Saturday, September 17, 2005

And now for something completely different

The Chicago White Sox lost today to the Minnesota Twins and one of the best pitchers in MLB, Johan Santana. The loss shaves another half-game off a diminishing lead that looked unsurmountable four weeks ago.

As I mentioned in my profile, I grew up a Cub fan. Now here in greater Chicago, the general response of Cub fans is "Sox suck!" But au contraire, mon ami!

First of all, let me set the stage. I am old, very old (as of Wednesday, a painful 48). I grew up in Illinois' version of Appalachia, a town of 300 people, a high school of 137, where you were either a Cub or Cardinal fan. My kids (the oldest not a kid any more, a sophomore at DePauw University and a contributor to this blog) look at me like I have an axe in my head when I tell them I had two TV channels to watch growing up (hey, I didn't meet a Catholic until college or a Jewish person until law school). We had NBC's "Game of the Week" which was ALWAYS the Yankees, Red Sox or Dodgers, and then on Sundays, and the odd night game on the (WAY before cable) we would get the WGN Chicago Cubs Continental Broadcasting Network (Anyone from Champaign, Springfield, Des Moines, the Quad Cities, South Bend, etc. of a certain age knows what I mean) on one channel and the Cardinals on another.

And those folks like me generally didn't give much thought to the White Sox, because unfortunately UNTIL RECENTLY the Sox did not market properly and did not understand the power of television. But as a downstater moved up here, I want the White Sox to win every game they play except against the Cubs. I want playoff baseball in town. So my long-winded point is this...CHICAGO WHITE SOX, WIN THE %^^&**ing division!

p.s. Cardinals suck

Evenings at the White House

The Wisdom of the Ages

Spoken in the great hall of government on the eve of a distant war:

Men are to be brought to this black business hoodwinked. They are to be drawn in by degrees, until they cannot retreat. We are breaking through all those sacred maxims of our forefathers, and giving the alarm to every wise man on the continent of America that all his rights depend on the will of men whose corruptions are notorious, who regard him as an enemy and who have no interest in his prosperity.

George Johnstone, House of Commons, October 1775

George, George, Bo Beorge, Bonana, Fanna, Fo Feorge

George, George, Bo Beorge Bonana, Fanna, Fo Feorge Fee, Fy, Mo Meorge, George! The Blame Game!

Key military help for victims of Hurricane Katrina was delayed

By Drew Brown, Seth Borenstein and Alison Young
Knight Ridder Newspapers

WASHINGTON - Two days after Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, President Bush went on national television to announce a massive federal rescue and relief effort.

But orders to move didn't reach key active military units for another three days.

Once they received them, it took just eight hours for 3,600 troops from the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, N.C., to be on the ground in Louisiana and Mississippi with vital search-and-rescue helicopters. Another 2,500 soon followed from the 1st Cavalry Division at Fort Hood, Texas.

"If the 1st Cav and 82nd Airborne had gotten there on time, I think we would have saved some lives," said Gen. Julius Becton Jr., who was the director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency under President Reagan from 1985 to 1989. "We recognized we had to get people out, and they had helicopters to do that."

Federal officials have long known that the active-duty military is the only organization with the massive resources and effective command structure to handle a major catastrophe.

In a 1996 Pentagon report, the Department of Defense acknowledged its large role in major disasters. Between 1992 and 1996, the Pentagon provided support in 18 disasters and developed five training manuals on how to work with FEMA and civilians in natural disasters.

"In catastrophic disasters, DOD will likely provide Hurricane Andrew-levels of support and predominately operate in urban or suburban terrain," the report said. "This should be incorporated into planning assumptions."

The delay this time in tapping the troops, helicopters, trucks, generators, communications and other resources of the 1st Cavalry and the 82nd Airborne is the latest example of how the federal response to Katrina lacked organization and leadership. And it raises further questions about the government's ability to rapidly mobilize the active-duty military now that FEMA has been absorbed into the massive, terrorism-focused Department of Homeland Security.

Addressing the nation on Thursday night in a speech from New Orleans, Bush said the storm overwhelmed the disaster relief system. "It is now clear that a challenge on this scale requires greater federal authority and a broader role for the armed forces, the institution of our government most capable of massive logistical operations on a moment's notice," he said.

Several emergency response experts, however, questioned whether Bush and Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff understood how much authority they had to tap all the resources of the federal government - including those of the Department of Defense.

"To say I've suddenly discovered the military needs to be involved is like saying wheels should be round instead of square," said Michael Greenberger, a law professor and the director of the University of Maryland's Center for Health and Homeland Security.

During the last great hurricane - Andrew in 1992 - the failure to get food, water and shelter to Florida and to victims highlighted the importance of quickly engaging the Department of Defense.

"For such disasters, DOD is the only organization capable of providing, transporting and distributing sufficient quantities of items needed," the Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress, wrote in a 1993 report. It noted that the military has storehouses of food and temporary shelters, contingency planning skills, command capability - as well as the helicopters and other transportation needed to get them to a disaster scene fast.

Indeed, the new National Response Plan, the nation's blueprint for responding to disasters that was unveiled with much fanfare in January by Chertoff's predecessor, Tom Ridge, includes a section on responding to catastrophic events.

"Unless it can be credibly established that a mobilizing Federal resource ... is not needed at the catastrophic incident venue, that resource deploys," the plan says. The plan and a 2003 presidential directive put Chertoff, as Homeland Security secretary, in charge of coordinating the federal response.

Chertoff, who aides said has been engaged in the response to Hurricane Katrina, went to Atlanta the day after the storm hit for a previously scheduled briefing on avian flu. Aides also concede that Washington officials were unable to confirm that the levees in New Orleans had failed until midday on Aug. 30. The breaches were first discovered in Louisiana some 32 hours earlier.

Greenberger, the Maryland homeland security expert, said he wonders whether Chertoff and other top federal officials understand the National Response Plan or even had read it before Katrina.

"Everything he did and everything he has said strongly suggests that that plan was never read," Greenberger said of Chertoff.

Chertoff was in Gulfport, Miss., on Friday to participate in the Harrison County National Day of Prayer and Remembrance. He took no questions from reporters. Homeland Security officials didn't return calls for comment.

Also on Friday, Bush said he thinks Congress should examine what role the military can and should play in natural disasters.

"It's important for us to learn from the storm what could have been done better," Bush said during a question-and-answer session with Russian President Vladimir Putin. "This storm will give us an opportunity to review all different types of circumstances to make sure that, you know, the president has the capacity to react."

Former FEMA Director James Lee Witt, who served under President Clinton, believes that the Bush administration is mistaken if it thinks there are impediments to using the military for non-policing help in a disaster.

"When we were there and FEMA was intact, the military was a resource to us," said Witt. "We pulled them in very quickly. I don't know what rule he (Bush) talked about. ... We used military assets a lot."

Jamie Gorelick, the deputy attorney general during the Clinton administration who also was a member of the commission that investigated the Sept. 11 terror attacks, said clear legal guidelines have been in place for using the military on U.S. soil since at least 1996, when the Justice Department was planning for the Olympic Games in Atlanta.

"It's not like people hadn't thought about this," Gorelick said. "This is not new. We've had riots. We've had floods. We've had the loss of police control over communities.

"I'm puzzled as to what happened here," she said.

Scott Silliman, a former judge advocate general who's now the executive director of Duke University Law School's Center for Law, Ethics and National Security, said he was surprised that military forces weren't on the scene more quickly after Hurricane Katrina.

"I see no impediment in law or in policy to getting them there," Silliman said. "We could have sent in helicopters. We could have sent in forces to do search and rescue and to provide humanitarian aid. Everything but law enforcement."

He said someone failed to pull the trigger, but he added that an investigation is needed by an independent commission to determine who's to blame.

"They're trying to say that greater federal authority would have made a difference," said George Haddow, a former FEMA deputy chief of staff and the co-author of a textbook on emergency management. "The reality is that the feds are the ones that screwed up in the first place. It's not about authority. It's about leadership. ... They've got all the authority already."

The nuts don't far fall from the tree

"The youngest son of Florida Gov. Jeb Bush was arrested early Friday and charged with public intoxication and resisting arrest, law enforcement officials said.

John Ellis Bush, 21, was arrested by agents of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission at 2:30 a.m. on a corner of Austin’s Sixth Street bar district, said commission spokesman Roger Wade."

For further thoughts on this subject, see "The 100 Percent Estate Tax" below!

Enough said....

"Republicans said Karl Rove, the White House deputy chief of staff and Mr. Bush's chief political adviser, was in charge of the reconstruction effort"

I rest my case.

Heading up the investigation:

Heading up the recovery effort:

Looking for the real killer:

I just liked this one!

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Pat, Ellen, Urban Legends...and a school bus or 2000 or so

Even though I was just using it as a riff for tasteless humor, the Pat Robertson "quote" below is very telling concerning our instant gratification culture.

We have an Air America affiliate back now in Chicago, but they mix in other syndicated shows. I heard the "quote" in the car on the Ed Schultz show and the brain just started working. For those of you that know me, you know I have a weird observational sense of humor. A Google search pulls up the "quote" when I get home and I'm off and running.

Now even though the Robertson line was just an excuse to not be funny, I do feel a bit silly for posting a fake quote--and I am just sitting here typing nonsense into the ether that nobody reads. I am not a journalist charged with any professional responsibility for accuracy---even though I do try. But you do see how the "urban legend" spreads and the damage it can do.

I am not talking about Pat or Ellen now but something much more serious.

George Stephanopoulos, shamelessly trading off the Clinton connections, repeated a vicious "urban legend"/lie--when he said that "there were 2,000 buses under water" that the mayor of New Orleans could have ordered up and done a Dunkirk-like evacuation of the poor and helpless. It may have come from a column by Wesley Pruden in the Washington Times (insert your own joke here) that may have played off a number suggested in several sources that 2,000 buses would be NEEDED to evacuate (simple math, lots of people=lots of buses). New Orleans though owned about 250 functional buses (

The "rumor" quickly spread, from right-wing blogs to Hannity on Fox, and then all over the press. So there you see urban legends, truth and journalistic ethics.

We here at The Thinker though pledge to bring you the high quality content you expect from us! You get what you pay for!

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

More fun with Pat

Note: It appears the Robertson quote was a parody piece (see, but heck, I still think it's funny! The interview with God below is of course genuine!

Once again, everyone's favorite psycho-evangelist has graced us with his thoughts:

"By choosing an avowed lesbian for this national event, these Hollywood elites have clearly invited God's wrath," Pat Robertson said on "The 700 Club" on Sunday. "Is it any surprise that the Almighty chose to strike at Miss Degeneres' hometown?"

Now I bet you think this is going to be just another inane Robertson-bashing piece. Well, it is, but we here at The Thinker spare no expense to bring you the news you need. This is a blog exclusive, my interview with......God...

The Thinker: Well, thanks be to God for joining me tonight! The Lord be with me! By the way, how should I address you, the name too sacred to be spoken, the Lord most high?

God: Actually, you can call me Art.

The Thinker: Art?

God: Yeah, you know, "Our father who Art in heaven?"

The Thinker: Oh right...Art. OK, let's get right to it. Did you smite New Orleans with wind and water because of your rage at a lesbian hosting the Emmys?

God: Does anyone smite anything anymore? OK, first things first, up here, I get 1,256,356 digital channels in full high def plus Tivo, do you think I'm wasting my time watching CBS???? If I wanted to extract vengeance on a town because of what celebrities have done, I think I'd take out Boston first for giving us Ben Affleck. Did you see Gigli? Paycheck? Those were Me-damned awful!.

The Thinker: So Pat is completely off base?

God: Well, we all know that Pat's off his rocker and he really is annoying my kid. Dear Jesus this, dear Jesus that, over and over again. Nice turn by the youngster, though, Pat prays for a Supreme Court vacancy so we off Rehnquist instead! Nice touch, huh? But back to smiting. First of all, if I'm going to take someone out, I'm not using a hurricane. Jesus Christ (no not you, sorry, go back to watching the Notre Dame game), those things are impossible to control. Lightning, yeah, that's pretty easy, I can even zip off a tornado or two, but hurricanes? Wind one of those suckers up and you have no idea where they're going. I can aim it for New Orleans but it's like one of those old electronic vibrating football games, once you turn on the switch, it could end up anywhere. There's a real good chance that if I aim at Boubon Street that I wipe out most of Corpus Kiddo. And besides, you know that whole divine wrath thing? Way overblown. Look, I'm not as young as I used to be, I can't go getting that worked up about every little thing.

The Thinker: Well, I suppose I should let you get back to work. Thank God you were here! Is there anythink you would like to say before you go?

God: Well, I will leave you with this. First of all, on celibacy. Who in My name came up with that one? Please. And pants would be good, lose the robes, let's go with pants. The pointy hats can go too, ever sit behind one of them in a movie theater, Sweet Jesus, what a pain (no, not you! All right there sonny, watch the attitude, don't make me get cross with you!)

And the hymns, can we do a little better there? There are only so many times you can hear "Amazing Grace," how about some Stones or Van Morrison? Finally, yes, let me close with the fact there is a hell. I've been working on Pat's for a while, it is still a work in progress, but right now I'm at Harvey Fierstein, Jane Fonda and a couple of hamsters for starters. Good night! Me bless you, and may I be with you!

Be afraid, be very very afraid...

Janice Rogers Brown stated in a speech that "the United States Supreme Court, however, began in the 1940s to incorporate the Bill of Rights into the 14th Amendment...The historical evidence supporting what the Supreme Court did here is pretty sketchy...The argument on the other side is pretty overwhelming that it's probably not incorporated."

Fourteenth amendment? Incorporation? Janice Rogers Brown? What could any of this mean?

Well, for starters, Janice Rogers Brown is someone you should know. She sits on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. This court is the bullpen for the Supreme Court, as many justices (including nominee John Roberts) have been elevated from this bench.

While Judge Brown may not be the choice to replace O'Connor on the high court, it wouldn't be surprising if it was someone of a similar judicial temperment.

We know all the usual suspects that the conservative judiciary have in their crosshairs, abortion, civil rights, gay rights, flag burning and on and on, but 14th amendment incorporation involves a fundamental transformation of the jurisprudential landscape.

The concept can be loaded down with jargon, but it is relatively simple. The Bill of Rights, as adopted, operated only against the federal government (Congress shall make no law....) As such, the states were not bound to respect these fundamental freedoms under the federal constitution. For example, Massachusetts had a state-supported church well into the early national period.

However, the Civil War and the 14th Amendment changed things. Unlike the original bill of rights, the 14th amendment acted directly on the states. States could not deny due process, equal protection or "privileges and immunities." The question became, though--just what does that mean? Over the years through a somewhat patchwork quilt of decisions, the Supreme Court has determined that many of the fundamental protections expressed in the first 10 amendments are "incorporated" against the states through the 14th. So with regard to the states, free speech and religious expression and rights such as search and seizure prohibitions fall under the 14th.

Janice Brown and like-minded judges object to the expansion of these fundamental guarantees. They want federal constitutional protections stripped away and want these most basic rights left up to state enforcement.

Be afraid, be very very afraid.

And lest we forget...

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Black Wednesday's Death Toll rises to 150

The death toll in Wednesday's eight bombings in Baghdad rose to 150, with one bomb in Kadhimiyah accounting for about 114. I can only imagine that hundreds were wounded. It is the second biggest one-day toll in guerrilla violence since the fall of Saddam (only March 2, 2004, was worse). Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, leader of Monotheism and Holy War, announced a "war" on Iraq's Shiites by radical Sunni Salafis. The operation was apparently in part revenge for the US/Iraqi government attack on the largely Sunni Turkmen city of Tal Afar in the north.

Although Iraqi government officials tried to put the best face on the disaster, saying that it demonstrated that the Tal Afar operation had in fact deeply threatened the Sunni Arab guerrilla movement, I fear I would draw the opposite conclusion. The guerrillas in Tal Afar cleverly slipped away, and the US troops never even fought a major battle with them. The use of Kurdish troops and Shiite informers leant an ethnic cast to the campaign. Most people in Tal Afar just left the city, for all the world like New Orleans refugees in Texas and Mississippi. So as an operation, it did not amount to much, though it displaced a lot of innocent civilians. And while the US and Kurdish troops were chasing down empty streets in Tal Afar, the guerrillas blew up Baghdad.

If you don't control your capital, you control nothing. If the events of Black Wednesday were not so very tragic (those poor Shiite laborers! and their families), the situation would be absurd in a surrealist sense. The US military off in a small desert town with nothing to do but play fight club amongst themselves, while hundreds of innocent Iraqi Shiites in Kadhimiyah are massacred at will.

And the guerrillas' ability at this late date to mount such a shatteringly effective operation in the capital itself is why the pitiful and arrogant Project for a New American Century fantasy of just crushing the Sunni Arabs of Iraq is a K Street wet dream generated by intellectual adolescents, not a realistic policy. (And of course the same thing could be said of virtually everything the PNAC has ever said).

Really. Seriously. No kidding.

U.S. President George W. Bush writes a note to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice during a Security Council meeting at the 2005 World Summit and 60th General Assembly of the United Nations in New York.

Oh, and by the way....

Happy Birthday to Me!!!!!

That Toddlin' Town

Chicago, Chicago.....

Great city, beautiful lakefront, wonderful architecture, vibrant neighborhoods and one screwed-up city government!

Now I'm not talking about the large-scale mess, from hired trucks to ghost payrolling scandals. I am talking about city government incompetence as it effects me, because of course, it's all about me.

I came home to find a serious-looking certified letter from the city's Department of Streets and Sanitation. The contents were shocking. My car had been seized by the city because illegal drugs were found in it.

Before you jump to any conclusions about me--we have not owned this car since we donated it to charity in December 2004. We have all the paperwork, the Secretary of State-DMV shows that we no longer own it, all the pieces are in place, as a former Bears coach once stated.

Even though it is CLEARLY a city error, I can't just ignore it. If I did, I could get hit with a default judgment for a $1,000 penalty plus towing and storage charges. So what it boils down to is I have to file an application for a hearing, take a day off work and sit in some gawdawful waiting room forever just to show that I haven't owned a car for 9 months.

My kind of town, Chicago is....

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

From the "Things I Already Knew" File

Dan Froomkin of the Washington Post lets us in on big secret. Chimpy may not be “the commanding, decisive, jovial president you've been hearing about for years in so much of the mainstream press.”

Wow, Dan, there’s a stunner. How long did Annie Sullivan have to hold your hand under the running water for that one to sink in, Helen Keller?

He continues, “it turns out that Bush is in fact fidgety, cold and snappish in private, he yells at those who dare give him bad news and is therefore not surprisingly surrounded by an echo chamber of terrified sycophants. He is slow to comprehend concepts that don't emerge from his gut. He is uncomprehending of the speeches that he is given to read. And oh yes, one of his most significant legacies -- the immense post-Sept. 11 reorganization of the federal government which created the Homeland Security Department -- has failed a big test.”

“Waaa….waaaah,” young Helen, or young Dan Froomkin, as the case may be, cries!

He then adds the clincher, when he states that “for whatever reason, critical observations and insights that for so long have been zealously guarded by mainstream journalists, and only doled out in teaspoons if at all, now seem to be flooding into the public sphere. An emperor-has-no-clothes moment seems upon us.”

Dan, this man has been parading around buck naked since his charming mother bore him. Why are you just noticing this now? According to my watch, it is 2005.

To steal from a great writer, Paul Waldman, who wrote an outstanding book you should buy NOW called Fraud, there is a recipe for building and selling a fraud to the American people:

1) portray son of one of America’s most influential families
as a down-home Texan;
2) berate media as “liberal” until they stop asking tough questions;
3) take advantage of reporters’ tendency not to check facts;
4) mask reactionary policies in compassionate words and pictures;
5) push false stories from the right-wing media into the mainstream media;
6) extol the virtues of workers while systematically pushing
an anti-labor agenda;
7) propose a series of tax cuts aimed at the wealthy, but sell
them as a boon to ordinary Americans;
8) disguise destructive initiatives with friendly-sounding names;
10) keep the public from accessing information;
11) maintain message discipline at all time;
12) question patriotism of anyone who disagrees and
13) repeat above until it all seems true.

From Bill Maher

Bill Maher's closing thoughts:

Now, I kid, but seriously, Mr. President, this job can't be fun for you anymore. There's no more money to spend. You used up all of that. You can't start another war because you also used up the army. And now, darn the luck, the rest of your term has become the Bush family nightmare: helping poor people.

Yeah, listen to your mom. The cupboard's bare, the credit card's maxed out, and no one is speaking to you: mission accomplished! Now it's time to do what you've always done best: lose interest and walk away. Like you did with your military service. And the oil company. And the baseball team. It's time. Time to move on and try the next fantasy job. How about cowboy or spaceman?!

Now, I know what you're saying. You're saying that there's so many other things that you, as president, could involve yourself in...Please don't. I know, I know, there's a lot left to do. There's a war with Venezuela, and eliminating the sales tax on yachts. Turning the space program over to the church. And Social Security to Fannie Mae. Giving embryos the vote. But, sir, none of that is going to happen now. Why? Because you govern like Billy Joel drives. You've performed so poorly I'm surprised you haven't given yourself a medal. You're a catastrophe that walks like a man.

Herbert Hoover was a shitty president, but even he never conceded an entire metropolis to rising water and snakes. On your watch, we've lost almost all of our allies, the surplus, four airliners, two Trade Centers, a piece of the Pentagon and the City of New Orleans...Maybe you're just not lucky!

I'm not saying you don't love this country. I'm just wondering how much worse it could be if you were on the other side. So, yes, God does speak to you, and what he's saying is, "Take a hint!"

The 100 Percent Estate Tax

I would hereby like to propose the 100 percent estate tax. That's right, 100 percent, every last dime. Oh, we'll carve out an exemption for the support of minor children, but basically, all of Poppy's cash goes away and every adult starts life from the same line. Just think if Paris Hilton had to survive on her own "talents." I'm seeing her as the kind of slutty but not unappealing cashier at the car repair shop, smelling slightly of cheap perfume and cigarettes.

And oh yes, the Bush boys. What if GHWB couldn't have banked the millions old Prescott made financing the Nazis or the cash from the Walker side? This man has no discernible skills and cannot utter a coherent sentence.

And oh his poor bastard son. What if W had neither been rich nor the offspring of a president? I'm thinking line cook at the Outback Steak House. "Hey, Janie, call the manager, George has his head caught in the blooming onion maker again!"

Monday, September 12, 2005

The Impeachment Trifecta

Below, I posted an article from the far right calling for the impeachment of George W. Bush, and a response/call to arms from a great friend of this site.

Now it is my plan to bore you to tears with a discussion of the law of impeachment.

The founding fathers, gotta love ‘em. We had that whole ugly 3/5ths compromise thing, and let’s face it folks, they weren’t really into specifics when they crafted some of those wonderful phrases. The whole “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble” could have been fleshed out a bit, and my high school grammar teacher will NEVER forgive them for “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” Dependent clause, independent clause, who knows?

But anyway, that is another story for another time.

My focus is on that awkward bit of phrasing in Article Two, Section 4: The President, Vice President and all Civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.

Hmm, “other high Crimes and Misdemeanors?” Thanks for the help there, guys!

We can probably trace that back to James Madison and George Mason (isn’t he the guy that usually loses by 50 to Duke in the first round of the NCAA tournament?). The records indicate that while Madison was fine with treason and bribery terms, he thought that didn’t go far enough. This constitution, unlike the English parliamentary system, established a government for a set number of years, one that was not subject to votes of no confidence. So therefore, something beyond treason and bribery was necessary.

It appears that Madison crafted “high crimes and misdemeanors.” Thanks for that, Jim-really. OK, so you knew what it meant then? Could you have left us a cheat sheet?

The term “High crimes” appears to mean just that, SERIOUS criminal offenses, while the term “misdemeanors” does not refer to what a misdemeanor is today (taking a leak on someone’s yard in Wrigleyville). It refers to a serious breach of the expected level of behavior, such as negligence well beyond being just bad in the performance of official duties or official corruption.

The impeachment power granted by the constitution has been applied twice against a sitting president, and to my mind misapplied both times. Once was against a sad, sorry president, Andrew Johnson, who had no business being where he was and the other the shameless political attack against Bill Clinton because of his libido and because people liked him! Richard Nixon would have been impeached, for very legitimate reasons, had he not resigned.

While there is no agreed-upon standard, scholars generally break down the reasons for impeachment into 1) serious criminal violations, 2) abuses of authority and 3) the most problematic, as Alexander Hamilton wrote in Federalist Paper No. 65, a "violation of public trust."

I am a strong Hamiltonian on this one. Can one imagine a greater violation of the “public trust” than waging war on false pretenses? But anyway, back to the boring stuff.

In 1974, the House Judiciary Committee stated that impeachment was not limited criminal law violations. The committee used an old English definition of “an injury to the state or system of government” and invoked the legendary Justice Story's use of "offenses of a political character."

Have we not seen, if not high crimes (Iraq?) then certainly “misdemeanors” from this administration? This president stood by and WATCHED A CITY DIE. Think about that, the head of our “federal union” did NOTHING while New Orleans, where Benjamin Butler had “Our Federal Union, It Must Be Preserved” carved into the base of Andrew Jackson’s statue during the Civil War, died.

A misdemeanor? If I could, I would ask 18th-century CONSERVATIVE Edmund Burke about this administration, as he once said that the official should be judged "not upon the niceties of a narrow jurisprudence, but upon the enlarged and solid principles of morality."

Hmmm..principles of morality…..

Impeachment Redux

In a comment to the post below, valued contributor Schmidlap noted:

15 seats....we need to pick up 15 seats in the House in '06 to make Articles of Impeachment a reality.

He could eat a live baby on TV and the current House would do nothing about it, so there's no point dreaming right now.

15 seats. The question for us is: where will we volunteer? Who will we support? If the race in our home district is safe, are we willing to travel?

Life or death. 15 seats.

Worthy of the front page.

George and the Giant ImPEACHment

I just read a column from the website that was entitled "Impeach Bush Now." OK, no big deal, given that Creators syndicates Molly Ivins and a couple of other justifiably angry lefties. But no, this comes from Paul Craig Roberts, a man with impeccable right-wing credentials.

Check out the bio. When you see an Olin Fellowship, and the Hoover Institution on the resume, you know this man's conservative bona fides cannot be questioned. Add in that he was an assistant secretary of the Treasury during the Reagan years, and that one clinches that, but wait, it gets better. Mr. Roberts was an editor with the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal.

For those of you that happen to be unfamiliar with the Wall Street Journal, the paper comes in two major parts (three on Fridays). The first part is an indispensable news source for everything business (the second, on Fridays, is a pretty cool weekend journal with wine, the arts, etc.) and then you have the editorial page. That page is run by people who are clinically as crazy as a bag of weasels. The "Chinese Wall" between the editorial page and the real paper is so high that I don't think they even invite the nutballs from editorial to the Christmas party or to play on the softball team. I don't think they even tell the editorial people where the real paper is, so for someone from the wrong side of that wall to write this is very significant.

He writes:

"The destruction of New Orleans is the responsibility of the most incompetent government in American history and perhaps in all history. Americans are rapidly learning that they were deceived by the superpower hubris. The powerful U.S. military cannot successfully occupy Baghdad or control the road to the airport-and this against an insurgency based in only 20 percent of the Iraqi population. Bush's pointless war has left Washington so pressed for money that the federal government abandoned New Orleans to catastrophe.

The Bush administration is damned by its gross incompetence. Bush has squandered the lives and health of thousands of people. He has run through hundreds of billions of borrowed dollars. He has lost America's reputation and its allies. With barbaric torture and destruction of our civil liberty, he has stripped America of its inherent goodness and morality. And now Bush has lost America's largest port and 25 percent of its oil supply.

Why? Because Bush started a gratuitous war egged on by a claque of crazy neoconservatives who have sacrificed America's interests to their insane agenda. The neoconservatives have brought these disasters to all Americans, Democrat and Republican alike. Now, they must be held accountable. Bush and his neoconservatives are guilty of criminal negligence and must be prosecuted.

What will it take for Americans to re-establish accountability in their government? Bush has gotten away with lies and an illegal war of aggression, with outing CIA agents, with war crimes against Iraqi civilians, with the horrors of the Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo torture centers, and now with the destruction of New Orleans.

What disaster will next spring from Bush's incompetence?"

Well said, Dr. Roberts, thank you.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

On the horns of a dilemma.....

The dilemma is the nomination of John Roberts to sit as Chief Justice of the United States. Despite the fact that my father considers me a Trotskyite, I tend to veer well toward the center on the question of nominees to the federal bench. It has long been my view that the president, by virtue of winning the election, gets a fairly free hand in appointing members of the federal bench.

What I have always asked for is competence. That is where we blew it on Clarence Thomas. We became so involved in misguided affections and dirty movies and pubic hairs on Coke cans that we forgot to even look at the grotesquely obvious fact that this man had no business being named to the Supreme Court.

Fast forward to John Roberts. OK, it is quite arguable whether or not Bush "won" the election and whether that deference is still due, but yet--John Roberts looks like the ultimate "qualified" candidate at first glance. He was an editor of the Harvard Law Review (I was an editor of the law review, but somehow, Champaign just doesn't have the same panache as Cambridge) and unlike Justice Affirmative Action Thomas, he had a real legal career.

My thinking though has changed. It has changed from the willingness of this president to use judicial appointments as a sledgehammer to implement a radical agenda. It has changed as federal appeals courts restrict the protection of the constitution to those embraced by the president. It has changed because the powers that be have no use for our constitution.

The charge is yours, Senators. Do what the constitution charges you to do. Advise, yes, and only if appropriate, give your consent!