Friday, July 29, 2005

He survived Falluja - what about Ohio's 2nd?

I wrote about Paul L. Hackett, the first Iraqi II war veteran trying to get elected to Congress, two days ago and the story is getting more interesting. Hackett is the Democratic candidate in a special Congressional election to be held next tuesday in Ohio's 2nd District. He is a 43-year-old lawyer, married father of three who joined the Marine Corps in college and was honorably discharged in 1999. Even though he was against the Iraq war he called up the Marines in 2004 and volunteered. Up until four months ago he was serving in Falluja and Ramadi. Now he's running for Congress.

How is he being treated by the Republicans? Like a traitor of course. Hackett, talking about his service as a marine in Iraq, is quoted as saying, "I've said I don't like the son-of-a-bitch that lives in the White House. But I'd put my life on the line for him." The National Republican Congressional Committee decided to "bury him." They have poured more than $500,000 into attack ads against Hackett. Remember W saying "there is no higher calling than service in our Armed Forces?" Unless of course you're a Democrat. Probably depends on what the meaning of "service" is. Should be about three minutes before the t.v. spots with Hackett's photo next to or morphing into Bin Laden or Saddam. Maybe a Ken Burns-like shot of 9/11 rubble with a tag line of "Where was Paul Hackett when America was attacked? He was working against America as a lawyer!" Some ominous music in the background is a no brainer.

What does Hackett's opponent say about his time spent in Iraq? That it was the highest calling? Maybe "he really didn't see much action?" Watch this video of the Republican candidate saying, "Everything’s local. Of course, it’s more important here. The issues that the people have are more important to those individuals than anything outside of that region." So much for Iraq being the central front on the global war or terror. It's more about potholes on Main Street.

But the "liberal" press must be supporting Hackettt right? This promo for Chris Matthews' show Hardball on MSNBC, asking, "will [Hackett's] military service hurt his bid for office?" should put to rest the enduring myth that Matthews is actually a Democrat and that his show and those similar shoutfests on cable treat Democrats better than Republicans. Can you imagine the charges of treason and calls for boycotts and firings if a Republican congressional candidate's military service was questioned as a possible negative for their run for office? Boggles the mind. At least I have the weekend to lower my blood pressure.

BONUS POSTING: Sen. Bill ("She's alive! Alive!") Frist has flip-flopped, uh, changed his mind about stem cell research. Apparently he did some more reading in his book, no, not the Bible but his polling results book, and after four years of arguing that life begins when you are a Republican blastocyst he now supports wider stem cell research. Good to see he's in favor of it now but shouldn't a leader by definition lead the way rather than follow?

Thursday, July 28, 2005

SSSHHH - Geniuses at Work

It's something I can count on every day. Sort of like the sun rising every morning. There isn't enough cyperspace to cover the amount of indefensible incompetence at work in the government. And I'm not talking about the usual sleeping in city trucks or clueless building inspectors or hire your friends type stories. It's been nearly four years sine 9/11 and we still don't have enough translators to review surveillence tapes of possible terrorists plots? Excuse me? Are you kidding me? It takes nine months to create a human being and you can't hire enough in four years to listen to whether some Dr. Evil wannabe is preparing to destroy the world with liquid hot magma?

During a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, the Justice Department's inspector general described over 8,300 hours of untranslated material and he had "no assurance" that some of that material "does not include information that could be critical to terrorism investigations." Maybe he's angling for a Medal of Freedom since they are giving them out as fast as they can make them. There was some good news. Seems as if after years of trying to get their "virtual case file" computer system to work the FBI will give up after throwing around $170 million dollars down another "geniuses at work" rathole. The FBI has for years been in the typewriter age with reports of agents taking files home to scan and email, on their kids' computers, to other FBI offices because that capability doesn't exist at the FBI. Their new computer project called "Sentinel" is expected to be in place around 2009. They're great at the naming part of top secret projects just not the getting the thing to work part. The FBI might be able to wait until 2009 I'm not sure Dr. Evil will.

Take the Curmudgeon's adivce. Hire some geeks away from Google and Apple and Babelfish and just get it done. You've had enough money, you've had enough time you just don't have enough brains. Hope I didn't wake you.

BONUS POSTING: Gary Berntsen, a retired 23-year CIA covert Middle East case officer and Republican and avid Bush supporter, has written a book called "Jawbreaker" named after the CIA team inserted into Afghanistan in late 2001 that he commanded. Small problem. The CIA is blocking publication of the book which among other things refutes W and the adminsitration when it claimed U.S. commanders didn't know Bin Laden was at Tora Tora and where he escaped from.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

John McCain - Traitor?

Faux news' Bill O'Reilly having dabbled, allegedly, in sexually harassing his employees, (did I mention allegedly?) now tries his hand at McCarthyism. Apparently, on his July 25th show O'Lielly declared that he will publicly name those people and groups that are terror allies/traitors. He began his "I have a list of traitors in my hand" show by saying that for their support of the Geneva Conventions, "there is no question the ACLU and the judges who side with them are terror allies." He next "outed" Bob Herbert, columnist for the New York Times. His traitor hunting guests "outed" Michael Moore, Al Jeezera, Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-GA) and Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA) labeling them terrorist helpers.

Wonder when O'Lielly will "out" Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Sen. John Warner (R-VA). You see, the three have criticized the Pentagon for failing "to hold senior officials and military officers responsible for the abuses that took place at the Abu Ghraib prison outside of Baghdad, and at other detention centers in Cuba, Iraq and Afghanistan." But what do they know anyway? McCain spent five years under torture in a Vietnam prison, Warner is Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee and Graham is an ex-JAG officer and they know a thing or two about the subject. So Republican senators have introduced legislation that would regulate the detention, treatment and trials of detainees held by the U.S. military. VP Dick ("I had other priorities during Vietnam") Cheney warned them "that their legislation would interfere with the president's authority and his ability to protect Americans against terrorist attacks." Translation - you're a bunch of terror allies and the President, who has never vetoed a single bill in five years will veto this one.

The legislation includes provisions to bar the military from hiding prisoners from the Red Cross, so called - "ghost detainees"; prohibit cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment of detainees; and use only interrogation techniques authorized in a new Army field manual being revised. It's meant to give some hard and fast rules in this area since the "make it up as we go along" techniques have been a disaster for the U.S. image abroad, the military and for intelligence gathering.

So Faux news has three more terror allies to "out." They just happen to be Republican senators. Four if you count me.

BONUS POSTING: The "heavens to Betsy" Puritan crowd is at it again. It's widely known that President W has nicknames for everyone including Karl Rove whom he calls "turd blossom" among other things. So Doonsebury uses the nickname "turd blossom" in its comic strip and some newspaper editors nearly faint from shock. If they did faint it wasn't before they censored the parody.

BONUS POSTING II: Add to the list of traitors and terror allies Paul L. Hackett running for Congress as a Democrat in Ohio's 2nd District in an Aug. 2 special election. Hackett, a former marine and lawyer, after returing from volunteer service in Ramadi and Falluja, Iraq decided to run for the open seat. Must be a terror ally since he has called W "a chicken hawk" for not serving in Vietnam and harshly crticizing the decision to invade Iraq.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Bread and Circuses

Like the Roman Empire Congress is finding more ways to provide bread and circuses to the masses. Recently, Congress, apparently having extra time of their hands after solving all of the nation's problems, held hearings on steroids in Baseball. What better way to get ratings than to put Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire, Curt Schilling, Rafael Palmeiro and Jose Canseco between you and dozens of cameras.

Now there are reports that hearings on the video game Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas by the "heavens to Betsy" crowd are coming. Rockstar Games, the producer of "Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas," said it has stopped making the current version of the game, which includes graphic sex scenes that can be unlocked with a software "hack" downloadable from the Internet. The game was released in October with an "M" rating, for players 17 and older. Must be sweeps month on Capital Hill.

Sen. Hilary Rodham Clinton, (D-NY), in her continuing effort to make her "bones" with the amen right has said she is disturbed by the sexual content and has asked the Federal Trade Commission to investigate. Rep. Joe Baca, (D-CA, who?), said this week the video game industry needs a good dose of government oversight and renewed a call for a law requiring the FTC to determine if the video game industry's labeling practices are unfair or deceptive. Uh-huh. Wonder what his thoughts are on goverment oversight of real sex for example his colleage Rep. Don Sherwood, (R-PA), who has admitted in court papers recently that while he had an affair with a Maryland woman for five years he denied abusing her, as she claimed in a $5.5 million civil suit. Don't forget the affairs of Rep. Henry ("youthful indiscretion at age 42") Hyde, Rep. Bob ("speaker of the house to be") Livingston and Speaker Newt Gingrich to name a few. If anyone need goverment oversight it's goverment. What's next? Hearings on the paparazzi? It would give Congress a chance to call Brad Pitt, Anjolina Jolie and Jennifer Aniston as witnesses. Tom and Katie if Congress really needs to boost their ratings.

And in light of Sen. Pat Roberts' (R-Rove) coming hearings on the CIA and Patrick Fitzgerald rather than the outing of national security assets by the White House its hard not to see all this as one big three-ring circus with elected clowns with subpoena power and a thirst for their close-up. No time to hold hearings on the political tampering with Iraqi pre-war intelligence or to try to figure out how over 8 billion dollars has gone missing in Iraq or how to make our ports, trains and buses safer. Plenty of time to put sex, drugs and video games on trial. Just like you never get between a hungry dog and its food, never get between Congressional clowns and a televison camera when there is a culture war to win because its easier to fight than a real war.

Monday, July 25, 2005

What a way to start the week

A fracture in organized labor, that has been brewing for some time, has come to pass. The SEIU and Teamsters, "two of the three largest unions in the AFL-CIO, may leave the labor federation as early as today because of differences over organizing tactics and declining membership," Bloomberg reports. the New York Times also covers this story in the front page right column traditionally reserved for their most important story of the day. The reason why this is so important is the impact on the Democratic Party.

The Times notes the split could hurt Democrats "because it could keep unions from coordinating their political efforts as well as they did before and could mean that unions devote less energy to politics and more to fighting among themselves."

This is a huge gift to the Republicans who have diligently been working to weaken the Democratic Party by kicking their legs out from under them.

A great profile on Karl Rove (if you don't know who he is by now, it's pointless the explain it to you) in the New Yorker two years ago brought up this strategy with Rove himself.

In the last paragraph, Nicholas Lemann, asked Rove of what he called "the death of the Democratic Party" strategy.

"The [Democratic] Party has three key funding sources:
trial lawyers, Jews, and labor unions. One could systematically
disable all three, by passing tort-reform legislation that would
cut off the trial lawyers' incomes, by tilting pro-Israel in Middle
East policy and thus changing the loyalties of big Jewish
contributors, and by trying to shrink the part of the labor force
which belongs to the newer, and more Democratic, public-
employee unions...Rove didn't offer any specific objection..."

Trial lawyer, Jews and labor unions. Check, check and now checkmate. The Democratic Party needs to stop playing checkers and start playing chess. Rove and the Republicans see politics as chess and have been slowly setting the pieces in place over the last 30 years to get them where they are today. Democrats need to do the same. The Curmudgeon can help, for the right price of course. Or just hire Karl Rove, he may need a job soon when he's on work-release.

BONUS POSTING: As if the CIA outing case couldn't get more absurd. Guess we should have seen this coming. Now Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS) will have hearings not to investigate the White House but to investigate the CIA for how well it protects the cover of its agents! Who's next? Patrick Fitzgerald? Talking Points Memo has a must read on the topic.

BONUS POSTING PART II: I was just kidding about investigating Patrick Fitzgerald but Sen. Roberts isn't. See this posting here and here.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Ministry of Virtue and Vice

The Federal Department of Virtue and Vice, known as the Federal Communications Commission, is getting some help from the Broward Art Guild in Florida. The guild's board of directors on Wednesday fired executive director Susan Buzzi, who has worked there at least 10 years, after she appeared in a Daily Show spoof, yes, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, about an explicit art piece without consulting the board. The Broward Art Guild's May exhibit, and again, I must say I'm not making this up, is called "Controversy."

"They called a secret meeting of the board and fired her," said board member Kate Barnett, who voted to keep Buzzi. They said, "She wasn't `communicating properly with them.' I said, `Go for it. Publicity is publicity.'"

The explicit art depicted an Arab sheik having his way with President Bush over an oil barrel, an image the artist said he created to protest the role of oil in the Iraq war. Buzzi sparked a censorship debate when she moved the piece in response to a complaint.

In the Daily Show segment, which aired last week, Buzzi became flustered when questioned by correspondent Ed Helms. The spoof also pokes fun at the man who complained about another local artist featured in the exhibition for his depiction of Pope Benedict surrounded by Nazi images.

Michael Friedman said Thursday that he does not regret complaining about Buzzi, but he does oppose Buzzi's firing.

"I never thought any of this would happen," he said.

They want to tell you what you can read, watch, listen to, under what circumstances you can have a child or not to, if your prescription of birth control pills conforms to their religious beliefs, if and whom you can marry, if you can vote, force you to take a pledge and prevent you from protesting.

"I never thought any of this would happen?" You voted Republican didn't you? You live in Florida don't you? The only thing necessary for the triumph of Republicans is for good people to do nothing. And the Curmudgeon is also cranky because he missed the Broward Art Guild clip on the Daily Show which is probably itself under investigation for indecency by the FCC as we speak. While we still can.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Blame the victims

In London, all the bodies haven't been positively identified and the wreckage of mass murder hasn't been fully removed and Ken Livingstone, the mayor of London, yes the same London, understands the motivation of suicide bombers. "Under foreign occupation and denied a right to vote, denied the right to run your own affairs ... I suspect that if it had happened here in England we would have produced a lot of suicide bombers ourselves," said Livingstone. Interesting theory. Unfortunately at least three of the four suicide murderers were British citizens and had the right to vote so it doesn't make any sense. Hey, Ken, I'm sure you read the Guardian. How could you have missed this:

"Britain can take pride in how it has been trying to make a reality of political and legal equality for its 1.6 million Muslim citizens over recent years. Some Muslims still face forms of discrimination not faced by most other Britons, but many doors have swung open, especially since 1997.

Under Labour the first Muslims were elected to the House of Commons and appointed to the Lords. Muslim organisations lobbied for and won state funds for Muslim schools, a question in the census on religious faith, and criminalisation of religious hate crimes. The huge rise in public spending and focus on improving delivery in the poorest areas will have particularly benefited Muslims alongside other disadvantaged groups. And since 9/11 the government has sought out bright young Muslims for senior civil-service jobs and introduced innovations such as the hajj information unit for those making the pilgrimage to Mecca."

Wonder if "Red Ken," as he is known for his left-wing views, called the parents of Nichlas Berg after he was beheaded for his foreign policy of fixing cell towers in Iraq to tell them that he asked for it. Maybe he can explain the foreign policy of the 30 kids, between the ages of 6 and 15, who were murdered by a suicide bomber a week ago in Baghdad. If Miriam Jabber, a four-day-old infant injured by that same suicide bomber, survives the carnage in Iraq perhaps when she is able to speak she can apoogize to Al-Qaeda for her foreign policy that drove them to mass murder. I'm sure the Constitutional commission members in Iraq who are being murdered also have a foreign policy that ticked off Al-Qaeda and their kin.

Interesting how Tibet, occupied by under foreign occupation, China, and denied a right to vote, denied the right to run its own affairs, doesn't have an endless stream of suicide murderers blowing themselves up. I wonder what the difference is?

The apologists for mass murder are shameful. Had the Mayor of Oklahoma City tried to understand the political policy reasons why Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols slaughtered all those men, women and pre-schoolers, he would have been ridiculed. Ken Livingston, in his left-wing musings, just made everyone, men, women and even four-day-old infants, legitimate targets for political murder for a religiously inspired death cult.

UPDATE: Today, July 21, in London, some explosions or attempts at explosions struck three Underground stations and a bus. Sounds like some injuries no reports of death yet. Wonder what reckless foreign policy those commuters were engaged in as they rode the tube and bus?

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Overturn Roe v. Wade

Just get it over with. Show the country exactly who's running it. With last night's official nomination of Judge John G. Roberts the writing may be on the wall.

In 1990, Roberts, as Deputy Soliciter General helped write a brief for a Supreme Court case that stated, "We continue to believe that Roe was wrongly decided and should be overruled." During his 2003 confirmation hearing for the appeals court on the matter, Roberts said: "Roe v. Wade is the settled law of the land. ... There's nothing in my personal views that would prevent me from fully and faithfully applying that precedent." But it's a difference from being an umpire to actually writing the rules. As Circuit Court Judge Roberts he had to follow the higher court's precedents. As Justice Roberts he can make precedent including overturning Roe. I just saw Robert Novak, yes that Novak, say that Judge Roberts is a "devote Catholic" and his wife is "a pro-life activist." Any bets on where the Supreme Court is going?

W and his party are masters of bait and switch. Remember "I'm a uniter not a divider?" It's not a political promise it's high comedy. These guys will sneak up on you like political ninjas and before you know it you're finished. W went through the show of "consulting" with Democratic senators and then nominated who he wanted. And who he wanted was a solid conservative who won't drift left in the next 30-plus years we will likely be living under Roberts' decrees. James Dobson, Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, Ralph Reed, Tony Perkins,and Don Wildman , just to name a few, probably have Cheshire cat smiles on their faces right now. It's payback time for the religious right and they just cashed their first special dividend check. When Chief Justice William Rehnquist leaves the court, vertically or horizontally, it's going to be another kabuki dance of "consulting" the Democrats and then nominating a reliable conservative opposed to Roe and for prayer and the 10 Commandments in school and everywhere else.

And what if Roe v. Wade was overturned or made the exception to the rule? Then maybe people in this country would see the true nature of the Republicans who advocate smaller government except when it comes to personal privacy rights, women's rights, church and state issues, free speech, marriage, voting rights, etc, then they want to rule by their version of Shariah law. Look at the recent developments in Iraq on their drafting of a constitution. Another group of religious zealots on a mission from God, in the words of Jake and Elwood Blues, who want to rule like Gladys Kravitz from "Bewitched." The nosy neighbor wants to not only know what you're doing but wants to tell you if you can do it and the punishment for doing it. We are becoming the Supernanny state with W and his merry band of crusaders telling you how to live your life according to their reading of the Bible.

The bottom line is Democrats need to win elections to get control of judicial nominations. Maybe the only way to do that is to let the country see how bad its going to get with Republicans in charge. With Roberts and the next supreme court nominee we may see that sooner than you think and for a long time to come.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Honey, it's a political blog!

A couple of months ago I had a great idea. Why not be the last person on earth to have a blog? Done. The Daily Curmudgeon was thus born committed to bringing the finest political analysis on the most important issues of the day...yeah, right. It was to focus my gift of crankiness and complaining on those who are in charge of running the country who probably shouldn't be running a lemonade stand. So I have tried to write interesting, funny and sometimes vicious blog entries. But was that enough for my wife? Nope.

"Good post today but why don't you do a story about me?" she asks. "Honey, it's a political blog!" I say. "Are you outing CIA agents? Are you trying to destroy Social Security? Selling your house to a defense contractor, whose yacht you live on, for $700,000 above market value? Are you an elected official calling people worse than Hitler like here, here and here? Are you passing bankruptcy and Medicare bills that hurt the financially challenged and infirmed? Are you "supporting the troops" and then cutting veterans benefits, sending troops into battle without armor, bullets or radios and preventing them from leaving the military when their duty is up? "No" the Curmudgeon's wife sheepishly replies. "But I still don't see why you can't do a blog posting about me."

O.k. Assuming you were an elected official, or some other small cog in the running of the federal government, and if you were outing CIA agents, calling people worse than Hitler, passing bankruptcy and Medicare bills that hurt those that can't afford to be hurt anymore and sending troops into battle without armor, bullets or radios, then yes, I'd do a blog posting about you and I'd point out what a shame and scandal it is that you're involved in makin these decisions. And I'm also not happy with that new wallpaper in the bathroom.

Revenge of the Sith?

Karl Rove was born on Christmas Day 1950 and ever since then he's been a gift to the Republicans and a lump of coal for the Democrats. While attending the University of Utah in the early 1970s he met Lee Atwater, the South Carolinian who eventually became the chief political adviser to Bush's father, George H.W. Bush, and helped him become the 41st president. Rove admired Atwater's take-no-prisoners and execute the ones you take attitude toward politics. In 1973, with Atwater's help Rove became chairman of the College Republicans. That same year he drops out of college and begins a friendship with a young George W. Bush who would become the 43rd president. In 1979, Rove's first wife files for divorce.

Both Rove and Atwater suffered profoundly sad personal tragedies. In 1956, when Atwater was 5 years old, his brother, just a month shy of 3, died after an being scalded by oil in a kitchen accident. It's absolutely heartbreaking. I actually recommend not reading about it. But if you must go here. As for Rove, his mother committed suicide in 1981.

Is it possible that these losses so damaged these men that they have channeled their emotions, whether it be anger, abandonment, grief, sadness and/or hate into their actions in the political arena where they treat their political opponents as fugitives that need to be hunted down and eliminated? Could be.

And remember, all Sith Lords have an apprentice. They come in pairs. Atwater to Rove. Rove to W. And just as Anakin's loss of his mother and fear of losing Padme sent him over to the dark side, it is no less a fantasy that Rove was sent over to the dark side a long time ago, not necessarily in a galaxy far, far away. From stealing opponents' stationery, to bugging his own office and blaming the other side to push polls in 2000 against John McCain, Rove has been practicing the black arts of political throat sliting for years.

Think I'm crazy? Well, remember, he is divorced and his possible latent hate for wives seems to dovetail nicely with his campaign against wifes Kitty Dukakis in 1988 (buring an American flag), Hillary Clinton in 1992, Cindy McCain in South Carolina in 2000 (leaflets claiming she was a drug addict and weirdo), Teresa Heinz Kerry in 2004 ("a foreigner - Africa no less!") and Valerie Plame in 2003 ("she's pro-Saddam"). All wives of political opponents seem to be "fair game" to Sith Lord Rove. And secondly, the Curmudgeon can spot pent up bitterness, hate and venom just looking for a release a mile away. I just don't have the power to release it like Rove does. Then again, I just might be crazy. In which case, never mind.

Friday, July 15, 2005

To Karl, with much love...Tom DeLay

Dear Karl,

I wanted to write and thank you for turning the focus of the entire press corp and the Democrats from me to you. As you know there are various congressional and federal investigations on my connection with sweat shop labor and forced prostitution on the island of Saipan, using Homeland Security resources to track down Texas Democrats in a redistricting scheme, alleged violations of state election laws regarding political funding, my lobbyist paid golf trips to St. Andrews, my intervention in the Schiavo case even though my father was allowed to die under similar circumstances, my veiled threat to sitting judges I disagree with and my hypocrisy of being against trial lawyers and their "frivolous, parasitic lawsuits" that "kill jobs," unless of course it's my family's wrongful death and products liability lawsuit about my father. The Delay family settled for about $250,000. Dad would have been proud. I could go on and on but you get the picture. So your "outing" troubles was a godsend for me since I haven't made a front page in quite a while.

The nation was briefly distracted by the runaway bride, Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes and shark attacks. When the Natalee Holloway missing teen in Aruba story broke I thought I was home free. But no. So when the "double super secret background" stuff came out, I knew I was going to have a quiet summer. No one even mentions me now. It's all about CIA agents, anonymous sources, reporters going to jail, (a nice side benefit in all this), grand jury testimony and Democrats screaming for you to be drawn and quartered. It's a dream come true. So if there is anything I can do for you, like free golf in Scotland just let me know.

With much love,

Tom DeLay

P.S. I hope you liked the chocolates.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Unanswerable questions

Politics is a game of hardball but Karl Rove plays it as bloodsport. There is no dispute he had a phone conversation with Matt Cooper, after Joe Wilson's July 6, 2003 op-ed piece in the New York Times criticizing the administration, and that he was speaking on "double super secret background" about "Wilson's wife" who was a CIA undercover agent. The Department of Propoganda has been working overtime over at the White House, the RNC and their public relations tentacles known as the Wall Street Journal and Fox News. Just to give you an idea of how far the Republicans will stand by their man than on principle that publically identifying a CIA operative is a bad thing the Wall Street Journal published an editorial entitled "Karl Rove, Whistleblower" saying he "deserves a prize". Fox "News" host John Gibson said, and no I'm not making this up, "I say give Karl Rove a medal, even if Bush has to fire him. Why? Because Valerie Plame should have been outed by somebody. And if nobody else had the cojones to do it, I'm glad Rove did — if he did do it, and he still says he didn't."

The self-proclaimed patriots the WSJ, Fox News, Ken Mehlman, Newt Gingrich, heck basically the entire Republican noise machine is now going on the offensive, and it is offense, arguing that the public identification of an undercover CIA operative working on non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction is patriotic. That's the crew you voted in for a second term. Proud of yourself?

Now forget all the arguments and he said, she said etc. See if you can answer the follwoing questions and not make yourself sick:

1. Why was Karl Rove discussing a CIA agent, undercover or not, with a reporter at all?

2. Why was the inclusion of Valerie Plame's name in Robert "Novakula" Novak's July 14, 2003 outing column necessary? What was the purpose? To imply she had a anti-American/Pro-Saddam bias?

3. If, as the Wall Street Journal, Ken Mehlman and others consider Rove a whisleblowing hero, why did he tell Matt Cooper of Time magazine that he was speaking on "double super secret background?" Doesn't that by definition show Rove knew what he was doing was something you don't want people to find out what you're doing like outing a CIA agent?

4. President Bush has portrayed himself as a wartime president, if so will he protect his intelligence assets, like Valerie Plame, or his political advisors? Which is more valuable to the country? Which is more valuable to W the man?

This one's my favorite:

5. Does Karl Rove or any government employee or elected official have a right to publically identify CIA agents, analysts and employees as long as they refer to them as "so and so's wife, husband, son, daughter, mom or dad?


6. Who said: "That means we need more protection for the methods we use to gather intelligence and more protection for our sources, particularly our human sources, people that are risking their lives for their country. Even though I'm a tranquil guy now at this stage of my life, I have nothing but contempt and anger for those who betray the trust by exposing the name of our sources. They are, in my view, the most insidious, of traitors."? Answer: W's father, President George H.W. Bush, April 26, 1999 at dedication ceremony of the George Bush center for Intelligence.

As I've said before, irony can be pretty ironic sometimes.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Rove is dead! Long live Rove!

To paraphrase William Shakespeare, the Karl Rove "affair" is "a tale told by an idiot -- full of sound and fury, signifying nothing." The idiots telling the story are me and the pundits and other like-minded bloggers and talking heads. Why? Because unless special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald has a signed confession from Rove the chances of him leaving the White House by pink slip or orange jumpsuit are as small as my readership. But enjoy the illusion of political danger Rove is in for now because it will end.

To review, Joseph Wilson, a career foreign service officer and U.S. ambassador for 23 years angered W and crew when he published an article explaining how the Iraq seeking uranium story was untrue and that including that claim in the 2003 State of the Union speech was grossly in error. The uranium story was important to the U.S. march to war as it gave the "mushroom cloud" fear-mongering credibility.

How did Rove respond? Probably, "Let's take Wilson and his wife out back and kick the sh*t out of them!" That we don't know for sure. What we do know is that Rove picked up his phone and called at least one reporter, Matt Cooper of Time magazine and most likely Robert "Novakula" Novak and by his own admission, through his criminal defense lawyer of course, talked about "Wilson's wife" and he did so with Cooper on "double super secret background" whatever that is. Doesn't sound like a casual conversation in passing about a warning not to get too far in front of the Wilson thing. That is don't get too far in front of the truth that Iraq was not seeking significant quantities of uranium from Niger or any other country. No matter. Wilson was deemed politico non grata and his wife was "fair game" according to Rove. It's the new Republican math. Openly "outed" daughters, ala Mary Cheney are off limits, outing CIA wives perfectly fine.

So let's review the people who tried to take responsiblity for the error of the "Iraq seeking uranium claim" getting into W's 2003 State of the Union address. 1. Condi Rice got promoted from National Security Advisor to Secretary of State; 2. George Tenet, Director of CIA got the Medal of Freedom and 3. Stephen Hadley went from Condi's deputy to getting her job. And Karl Rove who tried to protect that false story by beating up on Joe Wilson's wife? According to Jon Stewart's Daily Show, "Can you say Supreme Court Justice Rove?"

It's only a flesh wound!

I would say it's hard to make this stuff up but you don't have to when it's reality just about every day with this administration. And this is the way it's going to be until people reject this type of nonsense the Republicans have sold the country. Until you stop stop buying it they'll keep selling it.

At a press briefing on September 29, 2003, White House press secretary Scott McClellan insisted President Bush knew that Karl Rove wasn't involved in talking to reporters about Valerie Plame.

Q: Let me just follow up. You said this morning that, quote, "The president knows that Karl Rove wasn't involved." How does he know that?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I've made it very clear that it was a ridiculous suggestion in the first place. I saw some comments this morning from the person who made that suggestion backing away from that. And I said it is simply not true. So, I mean, it's public knowledge, I've said that it's not true. And I have spoken with Karl Rove...

Q But how does --

MR. McCLELLAN: I'm not going to get into conversations that the President has with advisors or staff or anything of that nature; that's not my practice.

Q But the President has a factual basis for knowing that Karl Rove --

MR. McCLELLAN: I said it publicly. I said that --

Q But I'm not asking what you said, I'm asking if the President has a factual basis for saying -- for your statement that he knows Karl Rove --

MR. McCLELLAN: He's aware of what I've said, that there is simply no truth to that suggestion. And I have spoken with Karl about it.

WARNING!!! Please read the following while sitting in a soft chair surrounded by carpeting with no hard objects around you which you might hit on the way down as you faint. You may consider wearing a helmet for additional protection. The elderly, those with heart conditions or anyone who doesn't like to be lied to to their face shouldn't read the following...

From July 11, 2005 White House Press conference:

Question: Do you want to retract your statement that Rove -- Karl Rove was not involved in the Valerie Plame expose? -- involved?

McClellan: This is -- no, I appreciate the question. This is an ongoing investigation at this point. The President directed the White House to cooperate fully with the investigation, and as part of cooperating fully with the investigation, that means we're not going to be commenting on it while it is ongoing.

Q: But Rove has apparently commented, through his lawyer, that he was definitely involved.

McClellan: You're asking me to comment on an ongoing investigation.

Q: I'm saying, why did you stand there and say he was not involved?

McClellan: Again, while there is an ongoing investigation, I'm not going to be commenting on it, nor is --

Q: -- any remorse?

McClellan: -- nor is the White House, because the President wanted us to cooperate fully with the investigation, and that's what we're doing.

Q: That's not an answer.

Q: It's not an answer. And you were perfectly willing to comment from that podium while the investigation was going on, and try to clear Karl Rove. Why the double standard? Why were you willing to say Karl Rove was not involved when -- and talk at length about it, when the investigation was going on, and now that he's been caught red-handed, all of a sudden you've got a new line?

McClellan: No, I don't think it is the way you characterize it, as new, because I have said for quite some time that this is an ongoing investigation, and we're not going to get into discussing it while it's an ongoing investigation. I've really said all I'm going to say on it.

Q: But you did -- you did discuss it while it was an ongoing investigation. You stood there and told the American people Karl Rove wasn't involved.

McClellan: I've said all I'm going to say on it.

Keith Olberman gets it right, "To paraphrase Mr. Rove, liberals saw the savagery of the 9/11 attacks and wanted to prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding for our attackers; conservatives saw the savagery of 9/11 and the attacks and prepared to ruin the career of one of the country’s spies tracking terrorist efforts to gain weapons of mass destruction -- for political gain.

And just a footnote on Judith Miller, the New York Times reporter eating chipped beef on toast in jail right now for not revealing her source for the story she never published, this article from last year makes it seem like a good many colleagues are popping champagne corks now that she's wearing an orange jumpsuit until October.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Hire me please!

There are no standards left in politics. If there ever were they're long dead. Forget about the entire Iraq war. The pre-war intelligence was wrong and no one lost their job. Lost their job? Medals of Freedom have been issued. Promotions for Condi and crew. Job security for Wolfie. Rumsfeld is still there and looking more and more like Robert S. McNamara - glasses and all. Alberto "torture boy" Gonzales could very well be Justice for life soon after going from White House Counsel to Attorney General. Heck, two Army analysts who claimed that aluminum tubes sought by the Baghdad government were most likely meant for a nuclear weapons program rather than for rockets, a claim thoroughly disproven, have received job performance cash awards in each of the past three years! Those who can't do teach, those that can't teach teach gym and those who can't teach gym get high level presidential appointments. I don't know whether I'm disgusted or jealous.

And now we are going to have to suffer through Karl Rove, the "boy wonder" political strategist and his public relations troubles. Note how I said p.r. troubles and not political or legal troubles because there might be none so don't start the party just yet. I am refering to the outing of Valerie Plame an undercover CIA operative who was burned by two White House officials through a July 14, 2003 column by Robert Novak. Plame is married to Joseph Wilson who wrote an op-ed piece exposing the Iraq-uranium-Niger story that W highlighted in his State of the Union Address as being totally false after going to Niger on assignment for the CIA.

Rove who, as all cowards do, made a weasely statement through his weasely lawyer Robert Luskin telling NEWSWEEK magazine that Rove "never knowingly disclosed classified information" and that "he did not tell any reporter that Valerie Plame worked for the CIA." Rove's words on the Plame case have always been carefully chosen. "I didn't know her name. I didn't leak her name," Rove told CNN last year when asked if he had anything to do with the Plame leak. Notice the careful choice of words Rove and his lawyer have used since I'm sure his story will be he that he refered to "Joe Wilson's wife" never mentioning her name. Think he knew the exact wording of the "leak law" before he called Matt Cooper et al? Maybe he even got Alberto Gonzales to give him a legal opinion. Can you hear the echos of "It depends on what the definition of 'is' is."

The law requires a "knowing" disclosure of classified information specifically the name of a covert U.S. intelligence agent. And on July 11, 2003, three days before Novak outed Plame, Time magazine correspondent Matt Cooper was telling his bureau chief in an email, "Spoke to Rove on double super secret background for about two mins before he went on vacation...please don't source this to rove or even WH [White House]" So it's confirmed that Rove was a source for the outing of a CIA undercover agent and it's confirmed that at a minimum he has been peddling an elegant lie when he claimed, "I never mentioned her name." Plame was working on non-proliferation issues on weapons of mass destruction and not under diplomatic cover. Rove, on the taxpayer's nickel, dropped dime on Plame simply to send the message, "If you challenge this administration, even on fabricated claims, we will destroy you."

And don't think for a minute W didn't know Rove's participation in the leak. Remember what W said on September 30, 2003, "If there's a leak out of my adminstration I want to know who it is. If the person has violated law the person will be taken care of." No violation of law, no problem. "If there's a leak out of my adminstration I want to know who it is." Why? To give him a promotion? Rove after all is only Deputy White House Chief of Staff with room to move up one slot and they'll issue as many Medals of Freedom as they have to reward the death of any standards or decency in politics. "At long last, have you no sense of decency?" Yes, and I just got promoted for it.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Better to be safe than sorry

I would have written about the London attacks yesterday morning just after they happened but what really is there to say? The cowardly animals, and that's what they are, who committed indiscriminate mass murder in London are no doubt thanking who they consider is the Almighty for their actions. They are simply insane savages who destroy rather than create, who love death more than life and who are a human cancer that must be eliminated. I almost hesitate to blog about this since all of this should be obvious to reasonable people.

What irritates the Curmudgeon is that we are not doing the things we need to do to make our societies safer. There is no way to protect every civilian target in every country all the time. That's not the standard. But it's been nearly four years since September 11 and we still don't secure airplanes and airports properly. Forget about chemical plants and their chain link fences and sea ports and the "fingers crossed" security system. I'm talking about air travel, something we've seen can cause significant economic damage. Start profiling passengers. Yes, you heard me. Profile. It's not Grandma or my two-year old who are placing bombs on planes or buses or subways and they don't need to be strip searched. It's Islamic psychopaths. So the five 20-something guys who break out the prayer rugs at Gate 3C, face Mecca and start praying, yeah, I might look at them a little more closely than my 11 year-old niece who got the full security treatment at O'Hare recently. Not PC? Who cares. Grow up. This isn't debate class it's the real world.

If you have a no-fly list have some standards and have some uniformity. Have one list for pete's sake. And scratch Sen. Ted Kennedy's name from the list. He's not a risk. None of this is making us safer. In fact, it's making us less safe. It's giving us the illusion of safety and a false sense of security. When we had a election in November coming Homeland Security raised the national threat level up all the time based on rumors and internet "chatter." When four bombs go off is London killing more than 50 people we raise our threat level alert to "orange" but only for the mass transit portion of the transportation sector which includes only regional and inter-city passenger rail, subways and metropolitan bus systems. Think politics plays any role in threat alerts from the Department of Homeland Security? Nah. Since 9/11 we've spent $18 billion, with a "b" on airline security but only $250 million, with an "m" as in moronic, on rail security. Feel safe?

Take some lessons from the Israelis. Hire some of their El Al security people. Stop taking away nail clippers and start using some common sense. My sister-in-law went to Israel recently and her bags didn't get there. If the passenger can get on an airplane without their bags then bags can get on an airplane without passengers. And you don't even want to know how checked luggage doesn't get a full security scan. It's like sausages, you're better off not knowing how they're made.

At my work they have people, who were probably McDonald's workers not so long ago, manning x-ray machines to scan bags. But they allow women with purses, large and small, to just walk into the building. Huh? This is your idea of security? And you think the $7.50 an hour "security" worker is going to tackle a suicide bomber before getting into the buiding? Don't count on it. And what about all the janitors and food service people? You think they don't just walk right in to my building, your building or any airport here? You think sufficient background checks are being done? They don't even do that for the TSA people.

You want to fight this war? Then fight it. Stop doing what looks good and take the real and hard steps to secure, as well as you can, likely targets. Stop sending billions of oil dollars to the very regimes who fund Islamic terrorism. Unless we raise fuel efficiency standards and give tax breaks for a Prius rather than a Hummer 2 we will simply be funding both sides of the war. Stop blaming the U.S. or its support for Israel as a cause for terrorism. The bombers in London didn't leave a list of demands like a smaller Israel or fewer KFCs in the Middle East. They simply tried to kill as many innocent people because theirs is death culture that glorifies murder and they believe this type of murder will bring about a 14th century style Islamic fundamentalist states.

Going about your normal life, driving a Chevy Suburban and taking your shoes off at JFK isn't going to get it done. And relying on the good judgment of the ladder climbers in Washington is just as bad a strategy. Until we make some hard choices, we shouldn't be surprised at acts of terrorism like we saw in London. We should be surprised there isn't more of them.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

They shoot dogs don't they?

A little stale but still a good and continuing story. In case you missed it a few weeks ago, two employees of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) were arrested in North Carolina on 31 felony animal-cruelty charges for killing and disposing of dogs and puppies in a dumpster behind a Piggly Wiggly store in Ahoskie, NC. And no I'm not making this up and no this isn't quoted from The Onion. Apparently this is not the first time PETA has been involved in a euthanasia program. In May 2005 an anti-PETA group posted on its website obtained official records from the state of Virginia showing the militant animal-rights group had put over 10,000 dogs and cats to death since 1998.

A Bertie County (NC) Deputy Sheriff told The Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald that Cook and Hinkle assured the Bertie Animal Shelter “they were picking up the dogs to take them back to Norfolk where they would find them good homes.” Ahoskie Police Chief Troy Fitzhugh said "We've been investigating animal cruelty and illegal disposal of dead animals within our city for the last four weeks...Our investigators determined that these incidents were occurring every Wednesday for approximately one month." Nearly all of the dogs found in the dumpster were indentified as being dogs that had been picked up just afew hours earlier.

“This is disturbing behavior on the part of self-professed animal lovers, and I hope the public takes notice,” said Center for Consumer Freedom Director of Research David Martosko. “PETA raked in nearly $29 million last year alone, but apparently it couldn’t spare any money to care for the flesh-and-blood animals entrusted to its employees. It’s ironic -- If anyone else were caught red-handed with 31 dead dogs, PETA would be holding a press conference to denounce them.”

Irony can be pretty ironic sometimes.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

If it's not Scottish, it's crepe!

Not a good day for French President Jacques Chirac. Just before 7:00 a.m. (cst) I and the world find out that London and not Paris would get the 2012 summer Olympic Games. Then the Curmudgeon open up one of his many newspapers and read about Chirac ridiculing the Scottish food to be served at the G-8 summit in Gleneagles, Scotland.

The French newspaper Liberation reported Chirac made the remarks in Kaliningrad, Russia, during a conversation Sunday with German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"We can't trust people who have such bad food," Chirac was quoted as saying. He reportedly added that only Finland has worse food in Europe and that mad cow disease was Britain's sole contribution to European agriculture. Chirac also reportedly described Scotland's national dish, haggis, as "unappetizing." Haggis is a concoction of sheep innards, oats and spices cooked in a sheep's stomach. No really, it is. "I was briefed on haggis," Chirac said. Then he grabbed his mouth and made heaving sounds and movements.

Personally I wouldn't want the Olympics anywhere near my city and he probably isn't wrong on the food thing. Just talking about haggis makes me want to vom.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Problem Solvers

Death solves all problems - no man, no problem.

--Joseph Stalin

I was taught that if you have a problem you try to solve it. With this administration you re-define the problem to eliminate the existence of the problem itself. Global warming a problem? No global warming - no problem. Now look at what W and his posse are doing to the military.

First they have abandoned the Powell Doctrine (RIP). The Powell Doctrine is (or was):

1. that military action should be used only as a last resort
and only if there is a clear risk to national security by
the intended target;
2. the force, when used, should be overwhelming and
disproportionate to the force used by the enemy;
3. there must be strong support for the campaign by the
general public; and
4. there must be a clear exit strategy from the conflict
in which the military is engaged.

Powell based this strategy for warfare largely on his own experience as a major in Vietnam. His fear was that a protracted military adventure was evidence of a war in which public support was weak, the military objectives not clear, overwhelming force was not used, and an exit strategy was ill defined.

Then Rumsfeld, looking more and more like Robert S. McNamara, came up with the policy of Transformation. A smaller military. Smaller more agile, stealthy and lethal units. More technology, more high-tech gizmos. Less heavy weapons. A move away from the so-called threat-based strategy that had dominated defense planning for nearly a half-century and adopt what Rumsfeld characterized as a capability-based strategy, one that focuses less on who might threaten the U.S. or where it might be threatened, and more on how the U.S. might be threatened and what we need to do to deter and defend against such threats.

In 1991 in Gulf War I we had over 500,000 troops dislodge the Iraqi army from Kuwait. In 2003, in Gulf War II we had around 140,000 troops invade the entire country of Iraq. It was a "catastrophic success" said W. Great. Maybe we should start teaching the "Catastrophic Success Doctrine" at the Army War College.

And then came all the stories about lack of forces to prevent against looting allowing a fundamental breakdown in society in Iraq, lack of force protection for our own troops and lack of armor even to this day. Then the stories about Army and Marine recruiting goals not being met came out. Solution? Lower the recruiting goals. No problem. Unfortunately even those lowered goals aren't being met month after month.

And then the big one. For decades the overall military strategy of the U.S. was to be able to fight two regional conflicts simultaneously, like two Gulf War I conflicts. But since our military has been "transformed" since 1991 the new policy being considered is being able "to mount one conventional campaign while devoting more resources to defending American territory and antiterrorism efforts." Problem fighting in two regional theaters at the same time? Change the policy. No problem.

W and crew do solve problems. I just though that meant finding a solution to the problem rather than defining away the problem itself. No problem? No problem!

Friday, July 01, 2005

Can you hear the Rapture?

Justice Sandra Day O'Connor just retired from the Supreme Court.
She finished Stanford law school in two years and graduated 3rd in her class. (William Rehnquist was first in the same class and at a reunion a few years back everyone else wore a "I was #2" button). She found getting a job difficult for her after graduating and was actually offered a secretarial job. She became the first woman appointed to the Supreme Court and has been a moderating force on the bench. And now she is retiring. With Rehnquist likely to retire before the next session starts on the first monday in October we are in for two new Supreme Court justices who will serve for 30-40 years and who will determine how our laws our interpreted up until the Rapture comes. And if we are to believe most of what we read, W will appoint justices who actually do believe in the Rapture. And I thought this was going to be a good day.