Thursday, December 22, 2005

Last Word on the Subject -- for Now

Since I doubt that I'll be posting anything here for the next few days (or possibly longer), allow me to leave you with some timely quotes from Michelle Goldberg's article today on the possibility of Preznit L'Etat C'est Moi's impeachment (she thinks it's possible, and justified, but unlikely to happen). Following that, I'm reprinting the text from Senator Robert Byrd's speech on the subject, delivered on Dec. 19th.

From Ms. Goldberg's article:

"The American public has to understand that a crime has been committed, a serious crime," Chris Pyle, a professor of politics at Mount Holyoke College and an expert on government surveillance of civilians, tells Salon. "Looking at this controversy objectively, you inevitably end up with a question of impeachment," says Jonathan Turley, a professor at the George Washington University School of Law.


"The fact is, the federal law is perfectly clear," Turley says. "At the heart of this operation was a federal crime. The president has already conceded that he personally ordered that crime and renewed that order at least 30 times. This would clearly satisfy the standard of high crimes and misdemeanors for the purpose of an impeachment."

Turley is no Democratic partisan; he testified to Congress in favor of Bill Clinton's impeachment. "Many of my Republican friends joined in that hearing and insisted that this was a matter of defending the rule of law, and had nothing to do with political antagonism," he says. "I'm surprised that many of those same voices are silent. The crime in this case was a knowing and premeditated act. This operation violated not just the federal statute but the United States Constitution. For Republicans to suggest that this is not a legitimate question of federal crimes makes a mockery of their position during the Clinton period. For Republicans, this is the ultimate test of principle."

Of course, that may be exactly the problem. While noted experts -- including a few Republicans -- are saying Bush should be impeached, few think he will be. It's not clear that the political will exists to hold the president to account. "We have finally reached the constitutional Rubicon," Turley says. "If Congress cannot stand firm against the open violation of federal law by the president, then we have truly become an autocracy."


"The only question here is the political one," says Pyle of Mount Holyoke College. A former military intelligence officer, Pyle blew the whistle on the U.S. Army's domestic spying program during the Vietnam War. He believes that Bush has committed an impeachable offense -- and that right now there's no prospect he will be impeached. "This president has admitted committing the crime. He just claims he's above the law," Pyle says. "So the issue is: Is the president above the law?"

And Senator Byrd's speech:

"Never have the freedoms we cherish seemed so imperiled"

In an impassioned speech, Sen. Byrd voices his shock and dismay over the Bush administration's practice of spying on U.S. citizens.

Dec. 21, 2005 | Americans have been stunned at the recent news of the abuses of power by an overzealous president. It has become apparent that this administration has engaged in a consistent and unrelenting pattern of abuse against our country's law-abiding citizens, and against our Constitution.

We have been stunned to hear reports about the Pentagon gathering information and creating databases to spy on ordinary Americans whose only sin is to choose to exercise their First Amendment right to peaceably assemble. Those Americans who choose to question the administration's flawed policy in Iraq are labeled by this administration as "domestic terrorists."

We now know that the FBI's use of national security letters on American citizens has increased 100-fold, requiring tens of thousands of individuals to turn over personal information and records. These letters are issued without prior judicial review, and provide no real means for an individual to challenge a permanent gag order.

Through news reports, we have been shocked to learn of the CIA's practice of rendition, and the so-called black sites, secret locations in foreign countries where abuse and interrogation have been exported, to escape the reach of U.S. laws protecting against human rights abuses.

We know that Vice President Dick Cheney has asked for exemptions for the CIA from the language contained in the McCain torture amendment banning cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment. Thank God Dick Cheney's pleas have been rejected by this Congress.

Now comes the stomach-churning revelation through an executive order that President Bush has circumvented both Congress and the courts. He has usurped the third branch of government -- the branch charged with protecting the civil liberties of our people -- by directing the National Security Agency to intercept and eavesdrop on the phone conversations and e-mails of American citizens without a warrant, which is a clear violation of the Fourth Amendment. He has stiff-armed the people's branch of government. He has rationalized the use of domestic, civilian surveillance with a flimsy claim that he has such authority because we are at war. The executive order, which has been acknowledged by the president, is an end-run around the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which makes it unlawful for any official to monitor the communications of an individual on American soil without the approval of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

What is the president thinking? Congress has provided for the very situations which the president is blatantly exploiting. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, housed in the Department of Justice, reviews requests for warrants for domestic surveillance. The court can review these requests expeditiously and in times of great emergency. In extreme cases, where time is of the essence and national security is at stake, surveillance can be conducted before the warrant is even applied for.

This secret court was established so that sensitive surveillance could be conducted, and information could be gathered without compromising the security of the investigation. The purpose of the FISA court is to balance the government's role in fighting the war on terror with the Fourth Amendment rights afforded to each and every American.

The American public is given vague and empty assurances by the president that amount to little more than "trust me." But we are a nation of laws and not of men. Where is the source of that authority he claims? I defy the administration to show me where in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or the U.S. Constitution, they are allowed to steal into the lives of innocent America citizens and spy.

When asked yesterday [Dec. 18] what the source of this authority was, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had no answer. Secretary Rice seemed to insinuate that eavesdropping on Americans was acceptable because FISA was an outdated law, and could not address the needs of the government in combating the new war on terror. This is a patent falsehood. The USA Patriot Act expanded FISA significantly, equipping the government with the tools it needed to fight terrorism. Further amendments to FISA were granted under the Intelligence Authorization Act of 2002 and the Homeland Security Act of 2002. In fact, in its final report, the 9/11 Commission noted that the removal of the pre-9/11 "wall" between intelligence officials and law enforcement was significant in that it "opened up new opportunities for cooperative action."

The president claims that these powers are within his role as commander in chief. Make no mistake, the powers granted to the commander in chief are specifically those as head of the armed forces. These warrantless searches are conducted not against a foreign power, but against unsuspecting and unknowing American citizens. They are conducted against individuals living on American soil, not in Iraq or Afghanistan. There is nothing within the powers granted in the commander-in-chief clause that grants the president the ability to conduct clandestine surveillance of American civilians. We must not allow such groundless, foolish claims to stand.

The president claims a boundless authority through the resolution that authorized the war on those who perpetrated the September 11 attacks. But that resolution does not give the president unchecked power to spy on our own people. That resolution does not give the administration the power to create covert prisons for secret prisoners. That resolution does not authorize the torture of prisoners to extract information from them. That resolution does not authorize running black-hole secret prisons in foreign countries to get around U.S. law. That resolution does not give the president the powers reserved only for kings and potentates.

I continue to be shocked and astounded by the breadth with which the administration undermines the constitutional protections afforded to the people, and the arrogance with which it rebukes the powers held by the legislative and judicial branches. The president has cast off federal law, enacted by Congress, often bearing his own signature, as mere formality. He has rebuffed the rule of law, and he has trivialized and trampled upon the prohibitions against unreasonable search and seizure guaranteed to Americans by the U.S. Constitution.

We are supposed to accept these dirty little secrets. We are told that it is irresponsible to draw attention to President Bush's gross abuse of power and constitutional violations. But what is truly irresponsible is to neglect to uphold the rule of law. We listened to the president speak last night on the potential for democracy in Iraq. He claims to want to instill in the Iraqi people a tangible freedom and a working democracy, at the same time he violates our own U.S. laws and checks and balances? President Bush called the recent Iraqi election "a landmark day in the history of liberty." I dare say in this country we may have reached our own sort of landmark. Never have the promises and protections of liberty seemed so illusory. Never have the freedoms we cherish seemed so imperiled.

These renegade assaults on the Constitution and our system of laws strike at the very core of our values, and foster a sense of mistrust and apprehension about the reach of government.

I am reminded of Thomas Paine's famous words, "These are the times that try men's souls."

These astounding revelations about the bending and contorting of the Constitution to justify a grasping, irresponsible administration under the banner of "national security" are an outrage. Congress can no longer sit on the sidelines. It is time to ask hard questions of the attorney general, the secretary of state, the secretary of defense and the director of the CIA. The White House should not be allowed to exempt itself from answering the same questions simply because it might assert some kind of "executive privilege" in order to avoid further embarrassment.

Happy holidays, folks.

My Letter to Nancy

Following through on my recent suggestion that we should all write to our representatives in Congress asking them to bring the president to justice for his admitted crime of domestic spying, here is the text of a letter I sent to House Minority Leader, Rep. Nancy Pelosi. I also sent, with a few minor changes, this same letter to Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein.

Dear Ms. Pelosi --

I am writing to you about an extremely grave matter in the history of our government and our nation. Recently, President George W. Bush admitted that he has authorized warrantless spying, through the NSA, on American citizens for the past four years. In bypassing the FISA court, which requires him to have a warrant to wiretap, this action is clearly in violation of both the FISA restrictions and the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution. The president, in no uncertain terms, has broken the law.

Worse than his admission of wrongdoing is his brazenly saying that he plans on continuing these illegal actions into the foreseeable future.

Ms. Pelosi, I believe that it is incumbent upon you and every member of the House of Representatives to initiate Articles of Impeachment against this president for his admitted high crimes and misdemeanors. We are a nation of laws, not of men, as our founding fathers so clearly stated when they drafted the Bill of Rights. Not to pursue this matter to its rightful conclusion -- that of removing George W. Bush and all the members of his administration who are complicit in this lawbreaking -- is to forfeit your responsibility to your constituents and to this great nation in which we live. It would be tantamount to admitting that the United States of America is no longer a representative democracy, but rather a dictatorship, one controlled wholly by the man who currently occupies the White House and his cronies.

I await your response, and urge you to take up this matter with all due haste, for the good of our citizens and of the republic itself.

Respectfully yours,


How about you? Have you folks written your representatives yet?

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Explains a Lot

I realize this is probably just too easy to ridicule, but here is a direct quote, from a reader named Kristi, pulled from the comments section of a minor right-wing blog, to a post that links to one of my posts condemning the Idiot in Chief for his most recent criminal activity (and essentially repeats the current Republican Talking Point by speciously asking, "What did he do that was wrong?"):

I suppose I idolize Bush way too much, because even if the facts were right in front of my face, I would probably still deny that he did anything illegal!! Even hearing that people accuse him of it infuriates me!! Yes, I know, maybe I’m too trusting or too naive, but I don’t care….I like Bush!!!

Isn't that the problem in a nutshell? The cult of personality, the Cult of Dubya, the blind, slavering devotion even in the face of incontrovertible facts... how does one counter this type of unreasoning, illogical loyalty to an idealized demagogue? Obviously not everyone who agrees with and supports Preznit Can't Git Fooled Agin is so blatantly Harriet Miers-like smitten as Kristi appears to be, but really, isn't there an element of her fawning obsequiousness in most every article of apologia, every spin being spun, every essay excusing him extant today? It's the driving force behind such apologists as Assrocket, Bobo the Times Clown, Headrush Limbaugh, "Jeff" the Cock-Headed Man-Whore, even folks like Joementum Lieberman. They all love the guy, he can do no wrong in their eyes, and it hurts them to see him get criticized by those of us who continue to live in the reality-based community.

This is what we're up against. This is what makes our task so difficult -- facts are useless to this type of idolater. Kristi and her worshipful comrades are beyond our reach; they've long ago drunk the Kool-Aid, and virtually nothing can or will convince them that they are mistaken. They're the 36 percenters, the hard and fast core group of True Believers who made their minds up once and have no intention of ever changing them.

It would be laughable if it wasn't so damned pathetic -- and dangerous to us and to the rest of the country.

Wednesday Vacation Blogging: Berlin

Taking a break from politics for a while, here are more in the continuing series of pictures meant to bore you to tears from one of my recent vacations. This past weekend, I put on a jacket I hadn't worn in some time, and in one of the pockets I found a ticket and a map to the Berlin Metro. That seemed like a sign to me. We were only there briefly, on a one-day stop from Prague to Amsterdam (and that largely thanks to a much-appreciated recommendation by John from blogenlust), but we got out and saw some sights and took pictures as much as we could. I'm sorry now that we didn't spend more time there; we'll definitely go back when we get a chance.

As always, click on the pictures to get a larger version.

The Reichstag.
The Bundestag is still pockmarked with thousands of bullet holes, especially around the windows, from the fierce street fighting in 1945.
The building that probably fascinated us the most, the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church. It was bombed in World War II, and has been preserved, unrestored, just as it was then.
From another angle, with the new bell tower.
...And again.
The night view.
Close-up of one of the stained glass panels on the new bell tower.
Not sure if this is supposed to be "Heil Hitler!" or "Hello, sailor!", but these fiberglass bears, painted in different styles and colors, are all over Berlin.
The Brandenburg Gate, at one time the border between East and West Berlin.
A diorama about a hundred yards in front of it depicts the scene in 1945.
The Holocaust Memorial.
Public art, bulletin board, trash can, or combination of all three?
We found Jesus in Berlin. He's apparently quite successful there as a jeweler. Who knew?
We didn't ride in it ourselves, but we saw this balloon making numerous excursions up over the city.
Because so much of Berlin was destroyed in WWII bombing, today it's very much a modern city, with lots of very interesting architecture. It was probably the most modern city we saw in Europe.
More public art, with the Kaiser Wilhelm Church in the background.
Auf wiedersehen!

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Pants Aflame, Four Years and Counting

From's War Room:

At an event aimed at talking up the Patriot Act in April 2004, Bush addressed the question of wiretaps. "Now, by the way," he said, "any time you hear the United States government talking about wiretap, it requires -- a wiretap requires a court order. Nothing has changed, by the way. When we're talking about chasing down terrorists, we're talking about getting a court order before we do so. It's important for our fellow citizens to understand, when you think 'Patriot Act,' constitutional guarantees are in place when it comes to doing what is necessary to protect our homeland, because we value the Constitution."

He values the Constitution so much he uses it to wipe the royal presidential ass daily, and twice on Sunday. Pardon me for sugarcoating it here, but George W. Bush is a lying sack of shit.

Oh, and a criminal, too.


Jonathan Alter in Newsweek yesterday posted a scathing criticism of the NSA snooping incident, which, despite Darth Cheney's ludicrous assertions (and various right-wingers' spinning and excuse-making) is clearly illegal on the face of it. Alter makes the case that Dubya tried his best to kill the story in the New York Times, calling in publisher Arthur Sulzberger and executive editor Bill Keller to the Oval Office to try to arm-twist convince them not to publish. One would have to assume that he knew ahead of time how poorly this story would be received, and just how deep was the shit in which he has been caught standing.

As to the Republican noise machine lining up solidly behind Preznit I Spy, this particular case demonstrates more clearly than ever the bankruptcy of their position -- they don't come out in favor of the law or the Constitution, or of America, or of its citizens, but instead are working tirelessly only to defend their party and its Dear Leader from all attackers. The hypocrisy in their rabid, partisan ideology has never been more nakedly on display than it is now, in this case, where the president has very clearly violated the law and the Constitution, and yet they are defending him at every turn. They twist and turn logic in an attempt to justify his criminal actions until it is nearly unrecognizable; it is, as Steely Dan once titled it, pretzel-logic. They should be careful with that. Had they any sense of history, they'd remember that pretzels are dangerous to this president.

Here is just some of what Alter has to say:

The problem was not that the disclosures would compromise national security, as Bush claimed at his press conference. His comparison to the damaging pre-9/11 revelation of Osama bin Laden’s use of a satellite phone, which caused bin Laden to change tactics, is fallacious; any Americans with ties to Muslim extremists—in fact, all American Muslims, period—have long since suspected that the U.S. government might be listening in to their conversations. Bush claimed that “the fact that we are discussing this program is helping the enemy.” But there is simply no evidence, or even reasonable presumption, that this is so. And rather than the leaking being a “shameful act,” it was the work of a patriot inside the government who was trying to stop a presidential power grab.

No, Bush was desperate to keep the Times from running this important story—which the paper had already inexplicably held for a year—because he knew that it would reveal him as a law-breaker. He insists he had “legal authority derived from the Constitution and congressional resolution authorizing force.” But the Constitution explicitly requires the president to obey the law. And the post 9/11 congressional resolution authorizing “all necessary force” in fighting terrorism was made in clear reference to military intervention. It did not scrap the Constitution and allow the president to do whatever he pleased in any area in the name of fighting terrorism.

(Emphasis mine.)

Another angle (and thanks to Chuck Dupree in the comments to an earlier post for the link) comes from emptywheel at The Next Hurrah, where it is suggested that the whole affair was a mass data-mining scheme involving large numbers of people at once, and thus too difficult for those doing the spying to get the necessary warrants. Intriguing. Check it out.

Caption Contest

Every time he tells that story, Cheney's dick the fish gets bigger.

Some Good News (for a Change)

In a victory for science and critical thinking, a federal judge in Pennsylvania has ruled that so-called "Intelligent Design" may not be taught alongside evolution in biology classes in Dover, PA.

The Dover Area School Board violated the Constitution when it ordered that its biology curriculum must include "intelligent design," the notion that life on Earth was produced by an unidentified intelligent cause, U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III ruled.


"The citizens of the Dover area were poorly served by the members of the Board who voted for the ID Policy," Jones wrote. "It is ironic that several of these individuals, who so staunchly and proudly touted their religious convictions in public, would time and again lie to cover their tracks and disguise the real purpose behind the ID Policy."

The board's attorneys said members sought to improve science education by exposing students to alternatives to Charles Darwin's theory of natural selection causing gradual changes over time; intelligent-design proponents argue that it cannot fully explain the existence of complex life forms.

The plaintiffs argued that intelligent design amounted to a secular repackaging of creationism, which the courts have already ruled cannot be taught in public schools.

The fight to keep religious mumbo-jumbo out of science curricula certainly isn't over yet, but it's good to know that the side of logic and rationalism has persevered in this particular battle, at least.

Could Be the Reason

Monday, December 19, 2005

Speaking the "I" Word

Via Atrios: Senator Barbara Boxer has asked four presidential scholars to give their opinion on former Nixon aide John Dean's statement that Dimwit Dubya committed an "impeachable offense" by admitting to authorizing the NSA to spy on American citizens without first obtaining the legally-required warrants. (Those would be similar to the warrants that FISA had apparently issued like penny candy from a well-smacked piñata in the past, but were just too much trouble for Tough-Talk McOutlaw and his posse to bother with.) This is a good first step. Senator Boxer now needs to rally support for the notion of bringing criminal charges against Preznit I Am The Law to bear among her too often lily-livered colleagues in the Senate and the House. Let's give her -- and them -- lots of encouragement, shall we?

All I want for Christmas is a whole big bunch of goddamned Republicans facing hard time in Stoney Lonesome. Frist and DeLay can wait a little longer; let's start at the top and work our way down.

Some Links to Help Explain the Crime (for the Slower Right-Wing Idiots Out There)

From the indispensable Dr. Laniac's Newsletter (are you signed up for it yet? Subscribe, you rabble!) come these links helping to explain, in language that most people with an IQ above that of moldy bread or Ann Coulter can understand, just what it is that the president has done that is illegal. Up first is this very fine column on the Huffington Post by David Sirota, which spells out exactly what the crime is: warrantless domestic spying on American citizens.

In the last 72 hours since the revelation that President Bush ordered illegal domestic surveillance operations, we have seen how the Republican spin machine has mastered the art of turning any and all controversies into questions of national security. You know the drill: those who are criticizing Bush's orders are billed as weak, soft on national security, or against domestic efforts to stop terrorism.

Meanwhile, Bush is portrayed as the tough fighter of terrorism, willing to make the tough choices to defend America's national security. In short, his crimes are portrayed as badges of honor.

There's just one problem: this isn't a question of whether America supports domestic surveillance operations against terrorists or not. This is a question of whether America supports those operations without requiring a warrant.

The truth is, domestic surveillance operations happen all the time. They are such a part of our culture, they are a regular topic of television shows and movies (think Serpico or Stakeout). But they are also governed by the U.S. Constitution's 4th Amendment, which explicitly protects citizens against "unreasonable search and seizures" and requires the executive branch to obtain a warrant from the objective judiciary branch in order to do surveillance operations.

So the question reporters should be asking the White House isn't why the president thinks there should be domestic efforts to track and stop terrorists. The vast majority of Americans think that. The question reporters should be asking is "Why did the President order domestic surveillance operations without obtaining constitutionally-required warrants?" That is behavior that most Americans who believe in the Constitution likely do not support at all.

Make no mistake about it - this is an especially poignant question considering that, under the Patriot Act's weakened standards, the government can now circumvent the traditional (and more rigorous) judicial system and obtain a warrant directly from a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court. Remember, this is a court almost completely skewed in favor of the government. As Slate Magazine correctly noted, getting a warrant from that judge requires "no need for evidence or probable cause" and the judge has almost no authority to reject the government's request for a warrant, unless the government's request are extraordinarily outlandish. It is why, as Josh Marshall reports, the government's own data shows that "in a quarter century, the FISA Court has rejected four government applications for warrants." It is also why Members of Congress of both parties have tried to repeal the Patriot Act sections that allow the administration to use FISA warrants for domestic surveillance.

In his defense, the President has tried to deflect attention by repeatedly saying he needed to order these operations to protect Americans. Fine – but it still doesn't answer the real question. If the surveillance operations he ordered were so crucial and so important to protecting our country, how come he didn't get a warrant? Surely something so critical to our security would have easily elicited a warrant from a FISA court already inclined to issue warrants in the first place, right?

Also linked in the Newsletter are relevant posts from Josh Marshall's Talking Points Memo, redhedd at firedoglake, Digby, and an extremely thorough examination of the subject at The Progress Report.

On Saturday, President Bush acknowledged that he had personally authorized a secret warrantless domestic surveillance program more than three dozen times since October 2001. Bush's actions run contrary to the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which forbids "unreasonable searches" and sets out specific requirements for warrants, including "probable cause." They demonstrate a dangerous disregard for the basic liberties that serve as our nation's guiding values. They are also in violation of federal law. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) makes it a crime, punishable by up to five years in prison, to conduct electronic surveillance, except as "authorized by and conducted pursuant to a search warrant or court order." Moreover, since 1978, 18 U.S.C. Sec. 2511(2)(f) has directed that Title III and FISA "shall be the exclusive means by which electronic surveillance...and the interception of domestic wire and oral communications may be conducted." The President's actions were not necessary; if he had legitimate concerns about FISA, "the appropriate response would have been to go to Congress and expand it, not to blatantly violate the law."

The rest of that post is devoted to thoroughly debunking the administration's attempts to justify Bush's actions. Try to keep up, you mouth-breathers out there: just because the president says it's okay for him to break the law, doesn't mean it is. Americans should have learned that from Richard Nixon, and just saying you were too young or not paying attention at the time is no excuse. Clearly, Bush has engaged in criminal behavior by authorizing wiretaps without getting the warrants from FISA that would have made them legal, and no amount of spin or invoking of 9/11 can change that fact.

Impeach, indict, imprison.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

1052 ≠ 3

As if we needed any more proof that absolute power corrupts absolutely, and that we desperately need a change of regime in Washington, this story in today's Washington Post illustrates perfectly just what the result of Republicans controlling all branches of government for the past five years has been. The most secretive and corrupt administration in the history of our nation has been allowed free reign (of terror) in its single-minded quest to overturn every civil liberty held dear by Americans, and to consolidate and hold on to power now and into the far future.

In an interview last week, Rep. Thomas M. Davis III (R-Va.), chairman of the House Government Reform Committee, said "it's a fair comment" that the GOP-controlled Congress has done insufficient oversight and "ought to be" doing more.

"Republican Congresses tend to overinvestigate Democratic administrations and underinvestigate their own," said Davis, who added that he has tried to pick up some of the slack with his committee. "I get concerned we lose our separation of powers when one party controls both branches."

Democrats on the committee said the panel issued 1,052 subpoenas to probe alleged misconduct by the Clinton administration and the Democratic Party between 1997 and 2002, at a cost of more than $35 million. By contrast, the committee under Davis has issued three subpoenas to the Bush administration, two to the Energy Department over nuclear waste disposal at Yucca Mountain, and one last week to the Defense Department over Katrina documents.

Congress "ought to be doing more." Is that the "No shit, Sherlock" quote of the year, or am I just being naive?

"I do not think you can argue today that Congress is a coequal branch of government; it is not," said Lee H. Hamilton, president of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. Hamilton, a former Democratic congressman and vice chairman of the Sept. 11 commission, told reporters this month: "It has basically lost the war-making power. The real debates on budget occur not in Congress but in the Office of Management and Budget. . . . When you come into session Tuesday afternoon and leave Thursday afternoon, you simply do not have time for oversight or deliberation."

Congress a coequal branch of government? For five years, it has been the slavering lapdog following close at the heels of the bully boys in the White House, only too happy to go along with whatever costly and illegal schemes Chimpy McJingo's minions have proposed. No questionable criminal activity or Constitutional indignity has been so big it couldn't safely be ignored by the rabid partisans who are supposed to be watching out for our best interests.

Last month, House Democrats tried to pass a measure criticizing the GOP for a "refusal to conduct oversight" of the Iraq war. In the Senate, Democrats forced the chamber into a closed session to embarrass Republicans for foot-dragging on an inquiry into the alleged manipulation of Iraq intelligence.

"The House has absolutely zero oversight. They just don't engage in that," House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) said in an interview last week.

Specifically, Democrats list 14 areas where the GOP majority has "failed to investigate" the administration, including the role of senior officials in the abuse of detainees; leaking the identity of CIA operative Valerie Plame; the role of Vice President Cheney's office in awarding contracts to Cheney's former employer, Halliburton; the White House's withholding from Congress the cost of a Medicare prescription drug plan; the administration's relationship with Iraqi politician Ahmed Chalabi; and the influence of corporate interests on energy policy, environmental regulation and tobacco policy.

Meanwhile, the House ethics committee has not opened a new case or launched an investigation in the past 12 months, despite outside investigations involving, among others, [Randy "Duke"] Cunningham and former lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

Now more than ever, with the blunt admission of wrongdoing on the part of the president, the American people need and deserve some serious Congressional oversight. We need to know that no one in our government is above the law, no matter which party he or she is affiliated with. We need to know that the system still works.

There ought to be a law. Oh, wait -- there is. And the president broke it. Now it's up to our elected representatives to do the right thing and bring him to justice. Anything less will be completely unacceptable.

Letter to the Editor: Admitting Guilt

Here's a letter I sent to the San Francisco Chronicle this morning. Whether it gets published or not remains to be seen, but I think the message needs to be spread as far and wide as possible.

Editor --

The president needs to be held accountable. He has lied us into a war, with disastrous results. His profligate ways, including numerous tax breaks for the very wealthiest among us at the expense of the poor and the middle class, have saddled us with an unprecedented national debt and are threatening to bankrupt the country. His administration criminally mishandled the response to one of the worst natural disasters in our nation's history (and continues to bungle the job even now). The people in his immediate employ have been responsible for policies that condone extraordinary rendition, indefinite detention without charges of suspected terrorists and foreign combatants, and torture. To top it all off, he has just admitted to having broken the law and violated the Constitution numerous times over the past few years by authorizing wiretaps on American citizens through the NSA.

NOW can we impeach him and his entire corrupt administration?

-- EW, San Francisco

I truly believe that the revelation of this spying incident is -- finally! -- a tipping point for the Worst President Ever™, the long-awaited straw that will end up breaking the camel's back. The unbridled arrogance of George Bush combined with the hubris of his entire administration has led them all to believe that they have been and now remain above the law; so much so that Preznit Smirk himself can boldly and unapologetically announce on national radio and television that he is, indeed, a criminal. His claim that he was only breaking the law "for the good of the country" rings as hollow as the lies he told in order to lead this country into an unnecessary and disastrous war, as hollow as his insistence that that bloody war is somehow "making America safer," as hollow as his now nearly-forgotten assertion that he is a "compassionate" conservative.

I know a lot of you out there have had your outrage indicators running in the red for far longer than anyone ever should -- I've suffered many bouts of outrage fatigue myself -- but I honestly believe that, armed with this astounding admission of guilt by the Perpetrator in Chief, now is the time for all of us to step up and insist that the president be held accountable for his crimes. Write letters to the editor of your local newspaper; contact your senators and representatives; post articles and comments in the blogosphere; march in the streets if you have to. We can't afford to wait any longer; for America to survive, George Bush has got to go. Now.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

The Nadir Administration

Every time I think that BushCo & Cronies, Inc., has reached the lowest point possible, has demonstrated beyond a shadow of a doubt the worst in terms of arrogance, hubris and outright contempt for the Constitution and the American people, has taken one more step with impunity in the direction of theocratic fascism and police-state rule, I am shocked back to reality by yet another administrative slap in the face like this one: Preznit Absolute Power acknowledges that yes, he did repeatedly authorize the National Security Agency to spy on Americans, and, hey, tough titty, what are you going to do about it? Advised by the likes of John "Screw" Yoo and Alberto VO5 Gonzales that he can essentially do anything he wants simply because he's the president (at least, he is unless Darth Cheney is talking), Dimwit Dubya honestly believes that he can flout convention and ignore the law and the Constitution whenever he feels like it. He has so far, and he's gotten away with it, so why shouldn't he feel that way now?

Before I started blogging, I used to send out personal email rants to a number of people on my various distribution lists about what a terrible president Bush was, citing sources, providing links and just generally trying to drum up some righteous indignation for what I saw as demonstrated evil, rank incompetence and the setting of dangerous precedents. One of my right-wing correspondents, after getting a barrage of these emails, replied, with typical winger condescension (I'm paraphrasing here; I don't have the actual email on hand to quote), "You keep sending these things out, saying how bad Bush is. You must think that if you finally find an example of something he's done that's bad enough, that people like me will change my mind about him."

Well, yes, I did think that. And though it took much longer than I had thought or hoped it would, it would appear that I was right all along. Though I can't say for that one particular person (he cut off all correspondence with me during the early stages of the Iraq war, when, in one of his last messages, he said, "If they don't find any WMD in a year's time, maybe then I'll consider that I was wrong about this war."), a reading of any poll over the past several months would show that quite a few people have changed their minds about Flightsuit AWOL.

Not that there wasn't plenty of evidence before, but the events of the recent past have been especially damning for the Cheney Bush maladminstration: The Downing Street memos; Cindy Sheehan's vigil in Crawford; the bungled response to hurricane Katrina; the Harriet Miers nomination; Plamegate and Scooter Libby's indictment (with Karl Rove all but certain to be the next one called into the principal's office); the support of torture and the revelation of the European gulag; the continuing bloody debacle in Iraq. And that's not even mentioning the peripheral scandals involving Tom DeLay, David Safavian, Jack Abramoff, Bill Frist, Duke Cunningham and others. All of this, and now, on top of it, the revelation that our Commander in Thief thinks it's okay -- a swell idea, even! -- for the government to spy on its own citizens. Lovely.

So maybe it wasn't any one thing in particular that turned the tide, but an accumulation of events and actions and revelations in the press. It's been the death of a thousand cuts. The one bright spot in this most recent story has been the immediate call for hearings -- by some Republicans, even -- into whether the president violated the law or not (here's a hint: he did), and it could very well lead to the misguided and malicious Patriot Act finally being quashed. Shrub is not just a lame duck these days, he's dead in the water. His wall of invulnerability has been breached, his teflon scratched, his new clothes revealed to be a most embarrassing nudity. It's no wonder he's now listed by many historians as the Worst President Ever™, elbowing aside such old favorites for that position as Nixon, James Buchanan and Warren Harding.

As it said in an old email joke that made the rounds a few years ago, purportedly quotes from various employee evaluations made public, "He has hit rock bottom and started to dig."

RIP, Jack

Jack Anderson, muckraking journalist nonpareil and one of the top names on Richard Nixon's enemies list, has died at the age of 83. Jack was relentless in his investigations, always a good read and has been sorely missed since Parkinson's disease forced him to quit writing in 2004. If there were only a few more journalists like him around these days, perhaps we'd have been spared a whole raft of trouble these past few years, like the debacle in Iraq, the government spying on its own citizens, Plamegate, and the "re-election" of Preznit Extraordinary Rendition. Alas, too many so-called reporters these days are of the Chris Wallace-Judith Miller-"Jeff Gannon" school of sucking up to the powerful and performing what amounts to simple stenography for their every pronouncement. Investigative journalism is a dying art.

Goodbye, Jack, we miss you more than ever now.

Paying Homage to Our Most Benevolent Despot

Hey, speaking of the King of Zembla, here are two very good reasons to visit his site right now (not that there aren't always many good reasons to visit his site early and often): One is this post about writer and fundie-exposer extraordinaire Joe Bageant and his latest essay, A Whore that Sitteth on Many Waters, regarding the scary Left Behind book series, from which the following paragraph has been extracted in a common, Generik manner:

This may be some of the bloodiest hate fiction ever published, but it is also what tens of millions of Americans believe is God’s will. It is approximately what everyone in the congregation sitting around me last Sunday at my brother’s church believes. Or some version of it. How can anyone acquire and hold such notions? Answer: The same way you got yours and I got mine. Conditioning. From family and school and society, but from within a different American caste than the one in which you were raised. And from things stamped deep in childhood -- such as coming home terrified to an empty house.

The other reason to visit is to read about the Hursti Hack and to then follow this link to sign a petition in support of Congressman Rush Holt's proposed H.R. 550, the Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act. This is an attempt to deal with a scenario that is actually far scarier than anything in any of the Left Behind books -- the reality that our votes may not count, that they are being manipulated and changed to keep Republican fearmongers and fundie-backed martinets in perpetual power. Now that's frightening!

Go, read, sign. I'll wait.

"It's Unrelentingly In Your Face."

That's what award-winning author Brian from 1000 Buffalo Stampede had to say about our latest BARBARian gathering last Thursday night... though he may have been referring to the Freeway Blogger-created cards that Dr. Laniac showed us, depicting a blurry photo of a Marine and the words "Proud to Die for your shitty gas mileage" (they're made to be placed on the windshields of SUVs, especially ones with Bush-Cheney stickers on them). I'm a still a little hazy on the details. See, I woke up early Friday morning in an alley off of Sixth Street with my pants around my ankles and a wad of foreign money stuffed into my jacket pocket (as I do many mornings), and then spent all day Friday among the Working Woozy (often confused with the Walking Wounded). That's why it's taken me until now to post anything about our little get-together.

But really, I'm fine. No need to worry. Seriously, don't get up. I'm okay.

It was a typical gathering, if by "typical" you mean raucous and ribald and drink-fueled and debauched. We tried to order too many rounds of Manhattans, driving the prima donna bartenders at Ben & Nick's nearly 'round the bend and completely draining their supplies of both Knob Creek and Maker's Mark bourbon. There were chicken wings and burgers and fried calamari enough to feed the entire homeless population of the East Bay, the better to soak up the alcohol of said Manhattans, not to mention endless pitchers of Red Rocket, Sierra Seasonal and Arrogant Bastard Ale. Most of the usual suspects were there (Original BARBARian co-founder Scaramouche; Drew from Scamboogah!! and his lovely wife, Teri; qubit from The Token Reader; mrgumby2u from itlookslike this; Mags from You forgot Poland!; Victor Shystee; Simbaud, the King of Zembla; Chuck from Belisarius and Bad Attitudes; Paperwight; and possibly a few others I'm conveniently forgetting at the moment -- as I said, I'm still a bit hazy), along with some (always welcome) new faces, like Brian from KRON 4's The Bay Area Is Talking, k/o's Kid Oakland and Matt from Say No to Pombo. If you missed it, you missed it, and more's the pity for you, because it will never happen again until the next time we get together and drink and talk blogging and politics and swap gifts and meet new people and end up in an alley off of Sixth Street with our pants around our- or maybe that was just me. Never mind.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Gathering of the Tribe

Hey, it's that time again! Drinkin', smokin', smashin' stuff up... it's the BARBARians semi-regular meet-up and drinkfest, Thursday night, December 15, at the scene of the original crime, Ben & Nick's Bar & Grill in Oakland. All are welcome, come on down and get your drink on!

Wednesday Vacation Blogging: Maui

Last year Mrs. Generik and my friend Marty and I went to Maui to see Mrs. G's niece get married there. It was our second time visiting that island, and I hope it won't be the last. Here are some pictures to help you enjoy a Maui Christmas. (Ow, don't hit!)

Hawai'i is all about the beaches.
The banyan tree in Lahaina.
What's more cliche than a sunset shot of Big Beach?
...But you know, you get tired of that. Eventually. Maybe.
I had to get at least one picture of a building in here.
Dessert at Mama's Fish House.
Really, I don't know why people want to visit this place.
Carried there by an African swallow, perhaps?
Mrs. G is not amused by my attempts at humor.
I tell the bride the same joke, and she doesn't think it's funny either.
Just one of Mrs. G's famous flower pictures. This was right outside our condo in Kihei.
Charlie don't surf!
Rock out with your cock out on the road to Hana.
There must be some reason people like to vacation here.
Can you have too many pictures of palm trees and blue ocean?
I think the mini-series "Roots" was filmed here.
A rusty something-or-other just sitting there waiting to be photographed.
My pal Marty.
At the end of the road to Hana, the Seven Sacred Pools.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Blood On Our Hands

The state of California made me and you and everyone who lives here a murderer last night. Stanley "Tookie" Williams was put to death, and we are all of us complicit. I have no idea of whether or not he was actually guilty of the four murders he was convicted of committing; a preponderance of the evidence suggests that he was. That fact is beside the point. The point is -- and I realize it's one that many, even most, people disagree with -- that if it is wrong to kill people (which I believe it is), then the state should not be in the business of putting people to death. It's as simple as that.

I have no personal knowledge of or connection to this particular case, and it isn't the Williams case in and of itself that raises my ire and makes me sad. It is the fact that this country insists on perpetuating a barbaric practice, one that most civilized countries around the world have given up. Even here, as in the state of Illinois, where the death penalty is under moratorium due to the number of convicted persons later found to be innocent by means of DNA testing and other new forensic procedures, support is dropping and the practice is being questioned. Still, a solid majority of Americans continue to support it, and I have no illusions that the practice of it will be curtailed any time soon. More's the pity.

It's not that I harbor any illusions about the possible redemption or rehabilitation of many men (and they're virtually all men) who have committed heinous acts and taken lives. It's just that I sincerely believe that killing those men does society no good; in fact, it lessens us all as human beings. Locking them up in prison without hope of parole is a satisfactory punishment in my view; if a mistake is made in the conviction of a man for murder -- and mistakes are made -- there is no recourse, no way to reverse the decision or the act. (SF Chronicle writer Jon Carroll made much the same point in his column yesterday.) I am against child-killers being executed. I am against cop-killers being executed. I am against rapists and serial killers and kidnappers and arsonists and drug lords and pizza thieves being executed. I am against execution, period. Execution of a murderer, any murderer, does nothing to bring back the victim(s) or benefit society in any way. Execution is final, and if even one innocent person is put to death by the state, we are all of us guilty.

This is not a view that I come by lightly, and it is one that I have held for nearly as long as I've been aware of what death means. I can recall in my 6th grade class being one of two people (out of approximately 30) arguing against the death penalty then. My classmates kept positing increasingly horrifying hypothetical situations in an effort to get me to change my mind -- "What if someone came into your house and raped and killed your sisters and your mother, wouldn't you want them put to death then?" -- but I held fast. "Yes," I would answer, "I, personally, would want to see that person suffer, I would want that person to lose his life. But I do not want the state to take it from him in my name, or in anyone's name. I don't believe in the death penalty, and no amount of imagining or gruesome scenarios will make me change my mind." My view had been shaped in large part by my mother's opposition at the time to state-sponsored execution; imagine my disappointment, then, when she told me a few years ago that she now thinks it is justified in certain circumstances. "But you're the one who taught me it was wrong!" I said to her. I have little explanation for her change of heart; I can only think that living in the greater Los Angeles area, as she does, with its ridiculous glut of celebrity news and high-profile but essentially empty-headed court cases (Michael Jackson, Robert Blake, O.J. Simpson, et al) combined with the prevalent right-wing sensibilities of Orange County and the Inland Empire have skewed her vision of reality and allowed her to rationalize away her objections to death by the state. And I'm saddened by that.

Just as I'm saddened by the death of Tookie Williams. Not necessarily because of the man himself, but because, as a member of this society, his death has my name on it. And yours. And all of ours.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Lord of the King Kongs

I just got back from a showing of Peter Jackson's King Kong at George Lucas' Industrial Light & Magic screening room, part of the new ILM complex at the old Presidio Army base in San Francisco, and... Holy Christ! What a thrill ride! I don't remember when I've been so excited, so enchanted, so startled and amazed and awed or when I squirmed in my seat more than I just did for the last three hours. Certainly Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy had plenty of that, with his unbelievable special effects crew working their particular magic, but King Kong has even those films beat for pure, sustained excitement that grabs you by the throat once the camera crew reaches Skull Island and doesn't let you go until the final scene of the movie. It's a heart-pounding roller coaster ride that achieves the excitement and spectacle that every Saturday movie serial strove for since cinema began -- in spades.

Jackson's version stays true to the story of the 1933 original, while simultaneously updating it with its fantastic effects. The lush, terrifying otherworldliness of Skull Island both repels and draws in the viewer at once, its collection of dangerous and deadly animals and insects enough to make even strong men gasp and jump back in their seats a number of times.

Andy Serkis, who fleshed out the CGI-created Gollum in LotR, is the physical force behind Kong, and his work is extraordinary. This Kong is light-years removed from the original stop-motion model, and far surpasses anything even the great Ray Harryhausen created in his storied career.

Naomi Watts plays actress Ann Darrow, the role that Fay Wray made famous, and she is outstanding. Luminescent. (Full disclosure: I have been in love with her ever since I first saw her in David Lynch's Mulholland Drive. Still.) She can express so much in her face and her eyes with just the slightest gestures, without saying a word. If she ever once looked at me the way she looks at Kong in some of their scenes together, I could die happy at that moment. That is one lucky damn gorilla.

Jack Black, as filmmaker Carl Denham, actually underplays it a bit (at least, for Jack Black). He portrays an archetypal man of the '20s and '30s, the larger-than-life adventurer/explorer/huckster out to conquer the world and shower himself in fame and glory with his outlandish exploits. As the love-struck writer Jack Driscoll, Adrien Brody makes a good foil to Denham, with his serious demeanor and firm resolve to do the right thing no matter what.

Together, they make movie magic, unlike anything since... well, since Lord of the Rings. This is a true popcorn movie that is really worth its salt. If you care about movies at all, you simply must go and see this film.

(And just a note about the ILM screening room: Big thanks to my friend, DGA member Marty, for inviting me to experience it with him. It's huge, bigger than many regular theaters; the screen is enormous; the seats large and comfortable, with lots of leg-room; the sound is state of the art. Easily the best facility of its kind in SF, better than the one at Dolby Labs, better than Delancey Street or the Variety on Market. I'd like to see every film there from now on. Plus, there's a life-sized Darth Vader in the lobby, which is totally cool.)

Friday, December 09, 2005

Dead Letter Office

Speaking of mail... a friend forwards this example of what she says is a communication sent to Preznit Dimwit from the late LBJ. I have no way of vouching for the authenticity of this; but then, I have no way of disproving it either. Here it is:

It is rumored that President George W. Bush has received an extraordinary communication from the late President Lyndon B. Johnson; to wit:
Dear George,
Some info I perceive you need:
There is no light at the end of the tunnel.
There is no end of the tunnel.
There is no tunnel.
The tunnel is not horizontal.
The tunnel is vertical.
You are in a hole, George.
Stop digging !!!!!!!
Been there
Done that
Lyndon B.

Letters to the Editor

Here are two letters to the editor from different newpapers that friends have forwarded to me lately. This first one is from today's Seattle Post-Intelligencer, regarding the recent speeches made by Preznit Bring 'Em On:

We keep hearing same speech over and over

There is an urban myth about the same fruitcake being re-gifted each year. Every Christmas it is given like a new gift. The only thing the re-gifter does is put a new ribbon on it.

When I heard President Bush's latest speech, I thought of that fruitcake. Same old stale ingredients, but he put a new ribbon on it.

Martin Litwak

This second one came without attribution, ostensibly from a newspaper in San Luis Obispo:


Recent news about the avian flu virus has raised concerns from main street to the White House. There is the possibility, even likelihood, that the virus will mutate into a form that can more easily infect humans.

As the president pointed out, a vaccine cannot be made until this evolution occurs.

This raises the concern that it may be impossible to create enough vaccine fast enough to protect all our citizens. But there is hope.

Gallup polls tell us that up to 45 percent of Americans don't believe in evolution. Since random mutation is the engine of evolution, these same people must believe that the virus cannot mutate.

Therefore, there is no need to waste vaccine on folks who believe there is no possible threat to themselves -- thus leaving a sufficient supply for the rest of us. Perhaps the president, given
his doubts about evolution, may wish to demonstrate his leadership by foregoing vaccination.

This approach has added benefits. Polls also tell us that disbelief in evolution is more pronounced among the less educated, the poor and conservatives. If the anti-evolutionists among these groups were to opt out of vaccination then, through immediate deaths and natural selection, we would reduce poverty, raise educational attainment and become a more progressive society.

(No name given)

Damn, there are some clever people out there. Wish I could write like that.

Thursday, December 08, 2005


I admit, I've missed commenting on a number of significant events and dates and anniversaries lately (and shame on me for doing so): Rosa Parks' death, the 50th anniversary of her society-changing refusal to move to the back of the bus, AIDS Awareness Day, yesterday's 61st anniversary of Pearl Harbor... but today marks an anniversary that I will always remember feeling viscerally: the first time I really cried over the death of a celebrity, of someone whom I'd never met (and never would or will get a chance to meet), but who had touched me deeply and been a part of my life for nearly as long as I can recall. I was still living in Pomona when I first heard the news, watching Monday Night Football with a friend, Will, and my then-girlfriend, now-wife (the oft-referred-to here Mrs. Generik), and I remember my jaw dropping, my heart sinking, my hands rising involuntarily to my mouth as I muttered, "No. No. No. No." when Howard Cosell announced that "John Lennon has been shot."

It's not as if I was a stranger to death, or even to the deaths of heroes of my generation. I vividly remember John F. Kennedy being assassinated when I was 7, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Robert Kennedy being shot when I was 12, and far too many other killings between and since. But there was something that hit me like almost nothing else ever had -- nothing since my uncle's death in Vietnam in 1972 -- when I learned that John Lennon had been killed 25 years ago in New York City. I still have a hard time listening to his voice without remembering the shock and sadness that I felt on that evening in 1980 when I learned that he was gone. I doubt that I'll ever really get over it.

Instant Karma's gonna get you,
Gonna knock you right in the head.
Better get yourself together, darlin',
Pretty soon you're gonna be dead...

But we all shine on,
Like the moon, and the stars, and the sun...
Yeah, we all shine on,
On and on, on and on...

On and on, John. On and on.

A Few Good Links (with Mustard)

The talk about Joe Lieberman replacing Donald Rumsfeld as Secretary of Defense just won't seem to die (much like the soldiers in Homecoming). On the plus side, we'd be rid of Rummy and Joe would be out of the Senate. On the negative side... jeez, do I have to spell it out?

Speaking of Joementum, Jim Dean of Democracy for America has just sent out a petition to be delivered to the Senatraitor, advising him to cool his jets when it comes to attempting to stifle dissent in this country. Check it out and sign it, if you feel so inclined. You can even add a personal comment to him when you do. You go, Joe -- and take all the other DINOs in Congress with you.

In that same part of the country, shrill harridan hate-monger Ann Coulter (who can be seen nude on the BARBARian Blog) gets treated meanly at a speaking engagement at the University of Connecticut. Awww. She angrily tells the audience that they are stupider than she is. Given that she barely has the IQ of slime mold, that hardly seems possible.

Patrick Goldstein put up a great column up in the LA Times last Tuesday about Homecoming. It features quotes from both Joe Dante and Sam Hamm, and is an excellent read whether you've seen the episode yet or not. (And I believe Showtime is running a repeat of it this Friday at 11:00.)

Finally, if you aren't already signed up for Dr. Laniac's Newsletter, well, what are you waiting for? Go, go and sign up already!

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Wednesday Joementum Blogging (Just for Old Times' Sake)

Hey, you know, long time no Joe-bashing here at The Generik Brand. But Joe's escapades lately deserve at least some comment from this quarter, where we used to bitch-slap the Bush-Lite Senatraitor weekly before we took that long trip to Europe. It seems that Joe went to Iraq recently, stayed in the Green Zone and came home blowing smoke out his ass about how much progress has been made there and what a terrific job his favorite kissable sphincter Preznit is doing in waging war on the Iraqi people. He's now proposing a "bipartisan" (as in Republicans and Democrats who wish they were Republicans) war cabinet to work out a strategy for achieving glorious, unequivocal victory in order to further gussy up the reputation of his pal in the White House, while at the same time condemning members of his own party who have dared to criticize the war effort and the lies and mishandling of strategy by the corrupt Bush maladminstration.

"Lieberman, whom the Bush administration has praised repeatedly for his war stance, defended the president. 'It's time for Democrats who distrust President Bush to acknowledge he'll be commander-in-chief for three more years,' the senator said. 'We undermine the president's credibility at our nation's peril.'

There was no immediate response from the White House or congressional leaders."

Here's a response for you Joe: Shut the fuck up and go away.

Here's another response, of a sort: It seems that former Connecticut Governor Lowell Weicker is considering challenging Joe in next year's Senatorial election, running as an Independent.

"When you've become the president's best friend on the war in Iraq, you should not be in office, especially if you're in the opposing party," Mr. Weicker, 74, said in a phone interview from his home in Essex, Conn. "I'm going to do everything I can to see that Joe Lieberman does not get a free pass."

I'll give Joe a free pass. It's a one-way pass to Palookaville, and the sooner he uses it, the better. Buh-bye, Joe, don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out.

Some Holidays Are More Equal Than Others

Here's a little something I found rather amusing: While that pig-ignorant bullying blowhard Bill O'Reilly and others piss and moan about a so-called "war on Christmas" (as if -- people like me have got a lot more important things to be railing against than whether or not you say "Merry fucking Christmas"), the Washington Post reports today that the official White House Christmas card wishes its recipients a... wait for it... "happy holiday season." Oh doctor! Somebody get O'Reilly his smelling salts, he's about to have a case of the vapors.

"This clearly demonstrates that the Bush administration has suffered a loss of will and that they have capitulated to the worst elements in our culture," said William A. Donohue, president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights.

Bush "claims to be a born-again, evangelical Christian. But he sure doesn't act like one," said Joseph Farah, editor of the conservative Web site "I threw out my White House card as soon as I got it."

Is there a disconnect between Preznit Armageddon Now and one of his biggest cheerleaders? Did he not get the memo, printed up on official Fox News stationery? How could he and Pickles diss Blusterin' Bill and all their evangelical friends like that? Why, it fair to boggles the mind.

I can't wait for O'Reilly and his idiot Christmas-defending pals to call for a boycott of all things presidential, and to publicly accuse Dumbya of being a low-down Christ-hating human secularist. Maybe O'Reilly will offer up the Crawford ranch as a place that al Qaeda should bomb, a la "the Coit Tower." That ought to happen any day now...

Wednesday Vacation Blogging: Giverny

Today we'll take a pastoral break from our usual urban vacations and visit a lovely spot in France: Monet's house and garden in Giverny. We took a day trip from Paris last June, taking the train to Vernon and a bus to Giverny along with many other tourists. Mrs. Generik, who is a big fan of flowers and impressionist painters, was in heaven.

Just outside the train depot in Vernon.

Waiting for the bus.

Almost there!

The garden at Monet's house is wild and overgrown -- but it's a managed wild and overgrown.

The house itself. Unfortunately, no picture-taking is allowed inside.

A view of the garden from the upstairs window (you can take pictures out the window, you just can't take any pictures of the interior).

Shut up. It's art.

The pond where the famous water lilies are that Monet painted is huge and sprawling -- and beautiful.

A water lily.

When we go on vacation, I take pictures of buildings. Mrs. Generik takes pictures of flowers.

Lots and lots of flowers.

Real close-up pictures of flowers.

Mrs. G, caught in the act.

There are a number of little streams and tributaries off the main pond, and lots of shady spots to sit and meditate or picnic.

Apparently they cultivate not only flowers and trees, but tourists as well.

It's an incredibly lush spot, a perfect place for a sunny summer afternoon.

One of the local residents helps his pal get some shade.
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