Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Law and justice

When I first heard of critical legal studies in the 1970s, I was appalled. The law was a noble instrument of social organization, comity, and our shared thirst for justice. Well.

Law could still be those things, but in 21st century America it no longer is.

Hence, obviously crooked practices such as options backdating, which by definition is self-dealing, are "hard to prosecute". American business law is by and large built to take care of those at the top of the economic heap - those who can afford to pay the best lawyers to look after their interests.

Crocodile tears from the oil industry

This is not something I know a lot about. I just have my bullshit detector set appropriately high for the profit-making corruption of modern American business, politics, and media - hard to tell where one starts and the others stop these days...

For some reason, CNN today briefly reposted this piece of propaganda from July 11, probably facilitated by the PR shell called the Petroleum Institute. More evidence that the CNN story was a PR placement is how well it matches the July 22 story from the New York Times that I already commented on in "Trying Too Hard".

So, Trilby Lundberg's claims:

  1. Refineries damaged in the 2005 hurricane season are breaking down.
  2. More complex environmental regulations raised the poor wittle refineries' costs.
  3. Ethanol subsidies push prices up.

I'll start with the easy bullshit first. Ethanol subsidies can't be responsible for a price change, only for a part of the price. My wild guess: less than 5 cents a gallon, possibly less. But, in the interest of not purveying my own brand of bullshit, I got out a little google. USAToday provided the nuggets I needed at the end of this: In March, wholesale gas prices were about 60 cents lower than ethanol. In a 10% mix, that's 6 cents, for 15%, 9 cents. With gas above $3.

Then I found this, which erases even that small cost, assuming it is true.

Even easier BS: More complex environmental regulations during the Bush Administration? That would be funny if it didn't hurt so much.

So, what about the damage from Katrina and friends? Maybe. But I'm always skeptical of "data" that begins and ends with anecdotes about raccoons and possums. How cute for Lundberg amidst her pleading for more serious coverage of why gas prices spike, uh, change.

Nonetheless, I'm no fan of ethanol as a route to much of anything other than higher corn prices. (Hey, a point of agreement.) If it's a net gain of energy independence, it's still a pretty marginal one.

More evidence of a manipulated market? CNN is happy to oblige as long as they don't have to connect the dots. Here's "Why oil is rising but gas gets cheaper". Gas prices went up while crude prices came down; now they're going down while crude prices fall. Sure, that's a free market!

The "analysts" don't know whether their bullshit is coming or going. Witness:

Usually oil and gas prices move in tandem. Yet this time around, analysts say the disconnect is all about refining. If refineries keep churning out gas, and crude doesn't spike too much further, some say motorists could see gas prices under $2 a gallon by winter.

$80 oil lurks

Normal people's heads would explode from all this paradox, but not PR people's heads.

Lundberg thinks conservation is something consumers should "see through". And she is a global warming disbeliever, but even if it's true, she's o.k. with us changing the environment to keep our Hummers.

Let's face it, this is someone who can read, add, and take averages, not skills that demand our trust. Read her numbers, but forget her analysis.

In the long run, Asian demand will force gas prices up much higher than they are now. Of course, Lundberg ignores this inconvenient market force.

The oil industry is just thrilled they've gotten prices where they are in time for this quarter's profits.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Compare and contrast

Bill Clinton certainly lied to the American people when he wagged his finger at the camera and said, "I did not have sex...ual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky."

When he testified in the Paula Jones lawsuit (in response to salacious tidbits that Ken Starr's team was feeding her lawyers), Clinton was responding to a specific definition of sexual relations that excluded oral sex. Yes, this is hairsplitting.

What Gonzo is supposedly doing is reserving to himself the right to redefine program in whatever way he chooses. He also refuses to clarify anything about the illegal surveillance done by the Bushists so that anyone in Congress doing Constitutional oversight could actually pin him down on such a simple fact as how many programs Gonzales wants to divide the surveillance program into.

The answer, of course, is just as many as he needs to claim after the fact that he didn't lie. His definition of lie is exceedingly narrow. He is only trying to leave himself enough wiggle room that there's some set of facts he can stretch his former answers to fit.

The key here is that lying includes those times when you tell "the truth" in a way intended to deceive. At best, that's what the Attorney General has done before Congress. I'm not for summary execution, but this man needs to do time.

Why should we believe the implication that the Bushists directed the NSA to do data-mining only on phone records? Really, that's basically a few SQL queries, hardly something that would qualify for the label data-mining. We will find in time that the Bushists had the NSA data-mining recorded domestic conversations by computer. They will claim, against all precedent and common sense, that this is not eavesdropping, since no human would ever listen to the innocent calls, only a machine. (Yes, I am asserting this with no evidence, only the thoroughly deceitful precedents of the Bushist apparatus.)

One last point: Clinton was lying about private sex. Gonzo is lying about ignoring the Constitution. What will we tell the children?

One hundred years

In a hundred years, the house I stayed in over the weekend will be so much luxury flotsam. Without global warming, it was already marginal, as the dune it sits on erodes and accretes depending on winter storms.

Maybe I'm just mourning the inevitable mouldering away of all bones, but it seems a crying shame to me that such a lovely spot should be doomed before its time by our collective unwillingness to step back from the deluge. At least Cape Cod Bay will still be there for swimming.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Snow job

CNN reports:

White House spokesman Tony Snow said that members of Congress were trying to "create controversies."

If they'd just believe the lies the Bushists tell them (for their own good), there wouldn't be a problem.

Today's comments

On Philosoraptor:

As I watch Gonzales (until my own retching distracts me), I see a man supremely confident of his safety and position. He knows Duhbya has his back personally.

Rummy may have been arrogant, but he didn't have this same confidence, even though he was a Cheney man. Maybe being a Cheneyite made Rummy know that he was disposable at some level. Scooter Libby surely knows that.

I don't think Duhbya would initiate a plan to scooterize his own wounds by sacrificing Gonzo. Rove might, however, and no matter what Gonzo might think as a loyal courtier, Rove is the only indispensable staffer in the White House.

Inertia is a more likely reason for Gonzo's thumb in Congress's eye. The Bushists are so used to giving everyone the finger they can't stop.

Impeaching Gonzales would make impeachment of Duhbya and Darth more likely, not less. Get a little momentum going, turn over more rocks, and find the inevitable dirty dealings, and there will be more popular pressure for a real remedy.

Will it be enough? I only hope so.

Duhbya and Michael Vick

How is the typical NFL star athlete like Duhbya?

They've both been protected all their lives from the consequences of their own actions. Eventually, that can lead to the making of a big enough mess that no one can bail the coddled brat out. Duhbya has obviously done this, and Vick has allegedly done it. Both look stupid for it, but they're just acting on what their environment has taught them. (One purpose of academic learning is to widen your perspective beyond the operant conditioning of your own life, but how much of that has either actually done?)

If you said that both are inarticulate, you're thirty years too late. NFL athletes used to sound like idiots whenever someone put a mic in front of them. They don't any more. Duhbya owns that field. (Say all you want about the duplicities of Tony Blair, but give him this one thing: He could actually handle questions put by Parliament.)

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Today's comments

On KnoxViews:

What RWGs (rich white guys) have

Lawyers, good ones. They set up obviously phony deals like the one-vote annexation, and the courts find in their favor anyway - because some paper filing was unassailable or because some other paper filing missed a deadline.

RWGs don't bother with transparent travel expense pretexts. They know how to set them up right. Lawyers (and doctors, too, by the way) combine personal travel with professional activities - seminar over breakfast and golf in the afternoon in, oh say, Hawaii. Then they deduct the expense or get reimbursed for it without quite offending our sniffers.

That still doesn't make the alleged behavior right, but it does turn a black-and-white (ahem!) story into shades of gray.

One more thing: I'm surprised no one has mentioned Cherokee Country Club. Going out on a limb, I don't think any of the women in this thread are members. Just sayin' is all.

Party before country

Republicans in Congress are loyal, I've got to hand them that. The problem is that they are loyal to their party - and to Duhbya and Darth - above their country, the Constitution, and the Congress as any essential American, democratic institution.

CNN headlines "House inches toward Constitutional show-down", as if the Bushists' use of the Constitution as if it were the fricking pirate code, "more like guidelines, actually," just something to be gotten around in the most nefarious, expedient way possible. As in: Davy Jones says, "Call John Yoo, I want to torture Orlando Bloom without any serious organ failure."

What do Republicans say when the smarmy, smirking Duhbya crony of an Attorney General lies to them repeatedly and the gang in the White House refuses to let anyone talk on the record to Congress ("coequal branch, my ass - they have fewer divisions than the pope")?

Here are a few:

White House spokesman Tony Snow called the contempt citations "pathetic" and said the citations are "not likely to go anywhere." He said the Democratic leaders of Congress have been pursuing a "fishing expedition" over the firings that has turned up nothing.

"What you have right now is partisanship on Capitol Hill that quite often boils down to insults, insinuations, inquisitions and investigations rather than pursuing the normal business of trying to pass major pieces of legislation, such as appropriations bills," Snow said.
Who's doing the insulting here? Really, though, turned up nothing? Congress has already found at every turn that the Bushists' story was a lie. A few examples: Gonzo wasn't involved in the US Attorney firings. The White House wasn't involved. Politics wasn't the reason, and while that's not proven, there are piles of very suspicious correspondence.
"How can the majority say they want answers and then pass up the opportunity to get those answers?" asked Rep. Lamar Smith of Texas, the ranking Republican on the committee.
Smith is either a complete moron (he is a Republican from Texas...; Molly, I miss you), or he knows this is bullshit. If the Bushists will lie in open session under oath, and we've all seen it whenever their lips move and sometimes when they don't, what kind of answers is Congress going to get without the threat of perjury indictment. (Note: It's not a perjury trap if you tell the truth.)
Some Republican committee members expressed fears that moving ahead on a contempt citation in the U.S. attorneys' investigation would weaken Congress' position in future confrontations.
CNN couldn't get this total nonsense on the record, so they needed the handy-dandy "some x" construction. This argument boils down to: We can't use subpoenas because we maybe can't make them stick, and then we couldn't make them stick in the future. The difference is not trying and silently assenting to the authoritarian ideas of the Bushists.
"The majority knows that it would leap to the barricades of executive privilege if a Democrat were in the White House, just as it did when the Clintons were there, bobbing and weaving in Whitewater, around Paula Jones and away from Monica Lewinsky -- trying to sweep it all under the rug," Smith argued.
This guy will say anything at all. How many Democrats from the Clinton White House testified before Congress in answer to subpoenas? We defended Clinton from a witch hunt about his sexual behavior that was cravenly and hypocritically politicized by a bunch of Republicans whose behavior was also bad (Newt, Livingston, Hyde, etc.). We didn't therefore buy all of his privilege claims, and somehow the testimony happened under oath in open session despite those claims.

[T]he Justice Department on Monday sent a letter to the House Judiciary Committee saying that it will not present the citations to the court even if the House votes for them.

Brian A. Benczkowski, principal deputy assistant attorney general, said the department's position was "that the criminal contempt of Congress statute does not apply to the president or presidential subordinates who assert executive privilege."

Here at the Bush Administration, we make up the law as we go along - whatever is easiest for us, that's what we say the law is.

Now, over in the Senate, Arlen Specter did blast Gonzales pretty hard, hard enough that Fox - oopsy - labelled him a D. But a grandstanding statement from Specter and $4 will get you a cup of coffee at Starbucks. What is he prepared to do about it? Nothing.

And, by a god I don't even believe in, I'm praying I'm wrong. But I'm not betting a dime on those small pagan prayers.

This is why no voter should vote for any Republican for any office of national significance.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

"Jesus: The Guantanamo Years"

Some reviews just write themselves. Here's one. The reporter sees the show, interviews the comic, and puts in the best jokes, at least one per paragraph.

Here's the scenario:

Philbin Bowman spins his tale of the Son of God who returns to Earth as a stand-up comic and runs into a spot of trouble at US Immigration -- he's a bearded Palestinian, after all, who's willing to die as a religious martyr.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Outrage needs a good night's sleep

There's never a day the Bushists don't deserve my outrage, but some days I'm just too tired of it to wax choleric. Alberto Gonzales is a disgrace to lawyers everywhere. Are there enough Republican Senators who might be proud enough and conscientious enough to impeach a man who openly lies in their faces and dares them to do anything about it?

Democrats should gore them on the horns of that dilemma.

Today's comments

On Eschaton:

The purpose and ethos of the mainstream media is to reinforce the conventional wisdom. This can be true only because so many citizens have turned off their bullshit detectors.

That's what I don't understand. It's not hard to see through the Bushists' lies, yet many people still don't.

Duhbya takes questions

The Democrats took questions from real human beings who don't need access - see the Boston Globe.

Duhbya's going to do the same thing. Yeah, right.

How long before the Republicans are willing to take blunt questions? I wouldn't bet on it.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Torture is the policy of the Bush Administration

Vanity Fair (by way of Altercation)...

It's good to have details piling up from several sources, but the fact of torture as policy from the top has been obvious for close to four years simply from the public statements of Rummy, Darth, Duhbya, Gonzo, and John Yoo. And, of course, the nasty bastard Antonin Scalia is prepared to rule in favor of anything that looks like Jack Bauer.

None of the Bushist willingness to phony up transparent legalistic justifications changes the Nuremburg precedent that all of these guys (except Scalia, dammit), not to mention Mitchell and Jessen, can be prosecuted as war criminals.

Today's comments

Right on.

However, the time for the Democrats to show Duhbya their power was in May and June, while debating the supplemental for Iraq. Instead, they caved, and it still demoralizes me.

Also on Philosoraptor:

You have to ask yourself what you would do if Rudy Giuliani, who seems to be inheriting the authoritarian Bushist mantle, were to "win" the Presidency next year despite polls and exit polls again showing that he shouldn't have.

It's a Philosoraptor day:

This is largely the fault of American conservatives

Amen, brother.

The America-is-despicable left is neglible. It exists, but it is not represented in significant numbers in the Democratic Party. About as extreme as Democrats get is the America-is-infallible-right-is-despicable.

The Republican Party, on the other hand, panders to its base, which has a huge number of tribal members of the America-is-infallible faction.

A little humility would win us many more friends

Duhbya ran on this foreign policy, but it was a lie from the beginning. Otherwise, the Darth Cheney and the neocons would not have been pre-positioned to exploit 9/11 for the goals they already had.

Democratic surrender of social class

The easiest to analyze of the four reasons that explain America's slide from relative enlightenment to the schlerotic brink of fascism is the Democratic surrender of social class as a potent political weapon and, oh by the way, the uniting principle of the post-Depression Democratic Party.

For more than fifty years, the Democratic Party was universally acknowledged to be the party of the little guy. It was a grand coalition of union laborers, farmers, and wage slaves against the plutocracy. It included lots of uneducated people, patronage hacks, ruffians, yeomen, the salt of the earth, teachers, colored people (the polite label of the time), factory workers, and anyone else you can imagine who needed a little help or wanted a little protection when faced with the superior forces of wealth. Even poor Southern whites were comfortable with the general run of Democrats, even though they were more racist than their midwestern allies.

Sometime in the 1970s, Democrats began to renounce "class warfare" (how's that for a slanted framing?). Owing to the power of incumbency, this change didn't happen overnight. Instead, class-conscious politicians aged out and weren't replaced. What we got instead were colorless technocrats who claimed they were more competent governmental managers. Michael Dukakis was the prime exemplar.

Technocrats lit a fire under almost no one, just good government affluent educated liberals like me, and there aren't nearly enough of us to win elections. Besides, even when our fires are lit, they don't burn as brightly as the fires of people who have more at stake, and let's face it, we already have pretty good lives. If the government cuts outlays, we don't go hungry.

Most writers essentially agree with Zell Miller and with his less lunatic brethren: The Reagan Democrats didn't leave the Democratic Party; instead, the Democratic Party left them. They point to the multiple social upheavals of the 1960s (in rock and roll time, 1964 to 1976) and the Nixonian claims about a silent majority.

There's some truth to this, but it's mainly limited to the old Confederacy and mainly related to race. While racism remains a strong thread and a threat in American politics, its force is diminishing, at least regarding African-Americans.

The silent majority hypothesis also fails to explain the continuing dominance of Democratic policy ideas about the economy, the role of government, and civil rights to name a few. Even when the media crowned Newt Gingrich's bomb-throwing Republican Party the "party of ideas", Americans polled in favor of neutrally worded Democratic ideas of government. The only "Republican" idea that is dominantly popular is tax-cutting, but the voters remain much more responsible about tax cuts than the Grover Norquist drown-the-government-in-the-bathtub Republicans.

Other writers blame George McGovern and his liberal-dominated 1972 coalition for pushing the common man out of the party. I've met McGovern and knew his chief of staff, Owen Donley, and they held no hostility toward the common man. Donley once told me a story of a carefully crafted compromise position that McGovern threw over because of a conversation he had with a porter in the Senate subway.

No, Democrats gave up their unity voluntarily as a result of the marketplace, not of ideas, but of campaign contributions. They passed post-Watergate reforms in reaction to the financial abuses of Nixon's Committee to Re-Elect the President (CREEP), but they ran afoul of unintended consequences.

Democrats could no longer raise large chunks of money from wealthy ideological sources; they now had to spread their fundraising to wealthy business interests who were much more likely to play the access game.

The power of incumbency again masked this effect, particularly since Democrats were completely dominant in Congress after Nixon's impeachment-driven resignation. Many moneyed interests with business in Washington continued to give against their natural political inclinations because it was in their financial interest. This was a temporary situation, waiting only for the Republican Party to revive its national competitiveness. Karl Rove knew this, which was one lever he and Tom DeLay saw available to achieve their now-lost "permanent Republican majority".

Nonetheless, populist Democrats, especially those with national ambitions, found they could not raise the smaller but still non-middle-class contributions they needed to fund their ambition. I'm sure the Democratic consultants realized this dilemma, too.

So, it was campaign finance reform that led Democrats to discard social class as a weapon and unifying principle.

The Republicans had no such dilemma. They could still raise ideological contributions and business-oriented contributions, and the more power they gained, the more these contributions would swing to them. They had no need to discard social class as a weapon and they have continued to wage aristocratic war on working people ever since, mainly in the form of reduced social safety nets and radically reduced taxes on the wealthy.

As if that were not enough, the Republicans went one better. They embraced faux populism in the form of brush clearing, pork rinds, and planned displays of apparent stupidity (real cupidity). This was supposed to prove that they were really the party of the little guy; it has always been bullshit, and the Roves of the world know it, but they will continue to claim that you'd rather have a beer with them than with the Democrats as long as the media sells that cockeyed idea and as long as the voters buy it.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Why is bin Laden still alive?

The Bushist and neocon target was always Iraq. Their goal was always permanent bases in the Middle East but outside of Saudi Arabia. (Relocating our bases outside of bin Laden's oyster was actually a rational desire among PNAC wishful thinking.) Iraq has the perfect location, had it only been empty of those pesky and fractious Iraqis.

The purpose of invading Iraq was not to spread democracy - that was pure marketing - or to topple Saddam Hussein - beneficial ceteris paribus but also a marketing feature. The true purpose was the projection of American power into this region so essential to our economic security without any consideration of change in our policy with respect to Israel.

I still have trouble understanding why the Bushists didn't fear the voters enough to make sure they got bin Laden anyway. It would have made their GWOT cover story more credible.

I guess they thought they could manipulate opinion however they needed to. That worked for a while, too.

(On Philosoraptor.)

Trying too hard

The New York Times Business section tells us that the refiners are trying so darn hard to keep up with demand for gasoline that they're breaking their plants, which limits supply and drives up prices. Reporter Jad Mouawad manages not to quote one single skeptic about the oil industry's claims. The closest he gets is anonymous:

Some critics of the industry have theorized on Internet blogs that the squeeze on gasoline and other refined products points to a deliberate effort among oil companies to bolster profits by keeping supplies tight. But experts point out that the companies have little incentive right now to hold back on fuel supplies.
The common assumption of business writers everywhere is that the myth of the invisible hand keeps industries from manipulating prices. No one remembers the scandalous conspiratorial theft by deregulated electricity producers in California (obligatory disclaimer: alleged). That was yet another reason that Enron was a terrible rapacious company that demanded, but didn't get, rational regulation.

Like many articles in business sections across the U.S., this one is biased in favor of the industry instead of the truth.

The end of dowry

Sex discrimination in Asia, married with technological sex selection of fetuses, is going to have unintended consequences. In the Boston Globe:

While India has had several women in positions of power -- most notably Gandhi and her mother-in-law, Indira Gandhi, who was elected to the more powerful position of prime minister in 1966 -- women still face rampant discrimination.

Many Indian families regard daughters as a liability because of a tradition requiring a bride's family to pay the groom's family a large dowry of cash and gifts. As a consequence, their education is often neglected, and many don't get adequate medical treatment when ill. If they are widowed, they are considered a burden on their children or families and face even more discrimination.

International groups also estimate that about 10 million female fetuses have been aborted in India over the last two decades as families show a widespread preference for sons.

There's already a significant surplus of males in India - and in the rest of south and east Asia. What will the future bring? A few predictions:
  • Emigration - an additional reason, but not by any means the only one
  • Exogamy
  • The end of dowry, though probably not its reversal - there's still to much economic discrimination
  • A larger supply of potential suicide bombers
  • War, the last refuge of surplus males

No one can change the demographics. Is there anything anyone can do to mitigate their ill effects?


Al Qaeda has had free run of large parts of Pakistan, our ostensible ally, since 2003, and all Duhbya can say four years later is that it's "troubling". Seriously, this man could not find his own ass with both hands.

How did we get here?

In 1978, there was talk of electing a veto-proof Democratic Congress because the President was too conservative. That President was a Democrat, Jimmy Carter.

In 2007, we have at long last in Duhbya-world a Democratic Congress. The voters elected the swing Democrats because it was finally clear to enough people that Iraq was a debacle. Even though cool heads had amply predicted every last problem that has beset Iraq, the jingoistic march to war had shunted them aside - off TV and radio and even mostly out of newsprint - as so many unhonored Cassandras.

One issue was more important to me than Iraq, though not to the voters. That was the utter, total, absolute, and complete failure of unified Republican government to retain any semblance of separation of powers, so great its fealty was to the Bushist cult of personality. During their dominance of American politics from the 1930s to the 1970s, Democrats in the Congress repeatedly refused to be handmaidens to the President, whether Democratic or Republican. The Republican Congresses of 2001 to 2006 had no interest in leaving the country and the Constitution better off, as long as they could leave the conservative movement better off. And, oh yeah, as long as they could fatten up their friends at the public trough.

Oversight? Are you kidding me!

How did we get here?

I see four reasons:

  • Republicans concluded that their program of government could never get them into the majority if presented honestly, even after forty years of halting movement to the center, so they built a political apparatus that was primarily concerned with marketing.
  • Democrats unilaterally surrendered their most potent political weapon and the unifying attribute of their political coalition - social class.
  • The media gave up the difficult work of separating truth out of the routine lies and bullshit of politics and made its purpose the reinforcement of conventional wisdom.
  • The voters turned down their bullshit detectors. Or off. (Some examples.) So many people were telling them that self-government is too hard that they believed it.

I'll get into each of these in time.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

The phony editorial

True to its neocon form, the Washington Post blames Democrats for the Republican filibuster.

To quote Vincent LaGuardia Gambini, "Everyt'ing that guy just said was bullshit."

If Fred Hiatt had an ounce of conscience, he'd resign in disgrace and go to Washington cocktail parties as the former editorial page editor.

Cheney stands up

... now that Duhbya is lying down. What branch is Darth in today?

On Blue Mass. Group.

Better Democrats

One reason the Bushists have found so little effective resistance as they have culminated forty years of Republican movement into fascism has been the lack of strong liberal Democrats, willing to buck the tide of often ill-advised compromise.

Jamie Eldridge, currently running for Congress in the Massachusetts 5th District, is a better Democrat, the kind we need. He's of course not above compromise, but he knows there are good deals and bad deals, and bad deals should be refused.

I'd love to see him in Washington.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Karl Rove...

... covered in it? Now there's a happy thought!

On KnoxViews.

Neo-confederates, part 2

Really, it has to be an accident that the Alabama Republican Party is so fond of the jack flag. Sure.

No more GOP

No one should ever again vote for a Republican.

The Republican Party has proven over the last forty years to be a party of fascist criminals. It should be subject to a RICO indictment and stipped of all assets.

Whoa! Isn't that too extreme for Americans! (Nope, just too unstintingly accurate and unpleasant for television.)

Here's the evidence: Four of the last five Republican Presidents engaged in banana republic subversion of the Constitution. Gerald Ford, the sole exception, was appointed by dint of negotiation between a Democratic Congress and the first of the criminals, Dick Nixon. And even he participated in the no Republicans held accountable plan.

Let's review!

Nixon, who left Washington one step ahead of impeachment and conviction, cast himself above any law, used the power of the IRS and the FBI against his political opposition, tampered with evidence (oh, please, you believed that Rosemary Woods cock and bull story?), egged goons to assault citizens, and was deeply involved in a criminal conspiracy to select and destroy his reelection opponent.

St. Ronnie, who left with dementia setting in, had only implausible deniability (and our fundamental dismissive assumption that he was a mere figurehead) between him and Iran-Contra. Even Ollie North, whose only respect for brown Latinos stems from their affection for juntas made up of colonels, didn't believe Reagan's daft denials. Democracy? Law? Who needed 'em!

Duhbya's father, Bush I, said he was "out of the loop" on Iran-Contra, meaning of course that he was definitely not in Chicago at the time. Well, not downtown anyway. HW carried his water in the ongoing criminal conspiracy by pardoning Caspar Weinberger's substantive perjury. People like them (including Scooter) aren't criminals; you can't send them to jail just because they broke a few eentsy-weentsy Democratic laws.

Duhbya, the worst, the apotheosis of the criminal Republican, has a rap sheet unrivaled since at least Grant, maybe ever:

  • stole the 2000 election - set out to do it and succeeded using the resources his father had pre-positioned

  • neglected his duty to protect the country

  • chose to invade Iraq on the basis of lies in order to implement the PNAC plan for empire

  • effectively ended judicial oversight of surveillance of American citizens

  • made torture the policy of America

  • drove a truck through habeas corpus

  • used the "Justice" Department to install cronies who would trump up politically motivated charges against Democrats

  • robbed the Treasury for the benefit of the most wealthy Americans

  • sat by while domestic energy cartels almost openly manipulated prices for vast profits

  • brought partisan politics deep into law enforcement

  • reinfected the military with propaganda

  • subverted intelligence gathering

  • exposed secrets and a covert agent for short-run political gain

  • refused the just oversight and jurisdiction of the other branches

  • asserted the kingly power of the "unitary executive" to control the access Americans have to information

  • Could the Republicans in Congress be salvageable? Consider:
  • the trumped up show trials of Bill Clinton

  • the complete abdication of oversight and separation of powers

  • the constant willingness to side with the rich against the rest of us, all while pigging out on their slops

  • the end of any concern for environmental impact of any kind

  • steady defense of Bushist lies on every topic, large or small

  • By all means, America will have a conservative party. The sleepwalkers, sheep, and mouth-breathers need representation, too. I recommend that conscientious former Republicans, who are similar to former Iraqi Baathists in this, start with the Democratic Leadership Council. Joe Lieberman has been pretty lonely. You could make his day; give him something to do besides moping around Baghdad in a flak jacket.

    Dog bites man

    On KnoxViews:

    Darth Cheney has been President in all but name for six and a half years. A colonoscopy is Duhbya's just desserts. Maybe they'll find his head up there. If so, it'll probably look like a tumor!

    White House credibility

    On Philosoraptor:

    Nothing out of the executive branch can be trusted.


    On Philosoraptor:

    These Hummer owners who have vanity plates that reinforce their vanity deserve a little monkeywrenching. Now, I wouldn't advocate spray paint or other vandalism, but a toothpick holding open a tire valve is easy to get away with and merely a temporary though hopefully enraging inconvenience.

    Bend over as if to tie your shoe, and this shouldn't take more than a few seconds. Do it on the driver's side so the idiot doesn't blithely drive away on three tires. You don't want anyone getting hurt by this.

    Sure, a brick through the windshield might be more satisfying viscerally, but think how long you can laugh about this milder prank without joining your victim in assholery.

    Thursday, July 19, 2007


    On Philosoraptor:

    They're looking for someone to tell them they're safe, even if it's a lie.

    Wednesday, July 18, 2007


    On Philosoraptor:

    Mystic, the problem of course is that the news media view their job as reinforcement of the conventional wisdom - as in, "Don't challenge your audience, or they'll turn you off."

    Comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable? How quaint.

    Monday, July 16, 2007


    On KnoxViews:

    McCain swallowed his pride and kissed tons of Duhbya and wingnut ass. This is the thanks he gets, the just desserts of the way he put ambition before honor. Now he gets to live with his regrets.

    Rudy the authoritarian gets it next. At some point, someone is going to make a commercial using all the stills and videos of Giuliani in a dress.

    After that, it's either Fred or Mitt. Either one will say anything to get elected, so they're perfect Republicans.

    Saturday, July 14, 2007

    Right on, but...

    On KnoxViews:

    The future of democracy demands that we impeach these authoritarians, and it's always good to have allies in that fight, even those from the propaganda machine that propelled them to power. However, what we really need is for Democrats and liberals to understand and accept that they are going to be attacked for doing what is right - and for them to do it anyway. That's the only way to restore America to Constitutional democracy.

    By the way, the interview can be seen at Crooks and Liars.


    What would Jagger do? Miss you...


    On Crooks and Liars:

    The truth about required ages of enlistment: 17 to 41. Chris Vucovich is eligible and a damn chickenhawk.

    Don’t believe me? Try the Army.

    Friday, July 13, 2007


    On Crooks and Liars (now redacted):

    The Montgomery Co. GOP, of which Vucovich is secretary, has an interesting seal. Brings to mind the Confederate battle flag, ya think?

    Wednesday, July 11, 2007

    Justice delayed

    A friend writes:

    I started the new Congressional term thinking, why bother with impeachment. Now I feel that since Congress isn't doing anything else, at least let's tarnish Bush's image a bit. Is it too late to impeach Reagan for Iran Contra? Conducting a war explicitly banned by Congress was the ultimate act of an imperial president.
    I think there was once an impeachment after the fact, though I doubt the defendant was dead at the time, which would run pretty hard against our tradition. Since Ken Lay’s Enron convictions were on appeal when he died, they were vacated by the court after his death. I find that a little extreme, but there it is.

    Impeachment is necessary. Unfortunately, it’s probably also impossible. I agreed with Nancy Pelosi that it should be off the table, though I didn’t think it should be entirely out of the kitchen. I hoped instead that investigations would bring a popular groundswell that would put it back on the agenda. Every time the Bushists stonewall – which is really all they have left – make them do it in a way that exposes their brazen criminality.

    Then try Duhbya, Darth, Rummy, and Gonzo et al for war crimes (torture, mainly) after they leave office. (Yeah, like that’ll ever happen.)

    More on "Justice Denied"

    See Better late than never.

    The reason I didn’t want Miers was her complete personal fealty to Duhbya. Mr. President, you want the prerogatives of an elected king, whatever you say I’ll agree. This – not Iraq, not for heaven’s sake abortion, not even the galloping plutocracy – is the number one issue of our day. All the others are symptoms of the fundamental dysfunction of our polity, which is slouching into fascism. Are we going to govern ourselves, or are we so tired of the petty details and hard facts that we’re going to hand over the power to corrupt men like Darth Cheney to do with us what they will – so long as we get to watch Survivor?

    Did the Times advocate a filibuster of Alito? That’s the real question. As Jimmy Malone said while choking on his own blood in The Untouchables, “What are you prepared to do about it?” The media has a mania for bipartisanship (‘Broderism’), which mainly translates into Democratic restraint and lots of tongue-clucking about the Republicans’ lack of restraint. My mania is for Constitutional democracy, and that’s not a value I’ll compromise in the vain hope of comity with a bunch of would-be tyrants, even in the name of Liebermanesque bipartisanship. Especially not in the name of anyone who enables Republican abuses like Lieberman.

    Too bad the Washington Democrats still hope for comity. They should at every turn be fighting political war instead of thinking about responsible governance. The only path to that is to throw the rascals out and install some lesser rascals.

    That includes judges. We need to clean house by all legal means – and some extralegal means, too. You think any of the Supremes are on the Palfrey phone list? God, I hope so.

    By the way, I think David Vitter is toast. Another Harvard man bites … the dust.

    Why does everyone hate Michael Moore?

    On KnoxViews:

    I don't get it. Moore stands up for what he believes, and the Wolf Blitzers and Sanjay Guptas and Lou Dobbses of the world pillory him for it - even after time has proven him right.

    Right-wingers totally get in their faces, but CNN invites them back to panel discussions, even though they manifestly have no facts and no expertise. This happens over and over again. They have even given Glenn Beck, a raving moron, his own show. Then, despite the fact that no one watches it, they let him guest host for Paula Zahn, replacing vapid with rabid.

    Some liberal media.

    Wolf promised Moore a correction if Gupta was proven wrong. This is as close as CNN will get. They restate a few issues, making it seem as though Gupta and Moore are in violent agreement, and Gupta and CNN never admit they got anything was wrong, though it's obvious by omission.

    CNN does a non-correction correction, but they steer wide of any fact-by-fact comparison. Moore, on the other hand, sources his facts. Isn't that what journalists are supposed to do?

    I haven't seen SiCKO, and I don't agree with everything Moore says about health care, but I do know this: You can't believe anything just because it is on TV. (Aside: I do agree with Moore that every second story on CNN looks like a product placement or a corporate tie-in.)

    We're on our own, folks. The fourth estate has sold us out.

    Tuesday, July 10, 2007

    Out of context, but...

    Comment on what?:

    Taking a wicked nixon on the ideals and the work of the Founders...

    Monday, July 9, 2007

    Better late than never

    Justice Denied ($) indeed:

    In the 1960s, Chief Justice Earl Warren presided over a Supreme Court that interpreted the Constitution in ways that protected the powerless — racial and religious minorities, consumers, students and criminal defendants. At the end of its first full term, Chief Justice John Roberts’s court is emerging as the Warren court’s mirror image. Time and again the court has ruled, almost always 5-4, in favor of corporations and powerful interests while slamming the courthouse door on individuals and ideals that truly need the court’s shelter.
    Yep. Not a single wrong thing. These people want to return to the 1920s or even the 1880s. They’re bad people, willfully ignorant of those they feel are lesser than they, even if the Bushists do have good manners and nice, toothy upperclass smiles. They will rule in favor of the unitary executive, and then pissing around with legal arguments won’t get us anywhere for 40 years. I always thought big brother would come here in America from fascism long before communism.

    Friday, July 6, 2007

    What Harry Reid should say to Joe Lieberman

    "Back our candidate or you're fucking out of the caucus."

    And then, come 2009, throw him out anyway.

    On Roger Ailes.

    Thursday, July 5, 2007

    How to impeach the Bushists

    Our Constitutional democracy is in grave peril. Dick Cheney and his sock puppet, George Duhbya Bush, claim that they want to restore the powers of the Executive Branch. In this, as in practically everything they say, they are lying.

    The continued safety of our bold American experiment in democracy requires that we reject the Bushist despotism explicitly and legally. Otherwise, the Cheney-Bush precedent will be that the words of the Constitution are just words and that they can be redefined at will to mean whatever the Executive Branch wants them to mean.

    The final remedy the Constitution provides for a President who refuses just and legal oversight and separation of powers is impeachment.

    How can patriotic Americans accomplish this act of loyalty to our founding ideals?

    The powers that Cheney and Bush have usurped for what they call the unitary executive are powers that the Founders feared to repose in any branch of government, particularly in the Executive, since its power is concentrated in the hands of a few. The Founders rejected exactly the sort of despotic power Cheney claims, which is the power of a king to be beyond the oversight of the other branches, beyond any law, beyond all accountability to the people. It is also the power to make war on whim and to extend the battlefield's fetters on liberty to citizens at home in the United States.

    What we have seen over the past six years has been an autocratic restoration in slow motion. With the connivance of Republican Congresses and the elite media and with the acquiescence of frightened Washington Democrats, this restoration has swept away 231 years of shared and separated powers. We now have authoritarian rule, not democratic governance.

    Resistance to the Bushist misrule must come from the people. The Democrats are far better than the Republicans but, even so, they are too timid to push through impeachment on their own. They think they're winning and don't want to risk their lead or their fragile coalition, and they accept the false equivalence between Clinton's hysterical, disproportionate, unwarranted impeachment and Duhbya's warranted impeachment. The fundamental difference is that Bill Clinton betrayed his wife, while Duhbya has betrayed our entire system of government with his serious public crimes.

    Even so, we require the help of the Washington Democrats. The people have awakened to the incompetence of the Bushists in Iraq and to their arrogance at home, but even I don't think they understand the full story of corruption at the heart of this administration - of how fast and loose they've played with our liberty, our money, and our lives.

    The way to reach the people is a steady drumbeat of investigations. The Bushists will stall and stonewall every one. Just as they did in 2000, they will try to run out the clock.

    The Democrats in Congress must make Duhbya defend his imperial Presidency and its shameless secrecy every week for the next eighteen months. Congress must constantly stand firm on its demands, must find the White House in contempt, must use every process and finding to refuse its tacit assent to Cheney and Bush. If that means no more confirmations to any office, so be it, and that will mean no more recesses at all, lest Duhbya make recess appointments.

    Once the people see where their taxes and the blood of their sons and daughters have been going, there will be outrage. That's the ticket. The Constitutional crisis that has been simmering along since 2001 will come to full boil. It will hurt, no doubt, as all surgery does. Sadly, the time we could have had a painless remedy was December 2000, when Florida was in limbo. Or, maybe that wouldn't have been painless, either. The media could have covered Al Gore fairly in 1999 and 2000, and then Duhbya never would have won the Presidency 5-4.

    To win conviction of Bush and Cheney and remove them from office requires many Republican votes. Joe Lieberman will never be one of those votes for conviction. It's a high burden, reachable only if enough angry constituents threaten to take their votes and their money to another candidate. Much as I would rejoice to see President Pelosi, conviction would probably require a deal that would make that temporary at best.

    If this deal requires keeping the Bush Cabinet (shudder!), Alberto Gonzales must also be impeached. Any deal must also forbid pardons.

    If this fantastic, difficult (impossible?) scenario does not come to pass, there is one more way to hold the Republican would-be tyrants accountable to the law. They have broken laws that carry punishments:
    · FISA
    · war crimes statutes against torture

    We should have learned from Watergate that crimes unpunished are crimes encouraged. Dick Cheney and the Republicans certainly learned that lesson. Now they stonewall every subpoena with the same lame rationales that Richard Nixon could not make stick. They evade all disclosure, and evidence mysteriously disappears. The same news media that foamed at the mouth about the missing Rose law firm records (yes, the ones that confirmed Hilary's story) ho hums at the White House's thoroughgoing evasion of official recordkeeping laws. As the Republicans have done ever since Gerald Ford let Nixon off the hook, they pardon their convicted cronies - Caspar Weinberger, Elliott Abrams, and now Scooter Libby.

    This is not a time to play it safe. This is a critical point in history. We face the same scale of gamble that the Founders faced - our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor. Or we can watch "reality" TV and forget about running our own government.

    Corrected version of what I originally posted on KnoxViews.

    Tuesday, July 3, 2007

    Respect for law

    Unpublished letter to the Boston Globe:

    George W. Bush gave Scooter Libby quite a present yesterday. Bush should have put Americans first instead. After all, it's our country's birthday this week.

    Of all the people who might deserve mercy, it's just a coincidence that Bush would give a get out of jail free card to another Republican felon. The one guy too delicate for prison is also the guy who could expose the truth about Dick Cheney's plan to out Valerie Plame.

    You have to admit that Republicans take care of their own. If you make them choose their cronies or the law that the rest of us have to obey, they'll choose special treatment for their own kind every time.

    Impeachment is the only remedy we have for the arrogance of Republican power. Bush and Cheney have proven that they will stonewall the lawful oversight of Congress at every step. Every subpoena they refuse, every political secret they hide, every law they breach takes us one step closer to a banana republic.

    Those of us who care about the ideals of the Founders are the true patriots. We must demand the removal of these scoundrels from power.