Wednesday, May 30, 2007

From the decider

Slate's collection of The Complete Bushisms.

I admit that this is really unfair. You take a guy who speaks in public hundreds of times a year, all of these instances recorded and many of them impromptu, and you're going to have a lot of malaprops, no matter who it is. But still.

Here are a few that made me chuckle:

"Information is moving—you know, nightly news is one way, of course, but it's also moving through the blogosphere and through the Internets."—Washington, D.C., May 2, 2007;

"If you've got a chicken factory, a chicken-plucking factory, or whatever you call them, you know what I'm talking about."—discussing the sorts of jobs many illegal immigrant workers perform, Tipp City, Ohio, April 19, 2007;

"And everybody wants to be loved—not everybody, but—you run for office, I guess you do. You never heard anybody say, 'I want to be despised, I'm running for office.' "—Tipp City, Ohio, April 19, 2007

"And truth of the matter is, a lot of reports in Washington are never read by anybody. To show you how important this one is, I read it, and our guest read it."—speaking along with Prime Minister Tony Blair about the Baker-Hamilton Report, Washington, D.C., Dec. 7, 2006;

"You know, when I campaigned here in 2000, I said, I want to be a war President. No President wants to be a war President, but I am one."—Des Moines, Iowa, Oct. 26, 2006;

"You know, one of the hardest parts of my job is to connect Iraq to the war on terror."—Interview with CBS News, Washington D.C., Sept. 6, 2006;

"I think—tide turning—see, as I remember—I was raised in the desert, but tides kind of—it's easy to see a tide turn—did I say those words?"—Washington, D.C., June 14, 2006;

"I think we are welcomed. But it was not a peaceful welcome."—Philadelphia, Dec. 12, 2005, on the reception of American forces in Iraq;

"See, in my line of work you got to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in, to kind of catapult the propaganda."—Greece, N.Y., May 24, 2005;

"We look forward to analyzing and working with legislation that will make—it would hope—put a free press's mind at ease that you're not being denied information you shouldn't see."
—Washington, D.C., April 14, 2005;

"We need to apply 21st-century information technology to the health care field. We need to have our medical records put on the I.T."—Collinsville, Ill., Jan. 5, 2005;

"After standing on the stage, after the debates, I made it very plain, we will not have an all-volunteer army. And yet, this week—we will have an all-volunteer army. Let me restate that."—Daytona Beach, Fla., Oct. 16, 2004;

"Secondly, the tactics of our—as you know, we don't have relationships with Iran. I mean, that's—ever since the late '70s, we have no contacts with them, and we've totally sanctioned them. In other words, there's no sanctions—you can't—we're out of sanctions."—Annandale, Va., Aug. 9, 2004;

Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we."—Washington, D.C., Aug. 5, 2004 (Thanks to Alicia Butler.);

"See, free nations are peaceful nations. Free nations don't attack each other. Free nations don't develop weapons of mass destruction."—Milwaukee, Wis., Oct. 3, 2003;

"The war on terror involves Saddam Hussein because of the nature of Saddam Hussein, the history of Saddam Hussein, and his willingness to terrorize himself."—Grand Rapids, Mich., Jan. 29, 2003;

"It would be a mistake for the United States Senate to allow any kind of human cloning to come out of that chamber."—Washington, D.C., April 10, 2002;

This Just In: Muslims taking over the Middle East!

Ok, this commenter must be trolling. No person with the brains needed to type words with a keyboard could make a comment this asinine in earnest (anonymous 9:47 AM).

While the entire comment is obviously lame-brained on its face, the takes-the-cake money quote is: "So let's bring [the troops] all home. Pull em all out. Then Iraq will fall into the muslims' hands for good, and the world will be an even more dangerous place." (emphasis added)

If this is a troll (and I hope very much that it is), then you, sir or madam, are a genius.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Maybe we can learn something from the Venezuelans


President Bush has today dispatched top FCC officials to Venezuela on a fact-finding mission to determine whether Hugo Chavez's "media relations" techniques can be adapted for use in the United States. As reported today, Venezuela's version of the FCC, its national telecommunications regulatory commission, has revoked the license of the country's most watched and longest operating television station, a frequent critic of President Chavez, and appropriated its broadcast facilities for use by a state-run broadcasting entity.

Sources in the Justice Department reported that U.S. Attorney General Alberto R. "Judge" Gonzales has already assigned the Office of Legal Counsel to draft a memo in support of such techniques, arguing that the First Amendment applies only to Acts of Congress and does not restrict the Executive's power to limit free speech. Sources familiar with the draft stated that it further asserts that the First Amendment's provisions are limited in scope to "the press", and therefore have no application to electronic media.

According to the LA Times, Radio Caracas Television, "a powerhouse news and prime-time programmer, was replaced on the airwaves by Televisora Venezolana Social, or TVes, after the Supreme Court over the weekend gave the new broadcaster the right to use RCTV's towers and microwave transmitters."

While Reuters reported widespread protests against the move, and international media outlets cited some concern from the international community, TVes reported that protests within Venezuela were scattered and lightly attended, and that they were dwarfed by massive public gatherings in support of the government's action. Said one TVes on-air commentator, "The protesters are of weak character, and do not understand the complexities of telecommunications laws. They want the terrorists to win."

Maybe we could learn something from the Chinese

Apparently China doesn't mess around when it comes to public corruption. The head of the Chinese equivalent of the FDA was sentenced to death for taking bribes to approve substandard medicines.

I have some substantial qualms about the death penalty in general. My primary concern has always been the level of certainty needed to impose that kind of penalty. But, in theory, assuming that "certainty" can be achieved, I don't believe there is any moral or ethical problem with society imposing the death penalty -- so long as it is administered in a transparent and unbiased manner.

And that's what intrigues me about this story: the penalty here is imposed on someone at the highest level of society. Someone who must be (or have been) completely wired in to the power structure. That, my friends, could never happen in this country. Aside from issues of proof, China seems to have the right idea in that they are willing to impose the harshest penalty available on anyone who commits a severe crime regardless of their social standing -- it is not reserved for only the most ignorant and downtrodden members of society.

It's also worth noting that there is some, er, immediacy involved in carrying out the sentence: " Zheng is likely to be executed by lethal injection within weeks. If he does not appeal, the sentence could be carried out much sooner."

Monday, May 28, 2007

"I'd knock your head off for half a crown,"


... said the surly groom, bolting one half of the gate.

"Couldn't afford to have it done on those terms," rejoined Sam.
Ah yes, the pure greatness of Sam Weller. I am put in mind of The Pickwick Papers (which I intend to re-read without delay) as a result of this post on the Balkinization blog. I don't suggest you read the post unless you are either a chronic law-dork or deathly ill with boredom. Balkinization is a legal blog run by a bunch of ivy-league egghead law professors and suchlike. They get into some really abstruse topics (some of it, even HipHopLawyer himself don't entirely understand), but they often discuss Issues of Interest, and are always scholarly, intellectually honest, and generally apolitical. (try finding those three qualities in a blog. go on, I dare you.)

But anyway, in describing an opinion by Samuel Alito during his time at the Office of Legal Counsel (ummm, I think this jackass has since been appointed to the Supreme Court, if you can believe it), an opinion which argues for extraordinarily broad executive powers in the face of a duly enacted federal statute expressly limiting executive power in precisely the same exact circumstances, Professor Marty Lederman says: "the OLC opinion is an exercise in statutory construction only in the Pickwickian sense that it assigns meanings to the words Congress enacted."

Funny! Well, ok, maybe only to about 4 people living, now, on this earth, but it made me spit Memorial Day beer onto my keyboard.

Today I will have a cook-out, and some cold beers, but also this:

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation, so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate—we can not consecrate—we can not hallow—this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Monica Goodling: loyal bushie

Update: As pointed out by a diligent reader, Messiah College is, in point of fact, accredited. Further research on the part of HipHopLawyer has established that this school has maintained its accreditation since 1963. I'm sure that, knowing this, National Merit Scholars across the country are lining up to fax in their admissions materials. /update.

And while our intrepid law enforcement establishment tracks down the dangerous brown felon Michael Vick for dogfighting and marijuana possession, far more sophisticated criminals continue to roam our streets and loot government coffers.

Case in point: Monica Goodling. This little strumpet, a tool of the Bush lootocracy, is set to testify before the House Judiciary Committee today. She comes before the committee armed with an impressive resume. After all, without impressive academic and professional credentials, how could she have ever been appointed to a very senior position in the Justice Department?

As you might imagine, she is a virginic white girl, pure as the driven snow, a pseudo-Cum-Laude graduate of Messiah College, with a law degree from Regent University. As I'm sure you all are aware, both of these institutions score quite highly in U.S. News and World Report's annual list of exemplary educational institutions. Or, wait. Actually, they don't score highly on that list. In fact they are barely, if not at all, accredited. They do, however, score very highly on the annual God-but-no-actual-learning list of educational institutions.

Our dear little Monica, graduate of a law school with the motto "We're not just creating more lawyers; we're creating a different kind of lawyer", set out to create a different kind of Justice Department. That is, a D0J full of bible beaters with no legal understanding, no integrity, and no higher purpose whatsoever other than furthering the GWBush cause of looting our quaint little republic for their own personal gain.

Our friends at Regent University School of Law have indeed created a different kind of lawyer. Normally, lawyers are expected to have ethics. And legal knowledge. And a fucking spine. Yes, a spine. That's the thick, vertical concentration of bones that allow you to stand upright when confronted with a WH directive that dictates that you defer to one small man's interpretation of "God's will" at the expense of 200+ years of the rule of law.

Unfortunately, congress has granted Monica immunity from prosecution to secure her testimony. Testimony, I predict, which will be filled with empty platitudes ("I just wanted to serve my country"), pathetic crying, and no useful information whatsoever. If I were the monarch of this country instead of GWBush, I would have this pitiful, intellectually dishonest snake hung from the highest tree with the following slogan branded into her ass with a hot poker: "I serve at the pleasure of the president".

Clinton Portis is funny, stupid


Michael Vick, professional football quarterback, is being hung out to dry because he apparently had a dog-fighting operation going on at a house he owned in Virginia. At this point, it is unclear whether Vick knew about this, or supported it, or whatever.

Vick's situation is interesting because he has lately been accused of some other stuff, which has earned him the ire of that all-powerful organization we know as the N-F-fucking-L. One of the things he was accused of is marijuana possession. Nevermind that no marijuana was ever found. After all, Michael Vick is a brown person with a lot of money, and, therefore, a target. And marijuana, as we all know, is a highly dangerous substance, that will kill you and all of those around you, sooner or later. Especially if you happen to be a brown person.

But anyway. When asked about the dog-fighting situation, Clinton Portis, a running back for the Washington Redskins, another brown person who is known for his enigmatic costumes during pre-game interviews, evinced a great deal of apathy.

Among his various quotes, Portis stated:

"It's his property," Portis told WAVY TV 10 in Virginia. "It's his dog. If that's what he wants to do, do it."

When reminded that dog fighting is a felony in Virginia, Portis was not deterred.

"It can't be too bad of a crime," Portis said. "There's lots of stuff that's (a crime). There's killers on the loose...You want to hunt down Michael Vick over fighting some dogs, you know, I think people should mind their business."

To which I, an avowed libertarian, say: yeah! I mean, OooooK. Umm, I guess what I mean to say is that dog-fighting, as an organized way of entertaining humans, is despicable and should be condemned.

And Clinton Portis is obviously not real savvy. Surely he should have known that this kind of oral diarrhea would provoke a severely negative firestorm. Especially from the newly holier-than-thou N-F-fucking-L. But he sure as hell hits upon a good point when he states, and I'm paraphrasing, that all kinds of stuff is illegal, but not necessarily wrong. Like smoking marijuana, for example. If you make THAT illegal, then you are seriously asking for people like this to have the attitude of "illegal? WTF? Everygoddamnthing under the sun is fucking illegal in one jurisdiction or another. Do you seriously expect me to keep track of all the things that you non-brown people consider to be "illegal" at any given time? Keep your stupid fucking laws to yourselves, assholes."

Thursday, May 17, 2007

"We're through the looking glass here, people"


This is not some liberal blogger. Not a crackpot wingnut with a blogspot account. This is the Editorial Board of the Washington Post: The Gonzales Coverup.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Bush/Cheney 2008!

This thought courtesy of Andrew Cohen, on the WaPo's legal blog Bench Conference, a daily must-read for anyone interested in our nation divesting itself of the scourge that is Alberto "Al" "Judge" Gonzales.

You often see meatheads comparing the GWBush administration to the Third Reich. This comparison was first suggested to me several years ago by someone that, at the time, I considered a good friend. But because, at that time, the analogy seemed very shaky (and it came during that several months-long period following 9/11 during which my reason and logic (and that of most of the country) was temporarily suspended, or at least heavily dampened), I was offended and somewhat enraged by it.

While I still don't think the evidence was there back at that time, I am starting to see some merit in this suggestion. And so today a commenter on Bench Conference again made the comparison, and another commenter quickly put the wingnut in his/her place by stating: "On 20 Jan 2009, President Bush will smile and applaud at an event Hitler never even considered allowing: the swearing-in of his successor."

Which got me thinking that given the GWBush administration's long and varied track record of subverting the rule of law, what is it that makes anyone think that they won't take the same approach to the 22nd Amendment?

I can easily imagine a scenario in which some "emergency" arises wherein elections must be suspended for reasons of "public safety" or "national security", allowing (nay, dictating!) that the president remain in office until the crisis has passed (which, like the current War on Terror crisis, may, in fact, be never).

This becomes even more plausible when one considers the extent to which GWBush and his cohorts believe that their policies, and their actions (ANY actions) in support of of those policies, are directed by a supernatural authority (i.e., God) which speaks directly to (and only to, apparently) them. For a long, well-detailed (and shocking) discussion of this belief on the part of GWBush, read this piece in The New York Times Magazine by Ron Suskind.

Funny


source.

1. Go to http://www.google.com
2. Click on "maps"
3. Click on "get directions"
4. Type "New York" in the first box (the "from" box at the very top of the page)
5. Type "London" in the second box (the "to" box next to it with arrow)
6. Click on "get directions."
7. Scroll down to step # 24

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Is that the royal "We"?

In reading a transcript of one of the Minister of Truth's Q&A sessions with the White House Press Corps, I notice the disturbing and repeated use of the word "we" sprinkled throughout the Minister's responses.

As in "we're going to continue to abide by that.." and "we simply don't think it's constructive..." and "we worked out legislation..." and "we have faith in [The Judge]" and "we continue to recruit first-rate people for this administration".

So, who is "we"? The last I heard, the position of White House Spokesperson is not a policy-making post, notwithstanding The West Wing's portrayal of how the hated C.J. had a so-called "seat at the table" for all WH decisions, large or small (gee, is it surprising for anyone to learn that former WH Spokesperson DiDi Myers was a scriptwriter on that show?) and the show's shark-jumping story arc wherein C.J., one of the most annoying characters in the history of broadcast television, was appointed WH Chief Of Staff.

But I digress. Who does Minister of Truth Tony Snow mean when he says "we"? He's not a cabinet member. He hasn't been elected to anything. His appointment was not confirmed by the Senate. Quite simply, he is a mouthpiece. No more, no less.

I mean, you really don't think an organization as powerful and important as the Executive Branch of the United States of America would allow little Tony Snow, most recently employed as a Fox News talking head, to have any meaningful contribution in policy discussions. Do you?

I think we can all agree that Mike Brown's appointment as FEMA director was an unfortunate slip-up that couldn't be repeated. Similarly, The Judge's appointment as White House Counsel and later Attorney General must have been one of those oopsies that occasionally befall large organizations. I mean, you can't expect them to properly handle each and every personnel decision throughout the entire management structure.

So let's give them the benefit of the doubt and say that they couldn't possibly have given this dim-witted doubletalker any real decision-making responsibility.

So who, then, is "we"? I have a theory. The pronoun "we" refers to the same "senior leadership" the our nation's esteemed Attorney General has credited, ad infinitum, with the compilation of the list of nine fired U.S. Attorneys. I again quote the brilliant Dahlia Lithwick:
One after another, Republicans on the [House Judiciary C]ommittee take turns blowing hot-air kisses at the AG for all his fine work on immigration, illegal gambling, the zealous protection of intellectual property, as well as his admirable ability to supervise all 110,000 of his employees without even lifting a finger. Gonzales would take credit for all this fine work, were he not busy constructing a fantasy Justice Department that more or less runs itself. In addition to laying all the blame for the U.S. attorney firings on the same magical pixies who reside in Kyle Sampson's filing drawer (aka the "senior leadership of the department"), Gonzales also [says a bunch of other similarly ridiculous things].
It is startling to see the lengths to which the people in this government will go to avoid taking responsibility for their decision-making. On the other hand, it's fun, all the things one can do when one can't be held accountable for them.

Speaking of which, we're done blogging for tonight; I think right now we are about to go gulp down a quart of vodka and pick up some hookers, maybe rob up a convenience store or something. We'll catch up with y'all later.

On second thought, maybe Wolfie isn't doing such a heckuva job

As I hear tell, integrity and forthrightness used to be important to people. And I don't mean in the sense that: "I think it is important that we have a forthright Attorney General with integrity."

I mean in the sense of: "I value my own integrity and forthrightness, because it allows me to look in the mirror without cringing."

Case in point: White House Mouthpiece Tony Snow, formerly of Fox News, and henceforth on this blog and in my mind The Minister of Truth, has been repeatedly quoted as sayiing that Paul Wolfowitz had the GWBush's and the White House's Full Confidence. Today he reiterated the White House's support for Wolfowitz. Or did he?

While saying "we do support Paul Wolfowitz" and "we have faith in Paul Wolfowitz", these statements were part of the Minister's bizarrely confusing (and much longer) statement in response to a fairly straightforward question this morning. A neat parlor game, a brain-twisting conundrum of a puzzle, could be made out of trying to figure out what exactly is meant by the following:

MR. SNOW: Let me explain. There are two separate things going on. Number one, there is an inquiry right now -- I believe Mr. Wolfowitz today is talking to the World Bank, presenting his side -- on personnel matters. And what we've said all along is, first, we do support Paul Wolfowitz.

But the second thing is, you need to separate these into separate inquiries, and a lot of times I think they get bundled together. He has made it clear that he made mistakes. It is pretty clear also that there were problems, in terms of communicating the proper ways of dealing with personnel issues -- as you know, originally he tried to recuse himself, then an ethics board said that he ought to get himself involved. The fact is that he made mistake; they're not, in our view, firing offenses.

Separately, at some point in the future, there are going to be conversations about the proper stewardship of the World Bank. And Mr. Wolfowitz, himself, says that what you need to have is a full, fair conversation about what is going to be best for the future of the Bank. In that sense, they say all options are on the table. This is not to leap to any conclusions, but to give you a statement of fact -- which is members of the board and Mr. Wolfowitz need to sit down and figure out what is, in fact, going to be best for this Bank to be able to serve as a venue for -- especially in the developing world -- for trying to address problems of poverty, and to try to create the proper kinds of hope and opportunity in the long run.

So what we're really talking about is, let us get through this original process because, again, not a firing offense; throughout, regardless, we have faith in Paul Wolfowitz. We do think it is appropriate for everybody to sit down after the fact, calm down, take a look and figure out, okay, how do you move forward.

Does your brain hurt yet? This doublethink gibberish may well be a result of GWBush's failure to persuade the other six G7 members of Wolfie's worthiness in an "emergency" conference. The only G7 member to side with GWBush on this emergency issue, as he continues to wager (squander) our nation's international credibility on issues where there are only the slimmest odds that he can advance his own personal peccadilloes, was Japan. The remaining members were quoted as saying varying iterations of "Um, what? Hah, hah, ho... Oh, sorry, you're being serious?"

Monday, May 14, 2007

Wolfie's doing a heckuva job!

As we know, our nation's president GWBush has gone out of his way to support Mr. Alberto R. "Judge" "Gonzo" Gonzales in his bid to remain our nation's Attorney General, even going so far as to have one of his spokesperson minions state that he is doing a "fantastic job".

As has been argued here by the brilliant Dahlia Lithwick, the one and only thing the Judge is doing a fantastic job of is as a personified punching bag, a shield for similarly ethics-challenged persons who are less incompetent than himself (but therefore far more virulent and dangerous). I don't have to list their names, do I?

But yeah, he's doing a pretty good job of that.

And, while we can obviously question GWBush's judgment and the quality of his intentions, there is a precedent for him spending his own political capital to defend and prop up one of his idiotic, unethical, incompetent, malfeasing cronies. It is also possible for us to understand (or at least make a good guess at) his motivation for doing so.

Which brings us to another ethically challenged Bush boy: dear old Wolfie. Mr. Wolfowitz, you will recall, is the GWBush-appointed head of the World Bank, a global charitable organization, charged with distributing our tax money to the poor and starving denizens of the third world. Mr. Wolfowitz used this position to, instead, distribute our tax money to his fuck-buddy.

The facts surrounding this episode are not in dispute, or at least not by unretarded persons. What is our nation's president's response to this? Well, Wolfie has his "Full Confidence". But that's not all. Mr. GWBush doesn't just expend his own (miserably plunging) credibility to defend his good buddy Wolfie. He is now spending the nation's political capital to defend the looter Wolfowitz; today he is in the process of calling an emergency session of the G7 for purposes of "reach[ing]over the heads of hostile [World Bank] board members and development ministers, to finance ministers, foreign ministers and even heads of government, in the hope they can be persuaded to over-rule their colleagues and agree to let Mr Wolfowitz stay."

I'm absolutely certain that we have nothing more important to browbeat the members of the G7 about than keeping this slimeball in his position.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

2008

For a variety of reasons, it is hard for me to get excited about the 2008 election. But today I came across this guy, who has some interesting ideas. The front page of his website features a prominent quote from Thomas Jefferson, so he can't be all bad. I promise you, you will never ever see G.W. Bush quoting TJ.

I sent the guy a few bucks, just because.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

At this point, can it possibly surprise anyone...


That a no-good crony of a corrupt shit-head like Paul Wolfowitz, who engages in blatant nepotism by setting his friends-with-benefits paramour up with a cushy highly-paid job at taxpayer expense, all the while using his bully pulpit as president of the World Bank to threaten and lecture third world countries on the subject of "corruption", that this guy would, after all that has come out about him, be the beneficiary of a public statement of "full confidence" by president George W. Bush???

But at least there's no Ewoks


Came across this interesting review of the SpiderMan III. You can see why the Los Angeles Times is to movie reviews what the WSJ is to business news, the WashPost is to politics, etc.

This movie is reportedly the most expensive in history. In addition to the $250+ million spent to actually make the film, supposedly the total costs, including P&A expenditures, are expected to round out at half a billion dollars. Yes, that's $500,000,000.00.

A quote:
Once upon a time the story of a spider-bit boy turned love-struck crime-fighter was just another movie hoping to be a hit. What a difference a few years and more than $1.6 billion in worldwide Spidey and Spidey 2 theatrical receipts makes. All that money means that it wasn't in the cards for "Spider-Man 3" to be a tale that demanded to be told in any artistic sense, a story that anyone burned to make for anything like purely creative reasons.

Rather, this is a film that commerce mandated, a marketing puzzle that insisted on a solution, an ├╝ber-franchise whose north of $250-million budget and sky-high expectations make it a master that must be served, a monster to be fed, an imperious creature with its own needs and drives.