Friday, June 30, 2006

Forward his mail to cellblock C

Almost exactly a year ago Richard Scrushy escaped from a Birmingham courthouse with his freedom. Back then, Scrushy was acquitted of three dozen fraud and money-laundering charges related to a $2.7 billion accounting scandal at HealthSouth Corporation. Apparently the jury thought it made more sense that he hired five consecutive CFOs who were criminals instead of that maybe Scrushy was the leader of the fraud. At the time it was regarded as a "powerful blow to government efforts to prosecute executives for financial misdeeds." Oh what a difference a year makes.

Not only has Ken Lay and Jeff Skilling from Enron been fitted for orange jumpsuits but lady justice has straightened her sword and brought it down agianst Scrushy and this time it hit the mark. Former Alabama Govenor Don Siegelman and former HealthSouth chief executive Richard Scrushy were convicted Thursday in of bribery, conspiracy and fraud. Siegelman, was accused of trading government favors for campaign donations when he was governor and Scrushy, who once ran the Birmingham-based rehabilitation chain, was accused of arranging $500,000 in donations to Siegelman's campaign for a state lottery in exchange for a seat on a state hospital regulatory board. The most serious of the charges are punishable by up to 20 years in prison and $250,000 in fines. Scrushy remains a defendant in major civil cases involving allegations of a $2.7 billion accounting scam at the rehabilitation chain he once ran.

Justice may be slow but it finally caught up to Richard Scrushy. Here's to small miracles.

UPDATE: Justice gives one and takes one away. Alas.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

500 channels and nothing to watch

For those of you who know me personally, you know I like television. I'm not a nut about it. I don't have a flat-screen or plasma t.v. and I don't have one in my kitchen or bathroom. (Although a t.v. in the bathroom opposite the toilet seems like a great idea.) I was a Nielsen ratings family for about two-years and it was a dream come true. I watch a lot nature and science shows, cooking shows (Giada, yum), love the stuff about crab fisherman on the Bering Sea and if I were going to be stranded somewhere it would be with this guy. I had a roommate who said my tombstone will say, "If I miss something good, tape it for me," but for all you who think I'm a champion coach-potato I found the gold medalist in coach-potatoism.

'A Beijing soccer fan refused to let the small matter of his house burning down disturb his enjoyment of Tuesday's World Cup match between France and Spain. A fire broke out in a hut in the center of the Chinese capital at 3am local time Wednesday -- kickoff time in Hanover -- and gutted the traditional courtyard dwelling. "When the neighbors shouted 'fire!', I took my little baby and ran out in my nightclothes," the man's wife told the paper. My husband paid no attention to the danger, just grabbed the television and put it under his arm. After getting out of the house, he then set about finding an electric socket to plug in and continue watching his game."'

Other world cup stories from China list a guy who quit his job, even after being offered a raise, so he could watch the tournament. A victim of theft refused to press charges because he didn't want to miss the start of a match and the police let the thief go. Still another locked his wife in the bedroom when she turned off the tournament and then "settled back down to watch the game ignoring her loud protests." I know that it could be argued that it's the World Cup that drove these people crazy but I'd like to take the simpler explanation - that I found someone more addicted to television than I am.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Darn, I don't get to quit just yet

There is good news and bad news if the Republicans retain control of both houses of congress this November. The bad news is, that the Republicans retain control. Which in turn means the country will be further and solidly dragged into the new Dark Ages perhaps never to return to its past glory. The shining city on the hill that Reagan spoke about will become the mud-covered hellhole of lies, smears and gulags for those deemed traitors. The good news is that I would quit wasting my time yelling in the wilderness of the blogosphere. I also was considering ending this aggravating and monumental waste of time and energy (surprisingly my latest blood pressure and cholesterol numbers were good!) if the flag burning amendment to the U.S. Constitution passed the Senate. Fortunately, (unfortunately?) it didn't pass. But I fear that while I might make it through the November elections it really doesn't matter anymore. The nation is led by, in the words of Jon Stewart, "insane jackasses."

I know they only care about their own re-election and nothing else. (Getting them and their staffs and spouses and friends and family rich along the way is also a must.) But I really thought that on the big issues, protecting the U.S. Constitution that Democrats would stand up and suffer the slings and arrows of dishonest and craven patriot-baitors to vote against taking a thread out of the Bill of Rights thus starting the whole unraveling process. (Three Senate Republicans voted against it so I give them a big hat tip.) In the mid-1960s after voting for the Civil Rights Act a southern Democrat said, "I probably just voted myself out of office." He was right. He was voted out of office. But he was also right to vote for the Civil Rights Act. That type of selflessness is dead in Congress. It's only about getting enough votes to remain in office.

I have fourteen reasons to hang it up. To stop wasting my time defending Democratic principles and ridiculing the Republican theocracy that is taking over our country. They are as follows:

1. Harry Reid (D-NV)
2. Dianne Fienstein (D-CA)
3. Evan Bayh (D-IN)
4. Max Baucus (D-MT)
5. Mark Dayton (D-MN)
6. Mary Landrieu (D-LA)
7. Tim Johnson (D-SD)
8. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR)
9. Bill Nelson (D-FL)
10. Ben Nelson (D-NE)
11. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV)
12. Ken Salazar (D-CO)
13. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI)
14. Robert Menendez (D-NJ)

These are the fourteen Senate Democrats who voted to alter the Bill of Rights, the First Amendment, to protect against something that has the highest form of protection - political speech. Who the hell are these "geniuses" compared to Jefferson and Hamilton and Franklin? Who made them boss? We did. Democrats. We raised money or donated money. We rang doorbells and stuffed envelopes. We handed out flyers and put up lawn signs. What's the point? If they don't defend the U.S. Constitution why should I defend them? Why should I lift a finger or pull a lever to put them in a position to vote to, for the first time in U.S. history, take away a Constitutional right by amending the Constitution. What other "insane jackass" laws or amendments are they going to vote for in the future?

So I have the first fourteen reasons to stop the insanity here on my blog. I just need a couple more to break the Curmudgeon's back.

Freedom, privacy, blah, blah, blah

Let me tell you how bored I am. I watched C-Span for ten minutes and watched Republicans Sen. Orrin Hatch and Sen. Mel Martinez calmly support the end of freedom of speech in this country. With Iraq if flames, "breathtaking" fraud in the $2 billion range after Hurricane Katrina hitting the papers, and North Korea planning an ICBM launch (to carry one of its nuclear weapons one day?), what does the Senate prepare to vote on? A constitutional amendment to ban flag desecration. So after getting physically ill watching a line-item veto of the Bill of Rights being supported I decided to surf the net to find a blog topic today.

I found nothing good that caught my eye so I decided to see what the loony right was saying. I went to Anti-Christ Coulter's site and it starts out, "I dedicate this column to John Murtha, the reason soldiers invented fragging." Lovely lady. She's the Madonna of right-wing politics. She knows how to cause a media circus and all it means to her is dollars and cents. Nothing new to write about her so I went to Michelle Malkin's site.

Malkin talks about the Rush Limbaugh incident yesterday when he was held for three hours at Palm Beach International airport coming back from the Dominican Republic. Apparently he had prescription medication, Viagra, prescribed to his doctor and not him. He was relased after the drugs were taken and report filed and referred to the state's attorney. So what is Malkin upset about? The violation of limp dick's privacy. His privacy. I may be in favor of this just because the thought of El Limpbo in a darken room wearing a bathrobe with light music playing in the background taking a little blue pill twenty minutes before he imprints some obviously mentally ill or well-paid woman with his love sweat makes me want to hurl and then hurl again. So on that count I wish they hadn't told me what drugs noodle-dick was smuggling back into the country. But the humor of it is that the "tough on crime" Malkin who is typically against drug smugglers (unless they are Republican talk show hosts) doesn't seem to care about anyone else's privacy except El Limpbo's.

If your not talking to al Qaeda you have nothing to worry about, right? If you're not smuggling illegal prescription medication you have nothing to worry about, right? She should be for more searches especially at airports dealing with international flights. Remember when you are in international customs you're not on U.S. soil. Different rules apply. When Whitney Houston or David Crosby is busted in an airport with illegal drugs we all hear about it but when Viagra-boy has his latest drug offense we can't hear about it? Maybe it was classified mission and no paper should be allowed to print it.

When they arrest the Keystone Kops Miami 7 everything about them is released to the public including that they never met with anyone in al Qaeda, had no weapons or explosives and had plans that were "more aspirational than operational." Malkin apparently doesn't mind their privacy to end as soon as Alberto Gonzales starts his embarrassing press conference. But Rush? No, his privacy is untouchable just like I wish his wee-wee was.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Freedom of Speech, except...

There hasn't been a documented flag burning incident in the U.S. in years so what does the Congress do to address this non-problem? They try to amend the U.S. Constitution. According to Raw Story the Flag Burning Amendment doesn't have the votes to pass in the Senate falling short of the 67 votes needed. I'm hoping this is true. Wait. How can it be that close since the Republicans only have 55 seats in the Senate you ask? Because some Democrats support it. Who am I talking about? Sen. Dianne Feinstein, Sen. Evan Bayh and Minority Leader Harry Reid to name a few. What a disgrace of an opposition party.

Remember, the Bill of Rights has never been changed since these amendments came into effect in 1791. Not a single change to the first ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution which explicity limit the Federal government's powers and protecting the rights of the people by preventing, among other things, Congress from abridging freedom of speech. So what do the Republicans with the shameful help of some Senate Democrats want to do? They want to abridge your freedom of speech. Well maybe not you since you wouldn't burn an American flag. But banning flag burning puts us in the same catagory as Iran, Cuba, China and Iraq. And the right of some jackass somewhere in America to burn an American flag must be protected. His right to offend just about everyone is no less important than my right to offend just about everyone with my daily blog rantings. The two are conjoined twins and trying to separate this right from that one will, as with trying to separate siamese twins, lead to fatal consequences.

According to one study there were only 45 reported flag burning incidents in the first 200 years of the republic. That means there are probably more historical incidents of witch-burning than flag-burning. Should we have a Witch Protection Amendment? Oh god. I hope I didn't just give the Senate a new idea to amend the Constitution.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Going, going, gone

I'm talking about this country and me. This country is going, going, gone. The country isn't for sale, it's already sold. The House voted to permanently end the estate tax on inherited weath for all but a few of the nation's wealthiest families. The cost is estimated to be $762 billion in the first 10 years. To pay for this tax cut for the Paris Hilton's of America means everyone else's taxes and fees will go up or services will get cut. Before this 99% of estates were exempt. Now it's around 99.7%. These are estates of real estate, art, stocks and any other capital asset which in many cases hase never been taxed. Now they never will be. The Paris Hilton Tax Relief Act was passed after the Senate killed a proposed increase of the minimum wage from $5.15 to $7.25 an hour. The increase would occur over two years. The House leadership won't even allow the measure to get a floor vote because it would pass but without a majority of the majority. Some Democracy. Obviously Flo the waitress doesn't have as good lobbyists working for her as the Wal-Mart family.

On top of that the Senate now has to consider the estate tax repeal and guess what? The Republican lapdogs of the idol rich don't have the votes to pass it. So what do they do? They buy the votes with legal bribery. Republicans need a few more votes to get to 60 votes to prevent a Democratic filibuster. To get four additional votes they are going to add a tax break for timber companies, a steep reduction in capital gains taxes for them. The tax break would reduce their taxes and tax revenues by $940 million over the next two and a half years. This legal bribe is to get Democratic Senators from Washington State, Arkansas and Louisiana to vote for the estate tax repeal. So Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell and Blanche Lincoln and Mary Landrieu, get those talking points ready to support this giveaway. I wouldn't lead with, "I got bribed by the giveaways to timber and I'll get some real money back in the form of donations from the industry so it's a win-win situation." Maybe something like, "I mean really, who cares? It's just borrowed money from China and Saudi Arabia anyway. What's the point of being able to print money if you can't, you know, print money and spread it around. And when we go out a celebrate at a local restaurant Flo will get a bigger tip so again it's a win-win-win situation!"

Thanks for making my point that the country had been sold to the highest bidder. Gone is fairness and reason and justice and decency. It's just a business now. A simple equation of supply and demand. The companies, billionaires and lobbyists have the supply of money and they demand tax immunity. This country is gone. And I may be next.

P.S. If that weren't enough a change in the Coast Guard budget bill will allow Nabors Industry, a big oil drilling company with its tax headquarters in Bermuda and its legal headquarters in Barbados so that it can avoid American taxes, to gain permanent access to business open only to American companies. I think that's the straw that broke the Curmudgeon's back. You'll all miss me when I'm gone.

Thursday, June 22, 2006


I just found out that Vice-President Darth Cheney is going to be in my building tomorrow! Holy Moly! A few floors away from the most powerful and ruthlessly incompetent vice-president in the history of the United States. Any suggestions for me if I come within shouting distance of the dark lord?

RARE BONUS POST IN A BONUS POST!: From a head's up from, take the Coulter versus Hitler test. I got 11 right. Seems like something Capt. Fogg would have posted.

House of Pain

The Republican-controlled Senate smothered a proposed election-year increase in the minimum wage Wednesday, rejecting Democratic claims that it was past time to boost the $5.15 hourly pay floor that has been in effect for nearly a decade. The Senate vote marked the ninth time since 1997 that Democrats there have proposed - and Republicans have blocked - a stand-alone increase in the minimum wage. The debate fell along predictable lines. The House did have time to vote on their own pay increase on June 13 when they "embraced a $3,300" a year raise. Their salaries are now $168,500 a year and they still take bribes, free dinners, free golf trips and skim political contributions made to their campaigns.

Beyond themselves, Republicans also had more sympathy for the top 1% of Americans in terms of wealth than the single mother on minimum wage working 40 hours a week earning around $206 before taxes by pushing for a vote before the November elections to eliminate the estate tax. This would give a tax break worth around $300 billion, with a "b" for the top one-half of 1% of Americans in just the first ten years. Guess who is going to pay for that tax revenue shortfall? You, me and the troops they claim to support. Thank god Paris Hilton won't have to worry about inheriting all that untaxed empire that she did nothing to build. Rumsfeld can now explain that the reason why U.S. troops don't have the proper armament or equipment or more troops around them is because we can't afford it because he needed his estate protected from paying taxes. Nice symmetry there. In fact, if taxes are so inherently bad for the economy why not have a zero tax rate? The estate tax excludes 99% of all estates now the Republicans want 100% excluded. That's a zero tax rate. If it's good for estates when you die how about while you are alive when you can really enjoy it?

The Republicans also had time to prevent a vote renewing the Voting Rights Act of 1965, voting on a non-binding resolution in support of our troops (rather than a real debate on how to protect them and our nation's honor), preparing to vote on amending the U.S. Constitution to ban flag burning and voting on a gay marriage amendment.

I'm hoping this November the Republicans reap the pain that they sow.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Swift Boating Alvin York

I remember watching the movie Sergeant York with Gary Cooper as the titled Alvin York who served in World War I despite claiming he was a pacifist. Cooper won an Oscar and York won the Congressional Medal of Honor and later a boondoogle of an air defense system was named after him beforeit was canceled. Alvin York must be running for president since he is being swiftboated.

The story goes that on Oct. 8, 1918, Cpl. Alvin Cullum York and 16 other Americans came across more than a dozen German soldiers having breakfast. The ensuing firefight ended with the surrender of 132 Germans and won Corporal York a promotion to sergeant and the Medal of Honor. His exploits grew until he had single-handedly silenced 35 German machine gun nests and killed 25 enemy soldiers. Now some researchers are questioning the long-accepted story.

There were conflicting accounts at the time from people in the firefight and there were claims that a flamboyant soldier turned writer helped embellish the account written for magazine serialization in the 1920s. What seems not be in dispute is that six of the Americans were killed and three others were wounded, leaving then Corporal York the officer in charge. He is credited with overcoming the superior force by using his sharpshooting skills, honed during turkey shoots and squirrel hunts in the Tennessee woods.

So myth hunters are back in France trying to find the actual battle site looking for spent cartridges from a Colt .45 that York and several witnesses said he used to fire at seven German soldiers who charged him with fixed bayonets. "The question is, what is really York and what is after-the-fact addition and what is plain fabrication?" said Michael Birdwell, a historian who is part of a team searching for the exact location of the battle.

There are some things in the account that raise questions and maybe he didn't take out 35 machine gun nests or 25 Germans. Maybe the number is less. There is no denying that York was in the middle of a horrific firefight that resembled hand to hand combat and there is no dispute that he and his comrades exhibited extraordinary courage that day. It's a good thing York isn't running for political office today. He'd be swiftboated as a war criminal most likely by the Republican political consultant credited with an anti-Gore ad in 2000 who is now charged with molesting two young girls. Rest in peace Alvin York. Thank god you're not around to be smeared by child molesters.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

My brain hurts

My brain hurts. I see the headlines today and it's the usual parade of political flotsam. (I've been waiting since the SATs to use that word!). Of course the talk of pardon for I. Lewis "Scotter" Libby is starting. Not a pardon for the silly nickname he has but for his perjury and obstruction of justice trial that he faces. He will be pardoned you can bank on it. It's just a matter of when. So my brain hurts seeing another indicted government official getting away from facing criminal justice when you and I (were we stupid enough to lie to the FBI and a grand jury) would be throw in prison to rot.

The I read that conservative political strategist Mary Matalin will host a reception tonight to raise money for Scooter's defense fund. Matalin is married to Democratic strategist James Carville and formerly worked in the Office of the Vice President. According to those familiar with the reception, a mailing for the event included some 17 co-hosts, each contributing $5,000. I don't mind Scooter raising defense money it's just reminds me, the Matalin-Carville union, that national politics is a huge game, a huge joke on the us the little people. The campaign manager for George H.W. Bush marries the campaign manager for Bill Clinton after the 1992 election? I know love is blind and all but it all seems too much of a bad premise for a reality show on C-Span. I find it hard to talk to true believer Republicans and no matter how hot some blond chippy might be, if she is for banning stem cell research, tax cuts for billionaires and torture, I think I wouldn't be asking her out on a date in my pre-cranky's wife days.

It's a daily punch in the face the read the latest headlines but it's my job. Well, more like my hobby. Um, more like a colossal waste of time but at least it's harmless although my brain might disagree. I need to cleanse my mind's palate. So I'm asking for suggestions in the comments of non-political irritants that you might like the Curmudgeon to rant about in the near future. And if I get no suggestions I'll rant about that too. Either way I'll win. Just like Scooter.

BONUS POST: My brain is about to explode now. Today's Unclaimed Territory by Glenn Greenwald is a must read. In short, it's about the Flag Desecration Amenedment (a.k.a. flag burning) and how there are almost the 67 votes in the Senate to pass it. And who writes to defend the passing of the amendment in USA Today? Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein. I mean really. What's the point anymore trying to be involved or active in Democractic politics with cowardly, anti-freedom, anti-rights, stab in the back Democrats like Feinstein? She's a total disgrace. As Greenwald says, "Dianne Feinstein is on both the Senate Judiciary Committee and the Senate Intelligence Committee and sleepwalks as the Bush administration wages war on the constitutional principles which define this country. And yet this is the issue which has moved her to write an editorial in a national newspaper." With teammates like Feinstein I may be ending the blog long before November.

Monday, June 19, 2006

I have it on good authority that this isn't happening

"And as a result of the United States military, Taliban no longer is in existence. And the people of Afghanistan are now free. (Applause.) In other words when you say something as President you better make it clear so everybody understands what you’re saying, and you better mean what you say.

--President George W. Bush. September, 27, 2004.

Meanwhile, back in reality-land:

Taliban fighters ambushed two convoys carrying members of the same family in southern Afghanistan, killing 30 people, relatives and officials said Monday. In another clash, Afghan and coalition soldiers killed seven militants in the southern province of Uruzgan, where a large-scale anti-Taliban offensive is under way, an Afghan official said. Coalition forces have unleashed a massive offensive in four southern Afghan provinces targeting Taliban fighters who have been waging increasingly bold attacks against coalition and Afghan forces in recent months.

--AP, June 19, 2006.

This reminds me of the origins of the F-4 Phantom Naval fighter. Originally the design the Navy wanted was one without 20mm canons as they believed that era of close in dogfighting was over. The Navy believed that missiles fired from long distances would be the future of air combat. A pilot in Vietnam encountering enemy aircraft and while preparing to dogfight in close quarters told his weapons officer in the number two backseat, "Don't worry, I have it on very good authority from the Pentagon that this isn't happening." Vietnam, the resurgence of the Taliban, the chaos and civil war in Iraq. Don't worry America. I have it on very good authority from the White House that this isn't happening.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Chickenhawks United!

Chickenhawk Sean Hannity of Faux News, took time off from defending Ann Coulter, to sit down with fellow chickenhawk, Vice-President Dick ("five draft deferments") Cheney and make the Curmudgeon laugh at the headline, "Cheney sees GOP winning midterm elections." As an aside, Coulter now says of Democratic Rep. John Murtha, a thirty-seven year marine veteran, who was a drill instructor at Parris Island and rose to colonel having served in Vietnam and awarded two Purple Hearts, the Bronze Star with Combat "V" and the Navy Distinguished Service Medal, that he is "the reason soldiers invented fragging." Fragging is a term that means to assassinate an unpopular member of one's own military unit perhaps with a fragmentation grenade. Nice lady. Probably just sold more books to her frag-loving patriots. I'd try to make a comment about fragging some top Republicans but since most of them are tough talking chickenhawks, almost none of them ever served in uniform let alone fought in combat, I got nothing.

Back to Darth Cheney who on thursday told fellow chickenhawk Hannity that the Republicans will prevail in the midterm elections because of a strong economy and the ability of the Bush administration to prevent another terrorist attack. For a guy who has been wrong about every outcome, except his own election (possibly through inside information?) it's laugh out loud funny as Roger Ebert might say.

Wrong about weapons of mass destruction, wrong about sufficient troop levels needed to stabilize Iraq or for force protection, wrong about the cost of the war, wrong about Iraqi oil revenues paying for the war, wrong about being greeted as liberators, wrong about the sectarian hatred in Iraq just waiting to uncorked, wrong about the nature of the insurgecy or whether one even existed, wrong about the "last throes" of the insurgency, wrong about everything. And yet he smirks and smiles and mugs and grins and tells Hannity Republicans are going to win in November. I had doubts about a Democratic takeover in the House but now that Cheney believes it won't happen is why it will. Cheney's track record is solid and consistent, it's just solidly and consistently wrong.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Next comes the book burning

They hate us for our freedoms says Bush and his lackeys. So their solution is to take away our freedoms so they won't hate us anymore. Today, President Bush signed away more of your freedoms by raising "indecency" fines for radio and television broadcasters from $32,500 to $325,000 per offense. And we make fun of the Iranian Ministry of Virtue and Vice? The religious police force confiscating satellite t.v. dishes in Tehran lest the public see and hear things the religious rulers disapprove of. Here in America we have the Christian Coalition and they placed legislation to increase the indecency fines as the No. 5 item on its 2006 legislative agenda.

And for all you strict constructionist, original intent, freedom loving conservatives out there, I leave you with this thought: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances." It's from that obsure document that is becoming more and more a museum peace. A document that enshrined our freedoms, that put on paper our rights and the government's limitations. Now it's just a "remember that constitution thing?" Now it's a nation of men not laws. Of "trust me" government. Of state secrets justice. We're a nation at war, so what's one more freedom being curtailed?

Speech can't kill you but the terrorists can, they tell you. "I am a strong supporter of the First Amendment, the Fourth Amendment and civil liberties. But you have no civil liberties if you are dead," Republican Sen. Pat Roberts says. They never seem to quote from the U.S. Constitution, in this case the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights. Even for the cementheads in charge, "Congress shall make no law..." would seem to be without any nuance for those who don't do nuance. Just tell me when the book burning begins. I want to get my marshmellows ready. We can use the U.S. Constitution for kindling. I think Republicans have already started.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Mission Accomplished

From today's presidential press conference at the White House:

Question: Thank you, Mr. President. What kind of signal do you think it sends to the Iraqi people that your administration notified the leader of Iraq's sovereign government only five minutes beforehand of your arrival? And was there a specific security concern about either Prime Minister Maliki's inner circle or others that led you to make that decision?

PRESIDENT BUSH: No, I think -- look, it's a security concern because I'm a high-value target for some. And Iraq is a dangerous place. The American people have got to know that I will take precautions when I travel somewhere. I'm not going to put our government at risk to achieve a very important trip. And, therefore, we were -- a lot of people didn't know about it. Half my Cabinet didn't know about it. Does that mean I'm going to run them off? No. I just -- we want to make sure we're extra secret about this deal. And the reason why is Iraq is dangerous. It's a dangerous place. And I think if there was ample notification that I was coming, perhaps it would have given somebody a chance to plan, and we just didn't want to take that risk. (emphasis added).


My follow up questions:

Question: Why is it so dangerous in Iraq over three years after the fall of Saddam that an American president can't make an announced visit to Iraq?

Question: Why was Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki notified only five minutes before you walked in the room and shook his hand? Is he and his aides security risks such that you couldn't give them advance notice?

Question: Why did you not tell your cabinet, including the head of the CIA that you were going to travel to Iraq? Are they a security risk?

Question: Why did John King of CNN, his wife and managing editor know about your trip but the head of National Intelligence John Negroponte not know? Is he a security risk too?

Question: Why did you only spend less than five hours in Iraq in the heavily defended green zone? If it is that dangerous do you regret declaring "mission accomplished" over three years ago?

Question: Was the mission accomplished in "mission accomplished" an Iraq where the U.S. president can't make an announced visit for more than five hours where your press secretary and communications director have to be outfitted like a bomb disposal team just to get from the airport to the green zone?

Question: Why did you cut and run from Iraq after less than five hours just like you cut and ran from honest pre-war intelligence, cut and ran from the sensible pre-war military advice, cut and ran from the Powell Doctine, cut and ran from your responsibility to provide our troops with the body armor, humvee armor, force protection and vital equipment needed?

Question: What would it take for you to admit you and the Republicans lost the war in Iraq?

Question: Do you think the American people will cut and run from the Republicans this November?

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Justice is for little people

The market's been crashing, Iraq is a daily orgy of violence and most importantly there is a f-ing chipmunk who has taken up residence in the edge of my new brick patio causing bricks to become dislodged. I filled in the hole twice a day only to have that instinct driven vermin dig it out. After sealing the hole completely, Alvin, dug a second hole on the other side of the patio. I have escalated to weapons of chipmunk destruction by putting poison cubes down the hole. Hopefully, the Earth will soon be lighter by one chipmunk.

On top of that I turn on my car radio at 7:01 a.m. to hear Karl Rove has been told he will not be indicted and will not face criminal charges relating to the outing of undercover CIA agent Valerie Plame. Another example in the "justice is for little people" theory. Wait, you say, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, the Vice-President's former chief of staff was indicted. Yes, but that is just a kabuki dance for the masses before the pardon comes in act three. Thus it always was and thus it always shall be. Justice is for little people.

If you were looking for the wheels of justice to roll over Karl Rove you have now been disabused of that silly idea. I was praying for an indictment but alas I have been abandoned by the almighty. He must be busy making sure some sports team wins a game somewhere. Oaths, sworn depositions, indictments, bad lawyers and jail time are for the masses. Political figures are the new sovereign princes even if it's evil princes. They know a guy who knows the attorney general. They know billionaires, sports team owners and family fortunes that will pay for legal fees and fines to get out from under whatever they did to punish political enemies, rig elections or sieze or cling to power. Remember the ends justify the means isn't some enduring saying because it's wrong.

So the former fat kid whose mom killed herself, who has made a life paying back the world and his political enemies for his own bitterness, is out from under indictment. Rove is now free to out as many non-offical cover CIA agents as he pleases. He is free to send out his foot soldiers to attack the special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald and perhaps even get him investigated. Find me the man and I'll find you the crime. Rove is now free to lobby W for a pardon of his former co-conspirator Libby. And forget the nonsense on the Daily Kos about Cheney being in the sights of Fitzgerald. This case is over. The pardon is coming. Brace yourself. That's the way it works in America. I mean why go through all the crap to get into power if you can't use it to destroy your political opponents, legally or illegally, and then get your cubicle-mate to pardon you? It's a great country - except for the little people.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Let the cutting and running begin!

Remember the PNAC? That's the Project for a New American Century, the neoconservative think tank headed by William Kristol, former chief of staff to Vice President Dan Quayle and now editor of the Weekly Standard and a Fox News talking head. The roomful of "geniuses" that founded PNAC included Richard B. Cheney, Donald H. Rumsfeld, Paul D. Wolfowitz, Jeb Bush, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby , William J. Bennett, Zalmay Khalilzad and Quayle.

"The goal of PNAC was to project American power and "moral clarity" and fight against liberal drift and conservative isolationism. In its famous 1998 letter to President Bill Clinton , PNAC said "removing Saddam Hussein and his regime . . . now needs to become the aim of American foreign policy." Clinton was urged to use all diplomatic, political and military means to topple him."

Though they claimed to be "fully aware of the dangers of implementing this policy" PNAC founding "geniuses" and their lackeys talked before the Iraq invasion of cheering crowds greeting us as liberators with Iraqi oil paying for the war and one perpetually wrong Republican who has a lifetime in government talked about the war as being a "cakewalk."

Now the tough chickenhawks of the PNAC are declaring victory and going home. They are claiming Iraq is a mission accomplished and closing its doors after nine-years of being wrong. Short century. Still, it's better by comparison than the thousand-year reich which only lasted twelve-years.

So first we have the policy of pre-emption then the actual pre-emption then the cutting and running of the group that came up with the policy. Next you'll see the cutting and running of our military by the same people who who say they won't cut and run. They will they'll just call it something else when it happens. A drawdown, a strategic re-deployment, maybe even a mission accomplished.

And if things go badly, meaning worse than it is going now, watch the party of personal responsibility blame everyone for the failure. The New York Times, Clinton(s), the liberal press, Kerry, Gore and Jane Fonda. I just hope we can cut and run from the Republicans this November. So here's to re-deploying the Republicans from public office to private citizens.

Friday, June 09, 2006

They look human but...

I made the mistake of asking a Republican where I work what he thought of the Ann Coulter thing. Unless you just woke up from a coma you know what I'm talking about. He did say that she went too far and I though maybe there is an opening here to challenge some of his beliefs. I said, you know the Jersey Girls, that Coulter called "witches" and "harpies" and were enjoying their husbands' deaths pushed for an independent 9/11 investigation to find out how did 9/11 happen and how do we prevent another one. Of course, I told him Bush and the Republicans were against it. As they are against the 9/11 commission's recommendations which have yet to be implemented.

Somehow this was taken as some argument against fighting mass murdering Islamic terrorists and it was off to the races. Before it was over he had taken the position that he didn't care if his constitutional rights such as privacy, or searches pursuant to a warrant were taken away as long as the government thought it was a tool to fight terrorists. He said he wasn't in al Qaeda so he didn't care if they searched him, his car, his home, his library check-outs, his book purchases, his bank transactions, his business records or anything else. He pointed to bombings in London and Madrid and Bali as proof that these rights should take a back seat to fighting Islamic fascists.

I told him that no bomb on a bus is worth deleting rights from the Constitution one by one. He wasn't moved. It was as if was saying, "please take my rights away." I asked him why do you trust the government? Don't you want your rights, the rules of the game, written down so you can like, you know, look them up from time to time to see if everyone is playing by the rules? He said, "No, you have to trust the government." I asked, "Then why in 1776 they didn't just write down 'Trust the government' and not waste all that time on the Declaration of Independence and Bill of Rights? Why didn't they just have the Declaration of Trust the Government?" No answer.

The bloodthirsty Islamic fascist killers in al Qaeda and Hamas and Hezbollah all look human but they're not. So too for those who desperately yearn to have their rights taken away just so they can feel, but not actually be, safer from those same terrorists.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Ann Coulter - speaking about enjoying someone's death...

A religious fanatic made big headlines today. A fanatic who has total contempt for the opposition. Calling them “traitors” and “godless” among other things this well-known personality made headlines again just this week. Some of you think I’m talking about the death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi at the end of two 500 pound bombs dropped from an F-16. Forget the fact that Bush, who takes great credit for his termination, had “several chances” to kill him before the Iraq war started. No, I’m talking about Ann Coulter. It is the latest example that she is probably mentally ill but also crazy as a fox for finding despicable things to write in a book that she knows will drive sales. I believe she makes over $3 million per book.

For those of you blessed with not having seen this I will share the horror that is contained in her new, number one on Amazon, book. Of the five women, known as the Jersey Girls, who husbands were killed on 9/11 and then demanded a public commission to investigate 9/11 (something Bush and his cronies opposed) and then have pushed to implement the recommendations of the 9/11 commission, Coulter said:

"These broads are millionaires, lionized on TV and in articles about them, reveling in their status as celebrities and stalked by grief-arazzis. I've never seen people enjoying their husbands' deaths so much." [p.103]

She also added: "And by the way, how do we know their husbands weren't planning to divorce these harpies? Now that their shelf life is dwindling, they'd better hurry up and appear in Playboy..."

Keith Olbermann goes after Coulter better than I can but there’s plenty to go around. Forget the argument that decency is dead and that people like Ann Coulter killed it. Or that there are no standards other than make a buck and get ratings since she is on television and radio 24/7 to slander 9/11 victims.

All I can say is I hope she gets married one day, (assuming she is not a lesbian) and I hope she has a couple of kids and then I hope her husband is burned alive in some horrific terrorist attack. I further hope I am standing next to her and her children when she gets the news or better yet while she watches it on Fox News and I hope I have the same indecency, just for a moment that she has every second of her life, to turn to her and say, "I bet you're enjoying your husbands' death." And then I would stoop down (physically after doing so morally) and pat her little cherubs on the head and say, "Don't be sad. Daddy was probably going to divorce your harpie mom and leave you anyway. Things will get better kids. Think about it, now mommy can strip for Playboy and make a few bucks!" If I did that I'd be as evil and unforgivable if just for a moment as Coulter is every minute of every day.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

And you are???

Last month a laptop computer was stolen from the home of an analyst for the Veterans Administration. It wouldn't even make the local papers' police blotter except for the fact that the now fired VA analyst had unencrypted data of millions of names, birth dates and social security numbers of veterans on the computer. Over 26.5 veterans, who had been discharged since 1975, had their personal information compromised making widespread identity theft a near certainty. Senior VA officials knew about the theft within hours of the crime but did not tell VA Secretary Jim Nicholson until 13 days later.

Now it comes out that the "Social Security numbers and other personal information for as many as 2.2 million U.S. military personnel -- including nearly 80 percent of the active-duty force -- were among the data" on that laptop computer that was stolen last month raising concerns not only of identity theft but also national security. One defense official called the extent of the data loss "monumental." The names, birth dates and social security numbers of roughly "1.1 million active-duty military personnel, 430,000 National Guard members and 645,000 reserve members" were likely stolen last month.

So first you had incompetence cause the loss of over 26.5 million military personnel, then you had a cover-up and failure to admit that perhaps the largest identity theft had occurred, then you either lie or incompetently explain who is at risk. Wrap your brain around that. Nearly 80% of active-duty military personnel, men and women who are in Iraq, Afghanistan or flying there right now had their personal data stolen and now they are at risk for identity theft for the rest of their lives. Not only that, they weren't told the truth about their risk until today. Just as the government failed to protect their lives with adequate forces or equipment or a post-invasion plan, W and his incompetent cronies failed to protect their personal information. They can't protect our troops from insurgent attacks or from a single incompetent former-VA analyst who compromised the names, birth dates and social security numbers of nearly every person on active military duty. And the administration’s response? They are telling the veterans and active-duty forces to monitor their credit files for any unusual activity. How do you do that on patrol in Mosul? Basically the government is telling them, as they’ve told us with bird flu or another Cat 5 hurricane, “you’re on your own.” Heckuva job Republicans. Can't wait to see how you're going to secure the homeland next. You can’t even secure a Dell laptop.

Lies and incompetence. It hasn’t protected our troops in Iraq or their personal information on a laptop computer.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

The end of the Curmudgeon?

I have given warnings in the past but here is another one. If the Democrats don't take over either the House or Senate this November I'm done. No more complaining. No more whinning. No more crankiness. Just silence. No more blog. Over and out.

I raise this threat, or hopeful promise to some, as we head into election time and the Republicans' messages of fear and hate are being dusted off for another spin. First we have the gay marriage constitutional amendment disgrace going on in the Senate and now we have terror warnings. Remember the 2004 presidential election? Everytime Kerry got a bump in the polls a terror warning was trotted out by Tom Ridge to scare the crap out of people. (And Cheney who famously warned that if you vote the wrong way, Democratic, the U.S. will get hit again). And sadly it worked. That and two guys getting married in Massachusetts was going to destroy the fabric of society was enough fear and hate for the Republicans to win. (Along with the usual ends justify the means voting interference that seems to be the only endeavor Republicans are competent at). So we have the gay marriage amendment hate message going out and the other shoe just dropped with the unnamed U.S. official claiming a terror attack in the U.S. in likely before the end of the year. The Republicans probably hope that if it happens it happens the week before election day.

What a self-fulfilling prophecy. If there are no terror attacks they can claim how good they are at stopping attacks and if an attack happens they can argue that there would have been more attacks if Democrats were in charge. Either way they can sell the idea that they are tough on terrorism when in fact their incompetent handling of Iraq and Afghanistan along with their political cutting of homeland security funds for top U.S. targets has made us less safe and more vulnerable to attack. (The Daily Show's Rob Corddry said the political "pork" spending spread around the country would make us safer since Muslims don't like pork and would drive them away.)

So just as Bush hits new lows in the polls an unnamed U.S. official comes out with a warning that you may die before the end of the year so you need to vote Republican before you do. Like I said if gay marriage, flag burning and terror threats carry the day again in November I am done. It's a government as good as its people and if the Republicans keep control of both congressional houses then the people aren't as good as I thought they are and this country deserves the leadership that it gets but it doesn't deserve daily crankiness of the Curmudgeon.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Oh, God!

There will always be the true believers who would support President Bush no matter what. Imagine your own outrageous story, worthy of publication in The Globe or The Onion, about W and he would still get 31% approval rating. In Provo, Utah, which "may be the reddest city in the reddest of state," that's even more true.

Delia Randall, a 22-year-old mother from Provo says of W, "When I watch him, I see a man with his heart in the right place." W and his supporters talk about each other in terms of having good hearts. They never talk about their heads or what's in them. Randall added, "I like George Bush because he is God fearing, and that's how a lot of people in this area feel." God fearing with a good heart - two resume musts if you want to run the country. I found another God fearing man to run for office but he is currently unavailable. He's dinner.

A man shouting that God would keep him safe was mauled to death by a lioness in Kiev zoo after he crept into the animal's enclosure. "The man shouted 'God will save me, if he exists', lowered himself by a rope into the enclosure, took his shoes off and went up to the lions. A lioness went straight for him, knocked him down and severed his carotid artery." Tastes a lot like chicken I hear.

Now I know the God fearing man, now dinner, was from Russia and couldn't be president here, unless the Republicans pass the Arnold amendment to the constitution while they vote for the flag burning and gay marriage amendments, but I couldn't help use it to illustrate a point. That if you believe in God so much you irrationally risk and give up your life for your religious beliefs (sound familiar?) maybe I don't want you running things with your hand either a nuclear or suicide vest trigger.

Friday, June 02, 2006

A humble Decider

I ran across the latest tough talk from one of the many chickenhawks in the Bush administration, John Bolton. He is the bully and "kiss up, kick down" guy with the bad hair and cartoon mustache that W and Cheney appointed to be the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. He couldn't get him passed through the Senate controlled by Republicans so he made him a recess appointment. So Bolton who has been quietly embarrassing the country at the U.N. went on the official Republican party's cable channel Fox News and said that with respect to our offer for talks with Iran, "This is put or shut up time for Iran." Very diplomatic language, "shut up time."

It struck me as being not very diplomatic and it reminded me of candidate George W. bush saying something about conducting a humble foreign policy. So I googled it and found it in .14 seconds. Reading Bush's words in the transcript is like reading a flip-flopper's wet dream. W tells (pre-flip-flops? lies?) to the audience, "If we're an arrogant nation, they'll resent us; if we're a humble nation, but strong, they'll welcome us." He also added, "that's why we've got to be humble". "Shut up time." Very humble.

The whole transcript is like this. Candidate Bush says, "But we can't be all things to all people in the world...I'm worried about over committing our military around the world. I want to be judicious in its use." Does this really need any rebuttal comments? How about this: "I'm not so sure the role of the United States is to go around the world and say this is the way it's got to be. We can help. And maybe it's just our difference in government, the way we view government. I mean I want to empower people. I want to help people help themselves, not have government tell people what to do. I just don't think it's the role of the United States to walk into a country and say, we do it this way, so should you." It's funny if it weren't so sad.

Ah, you and the 31% of the country that supports W no matter what say, this was before 9/11. This was before everything changed. The only thing that changed was W's pre-World War II isolationism that Condi wrote down so that he could repeat it. Before he was president or she was national security advisor and secretary of state they were wrong about how the U.S. should conduct foreign policy. After 9/11 they got wrong all the things they had left to get wrong. A flawless record of incompetence. At least when Bolton gets kicked out of his recess appointment job in January 2007, a new Democratic Senate won't let him back in the job. That's when the humble W will take the coward's way out again and do another recess appointment.

The Decider, in that 2000 debate also said, "I also understand an administration is not one person". Technically that might be right. It's not one person. It's about three or four. All incompetent, unrepentent and committed to remaining in power to continue the "humble" foreign policy and incompetent and corrupt domestic policy.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Government - good at protecting themselves not you.

A couple of days ago I wrote about the whistleblower case the Supreme Court ruled on. In a 5-4 decision the ruling was a victory for crooked politicians and government workers everywhere. The ruling allows retribution against whistleblowers in the government who alert their superiors in the government about violations, abuses or dangers in the government. So if a guy in the Department of Homeland Security finds out emergency radios or gas masks or counter-terror weapons don't work and brings those concerns to his superiors who no doubt would be embarrassed (certainly not held responsible), the whistleblower can be demoted, transferred or fired without recourse. Take that along with the Justice Department's position that reporters can be prosecuted for publishing classified information and you have no way to bring government incompetence, abuses or criminality to light.

Now you might say, well, reporters shouldn't report classified information. Well then what is to stop classifying every incompetent, abusive, corrupt, politically damaging or criminal act so that no one can report on it and with the latest Supreme Court decision, whistleblowers, criminally prohibited from disclosing classified information will have no protection trying to raise their concerns with their superiors. Checkmate. Now the Justice Department is going so far as issuing subpoenas to reporters just because they can't get the information elsewhere. The former spokesman for Attorney General John Ashcroft, Mark Corallo said, "This is the most reckless abuse of power I have seen in years. They really should be ashamed of themselves."

If Corallo were still in the government his concerns of the abuse of power could have gotten him fired. Now that he is out of government he has to hope they don't classify the information or he'll be barred from talking about it. Soon the only thing you'll be able to report on or talk about is the times and places where elected officials give speeches. For national security reasons those are also going to be classified to protect against that information getting into the wrong hands. Remember, if people know what the government is doing the terrorists win.