, but costumes are allowed only as part of a "curriculum-driven" literary parade. Teachers avoid using the word Halloween, says Ms. Beasley-Rodgers, who Friday wore a shirt with the word "boo!" "Children think Halloween is the best holiday of the year," she says, "but one of the concessions that we make is we don’t really do anything specifically for Halloween."

Note to religious conservatives: if your God(s) is actually threatened by children dressing up as bunnies and going door-to-door asking for candy, your God is pretty sensitive.  It’s just a fun holiday!!  Get over it!!!

UPDATE: And the same goes for you, Chavez!

2005 Darwin Awards

Darwin1_full For those unfamiliar, The Darwin Awards are named in honor of Charles Darwin, the father of evolution.

They commemorate those who improve our gene pool by removing themselves from it in astoundingly stupid ways.

The 2005 nominees are now posted at the Darwin Awards website.  Here’s the nominee with the most votes (so far):

(19 March 2005, Michigan) "Unusual" and "complicated" is how the Missaukee County sheriff described the mysterious death of 19-year-old Christopher, who called 911 at 1:22am and calmly informed the police dispatcher that his neighbor had stabbed him. Suddenly he began screaming and begging for help. A woman was heard shouting in the background, "Why did you do this?" Deputies arrived quickly, only to find that Christopher had bled to death from stab wounds to his chest.

After an evening spent imbibing large quantities of alcohol, Christopher noticed a shortage in his liquor supply that could not be attributed to his own depredations. He concluded that his neighbor had stolen a bottle of booze! He menaced said neighbor with a knife, to no avail, whereupon he retired to his own apartment to brood about revenge.

Finally he figured out the perfect way to get back at that conniving bottle-thief: he would stab himself and blame the neighbor!

A witness saw Christopher enter the bathroom while he called police. When he emerged from the bathroom, he looked perfectly fine, but a moment later he began screaming as gouts of blood spewed from his chest. He ran to the door of the apartment, and collapsed.

The evidence pointed to self-inflicted wounds. Deputies found the knife that killed him in the kitchen, and an autopsy concluded that he had stabbed himself in the chest twice. The first wound may not have looked dangerous enough to him, so he took the knife and tried again, this time plunging it into his left ventricle. This wound was plenty dangerous: he had only two minutes to live.

Christopher died in vain. His deathbed accusation fell on deaf ears, as a witness stated that the neighbor was not in the apartment, and the neighbor offered to take a lie-detector test to demonstrate his innocence. All Christopher got for revenge was an accidental death sentence.

UPDATE:  And, right on cue, this guy makes a last  minute attempt to claim the award (Sorry, Rev — I think the date cut-off has passed):

WACO, Texas (AP) — A pastor performing a baptism was electrocuted inside his church Sunday morning when he adjusted a nearby microphone while standing in water, a church employee said.

The Rev. Kyle Lake, 33, was stepping into the baptistery as he reached out for the microphone, which produced an electric shock, said University Baptist Church community pastor Ben Dudley.

***

Lake was pronounced dead at Hillcrest Baptist Medical Center, nursing supervisor Pat Mahl said. The woman being baptized apparently had not stepped into the water and was not seriously injured.

Restoration Project

From Billmon:

George W. Bush will repair what has been damaged . . . On the first hour of the first day, he will restore decency and integrity to the Oval Office.

Dick Cheney
Speech to the 2000 Republican Convention
August 2, 2000

My fellow citizens, we can begin again. After all of the shouting, and all of the scandal. After all of the bitterness and broken faith. We can begin again.

George W. Bush
Speech to the 2000 Republican Convention
August 3, 2000

Barely a third of Americans — 34 percent — think Bush is doing a good job ensuring high ethics in government, which is slightly lower than President Bill Clinton’s standing on this issue when he left office. (emphasis added).

Washington Post
White House Ethics, Honesty Questioned
October 30, 2005

Stupid Wall Street Journal Quote

WSJ editorial:

Unless Mr. Fitzgerald can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Mr. Libby was lying, and doing so for some nefarious purpose, this indictment looks like a case of criminalizing politics.

"Nefarious purpose"?  No, idiots.  He only has to prove that Libby intentially lied to the prosecutors and grand jury.   What do you think?  It’s okay too lie under oath, if you are doing in benevolently?

Singin’ In The Rain — The Remix

Yeah, you’ve probably seen it before, but here it is again.  The Volkswagon ad feature Gene Kelly doing "Singin’ In The Rain" like you’ve never seen it done before.

Singingrainremix
Click image to play.  File in Quicktime format — may take a minute or so to begin.

I Wish I Said That

This item relating to the 2,000 death in Iraq is soooo two days ago*, but it just came across my radar now.

I’m speaking of blogwatcher Peter Daou, who critized Michelle Malkin, Little Green Footballs and others for describing the left’s anti-war "vigils" as "parties":

"I find this rash of posts suggesting that anti-war activists ‘celebrate’ the deaths of American soldiers to be both tragic and telling. Tragic, because it represents a descent into depraved, gutter-level slander as a form of argumentation, and it is a profoundly un-American approach to a most American of activities: dissent. Telling, because it means these bloggers have nothing left to justify the deaths of Americans in Iraq but desperate and transparent attacks on those who want our troops home.

***

Bottom line: If Malkin, LGF, and Blackfive think opponents of the Iraq war are "celebrating" the deaths of American troops, let them answer the basic paradox of their position, namely, how is it that wanting our troops NOT to die is worse than wanting them to remain in the line of fire?"

Good stuff.

* Two days later, the American death toll is now 2,006.

Really Not Too Smart

Matt Yglesius observes:

Watching CNN it’s obvious that the conservative strategy on these indictments is the same old playbook: Slime and defend. Except they can’t slime Patrick Fitzgerald, so instead they’re going to attack … Joe Wilson. But why? Wilson has literally nothing to do with the allegations being made here. Scooter Libby said some things under oath to the grand jury. Some of those things were false. Those are crimes.

Paul Begala completes the thought:

“So now it looks like there are going to go after Joe Wilson, which is what got them in trouble in the first place.”

The Bar They Set

Standards Of Official Conduct

Memorandum
January 20, 2001

MEMORANDUM FOR THE HEADS OF EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENTS AND AGENCIES

SUBJECT: Standards of Official Conduct

Everyone who enters into public service for the United States has a duty to the American people to maintain the highest standards of integrity in Government. I ask you to ensure that all personnel within your departments and agencies are familiar with, and faithfully observe, applicable ethics laws and regulations, including the following general principles from the Standards of Ethical Conduct for Employees of the Executive Branch:

(1) Public service is a public trust, requiring employees to place loyalty to the Constitution, the laws, and ethical principles above private gain.

(7) Employees shall not use public office for private gain.

(11) Employees shall disclose waste, fraud, abuse, and corruption to appropriate authorities.

(12) Employees shall satisfy in good faith their obligations as citizens, including all just financial obligations, especially those — such as Federal, State, or local taxes — that are imposed by law.

(14) Employees shall endeavor to avoid any actions creating the appearance that they are violating applicable law or the ethical standards in applicable regulations.

Please thank the personnel of your departments and agencies for their commitment to maintain the highest standards of integrity in Government as we serve the American people.

GEORGE W. BUSH

Via Digby.

Recall also that when Bush first spoke about this, he said he would fire anyone involved with the leak of Plame’s name.

Well, here’s Exhibit A:

Indictmentseg

If Bush is at all true to his word and standards, he will fire "Official A".  Just because Fitzgerald wasn’t able to indict "Official A" does not mean Official A should be off the hook from a White House which told the American people it was going to do more than just be legal, but ethical as well.

You hear me, Karl Rove Official A?

Fitzmas

Libby indicted on five counts: (2) perjury, (2) false statement, (1) obstruction of justice.   

Here’s the Libby indictment in case you haven’t already seen it. 

Libby resigns

Fitzgerald says the probe is not over.

But it’s clear that Libby himself was the leaker.  Fitzgerald couldn’t indict him, it seems, because Fitzgerald would have to prove that Libby knew the information was classified at the time he leaked it (mes rea for all you law students).  How do you prove what someone knows?  It’s very hard.

That’s all you need to know for now.

Seriously, don’t try to digest this too fast.  Chew everything 20 times before swallowing.  You are going to be hearing a lot about this everywhere for a long time.

UPDATE:  Okay, I lied.  but Kevin Drum has a really succinct "indictment primer", which I share:

INDICTMENT PRIMER….The two false statement charges are these:

  • Libby told the FBI that Tim Russert told him about Valerie Plame on July 10 or 11. He also told the FBI that he was surprised to hear this from Russert. This was a lie: Russert never told him this, and Libby knew about Plame’s status long before that in any case.

  • Libby told the FBI that he told Matt Cooper on July 12 that reporters had told him about Plame, but Libby didn’t know if it was true. This was a lie: Libby actually confirmed "without qualification" to Cooper that Plame worked for the CIA.

The two perjury charges revolve around the fact that Libby made the same misstatements to the grand jury. The obstruction of justice charge is based on the false statement and perjury charges. Taken together, they amount to obstruction of justice.

Basically, the charges are that Libby consistently tried to mislead both the FBI and the grand jury about how he had learned of Plame’s status. On multiple occasions he told investigators that he had learned about it from reporters in July, but the truth was quite different. In reality, Libby actively sought out information about Joe Wilson’s trip to Niger starting in late May, learned from both State Department and CIA sources in early June that Wilson’s wife worked at the CIA, and received the same information from Dick Cheney shortly after that. Libby subsequently discussed Plame with quite a few people within the White House, at one point admitting to his deputy that "there would be complications at the CIA in disclosing that information publicly," an indication that he knew perfectly well that the CIA didn’t want Plame’s status disclosed. He later told Ari Fleischer that the fact that Joe Wilson’s wife worked at the CIA was "not widely known."

Indictment Update

It seems silly to post about indictment rumors today, especially since I’m kind of busy.  So here’s the lowdown — plain and simple.

Special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald will hold a press conference at 2 p.m. ET to announce his actions resulting from his investigation of the CIA leak.

NBC News says Fitzgerald "is expected to release some documents in the case around 12 p.m. ET. That information may be posted on his website.

I have nothing more to say until then.

Except this. 

I have a response to the already-developing right-wing talking point that "an indictment is not a conviction". 

And that response is: "Wow.  You are soooooo smart."

UPDATE:  And this stupid talking point:

Libby, apparently, will be indicted for being untruthful during the course of the investigation, not for leaking state secrets.

This is likely to be a case of no crime having been committed until there was an investigation.

You mean like Clinton’s perjury, dickhead?  Oh, wait.  I forgot Rule # 1: IOKIYAR.

We STILL Didn’t Start The Fire

Shake’s Sister has gone to the trouble of adding more verses to Billy Joel’s 1980’s hit We Didn’t Start The Fire to include subsequent events.  It’s very good:

Wedidntstartthefire_1

Bush and Cheney, voter fraud,
9/11, war abroad,
Condoleezza, Donald Rumsfeld, neocon cabal.
Mushroom cloud, “Dead or alive,”
More tax cuts, “Now watch this drive,”
Rightwing pundits, propaganda, marches on The Mall.

Swift Boat Vets, Rove takes aim,
Novak outs a covert name,
Terror warnings, Abu Ghraib, Ashcroft takes a hike.
Powell out, Gonzales in,
Kerry takes it on the chin,
Moral values, faux mandate, Georgie rides his bike.

We didn’t start the fire
It was always burning
Since the world’s been turning
We didn’t start the fire
No we didn’t light it
But we tried to fight it

Hurricane in New Orleans,
Papers filled with ghastly scenes,
Cronyism, “No blame game,” Miers to the court.
2K dead now in Iraq,
Miers out—she’s just a hack,
Bush in trouble, Scotty spins, dwindling support.

Crooked, lying GOP,
Bill Frist and the SEC,
Abramoff, Robert Nye, indicted Tom DeLay.
Fitzy grills, Rove denies,
Libby didn’t out no spies,
Come one day, Bush will pay, what else do I have to say?!

We didn’t start the fire
It was always burning
Since the world’s been turning
We didn’t start the fire
No we didn’t light it
But we tried to fight it…

Jonah Goldberg – Hypocrite

Hat tip to Shake’s Sister (who is on a roll lately).

If you’re going to call [someone] a Nazi, show me the children with tattoos on their arms. Show me the stockpiles of emaciated corpses. Show me files cabinets full of memos detailing how [they] plan on disposing of millions of dead American citizens killed with poisonous gas.

If you can’t show me any of these things – and you can’t – then stop calling [someone] a Nazi.

Jonah Goldberg, September 5, 2003, in "Bush Equals Hitler?"

Jonah

Cover of Jonah Goldberg’s new book, "Liberal Fascism : The Totalitarian Temptation from Mussolini to Hillary Clinton"

Bush Administration Withheld WMD Intelligence

One of the wingnut talking points re: Iraq is that Congress had access to the same pre-war intelligence as the White House, so they are just as much to blame as Bush for the no-WMD-in-Iraq fiasco.

Not true.  Not true.  That talking point is now officially dead.  The Bush Administration not only failed to fully inform Congress of all the intelligence it had, but it failed to inform Congress after-the-fact in order to shift blame to "faulty intelligence".

The National Journal is reporting that Cheney and soon-to-be-indicted Libby were responsible for the decision to withhold critical documents from the Senate Intelligence Committee in 2004 while it was investigating pre-war WMD intelligence claims, in an attempt to deflect accusations that the administration distorted intelligence data to lie the country into war.

Vice President Cheney and his chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby , overruling advice from some White House political staffers and lawyers, decided to withhold crucial documents from the Senate Intelligence Committee in 2004 when the panel was investigating the use of pre-war intelligence that erroneously concluded Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, according to Bush administration and congressional sources.

Among the White House materials withheld from the committee were Libby-authored passages in drafts of a speech that then-Secretary of State Colin L. Powell delivered to the United Nations in February 2003 to argue the Bush administration’s case for war with Iraq, according to congressional and administration sources. The withheld documents also included intelligence data that Cheney’s office — and Libby in particular — pushed to be included in Powell’s speech, the sources said.

***

The Intelligence Committee at the time was trying to determine whether the CIA and other intelligence agencies provided faulty or erroneous intelligence on Iraq to President Bush and other government officials. But the committee deferred the much more politically sensitive issue as to whether the president and the vice president themselves, or other administration officials, misrepresented intelligence information to bolster the case to go to war. An Intelligence Committee spokesperson says the panel is still working on this second phase of the investigation.

Had the withheld information been turned over, according to administration and congressional sources, it likely would have shifted a portion of the blame away from the intelligence agencies to the Bush administration as to who was responsible for the erroneous information being presented to the American public, Congress, and the international community.

A Not-So-White Fitzmas?

The New York Times is reporting that Libby will be indicted.  Not Rove.  Certain wingnuts are already claiming victory, or at least taking pleasure in the fact that today was no massacre of the Bush Administration.

Their celebration is way premature, since we still could see some surprises:

Mr. Fitzgerald’s preparations for a Friday announcement were shrouded in secrecy, but advanced amid a flurry of behind-the-scenes discussions that left open the possibility of last-minute surprises. As the clock ticked down on the grand jury, people involved in the investigation did not rule out the disclosure of previously unknown aspects of the case.

Black_knight_1But assuming that it is just Libby who is indicted today, let’s remember that the Watergate grand jury originally handed down indictments for the five burglars, Hunt and Liddy.  And that didn’t end too well for President Nixon, as I recall. 

Moreover, the New York Times notes that Karl Rove will remain under investigation.   That’s right.  The investigation has been extended.

So this is far from over.  In fact, the slow hemorrhaging may prove to be worse for the Republicans in the long run.

UPDATE:  Ann Coulter agrees.  She says a "worst case scenario" is an indictment and a continuing investigation.

I Had A Hunch…

SulugayThere was a particular Star Trek episode when the Enterprise crew was being terrorized by a disembodied "Jack The Ripper" — an alien who acquired power and strength by feeding on the fear that it generated in human beings (not unlike the Republican Party, actually). 

To fight the alien, Dr. McCoy gave shots to the Enterprise crew — shots that would place them in a state of euphoria, and not be scared.

One particular five-second scene in the episode ("Wolf In The Fold", I believe) showed Ensign Sulu (played by George Takei) getting his shot, while the voice of the scary alien echos through the ship.

"I don’t know who he is . . . [shot injection] . . . [big grin from Sulu] . . . . . but he sure sounds gloooomy", said Sulu.

Even as a naive kid, I couldn’t help but noticing that the "but he sures sounds gloomy" came off as a little . . . well . . . effeminate.

Well, I guess my gay-dar was working even back them.  Because George Takei has come out of the closet at the age of 68.  CNN has the story.

I don’t know why it is a story, to be honest.  I don’t really have a good explanation about why I blog about it.  It’s just one of those things that make you go "Huh".

So . . . here I go: "Huh".

Takei, by the way, had an interesting childhood.  He spent four years in an internment camp during World War II.  An American internment camp.  Even though he was four years old.  Even though he was an American.  In the CNN article, he notes how the experience made him ashamed of his ethnicity.  Which reminds me — have I said "fuck you" to Michelle Malkin today?

Help Me Find Jesus

JesustreeAccording to this article in the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, this tree (pictured at the right) has an image of Jesus.  Jesus napping, I guess.

Because that’s where Jesus likes to sleep, I guess.  On a silver maple tree growing on the front lawn of a clothing factory located at 1155 N. Clinton Ave. in Rochester New York.

Anyway, it’s all the buzz in Rochester.

Some believe the "Jesus tree" is a divine sign.  A divine sign that, um, Jesus likes Rochester.  Or clothing.  Or factories.  Or something.

The thing is: I’ve looked at this picture for a long time, and I see lots of things.  Like a lizard.  Like Rocky Balboa after a bout with Apollo Creed. 

But where’s Jesus?  Help me find him.  ‘Cause I don’t see him.

P.S.  This is not a contest.  No prizes are being awarded.

Hey! That’s Judy You’re Talking About!!

FortinjudyI like CNN Headline News anchor Judy Fortin as much as the next person, but to be honest —

Okay, I like Judy Fortin more than the next person, but that’s only because I knew her in high school.  (Judy will always be "Daisy Mae" to me).

So I am compelled to express my displeasure when Rutgers University geeks use her as the subject of a bizarre experiment entitled "Specifying and Animating Facial Signals For Discourse In Embodied Conversational Agents" (PDF file).  An excerpt (click to enlarge):

Fortin_1

Ya’  freaks.  Leave her alone.

Even Karl Rove’s Mistress Is Distancing Herself

Because convicts make crappy boyfriends, I guess:

[S]everal Texas political insiders say Rove’s longtime relationship with lobbyist Karen Johnson may be in jeopardy, too, if Johnson’s relatives have their way.

In July we reported on the very close relationship Johnson, a single, Austin-based lobbyist, has enjoyed with Rove since they met over a decade ago in Texas. But now that Rove’s White House tenure is looking increasingly shaky, friends are whispering that the forty-something lobbyist—who pulls in well over $1 million a year thanks to her administration connections—may be cooling toward the married presidential advisor.

Pleasing The Base

Conventional wisdom on Miers’ withdrawal is that Bush’s next nominee must be someone who shores up his fractured base.  A "fundie wingnut". 

But Kargo X as the Next Hurrah makes an interesting point:

Pat Robertson was for Miers.

Jerry Falwell was for Miers.

And as we all know, James Dobson was for Miers.

So, what’s this "base" that needs appeasing? Is the White House likely to throw another bone to this "base," after it failed so miserably to deliver? Why is the takeaway from this more likely to be that this "base" needs feeding than what I said back on the ninth: a terse note to evangelicals — "we sent up one of yours and you couldn’t get mainline Republicans on board, so you’ve still got some learning to do."

The part of George Bush’s "base" that didn’t show up for Miers is the part that knows when to cut bait. The part of the base that a "fundie wingnut" would be designed to satisfy was the part that clung to the Dear Leader’s petticoats no matter how deep the doo-doo got. How hard would you work to appease them, given that wild horses couldn’t tear them from th’ preznit, and they didn’t show when you needed them?

No, the "base" that Bush needs to appease is the one that cost him this ridiculous joke of a nomination. And while they, too, may be very comfortable with a hardline conservative who might be quite acceptable under the "fundie wingnut" test, that probably won’t be the primary reason the next contestant has their name called.

So maybe we won’t get a fundie wingnut after all.

Focus On The Fables

Dr. James Dobson reveals why he believes Harriet Miers is a good nominee for the Supreme Court and addresses the objections that have been raised about her.

— Lead-in to radio show by James Dobson, on his Focus on the Family website, October 5, 2005

"I believe the president made a wise decision in accepting Harriet Miers’s withdrawal as a nominee to the Supreme Court. …Based on what we now know about Miss Miers, it appears that we would not have been able to support her candidacy. Thankfully, that difficult evaluation is no longer necessary."

— James Dobson, today

Thefoxandthegrapes One hot summer’s day a Fox was strolling through an orchard till he came to a bunch of Grapes just ripening on a vine which had been trained over a lofty branch. "Just the thing to quench my thirst," quoth he. Drawing back a few paces, he took a run and a jump, and just missed the bunch. Turning round again with a One, Two, Three, he jumped up, but with no greater success. Again and again he tried after the tempting morsel, but at last had to give it up, and walked away with his nose in the air, saying: "I am sure they are sour."

— "The Fox and the Grapes", Aesop

If This Doesn’t Piss You Off, You Must Be Dead

Or Cheney.

From CNN Money:

Exxon’s $10B net a U.S. corporate record
The oil company gains from soaring oil and gas prices, but falls short of estimates.
October 27, 2005: 1:25 PM EDT

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Exxon Mobil Corp. posted a quarterly profit of $9.9 billion Thursday, the largest in U.S. corporate history, as it raked in a bonanza from soaring oil and gas prices.

Record profits for Big Oil at a time when consumers are paying sky-high prices for gasoline have brought calls for a windfall profits tax or other penalties on oil companies.

The companies have been enjoying an unusually rosy environment for months. In the third quarter, oil prices and refining margins rose sharply after hurricanes Katrina and Rita ripped through the Gulf of Mexico, disrupting energy operations in the region.

On Quitting Smoking

I intend to do it soon, and articles like these give me ideas:

Although both marijuana and tobacco smoke are packed with cancer-causing chemicals, other qualities of marijuana seem to keep it from promoting lung cancer, according to a new report.

The difference rests in the often opposing actions of the nicotine in tobacco and the active ingredient, THC, in marijuana, says Dr. Robert Melamede of the University of Colorado in Colorado Springs.

He reviewed the scientific evidence supporting this contention in a recent issue of Harm Reduction Journal.

Whereas nicotine has several effects that promote lung and other types of cancer, THC acts in ways that counter the cancer-causing chemicals in marijuana smoke, Melamede explained in an interview with Reuters Health.

"THC turns down the carcinogenic potential," he said.

Plamegate Primer

A frequent reader of this blog emails to ask where she can find an unbiased account of what this Plamegate thing is all about. 

Well, Mom, I highly recommend this.  Dig as deep as you like, or browse to get to know the basics. 

The Road To Burka-ville

Brio magazine is a teen health and beauty magazine put out by — wait for it — James Dobson’s Focus On The Family.  In it, we find such gems as this:

Today’s fashion has taken girls away from showing off their personality and instead has them trying to show off their sexuality. It’s not something I want to see anywhere — especially when I’m at church.

Have you noticed that when you raise your hands in the air, your shirt goes up, too? Whether you’re worshiping God or signing for the hearing-impaired, a cropped top is going to be on the move when you raise your hands above your head. Do you really want to expose your tummy and back to other Christians while they’re worshiping? Why distract people from the Lord?

Sound familiar?  It should:

Girls in Islamic communities are brought up in a way that they would clearly know their place in the family and in society. They must be taught from the very young age that they are inferior; that they must obey their male guardians and that they must keep their beauties hidden behind the veil until a man buys the license to use them. The most effective and visual way of doing this is by forcing young girls to wear the Islamic Hijab (veil) which is not only conveying the required message, but also hinders physical movements and naturally calms the young girl down and teaches them to behave like proper Muslim women.

The Islamic culture and the way it affects on the mental and physical development of women, Soheila Sharifi

So, the religious right is all concerned about teenager girls showing their flesh in church, thus distracting religious men from worshipping Jesus.  Now, I’m no fan of teen fashion these days (body piercing, etc.), but they are teens trying to express themselves, because that’s what teens do. 

That said, the problem isn’t with the girls’ choice of dress — it is with the pervs who are checking them out while (supposedly) praying to Jesus.  Apparently, the pull of the Lord isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.  Sometimes I think repressed people are more perverted than the rest of "heathens".

Antici-pa-yay-tion Is Making Me Wait

Plamegate Prosecutor Fitzgerald gets more office space.  Doesn’t look like he’s planning on going anywhere soon.  (LATE AFTERNOON UPDATE:  Oops.  The office space story appears to be false.)

The AP reports there will be no announcements today.

Over at TPMCafe, Paul Begala speculates on "What It’s Like" in this White House under seige (having served with Clinton during L’Affaire Lewinsky).  Noting that Bush’s A-Team have all made steady exits (just like the cast of "The West Wing" in Season Six), leaving the Prez with C-level staffers, Begala adds:

And so they wait.  And they sniff the royal throne.  They tell the Beloved Leader he’s the victim of a partisan plot (although how the Bush CIA, which referred the Plame case for prosecution, became ground zero of Democratic liberalism escapes me).  They assure him all is well.  But all is not well.  People are looking over their shoulders.  The smart ones have stopped taking notes in meetings.  The very smart ones have stopped using email for all but the most pedestrian communications.  And the smartest ones have already obtained outside counsel.   

When a White House is under siege, no one wants to talk to anyone.  Literally, anything you say can and will be used against you.  When you’re in a meeting and you see one of your colleagues taking notes, you start to wonder how long it will be before you’re interrogated based on her notes.  Maybe she’s doodling.  Or maybe she’s digging your grave.  The mind tries to focus on the task at hand, but the grand jury is never far from your thoughts.   

Compared to these folks, I had it easy.  I’d never met Monica Lewinsky, had no knowledge of the affair, which took place when I was living in Austin, and I knew that neither I nor any of my colleagues were in Ken Starr’s perverse crosshairs.  The Fitzgerald investigation is very different.  It’s not about the President’s extracurricular activities.  It’s about the essence of how the White House works – and the suggestion that this White House has become deeply corrupt. 

Read the whole thing.

Harriet Miers Officially Becomes A Question For “Trivial Pursuit – The 2000 Decade” Edition

Animated_candleYup.  She withdrew her nomination, and Bush "reluctantly accepted".

Still no post about it on Harriet Miers’ blog, but I’ll update here when she updates her blog.

For progressives like me, this is nothing to celebrate (the celebration comes later today when Fitzgerald announced indictments).  I have a sinking feeling that the next Bush nominee will be something awful – like Owens or Brown.

UPDATE:  Harriet Mier’s blog has now acknowledged the withdrawal.  The once-festive pink and white website is now a stark black, and adorned with a burning candle graphic (which I stole).  Harriet is waxing poetical, with such ruminations as:

"Its better to have been nominated and withdrawn then never to have been nominated at all"

and a poem sent in by a reader:

And it seems to me you lived your nomination
Like a candle in the wind:
Never fading with the sunset
When the rain set in.

Goodbye Texas Rose,
From a country lost without your soul,
Who’ll miss the wings of your compassion
More than you’ll ever know.

Poor baby.

UPDATE:  The text of Mier’s withdrawal letter, and some additional comments from me, are below the fold.

Not Smiling Now

Delayadmits CNN reports:

Rep. Tom DeLay failed to comply with House requirements that he disclose all contributions to a defense fund that pays his legal bills, the Texas Republican acknowledged to House officials.

He wrote officials that $20,850 contributed in 2000 and 2001 was not reported anywhere. Another $17,300 was included in the defense fund’s quarterly report but not in DeLay’s 2000 annual financial disclosure report — a separate requirement.

Other donations were understated as totaling $2,800, when the figure should have been $4,450.

It was during that period that DeLay was the subject of several House ethics investigations.

Well, Shit, John — No Duh.

John Kerry admits that his pro-war vote was a mistake, adding:

I understand that as much as we might wish it, we can’t rewind the tape of history. There is, as Robert Kennedy once said, `enough blame to go around,’ and I accept my share of the responsibility. But the mistakes of the past, no matter who made them, are no justification for marching ahead into a future of miscalculations and misjudgments and the loss of American lives with no end in sight. We each have a responsibility, to our country and our conscience, to be honest about where we should go from here. It is time for those of us who believe in a better course to say so plainly and unequivocally.

Kerry now favors partial withdrawal.

The La Repubblica Revelations

Crooked Timber has the latest.  Key summary:

As best as I can piece this together, the timeline that La Repubblica is arguing for goes as follows. Italian intelligence collected [genuine] information that Hussein was trying to obtain raw uranium at the end of the 1980’s, before the First Gulf War. This information was stored by the branch of Italian intelligence dealing with weapon proliferation issues. When the invasion of Iraq was imminent, this information was brought out from the archives, and bundled together with fake documents in order to make the latter look more legitimate. This dossier was then circulated to UK and US intelligence. The latter didn’t bite at first, causing the director of Italian intelligence to use back channels to Hadley and to Wolfowitz via Ledeen. UK intelligence did bite, either then or later. UK intelligence later claimed that it had a source of intelligence independent from the faked documents saying that Iraq was trying to obtain uranium. However, according to La Repubblica the ‘independent’ source was also from Italian intelligence, and related to efforts by Hussein’s regime to obtain uranium in the 1980’s. Hence, it was for all intents and purposes irrelevant to the question of whether Hussein was trying to obtain uranium in post-sanctions Iraq.

Usual caveats apply — we don’t know how true this is, or what La Repub’s sources are. 

And it begs a very important question:  Why would someone in the Italian intelligence agency want to mislead US and UK intelligence with false information regarding Saddam and Niger?  Were they being "helpful" or "hurtful" to Bush’s interests?  In fact, in whose interest were they acting?

Bush Reinstates Wages In Katrina-land

A sign of a weak White House, with good results:

WASHINGTON – The Bush administration will reinstate rules requiring that companies awarded federal contracts for Hurricane Katrina pay prevailing wages, usually an amount close to the pay scales in local union contracts.

Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., was among congressmen critical of the administration’s decision to waive the requirement and who met Wednesday with White House chief of staff Andrew Card. He said Card told them the wage requirement would be reinstated Nov. 8.

"We thought it was bad policy and bad politics, and I guess they accepted our argument," King told The Associated Press. "There’s no need to antagonize organized labor."

King was part of a congressional delegation headed by Reps. Frank LoBiondo, R-N.J., and Steven LaTourette, R-Ohio, that met with Card.

In the immediate aftermath of Katrina, President Bush suspended provisions of the 1931 Davis-Bacon Act, which sets wages for employees on federal contracts to ensure they are not underpaid.

The administration contended the move would reduce rebuilding costs and help open opportunities to minority-owned companies, but unions and other critics said it would result in lower pay for workers.

Malkin Dislikes Round Numbers

Michelle Malkin, in her Townhall column, asks:

The anti-war Left couldn’t wait for the death of the 2,000th soldier in Iraq. Peace activists have been gearing up for protests, vigils, and other events this week to mark the completely bogus milestone. Why 2,000? Was the 2nd or 555th or 1,678th death not as worth mourning as any other death with nice round numbers?

Of course not, Moonbat.  All the deaths are tragic.  They were tragic when Ted Koppel tried to read them on Nightline, and your ilk got all flustered. 

But 2,000, being a round number, is a milestone, and serves as a time to reflect.

Let’s not be faux stupid.  When people hit their 40th birthday, it’s a big deal (whether they admit it or not), although that particular day only means that they are one day older than the previous day.  Round numbers, as well as anniversaries that come in ten’s and five’s — we remember these things as significant points.  And so do you, Michelle:

  • Remember The Cole – Michelle’s post about the fifth year anniversary of the bombing of the Cole.  Where was the four year anniversary post, Michelle?  You were blogging then, yet you failed to mention it at all.
  • Oklahoma City: Ten Years Later:  Michelle’s post marking the ten year anniversary of the Oklahoma bombing.  What is her obsession with round numbers?
  • This Day In History: Michelle notes all her fellow bloggers who are writing about the sixtieth anniversary of Iwo Jima.  What’s so special about 60?  What about 59?
  • Blogiversary Celebrations:  Michelle notes the passing of her half-year of blogging.  Nothing was mentioned on the 7th month, 8th month, 9th month, etc. "blogiversary". (she blogs again at her one year mark in "A Year In The Life Of A Blog")

So, Michelle, please don’t pretend that certain events and numbers never act as milestones.  They do.  They trigger retrospection.  To suggest otherwise is an insult to my intelligence, and a demonstration of your lack of it.

UPDATE:  What The Rude Pundit says.

ANOTHER UPDATE:  Malkin is now decrying MoveOn.org for a "How Many More"-type ad.  She says MoveOn is "exploiting the dead". 

Geez. 

If I could corner her in a room for just one second, I would like to ask her to distinguish between what MoveOn does, versus what she does on a daily basis with the 9/11 dead. 

Except if I had her "in a room for just one second", my time would be better spent kicking her in the crotch (oh, yes, people — she’s got ’em), so I probably wouldn’t have time to even pose my question.

Operation Yellow Elephant++

I’ve had my share of fun with college-age Republicans for their hypocrisy regarding Iraq.  They are all gung-ho about the war and how patriotic they are, but when it comes down to actually fighting the war themselves, they wimp out with lame excuses ("I’m fighting the war at home", etc.)

But this story takes the cake.  An anti-war college student named Alex Cornell du Houx is being deployed to Iraq (he is a Marine), and he willingly goes because he recognizes it is his duty as a Marine. 

The response from the pro-war students?  They slam him.

While Cornell du Houx has actively rallied against many of President Bush’s policies, he feels that his involvement in the Marines is not a conflict of interest.

"Regardless of my opinions regarding the war in Iraq, it is my duty as a U.S. Marine to serve and I am ready and willing to do my job to its fullest extent," he said.

Others on campus, particularly his political opponents in the Bowdoin College Republicans, feel differently about his service. Daniel Schuberth, a leader of the Bowdoin College Republicans and College Republican national secretary, said, "I applaud Mr. Houx for his service, just as I applaud any other soldier who is brave enough to take up arms in defense of his country. I find it troubling, however, that one of the most vocal opponents of our president, our country and our mission in Iraq has chosen to fight for a cause he claims is wrong. Mr. Houx’s rhetoric against the war on terror places him in agreement with the most radical fringes of the Democratic Party, and I am left to question his logic and motivation."

The General writes a letter:

Dan Schuberth
Secretary, College Republican National Committee

Dear Mr. Schuberth,

It takes a lot of balls for an officer of the College Republican National Committee to attack a soldier heading off to war. When you did so, you opened yourself up to being assailed as a cowardly yellow elephant and a souless, political hack who selfishly places his partisan ambitions above all that is right and decent. Thank God you didn’t let that stop you.

It’s important for people to know that although Alex Cornell du Houx is honorably keeping the commitment he made to the Marine Reserves in high school, he is still a major player in the Maine College Democrats and a vocal opponent of Our Leader and the Iraq Phase of the Eternal War to Resubjugate Brown People. He doesn’t deserve to face death in battle for the glory of Our Leader and his Administration of the Indicted. That honor should be reserved for people like you, able-bodied, albeit overweight, College Republicans who place the needs of the party ahead of national interest.

I was particularly impressed by your claim that this young Marine opposed his country by opposing the president. It demonstrates that you are capable of doing whatever it takes to destroy your political opponents. Just as such former College Republican greats as Scooter Libby and Karl Rove betrayed the identity of a CIA agent for political purposes, you accuse an Iraq-bound Marine of treason simply because he protests Our Leader’s policies. Obviously, you have the right stuff to go far in today’s Republican Party.

There is still more you can do. Join the Marines and follow du Houx to Iraq, and when an opportunity presents itself, betray him to the enemy. That’s what Dick Cheney would do.

Heterosexually yours,

Gen. JC Christian, patriot

Hindrocket Wins Wanker Of The Day Award, Again

From Is That Legal, via Atrios:

John Hinderaker, yesterday:

Tomorrow may bring indictments of Karl Rove and Scooter Libby on charges that can charitably be described as trivial. Tonight, one of our readers urged us to link to President Bush’s great speech to the Joint Armed Forces Officers’ Wives’ group rather than being distracted by the minutiae of the day. Good suggestion.

John Hinderaker, December 17, 1998:

"Like many others, we have been frustrated by the apparent inability of much of the American public to take the Clinton scandals seriously. "It’s not about sex," we have patiently repeated to our benighted friends. "It’s about perjury. It’s about obstruction of justice. The sex is only incidental. At most it was the motive for the crimes. You wouldn’t think murder was unimportant just because the motive for the murder was sex, would you?" So goes our argument."

Four Questions

The Liberal Avenger points to a wonderful Salon article which asks "four of the biggest questions Fitzgerald’s investigation may be able to answer".  I’ll post the "questions", but seriously, the whole article is worth a read:

Did the vice president’s office put pressure on intelligence analysts in the run-up to war?

Did pressure from the vice president’s office have anything to do with the more aggressive views expressed in the 2002 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) or the accompanying "white paper" about Iraq’s weapons threat?

Who forged the Niger documents that purported to show a sales agreement for Uranium with Iraq?

What role did the vice president’s office and the Pentagon play in gathering and disseminating intelligence from sources outside the normal intelligence process?

Inquiring (enquiring?) minds want to know.

The Credibility Gap

MalkinuglyYesterday, eternally-outraged Michelle Malkin wrote a long post entitled "Al Franken Is Cracking Up".  Her thesis was that Al Franken is "cracking up" because he took part in a silly skit in which he symbolically beats up a conservative (actually an Air America studiohand).  It was a silly skit and promotion gimmick for Franken’s new book "The Truth . . . with Jokes".

Michelle writes:

The real joke is that Franken’s staged assault inadvertently exposes and underscores the truth about the Bush-deranged Left. Over the past few years, we’ve seen frightfully Franken-esque intolerance, violence, and hatred spread from the moonbat fringes to the liberal mainstream to the top echelons of the Democrat party.

Intolerance?  Violence?  Hatred?  From liberals?  Is she fucking kidding?

Let’s start with violence.  I’m not aware of violence emanating from liberals.  And certainly not the docile "top echelons of the Democratic party".  We’re the anti-war crowd, Michelle.  Keep that in mind.  The violence you see, Michelle, is in your head.

And "intolerance".  Let’s see.  Who came into the public spotlight by writing a book suggesting that Arabs — even law-abiding ones — be placed in special "camps," just like we did with Japanese-Americans in WWII?  Oh, yeah.  It was you, Malkin.

Speaking of books (as well as intolerance), Michelle has a new book out called "Unhinged:  Exposing Liberals Gone Wild" in which she whines about the hate mail she gets after she attacks people with her lies.  It’s an unintentionally ironic book, whose subtitle should be "How I Can Dish It Out, But Can’t Take It".  Or maybe "Pot. Kettle. Black."

Anyway, Malkin doesn’t seem to have the pulse of the nation.  Malkin’s book was published October 24, 20o5; Franken’s book was published the following day.

Thanks to Tbogg, we can see exactly who of the two pundits is on the "moonbat fringe":

Franken’s The Truth

# Hardcover: 352 pages
# Publisher: Dutton Adult (October 25, 2005)
# Language: English
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Malkin’s Unhinged

# Hardcover: 256 pages
# Publisher: Regnery Publishing (October 24, 2005)
# Language: English
# ISBN: 0895260301
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# Amazon.com Sales Rank: #2,394 in Books

And nobody had written in to review Michelle’s book (compared to 119 reviews for Franken’s book).

That was last night at 11:30 when Tbogg posted that.  This morning, Malkin’s book is ranked #3,460.

So Michelle, do yourself and the country a favor: shut up.

I’m Teh Unhip

Lately, I have been seeing this word a lot: "teh".  For example, here is a post at Sadly, No which reads in its entirety: "Teh funny". 

And it links to something funny. 

Well, I finally had it.  I wanted to know what "teh" meant.  Guess what it means?  "The".  And when used in front of an adjective, it turns the adjective into a superlative.

So "He is teh lame" means "He is the lamest".

Mystery solved.

I have one more question though:  Why?

Viral Video

BsbsinaThis video of two Chinese students lip-synching to the Backstreet Boy’s "I Want It That Way" is the latest in "viral video" — homemade videos that, for some reason, get passed around, emailed, uploaded, downloaded, and talked about.

Why everybody loves these silly homebaked videos, I do not know.  But they are strangely compelling, like a bad car accident.

Still, for our money, the best viral video is still the "Numa Numa" kid.  See his video here and read about the whole Numa Numa phenomenon here.

Less Than One Hour To Fitzmasday?

Steve Clemons:

An uber-insider source has just reported the following to TWN:

1. 1-5 indictments are being issued. The source feels that it will be towards the higher end.

2. The targets of indictment have already received their letters.

3. The indictments will be sealed indictments and "filed" tomorrow [Wednesday].

4. A press conference is being scheduled for Thursday.

The shoe is dropping.

More soon.

CBS adds some info (via Think Progress):

CBS’ JOHN ROBERTS: Lawyers familiar with the case think Wednesday is when special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald will make known his decision, and that there will be indictments. Supporters say Rove and the vice president’s chief of staff, Scooter Libby, are in legal jeopardy. But they insisted today the two are secondary players, that it was an unidentified Mr. X who actually gave the name of CIA agent V alerie Plame to reporters. Fitzgerald knows who Mr. X is, they say, and if he isn’t indicted, there’s no way Rove or Libby should be. But charges may not focus on the leak at all. Obstruction of justice or perjury are real possibilities. Did Rove or Libby change statements made under oath? Did they deliberately leave critical facts out of their testimony or did they honestly forget? Some Republicans urged Rove to step down if indicted. Not a happy prospect for president Bush.

Who is "Mr. X"?

SCHIEFFER: John, I am very interested in Mr. X. Is there any clue or hint as to whether he be – maybe someone who outranks Libby and Rove or would he be a lower-ranking official?

ROBERTS: The best guess is that Mr. X, even though his name is not known and some people are just speculating on who he might be or she might be, is somebody who is actually outside the White House, and in that case would be of a lower rank that both Rove and Libby.

My guess:  Bolton.

Chill The Champagne

Raw Story, which has been slightly ahead of the curve on Plamegate these past few weeks (i.e., it seems to have reliable inside information), reports the following:

Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald has decided to seek indictments in the outing of CIA operative Valerie Plame Wilson and has submitted at least one to the grand jury, those close to the investigation tell RAW STORY.

Fitzgerald will seek at least two indictments, the sources say. They note that it remains to be seen whether the grand jury will approve the charges.

Those familiar with the case state that Fitzgerald may not seek indictments that assert officials leaked Plame’s name illegally. Rather, they say that he will focus charges in the arena of lying to investigators. The sources said, however, they wouldn’t rule out charges of conspiracy.

The specifics of the charges remain unclear, and they are not final, so charges beyond lying to the grand jury could certainly be handed down.

Any possible indictments are now in the hands of the grand jury. They are expected to be made public later this week.

Oh, Yeah. Democrats.

The Hill is reporting that the Democratic Party is working on a slogan for the 2006 midterm elections.  They reportedly have it narrowed down to two: "Together, We Can Do Better" or "Together, America Can Do Better".

I kind of like the "do better" strategy, although I think it will cause many to think, "Well, a duck could do better".

But given the two choices, the first one is preferable.  "We" is ambiguous enough to mean "we" as in "America" OR "we" as in "Democrats".  Let the listener decide.

Wonkette imagines some of the rejected slogans:

The Hill reports that "The message project considered ‘dozens’ of potential slogans," before settling on the "do better" strategy. Rejected slogans included, we hear, "You Could Do Worse," "It’s Not Like There’s a Third Party," and "Sorry About that Kerry Thing."

The Pollari-Hadley Connection

Josh Marshall, not one to give in to hysterics and histrionics, points to an article in today’s Italian Daily La Repubblica — an article which, if accurate, could "rock the foundations of official Washington".

I strongly urge you to read the whole thing, including Josh’s cautionary caveats, but here is the gist:

It’s about the forged Niger/uranium documents.   Back in 2002, the Bush administration wanted to refer to the uranium sales between Iraq and Niger as evidence that Saddam had an active nuclear program.  Unfortunately, the CIA believed then, as they do now, that there was no evidence of a Iraq/Niger sale, and urged Bush to keep it out of a speech in September 2002.

Eventually, Bush did refer to the alleged (attempted) sale of yellowcake to Saddam’s Iraq, in a speech on October 7, 2002.  (It was this reference to the yellowcake sale that prompted Cheney to ask the CIA to check out whether the sale actually took place, which led to Ambassador Joe Wilson going to Africa to investigate on behlaf of the CIA, which led to Joe Wilson publicly reporting that the whole Niger thing was bogus, which led to anger in the halls of the White House, which led to the outting of Wilson’s wife — Valerie Plame — as a CIA agent, which has now led to the Fitzgerald investigation).

But what the Italian newspaper article reveals is that sometime in September 2002, a guy named Nicolo Pollari was trying to pass on documents about the alleged sale to the White House (doing an end run around the CIA).  Nicolo Pollari is not a nobody — he is the head of the Italian military intelligence. 

More importantly, one week before Bush first mentioned the yellowcake sale in his October 7 speech, Pollari met with Stephen Hadley (then deputy advisor for the NSA) to discuss the documents — documents that Pollari knew were forgeries.

So what’s the implication here?  The White House wanted evidence of an Iraqi weapons system, but the CIA was saying there was no evidence of a uranium sale.  So the White House (through Hadley) met with the head of Italian military intelligence, who gave details about the documents relating to a supposed sale, and voila — the White House could now make the claim . . . even knowing that the documents were fake.

Josh Marshall says there is more to this story coming, but it should be up on your radar now.

UPDATE:  Okay, I’m in the thickets on the timeline.  Or Josh is.  Or somebody is.  Kevin Drum writes about the Niger/Iraq documents as well from a different angle but comes to a similar conclusion — that when Bush first mentioned the alleged sale of uranium to Iraq, the White House knew that the information was false.  They knew the year before!

They knew that not only were the Nigerien documents fake, but that they had been proven fake the previous year — though not by Wilson or the IAEA. At that time, everybody thought the timeline went like this: (1) Bush gives SOTU address in January 2003, (2) IAEA proves Nigerien documents are phony in March. That’s bad, but not catastrophic. However, the real timeline, known to only a few, was this: (1) State Department determines Nigerien docs are phony in October 2002, (2) Bush mentions African uranium anyway in January SOTU address.

This blows the whole lid off of the defense that "the Bush Administration was given bad information".  It didn’t.  It (apparently) intentionally used information that it knew was false, avoiding the regular channels of the CIA and the State Department.

This explains why the White House attempted to discredit Joe Wilson — because they thought that Wilson had proof that the White House intentionally mislead the American people by referencing a uranium sale that the White House knew to be bogus.  (The ironic thing is that Joe Wilson didn’t have such proof, but his op-ed piece came dangerously close to exposing it anyway).

P.S.  Kevin posts a helpful "Uraniumgate timeline":

  • February 2002: The CIA receives "verbatim text" from Italian intelligence of some documents claiming that Saddam Hussein had tried to purchase uranium yellowcake from Niger. Joe Wilson goes to Niger to investigate this claim and reports back that it seems highly unlikely.

  • October 2002: State Department intelligence agency (INR) gets an actual copy of the Niger docs and immediately concludes that they’re bogus. However, nobody outside the government knows this.

  • January 2003: George Bush gives SOTU address, claiming that Iraq has sought uranium from Africa.

  • March 2003: IAEA publicly announces the Niger docs are forgeries.

  • May/June 2003: Based on anonymous sourcing from Wilson, Kristof and Pincus report on the Niger story, mistakenly saying that "the envoy" had debunked the docs back in February 2002.

  • July 6, 2003: Wilson publishes his op-ed.

  • July 11, 2003: CIA director George Tenet admits that Bush shouldn’t have included the uranium claim in the SOTU.

UPDATE:  The American Prospect flushes out the details.  Key grafs (with my emphasis):

Although Sismi’s involvement in promoting the Niger yellowcake tale to U.S. and British intelligence has been previously reported, the series in La Repubblica includes many new details, including the name of a specific Sismi officer, Antonio Nucera, who helped to set the Niger forgeries hoax in motion.

What may be most significant to American observers, however, is the newspaper’s allegation that the Italians sent the bogus intelligence about Niger and Iraq not only through traditional allied channels such as the CIA, but seemingly directly into the White House. That direct White House channel amplifies questions about a now-infamous 16-word reference to the Niger uranium in President Bush’s 2003 State of the Union address — which remained in the speech despite warnings from the CIA and the State Department that the allegation was not substantiated.

2000

Casualties There is no earthly logical reason why the 2000th U.S. soldier killed in Iraq is more tragic than the 1999th or, for that matter, the 1998th.  These are miles on your car’s odometer — these are individual people.  With families.  With friends.  And with futures which are no more.

But still, for some reason, "2000" is viewed as a milestone.  And zoom, we’ve hit it:

The war in Iraq saw two milestones Tuesday that reflect the country’s path to democracy and its human toll as officials said the referendum on a draft constitution passed and the U.S. military’s death toll reached 2,000.

CNN’s count of U.S. fatalities reflects reports from military sources and includes deaths in Iraq, Kuwait and other units assigned to the Iraq campaign.

Among the latest casualties, an American soldier was killed Saturday by a roadside bomb, and a roadside blast killed two Marines in combat Friday near Amariya in the western Anbar province, according to the U.S. military.

Since the U.S.-led invasion in March 2003, more than 15,000 American service members have been wounded in the conflict, according to the Defense Department.

What A Piece Of Work Is Man
How noble in reason
How infinite in faculties
In form and moving
How express and admirable.
In action, how like an angel
In apprehension how like a god
The beauty of the world
The paragon of animals

I have of late
but wherefore I know not
lost all my mirth.
This goodly frame
The earth
seems to me a sterile promontory

This most excellent canopy
The air– Look you!
This brave o’erhanging firmamentBlog_war_right_thing
This majestical roof
Fretted with golden fire.
Why it appears no other thing to me
Than a foul and pestilent congregation
of vapors.

UPDATE:  Kevin Drum reports another Iraqi War milestone.  According to the WSJ, more than half of all Americans now think that invading Iraq was the wrong thing to do.  The raw data is here.  Kevin’s chart is at the right.

MOONBAT ALERT UPDATE:

Michelle Malkin links to this moron, who argues the following:

"The 2,000 service members killed in Iraq supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom is not a milestone. It is an artificial mark on the wall set by individuals or groups with specific agendas and ulterior motives."

No, it’s not "artificial".  It’s a real number confirmed by the Department of Defense

Whether or not it is a significant "milestone" is a subjective opinion.  And I suppose the same could be said for the number of terrorist killed, right?  Or the number of Iraqis voting?

UPDATE:  Billmon says it best, without words:

2000_5

Capital Comedy

Brief notes not worthy of their own separate post:

Bush Prevents Kids From Seeing "Wizard Of Oz":

One hundred Brentwood kindergartners, many dressed in costumes, were all set to go see "The Wizard of Oz" on Friday when their first-ever field trip was blocked by the nation’s 43rd president.

They never got to see the wizard.

President George W. Bush, his Marine One helicopter grounded by fog, brought morning rush hour to a standstill while his motorcade proceeded from West Los Angeles through the San Fernando Valley to Simi Valley for the dedication of the Air Force One Pavilion.

"We had buses all loaded up – but by the time they got to school it was too late," said Julie Fahn, a volunteer mom at Kenter Canyon Elementary in Brentwood, where girls had dressed as Dorothy to see the play performed in Malibu.

"My poor children – they were so disappointed. They’re all so sad. They were inconvenienced by a silly motorcade down Sunset (Boulevard)."

How conveeeenient!!  Tom Delay Wins A Paper Shredder At Texas Auction:

Indicted Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Texas) bid on a wicker basket two weekends ago at the Needville Harvest Festival in Fort Bend County in his home state. And he won not just the basket, but the gadget inside it, too — a paper shredder, Roll Call’s Mary Anne Akers reports Tuesday.

Oh, those silly third world people!  Letters "Q" And "W" Are Illegal:

A Turkish court has fined 20 people for using the letters Q and W on placards at a Kurdish new year celebration, under a law that bans use of characters not in the Turkish alphabet, rights campaigners said.

The court in the southeastern city of Siirt fined each of the 20 people 100 new lira ($75.53) for holding up the placards, written in Kurdish, at the event last year. The letters Q and W do not exist in the Turkish alphabet.

Rosa Parks Dead At 92

Rosaparksarrested_2

Pictured: Rosa Parks being booked.

There’s not much to say about Rosa Parks that hasn’t already been said.  Many admire her for being the catalyst for an idealistic, peaceful movement for racial equality. But we like her because she was pissed, and simply said "Enough is enough".  It was a small gesture — one that has been repeated again and again since then.  Her name is synonymous with anyone who takes a stand against the injustices of their time and place (see, e.g., "the Rosa Parks of the anti-war movement", the Rosa Parks of Pakistan", the Rosa Parks of the Jewish deaf world", the Rosa Parks of housing", etc.).  Truly, an icon.

More:

Reuters obit

Wikipedia entry

P.S.  I assume that I heard this news over the radio while I slept, because I dreamt last night that she died and I was the funeral director.

Plamegate Spotlight On Cheney

The New York Times doesn’t quite come out and directly implicate Cheney, but if this is true, it certainly hurts Cheney politically.

I. Lewis Libby Jr., Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff, first learned about the C.I.A. officer at the heart of the leak investigation in a conversation with Mr. Cheney weeks before her identity became public in 2003, lawyers involved in the case said Monday.

Notes of the previously undisclosed conversation between Mr. Libby and Mr. Cheney on June 12, 2003, appear to differ from Mr. Libby’s testimony to a federal grand jury that he initially learned about the C.I.A. officer, Valerie Wilson, from journalists, the lawyers said.

The notes, taken by Mr. Libby during the conversation, for the first time place Mr. Cheney in the middle of an effort by the White House to learn about Ms. Wilson’s husband, Joseph C. Wilson IV, who was questioning the administration’s handling of intelligence about Iraq’s nuclear program to justify the war.

Lawyers involved in the case, who described the notes to The New York Times, said they showed that Mr. Cheney knew that Ms. Wilson worked at the C.I.A. more than a month before her identity was made public and her undercover status was disclosed in a syndicated column by Robert D. Novak on July 14, 2003.

Mr. Libby’s notes indicate that Mr. Cheney had gotten his information about Ms. Wilson from George J. Tenet, the director of central intelligence, in response to questions from the vice president about Mr. Wilson. But they contain no suggestion that either Mr. Cheney or Mr. Libby knew at the time of Ms. Wilson’s undercover status or that her identity was classified. Disclosing a covert agent’s identity can be a crime, but only if the person who discloses it knows the agent’s undercover status.

It would not be illegal for either Mr. Cheney or Mr. Libby, both of whom are presumably cleared to know the government’s deepest secrets, to discuss a C.I.A. officer or her link to a critic of the administration.

Musical About Primordial Goo

Primordialsoup Well, why not?

Greg Kotis and Mark Hollmann’s Yeast Nation, a new comic musical about single-celled yeast organisms and their struggles in the timeline of Earth’s evolution, was heard in a private industry reading in New York City Oct. 21.

The Tony Award-winning writers are known for their satiric Broadway musical, Urinetown. The starry Manhattan Theatre Club presentation of Yeast Nation included contributions by two of the earlier show’s stars (Hunter Foster and Nancy Opel) as well as its director, John Rando.

In 2002, Kotis won a Tony Award for his book to Urinetown and Hollmann and Kotis shared a Best Score Tony for the show (Hollmann is the composer and co-lyricist, Kotis is the co-lyricist). John Rando won a Best Direction Tony for Urinetown.

The ensemble-oriented Yeast Nation is about a kingdom of one-celled yeast blobs (all of them named Jan – pronounced "yon") and how they reach for a new food source in the process of evolution. Within the community is a pair of daffy lovers, a leader, a villain, and more.

Bush: “The Buck Stops Everywhere But Here”

Looks like the Bubble Boy is mad at the bubble.  The Daily News writes about Bush’s edge-of-meltdown demeanor:

Facing the darkest days of his presidency, President Bush is frustrated, sometimes angry and even bitter, his associates say.

With a seemingly uncontrollable insurgency in Iraq, the White House is bracing for the political fallout from a grim milestone that could come any day: the combat death of the 2,000th American G.I.

Last week alone, 23 military personnel were killed in Iraq, and five were wounded yesterday in a relentless series of attacks across the country.

This week could also bring a special prosecutor’s decision that could shake the foundations of the Bush government.

The President’s top political guru, Karl Rove, and Vice President Cheney’s right-hand man, Lewis (Scooter) Libby, are at the center of a two-year criminal probe into the leak of a CIA agent’s identity. Many Bush staffers believe indictments are likely.

"He’s like the lion in winter," observed a political friend of Bush. "He’s frustrated. He remains quite confident in the decisions he has made. But this is a guy who wanted to do big things in a second term. Given his nature, there’s no way he’d be happy about the way things have gone."

Bush usually reserves his celebrated temper for senior aides because he knows they can take it. Lately, however, some junior staffers have also faced the boss’ wrath.

"This is not some manager at McDonald’s chewing out the help," said a source with close ties to the White House when told about these outbursts. "This is the President of the United States, and it’s not a pleasant sight."

***

"The President is just unhappy in general and casting blame all about," said one Bush insider. "Andy [Card, the chief of staff] gets his share. Karl gets his share. Even Cheney gets his share. And the press gets a big share."

The vice president remains Bush’s most trusted political confidant. Even so, the Daily News has learned Bush has told associates Cheney was overly involved in intelligence issues in the runup to the Iraq war that have been seized on by Bush critics.

Bush is so dismayed that "the only person escaping blame is the President himself," said a sympathetic official, who delicately termed such self-exoneration "illogical."

I wouldn’t call it "illogical"; more like "denial".

Iraq Full Of Ingrates

With the U.S. death toll approaching 2,000, let’s take a brief sstop to see exactly how Iraqis feel about their liberation.  From Britain’s Sunday Telegram:

Millions of Iraqis believe that suicide attacks against British troops are justified, a secret military poll commissioned by senior officers has revealed.

The poll, undertaken for the Ministry of Defence and seen by The Sunday Telegraph, shows that up to 65 per cent of Iraqi citizens support attacks and fewer than one per cent think Allied military involvement is helping to improve security in their country.

It demonstrates for the first time the true strength of anti-Western feeling in Iraq after more than two and a half years of bloody occupation.

The nationwide survey also suggests that the coalition has lost the battle to win the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people, which Tony Blair and George W Bush believed was fundamental to creating a safe and secure country.

That’s pretty bad.  Here’s more:

The survey was conducted by an Iraqi university research team that, for security reasons, was not told the data it compiled would be used by coalition forces. It reveals:

• Forty-five per cent of Iraqis believe attacks against British and American troops are justified – rising to 65 per cent in the British-controlled Maysan province;

82 per cent are “strongly opposed” to the presence of coalition troops;

• less than one per cent of the population believes coalition forces are responsible for any improvement in security;

67 per cent of Iraqis feel less secure because of the occupation;

• 43 per cent of Iraqis believe conditions for peace and stability have worsened;

72 per cent do not have confidence in the multi-national forces.

The opinion poll, carried out in August, also debunks claims by both the US and British governments that the general well-being of the average Iraqi is improving in post-Saddam Iraq.

Think we’ve overstayed our welcome yet?

Frist Is A Lying Bastard

You know how Frist was saying that he was never aware of his stock holdings, so he can’t be held responsible for the tremendous profit he made on their sale based on what would generally be acknowledged as insider information? 

Well, it turns out that, in the reality world, Frist was . . . uh . . . you know . . . aware of his stock holdings.

Fitzmas, Fitzmas Time Is Here

RonK at Next Hurrah has some thoughts about Fitzmas, scheduled (most say) to arrive this week:

The goose is cooked, the ox is gored, the chickens are coming home to roost. The kiddies are giddy with visions of sugarplums, marching frogs, TV specials, seasonal trappings and wrappings piled so deep you can’t find the dog in the living room.

Fitzmas is coming — all holidays rolled into one! The extravagance of Mardi Gras plus Thanksgiving plus Boxing Day plus Purim plus Halloween … the weightier meditations and rededications of 4th of July, Yom Kippur, New Year’s Eve, Good Friday, Memorial Day and Pesach (not to mention St. Swithin’s and Groundhog’s Days, with their traditional over-reading of omens).

Most of us celebrate the shallow Fitzmas, a fireworks-and-mincemeat festival of over-indulgence. Sweet revenge, fat targets, overcooked intelligence. Eat, drink and be merry, tomorrow we diet.

But I beg your indulgence for a note of perspective, a look at the deeper meanings of Fitzmas. Sure, the Big Day looms big … until you look at the monumental developments that surround it. Fitzmas is not the beginning nor the end, just one spike in a sawtooth chain of events that lashed back and wrapped around the ankles of reckless vandals who came to DC to tear the town a new one. (They’ll wish they’d stuck with ordinary hatchets.)

For starters, balance your expectations. Anticipation can bring disappointment, especially if you write too much detail into your Fitzmas Wish List.

  • You don’t know who Fitzgerald will indict. I don’t know. He may not know … yet. A target-rich environment means immense discretion, not just in intensity (what to charge, to what degree, for what penalty) but tactical and even stylistic. Who will he turn against whom, and in what sequence? Public ambush, or slow, crushing constriction? Let them plead out and leave in disgrace, or lay out the whole record in formal court?
  • First-round indictments will not be the last. Fitzmas is the first scouring breach of a system of levees that protected a regime sunk below ethical sea level. The first break leads to more breaks in quick succession, followed by slow, desperate struggles for survival … and for status among the ruins.
  • Things take time. The first trophy kills strike fear into the unindicted, who become more malleable. Rats eagerly spill their guts, taking the story in unexpected directions. Whole new scandals may surface. Defensive facades will crumble as reliable retainers desert their posts, and a new generation of prosecutors, journalists and politicians gets the hang of the enterprise.
  • Remember, too, the Joys of Fitzmas could be followed by the agonies of a Saturday Night Massacre or a Parade of Presidential Pardons.

Again, balance. Let’s not obsess on the Plame outing. They nailed Al Capone for tax evasion, but there are bigger crimes afoot. Burning a CIA NOC is only the tip of just one iceberg in a sea of troubles. America has been done real and enduring harm, on monumental scale, and the Plame Affair is a flyspeck in a shitstorm.

Fair enough.

White House Goes After The Onion

Truth is funnier than satire sometimes:

You might have thought that the White House had enough on its plate late last month, what with its search for a new Supreme Court nominee, the continuing war in Iraq and the C.I.A. leak investigation. But it found time to add another item to its agenda – stopping The Onion, the satirical newspaper, from using the presidential seal.

The newspaper regularly produces a parody of President Bush’s weekly radio address on its Web site (www.theonion.com/content/node/40121), where it has a picture of President Bush and the official insignia.

"It has come to my attention that The Onion is using the presidential seal on its Web site," Grant M. Dixton, associate counsel to the president, wrote to The Onion on Sept. 28. (At the time, Mr. Dixton’s office was also helping Mr. Bush find a Supreme Court nominee; days later his boss, Harriet E. Miers, was nominated.)

Citing the United States Code, Mr. Dixton wrote that the seal "is not to be used in connection with commercial ventures or products in any way that suggests presidential support or endorsement." Exceptions may be made, he noted, but The Onion had never applied for such an exception.

Seal1Mmmmm.  Maybe The Onion never sought an exception because nobody who reads The Onion could ever possibly think it was a commercial venture supported or endorsed by the President.

Moron.

The Onion was amused. "I’m surprised the president deems it wise to spend taxpayer money for his lawyer to write letters to The Onion," Scott Dikkers, editor in chief, wrote to Mr. Dixton. He suggested the money be used instead for tax breaks for satirists.

Heh.  Even The Onion’s lawyers are funny.

** Use of the Presidential Seal in this post does not represent an endorsement by the President of the views contained herein.  We just do it because it amuses us.  Seriously.  Plus, we’re kind of hoping to get a letter from the Justice Department.

We Saw This Coming

I’m not sure who it was, but somebody expected that Republicans would downplay the possibility that members of the Bush Administration would be indicted for "only" perjury.  Yet, when it was Clinton, perjury was a terrible terrible thing.

Well, Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson wins the award.  Via Think Progress, we learn what she said in February 1999:

[S]omething needs to be said that is a clear message that our rule of law is intact and the standards for perjury and obstruction of justice are not gray….  [O]ur system of criminal justice depends on people telling the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. That is the lynch pin of our criminal justice system and I don’t want it to be faded in any way.

But now, in light of the pending perjury indictments against members of the administration, perjury is reduced to a mere legal "technicality":

"…if there is going to be an indictment that says something happened, that it is an indictment on a crime and not some perjury technicality where they couldn’t indict on the crime and so they go to something just to show that their two years of investigation was not a waste of time and taxpayer dollars."

Flip.  Flop.  IOKIYAR (It’s Okay If You’re A Republican…)