Wednesday, December 20, 2006

There's always room at the table.

What we know so far …

Thing 1: Today, we learned that Vice President Dick Cheney will testify in the perjury trial of Scooter “Take one for the Team” Libby. It is not news that Darth Cheney is no straight shooter.

He has lied at every opportunity to the American people, and the most recent example would defy the ability of anyone with a conscience to keep a straight face. He said that Donald Rumsfeld is the best Secretary of Defense in the nation’s history.

Certainly he was better than the lame-ass Dick who served from March 21, 1989, to the end of George H.W. Bush’s term. But how does he compare, for example, to George C. Marshall who served under President Harry S Truman? And Bill Cohen, for what it’s worth, did successfully prosecute a war in Kosovo in which the U.S. sustained negligible losses— according to official reports the alliance suffered no fatalities as a result of combat operations. Not bad for a Republican.

But I digress; the point here is that Dick Cheney is a congenital liar, if I may borrow a phrase from Bill Safire.

Thing 2: King George has been taking a lot of credit for an economy that he says is great.

It is great for his pals, if you exclude the ones who are going to jail like Jeff Skilling. F’rinstance, Goldman Sachs paid Lloyd C. Blankfein, its chairman and chief executive, a bonus of $53.4 million in 2006, the highest ever for a Wall Street chief executive. By the way, how was your Christmas bonus?

We also learned that inflation for the month of November was 2.0%. I’m no mathematician, but that sounds to me like a 24% annual rate. (If I were a mathematician, I would know that annualized, it is a 26.824% inflation rate.)

What the future holds...

Scooter is going down like a ton of bricks. Do not pass go, do not collect $200. In the process, it will be hard to avoid the conclusion that Dick Cheney committed perjury.

Meanwhile, we got a full plate of investigations going on in both houses of Congress. There’s a chance that they will discover that Bush is a genius, but it is about as likely as Laura Bush doing a strip-tease on the Capitol steps. The smart money is against either one. Somewhat more likely, they will conclude that Bush lied us into war, unlawfully spied on American citizens, paid ‘journalists’ to plant propaganda in the media, and lied to the public about a myriad of other things. Most egregiously, he has used “signing statements” to announce publicly that he has no intention of “faithfully executing” the laws of the United States. The evidence is mounting that King George is delusional, and I use that term advisedly.

For many Americans, none of this matters. They work hard all day, come home and watch “Deal or No Deal,” go to bed, and start all over. When it turns out that they are taking a 2% pay cut every month, things will change. Anger will grow, and who better to focus it on than the buffoon who kept telling us that the economy is going great?

Impeachment is off the table, we are told by the incoming House Majority Leader. There is a beautiful old expression in the African-American community: There’s always room at the table.

“… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Terrorists in the least likely places

Harken back to yesteryear when the Bush regime was defending itself against charges that it had engaged in warrantless seizures of telephone communications in open violation of the FISA law and the Constitution.

The defense, boiled down to its essentials, was, “Yeah we did it. What are you going to do about it?” Of course, at the time, King George was speaking not so much to the American people, as to Congress, both houses of which were controlled by Republicans. And so it was that he could correctly predict that the answer was, “not a damn thing.”

In speaking to the American people, he used his favorite rhetorical tactic which is to say that his program was a necessary component of the war on terror. In particular, he used the following formulation: “If terrorists are talking to someone in America, we want to know about it.”

This formulation was well suited to King George, because, like him, it is simple. It overlooked the fact that the FISA law was specifically designed for the task of enabling the government to listen in on terrorists, and that therefore, the formulation really did nothing to explain why he should be allowed to break the FISA law with impunity.

More importantly, it overlooked the fact that the government was listening in on hundreds of thousands of conversations, and presumably not all of them involved terrorists. I argued here that the program of domestic spying was actually a program of domestic spying for political purposes.

Some may say the evidence I cited was weak, though it was more than the evidence that sent American troops into Iraq. Still, I have a heavy burden to bear if I am to convince an impartial world that the United States of America engages in spying for political purposes. What got me thinking about it today, was the latest news from across the pond.

According to The Guardian,
The American secret service was bugging Princess Diana's telephone conversations without the approval of the British security services on the night she died, according to the most comprehensive report on her death, to be published this week.
Who woulda thunk the Duchess of York was a terrorist?

“… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”

Friday, November 24, 2006

Fuck the Draft

As a child in the Age of Aquarius, nothing seemed so self-evidently obvious as the fact that the draft was an unacceptable imposition on the freedom that is the birthright of all Americans.

The great Constitution of the United States safeguarded to us freedoms that included the right to express our attitude towards the draft in the pithy title to this post, according to Cohen v. California.

During World War II our nation imposed a draft because we were in an all-out war against Fascism, a war not of our choosing, but which, for better or worse, we sought to avoid. The draft took away the freedoms of some temporarily, so that the freedoms of all would not be lost permanently.

The internment of the Japanese proves that Americans were not fastidious about personal freedoms when it came to protecting the collective freedom of the nation. Along came the Vietnam War. The leadership of our country felt the familiar threat of totalitarianism, and as they say, the generals are always fighting the last war. The perceived threat to collective freedom again, overrode the commitment to personal freedom. Though we avoided the mistakes associated with internment camps, the draft was re-instituted.

But the war in Vietnam was not really a war to fight fascism. The Gulf of Tonkin Resolution was a response to phony evidence. It was, as we know, not the last time such a thing would happen.

In the ‘60s, the Chicago Seven and the Kent State Massacre revealed the fact that the harm that could come to us from our own government was greater than the threat to us posed by the pajama-clad Viet Cong. And as Mohammad Ali put it in 1966, “No Viet Cong ever called me ‘nigger.’”

Of course, with love-ins, sit-ins, teach-ins and moratoria we stopped the War in Vietnam, as well as the draft. Now, the former hippies, those who inhaled and those who did not, are in positions of power. And therefore, the idea of resurrecting a draft is a total non-starter.

And yet, part of this ex-hippy sees the wisdom of Charlie Rangell’s argument:
“There's no question in my mind that this president and this administration would never have invaded Iraq, especially on the flimsy evidence that was presented to the Congress, if indeed we had a draft and members of Congress and the administration thought that their kids from their communities would be placed in harm’s way.”

When Jim Webb, D-VA, joins Sen. Tim Johnson, D-S.D., and Kit Bond, R-MO, in the new Congress, the number of Senators with “skin in the game” will increase by 50%.

For the most part, people are drawn to the military as a way of escaping circumstances that leave them with few choices. In the two Americas I spoke of in a previous post only one America must send their young off to war, and pray nightly for their safe return. Only one America has borne the pain of unanswered prayers. Is there anyone who doubts which America will draw down the ill-gotten gains of the war profiteers?

And so it is that I find myself torn in the argument about the draft. On balance, I come out against the draft, for the simple reason that I don’t trust the government to take control of young people’s lives and deal with them fairly. But I must make one observation:

In the past, we needed to institute a draft to protect us from the Fascism of the Axis powers. Later, we imposed a draft in the vain belief that we needed it to protect us from the totalitarianism of Chinese Communism and Soviet world domination.

Now, as Charlie Rangel argues, we may need to institute a draft to protect us from American fascism. He’s got a point there.

“… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

I saw a highway of diamonds with nobody on it.

According to Paul Krugman, the prices of pharmaceutical shares plunged after the election. I haven’t taken the time to confirm this, because Paul Krugman’s word is good enough for me.

He attributes the decline in equity values to the fact that the Party of Bush passed a Medicare bill which was intended not so much to provide medical coverage to people who have worked a lifetime to earn it. Rather it was intended to protect Big Pharma from the possibility that the Government of the United States might use its considerable economic leverage to obtain fair prices from the gatekeepers of health.

While I was busy not looking up the performance of equity shares of Big Pharma, I was also not looking up the profitability of these companies. Just for fun, I’m willing to bet that they are doing okay. Any takers?

If I am wrong, I am going to want to go double or nothing that regardless of how the companies are doing profit-wise, the CEOs have done a pretty good job of taking care of themselves. And their children. And their grandchildren. And the next 40 generations, assuming that they don’t choose to keep warm by burning crumpled up $100 bills. Should they indeed make such an obscenely profligate choice, maybe only 10 generations.

Such is the wealth they have extracted from a people whose founding document proclaims that it is self-evidently true that our Creator has bestowed on all of us an inalienable right to life, and that governments are instituted among men and women to secure that right.

In the defense of the stewards of capitalism who earn the big bucks, it must be observed that their job is difficult and not everyone can do it. I leave it to others to consider how this differs from doing backbreaking labor like digging ditches, which makes men too weak and tired to enjoy what life has to offer. (Big Mitch is a very healthy, strong 250-pound guy, and they haven’t yet printed enough money to tempt me into that kind of labor.) I guess it makes sense that a guy who works that hard with his back has no need for a Leer Jet, because he would be too worn out to go anywhere on the little time off he earns.

Now, we all know that a CEO's work is mostly indoors and involves no heavy lifting, to borrow Bob Dole’s famous description of the job of vice-president. It is assumed that in their domain, the Big Pharma’s CEOs are uniquely qualified on account of their brainpower, which is just as exceptional as the physical prowess of a world-class athlete. It’s a supply and demand thing. They must be geniuses.

And that’s what has me so confused.

If they are so smart, how could they not have seen the election results coming? How could they have figured that the gift of No Drug Company Left Behind would last for long past the election?

This was the mistake that Karl Rove made, too. And even though I am a bear of very little brain, I was able to call every Senate race and predict the Democratic takeover of the House, by the simple expedient of paying attention to the polls. This was the Lawrence O’Donnell technique, and it worked for me, too.

The inability of Big Pharma’s capitalists and other assorted Rovians to foresee the election outcome speaks volumes. What it says is that these people are totally out of touch with the reality of millions and millions or Americans. And when that happens, to borrow a phrase from one of the most astute of political observers, “a hard rain’s a-goin’ to fall.”

I give credit to John Edwards for his “Two Americas” stump speech, and for suiting his actions to his rhetoric in the years since the election. Now it seems that the message is beginning to resonate.

For example, consider Senator-elect James Webb, whom the media have dubbed a “conservative Democrat.” Here’s his take:
The most important--and unfortunately the least debated--issue in politics today is our society's steady drift toward a class-based system, the likes of which we have not seen since the 19th century. America's top tier has grown infinitely richer and more removed over the past 25 years. It is not unfair to say that they are literally living in a different country.
To read more of what Jim Webb has to say, (with The Daily Kos’s snarky debunking of the “conservative Democrat” meme interspersed) visit Webb, conservative

“… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Truth and consequences

Remember that old riddle about the explorer who comes to a fork in the road and knows that the native he encounters is either from the tribe of Liars or the tribe of Truth-tellers? What question should he ask the native to find out which is the road to the city?

While you contemplate that, consider this: If Dumb George Dubya says he’s a liar, well, for once in his life he’s a truth-teller. Go figure. As Media Matters tells it:
During his November 8 press conference, President Bush announced Donald H. Rumsfeld’s resignation as defense secretary and nominated former CIA director Robert Gates to take his place, even though days before the November 7 elections, Bush had said he wanted Rumsfeld to stay on through the end of his presidency. Bush explained that the reason for announcing Rumsfeld’s resignation after the elections was due to the fact that he “didn’t want to inject a major decision about this war in the final days of a campaign.”
There is so much here, that I don’t know where to begin.

Can someone please tell me why voters shouldn’t know before they vote, for whom they are voting? I realize that the Secretary of War was not strictly speaking on the ballot, but is there anyone who will deny that the election was inter alia a referendum on the war? Only one with total disdain for the electoral process would not be ashamed to admit that he had tried to mislead the public on this crucial matter. Someone with disdain for the electoral process like King George the Incompetent.

Sure, it sounds like a trivial breach of civility for Dubya to casually admit to being a liar, a fact which anyone who has been paying attention knew for some time. But lest we forget: The House Judiciary Committee voted in favor of Articles of Impeachment against Richard M. Nixon, for “making or causing to be made false or misleading public statements for the purpose of deceiving the people of the United States…”

Now how are we to interpret the well publicized Republican extension of an olive branch to the Democrats who control Congress? I say, the best predictor of future activity is past conduct. These guys are stinkin’ liars. If you believe that they will not turn on the Democrats the second they get a chance, then you are a knucklehead. Any Democrat who trusts them doesn’t deserve a position of trust.

“… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The people have spoken.

Democrat Marie Steichen, of Woonsocket, South Dakota, got 100 votes in the county commissioner's race in Jerauld County on Tuesday. defeating incumbent Republican Merlin Feistner, of Woonsocket, who had 64 votes. Marie Steichen will not be assuming her office, mostly on account of the fact that she has been dead for two months.

In the battle to turn red states in the heartland into blue states, Ms. Steichen had a convincing slogan: "Better dead than red."

One might think that Feistner would feel the sting of rejection, but, ever the optimomist, he is probably looking forward to be appointed Attorney General in a shaken-up Bush administration. After all, John Ashcroft did it!

"... and tell 'em Big Mitch sent ya!"

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Time is running out

It’s election day, and you might think there is no time left for bad news to reduce the chances of the Party of Bush holding on to Congress. The military newspapers are calling for Rumsfeld’s dismissal, and King George says, “It’s Rummy as long as I am the decider-in-chief.”

Everyone from James Baker III to Joe Sixpack thinks the war in Iraq is going south, and Dumb Dubya says “We will not change course.” Meanwhile they are cutting and running on the rebuilding effort having milked it for all it’s worth.

They’ve put plans for nyuclear bombs on the internets, as part of a Republican led effort to keep us safer. They have shut down the intelligence operation to catch Osama Bin Laden but maybe King George the Incompetent will look for him on the Google.

One House member pled guilty to corruption charges but didn’t immediately resign from Congress. He claims he wanted to stay on to help his people get jobs while he prepares to go to jail. I guess being a convicted crook doesn’t cut you out of the Republican networking loop.

Another Republican quit the House because he was busted for being a gay sexual harasser of minors, but he couldn’t get his name off the ballot in Florida. Republicans are the gang that couldn’t shoot straight when it comes to policing their own. For fear that they might give Dems an election-year issue, they swept the matter under a Republican rug, until it emerged in October, giving the Dems an election issue that at a minimum means Denny Hastert is out of the Republican leadership.

Elsewhere in Florida, the candidate for Senate has seen her first name morphed from ‘Katherine’ to ‘Bat-shit Crazy.’ Many Republicans are running away from Bush metaphorically, but in Florida, they are doing it literally.

The Rovians have been counting on their base to turn out as directed by their religious leadership, although the most prominent religious leader of the Evangelicals recently announced to his mega-church that he is “a liar and a deceiver.” The militant anti-gay minister turns out to be gay, not that there is anything wrong with that. He claims to have bought methamphetamine and then flushed it down the toilet. His intended audience spent eight years mocking Big Dog Bill Clinton who famously said, “I did not inhale.”

Melanie Sloan, of the Center for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington had a beautiful rant on other Republican ethics scandals, literally too numerous to recount here.

Republicans all over the country are getting caught in the old dirty tricks business. I say old, even though they are using robo-calling to harass Democrats, which basically is a new low.

You can imagine Dumb Dubya saying to Turd-blossom, “Hell, what more could go wrong?” And along comes the Washington Note with an answer:
US Ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad is tired of being undermined by opponents in the White House and by elements of Iraq's unstable regime end-running him to influence rivals of his in the administration. He is reportedly on the verge of quitting.
“… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”

Friday, November 03, 2006

An ole Sourdough remembers voter suppression in the good ole days.

I ain’t never been to rural Virginia, and I wonder what it’s like. It’s sure comfortin’ to traffic in stereotypes, but I won’t have none of it. I jes’ imagine it’s pretty, kinda like the open country we have here in Alaska but not no snow.

Like I been saying, I ain’t gonna figure them rustic Virginians to be no backwoods types, like some damn thing outa Deliverance. I reckon they got plenty technology in Virginia cause they got U.Va. down there, and that there was founded by none other than Thomas Jefferson. I ain’t a betting man, but if I were, I’d bet they got the very latest in voting machinery. Stuff that don’t need no paper cause it’s all done with that ‘lectricity, like that what them Democrats brought to the ole Tennessee Valley.

See, it would take some one a whole lot smarter’n me to figure out how to hack into those machines what’s supposed to count the votes. Up here in Alaska, we didn’t have no Thomas Jefferson, and we sure as shootin’ ain’t never had no University of Virginia.

Hell, when they had an election up here to move the Capital, all the ballots were on good old fashioned paper, just like the pages of a Gideon Bible. Now, them folks down in Juneau sure didn’t want the Capital of Alaska out in Wasilla, ’cause that would be like taking taters out of Idaho, or horses out of Virginny.

Betcha can just imagine that the folks down Juneau way, weren’t even going to let them yahoos up in Wasilla take the Capital away from them. Trouble is, they hadn’t invented them computified counting machines, and even if they had, back then folks in Alaska wouldn’t know what to do witha mini-bar key other than to have a good go at the Prinz-Brau.

See, if you wanted to steal an election in them days, you had to do real work. Not some sissified computer hacking where the heaviest thing you have to lift is a smart card, like the one some young stud lifted in Tennesee.

Back then you had to do stuff like open up a fire hydrant with a twenty-pound wrench. Oh boy, when I think of all them Wasilla voters slipping and sliding and blocking intersections, well, it’s a lead-pipe cinch they ain’t about to be voting to move no damn Capital to where they can keep an eye on them elected officials and all.

‘Course here in Alaska it’s cold, so a bunch of open fire hydrants sure goin’ to freeze up, and I guess them fancy pants politico scientists would call that “voter surpressin’.”

An like I was sayin, I ain’t never been to Virginny but I don’t figure you could count on ice to keep people from voting. But then again, I don’t know if an open fire hydrant would make a whole lot of mud in the Old Dominion, and I guess that could kinda get the votin’ bogged down, if you know what I mean. Especially in precincts where that George Allen feller is running so strong.

That weren’t all they done in Alaska to keep the Capital from being moved to where you would find the 60 or 70 percent of the Alaskans who live in or nearby to Anchorage. They had to take a big old chain, and drop it on a ‘lectric transmission line. ‘How did they do that?’ you might be asking, and hell, back them a lot of people asked the same question.

Turns out they used a whirly-bird heliocopter, which might could sound like going to a parcel of trouble just to drop a chain on a ‘lectric line. But somebody must have known something, because just about all of Anchorage went dark, and people started thinkin’ a lot less about where the Capital was gonna be, and a whole lot more about how they could keep their pipes from freezin’ up. I shutter to think what woulda happened if we had them modern ’lectric voting machines back then.

Well, that there was in the old days. Now in these modern times, Republicans steal elections just like falling off a log. And there ain’t hardly an old-timer around, who remembers what real work was. Or where to get a twenty-pound wrench. Or a damn whirlybird heliocopter. If you know what I mean.

If’n you do know what I mean, do me one favor. Don’t …

“… tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Thank you Channel 9 in Denver CO.

From the NBC affiliate,

A gay man and admitted male escort claims he has had an ongoing sexual relationship with a well-known Evangelical pastor from Colorado Springs.

Mike Jones told 9 Wants to Know Investigative Reporter Paula Woodward he has had a "sexual business" relationship with Pastor Ted Haggard for the past three years.

Haggard is the founder and senior leader of the New Life Church in Colorado Springs. The church has 14,000 members. He is also president of the National Association of Evangelicals, an organization that represents millions of people.

Haggard is married with five children and an outspoken critic of gay marriage.

Jones broke his silence Wednesday morning on talk radio.

Read the entire story on the website ...

“… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Study hard, and you might avoid a tragedy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”

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

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Bush: "What, Me Worry?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But you should be.

“… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”

Monday, October 09, 2006

An Issue with National Implications

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“… and tell ‘em Big Mitch sent ya!”

Sunday, October 08, 2006

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The answer reveals something truly new to our country.

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

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

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

And that is what is new and different.

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

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

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

“… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

A Democratic Sex Scandal?

Fair and balanced? We report. You decide.

“… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Republican sex scandal: do not judge too quickly.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”

A Young Turk's Point of View

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”

Vote for your favorite cover-up of the day.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”

Is this your favorite cover-up?

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

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

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

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

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

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

“… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Playing Politics with the NIE

The National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) is a document prepared for the President and other key government officials. It is the consensus opinion of 16 intelligence agencies, and it represents the working hypotheses of the United States Government.

On Saturday, September 23rd, the New York Times reported on a then-secret NIE, as follows:
A stark assessment of terrorism trends by American intelligence agencies has found that the American invasion and occupation of Iraq has helped spawn a new generation of Islamic radicalism and that the overall terrorist threat has grown since the Sept. 11 attacks.
This put Dubya in an awkward place. He has been telling us how well things are going, and that the war in Iraq is essential to the overall war on terror. Iraq, he tells us, the central front and now we learn that the intelligence community believes that we are losing the war on that front. Again, from the NIE:
“The war in Iraq has made the terrorist threat worse by providing a focal point for an entire American message that has contributed to the spread and decentralization of Islamic radicalism around the globe. The Iraq war has diverted untold resources from efforts to protect Americans from terrorism and weakened the nation militarily.”
As usual, the White House reaction was to ignore the reality and instead address the P.R. problem. As Billy Crystal might say, “it is better to look marvelous, than to be marvelous.”

King George made a speech in which he commented on the fact that the leak of the NIE was “an indication that we’re getting close to an election.” Speaking at a White House news conference with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, Dubya angrily called the leak a political act intended to affect the upcoming midterm elections. “[H]ere we are, coming down the stretch in an election campaign, and it’s on the front page of your newspapers. Isn’t that interesting? Somebody has taken it upon themselves to leak classified information for political purposes,” he said, (forgetting for the moment that a singular subject takes a singular verb.)

There’s nothing new in the Bush party attacking the messenger. Indeed, that is standard fare for this pack of liars. But it is noteworthy nevertheless because it reveals the mindset of the party of Bush. Fundamentally, they do not believe in democracy.

You see, democracy depends on an informed electorate. It presupposes that there is wisdom in the combined judgment of the many. It has faith in people to make good decisions when they know the facts.

King George the Incompetent doesn’t believe any of this. He regards the leaking of information as subversive of democracy because when people collectively making informed, fact based decisions, well, it isn’t always the decisions that the faith based foreign policy community endorses. Give the people information? Nah! Let them eat cake!

All of this would be bad enough, but wait: it gets worse. Remember Bob Woodward? As I said about him Dick Armitage is a Poor Excuse, “Bob Woodward was [formerly] into the whole Fourth Estate as a check on government abuse of power. Now, he’s more into the kissing administration asses to get the scoop, and if necessary keeping the outing of Valerie Wilson on the q.t. to suck up to his handlers.”

Predictably, that sort of behavior made him a darling of the Bush White House. Sure, he was no Judith Miller, but still, he did make the case for the Bushies better than anyone else had. Presumably, it gave him unprecedented access to the people in the White House. Until now. The New York Times (!) broke the story of Washington Post poster boy Bob Woodward’s new book, State of Denial. Here’s the lede:
The White House ignored an urgent warning in September 2003 from a top Iraq adviser who said that thousands of additional American troops were desperately needed to quell the insurgency there, according to a new book by Bob Woodward, the Washington Post reporter and author. The book describes a White House riven by dysfunction and division over the war.

The warning is described in “State of Denial,” scheduled for publication on Monday by Simon & Schuster. The book says President Bush’s top advisers were often at odds among themselves, and sometimes were barely on speaking terms, but shared a tendency to dismiss as too pessimistic assessments from American commanders and others about the situation in Iraq.
I could point out that King George has told us over and over again that he would listen to his commanders and if they ask for troops he will give them what they wanted. But to do so, I would in effect be pointing out the fact that George W. Bush is a liar.

Of course, Woodward does that in the new book. Here’s Dan Froomkin from a editorial, “Is Woodward calling Bush a liar?”
CBS News reports: “Veteran Washington reporter Bob Woodward tells Mike Wallace that the Bush administration has not told the truth regarding the level of violence, especially against U.S. troops, in Iraq. He also reveals key intelligence that predicts the insurgency will grow worse next year. . . .

“According to Woodward, insurgent attacks against coalition troops occur, on average, every 15 minutes, a shocking fact the administration has kept secret. . . .

“The situation is getting much worse, says Woodward, despite what the White House and the Pentagon are saying in public. ‘The truth is that the assessment by intelligence experts is that next year, 2007, is going to get worse and, in public, you have the president and you have the Pentagon [saying], ‘Oh, no, things are going to get better,’ he tells Wallace. ‘Now there's public, and then there's private. But what did they do with the private? They stamp it secret. No one is supposed to know,’ says Woodward.”
George Bush might say, “Here we are, coming down the stretch in an election campaign, and it’s on the front page of your newspapers.” I wonder: Will he also accuse Bob Woodward of playing politics?

Woodward will be on 60 Minutes tomorrow. Be sure to watch ...

“… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Just the facts, ma'am.

George Bush is one of the luckiest men in the history of the world. He has fallen into one pit of manure after another throughout his life, and he always comes up smelling like roses. And so it was with 9-11 at least until this week.

George Bush came into office, having lost the popular vote, and having narrowly avoided having the Florida votes counted, which would have resulted in him losing the vote in the Electoral College.

Until 9-11 his major policy initiative had been a gobbledygook position on stem-cell research that pleased no one completely but did effectively relegate the United States to the second tier in biological research.

And then came 9-11, which was one leg of what Bush called the “trifecta.” Bush was cool, calm and collected, so much so that he was able to finish a book he had been working on, My Pet Goat. Then he appeared on a rubble heap in New York City with a bullhorn, at a time when the nation was reeling in shock and in need of a leader to rally around.

Instinctively, the American people understood that the attack was intended to undermine our confidence in the leadership, and the response was an out-pouring of good will toward everything identified as representative of America. This was very good for manufacturers of flags and lapel pins. But it was really, really good for the President’s approval ratings.

There was, and to a lesser extent still is, a hard core of people who will support the President no matter what. Some of these people are just hard-core Republicans. Some are hard-core ‘my-president-right-or-wrong’ types. And some are just plain morons. At the risk of stating the obvious, there's some overlap.

There is also a large number of people who do not follow or care very much about politics. These people felt the out-pouring of good will toward the President, and never had a chance to revisit the issue in lo, these five years. Some of these people are hooked on right wing talk radio, and therefore, appear indistinguishable from the aforementioned "just plain morons."

No matter how you categorize them, there are still about 40% of the population who approve of the way George Bush is doing his job, in spite of the fact that everything he has touched has turned to turd. And that is why I say he is one of the luckiest men on earth.

Until now. As I reported here, Bill Clinton has showed us how to talk about the fact that the Bush administration failed miserably in job #1, namely, protecting the country from outside attacks.

Here’s a taste from a transcript that appears on Think Progress.
CLINTON: …And I think it’s very interesting that all the conservative Republicans, who now say I didn’t do enough, claimed that I was too obsessed with bin Laden. All of President Bush’s neo-cons thought I was too obsessed with bin Laden. They had no meetings on bin Laden for nine months after I left office. All the right-wingers who now say I didn’t do enough said I did too much — same people.

WALLACE: Do you think you did enough, sir?

CLINTON: No, because I didn’t get him.


CLINTON: But at least I tried. That’s the difference in me and some, including all the right-wingers who are attacking me now. They ridiculed me for trying. They had eight months to try. They did not try. I tried.

So I tried and failed. When I failed, I left a comprehensive anti-terror strategy and the best guy in the country, Dick Clarke, who got demoted.
As you can well imagine, the White House couldn’t let that stand. Instead, they sent out Dr. Condi Rice, who had been the National Security Advisor whose total disregard of the Presidential Daily Briefing “Bin Laden determined to strike within the United States” resulted in her being promoted to Secretary of State. She denied Clinton's claim in the television interview that the Bush administration had not aggressively pursued al-Qaida before the attacks of 2001.

“What we did in the eight months was at least as aggressive as what the Clinton administration did in the preceding years. The notion somehow for eight months the Bush administration sat there and didn't do that is just flatly false, and I think the 9/11 commission understood that.”

Rice also took exception to Clinton's statement that he “left a comprehensive anti-terror strategy” for incoming officials when he left office.

“We were not left a comprehensive strategy to fight al-Qaida,” she told the newspaper, which is owned by News Corp., the company that owns Fox News Channel.

So who’s telling the truth? To help you decide, I refer you to a column by William Rivers Pitt, over on, entitled Clinton, 9/11 and the Facts and published on August 30, 2006. Here’s an excerpt:
Roger Cressy, National Security Council senior director for counterterrorism in the period 1999-2001, responded to these allegations [that Clinton did not do enough to capture Bin Ladin] in an article for the Washington Times in 2003. “Mr. Clinton approved every request made of him by the CIA and the U.S. military involving using force against bin Laden and al-Qaeda,” wrote Cressy. “As President Bush well knows, bin Laden was and remains very good at staying hidden. The current administration faces many of the same challenges. Confusing the American people with misinformation and distortions will not generate the support we need to come together as a nation and defeat our terrorist enemies.”

Measures taken by the Clinton administration to thwart international terrorism and bin Laden's network were historic, unprecedented and, sadly, not followed up on. Consider the steps offered by Clinton's 1996 omnibus anti-terror legislation, the pricetag for which stood at $1.097 billion. The following is a partial list of the initiatives offered by the Clinton anti-terrorism bill:
  • Screen Checked Baggage: $91.1 million

  • Screen Carry-On Baggage: $37.8 million

  • Passenger Profiling: $10 million

  • Screener Training: $5.3 million

  • Screen Passengers (portals) and Document Scanners: $1 million

  • Deploying Existing Technology to Inspect International Air Cargo: $31.4

  • Provide Additional Air/Counterterrorism Security: $26.6 million

  • Explosives Detection Training: $1.8 million

  • Augment FAA Security Research: $20 million

  • Customs Service: Explosives and Radiation Detection Equipment at Ports: $2.2 million

  • Anti-Terrorism Assistance to Foreign Governments: $2 million

  • Capacity to Collect and Assemble Explosives Data: $2.1 million

  • Improve Domestic Intelligence: $38.9 million

  • Critical Incident Response Teams for Post-Blast Deployment: $7.2 million

  • Additional Security for Federal Facilities: $6.7 million

  • Firefighter/Emergency Services Financial Assistance: $2.7 million

  • Public Building and Museum Security: $7.3 million

  • Improve Technology to Prevent Nuclear Smuggling: $8 million

  • Critical Incident Response Facility: $2 million

  • Counter-Terrorism Fund: $35 million

  • Explosives Intelligence and Support Systems: $14.2 million

  • Office of Emergency Preparedness: $5.8 million

  • The Clinton administration poured more than a billion dollars into counterterrorism activities across the entire spectrum of the intelligence community, into the protection of critical infrastructure, into massive federal stockpiling of antidotes and vaccines to prepare for a possible bioterror attack, into a reorganization of the intelligence community itself. Within the National Security Council, “threat meetings” were held three times a week to assess looming conspiracies. His National Security Advisor, Sandy Berger, prepared a voluminous dossier on al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden, actively tracking them across the planet. Clinton raised the issue of terrorism in virtually every important speech he gave in the last three years of his tenure.

    Clinton’s dire public warnings about the threat posed by terrorism, and the actions taken to thwart it, went completely unreported by the media, which was far more concerned with stained dresses and baseless Drudge Report rumors. When the administration did act militarily against bin Laden and his terrorist network, the actions were dismissed by partisans within the media and Congress as scandalous “wag the dog” tactics. The news networks actually broadcast clips of the movie “Wag the Dog” while reporting on his warnings, to accentuate the idea that everything the administration said was contrived fakery.

    In Congress, Clinton was thwarted by the reactionary conservative majority in virtually every attempt he made to pass legislation that would attack al-Qaeda and terrorism. His 1996 omnibus terror bill, which included many of the anti-terror measures we now take for granted after September 11, was withered almost to the point of uselessness by attacks from the right; Senators Jesse Helms and Trent Lott were openly dismissive of the threats Clinton spoke of.

    Specifically, Clinton wanted to attack the financial underpinnings of the al-Qaeda network by banning American companies and individuals from dealing with foreign banks and financial institutions that al-Qaeda was using for its money-laundering operations. Texas Senator Phil Gramm, chairman of the Banking Committee, gutted the portions of Clinton's bill dealing with this matter, calling them “totalitarian.”

    In fact, Gramm was compelled to kill the bill because his most devoted patrons, the Enron Corporation and its criminal executives in Houston, were using those same terrorist financial networks to launder their own dirty money and rip off the Enron stockholders. It should also be noted that Gramm’s wife, Wendy, sat on the Enron Board of Directors.

    Just before departing office, Clinton managed to make a deal with the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development to have some twenty nations close tax havens used by al-Qaeda. His term ended before the deal was sealed, and the incoming Bush administration acted immediately to destroy the agreement.

    According to Time magazine, in an article entitled “Banking on Secrecy” published in October of 2001, Bush economic advisors Larry Lindsey and R. Glenn Hubbard were urged by think tanks like the Center for Freedom and Prosperity to opt out of the coalition Clinton had formed. The conservative Heritage Foundation lobbied Bush’s Treasury Secretary, Paul O'Neill, to do the same.

    In the end, the lobbyists got what they wanted, and the Bush administration pulled out of the plan. The Time article stated, “Without the world's financial superpower, the biggest effort in years to rid the world’s financial system of dirty money was short-circuited.”

    A mission statement from the internal FBI Strategic Plan, dated 5/8/98, describes the FBI’s Tier One priority as ‘counterterrorism.’ The FBI, under the Clinton administration, was making counterterrorism its highest priority. The official annual budget goals memo from Attorney General Janet Reno to department heads, dated 4/6/2000, detailed how counterterrorism was her top priority for the Department of Justice. In the second paragraph, she states, “In the near term as well as the future, cybercrime and counterterrorism are going to be the most challenging threats in the criminal justice area. Nowhere is the need for an up-to-date human and technical infrastructure more critical.”
    Contrast this with the official annual budget goals memo from Attorney General John Ashcroft, dated 5/10/2001. Out of seven strategic goals described, not one mentions counterterrorism. An internal draft of the Department of Justice’s plans to revamp the official DoJ Strategic Plan, dated 8/9/2001, describes Ashcroft’s new priorities. The areas Ashcroft wished to focus on were highlighted in yellow. Specifically highlighted by Ashcroft were domestic violent crime and drug trafficking prevention. Item 1.3, entitled “Combat terrorist activities by developing maximum intelligence and investigative capability,” was not highlighted.

    There is the internal FBI budget request for 2003 to the Department of Justice, dated late August 2001. This was not the FBI's total budget request, but was instead restricted only to the areas where the FBI specifically requested increases over the previous year’s budget. In this request, the FBI specifically asked for, among other things, 54 translators to transcribe the backlog of intelligence gathered, 248 counterterrorism agents and support staff, and 200 professional intelligence researchers. The FBI had repeatedly stated that it had a serious backlog of intelligence data it has gathered, but could not process the data because it did not have the staff to analyze or translate it into usable information. Again, this was August 2001.

    The official Department of Justice budget request from Attorney General Ashcroft to OMB Director Mitch Daniels is dated September 10, 2001. This document specifically highlights only the programs slated for above-baseline increases or below-baseline cuts. Ashcroft outlined the programs he was trying to cut. Specifically, Ashcroft was planning to ignore the FBI's specific requests for more translators, counterintelligence agents and researchers. It additionally shows Ashcroft was trying to cut funding for counterterrorism efforts, grants and other homeland defense programs before the 9/11 attacks.
    “… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”

    Monday, September 25, 2006

    Big Dawg shows us how it’s done!

    The internets are abuzz with comments and opinions regarding Bill Clinton having wiped the smirk off of Chris Wallace’s face on Faux news. If you missed it, you can catch it here. Basically, the President was invited on to Faux news to talk about the Clinton Global Initiative. Instead, he was asked a couple of questions about it and then, according to Chris Wallace, “I asked what I thought was a non-confrontational question about whether he could have done more to ‘connect the dots and really go after al Qaeda.’”

    Of course, that’s according to Chris Wallace. Now, who are you going to believe, Chris Wallace or your lying ears? If you listen to the tape, or read the transcript you will see that the actual question sounded more like this:
    WALLACE: Why didn’t you do more to put Bin Laden and al Qaeda out of business when you were President? There’s a new book out which I suspect you’ve read called the Looming Tower. And it talks about how the fact that when you pulled troops out of Somalia in 1993, Bin Laden said “I have seen the frailty and the weakness and the cowardice of US troops.” Then there was the bombing of the embassies in Africa and the attack on the USS Cole.


    WALLACE: …may I just finish the question sir. And after the attack, the book says, Bin Laden separated his leaders because he expected an attack and there was no response. I understand that hindsight is 20/20.

    CLINTON: No let’s talk about…

    WALLACE: …but the question is why didn’t you do more, connect the dots and put them out of business?
    Okay, so Chris Wallace is lying when he says that he asked a non-confrontational question. But lying by FOX News hosts is hardly the stuff of “Stop the presses!”

    What was new and different was this. It was the first time that a prominent Democrat called a spade a goddam shovel. This is the message that Dems have to learn to articulate: Republicans can’t be trusted to wage the war on terror. They are too incompetent, too corrupt, too ideological, and they have proven that they are not up to the task by 5 years King George W not "thinking too much" about Osama bin Ladin.

    The Neo-Cons have confabulated the war in Iraq with the so-called “War on Terror.” Incredible though it may seem, the general population gives them almost passing grades on the fighting terrorism. Bill Clinton is, if not the first, certainly the most prominent, and the most articulate to explain that these buffoons have fouled up the war on terrorism so bad, that every last one of us is less safe now than he or she was on January 20, 2001.

    Fighting terrorism is the Republican party’s strongest suit, even though, as the Huffington Post reports: “The National Intelligence Estimate, a classified report containing a consensus view of the 16 governmental spy agencies, states that the Iraq war has worsened the threat of terrorism across the globe.”

    The Republicans went after Kerry and Gore on their strongest suit, as they did against Max Cleland. And they lied about it every inch of the way. You would think Dems could go after them on their strongest suit, since to do so would merely involve telling the truth. And especially since Bill Clinton just showed us how it’s done!

    “… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”

    Wednesday, September 13, 2006

    A former governor of Texas

    Rest in peace, Ann Richards.

    In 1988, she famously said of George Herbert Walker Bush, 41, “Poor George, he can't help it. He was born with a silver foot in his mouth.” One of the improbable achievements of his son is that he makes the old man sound like a regular Demosthenes.

    Was that her most memorable quote from that convention? Maybe, but she also offered a memorable salute to the achievements of women, reminding her worldwide audience, “Ginger Rogers did everything that Fred Astaire did. She just did it backwards and in high heels.”

    She was governor for one term, losing her re-election bid to George W. Bush.

    The same George W. Bush had his own memorable quote about the fair sex over at the Republican National Convention in 1988. A Hartford Courant reporter asked him about what he and his father talked about when they weren't talking about politics.

    Pussy,” Dubya replied.

    As Casey Stengel would say, you can look it up.

    “… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”

    Friday, September 08, 2006

    Who is behind the revisionist history, “The Path to 9/11”

    The following article, Discover the Secret Right-Wing Network Behind ABC’s 9/11 Deception, previously appeared in its entirety on The Huffington Post’s column “Eat the Press,” under the byline, Max Blumenthal, and on his blog.

    Less than 72 hours before ABC's “The Path to 9/11” is scheduled to air, the network is suddenly under siege. On Tuesday, ABC was forced to concede that “The Path to 9/11” is “a dramatization, not a documentary.” The film deceptively invents scenes to depict former President Bill Clinton's handling of the Al Qaeda threat.

    Now, ABC claims to be is editing those false sequences to satisfy critics so the show can go on -- even if it still remains a gross distortion of history. And as it does so, ABC advances the illusion that the deceptive nature of “The Path to 9/11” is an honest mistake committed by a hardworking but admittedly fumbling team of well-intentioned Hollywood professionals who wanted nothing less than to entertain America. But this is another Big Lie.

    In fact, “The Path to 9/11” is produced and promoted by a well-honed propaganda operation consisting of a network of little-known right-wingers working from within Hollywood to counter its supposedly liberal bias. This is the network within the ABC network. Its godfather is far right activist David Horowitz, who has worked for more than a decade to establish a right-wing presence in Hollywood and to discredit mainstream film and TV production. On this project, he is working with a secretive evangelical religious right group founded by The Path to 9/11’s director David Cunningham that proclaims its goal to “transform Hollywood” in line with its messianic vision.

    Before The Path to 9/11 entered the production stage, Disney/ABC contracted David Cunningham as the film’s director. Cunningham is no ordinary Hollywood journeyman. He is in fact the son of Loren Cunningham, founder of the right-wing evangelical group Youth With A Mission (YWAM). The young Cunningham helped found an auxiliary of his father's group called The Film Institute (TFI), which, according to its mission statement, is “dedicated to a Godly transformation and revolution TO and THROUGH the Film and Television industry.” As part of TFI's long-term strategy, Cunningham helped place interns from Youth With A Mission's "global training network" in film industry jobs “so that they can begin to impact and transform Hollywood from the inside out,” according to a YWAM report.

    Last June, Cunningham’s TFI announced it was producing its first film, mysteriously titled “Untitled History Project.” “TFI's first project is a doozy,” a newsletter to YWAM members read. “Simply being referred to as: The Untitled History Project, it is already being called the television event of the decade and not one second has been put to film yet. Talk about great expectations!” (A web edition of the newsletter was mysteriously deleted yesterday but has been cached on Google at the link above).

    The following month, on July 28, the New York Post reported that ABC was filming a mini-series “under a shroud of secrecy” about the 9/11 attacks. “At the moment, ABC officials are calling the miniseries ‘Untitled Commission Report’ and producers refer to it as the ‘Untitled History Project,’” the Post noted.

    Early on, Cunningham had recruited a young Iranian-American screenwriter named Cyrus Nowrasteh to write the script of his secretive “Untitled” film. Not only is Nowrasteh an outspoken conservative, he is also a fervent member of the emerging network of right-wing people burrowing into the film industry with ulterior sectarian political and religious agendas, like Cunningham.

    Nowrasteh's conservatism was on display when he appeared as a featured speaker at the Liberty Film Festival (LFF), an annual event founded in 2004 to premier and promote conservative-themed films supposedly too “politically incorrect” to gain acceptance at mainstream film festivals. This June, while The Path to 9/11 was being filmed, LFF founders Govindini Murty and Jason Apuzzo -- both friends of Nowrasteh -- announced they were “partnering” with right-wing activist David Horowitz. Indeed, the 2006 LFF is listed as “A Program of the David Horowitz Freedom Center.”

    Since the inauguration of Bill Clinton in 1992, Horowitz has labored to create a network of politically active conservatives in Hollywood. His Hollywood nest centers around his Wednesday Morning Club, a weekly meet-and-greet session for Left Coast conservatives that has been graced with speeches by the likes of Newt Gingrich, Victor Davis Hanson and Christopher Hitchens. The group’s headquarters are at the offices of Horowitz’s Center for the Study of Popular Culture, a “think tank” bankrolled for years with millions by right-wing sugardaddies like eccentric far right billionaire Richard Mellon Scaife. (Scaife financed the Arkansas Project, a $2.3 million dirty tricks operation that included paying sources for negative stories about Bill Clinton that turned out to be false.)

    With the LFF now under Horowitz’s control, his political machine began drumming up support for Cunningham and Nowrasteh’s “Untitled” project, which finally was revealed in late summer as “The Path to 9/11.” Horowitz's PR blitz began with an August 16 interview with Nowrasteh on his FrontPageMag webzine. In the interview, Nowrasteh foreshadowed the film’s assault on Clinton's record on fighting terror. “The 9/11 report details the Clinton's administration’s response -- or lack of response -- to Al Qaeda and how this emboldened Bin Laden to keep attacking American interests,” Nowrasteh told FrontPageMag's Jamie Glazov. “There simply was no response. Nothing.”

    A week later, ABC hosted LFF co-founder Murty and several other conservative operatives at an advance screening of The Path to 9/11. (While ABC provided 900 DVDs of the film to conservatives, Clinton administration officials and objective reviewers from mainstream outlets were denied them.) Murty returned with a glowing review for FrontPageMag that emphasized the film's partisan nature. “‘The Path to 9/11’ is one of the best, most intelligent, most pro-American miniseries I’ve ever seen on TV, and conservatives should support it and promote it as vigorously as possible,” Murty wrote. As a result of the special access granted by ABC, Murty’s article was the first published review of The Path to 9/11, preceding those by the New York Times and LA Times by more than a week.

    Murty followed her review with a blast email to conservative websites such as Liberty Post and Free Republic on September 1 urging their readers to throw their weight behind ABC’s mini-series. “Please do everything you can to spread the word about this excellent miniseries,” Murty wrote, “so that ‘The Path to 9/11’ gets the highest ratings possible when it airs on September 10 & 11! If this show gets huge ratings, then ABC will be more likely to produce pro-American movies and TV shows in the future!”

    Murty's efforts were supported by Appuzo, who handles LFF's heavily-trafficked blog, Libertas. Appuzo was instrumental in marketing The Path to 9/11 to conservatives, writing in a blog post on September 2, Make no mistake about what this film does, among other things: it places the question of the Clinton Administration’s culpability for the 9/11 attacks front and center... Bravo to Cyrus Nowrasteh and David Cunningham for creating this gritty, stylish and gripping piece of entertainment.”

    When a group of leading Senate Democrats sent a letter to ABC CEO Robert Iger urging him to cancel The Path to 9/11 because of its glaring factual errors and distortions, Apuzzo launched a retaliatory campaign to paint the Democrats as foes of free speech. “Here at LIBERTAS we urge the public to make noise over this, and to demand that Democrats back down,” he wrote on September 7th. “What is at stake is nothing short of the 1st Amendment.”

    At FrontPageMag, Horowitz singled out Nowrasteh as the victim. The attacks by former president Bill Clinton, former Clinton Administration officials and Democratic US senators on Cyrus Nowrasteh’s ABC mini-series “The Path to 9/11” are easily the gravest and most brazen and damaging governmental attacks on the civil liberties of ordinary Americans since 9/11,” Horowitz declared.

    Now, as discussion grows over the false character of The Path to 9/11, the right-wing network that brought it to fruition is ratcheting up its PR efforts. Murty will appear tonight on CNN’s Glenn Beck show and The Situation Room, according to Libertas in order to respond to “the major disinformation campaign now being run by Democrats to block the truth about what actually happened during the Clinton years.”

    While this network claims its success and postures as the true victims, the ABC network suffers a PR catastrophe. It's almost as though it was complacent about an attack on its reputation by a band of political terrorists.

    Thursday, September 07, 2006

    The Path to 9/11 and other atrocities


    The ABC television network is a cog in the Walt Disney empire. On the fifth anniversary of 9/11 the network plans to broadcast a two-night mini-series, which is a shameless attempt to re-write history. It was written by right-wing extremists to blame Clinton for 9/11, and to benefit the Republican ‘we have nothing to sell but fear itself’ crowd as we approach what may be the most important election in American history.

    Here’s how ABC is touting the show:
    On September 11, 2001 the world stood still as terrorists used four planes as lethal weapons against innocent Americans. The 9/11 Commission was formed to determine how such an attack could happen, and its report documents the trail from the 1993 World Trade Center bombing to the tragedy of that autumn morning. The bipartisan commission effort created a comprehensive record of events and provides valuable insight into what must be done to protect the nation in the future.

    ABC will present “The Path to 9/11,” a dramatization of the events detailed in The 9/11 Commission Report and other sources, in an epic miniseries event that will air with limited commercial interruption.
    Since that announcement, ABC has determined that the best strategy for airing this disgraceful slander is with no commercials whatsoever. One can conclude that ABC was unable to attract advertisers, but the more cynical among us might wonder if ABC fears the boycotting of advertisers who underwrite revisionist history.

    To spread the word about “The Path to 9/11,” ABC is sending 100,000 high school educators a letter from 9/11 Commission co-chair Tom Keane informing them of the various platforms on which the mini is available.

    ABC and Scholastic have produced an online study guide, according to Variety, the entertainment industry’s magazine. As I write this, MSNBC is reporting that Scholastic has pulled out of the deal.

    Also according to Variety,
    [President of ABC Entertainment] Steve McPherson said by offering the show for free on iTunes and via streaming video on, the network hoped to expose as many people as possible to the findings of the 9/11 Commission, whose report forms the basis of the script.
    By giving it this platform and by dramatizing it, we’ll get more people to get that information,” he said. “We spent $30 million on this and we're putting it on without commercials. How important we think this is speaks for itself.”

    There are sites all over the internet where you can sign on to a letter to ABC urging them not to air this despicable propaganda. My sense tells me that it will not work. Anyone who might sign such a letter is not within the target audience, and ABC Entertainment is already bragging about taking a $30 million bath.

    So, what will work?

    It strikes me that the ABC-Disney(world)-Florida-Bush connection is part of this story. Should there be an organized boycott of Disneyworld explicitly in response to this? On a good day, I have worse ideas than this before breakfast.

    What about boycotting selected corporations that advertise on ABC on September 11th and 12th? ABC is in business to do business. Advertisers need to get the message that advertising on the network of Republican agi-prop is bad mojo. A hundred thousand emails from upset viewers will get the message across. You can’t hit a corporation in the heart, so you must aim for the pocketbook.

    And since ABC Entertainment is in the business of making money, what are they doing giving away a miniseries that cost $30,000,000. For that kind of money they could have given a dollar dividend to each of 30,000,000 shareholders. (Correction: Fiscal results for 2005 showed an 11% increased income compared to the previous year. Add in 30 million, and it would have been a 12% increase.) Folks who invest in Disney have a right to expect that the business will be run, well, like a business. When it is run like a charitable propaganda organ for the Republican Party, the law provides a remedy, viz., a shareholder lawsuit.

    This story is developing quickly. It is now being reported by the L.A. Times that ABC is still in editing mode. (It does make you wonder what the network made available for previews to Rush Limbaugh and his fellow travelers.) In any event, according to the LA times, this is “after leading political figures, many of them Democrats, complained about bias and alleged inaccuracies.” It is also after they network discovered that there was 10 minutes of time that had been set aside for advertising that needs to be filled. Whatever the reason for the rewrite, it enables ABC to say that any criticism of the mini-series is “premature.”

    Stay tuned – to this channel,

    “… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”

    Wednesday, September 06, 2006

    Dick Armitage is a poor excuse.

    So, what we know so far is that Deputy Secretary of State Dick Armitage was the first source for Bob Novak when he outed Valerie Plame. Here’s what the Washington Post had to say about it:
    It follows that one of the most sensational charges leveled against the Bush White House -- that it orchestrated the leak of Ms. Plame’s identity to ruin her career and thus punish Mr. Wilson -- is untrue.
    This is bizarre thinking, unworthy of the paper that played such a big role in uncovering Watergate. Of course, that was when Bob Woodward was into the whole Fourth Estate as a check on government abuse of power. Now, he’s more into the kissing administration asses to get the scoop, and if necessary keeping the outing of Valerie Wilson on the q.t. to suck up to his handlers.

    The Post’s argument is that Armitage’s name-dropping was just a matter of sharing gossip with Bob Novak. Now, maybe the Post doesn’t know the difference between “gossip” and a secret dossier that was created to discredit Wilson, but you can bet your bippie that Armitage does. But more directly to the point, if it is true that Armitage’s loose lips were just a thoughtless act, how does that discredit the fact that the White House was engaged in a very pre-meditated, coordinated effort to respond to the Wilson article? It doesn’t.

    The White House no longer denies that Karl Rove was pushing the story. Chris Matthews has said, “Karl Rove called [him] up and said that ‘Valerie Plame is fair game.’” Did Scooter Libby give up Valerie Wilson to the press? What we know so far is that his denials got him indicted for perjury and obstruction of justice. We know that Special Prosecutor Fitzgerald has alleged, and a grand jury has agreed, that there was a concerted effort in the White House to discredit Wilson in the course of which Valerie Wilson, a protected person, had her identity made public.

    Joe Conason makes the point eloquently in The Observer, but he, too, is missing a crucial ingredient in this cocktail.

    How did it help the White House to out Valerie Plame? The main theories put forward are (1) that it was simply to punish Joe Wilson, (2) it made Wilson look like a girly-man because his wife got him a gig, and (3) by portraying the trip to Africa as a “junket” they could deny that there was any fact-finding mission, at all. None of these make any sense, and it amazes me that they are accepted so uncritically.

    Since The Price of Loyalty, at least, we have known that these are mean bastards in the White House. But would they destroy a CIA secret operative, engaged in learning about Iranian nuclear plans, to punish Joe Wilson, even in light of the damage that it did to ongoing operations by destroying her cover and exposing her contacts? Nah. They could have punished Wilson much more directly, for example, by trumping up some charges against him for revealing his “secret mission.” That would have bankrupted him.

    Did you, dear reader, have the least bit of a negative reaction to Joe Wilson upon hearing that his wife may have played a role in sending him to Africa? Me, neither. It’s absurd to think that as buffoonish as these guys are, they would think, “Hey, once people learn that this former ambassador is married to a sexy spy, who sent him on a secret mission, people are just going to just think he’s a pussy and not pay any attention to him.” And how did it work out for them?

    What about after you learned that when Saddam Hussein threatened to hang Ambassador Wilson, he put a noose on as if it were a necktie, and said, “I wanted Saddam to know that if he was going to hang me, I would bring my own fucking rope.” It was for this that Geo. Herbert Walker Bush called him, “a true American hero.”

    Even if it were a “junket,” so what? Does that undermine the credibility of his findings? Nope. To do that, you have to attack Wilson’s credibility. There was plenty of that, to be sure, but it didn’t necessarily involve the Valerie Wilson connection. Also, notwithstanding the fumigations of the Washington post, none of it stood up.

    When the White House launched the attack on Joe Wilson the war in Iraq was pretty much a done deal. And by the time the war came, the Bushies had acknowledged that the 16 words shouldn’t have been in the State of the Union address, and pretty much dropped the nuclear threat as a cause for the war.

    So why did the White House attack Wilson’s wife? It was for one simple reason: the Bushies knew that Cheney had let King George make a State of the Union speech that he knew was bullshit. It wasn’t about hurting Wilson: it was about protecting Dick Deadeye. And so it was that Rove and Scooter were sent out to make the case that they had no idea about what Joe Wilson didn’t find in Africa.

    It is crucial to understand that Darth Cheney thought that the article had stated that the he had personally sent Wilson to Niger. Wilson never said that, and what he did say was true, to wit: in response to questions raised by the Vice President, the CIA sent him on a mission to Niger. And so, when the veep’s clipping service sent him Wilson’s article, he scribbled some brainstorming ideas on how he can maintain plausible deniability regarding his knowledge of Wilson’s trip. “Was it a junket?” “Is it unusual to send a former ambassador on a trip like this?” You get the idea.

    In order for Big Mitch’s theory to hold, you would want to see some evidence of Dead-eye Dick actually using plausible, but false, statements to deny his knowledge of Wilson’s trip. I posted it here and here:
    This is from [Cheney’s] September 14, 2003 appearance on Meet the Press:

    “I don’t know Joe Wilson. I’ve never met Joe Wilson. A question had arisen. I’d heard a report that the Iraqis had been trying to acquire uranium in Africa, Niger in particular. I get a daily brief on my own each day before I meet with the president to go through the intel. And I ask lots of question. One of the questions I asked at that particular time about this, I said, “What do we know about this?” They take the question. He came back within a day or two and said, “This is all we know. There’s a lot we don’t know,” end of statement. And Joe Wilson—I don’t who sent Joe Wilson. He never submitted a report -- that I ever saw -- when he came back.

    How is that possible? Well, for an answer let’s look again at what Wilson said in the now famous article in the Times:

    Though I did not file a written report, there should be at least four documents in United States government archives confirming my mission. The documents should include the ambassador's report of my debriefing in Niamey, a separate report written by the embassy staff, a C.I.A. report summing up my trip, and a specific answer from the agency to the office of the vice president (this may have been delivered orally). While I have not seen any of these reports, I have spent enough time in government to know that this is standard operating procedure.
    You may say that this concern for Dick Cheney’s credibility is rather extreme. And you would be right. But extreme times call for extreme measures. Don’t forget that the bottom line on Joe Wilson’s argument is that the claim that Iraq was trying to obtain nuclear weapons was false, and Cheney knew it. Long ago, a majority of Americans came to the conclusion that if they lied us into a war, they ought to be impeached.

    What happens when you get rid of a criminal vice-president who is the main reason for not impeaching the President of the United States? Ask Spiro Agnew.

    “… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”