Friday, April 20, 2007

One monkey don't stop no show

"Thanks for taking the bullet for me, Gonzo"

he cabal that runs the White House must have thanked whatever dark lords presently preside over this country when former Attorney General John Ashcroft quit.

Ashcroft is no pushover. In fact, he is a deeply religious and somewhat morally rigid man, who would no longer put up with the neocons' immoral shenanigans and interference with his Justice Department. He announced that he was out of there.

The neocons were at a loss; they desperately needed a frontman to help push their consolidation of presidential power and John Yoo was occupied elsewhere spinning webs of lies and deceit. But - low and behold! - right there in their midst was a weak-willed, shifty, and easily manipulable sycophant that they could plop into the Attorney General's chair. He would do what he was told, and then conveniently forget about it: Gonzo the Forgetful.

It wasn't just that this guy possessed no critical faculties - which he doesn't - but his brain had grown so mushy in the dank and fetid air of the underground West Wing office that he occupied as counsel to the President that, like Golum, he could no longer tell right from wrong, or yesterday from the month before.

Yesterday's performance before the Senate Judiciary Oversight committee was beautiful - a tour de force of the high political drama of lies, evasions, prevarications, and just downright stupidity that is the modus operandi of the neocon architects of the New American Century.

It's not that the neocons don't think that their stupid ideas are stupid and won't hold up under close scrutiny, it's that they can't be bothered having to explain their vision of a Pax Americana to the likes of you or me, or for that matter, to the Congress. So they just go and do what they do: kidnap and torture suspected enemies of the state, lie about their reasons for invading foreign countries, fire federal prosecutors when they get too close to the money, and - when finally questioned by previously supine Congress-critters - shove a fall guy out in front. When their stupidity is exposed they simply (like Rumsfeld) move down the hall, or (like Paul Wolfowitz) bail and take up posts at the World Bank, where they try to pull the same shit all over again. Except the World Bank is not staffed by myopic political dirtbags; it's run by hard-nosed moneymen who don't tolerate fucking with their institutional reputations.

So the Gonzo sideshow is over, but the circus hasn't left town yet. There's lots more demonstrations of levitation and porous memory to come, and possibly another Shock and Awe waiting in the wings. And don't be too surprised if a major city is vaporized by a stolen nuclear bomb (they still haven't found any of the missing 20-100 nuclear devices from the former Soviet Union stockpile). Finding those missing nukes (or bin Laden, for that matter) would be doing their job, a distraction from spreading their fungus over Washington.

As for us patsies, don't expect Congress to do it's job and impeach these criminal assholes; that would be too real, and there's a 1% chance they might not get reelected as a result, which for them is the center ring and the only thing that really counts.

Have a great weekend.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Comedian says New American Century not funny

Steve Bhaerman is a writer/deconstructionist comedian, who makes a living making people laugh in his role as cosmic comic Swami Beyondananda. In the following piece, he takes a break from comedy to unload about what he thinks is going wrong with this fair republic of ours.

As he points out, correctly, this administration has many things to answer for; but most importantly, that this fight many of us find ourselves in is not about party affiliation or conservative/liberal alignment, but of right vs wrong.

I should note that I got this article in my email in-box just moments after hearing a Republican senator on the Senate Judiciary committee (Tom Coburn, R-OK) call for Attorney General Gonzales' resignation today (and don't forget John Sununu of Vermont, a leading Republican, who called for "his head" back in March).

Bringing Down the House of Lies

The Final "Leg" of the Journey

By Steve Bhaerman

04/19/07 "ICH" -- -- It's a bit of a mixed feeling to realize that millions and millions of people who didn't get this distinction two, four or six years ago now understand that the "political' issues we now face aren't about right and left, they're about right and wrong. On one hand, what took you so long? On the other, thank God and welcome aboard.

Although the media has downplayed it -- it doesn't fit with the general stupidization program of creating a lot of heat but very little light -- more and more actual conservatives and even members of the religious right are coming to see the Bush-Cheney regime as a rogue administration and a thin cover for criminal enterprise. Such right wing stalwarts as former Georgia Rep. Bob Barr and Richard Viguerie (one of the architects of the far right wing) have formed an organization to protect our civil liberties from our own government. Chuck Baldwin, an associate of Jerry Falwell, has become an open advocate of impeachment and writes a very articulate column. These folks are far bolder than the Democrats in this regard, and they will play a key role when impeachment happens -- and it will.

Now some of you reading this who have a deeper spiritual understanding of love, forgiveness and the ways in which we do indeed create our own reality might be wondering "Gee, this whole impeachment thing seems pretty 'anti'. Shouldn't we be focusing on what we want instead of what we don't want?"

Indeed, the point can be made that the failure of the Democrats in 2004 -- aside from the minor issue of voting fraud in Ohio and Florida -- had to do with John Kerry's approach of "Vote for me, I'm not as bad as George Bush," and failure to articulate any compelling positive vision. However, the real issue goes much deeper.

Ending The American Hostage Crisis

It has nothing to do with loving or hating George Bush, whose policies have educated and awakened more Americans than all of the "progressive" leaders combined. It does have to do with what we need to recognize as the American Hostage Crisis.

The American people -- and particularly our soldiers in Iraq -- are being held hostage by a ruthless criminal cadre (this is not hyperbolic invective; the definition of "criminal" is "one who commits crimes"). The people up until now have been blackmailed into supporting a war of choice with the cynical cry, "Support our troops." As if our troops sent themselves over there and now we have to rescue them.

Read the rest at ICH: "The Final Leg of the Journey"

Gonzales testifies on prosecutor firings

Attorney General Alberto gonzales testifies

Photo: REUTERS/Jason Reed

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales strained credulity this morning at his Senate hearings before the Judiciary Oversight committee.

His testimony was incoherent, evasive, and contradictory, and left senators from both sides of the aisle frustrated and in ill humor.

But he looked good. That 25-day pre-bout training period seems to have paid off. With nary a grimace or smirk, he answered his questioners with a straight face (one might say manfully), as if daring them to call him a liar to his face; which they more or less did, starting with Arlen Specter (R-PA):
"We have to evaluate whether you are really being forthright," Sen. Arlen Specter bluntly informed the nation's chief law enforcement officer.

"The purpose of this Senate oversight hearing is to determine this committee's judgement as to whether Attorney General Alberto Gonzales should continue in that capacity," said Sen. Arlen Specter, the panel's ranking Republican.

"This is a reconfirmation hearing," Specter told Gonzales.
The Pennsylvania Republican said Gonzales' description of his involvement in the firings of eight federal prosecutors was "significantly if not totally at variance with the facts."

Gonzales appeared before the committee three weeks after his former chief of staff, Kyle Sampson, testified to the same panel that the attorney general was more deeply involved in the firings than Gonzales had initially acknowledged.

Subsequently, Gonzales modified his stand. He said he did participate in discussions about the firings but that his role was largely limited to signing off on the dismissals following a department review.

Here's a taste of the exchange between Specter and Gonzales:

SEN. SPECTER: Okay. Now, we've got to evaluate -- and this is a final statement before I yield -- as to whether the limited number of circumstances that I recited -- and it's only a limited number; there are many, many more -- whether you are being candid in saying that you were involved only to a limited -- you only had a, quote, "limited involvement in the process," as to being candid and also as to having sound judgment, if you consider that limited.

And as we recite these, we have to evaluate whether you are really being forthright and saying that you, quote, "should have been more precise," closed quote, when the reality is that your characterization of your participation is just total -- significantly, if not totally, at variance with the facts.

ATTY GEN. GONZALES: Senator, you're talking about a series of events that occurred over possibly 700 days. I probably had thousands of conversations during that time, and so putting it in context, Senator, I would say that my involvement was limited. I think that is an accurate statement. It was limited involvement.

And with respect to certain communications -- such as the communication with the president, such as the discussions about Carol Lam -- I did not view it at the time as part of this review process. I simply considered those as doing part of my job. We'd heard complaints about the performance of Ms. Lam. I directed the department to try to ascertain whether or not those complaints were legitimate, and if not, we ought to look at perhaps doing something about it.

SEN. SPECTER: The chairman says I can ask one more question. You're saying it's not part of the process, it's not a part of your job? Is that what you're saying?


SEN. SPECTER: Because if you are, I don't understand it.

ATTY GEN. GONZALES: Senator, I didn't consider this part of this project that Mr. Sampson was working on. I -- simply because we had this process ongoing by Mr. Sampson doesn't mean that we -- that I quit doing my job as attorney general of supervising the work of the United States attorneys, and that's what I
attempted to do.

SEN. LEAHY: But it was intimately connected with her qualifications to stay on.

ATTY GEN. GONZALES: Senator, of course in hindsight I look back now that of course that that may have affected the recommendations made to me, yes. But, Senator, when I focused on those complaints, I wasn't thinking about this process, to remove U.S. attorneys. When I was focusing on a complaint that I had received about her performance, that's what I was focused on. I wasn't focused on the review process itself. I wasn't focused on whether or not her name would go on this list. I was focused on making sure she was doing her job. That's what I was focused on.

Chuck Schumer (D-NY) took up the cudgel when he pointed out the AG had contradicted himself when he testified in February that he had not approved of the plan to fire the eight prosecutors as proposed by his chief of staff Sampson, then added that Gonzales' testimony "strained credulity."

[While Gonzales has acknowledged that he is responsible for the overall running of the Justice Department, in the past he has stated that he was not responsible for the running of the FBI, which has come under criticism for it's over-amped used of so-called National Security Letters. To remind our Gentle Readers, the FBI is a branch of the Justice Department. As Attorney General, Gonzales is indeed responsible for the performance of the FBI.]

Not to be outdone in the caustic question department, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-MA), asked, "Since you apparently knew very little about the performance about the replaced United States attorneys, how can you testify that the judgment ought to stand?"

And Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), asked Gonzales whether he had reviewed the evaluation records of the dismissed prosecutors, who Justice Department officials initially said had been fired for inadequate performance. He said he had not.

Gonzales conceded that "reasonable people might disagree" with the decision. He said the process by which the U.S. attorneys were dismissed was "nowhere near as rigorous or structured as it should have been."

"To be sure, I should have been more precise when discussing this matter," Gonzales told the committee. "I understand why some of my statements generated confusion, and I have subsequently tried to clarify my words. My misstatements were my mistakes."

The hearings continue. Stay tuned.

Compiled from reports by AP, Chicago Tribune, and Reuters

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Nobody wants to be the czar

General George directed America's entire military effort during WWII

e all know that Bush has proposed appointing a war "czar" to oversee and co-ordinate the operation in both Iraq and Afghanistan. So what's up with calling anyone who has a supervisory position a "czar"? That's what they used to call the hereditary leader of Russia, and the last one of those got shot in the revolution of 1917. How about we call him (or her, although there's fat chance of that) the Chief Patsy?

Answer: nobody will touch the appointment with a barge pole. As various (three so far) retired four stars were approached by the administration for the position, a typical response went something like this:
"The very fundamental issue is, they don't know where the hell they're going," said retired Marine Gen. John J. "Jack" Sheehan, a former top NATO commander. Sheehan said he believes that Vice President Cheney and his hawkish allies remain more powerful within the administration than pragmatists looking for a way out of Iraq.

"So rather than go over there, develop an ulcer and eventually leave, I said, 'No, thanks,'...I've never agreed on the basis of the war, and I'm still skeptical ... Not only did we not plan properly for the war, we grossly underestimated the effect of sanctions and Saddam Hussein on the Iraqi people."
The idea of having someone like a General of the Army George C. Marshall running overseas military activity doesn't seem to come from inside the administration itself (which is clearly incompetent and incapable of original thought), but from certain outsiders; e.g., the American Enterprise Institute, a think tank heavily funded by rabid right-wingers such as Richard Scaife.

At first glance, it may seem like a good idea, but there are critics of the move. The Washington Post reports that some say the idea misses the point.

"An individual can't fix a failed policy," said Carlos Pascual, former State Department coordinator of Iraq reconstruction, who is now a vice president at the Brookings Institute (a moderate-to-liberal think tank). "So the key thing is to figure out where the policy is wrong."

Which observation itself misses the point. The problem isn't where it went wrong; it's that the policy of being in Iraq at all is wrong.

Leave Iraq and the problem goes away.