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Recent Bush Watch Features

Destroying the Constitution: Our Fascist Government, BW Editorial
Bush Watch Op-Eds: The Latest From Wokusch, Chamberlin, Weiner, Uhler, Partridge, Samples, Brasch
U.S. Internet Dying: Why Bush's Free Market Economy Is Not Free To You, Paul Krugman
Op-Eds: from Tom Paine's Corner, ed. by Jason Miller
Another "We Told Ya So: Dictators Are Us, Politex, Dowd
In the Chinese Style: Bush and Cheney Confess To Their Crimes, Maureen Dowd
Caller Correct: Why We Can Be Called A "Fascist State", Christine Tomlinson
Bush Fantasy: Bush Wants To Be Judged By His-Story, Not History, Maureen Dowd
Dick Cheney: Impeaching the Shadow Master, Bernard Weiner
Editorial: Our Exercise in Fascism, Bush Watch
Mr. Evil: Meet The Dictator Behind Dictator Bush (2), Maureen Dowd
Mr. Evil: Meet The Dictator Behind Dictator Bush (1), Frank Rich
Tales of Corporate Fascism: Only Bush Managers Deserve The Truth, Kent Southard
I Did It My Way (tune): I WANT AN IPHONE, David Pogue (lyrics)
Justice Denied: 7 Years Later, NYT Editors Agree With Bush Watch, NYT Editorial
Bush Just-ish: More Reactions To The Libby Commutation, Olbermann, Politex, etc.
Libby's Only The Beginning: Impeach Bush Now!, Jerry Politex
Would Gore Lead Presidential Pack? Is this the Sign We've Been Waiting for? Andy Ostroy
Shoveling...Snow: Washington Mafia Sees Libby As Made Man (excerpts), Frank Rich
Constitution or Cheese? Up and Down the Bush Philosophy, Walter Brasch
U.S. Scam: 20 Things You Should Know About Corporate Crime (excerpts), Russell Mokhiber
Op-Eds: From Our Contributors
Reports: Dictator Bush Committs Felony, Plans To Take Over Country, Congressman, BG
Parody: Scooter Libby Is Ordered Back To Jail, Politex
Habeas Corpus: Senate Committee Votes To Restore Cornerstone Of U.S. Justice System, Melber
What, We Worry? Our TV War , David Sarasohn
Be Afraid: Is There Any Doubt That Bush Uses Terror Warnings For Political Purposes? Olbermann
Empire or Republic? Bush and the Fall Of the United States, Part 2, Jonathan Freedland
Mugged By Corporations: A Spy In A House Of Cards, Kent Southard
Bush, Again: Who Benefits From Floods?, Politex, various
Sheehan : The Corporate War Machine, Politicians, And A Distracted Public, Interview
Health Care Plans: Anything's Better Than What We Have Now, Gawande, Politex
The Golden Rule: Why Have the Dems Failed Us?, Jerry Politex, various
Empire or Republic? Bush and the Fall Of the United States, Jonathan Freedland
Memorial Day, 2007: Bush's War For ME Oil Wealth Takes Blood And Money, various
Slave Labor: Why The Bush-Backed Immigration Bill Will Make Things Worse, Paul Krugman
The Goracle: Listening, Really Listening, To Gore ---Gore, Dionne, Ostroy, Politex
Run, Gore, Run: Impassioned Gore Book Provides Blistering Overview Of U.S. Politics, Kakutani
I'm Back! Random Thoughts After Two Months Away, Jerry Politex
Myth, Religion, and Politics: Bush As Religious Icon: Background, Jerry Barrett

Monday, July 30, 2007

Destroying the Constitution: Our Fascist Government, BW Editorial

As we move into the final years of the Bush-Cheney exercise in fascism, and as various Dem-led congressional committees begin to uncover the melevolant maggots under that particular rock, many Americans feel that the worst is over. However, the fascist Supreme Court created by Bush will remain, and while many of his new laws, directives, and signing statements are unconstitutional, he plays rope-a-dope with the legal system, and what is unconstitutional remains the law of the land. As a White House spokeswoman said the other day in defense of Cheney's bizarre contention that he is his own government: "This is an interesting constitutional question that legal scholars can debate."

While our placid citizens have turned to other aspects of their lives, thinking that the Bush Administration's major threats are behind them, we're learning that the neocons who have been in control have set up secret machinery that will continue to dismantle our democratic traditions, long after Bush and Cheney are gone. And while the illegalities of the past are being ferreted out, the Bush-Cheney fascists continue to devise new methods of pulling down our democracy for their personal gain and that of their friends and their corporate, ideological masters.

While the corporate media in general is satisfied reporting past trangressions and publishing balancing op-eds, and while the Dems, being fascist-lite, have decided upon a no-punishment policy for the illegalities committed by major players in the Bush Administration, our citizens can do nothing but stand by and observe, keeping false hope alive that a Clinton or an Obama will somehow turn us from the fascist path our country has taken during, at least, the last 50 years. Some say the path is built into our system of government and its day-to-day workings. Either way, there's little indication that much will change in the future. --Politex

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Bush's Liar: Impeach Gonzales, NYT Editorial

President Bush often insists he has to be the decider — ignoring Congress and the public when it comes to the tough matters on war, terrorism and torture, even deciding whether an ordinary man in Florida should be allowed to let his wife die with dignity. Apparently that burden does not apply to the functioning of one of the most vital government agencies, the Justice Department.

Americans have been waiting months for Mr. Bush to fire Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, who long ago proved that he was incompetent and more recently has proved that he can’t tell the truth. Mr. Bush refused to fire him after it was clear Mr. Gonzales lied about his role in the political purge of nine federal prosecutors. And he is still refusing to do so — even after testimony by the F.B.I. director, Robert Mueller, that suggests that Mr. Gonzales either lied to Congress about Mr. Bush’s warrantless wiretapping operation or at the very least twisted the truth so badly that it amounts to the same thing.

Mr. Gonzales has now told Congress twice that there was no dissent in the government about Mr. Bush’s decision to authorize the National Security Agency to spy on Americans’ international calls and e-mails without obtaining the legally required warrant. Mr. Mueller and James Comey, a former deputy attorney general, say that is not true. Not only was there disagreement, but they also say that they almost resigned over the dispute.

Both men say that in March 2004 — when Mr. Gonzales was still the White House counsel — the Justice Department refused to endorse a continuation of the wiretapping program because it was illegal. (Mr. Comey was running the department temporarily because Attorney General John Ashcroft had emergency surgery.) Unwilling to accept that conclusion, Vice President Dick Cheney sent Mr. Gonzales and another official to Mr. Ashcroft’s hospital room to get him to approve the wiretapping.

Mr. Comey and Mr. Mueller intercepted the White House team, and they say they watched as a groggy Mr. Ashcroft refused to sign off on the wiretapping and told the White House officials to leave. Mr. Comey said the White House later modified the eavesdropping program enough for the Justice Department to sign off.

Last week, Mr. Gonzales denied that account. He told the Senate Judiciary Committee the dispute was not about the wiretapping operation but was over “other intelligence activities.” He declined to say what those were.

Lawmakers who have been briefed on the administration’s activities said the dispute was about the one eavesdropping program that has been disclosed. So did Mr. Comey. And so did Mr. Mueller, most recently on Thursday in a House hearing. He said he had kept notes.

That was plain enough. It confirmed what most people long ago concluded: that Mr. Gonzales is more concerned about doing political-damage control for Mr. Bush — in this case insisting that there was never a Justice Department objection to a clearly illegal program — than in doing his duty. But the White House continued to defend him.

As far as we can tell, there are three possible explanations for Mr. Gonzales’s talk about a dispute over other — unspecified — intelligence activities. One, he lied to Congress. Two, he used a bureaucratic dodge to mislead lawmakers and the public: the spying program was modified after Mr. Ashcroft refused to endorse it, which made it “different” from the one Mr. Bush has acknowledged. The third is that there was more wiretapping than has been disclosed, perhaps even purely domestic wiretapping, and Mr. Gonzales is helping Mr. Bush cover it up.

Democratic lawmakers are asking for a special prosecutor to look into Mr. Gonzales’s words and deeds. Solicitor General Paul Clement has a last chance to show that the Justice Department is still minimally functional by fulfilling that request.

If that does not happen, Congress should impeach Mr. Gonzales.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Bush Watch Op-Eds: The Latest From Wokusch, Chamberlin, Weiner, Uhler, Partridge, Samples, Brasch

[Editor's Note: An underlying theme in some of the pieces below is that many fear what Bush is going to do before leaving office. Given what has happened and what the men and women in the White House and the anti-American ideology and corporations that control them have done already, this fear is well-founded. Impeachment is a way of slowing down these malevolent forces. --Politex]

<Under the Radar: 10 Warning Signs For Today , Heather Wokusch

Ten warning signs ignored at your own peril…

1. Protest war, lose your property?

On July 17th, The White House quietly announced an Executive Order entitled "Blocking Property of Certain Persons Who Threaten Stabilization Efforts in Iraq." Among other developments, it gives Bush the power to "block" the property of people in the US found to "pose a significant risk of committing" an act of violence which might undermine "political reform in Iraq."

The terms "significant threat" and "act of violence" are unclear. If you attend a demonstration against Bush's definition of "political reform in Iraq" would that count? How about writing an angry letter to the editor?

The vague language also includes outlawing "the making of any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services by, to, or for the benefit of any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order." What if you donate to an anti-war group which, outside of your knowledge, has been blacklisted by the government? Does that mean that your property can be "blocked"?...

Similar to the Patriot Act, the potential implications are staggering.

<Could Bush Take Your House If You Protest His War In Iraq? , Peter Chamberlin

On July 17, 2007, Bush quietly issued an executive order entitled “Executive Order: Blocking Property of Certain Persons Who Threaten Stabilization Efforts in Iraq.” By this order, he made it a crime to commit, or to pose a significant risk of committing…, acts of violence that threaten “the peace and stability of Iraq,” or undermine “efforts to promote economic reconstruction and political reform in Iraq and to provide humanitarian assistance to the Iraqi people.”

It remains to be seen just how far Bush will stretch this law, in light of ongoing attempts by Neocon enemies of America, who charge Americans with “subversive activities” and “providing support to the enemy,” for protesting the war. No one is safe from their crusade to brand most of the American people as “treasonists,” for opposing Bush’s out-of-control “leadership” of the war effort. Even Sen. Hillary Clinton has been accused of these “crimes” by Neocon stooges like Eric Edelman, who attacked her for requesting a briefing for her committee from the Department of Defense on contingency plans for withdrawal from Iraq.

The new Executive Order authorizes the Sec. or Treasury to seize the property and economic assets of any American citizen who is “threatening the peace or stability of Iraq or the Government of Iraq…undermining efforts to promote economic reconstruction and political reform in Iraq..,” or those who “have materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, logistical, or technical support for, or goods or services in support of, such…person whose property and interests…are blocked…”...

<Impeach Bush: Do You Get It NOW? , Bernie Weiner

As Bush&Co. isolate themselves even further in the White House Bunker with their lies, scandals, coverups and unending wars, they're becoming even more reckless and dangerous to America and its citizens. That behavior shouldn't be all that surprising: That's what happens when vicious animals are cornered.

Domestically, they're no longer even trying to hide their aversion to democracy and the Constitution. With his new Executive Order on "executive privilege," for example, Bush openly proclaims that he is untouchable by the rule of law; now there are only two branches of government-- the Legislative Branch is ignored as irrelevant -- and CheneyBush more or less control them both. More on this issue below.

Abroad, the CheneyBush Administration is preparing in the Fall to escalate the Iraq War yet again, at the same time the propaganda machine is being revved-up in preparation for a coming attack on Iran. Both actions will help jihadi-recruiting and thus put at risk even more U.S. troops abroad and citizens at home. Plus, an attack on Iran will have far-reaching consequences with regard to Russia, China, the availability of oil, the rise of the Euro in international trade and the concomitant fall of the dollar, the impact on the U.S. economy, etc. etc.; has Bush&Co. given serious thought to any of these, and other, ramifications?

So, once again, I pose the question to previous Bush voters, to centrists, and independents, and traditionally conservative Republicans: Do you finally get it? Do you understand now why the HardRight CheneyBush Administration has sunk so low in the polls and has little hope of ever getting out, thus taking the Republican Party (and, if you're an elected official, you) down the drain with them in 2008? Do you understand why, since CheneyBush will not resign, impeachment is the only constitutional way to pry their corrupt, itchy fingers from the levers of power?

Some examples here of why we're near the impeachment tipping-point, and why more and true conservative Republicans (among them many elite movers and shakers) are abandoning this sinking ship in record numbers and coming to understand that it's too risky to permit Cheney and Bush to stay in power through January 2009....

<Impeach Bush: A Republic, If We Can Keep It. , Ernest Partridge

The Congressional Democrats offered several excuses for keeping impeachment “off the table.” One familiar response (even by such estimable Senators as Russ Feingold and Bernie Sanders), is that following a successful impeachment in the House, the Senate would surely not convict.

Two replies come to mind: (1) Don’t be so sure of that. When the impeachment proceedings against Richard Nixon began in the House Judiciary Committee, the Republican Senators were solidly against conviction and removal. All that changed when the evidence was brought forth and the public responded. (2) So what if the Senate fails to convict? When the Republican Congress filed impeachment charges against Clinton, they knew full well that it would never get the necessary 67 votes for conviction in the Senate. It would suffice, they assumed, to drag Clinton’s name and behavior through the mud. Of course, they failed to correctly anticipate the public response. In the case of Bush and Cheney, it will be quite enough to expose their treason and their numerous “high crimes and misdemeanors.” The Senators who vote against conviction will then have to justify those votes in the next election. Another dodge is that impeachment would distract the House and the Senate and, as Russ Feingold argues, “put important issues facing our country on the back burner.”...

<The Bush/Cheney Holocaust in Iraq, Part Three: Desperation unto Bombing Iran? , Walter C. Uhler

(Note: Part One of "The Bush/Cheney Holocaust in Iraq: Criminality, Immorality, Incompetence and Desperation examined the criminality and immorality underlying the Bush/Cheney regime's invasion of Iraq (see http://www.walter-c-uhler.com/Reviews/criminal.html ). Part Two, examined the disasters that could have been avoided, except for the gross incompetence with which the invasion was conducted (see http://www.walter-c-uhler.com/Reviews/incompetence.html ). Part Three, below, examines the desperation, which now compels various political actors to contemplate drastic action before the Bush/Cheney regime leaves office.)

Part Three: Desperation unto Bombing Iran?

Thanks to mid-term congressional elections in November 2006 -- during which Americans delivered a crushing rebuke to the Bush/Cheney regime's handling of its war in Iraq -- and thanks to the report of the Iraq Study Group, which was delivered a month later, the cowards in the White House finally admitted that a "new approach" was needed in Iraq.

Cowards? Yes! As more than one observer has lamented about this pair of jokers: "People don't Change." Neither Bush nor Cheney opposed the war in Vietnam, but neither proved brave enough or patriotic enough to volunteer to fight for their country there, when they had the chance. True to form, in April 2004, a full year into his debacle in Iraq, when our cowardly president was asked whether his administration had made any mistakes, the supposedly honest, forthright and swaggering Bush said he could not think of any....

<All They Have Is Each Other , Sheila Samples

Okay. Let's talk about troops. Everybody's doing it. We're bombarded round-the-clock with "support the troops...fund the troops...bring the troops home...surge the troops...use the troops for Commander Guy photo opps..." Congress is embroiled in a ghoulish "troop" food fight that has gone on far too long. Democrats say Republicans demoralize and dishonor the troops by sending them into an unwinnable war built on lies. Republicans counter that, by suggesting the war is lost, Democrats demoralize and dishonor the troops by calling them "losers."

Losers? Oh, yes. Big time. The men and women who wear this nation's uniform are losers every day, in every way. They are not only demoralized and dishonored, but are dehumanized by a diabolical den of dimwits whose eyes never waver from the 2008 prize, and who view "troops" as a faceless mass of political capital to be spent toward winning that prize. Their deserter commander-in-chief and his chickenhawk minions are very careful to call military personnel "troops," lest they assume human form and enter the slumbering masses' consciousness -- a vacuous pit otherwise known as the "dead zone."...

<All We Are Saying, Is Give War A Chance , Walter Brasch

From the tumbleweed towns of Texas to urban Houston and Galveston, from the Rust Belt to the Bible Belt, Americans have taken to the streets to protest. Waving oversized Chinese-made American flags, wearing T-shirts with pictures of Donald Rumsfeld, and holding banners proclaiming, “Destroy Iraq, Save Civilization,” they demand that America accept the “augmentation” of troops in Iraq.

“How can you call for continued war?” I asked one of their leaders. “Because if we leave Iraq,” said Thelma Lou Hodgkins of Whelping Falls, Mo., “we’ll have stood down and the terrorists will win because we can’t stand the Iraqis, so they’ll either stand up or down. Or maybe sit. Or maybe they’d be lying down on the streets.” Mercifully, I cut her off....

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

U.S. Internet Dying: Why Bush's Free Market Economy Is Not Free To You, Paul Krugman

...What most Americans probably don’t know is that...as the Internet has evolved — in particular, as dial-up has given way to broadband connections using DSL, cable and other high-speed links — it’s the United States that has fallen behind. The numbers are startling. As recently as 2001, the percentage of the population with high-speed access in Japan and Germany was only half that in the United States. In France it was less than a quarter. By the end of 2006, however, all three countries had more broadband subscribers per 100 people than we did.

Even more striking is the fact that our “high speed” connections are painfully slow by other countries’ standards. According to the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, French broadband connections are, on average, more than three times as fast as ours. Japanese connections are a dozen times faster. Oh, and access is much cheaper in both countries than it is here. As a result, we’re lagging in new applications of the Internet that depend on high speed. France leads the world in the number of subscribers to Internet TV; the United States isn’t even in the top 10.

What happened to America’s Internet lead? Bad policy. Specifically, the United States made the same mistake in Internet policy that California made in energy policy: it forgot — or was persuaded by special interests to ignore — the reality that sometimes you can’t have effective market competition without effective regulation. You see, the world may look flat once you’re in cyberspace — but to get there you need to go through a narrow passageway, down your phone line or down your TV cable. And if the companies controlling these passageways can behave like the robber barons of yore, levying whatever tolls they like on those who pass by, commerce suffers. America’s Internet flourished in the dial-up era because federal regulators didn’t let that happen — they forced local phone companies to act as common carriers, allowing competing service providers to use their lines.

Clinton administration officials, including Al Gore and Reed Hundt, the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, tried to ensure that this open competition would continue — but the telecommunications giants sabotaged their efforts, while The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page ridiculed them as people with the minds of French bureaucrats. And when the Bush administration put Michael Powell in charge of the F.C.C., the digital robber barons were basically set free to do whatever they liked. As a result, there’s little competition in U.S. broadband — if you’re lucky, you have a choice between the services offered by the local cable monopoly and the local phone monopoly. The price is high and the service is poor, but there’s nowhere else to go.

Meanwhile, as a recent article in Business Week explains, the real French bureaucrats used judicious regulation to promote competition. As a result, French consumers get to choose from a variety of service providers who offer reasonably priced Internet access that’s much faster than anything I can get, and comes with free voice calls, TV and Wi-Fi. It’s too early to say how much harm the broadband lag will do to the U.S. economy as a whole. But it’s interesting to learn that health care isn’t the only area in which the French, who can take a pragmatic approach because they aren’t prisoners of free-market ideology, simply do things better.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Op-Eds: from Tom Paine's Corner, ed. by Jason Miller

1. Could Rudy Giuliani Emerge as the Would-be Prince of Friendly Fascism?

by Paul Donovan

As I’ve stated Rudy Giuliani is currently attempting to disengage himself from Bush by identifying himself closely with the heritage of Republican patron saint Ronald Reagan—and slippery beast that he is, he’s momentarily succeeding. (Considering that Reagan had pretty much the same cast of malefactors in his administration—the Rumsfelds, the Perles, the Elliot Abramses, the Cheneys, Wolfowitzes, and the rest of the Neocon mafia, one could easily argue that, if alive, Reagan might be doing exactly what Bush is doing. To Bush’s credit he has not yet attempted to bankrupt this nation by reinitiating Reagan’s Star Wars project, in hope to zap terrorists from the cosmos, so maybe small differences do exist....


2. Sicko 2: Moore vs. Guppy by Andrew S. Taylor

Here is where the rising arc of bullshit reaches its third-act denouement. You can’t begin a report with this magnitude of obfuscation, you have to build up to it, by winning the viewer’s trust and hypnotizing him with statistical half-truths. TV journalists know very well that the human brain, when presented with a mixture of information and image, will naturally default to the image for the narrative string, rather than the information. They will follow an easy linear progression....


3. What Lies Beneath: Privileged Grotesques, Ordinary Monsters and the Iraqi Deathscape.

by Phil Rockstroh

The corporate culture of exploitation has begot a hellscape of narcissists. It is an authoritarian culture riddled in kitsch and cruelty, in nationalistic hagiography and displaced rage — all the distortions of national character inherent to privileged grotesques and ordinary monsters....


4. The Unopposed War Lobby

by James PERTs The Zionist Power Configuration (ZPC) has over two thousand full-time functionaries, more than 250,000 activists, over a thousand billionaire and multi-millionaire political donors who contribute funds both political parties. The ZPC secures 20% of the US foreign military aid budget for Israel, over 95% congressional support for Israel’s boycott and armed incursions in Gaza, invasion of Lebanon and preemptive military option against Iran.....


5. The Nightmare continues…

by John Stippling So, I’m off…..and all I have are shadowy pictures in my brain of Michael Chertoff (very Nosferatu -like) and Cheney and those stories of American troop atrocities in Iraq. And Rudy G. scrunching his face as he tries to form a coherent thought. It’s nightmarish out there….


6. Slaves to Christ and Compassion Unite: Free Markets Must Prevail

by Jason Miller

[satire warning]

...By God, we live in America! We are the bastion of the free market! We’re the uber capitalists and it’s time we began to act accordingly. Reagan, Friedman, Rand, Bush, and a host of other highly lucid thinkers have shown us the way. It seems we are just too damned cowardly to traverse the trail they have blazed.....


7. Beyond PTSD: The Moral Casualties of War

by Camillo "Mac" Boca Unfortunately, in most cases, moral injury neither responds well to medication nor can it be rationalized away. In fact, such methods, according to Robert Jay Lifton, tend to alienate them still further. Speaking about returning Vietnam Veterans, Lifton writes, “The veterans were trying to say that the only thing worse than being ordered by military authorities to participate in absurd evil is to have that evil rationalized and justified by the guardians of the spirit . . . The men sought out chaplains and shrinks because of a spiritual-psychological crisis growing out of what they perceived to be irreconcilable demands in their situation. They sought either escape from absurd evil, or, at the very least, a measure of inner separation from it. Instead, spiritual-psychological authority was employed to seal off any such inner alternative.”


8. The Death of the Chilean Way to Socialism and the martyrdom of President Salvador Allende

excerpted from "Killing Hope" by William Blum

...Washington knows no heresy in the Third World but independence. In the case of Salvador Allende independence came clothed in an especially provocative costume-a Marxist constitutionally elected who continued to honor the constitution. This would not do. It shook the very foundation stones upon which the anti-communist tower is built: the doctrine, painstakingly cultivated for decades, that "communists" can take power only through force and deception, that they can retain that power only through terrorizing and brainwashing the population. There could be only one thing worse than a Marxist in power-an elected Marxist in power....


9. Questions of Empire

by Adam Engel

....What if someone lied to you in order to prevent you from spending the trillion dollars on the aforementioned public necessities so they could spend it on a war against a foreign country which had neither ability nor intention of ever attacking you, but who did harbor a great supply of the oil that is destroying your planet?

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Another "We Told Ya So: Dictators Are Us, Politex, Dowd

We really hate to say once again, "We told ya so." However, when Pakistani leader Musharraf decided to provide safe haven for Al Qaeda more than 11 months ago, we reported that many of his actions were more helpful to Al Qaeda than the U.S. So did a lot of other people, but not spokespersons in the Bush administration. They generally commented on the event with a shrug. As State Department Sean McCormack said of the event, the safe haven is "an area that traditionally has not been under the control of the central government, so this is a historical problem, I think, in Pakistan." How did we get it right? Simple. Reported fact and common sense. How did the Bush administration get it wrong? Simple. Support of their false narrative through propaganda spun in the mainstream meaid. When will we as a nation learn? Based on our history, the people who really run this country, and the nature of the average citizen? Never. --Jerry Politex

Squirming White House officials had to confront the fact yesterday that everything President Bush has been spouting the last six years about Al Qaeda being on the run, disrupted and weakened was just guff. Last year, W. called his “personal friend” Gen. Pervez Musharraf “a strong defender of freedom.” Unfortunately, it turned out to be Al Qaeda’s freedom. The White House is pinning the blame on Pervez.

While the administration lavishes billions on Pakistan, including $750 million in a risible attempt to win “hearts and minds” in tribal areas where Al Qaeda leaders are hiding and training, President Musharraf has helped create a quiet mountain retreat, a veritable terrorism spa, for Osama and Ayman al-Zawahiri to refresh themselves and get back in shape. The administration’s most thorough intelligence assessment since 9/11 is stark and dark. Two pages add up to one message: The Bushies blew it. Al Qaeda has exploded into a worldwide state of mind. Because of what’s going on with Iraq and Iran, Hezbollah may now “be more likely to consider” attacking us. Al Qaeda will try to “put operatives here” — (some news reports say a cell from Pakistan already is en route or has arrived) — and “acquire and employ chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear material in attacks.”...

After 9/11, W. stopped mentioning Osama’s name, calling him “just a person who’s now been marginalized,” and adding “I just don’t spend that much time on him.” This week, as counterterrorism officials gathered at the White House to frantically brainstorm on covert and overt plans to capture Osama, the president may have regretted his perverse attempt to demote America’s most determined enemy. W. began to mention Osama and Al Qaeda more recently, but only to assert: “The same folks that are bombing innocent people in Iraq were the ones who attacked us in America on September the 11th.” His conflation is contradicted by the fact that Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, as the Sunni terrorist group in Iraq is known, did not exist before 9/11.

Fran Townsend, the president’s homeland security adviser, did her best to put a gloss on the dross but failed. She had to admit that the hands-off approach used by Mr. Musharraf with the tribal leaders in North Waziristan, which always looked like a nutty way to give Al Qaeda room to regroup, was a nutty way to give Al Qaeda room to regroup. “It hasn’t worked for Pakistan,” she conceded. “It hasn’t worked for the United States.” Just as we outsourced capturing Osama at Tora Bora to Afghans who had no motive to do it, we outsourced capturing Osama in Pakistan to Mr. Musharraf, who had no motive to do it.

Pressed by reporters on why we haven’t captured Osama, especially if he’s climbing around with a dialysis machine, Ms. Townsend sniffed that she wished “it were that easy.” It’s not easy to launch a trumped-up war to reshape the Middle East into a utopian string of democracies, but that didn’t stop W. from making that audacious gambit.The Bushies, who once mocked Bill Clinton for doing only “pinprick” bombings on Al Qaeda, now say they can do nothing about Osama because they can’t “pinpoint” him, as Ms. Townsend put it. She assured reporters that they were “harassing” Al Qaeda, making it sound more like a tugging-on-pigtails strategy than a take-no-prisoners strategy. We’ve had it up the wazir with Waziristan. Surely there are Army Rangers and Navy Seals who can make the trek, even if it’s a no-man’s land. If it were a movie, we’d trace the saline in Osama’s dialysis machine, target it with a laser and blow up the mountain.

W. swaggers about with his cowboy boots and gunslinger stance. But when talking about Waziristan last February, he explained that it was hard to round up the Taliban and Al Qaeda leaders there because: “This is wild country; this is wilder than the Wild West.” Yes, they shoot with real bullets up there, and they fly into buildings with real planes. If W. were a real cowboy, instead of somebody who just plays one on TV, he would have cleaned up Dodge by now. --Maureen Dowd

Monday, July 16, 2007

In the Chinese Style: Bush and Cheney Confess To Their Crimes, Maureen Dowd

...perhaps there should be ranch arrest for W., and Cheney could do community service passing out condoms at Gay Pride festivals.

But it is time for the lethally inept duo running the country to do some painstaking self-examination and confession. Just as the Communist Party helped the late Mr. Zheng compose his thoughts, I volunteer to ghost-write our leaders’ self-scrutiny:

“How I Look on My Mistakes,” by George W. Bush

The people trusted me with an important position. I didn’t live up to expectations. I let Dick supersize the executive branch and cast Democrats as whiners and traitors. Why did I not suspect that Dick might be power-hungry when he appointed himself vice president? Why did I let him take over my presidency and fill it up with warmongers? I was so afraid to be called a wimp, as my father once was, I allowed Dick and Rummy to turn me into a wimp. I should never have allowed Dick to conspire with energy lobbyists and steer contracts to Halliburton. A tip-off should have been when Dick kept giving himself all the same powers that I had. Or when he outed that pretty lady spy.

If only I had kept my promise to go after the thugs who attacked us on 9/11, because now I’ve made Osama and Al Qaeda stronger. I know my false claim about Al Qaeda’s ties with Iraq led to Iraq’s being tied down by Al Qaeda. I see now that my bungled war on terror has created more terror, empowered Iran and made America less secure. Oh, yeah, and I’m sorry I broke the military.

I stained the family honor when I ignored the elders of the Iraq Study Group. I should not have worried that I would be seen as kowtowing to my dad’s friends. The Oval Office is not the right place for a teenage rebellion.

I should not have picked that dimwit Brownie, and I should have trusted the gut of anyone besides that goof-off Chertoff to keep the nation safe. And what was I thinking when I said Harriet Miers should be a Supreme Court justice? That was loony. I’m sorry I made the surgeon general mention my name three times on every page of his speeches. That was childish.

How could I have let Dick bring in his best friend, Rummy, my dad’s old nemesis? Dummy Rummy let Osama escape at Tora Bora, messed up the Iraq occupation and aborted a mission to wipe out top Al Qaeda leaders because he was protecting Musharraf, who was protecting Al Qaeda in the tribal areas. Even though I promised to get rid of dictators who helped terrorists, I ended up embracing a Pakistani dictator who helps terrorists.

I’m embarrassed that the Iraqi Parliament is taking a monthlong vacation in the middle of my surge. Could I have set a bad example when I rode my bike in Crawford while New Orleans drowned?

I’m sorry I keep pretending Iraq will get better if we stay longer. It wasn’t very nice of me to push the surge when I knew it couldn’t work. I just wanted to dump the defeat on my successor. I wish Hillary the best of luck.

If I had left the gym long enough to read about Algeria or even one of T. E. Lawrence’s Seven Pillars of Wisdom, then I might have not gotten bogged down in Iraq and let North Korea, China and Russia slide.

Being the Decider is so confusing. I regret stealing the presidency and wish I could give it back.

“How I Look on My Mistakes,” by Dick Cheney

Buzz off.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Caller Correct: Why We Can Be Called A "Fascist State", Christine Tomlinson

Dear Thom,

I've been listening to your 12 July AAR program. I have to download from White Rose or the AAR premium site since I'm in Nepal and 12 hours ahead of the US with limited bandwidth. I say this to explain why I haven't called your show.

In any event, I just heard a caller who made the statement that the current US government was a fascist state and you called her on it saying, "we don't need the hyperbole".

The government of the US most certainly IS a functional fascist state so long as none of the constitutional safe guards are in fact affirmed by successful prosecution of the members of the administration and the RNC mafia. Prosecution includes of course impeachment and conviction as well as criminal prosecution through the Justice Department.

It is NOT hyperbole to correctly recognize the nature of the current government. Only by recognizing that the government is fascist will it become possible to focus clearly on what the priorities must be in the congress and the Justice Department to return the government to a rule of law versus a rule of people and party.

If the current administration and the RNC are not held to account - if necessary after 2008 - under the principles of the rule of law, then the government is fundamentally changed de facto.

The current administration is currently operating within the rule of law as they have proclaimed it until and if the a priori principles of the constitution are brought to bear.

Please call a spade a spade on air and make it clear that this is why it is critically important to focus all attention on actions that will bring a return to the rule of law under the constitution. Leahy et al are fighting but need widespread highly vocal support from the people and you sir need to be inciting the populice to provide that support. And you with the "tag your it" tag line and so on; however, you seem to always shrink from verbally speaking the unvarnished truth in a way similar to Keith Olbermann - you've got at least as powerful a platform as his, if not more so.

Election reform and single-payer universal health-care and immigration reform and tax reform and trade reform and all the other structural issues are secondary until there is a return to the rule of law because without that there is absolutely, positively no way that any of these necessary objectives can remotely be solved. As you tirelessly point out, the domination of politics and government by the trans-national corporate interests of planet earth is a cancer on the US society and the world at large - which I see daily here in Nepal.

The woman wasn't speaking with hyperbole.

Respectfully, Chris Tomlinson

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Bush Fantasy: Bush Really Wants To Be Judged By His- Story, Not History, Maureen Dowd

    Watching the warring tribes in Iraq grow more violent has caused the beginning of a reconciliation among the warring tribes in Washington, as they realize they have to get the car keys away from the careening president who has crashed into the globe.

    With Republicans in revolt over the surge and losing patience, and Bushies worried, as one put it to The Washington Post, that "July has become the new September," the president decided to do a p.r. surge to sound as if he's acquainted with reality.

    But in a speech in Cleveland yesterday, the president was still repeating his deranged generalities. Making a tiny concession, he said we would be able to pull back troops "in a while," whatever that means, but asked Congress to wait for Gen. David Petraeus to debrief on the surge in September - rather than focus on the report due this week that says the ineffectual Iraq government has failed to meet benchmarks set by America.

    It was ironic that his strongest supporter to the bitter end was the Republican who was once his bitter rival. There was speculation that Mr. McCain would come back from his visit to Iraq and revise his bullish support of the war to save his imploding campaign. But the opposite happened.

    As his top advisers were purged, Mr. McCain went to the floor of the Senate to reassert his warped view that "there appears to be overall movement in the right direction."

    Like W., Senator McCain values the advice of Henry Kissinger and said, "We can find wisdom in several suggestions put forward recently by Henry Kissinger."

    Why they continue to seek counsel from the man who kept the Vietnam War going for years just to protect Richard Nixon's electoral chances is beyond mystifying. But Mr. Kissinger holds their attention with all his warnings of "American impotence" emboldening radical Islam and Iran. Can't W. and Mr. McCain see that American muscularity, stupidly thrown around, has already emboldened radical Islam and Iran?

    The president mentioned in his speech yesterday that he was reading history, and he has been summoning historians and theologians to the White House for discussions on the fate of Iraq and the nature of good and evil.

    W. thinks history will be his alibi. When presidents have screwed up and want to console themselves, they think history will give them a second chance. It's the historical equivalent of a presidential pardon.

    But there are other things - morality, strategy and security - that are more pressing than history. History is just the fanciest way possible of wanting to deny or distract attention from what's happening now.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Dick Cheney: Impeaching the Shadow Master, Bernard Weiner

So there we were last week hanging out on the banks of the pristine Eagle River, just north of Juneau, awed by the bald eagles right over our heads, feeling the clean Alaskan wind on our faces, looking out at the snow-capped mountains beyond -- and I'm thinking of Dick Cheney.

Even on vacation, the dark shadow of this guy intrudes. This time, amidst all the gorgeous natural surroundings, I was thinking of Cheney's mysterious Energy Task Force in mid-2001 -- the oil and gas and coal moguls who set the Administration's environmental (and very likely some of the war) policies that have turned out to be so ruinous to the air and water and a wide variety of species, including humans.

But Cheney is at the heart of most of the disastrous decisions that have substituted for well-thought-out policy over the past six years, so I would have been led back to him no matter what I was thinking about.

The Iraq War disaster? Cheney. Scooter Libby's perjury/obstruction of justice to protect his boss? Cheney. Corporate domination of energy and environmental policy? Cheney. The authorization of torture as state policy? Cheney. A near-dictatorial Chief Executive? Cheney. Etc. Etc.

Of course, I was also reading a book about the Administration that fingers Cheney as the eminence grise, the puppetmaster behind the White House curtain. In the wake of Cheney's recent declaration that he is not part of the Executive Branch, thus beholden to nobody, I dipped again into "The One Percent Doctrine," by the Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Ron Suskind. The book, based on interviews with more than 100 officials inside the government, is an eye-opening history of the Administration's so-called "war on terror" as seen from the inside, and it's Cheney, of course, who is the locus of the whole shebang.


By 2006, when Suskind's book was published, it had long been apparent that Dim Son was off on the White House sidelines most of the time while Cheney essentially ran the place, especially foreign and military policy. On occasion, Cheney would even tell Bush what he was doing.

But often he wouldn't, even when vitally important matters were at stake. Such as when Saudi Arabia's all-powerful Prince Abdullah came to Crawford to meet with Bush; this meeting was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reach an agreement that would have long-lasting consequences for the region, for the Iraq War, for the Saudi-U.S. relationship, for Israel-Palestine. Here's how Suskind describes what happened:

"[The Saudis] went down the items. Sometimes the President nodded, as though something sounded reasonable, but he offerred little response.

"And, after almost an hour of this, the Saudis, looking a bit perplexed, got up to go. It was as though Bush had never read the packet they sent over to the White House in preparation for this meeting: a terse, lean document, just a few pages, listing the Saudis' demands and an array of options that the President might consider. After the meeting, a few attendees on the American team wondered why the President seemed to have no idea what the Saudis were after, and why he didn't bother to answer their concerns or get any concessions from them, either, on the 'war on terror.' There was not a more important conversation in the 'war on terror' than a sit-down with Saudia Arabia. Several of the attendees checked into what had happened.

"The Saudi packet, they found, had been diverted to Dick Cheney's office.  The President never got it, never read it. In what may have been the most important, and contentious, foreign policy meeting of his presidency, George W. Bush was unaware of what the Saudis hoped to achieve in traveling to Crawford."


Or here's an even more egregious example, because it greased the tracks leading directly to the disastrous Iraq invasion and occupation. The CIA was tasked at the last minute in 2003 to come up with a National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) laying out the evidence for going to war. Suskind writes about the 90-page document and what parts Bush was permitted to read:

"Cheney, as far back as the Ford presidency, had experimented with the concept of keeping certain issues away from the chief executive. ... Cheney's view, according to officeholders from several Republican administrations, is that presidents, in essence, needed a failsafe if they were publically challenged with an importunate disclosure about the activities of the U.S. government. They needed to be able to say they had no knowledge of the incident, and not be caught in a lie.

"...With this new George W. Bush presidency, however, Cheney was able to shape his protective strategy in a particularly proactive way. Keeping certain knowledge from Bush -- much of it shrouded, as well, by classification -- meant that the President, whose each word circles the globe, could advance various strategies by saying whatever was needed. He could essentially be 'deniable' about his own statements. ... Under this strategic model, reading the entire NIE would be problematic for Bush: it could hem in the President's rhetoric, a key weapon in the march to war. He would know too much.

If somehow the contents of the NIE were revealed, the White House could say that the report was too cumbersome and that Bush had only read the one-page NIE summary."

But the brief NIE summary provided to Bush did not contain the host of caveats and demurrers and doubts about whether Iraq had WMD or whether Saddam had tried to buy "yellowcake" uranium in Africa or whether Mohammed Atta had really met with Iraqis in Prague. In short, Cheney, who had been gung-ho for years about attacking Iraq, kept Bush in the dark about the various intelligence agencies' doubts about the reasons for going to war.

However, Suskind makes clear that Bush -- perhaps the most incurious and intellectually vacuous president in recent American history -- chose to not know too much; he was content to follow Cheney's lead. If Bush were to be fully informed -- in other words, if realistic facts were to be presented to him -- such "information might undercut the confidence he has in certain sweeping convictions." How delicately put.


Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Editorial: Our Exercise in Fascism As we move into the final years of the Bush-Cheney exercise in fascism, and as various Dem-led congressional committees begin to uncover the melevolant maggots under that particular rock, many Americans feel that the worst is over. However, the fascist Supreme Court created by Bush will remain, and while many of his new laws, directives, and signing statements are unconstitutional, he plays rope-a-dope with the legal system, and what is unconstitutional remains the law of the land. As a White House spokeswoman said the other day in defense of Cheney's bizarre contention that he is his own government: "This is an interesting constitutional question that legal scholars can debate."

While our placid citizens have turned to other aspects of their lives, thinking that the Bush Administration's major threats are behind them, we're learning that the neocons who have been in control have set up secret machinery that will continue to dismantle our democratic traditions, long after Bush and Cheney are gone. And while the illegalities of the past are being ferreted out, the Bush-Cheney fascists continue to devise new methods of pulling down our democracy for their personal gain andthat of their friends and their corporate, ideological masters.

While the corporate media in general is satisfied reporting past trangressions and publishing balancing op-eds, and while the Dems, being fascist-lite, have decided upon a no-punishment policy for the illegalities committed by major players in the Bush Administration, our citizens can do nothing but stand by and observe, keeping false hope alive that a Clinton or an Obama will somehow turn us from the fascist path our country has taken during, at least, the last 50 years. Some say the path is built into our system of government and its day-to-day workings. Either way, the two essays that follow spell out the handwriting on the wall, with little indication that much will change in the future. --Politex

Mr. Evil: Meet The Dictator Behind Dictator Bush (2), Maureen Dowd

I've always thought Cheney was way out there -- the most Voldemort-like official I've run across. But even in my harshest musings about the vice president, I never imagined that he would declare himself not only above the law, not only above the president, but actually his own dark planet -- a separate entity from the White House. I guess a man who can wait 14 hours before he lets it dribble out that he shot his friend in the face has no limit on what he thinks he can keep secret. Still, it's quite a leap to go from hiding in a secure, undisclosed location in the capital to hiding in a secure, undisclosed location in the Constitution....

Henry Waxman, the California congressman who looks like an accountant and bites like a pit bull, is making the most of Congress's ability, at long last, to scrutinize Cheney's chicanery. On Thursday, Mr. Waxman revealed that after four years of refusing to cooperate with the government unit that oversees classified documents, the vice president tried to shut down the unit rather than comply with the law ensuring that sensitive data is protected. The National Archives appealed to the Justice Department, but who knows how much justice there is at Justice, now that the White House has so blatantly politicized it?

Cheney's office denied doing anything wrong, but Cheney's office is also denying it's an office. Tricky Dick Deuce declared himself exempt from a rule that applies to everyone else in the executive branch, instructing the National Archives that the Office of the Vice President is not an ''entity within the executive branch'' and therefore is not subject to presidential executive orders. ''It's absurd, reflecting his view from the first day he got into office that laws don't apply to him,'' Representative Waxman told me. ''The irony is, he's taking the position that he's not part of the executive branch.''

Ah, if only that were true. Then maybe W. would be able to close Gitmo, which Vice has insisted he not do. And Condi wouldn't have to worry every night that she'll wake up to find crazy Dick bombing Iran, whispering to W. that they have to do it before that weak sister Hillary takes over. ''Your decision to exempt your office from the president's order is problematic because it could place national security secrets at risk,'' Mr. Waxman, the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, wrote to Cheney. Of course, it's doubtful, now that Vice has done so much to put our national security at risk, that he'll suddenly listen to reason.

Cheney and Cheney's Cheney, David Addington, his equally belligerent, ideological and shadowy lawyer and chief of staff, have no shame. After claiming executive privilege to withhold the energy task force names and protect Scooter Libby, they now act outraged that Vice should be seen as part of the executive branch. Cheney, they argue, is the president of the Senate, so he's also part of the legislative branch. Vice is casting himself as a constitutional chimera, an extralegal creature with the body of a snake and the head of a sea monster. It's a new level of gall, to avoid accountability by saying you're part of a legislative branch that you've spent six years trying to weaken.

But gall is the specialty of Addington, who has done his best to give his boss the powers of a king. He was the main author of the White House memo justifying torture of terrorism suspects, and he helped stonewall the 9/11 commission. He led the fights supporting holding terrorism suspects without access to courts and against giving Congress and environmentalists access to information about the energy industry big shots who secretly advised Cheney on energy policy.... Cheney was able to bully Colin Powell, Pentagon generals and George Tenet when drumming up his fake case for war...

Monday, July 09, 2007

Tales of Corporate Fascism: Only Bush Managers Deserve The Truth, Kent Southard

If there had been any doubt of his future decision, George W. Bush foreshadowed his 'commutation of sentence' of Scooter Libby last month, with what was effectively a pardon, or at least a decision to prevent justice, to those corporate entities involved in the Enron scandal.

Buried on page 4 of the Business section of the June 13th LA Times, was a sidebar with this innocuous headline: 'Bush is at odds with regulators'. His own Securities and Exchange Commission, in accordance with the efforts of Attorneys General of some 30 states, had decided to support shareholders in a pending court case before the Supreme Court.

As the article explains: "The case pits St. Louis-based cable TV company Charger Communications Inc. against a shareholder that accused it of securities fraud.

"The issue is whether shareholders can collect damages from investment banks, attorneys and accountants believed to have aided fraud committed by their corporate clients.

"The high court's ruling in the case could determine whether the Enron plaintiffs' separate $40-billion lawsuit against investment banks - stalled by a federal appeals court ruing in March - can proceed."

The SEC had voted 3-2 to file in favor of the plaintiffs. George W. Bush intervened - he 'expressed his opinion on the matter' - and the SEC failed to file by the deadline.

Just another one of those moments that crystallizes everything the Bush administration represents. The facts of the Enron case are clear and well-known, and there's no one more entitled to restitution than the shareholders and employees bilked by Enron. Yet George W. Bush just says a big "Fuck You."

This action is also characteristic in that it is the small, little noticed (and little reported) behind the scenes motion whose hidden power determines the big issue. In the recent New Yorker feature by Seymour Hersh on Gen. Taguba, a former senior intelligence official is quoted: "The dirt and secrets are in the back channel. All this open business - sitting in staff meetings, etc., etc., - is the Potemkin Village stuff."

Remember the early days of the Bush administration, and the mainstream media were all gaga over how crisp and efficient all of Bush's staff meetings were? Ending exactly on time? Potemkin Village stuff.

Which is pretty much what our legal system has become even without Bush's personal intervention, thanks to his appointments to the Supreme and Federal Courts. It's illegal to discriminate on the basis of gender, but you can only produce evidence from the immediately preceding 6 months. Racial equality is the law, but you can't take race into consideration in considering it. Warrant-less wiretapping cannot be challenged unless you have proof you were personally targeted, such proof being secret and impossible to obtain.

Catch-22 in a word. Doublespeak works well too. Signposts of our 'government being run like a business,' aka corporate fascism. If you deserved the truth, you'd be in management.

I work sometimes with some 2nd-jobbing flight attendants. As a group, they seem uniformly pleasant, hard working, and without much in the way of sharp opinions, unpolitical. Probably a condition of employment. Yet they now, uniformly, hold a deep bitterness against their corporate management. After 9/11, they were hit by management with the 'need' to reduce costs to get their airlines back on track. 'We're all in this together' they were told. 'Pull together, we'll fly together.' So they made wage and other concessions. And now, when their companies are making good profits, management is getting bonuses of many millions, while the rank and file are getting absolutely nothing, have had none of their concessions restored.

Those of us who around during Vietnam have wondered a bit about the seeming lack of expression of current anti-war sentiment, even as 70% of Americans oppose the Iraq war. Where's the new music, for example? The cost of real estate is one answer - Jim Morrison isn't going to come stay at Ray Manzarek's Venice apartment, when that $75/mo apt is now $2,100/mo, because Ray isn't going to be there.

The amount of time anyone can spend off the economic treadmill is very, very small these days. The 60's were the pinnacle of the American middle class's affluence, and with that affluence came a certain freedom of attitude and action. And management has been cracking down ever since.

Rather than the crackling energy of the 60's, I think what we're experiencing now is a slow burn - ordinary Americans like my stewardess friends are feeling deeply betrayed, violated; and there's the gathering sense that it's all of a piece - Bush and Cheney and their lies and evil, and the corporate empires they serve. And these Americans are right.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

I Did It My Way (tune): I WANT AN IPHONE, David Pogue (lyrics)

[See the video here.]

And now, the end is near,
I’m sick to death of this old cellphone.
Bad sound, the signal’s weak, the software stinks—
A “Made in Hell” phone!

I’ve heard there’s something new,
A million times more rad than my phone,
I too, will join the cult,
I want an iPhone.

Concerns, I have a few;
It’s got some flaws, we may just face it,
No keys, no memory card,
The battery’s sealed—you can’t replace it.

But God, this thing is sweet,
A multitouch iPod Wi-Fi phone,
You had me from “hello,”
I want an iPhone.

I want to touch that precious screen,
I want to rub the smudges clean,
I want my friends to look and drool,
I want to say, “Look, now I’m cool!”
I stood in line, and I’ll get mine:
I’ll get an iPhone!

For what is a man, what has he got?
With no iPhone, then he’s got squat.
It’s all the things a phone could be—
So what if it’s AT&T?
I took a stand, paid half a grand…
And got an iPhone!

Friday, July 06, 2007

Mr. Evil: Meet The Dictator Behind Dictator Bush (1), Frank Rich

Mark Silva of The Chicago Tribune first reported more than a year ago, in May 2006, the essentials of the "news" at the heart of the recent Cheney ruckus. Mr. Silva found that the vice president was not filing required reports on his office's use of classified documents because he asserted that his role in the legislative branch, as president of the Senate, gave him an exemption. This scoop went unnoticed by nearly everybody. It would still be forgotten today had not Henry Waxman, the dogged House inquisitor, called out Mr. Cheney 10 days ago, detailing still more egregious examples of the vice president's flouting of the law, including his effort to shut down an oversight agency in charge of policing him. The congressman's brief set off the firestorm that launched a thousand late-night gags.

That's all to the public good, but hiding in plain sight was the little-noted content of the Bush executive order that Mr. Cheney is accused of violating. On close examination, this obscure 2003 document, thrust into the light only because the vice president so blatantly defied it, turns out to be yet another piece of self-incriminating evidence illuminating the White House's guilt in ginning up its false case for war....The tale of the document begins in August 2001, when the Bush administration initiated a review of the previous executive order on classified materials signed by Bill Clinton in 1995. The Clinton order had been acclaimed in its day as a victory for transparency because it mandated the automatic declassification of most government files after 25 years.

It was predictable that the obsessively secretive Bush team would undermine the Clinton order. What was once a measure to make government more open would be redrawn to do the opposite. And sure enough, when the White House finally released its revised version, the scant news coverage focused on how the new rules postponed the Clinton deadline for automatic declassification and tightened secrecy so much that previously declassified documents could be reclassified. But few noticed another change inserted five times in the revised text: every provision that gave powers to the president over classified documents was amended to give the identical powers to the vice president. This unprecedented increase in vice-presidential clout, though spelled out in black and white, went virtually unremarked in contemporary news accounts.

Given all the other unprecedented prerogatives that President Bush has handed his vice president, this one might seem to be just more of the same. But both the timing of the executive order and the subsequent use Mr. Cheney would make of it reveal its special importance in the games that the White House played with prewar intelligence. The obvious juncture for Mr. Bush to bestow these new powers on his vice president, you might expect, would have been soon after 9/11, especially since the review process on the Clinton order started a month earlier and could be expedited, as so much other governmental machinery was, to meet the urgent national-security crisis. Yet the new executive order languished for another 18 months, only to be published and signed with no fanfare on March 25, 2003, a week after the invasion of Iraq began....

The new executive order that Mr. Bush signed on March 25 was ingenious. By giving Mr. Cheney the same classification powers he had, Mr. Bush gave his vice president a free hand to wield a clandestine weapon: he could use leaks to punish administration critics. That weapon would be employed less than four months later. Under Mr. Bush's direction, Mr. Cheney deputized Scooter Libby to leak highly selective and misleading portions of a 2002 National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq to pet reporters as he tried to discredit Mr. Wilson. By then, Mr. Wilson had emerged as the most vocal former government official accusing the White House of not telling the truth before the war.

Because of the Patrick Fitzgerald investigation, we would learn three years later about the offensive conducted by Mr. Libby on behalf of Mr. Cheney and Mr. Bush. That revelation prompted the vice president to acknowledge his enhanced powers in an unguarded moment in a February 2006 interview with Brit Hume of Fox News. Asked by Mr. Hume with some incredulity if "a vice president has the authority to declassify information," Mr. Cheney replied, "There is an executive order to that effect." He was referring to the order of March 2003. Even now, few have made the connection between this month's Cheney flap and the larger scandal. That larger scandal is to be found in what the vice president did legally under the executive order early on rather than in his more recent rejection of its oversight rules.

Timing really is everything. By March 2003, this White House knew its hype of Saddam's nonexistent nuclear arsenal was in grave danger of being exposed. The order allowed Mr. Bush to keep his own fingerprints off the nitty-gritty of any jihad against whistle-blowers by giving Mr. Cheney the authority to pick his own shots and handle the specifics. The president could have plausible deniability and was free to deliver non-denial denials like "If there is a leak out of my administration, I want to know who it is." Mr. Cheney in turn could delegate the actual dirty work to Mr. Libby, who obstructed justice to help throw a smoke screen over the vice president's own role in the effort to destroy Mr. Wilson.

Last week The Washington Post ran a first-rate investigative series on the entire Cheney vice presidency. Readers posting comments were largely enthusiastic, but a few griped. "Six and a half years too late," said one. "Four years late and billions of dollars short," said another. Such complaints reflect the bitter legacy of much of the Washington press's failure to penetrate the hyping of prewar intelligence and, later, the import of the Fitzgerald investigation. We're still playing catch-up. In a week in which the C.I.A. belatedly released severely censored secrets about agency scandals dating back a half-century, you have to wonder what else was done behind the shield of an executive order signed just after the Ides of March four years ago. Another half-century could pass before Americans learn the full story of the secrets buried by Mr. Cheney and his boss to cover up their deceitful path to war.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Justice Denied: 7 Years Later, NYT Editors Agree With Bush Watch, NYT Editorial

(Prior to the 2000 presidential election and again in 2003, Bush Watch warned what would happen to the Supreme Court and the laws and ideals of the land if Bush were to be elected. Now, what we predicted has come to pass. --Politex)

In the 1960s, Chief Justice Earl Warren presided over a Supreme Court that interpreted the Constitution in ways that protected the powerless — racial and religious minorities, consumers, students and criminal defendants. At the end of its first full term, Chief Justice John Roberts’s court is emerging as the Warren court’s mirror image. Time and again the court has ruled, almost always 5-4, in favor of corporations and powerful interests while slamming the courthouse door on individuals and ideals that truly need the court’s shelter.

President Bush created this radical new court with two appointments in quick succession: Mr. Roberts to replace Chief Justice William Rehnquist and Samuel Alito to replace the far less conservative Sandra Day O’Connor.

The Roberts court’s resulting sharp shift to the right began to be strongly felt in this term. It was on display, most prominently, in the school desegregation ruling last week. The Warren court, and even the Rehnquist court of two years ago, would have upheld the integration plans that Seattle and Louisville, Ky., voluntarily adopted. But the Roberts court, on a 5-4 vote, struck them down, choosing to see the 14th Amendment’s equal-protection clause — which was adopted for the express purpose of integrating blacks more fully into society — as a tool for protecting white students from integration.

On campaign finance, the court handed a major victory to corporations and wealthy individuals — again by a 5-4 vote — striking down portions of the law that reined in the use of phony issue ads. The ruling will make it easier for corporations and lobbyists to buy the policies they want from Congress.

Corporations also won repeatedly over consumers and small stockholders. The court overturned a jury’s award of $79.5 million in punitive damages against Philip Morris. The Oregon Supreme Court had upheld the award, calling Philip Morris’s 40 years of denying the connection between smoking and cancer “extraordinarily reprehensible.”

In a ruling that will enrich companies at the expense of consumers, the court overturned — again by a 5-4 vote — a 96-year-old rule that manufacturers cannot impose minimum prices on retailers.

The flip side of the court’s boundless solicitude for the powerful was its often contemptuous attitude toward common folks looking for justice. It ruled that an inmate who filed his appeal within the deadline set by a federal judge was out of luck, because the judge had given the wrong date — a shockingly unjust decision that overturned two court precedents on missed deadlines.

When Chief Justice Roberts was nominated, his supporters insisted that he believed in “judicial modesty,” and that he could not be put into a simple ideological box. But Justice Alito and he, who voted together in a remarkable 92 percent of nonunanimous decisions, have charted a thoroughly predictable archconservative approach to the law. Chief Justice Roberts said that he wanted to promote greater consensus, but he is presiding over a court that is deeply riven.

In the term’s major abortion case, the court upheld — again by a 5-4 vote — the federal Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act, even though the court struck down a nearly identical law in 2000. In the term’s major church-state case, the court ruled 5-4 that taxpayers challenging the Bush administration’s faith-based initiatives lacked standing to sue, again reversing well-established precedents. In a few cases, notably ones challenging the Bush administration’s hands-off approach to global warming and executions of the mentally ill, Justice Anthony Kennedy broke with the conservative bloc. But that did not happen often enough.

It has been decades since the most privileged members of society — corporations, the wealthy, white people who want to attend school with other whites — have had such a successful Supreme Court term. Society’s have-nots were not the only losers. The basic ideals of American justice lost as well.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

on Bush’s commutation of Libby’s sentence....

In that moment, Mr. Bush, you broke that fundamental compact between yourself and the majority of this nation’s citizens — the ones who did not cast votes for you.

In that moment, Mr. Bush, you ceased to be the President of the United States.

In that moment, Mr. Bush, you became merely the President… of a rabid and irresponsible corner of the Republican Party.

Unequal Justice Under Bush Law: More Reactions To The Bush Commutation Of Libby, various

...from President Bush’s 1999 campaign biography, “A Charge to Keep: “I don’t believe my role is to replace the verdict of a jury with my own unless there are new facts or evidence of which a jury was unaware, or evidence that the trial was somehow unfair.”

Bush's stated reason for commuting Libby's sentence: "I respect the jury’s verdict. But I have concluded that the prison sentence given to Mr. Libby is excessive. Therefore, I am commuting the portion of Mr. Libby’s sentence that required him to spend thirty months in prison."

The NYT editors wrote: Mr. Bush’s assertion that he respected the verdict but considered the sentence excessive only underscored the way this president is tough on crime when it’s committed by common folk. As governor of Texas, he was infamous for joking about the impending execution of Karla Faye Tucker, a killer who became a born-again Christian on death row. As president, he has repeatedly put himself and those on his team, especially Mr. Cheney, above the law....Presidents have the power to grant clemency and pardons. But in this case, Mr. Bush did not sound like a leader making tough decisions about justice. He sounded like a man worried about what a former loyalist might say when actually staring into a prison cell.

from Chimpplanet @ Planet of the Chimps: The sentence commutation of Scooter Libby by George Bush has been well thought out. Scooter gets a half pardon, in that he can stay home while appealing his conviction. While appealing, Scooter does not have to testify in the Valerie Plame civil suit against Dick Cheney who is being sued for her outing as a CIA agent. This protects Cheney and guarantees that Scooter will keep quiet. Scooter does not have to testify as he may have to incriminate himself which he can not do while appealing his conviction.

George Bush, while commuting Scooter's sentence has also dangled a giant orange carrot in front of Scooter's face: "Scooter, be a good boy for the next 18 months and keep your mouth shut about Dick and my involvement in outing Valerie Plame, and I will pardon you when I leave office." Of course, we all know that George Bush did not think of this move all by himself. I'm sure he had lots of help from Dick Cheney.

Dallas Morning News columnist Rod Dreher: Scooter Libby, in the judgment of the jury, deliberately lied under oath in an effort to obstruct justice. Perjury is always wrong, and deserving of punishment. But it is especially wrong when committed by a high-ranking government official. This is why I supported, and do support, the Clinton impeachment. And this is why I believe that Bush letting Libby off with a lighter sentence is corrosive and cynicism-producing: the president has said that lies under oath under these circumstances don’t really matter. Once again, we see that President Bush doesn’t really believe that accountability to the law or moral principles applies to his people. As a conservative, I find this dispiriting … but at this point, not the least bit surprising.

"Libertarian Gene Healy of the Cato Institute says, at the Cato-at-liberty blog, that even if Scooter Libby deserved to have his sentence commuted, 'What you cannot do – at least with a straight face – is argue that of the over 160,000 federal prisoners and thousands more awaiting sentencing, Scooter Libby was the most deserving of clemency.'”

"The Wall Street Journal editorial page isn’t satisfied, either: 'By failing to issue a full pardon, Mr. Bush is evading responsibility for the role his Administration played in letting the Plame affair build into fiasco and, ultimately, this personal tragedy.' The Journal editorial adds, 'Mr. Libby deserved better from the President whose policies he tried to defend when others were running for cover. The consequences for the reputation of his Administration will also be long-lasting.'”

George Washington law professor Orin Kerr: “President Bush has set a remarkable record in the last 6+ years for essentially never exercising his powers to commute sentences or pardon those in jail. His handful of pardons have been almost all symbolic gestures involving cases decades old, sometimes for people who are long dead.”

"Ohio State law professor Douglas Berman wonders whether Bush’s empathy for Libby’s plight could, just maybe, lead Bush to reconsider his support for long prison terms for all people not named Scooter Libby who have been convicted of federal crimes. On his Sentencing Law and Policy blog, Berman writes: 'I now hope that he will instruct all members of the Department of Justice to demonstrate similar compassion for other defendants sentenced under the federal sentencing guidelines. After all, it seems the President views a significant fines and probation and harm to reputation and family as “harsh punishment.' I am sure a number of defendants now appealing punishments that include also a prison term will be glad to have the top executive now defining what sorts of alternatives to imprisonment are sufficient in his view."

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Libby's Only The Beginning: Impeach Bush Now! Jerry Politex

How long, citizens, how long, will we stand by in our shopping malls and allow Dictator Bush to continue to act above the law? (In the case of the Libby commute, above the spirit of the law.) With his commuting of the sentence of Scooter Libby and his probable pardon of him at the end of his failed presidency, Bush has once again demonstrated that he ignores laws and ethics and just does as he pleases. Clearly, Bush must be kept on the defensive, he must be slowed down, just like the Republicans did to Clinton, so that he has no time to continue his attacks upon the laws, institutions, and traditions of our democracy. His commuting of Libby is only the beginning. Clearly, Bush plans to leave his disasterous presidency with a roar, not a whimper. Beware. We cannot sit back and allow Bush to have his way with us. He must be impeached. This is not the last outrage he will perpetrate, if unchecked.

Now is the time for Pelosi and the other spineless Dems to get behind the budding movements to impeach both Bush and Cheney. And if they don't, why in the world should we vote Dem in '08? Are they following Ralph Nader's strategy in 2000? Are they just sitting back, waiting for Bush to make us totally miserable as the result of his ongoing misdeeds prior to his leaving office? Are they that heartless and cynical? Really folks, this is it. Rove's fingerprints are all over Bush's latest outrage. If the Dems back away from impeaching Bush and Cheney, GOP chances in '08 increase, because his actions serve as a rallying call for the conservative cause, meant to be seen as a hardhat corrective to spineless, liberal whining. --Jerry Politex

"The president, by commuting Mr. Libby's sentence, has guaranteed that he will be under no incentive whatsoever to tell the truth," Joseph Wilson, the husband of the operative whose name was leake said on CNN's "American Morning." "I think there is a very real suspicion now that the president himself is an accessory to obstruction of justice in this matter." --CNN

Update: CNN just did an interview by telephone with Mrs. Wilson’s husband, Joseph, a former ambassador whose op-ed article about flawed intelligence in The Times set off snowballing questions about him and his wife within Vice President Cheney’s office and elsewhere that led to the leak investigation. Mr. Wilson tonight expressed outrage at Mr. Bush’s decision to commute the Libby sentence. The president, he charged, “is bending to a neoconservative sect,'’ and overruling the justice system and the jury in Mr. Libby’s case. And he called for a congressional investigation into the White House’s decision to commute the sentence. --Kate Phillips

“Once again President Bush and the GOP have undermined a core American value: equal justice under the law for every American. By commuting this sentence, President Bush is sending a clear message that the rules don’t apply to the Bush White House or loyal Republican cronies. After promising that anyone who violated the law would be 'taken care of,' President Bush instead handed Scooter Libby a get out of jail free card. Though Libby was convicted by a jury of lying about a matter of national security, President Bush is sparing him the consequences ordinary Americans would face. This conviction was the first moment of justice in a Bush Administration void of accountability. It’s a sad day for America when the President once again puts protecting his friends ahead of equal justice under the law.” -- John Dean: Bush Gives Scooter Libby A Get Out of Jail Free Card


While the Dems uniformly criticize Bush for commuting Libby, none suggest any penalties for his ongoing behavior, which include breaking laws, ignoring the spirit of our laws, signing bills into laws, then ignoring them, ignoring set guidelines for presidential behavior, and supporting actions designed to destroy our democratic institutions and traditions. For example, in Libby's case, the guidelines for presidential commutation were ignored. We suspect that the Dems ignore Bush's behavior as president because they plan to behave the same way if/when they gain the White House. --Politex

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California: WADDA YA EXPECT ME TO DO?
“The President’s commutation of Scooter Libby’s prison sentence does not serve justice, condones criminal conduct, and is a betrayal of trust of the American people. The President said he would hold accountable anyone involved in the Valerie Plame leak case. By his action today, the President shows his word is not to be believed. He has abandoned all sense of fairness when it comes to justice, he has failed to uphold the rule of law, and he has failed to hold his Administration accountable.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada: LEAVE IT TO HISTORY
“The President’s decision to commute Mr. Libby’s sentence is disgraceful. Libby’s conviction was the one faint glimmer of accountability for White House efforts to manipulate intelligence and silence critics of the Iraq War. Now, even that small bit of justice has been undone. Judge Walton correctly determined that Libby deserved to be imprisoned for lying about a matter ofnational security. The Constitution gives President Bush the power to commute sentences, but history will judge him harshly for using that power to benefit his own Vice President’s Chief of Staff who was convicted of such a serious violation of law.”

Senator Hillary Clinton, D-New York and presidential candidate: BETTER FOR ME
"Today's decision is yet another example that this Administration simply considers itself above the law. This case arose from the Administration's politicization of national security intelligence and its efforts to punish those who spoke out against its policies. Four years into the Iraq war, Americans are still living with the consequences of this White House's efforts to quell dissent. This commutation sends the clear signal that in this Administration, cronyism and ideology trump competence and justice."

Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, and presidential candidate: BETTER FOR ME, TOO
“This decision to commute the sentence of a man who compromised our national security cements the legacy of an Administration characterized by a politics of cynicism and division, one that has consistently placed itself and its ideology above the law. This is exactly the kind of politics we must change so we can begin restoring the American people’s faith in a government that puts the country’s progress ahead of the bitter partisanship of recent years.”

Former Sen. John Edwards, presidential candidate: HEY, I CAN USE THIS
“Only a president clinically incapable of understanding that mistakes have consequences could take the action he did today. President Bush has just sent exactly the wrong signal to the country and the world. In George Bush’s America, it is apparently okay to misuse intelligence for political gain, mislead prosecutors and lie to the FBI. George Bush and his cronies think they are above the law and the rest of us live with the consequences. The cause of equal justice in America took a serious blow today.”

Sen. Joe Biden, D-Delaware, and presidential candidate: WHAT'S YOUR REACTION, FOLKS? “Last week Vice President Cheney asserted that he was beyond the reach of the law. Today, President Bush demonstrated the lengths he would go to, ensuring that even aides to Dick Cheney are beyond the judgment of the law. It is time for the American people to be heard — I call for all Americans to flood the White House with phone calls tomorrow expressing their outrage over this blatant disregard for the rule of law.”

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