Thursday, June 28, 2007

Quote of the Day~"See you at the bitter end"

The title of today's Quote of the Day post is from one of my favorite bands, Placebo. The Bitter End is also probably one of my favorite Placebo songs. For some reason it just popped into my head after I read this:

A year and a half before the Bush era comes to its merciful end, cataloging its failures and pathologies has become not merely a cottage industry but a kind of mass mobilization, a task so vast that it requires the combined efforts of thousands of writers, talkers, thinkers, activists, and ordinary citizens. Every new look at the last six and a half years yields new insight into how government should not operate, another object lesson for future administrations. And one of those lessons of the Bush years is surely that potential disaster lurks behind what we had previously assumed to be a grand virtue: loyalty.

Paul Waldman in The American Prospect

Let's Put This in Terms the President Can Understand: "Bring it On"

Go ahead and give Americans further, undeniable proof that you have no respect for the rule of law and do not recognize that congress has the power, under the Constitution of the United States, which you took an oath of office swearing that you would, to best of your ability, "preserve, protect and defend," to provide oversight of the activities of the executive branch and to investigate allegations of wrongdoing by you and those in your administration:

Conyers Threatens Contempt Citation After White House Asserts Privilege
By Rachel Van Dongen Roll Call
Thursday 28 June 2007

Setting up a battle royal between Congress and the White House, the Bush administration asserted executive privilege Thursday morning in denying requests from lawmakers for documents and testimony from former top White House officials related to the ongoing U.S. attorneys probe.

House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers (D-Mich.) immediately suggested that a contempt of Congress citation may be necessary.

"The President's response to our subpoena shows an appalling disregard for the right of the people to know what is going on in their government," Conyers said.

"At this point, I see only one choice in moving forward, and that is to enforce the rule of law set forth in these subpoenas."

Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) called the move a "further shift by the Bush administration into Nixonian stonewalling."

"This White House cannot have it both ways. They cannot stonewall Congressional investigations by refusing to provide documents and witnesses, while claiming nothing improper occurred," he added.

"Increasingly, the president and vice president feel they are above the law - in America no one is above law."

Added Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), who has been leading the U.S. attorneys probe: "The president seems to be saying: 'How can I stonewall? Let me count the ways.'"

"Maybe everyone has acted honorably. But show me an administration that craves secrecy, and I'll show you an administration that probably has something to hide," Schumer continued.

Both chambers had set this morning as a deadline for complying with subpoenas for information related to the ousting of nine federal prosecutors in 2006. The data includes documents and testimony from ex-White House counsel Harriet Miers and former White House political director Sara Taylor.

Democrats claim that the prosecutors were dismissed for improper political reasons with undue influence from the White House. The administration claims that the dismissals were entirely legitimate and well within the president's prerogative.

In a June 28 letter to Conyers and Leahy, White House counsel Fred Fielding argued that both the documents and witness testimony would not be provided because they are protected by executive privilege.

"With respect, it is with much regret that we are forced down this unfortunate path which we sought to avoid by finding grounds for mutual accommodation," Fielding wrote. "We had hoped this matter could conclude with your Committees receiving information in lieu of having to invoke Executive Privilege. Instead, we are at this conclusion."

The White House response may foreshadow another confrontation with Congress over subpoenas issued yesterday for information related to the National Security Agency's warrantless wiretapping program.

Leahy subpoenaed documents related to the program and set a deadline of July 18 for compliance.

In his letter to Democrats, Fielding argued that "fear of being commanded to Capitol Hill to testify or having their documents produced to Congress" would prevent top presidential advisers from communicating "openly and honestly" with the president in making decisions.

He also asserted that the confidentiality protection was "especially strong" in this case because the president has the sole constitutional authority to appoint and remove federal prosecutors.

"Furthermore, it remains unclear precisely how and why your Committees are unable to fulfill your legislative and oversight interests without the unfettered requests you have made in the subpoenas," Fielding wrote.

"Put differently, there is no demonstration that the documents and information you seek by subpoena are critically important to any legislative initiatives that you may be pursuing or intending to pursue."

Fielding reminded lawmakers that the president had proposed a compromise on the U.S. attorneys issue that involved releasing communications between the White House and Justice Department, and the White House and third parties, but not internal White House communications. Fielding also had offered to allow top aides to testify, but in private, not under oath and without a transcript. He said that offer still stands.

The terms were roundly rejected by Democrats, and no other serious proposals were ever publicly floated by the White House.

Fielding's letter was accompanied by another letter to President Bush from Justice Department Solicitor General Paul Clement buttressing Fielding's arguments.

Clement states that in all cases, it was appropriate for Fielding to claim executive privilege.

Clement argues that "Congress's interests in the documents and related testimony would not be sufficient to override an executive privilege claim."

As far as internal White House deliberations, Clement contends that while the president routinely consults with Congress over the nomination of U.S. attorneys, that is a "courtesy" that does not give Congress the right to "inquire into the deliberations of the President" and his appointment authority.

"Consequently, there is reason to question whether Congress has oversight authority to investigate deliberations by White House officials concerning proposals to dismiss and replace U.S. attorneys, because such deliberations necessarily relate to the potential exercise by the President of an authority assigned to him alone," Clement wrote.

Clement further contends that any oversight interest is "sharply reduced" by the plethora of documents already provided to Congress by the Justice Department on the matter. Clement claims the 8,500 pages of documents turned over by Justice to Congress constitute an "extraordinary - and indeed, unprecedented" insight into the matter.

"The Committee's legitimate oversight interests have therefore have already been addressed by the Department," Clement argues, adding there would be "little additional legislative purpose" in revealing internal White House communications.

Furthermore, Clement wrote that communications between the White House and third parties, and between the White House and the Justice Department - some of which have already been disclosed - also are covered by executive privilege.

Clement advances similar arguments in asserting that executive privilege also covers the testimony of Taylor and Miers.

The Congressional investigation into the president's appointment authority "falls outside its core constitutional responsibilities" and that it would be "very difficult, if not impossible" for White House aides to "separate in their minds" knowledge from protected and unprotected deliberations, Clement wrote.

Fuck You Master of the Universe-Shit Grinning-Propaganda Spewing-Thought Crushing Fuckhead Who is Responsible for Fox News Murdoch

Shorter version of the following statement from the reporters at the Wall Street Journal:

Newspaper Guild release
June 28, 2007 11:00 A.M.
A statement from Wall Street Journal reporters:

Wall Street Journal reporters across the country chose not to show up to work this morning.

We did so for two reasons.

First, The Wall Street Journal's long tradition of independence, which has been the hallmark of our news coverage for decades, is threatened today. We, along with hundreds of other Dow Jones employees represented by the Independent Association of Publishers' Employees, want to demonstrate our conviction that the Journal’s editorial integrity depends on an owner committed to journalistic independence.

Second, by our absence from newsrooms around the country, we are reminding Dow Jones management that the quality of its publications depends on a top-quality professional staff. Dow Jones currently is in contract negotiations with its primary union, seeking severe cutbacks in our health benefits and limits on our pay. It is beyond debate that the professionals who create The Wall Street Journal and other Dow Jones publications every day deserve a fair contract that rewards their achievements. At a time when Dow Jones is finding the resources to award golden parachutes to 135 top executives, it should not be seeking to eviscerate employees’ health benefits and impose salary adjustments that amount to a pay cut.

We put the reputation of The Wall Street Journal and the needs of its readers first. That's why we will be back at our desks this afternoon, producing the day's news reports. But we hope this demonstration will remind those entrusted with the future of Dow Jones that our publications' integrity must be protected, and sustained, from top to bottom.

"The rich getting richer. Pardon me for being brusk, Robert, but tell us something we don't know?"

I wrote a post a few days ago in which I pointed out how the rich are getting insanely richer by the day and how the rest of us are facing more and more economic insecurity. I also pointed out how we are constantly bombarded with the message that most Americans are doing fine and how it's rare to even see anyone, let alone anyone with any political influence, actually even admit that the vastly expanding gap between the rich and poor even exists. Well, even when someone does admit it, they will tell you that it's a good thing. So, don't worry as you struggle to pay your medical bills, buy gas to get you back and forth to work while still having enough money left over to feed your family, ponder what you are going to do when your job finally gets outsourced, etc. Just remember this: hang in there, eventually, one day really soon, that weatlth that's being amassed by the richest, smallest percent of Americans is going to start to trickle down to you!

Scott Jagow: Today, we found out exactly how many people on this planet are millionaires. 9.5 million people. About a third of them live in the United States.

Last year, the U.S. saw a 9 percent increase in the number of millionaires over the year before. And those people control a lot more money. This came out in a report from Merrill Lynch and CapGemini today.

Joining us to talk about it is Robert Frank. He writes the Wealth Report column for the Wall Street Journal. Thanks for being here, Robert.

Robert Frank: Thank you.

Jagow: The rich getting richer. Pardon me for being brusk, Robert, but tell us something we don't know?

Frank: The rich are getting richer, and what's happened that we really don't know, or that we underestimated, was the speed with which the rich are getting more numerous. The number of millionaires has been the real story over the past 10 years, and we saw that continue in 2006. In the U.S., as you mentioned, 9 percent growth. Worldwide, 8 percent growth. These growth rates are two and three times the growth rates of those economies.

Jagow: So, what is good about having this many millionaires?

Frank: Well . . . I have to think about this for a minute, what's good about it . . . I mean, one of the impacts of having all this wealth is more and more trickle-down. Now clearly, this hasn't been enough trickle-down to address inequality issues in America . . .

Jagow: That's a dangerous term there, Robert.

Frank: Inequality?

Jagow: No, trickle-down.

Frank: Oh, trickle-down, that's right. But what we are seeing is a growing economy built around the wealthy. There is in America today a shortage of yachts, a waiting-list for Ferraris, for gulf-stream jets. The starting salary for a butler today is $80,000. There's so much demand at the high end for services and products that serve the wealthy that it is creating jobs and economies for the rest of America.

Jagow: OK, Robert Frank. He writes the Wealth Report column for the Wall Street Journal. His book is called, "Richistan." Thanks for joining us.
Frank: Thank you.

Ok, now before people start getting all upset and pissed off at the idea that this guy is just shoveling a huge pile of bullshit in our direction and hoping that the distracted, stressed out and stupid masses will smile and just be glad that someone is at least trying to reassure them, perhaps we should consider this calmly. I realize that we've been waiting for this trickle down thing to swing into gear and start showering us with economic security and possibly prosperity since Regan was in office. And decades later the wealth is still being sucked upwards. However, maybe it's possible that the weatlhy were just waiting until they had accumulated enough wealth to make sure there was enough to trickle down to everyone. I mean, if the rich are about anything it's about what's fair, best for the common good and what helps the most number of people, right? Oh, never mind, it's like I said before, we're all fucked.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Wow, Even Satan Can Apologize for a Total Fuckup, Not So for Those Who Occupy the Highest Offices in the Land

Coulter Was A Major Fuckup

An Open Letter From Lucifer

Dear Viewers of Hardball,

For more years than I wish to admit I had discharged upon the Earth some pretty awesome shit: Hitler, cancer, Katrina, O'Reilly. All considered major extensions of myself meant to revile or have an affect that would cause humanity to weigh what they themselves had wrought.

Nothing that I would apologize for. After all, it's what I do.

But I guess there comes a time for everyone to dig deep, take a good long look at their body of work and examine its value.

So it is that I need to apologize for the existence of Ann Coulter. Quite frankly, I don't know what I was thinking.

Quote of the Day~The Cheney

Following up on the Dick's proclamation to the American people that he and his office are not part of the executive branch of government (you know, even though the President and his office are) we get this analysis from Jon Carroll:

Soon, civics classes will be taught a revised version of our precious system of checks and balances. There's the administrative, the legislative, the judicial and the cheney. The exact function and duties of the cheney are unknown. The cheney does not report to the president because that would be a violation of the separation of powers. The cheney just does what it does because it is what it is.

I think that pretty much sums it up nicely. I just have to add a random observation about this new thing called "the cheney." The name does have a nice ring to it, "the cheney," and brings to my mind the names of past national dance crazes such as "the twist" or "the macarena" (however that's spelled). However, despite how easily the name could lend itself to being the title of such a passing fad, I fear instead that "the cheney" may one day inspire a newly "enhanced interrogation technique" of some sort or, at the very least, be given to an already existing one as a new and catchy nickname.