Wednesday, September 28, 2005

GOP Looks Toward Future, Prison

Conservative leaders seek cozier nest for jailbirds

CNN -- September 28, 2005
– 03:46 GMT

WASHINGTON, DC -- Top Republicans have been quietly raising money to expand the minimum security prison in Yazoo City, Mississippi, CNN has learned. A new wing will be built to house members of the Bush Administration.

Each cell in the so-called Freedom Wing will feature an ornate cot with sheets made from 600-thread-count Egyptian cotton, a whisper-quiet flush toilet, and a 42-inch plasma TV pre-programmed to Fox News and the 700 Club.

“We’re trying to make their transition to incarceration as painless as possible,” said one fundraiser who asked to remain anonymous.

Over the past 10 days, a Texas grand jury has indicted House Majority Leader Tom Delay (R-TX), federal agents have arrested White House acquisitions chief David Safavian, and the SEC launched an investigation of Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN), whose alleged insider trading may have netted him between $2 and $6 million.

Republicans also fear that special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, scheduled to wrap up his investigation into the outing of CIA agent Valerie Plame next month, will issue a raft of indictments for top White House officials on charges of perjury, conspiracy, obstruction of justice, and violations of the Intelligence Identities Protection Act.

At current rates, roughly 27 percent of top Republican leaders could be behind bars by 2007.

“We’re not conceding that they’re all guilty,” says the donor. “We just want to have the resources in place in case the worst happens.”

Toward that end the Republicans have hired Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg Brown & Root to build the new wing, while recent ex-con Martha Stewart will consult on interior design. Stewart is said to be considering abandoning her usual muted pastels in favor of a bold black-and-white motif, since most of the inmates are unable to see the world in any other way.

He added that a neocon think-tank, The American Enterprise Institute, might open a satellite office in the prison.

“We’re hoping that by keeping them all together in comfort they can avoid the nastier elements of prison life, such as becoming other inmates’ ‘wives’,” said the fundraiser. “Except of course for Karl, who likes that sort of thing.”

Monday, September 26, 2005

What Does the President Know, and Does He Know He Knows It?

We have reached the point, apparently inevitable in second-term Republican presidencies, where the lies begin to unravel and the scum rises to the top. For the third time in 33 years we must ask the question, What did the president know and when did he know it?

(With Clinton, the question was slightly different: ‘Who does this guy think he’s fooling, and who gives a flying $#@$ about blowjobs?’ But I digress.)

This is a particularly difficult question in the GWB era, where it’s unclear whether the president knows anything at all. This is a man who boasts of never reading newspapers or watching television, save for ESPN. Thanks to careful screening at town hall meetings and “public” events he has never had to encounter anyone who disagrees with him. He is surrounded by lackeys afraid to tell him he has to sacrifice two days of his five-week vacation because Hurricane Katrina is destroying one of the world’s great cities. He is the Boy in the Bubble.

And yet it’s likely he knows something--for example, the score of Texas Ranger games. He knows how My Pet Goat ends, because that’s what he was reading while the towers were falling. He probably knows he f**ked up bigtime over Katrina, though it’s possible he still believes “Brownie” did “a heck of a job.”

After that, things get kinda sketchy.

For example, is Bush aware he’s now the most unpopular president since Nixon? Even his pals at Fox News can’t spin that one into gold.

Does he know that more than 100,000 war protestors camped on his doorstep two days ago? Probably not, because he wasn’t there to see it.

Has he ever heard of the Downing Street Memos? Is he aware that even Tony Blair didn’t believe Saddam had weapons, but went along with the lie because he wanted to cozy up to the Yanks?

Does he know that the Mission has yet to be Accomplished? Or that the Thanksgiving turkey he was photographed serving US soldiers was a fake, not unlike so many of his appointees?

Does he realize that the investigation into the outing of CIA agent Valerie Plame is really about the faking of WMD evidence, and that this will ultimately cause his house of cards to tumble?

I’m guessing the answer to most of these questions is no. (Well, maybe not the one about the turkey.) Ignorance this broad and deep cannot be an accident. You do a much better job of selling something if you believe in your heart it is true.

The Reaganauts introduced “plausible deniability,” creating a chain of command so layered and serpentine it would be impossible to prove the president knew anything about Iran-Contra.

The Bushmasters have extended this concept into “plausible gullibility,” creating a president so ill informed that every bit of news comes as a surprise.

The intelligence was flawed. No one knew the source for information about Iraq’s alleged chemical weapons program was an infamous liar employed by Ahmed Chalabi. No one knew the Niger yellowcake documents were forgeries, even though they were ‘signed’ by an official who’d been out of office for 10 years. No one knew that terrorists would fly planes into buildings, even though US intelligence had warned of such a plan two years before 9/11.

No one knew the storm would be this bad. No one knew the levees would break.

“No one,” of course, is Bush.

So when Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld created the Office of Special Plans -- fabricating evidence, twisting intelligence, browbeating the CIA into taking the blame when it all came crashing down – did they do it to fool a credulous public, or the Chief Executive himself?

Was it all done just so George would say yes?

No one knows. And, so far, he isn't talking.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Close Encounters of the Fundamentalist Kind

I live in a pretty religious place. There's a church on every other corner and four Christian radio stations in my listening area. When we go out on Sunday mornings we practically have the town to ourselves. It's kinda nice.

And yet people here are pretty low key about it. I used to have an office down the hall from the Christian radio studios, and the guys who worked there were the nicest people I've ever met. (I miss those guys.) When we first moved here from California, the locals would ask "Have you found a church yet?" I'd quell the temptation to say something snarky like "Actually, we're devil worshippers, and we're looking to sacrifice a goat. Do you know where I can find one?" Instead I'd mumble "we're still looking." Invariably they invited us to try out their church and come over to their house afterwards for supper. They weren't proselytizing, they were being polite.

So only recently have I had my first encounter with a hellfire-and-damnation fundamentalist, and it happened on email. It was in response to my Gadget Freak column in PC World. I was writing about why Google's video search service sucks hard, because of the method it uses to index videos. Here's what I said:
"Google's beta video search ( indexes clips based on their closed-captioned text. So a search for The Simpsons turns up any clip that mentions "The Simpsons" (many featuring morally righteous types trashing the show on C-SPAN)."
Shortly after the column appeared I got an email from someone who said he'd unsubscribed from the electronic version of Gadget Freak for the following reasons:
"You have lost touch with your mission. You are supposed to report on new gadgets, not search the web for videos. And your (im)morality input is over the top."
OK, fine. He doesn't like me writing about online stuff. But the last line had me flummoxed, so I sent back a response:
"Thanks for writing. Sorry to hear you didn't like the column on online video (actually my editor's idea, not mine). But what in god's name do you mean by 'your (im)morality input is over the top'?"
It turns out 'in god's name' was an apt way to put the question. Here's what I got back in response:
"You had written this: "(many featuring morally righteous types trashing the program on C-SPAN)" which is disrepectful to moral types and to the leaders of our country.

That is why i unsubscribed.

Now in checking the internet i see a completely blasphemous piece:
[note: this piece is titled "The 10 Commandments of PC Security" ]

Please repent and accept Jesus Christ as your Saviour.

Let's meet in heaven :)"

At this point, I'm not sure if he's just having me on. And if he's not, well... normally I'd just back away slowly and let the email string die, because a) these guys are nutjobs, and b) they never give up. But the election last November changed how I think about these things. Being polite to people like this, or just ignoring them, is what gave us George Bush. I decided back then the only way to keep them from taking over completely is to get in their faces and not back down. So I fired back this response:
"Hi, thanks for answering my question.

FYI, "moral" and "morally righteous" aren't equivalents. In fact, they're usually opposites -- especially when it comes to the 'leaders of our country.' Hypocrisy appears to be a prerequisite for the job these days. And if these are the people who end up in heaven, I'll gladly spend eternity in hell."
A day later I got this back in return:
"Yes sir, you are correct about moral and morally righteous not being equivalents. We should be exhorting them to follow the truth no matter what cost to themselves, as the truth will make us free :)

While we should be asking our leaders to reform, i question the propriety of using a computer related piece to poke fun at (my take on it), and show disrespect for our leaders. If you wish to publish an article calling for reform among our leaders in an appropriate venue, i would gladly support you sir :)

Only those who follow Jesus wherever he leads, at no matter what cost to themselves, will be in heaven. Hell will burn up all the wicked, and then the same fire will re-create this earth into a beautiful place where there will never be any more sin or death or pain. I hope we can both be there!!"
Nobody is this good at satire, so I'm figuring this guy is the real deal. But only people who are paying me get to tell me what I can and can't write about, and this guy hasn't coughed up a dime. So I wrote back:

"I'd like to respond to your last note, if I may.

First, my point about "morally righteous types trashing The Simpsons on C-Span" was really about how Google Video search finds stuff you don't want, while not finding what you do want. I was searching for Simpsons episodes, and instead I got video of the Morality Mafia bloviating about the show--precisely what I didn't want. That's because of the way Google Video searches transcripts of shows.

However... I don't believe the first amendment actually says anything about context. For example, it doesn't forbid a columnist in a computer magazine from expressing opinions about politics merely because he writes a column in a computer magazine. Just as it doesn't forbid a fundamentalist preacher from making political comments in a show that's ostensibly about religion, even if he's calling for things that violate God's law -- such as the assassination of another country's leader.

As for showing disrepect for leaders, that's what the first amendment is all about. If it were only legal to show respect for leaders, we wouldn't need a first amendment. Everyone is free to praise the people in power. As it is, I have no respect for this country's leaders. They have done a pitiful job in every measure, spouting pieties while picking our pockets. They don't deserve respect.

Maybe you're right and they'll burn up with all the other wicked folks. Here's hoping it happens real soon."
You'd think maybe that would shut him up, but noooooo.

"The people of the United States of America (of which i'm a proud citizen), will soon be clamoring for religious laws - more specifically - a national day of rest which will be Sunday. God wrote with his finger in stone that we are to keep the 7th day Sabbath, not doing any work on his day (sundown Friday to sundown Saturday). So the lines will be drawn, will we follow God, or follow man?

The leaders will of course bow to the demands of the people, and this world will be plunged into chaos, redeemed only when Jesus comes in the clouds to take his children home.

May we follow God whatever the costs to our personal jobs or lives

PS: I do certainly understand what you write about the 1st amendment, and your freedom to express it. You are very welcome to continue expressing yourself as you see best :) "

Gee, now I have his permission to enjoy my First Amendment rights. Isn't that special? And before long, I'll be forced by law to take Sundays off, thanks to the clamor of the people. Here's what I said in response:
"I think we live in two different countries. Perhaps the country you live in is clamoring for declaring Sunday a "day of rest." (Though isn't it already? Isn't that why most NFL games are on Sundays, because nearly everyone is at home, resting?). The country where I live has people who believe that Saturday is a day of rest (they're called Jews) and some that believe Friday is the day of rest (they're called Muslims).

God may well have written in stone that the 7th day is the sabbath, but there's no real consensus on what day He started Creation. Are you sure it was a Monday? Technically, our calendar starts the week on Sunday, which would mean the Jews got it right.

The 1st Amendment is also partly about freedom of religion. That means people are free to choose their own day of worship, as well as who and what they worship or whether they worship at all. If you were really a proud citizen of the US, and a supporter of the 1st Amendment, you'd agree.

As for living in a country clamoring for more religious laws, I don't think so. Maybe you're confusing the US with Iraq? Many folks over there are clamoring for a fundamentalist state, and at this point it looks like they might get their wish."
So far it's been two days and no response. But I doubt this guy has given up. He has the relentless cheeriness of someone who's certain he's going to Heaven while the rest of us heathens roast for all eternity, and those type don't discourage easily. Then again, maybe God decided He'd heard enough and that my correspondent had earned his Final Reward.

When George Bush talks about his base (at least, the base that makes less than 7 figures a year), this is who he's talking about. These are the people running the country, by proxy, through Monkey Boy.

Maybe the day of judgment arrived and we missed it. Maybe we're already in Hell, and we just haven't realized it yet.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Judge Roberts Answers Actual Question

Associated Press
September 21, 2005
8:58 am

WASHINGTON, DC -- Judge John Roberts was seen answering a direct question while dining at a luncheonette in Washington’s fashionable Georgetown district yesterday.

When asked by a waitress if he wanted pickles with his sandwich, the judge said firmly but politely, “No thank you.”

It was the first direct response Roberts had provided to anyone since being nominated to the Supreme Court in July.

However, the prospective Chief Justice declined to answer whether he would favor mayonnaise or mustard on his bread, citing controversial condiments cases that may come before the court.

Despite numerous requests by Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee, the White House has refused to release hundreds of memos concerning Roberts’ lunching habits while serving in the Reagan and Bush I administrations.

When asked why the administration would not release the documents, a White House official replied, “Why don’t you come over here and make us?”

Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY) said the country needs to know more about the man who could have a dramatic impact on civil liberties for decades to come.

“Soup or salad? Barbecue potato chips or plain? The American public deserves to know where Judge Roberts stands on these issues.”

Though little is known about what Judge Roberts thinks about anything, the fact that he’s tall, handsome, and has really good teeth make him an excellent candidate to rule over the highest court in the land, administration officials said.

“We look forward to him eating our lunches for the next 40 years.”

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Bush Takes Out Loan for More Political Capital

by Fran Doomkin
Special to the Washington
Tuesday, September 20, 2005; 10:44 pm

WASHINGTON, DC -- Following his narrow electoral victory last November, President Bush famously declared “I earned political capital in the campaign, and now I intend to spend it.”

Now, some 10 months later, that capital is gone. A recent examination of the White House political ledgers found the Administration in debt up to its eyeballs, with nervous Congressional Republicans demanding repayment before the 2006 midterm elections.

That’s not how it was just a few short months ago. Flush with an electoral “mandate,” the Bush White House repealed the inheritance tax and created new bankruptcy rules that made it harder for average citizens to escape debt, while permitting the Republican-controlled Congress to rack up some of the largest deficits in the nation’s history.

The White House’s profligate political spending hit its peak during the president’s 60-city tour promoting his now moribund Social Security Plan. Insiders report lavish hotel rooms overflowing with Beluga caviar and Cristal champagne, and all-night parties with Metallica and members of the Family Research Council.

Meanwhile, the Bush administration’s political trust fund was rapidly being eroded by the ongoing war in Iraq and a scandal involving top aide Karl Rove. Then, the storm hit.

Katrina broke the bank,” says a senior administration official who spoke on condition of anonymity. Recent polls show the president’s approval rating hovering between that of Adolph Hitler and actor Pauly Shore.

Recent efforts to restore the president’s image by revisiting the storm-ravaged Gulf Coast have failed. Administration officials concede they’ve run out of poor black people who are willing to be photographed talking to the president.

So Mr. Bush recently took the highly unusual step of applying for an emergency loan with the World Political Bank. As collateral, he put up the presidential hopes of his brother Jeb, twin daughters Jenna and Barbara, and three years’ worth of future earnings from the Carlisle Group.

“We didn’t get much, but every little bit helps,” noted the official. “With two Supreme Court vacancies and some indictments likely to come out of the Rove-Plame investigation, he’s going to need everything he can get.”

Monday, September 12, 2005

Bush Gone Wild

President Tours the Crescent City After the Storm

MSNBC News Services
Updated: 2:24 p.m. ET Sept. 12, 2005

NEW ORLEANS -- President Bush got his first good look at the city devastated by Hurricane Katrina yesterday.

Wearing a necklace of brightly colored beads and a headdress made from ostrich feathers, the Commander in Chief did an impromptu second-line shuffle while riding down Bourbon Street in the back of a US Army half-track.

“Woo-wee, par-tay!” cried Bush. “I love NOLA! Where are all the hotties?”

Informed by aides the city’s annual Mardi Gras celebration would not take place for several months — if it happens at all -- the president adopted a more sober tone.

Laura and I feel deeply for the people of the entire gulf coast,” Mr. Bush said in a press conference following the tour. “That’s why I sacrificed nearly two full days of my five-week vacation to fly over the area in Air Force One.”

The president was asked why it took four days for the federal government to respond, despite televised images of African American residents stranded on rooftops without food or water. Mr. Bush denied the delay was racially motivated.

“We did not discriminate against black people in our rescue efforts,” he said. “I mean, it’s not like these people were out there trying to vote.”

Bush said his administration “treated the situation in New Orleans the same way we treated the hunt for Osama Bin Laden or securing Iraq after the invasion.... by applying the fewest possible resources long after they’re truly needed. It’s what we like to call Federalism.”

In his remarks President Bush repeatedly invoked the attacks of 9/11, and said his administration would be expanding the war on terrorism to include weather.

“We must put an end to terrorists who use storms like Katrina to destroy our beloved freedoms,” Bush declared. “They can rain, but they cannot hail.”

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Republicans Seek Shelter From the Storm

Associated Press

September 7, 2005 – 21:10 GMT

WASHINGTON, DC -- As camera crews document the carnage left in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, Republican leaders were seen on the rooftops of the Rayburn and Dirksen buildings on Capitol Hill, signaling to passing aircraft and pleading to be rescued from the Bush Administration’s floundering agenda.

“The political floodwaters are rising,” cried out one grey-haired Senator to reporters inside a Fox News helicopter. “Can’t someone please help us?”

President Bush’s already record-low popularity dipped even further in light of the federal government’s slow response to Hurricane Katrina. The president’s poll numbers are now lower than those for Attila the Hun and Ivan the Terrible at similar points in their second terms.

The Congressional refugees said they were seeking emergency funds from the Republican National Committee to rebuild their reputations prior to the 2006 mid-term elections.

Senate majority leader Bill Frist had already been airlifted out of Washington and was unavailable for comment. He was reported to be resting uncomfortably in an undisclosed location.

Several conservative members of Congress were seen looting the Democrat’s storehouse of political rhetoric, which is kept locked in the basement of the Hart building on Constitution Avenue.

“We’re not looting, we’re ‘seeking viable alternatives’,” claimed one representative who asked to remain anonymous. “Rich white people don’t loot.”

Meanwhile, the Bush administration has sent out a call for someone willing to take the blame for its 96-hour delay in responding to the crisis, cutting funds for flood control in New Orleans by 60 percent, and having one-third of Louisiana’s National Guard stationed in Iraq at the time of the disaster.

Former CIA director George Tenet offered to take responsibility for the failures, on the condition he be given a second Medal of Freedom. White House press secretary Scott McClellan said the President appreciated the offer but preferred to find a more obscure scapegoat.

“The president is determined to have these issues investigated as thoroughly as the intelligence failures leading to the 9/11 attacks and the missing WMDs,” said McClellan. “Rest assured we’ll find someone else to blame.”

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