Halloween Madman

Monday, October 31, 2005


A Hypocrite's Quote in the Lead

"I don't think you could find a person better than Judge (Samuel) Alito."
-Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT)

That's funny, because "G"lobal "W"arming Bush thought differently. Using this logic (I hate using the word "logic" when it comes to people like Orin Hatch and the rest of the far right wing of the "G"reed "O"ver "P"eople party) then there was no better choice for the Supreme Court than Harriet Miers. There is no choice than to question any judge that is selected by Bush due to his past nominee.

President Bill Clinton realized that it was a good idea to run things by the opposition party before even nominating someone who would have a hard time getting confirmed. President Clinton met with Hatch, then Judiciary Chairman, before placing the names of Ruth Bader Ginsburg (1993) and Stephen Breyer (1994) in front of the senate. Both were confirmed easily.


-Noah Greenberg


A two-year independent Grand Jury investigation into who leaked the name of covert CIA operative Valerie Plame to the press (thereby putting her life and the lives of all the other agents who worked with her in jeopardy as well as sundering all the carefully constructed operations of those agents) ended October 28th with the announcement by Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald that Vice-President Dick Cheney's Chief of Staff and advisor to the President, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, would be indicted.

Libby, 55, was charged with five felonies alleging obstruction of justice, perjury to a grand jury and making false statements to FBI agents. If convicted, he could face a maximum of 30 years in prison and $1.25 million in fines.

Libby resigned shortly after federal prosecutors made the announcement. With last Friday's indictment, Libby became the first high-ranking White House official to be criminally charged while still in office since the Nixon Administration when Vice President Spiro Agnew was forced to resign after a criminal indictment was filed against him.

Also being investigated, but as yet not charged in the case, was presidential strategist Karl Rove. In announcing the indictment of Libby, Fitzgerald noted that his investigation was not yet over, leaving questions about whether Rove might also be indicted. Fitzgerald was also clear that he believed Libby discovered Plame's classified identity from the CIA, State Department and Cheney, then revealed it to reporters–notably Robert Novak, Judy Miller and Matt Cooper. Miller spent more than two months in jail for refusing to reveal that Libby was her source.

For those who suggested the investigation was neither important nor relevant, Fitzgerald was succinct: "It's important that a CIA officer's identity be protected, that it be protected not just for the officer, but for the nation's security. Mr. Libby was the first official known to have told a reporter."

Since the signal focus of the Bush Administration has been the war on terrorism, the revelation of a CIA operative's name and the jeopardy attaching to that is particularly troublesome. Troublesome also was the response to the indictment from both the President and Vice President. Both praised Libby for his work and service. Cheney said he "accepted the resignation with regret" because Libby "is one of the most capable and talented individuals I have ever known." Bush made a special point to refer to Libby by his nickname "Scooter." Bush's comments were painfully reminiscent of his lauding former FEMA director Michael Brown as people were dying in New Orleans with the comment, "You're doing a great job, Brownie." Two weeks later "Brownie" resigned in disgrace after it was revealed that he had utterly bungled the job of hurricane recovery, had lied on his resume about his qualifications and hundreds were dead due to his incompetence.

The Libby indictment came a day after Bush's close friend and recent nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court, Harriet Miers, withdrew her nomination after Republican senators declared she did not have enough support from them to win approval to the High Court. Democrats and Republicans alike were disturbed that Miers had no constitutional background and seemingly no credentials for an appointment to the Supreme Court. Many expressed dismay that the President would put forward what conservative columnist George Will termed such a wholly mediocre nominee, so lacking in excellence and so undeserving of the position.

Bush supporters were both angered and dismayed that the President had chosen a candidate clearly incapable of meeting the challenges even of the nomination process, let alone the role of Supreme Court Justice.

Yet Bush has made no apologies–not for Miers, Brown nor Libby. Many will remember Bush's comment that he couldn't think of any mistakes he had made during his tenure as president. But Bush has indeed made numerous mistakes; his people are being caught in grander and more deliberate criminal acts. (Brown's mismanagement of the Hurricane Katrina efforts, for example, were at the very least negligent and cost hundreds of lives and untold misery.) The indictment of Libby and the shadow over not just Rove, but the Vice President himself, signal serious problems in the highest levels of the Bush Administration.

The President should have called for the resignations of Libby, Rove and Cheney when the investigation began.

This isn't an issue of a fair trial or innocent until prove guilty. Those are matters for courts and juries and judges who aren't cronies of the President to decide. But the question of *propriety,*of the appearance of complicity in criminal actions that risk the lives of others is serious, as Fitzgerald noted in his indictment. Particularly when lives are at stake. But the President and his closest advisors appear to be guided by the principle of government sans accountability. The Bush Administration clearly subscribes to British statesman Benjamin Disraeli's infamous quote, "Never apologize, never explain."

It's essential to recall what the Plamegate investigation devolved from: The war on Iraq. Although Fitzgerald was careful to note that his indictment of Libby was about obstruction of justice and was not a referendum on the war, there is no mistaking that the case revolves wholly around the war and the case the President and Vice President made for the invasion of Iraq.

Valerie Plame's husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, was sent to Niger to investigate a claim that Saddam Hussein bought uranium from that nation. He returned and filed a report stating all allegations that Hussein had bought the nuclear compound were false. Yet Bush used that allegation of the uranium purchase as his rational for invading Iraq. The leaking of Plame's name happened mere days after Wilson published a piece in the New York Times detailing his findings. Wilson's criticism of the President and the war on Iraq seemed inevitably to lead to the revelation of his wife's name–a treasonous offence that the President himself had said should be prosecuted.

If Libby's case goes to trial, this false rationale for invading Iraq will become the centerpiece of the trial. The false–knowingly false–assertion by the President and Vice President that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction was the sole reason for the invasion. That fact will be repeated again and again in the course of a trial.

Libby is to Cheney as Rove is to Bush: each is an alter ego, an "architect" of ideas. Anyone in Washington with any political acumen knows Libby got his information from Cheney and most likely disseminated that information at the Vice President's behest to punish Wilson.

During the Watergate hearings, the chairman of the committee investigating the events surrounding the downfall of the Nixon Administration repeatedly noted that the cover-up was more diabolical than the crime itself. During the Lewinsky scandal in the Clinton presidency, critics of President Clinton repeatedly noted that at issue was not the sexual relationship between Monica Lewinsky and the President, but rather that the President *lied* about the affair, constituting obstruction of justice.

If President Bush lied–knowingly–about the basis for the war on Iraq which has now claimed more than 2,000 American lives, severely wounded more than 18,000 Americans and killed and maimed tens of thousands of Iraqi citizens, does that lie by Bush not constitute as much of an impeachable offense as the lie told by Bill Clinton about an extramarital affair?

The case against Libby is, irrevocably, a case against the war and a case against the President and Vice President. The many resignations–only a few of which have been Colin Powell as Secretary of State (who has now declared he was duped into being party to the war on Iraq), Michael Brown as head of FEMA and now Libby as Cheney's right-hand man (and also Miers's rescinding her nomination, which amounts to resignation)–signal the implacability of this President and Vice President. Neither Bush nor Cheney has ever ceased linking 9/11 and the war on Iraq, despite the incontrovertible fact that there is no connection. Al-Qaeda was not in Iraq, nor did Saddam Hussein support al-Qaeda; rather the opposite was true: Hussein was a foe of al-Qaeda and al-Qaeda was bothered by Hussein's secularism.

The indictment of Libby comes as no surprise to Washington insiders but it does cast yet another pall over the Bush presidency. Pundits assert that Americans don't care about Plamegate or Libby. Conservatives shrug over the indictment, noting all that matters right now is that Bush nominate a staunch white male conservative to the Supreme Court to wash the bad taste of the Miers debacle from everyone's mouth.

Yet Plamegate *does* matter because it is part of the Bush-Cheney culture of deception. Although it appears unlikely that Rove or Cheney will be served indictments, and even less likely that either will resign, both indictments and resignations *should* be demanded–by the Special Prosecutor, by the President and by the American people.

Perhaps too many Americans have become inured to the massive corruption of this Administration to be concerned over an indictment here, a resignation there. After all, Senate Majority leader Bill Frist is being investigated and House Majority leader Tom Delay has already been indicted; when the top two Republicans in Washington other than the President and Vice President are in legal limbo, why should people care about someone like Scooter Libby, whose name was as unknown to most Americans as Valerie Plame's until last week?

We should–we must–care, however. Because what Fitzgerald said was true: this case impacts every single American because it goes to the heart of our national security and ultimately, of our democracy.

Since 9/11 this Administration has traded away many of our hard-won civil liberties with a vague promise of security. Rosa Parks lay in state in Washington this past weekend as Libby prepared his defense. Parks is known for having spearheaded the quest for civil liberties for African Americans, while Libby will be known for having aided the erosion of civil liberties for all Americans. Parks' refusal to move to the back of the bus had lasting impact on American history. The actions of Libby–whether at the actual behest of Cheney or simply with his tacit approval–also will have lasting impact through our history. Millions of Americans are more free because of Parks, but thousands are dead because of the Bush-Cheney lies that Libby is merely the representative of.

There are three more years in the Bush presidency. Three more years of lies, deception, secrecy and a deadly kind of cronyism. American apathy over the war and the corruption within the Bush Administration cannot, must not continue. How many more soldiers will die for the lie Joe Wilson uncovered and Scooter Libby risked lives to re-cover before the war ever started?
Watergate taught Americans that no one is above the law. But for Plamegate to re-teach that same lesson will require the President and Vice President taking responsibility for their actions. Sadly for all Americans, that seems unlikely to happen any time soon in an Administration whose arrogance is outweighed only by its corruption.

by Victoria A. Brownworth
copyright c 2005, Journal Register Newspapers, Inc.

Word Association

It's word association time. Think of a therapist playing that game with you. Remember when you used to know what the opposite of a word was? Let's play the game, "G"reed "O"ver "P"eople party style:

Word: Truth
Opposite: Lie
Bush-Speak Opposite: "I was misquoted," or "He Misspoke," or "What the president really meant was..."

Word: Success
Opposite: Failure
Bush-Speak Opposite: "The terrorists are in their last throes..."

Word: Poor
Opposite: Rich
Bush-Speak Opposite: "Glad to be here among the haves and the have-mores, what I like to call my base."

Word: Favorable
Opposite: Unfavorable
Bush-Speak Opposite: The Main Stream Media is slanting the numbers

Word: Correct
Opposite: Mistake
Bush-Speak Opposite: (Unknown - "G"lobal "W"arming Bush has never made a "mistake")

-Noah Greenberg

The Cheney-Libby Dialogue

(It could have happened this way)


So, just how do you think the "chat" between Vice President Dick "Go <F---> Yourself" Cheney and his then-Chief of Staff I. Lewis "Scooter - Traitor" Libby went regarding betraying our national security by releasing Ambassador Joe Wilson's wife's name to the main stream media? I imagine it went something like this:

CHENEY: Scooter get in here, I need to talk to you about this whole Joe Wilson thing. What are we gonna do about this?
LIBBY: It appears that his wife is an operative for the CIA and she might have recommended him to Tenant for the job of going to Africa and finding out the truth abut those phony Italian we had forged to frame Hussein
CHENEY: We gotta punish this guy. We gotta make sure no one ever crosses US again.
CHENEY: Let's tell everyone who his wife is. maybe that'll scare him and make him shut up. I want you to release the name of his wife to some of our friendly media stooges. Who have we got?
LIBBY: Well, we got Robert Novak, who never asked a conservative a hard question. Then we got Judith Miller, that burnt out human megaphone that works at the New York times.
CHENEY: Human megaphone?
LIBBY: Yeah... You whisper something low into her ear and it's blabbed all over town. Ya' gotta be careful with her, though.
CHENEY: Why's that?
LIBBY: Because she is so burnt out that she can't even remember a name anymore. You have to spell it out for her.
CHENEY: (Laughs Crookedly) Who else we got?
LIBBY: We got that guy Matthew Whats-his-face (Cooper) of Time.
CHENEY: That's good. Whatever you do, don't report... what's her name? Valerie Plame?... to Fox News Channel. They're so full of crap that everyone will know it came from US.
LIBBY: Yes sir, Mr. Vice President (laughing sinisterly).

-Noah Greenberg


John D. Podesta, who was chief of staff to President Bill Clinton, said Bush may be more constrained by his troubles than Clinton was by his. Noting that Clinton's approval ratings remained above 60 percent throughout the impeachment battle, while Bush's are in the low 40s, Podesta said. "When Clinton said, 'I'm going back to do my work,' people cheered," Podesta said. "When Bush says, 'I'm going to do the job I've been doing,' people say, 'Oh, no.' "

-Victoria Brownworth

In response to, "There was a man there who had several signs (at the White House Vigil - in a counter-protest) which among them said: 'Saddam loves Cindy'... He was making 60 dollars an hour to do so from some non-profit, right wing group. He said he would switch signs if we gave him more money," Robert Scardapane writes:

This speaks volumes about the support for the war. The Republicans are paying political mercenaries to pretend they are grassroots. Sad!

Meanwhile, one protest against the war in Highland Park, NJ lasted 2000 minutes this weekend - one minute for each soldier slain in this unjust war. There were no paid protesters at this event. The protesters believe in their hearts that this war is unjust and freely give their time to end it.

In response to Treasury Secretary Snow's, "There can be no doubt that the American economy is an adaptive and resilient marvel, and one that has benefited greatly from good fiscal policies. The strong and steady G.D.P. growth we've been experiencing is the result of lower tax rates, sound monetary policy set by the Federal Reserve and the economy's underlying fundamentals," Robert Scardapane writes:

As I have remarked on other occasions, GDP as a measure of national prosperity is obsolete. The reason is that we are living in the age of globalization. Measuring the profitability of American corporations just doesn't tell us about how the money flows down to the American people.

The argument over GDP is more than a technical one but is crucial toward getting our economy to work for the good of American citizens. When government measures it's policy using a faulty yardstick, they are unlikely to achieve positive results. They should be using measurements such as real wage growth and poverty percentage instead. When those measurements are examined the story is not pretty. Poverty has grown steadily during Bush's years as President.

But, sometimes I wonder if we are not being told the real policy goals. Do global financiers, such as Snow, really care about the prosperity of their nation? Do they even think that national economic goals are relevant? Are they only concerned about the profitability of corporations?

From what I know, prosperity across the planet is actually decreasing when the top brackets are eliminated! This means that wealth is concentrating in the hands of small class of international elites. This is a very dangerous trend that will ultimately lead to a world wide economic collapse - probably in the IMF and World Bank initially. Now don't you feel good knowing Wolfowitz is our representative in the World Bank. My head aches even thinking about it.

In response to, "Being a Bush means never having to say you're sorry... or responsible for anything. Right after taking the blame, Jeb shifted that very same blame to... get this... the people of Florida. I don't know why I'm so shocked," Robert Scardapane writes:

That's right. Conservative leader's tout personal responsibility as one of their guiding principles. Yet, when it comes time for these leaders to take responsibility for their actions, or lack thereof, they duck it every time.

Jeb, George ... they are the same sort of person that claims infallibility by blaming everyone else.

A Great Quote

"The Middle Class are just poor people with good credit."
-Mark Maron, Air America Radio's Morning Sedition co-host

This quote just goes toward the theory that all of US in the middle class are just one illness or job loss away from becoming poor. Estimates are that up to 70 percent of all bankruptcies are related to medical expenses. I bet that most of the rest are due to the loss of employment. The Middle Class will die, and soon, if we don't adjust our thinking about some form of Universal Health Care.. that is simply HEALTH CARE FOR ALL.

-Noah Greenberg

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-Noah Greenberg