Friday, July 13, 2007

Caustic Column by Kitman on Couric

Marvin Kitman spews a little well-deserved sarcasm in his take on New York mag's cover story on Katie Couric.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Michael Moore Does Surgery on Wolf Blitzer With No Anesthetic

Here's a bit of joy. Crooks and Liars has video of Michael Moore on the Wolf Blitzer show on CNN. Moore detours the interview away from Wolf's agenda to demand an apology from Blitzer (as well as CNN and the rest of the MSM) for neglecting their job in the run-up to the Iraq war. He reminds Blitzer that Fahrenheit 911 was right and CNN's coverage of the run-up to the war was wrong. He points out that CNN's hostility to Sicko might be motivated by the large infusion of advertising they carry from big pharma.

Moore also has the video on his own site along with a refutation of the Sicko slams that intro'd the interview.

Mickeleh's Take: Nice to know that someone other than Cheney can reduce Wolf Blitzer to a stunned, sputtering blintz. Wouldn't the world get better faster if more guests would follow Moore's lead? Why do guests blandly accept the premises of the interviewer?

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Sunday, July 08, 2007

Isikoff Quotes White House Aid: Bush Pardoned Libby to Avoid "Fracture" with Cheney

Michael Isikoff has some insder reporting on how Bush came to commute Libby's sentence. No surprises, but some good detail. The money quote of the report is attributed to one of two unnamed White House "advisers," "I'm not sure Bush had a choice. If he didn't act, it would have caused a fracture with the vice president."

Naturally, Isikoff has to balance the article by throwing up Clinton's pardon of Marc Rich as an equivalent. Howie Kurtz on TV ended his segment on this topic with "enough hypocrisy on both sides."

It's time for the press to cease and desist from using false balance to distort what's happening. Bush clearly used the power of a commutation to stop an investigation into what special prosecutor Fitzgerald J Fitzgerald identified as a "cloud over the Vice President." There is no equivalent to that in Clinton's actions. As Fitzgerald said last February, "We didn't put that cloud there. That cloud's there because the defendant obstructed justice. That cloud is something you just can't pretend isn't there."

During the investigation, Libby was told not to discuss the case with anybody. He almost complied. Who did he discuss it with? Says Fitzgerald: "the only person [Libby] told is the vice president. Think about that." (source: Truthout.)

Mickeleh's Take: The fix is still in. The big lie is still the order of the day. And too much of the media still plays along. Mr. Isikoff, what's the compulsion to stuff every report with "on the other hand..."? Keep the other hand in your pocket. It will improve your objectivity.

And yes. Clinton did some terrible things. So did Bush 41. (He pardoned the Iran-Contragate crew.). If you have to find historical balance, how come you only talk about Clinton? The Bush example is a much closer parallel.

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Friday, July 06, 2007

Thom Hartmann: An Even Better Rant

A common thread in the rants I linked to below is the common sense view that George W. Bush kept Scooter out of jail to keep him silent and protect the White House.

Thom Hartmann
presents a chronology that points within a week or so the moment that the fix went in—the moment when Scooter's defense team suddenly decided to mount no defense—not to call Libby, not to call Cheney, not to do anything but smile and wait it out.

Hartmann begins with the objection raised by George Mason at the time the constitution was written:
The President of the United States has the unrestrained Power of granting Pardons for Treason; which may be sometimes exercised to screen from punishment those whom he had secretly instigated to commit the Crime, & thereby prevent a Discovery of his own Guilt. –
and makes a very strong case that what Mason feared is exactly what transpired.

Mickeleh's Take: The framers did not leave us without remedy. As James Madison responded to Mason's objection:
[I]f the President be connected, in any suspicious manner, with any person, and there be grounds tp believe he will shelter him, the House of Representatives can impeach him; they can remove him if found guilty...
It's up to Congress to act. It's up to us to keep the pressure on Congress.

For your Weekend Reading: 10 Best Rants About Bush-Cheney-Scooter

That dead soul who slinks into a room to the strains of "Hail to the Chief"... that smirk on a stick who tells audiences he's happy to take an incomplete on how history will judge his administration... that self-styled commander guy and decider who, in reality, is content to merely be puppeteered by his vice president... that guy who in refering to himself simply as "43," reminds us continually of his I.Q... has this week provoked new outrage, scorn, and deeply earned contempt for handing a stay-out-of-jail card that George W. Bush handed to his and Cheney's shared operative, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Jr as well as carefully reasoned and researched explanations of how far Bush has strayed from the guidelines of his own Justice Department.

Here (with a nod to the friends who have emailed me pointers) are ten of the best responses. Actually, it goes to eleven (and beyond).

Mark Morford (S.F. Gate)
...But really, you do have to laugh at the vicious antics this administration, and perhaps Dick Cheney in particular, that most nefarious molester of U.S. law and ignorer of all political integrity and deeply homophobic father of a creepily lesbian daughter and overall gruntingly guff sneerer at all moral principle, masterful mocker of everything you somehow still manage to think, even in your most despondent and ethically disillusioned state, that American politics is somehow supposed to be about....
Juan Cole (Informed Comment)
...Basically, in Bushworld, high government officials are above the law, including all international law and most domestic...
Hunter (Daily Kos)
...With each passing day, Bush becomes a little less presidential, and a little more like Al Capone with an Air Force.
Editorial (NYT)
...Mr. Bush’s assertion that he respected the verdict but considered the sentence excessive only underscored the way this president is tough on crime when it’s committed by common folk. As governor of Texas, he was infamous for joking about the impending execution of Karla Faye Tucker, a killer who became a born-again Christian on death row. As president, he has repeatedly put himself and those on his team, especially Mr. Cheney, above the law.... Mr. Bush did not sound like a leader making tough decisions about justice. He sounded like a man worried about what a former loyalist might say when actually staring into a prison cell.
Edward Lazarus (FindLaw)
As a procedural matter, the President chose to bypass long-established Department of Justice guidelines for exercising his pardon and commutation power.

These guidelines recommend and anticipate that the Administration will consult with the lead prosecutor on the case, and even with the sentencing judge... that commutations ordinarily should not be given until the individual under consideration has served some period of time in jail, and has either exhausted or given up his or her appeals...

TPM Reader AR (Talking Points Memo)
It seems pretty clear to me that Bush would not be taking nearly as much heat if he'd waited for Libby to do some time in prison. So why the hurry? Was the hurry because Bush wanted to take no chance that Libby would start talking?...
Amy Butler (Senior Pastor, Calvary Baptist Church, Washington, D.C.)
Dear Mr. Bush... Maybe you feel you’re protected enough to behave in whatever manner you want, to leave democracy and the American people in the dust while you keep your friends happy, but I want you to know I’m tired of it all. For the first time in my adult life I am genuinely alarmed about the kind of country I will be handing off to my kids....
Andrew Sullivan (The Atlantic)
... The number of people George W. Bush sent to their deaths without a second's thought is higher than any living governor in the United States. And yet it took a perjury conviction of a white, wealthy, connected apparatchik to awaken the president's sensitivity to injustice...
(For the record, the number Bush sent to their deaths is 152, including 2 women. In the case of one of those women, Karla Faye Tucker, Bush ignored pleas for mercy from the Pope, Jerry Falwell, Pat Roberts. Sullivan cites a devastating 2003 article from by Alan Berlow from The Atlantic, "The Texas Clemency Memos." Read it and weep.)

Editorial (The Montgomery Advertiser)
Don Siegelman must be wondering right about now about the wisdom of being a lifelong Democrat, not a Republican.

The former governor, who last week pleaded with a federal judge that he deserved probation and not prison time, instead was whisked off in shackles immediately after his sentencing to start serving a seven-year sentence, despite the fact that his appeals in the case were still pending...
Dan Froomkin (
... Was there a quid pro quo at work? Was Libby being repaid for falling on his sword and protecting his bosses from further scrutiny? Alternately, was he being repaid for his defense team's abrupt decision in mid-trial not to drag Cheney into court, where he would have faced cross-examination by Fitzgerald?...
(Froomkin cites A Judiciary Committee report prepared after Watergate: which summarizes the framers' intent regarding Impeachment. George Mason, anticipated circumstances much like our own in which a president might use the pardon power to shield actions that he himself initiated, "to stop inquiry and prevent detection." James Madison responded, "[I]f the President be connected, in any suspicious manner, with any person, and there be grounds tp believe he will shelter him, the House of Representatives can impeach him...")

Keith Olbermann, Special Comment (MSNBC)
[AGAINST FOOTAGE OF BUSH AT GROUND ZERO] ...We enveloped our President in 2001. And those who did not believe he should have been elected—indeed those who did not believe he had been elected—willingly lowered their voices and assented to the sacred oath of non-partisanship.

And George W. Bush took our assent, and re-configured it, and honed it, and shaped it to a razor-sharp point and stabbed this nation in the back with it.

Were there any remaining lingering doubt otherwise, or any remaining lingering hope, it ended yesterday when Mr. Bush commuted the prison sentence of one of his own staffers....
(See it on YouTube.)

[late breaking:
Thom Hartmann's even better rant]

Bonus section: The Washington Post Series on Cheney by Barton Gellman and Jo Becker:

Part 1: “A Different Understanding with the President”
Part 2: “Pushing the Envelope on Presidential Power”
Part 3: “A Strong Push from Backstage”
Part 4: “Leaving No Tracks”

Sidney Blumenthal (Salon)

Mickeleh's Take: The White House is counting on our national ADHD to ensure that we quickly move on to some other shiny thing and lose sight of our outrage. We're not moving on until Bush and Cheney move on. I wonder if should consider a name change.

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Thursday, July 05, 2007

Can You Spare $61 To Help Undo What Bush Has Done?

George W. Bush turns 61 tomorrow. To exploit the occasion, Laura Bush's name has been appended to a GOP fundraising letter inviting folks to give a present that all Republicans can share: a donation to the party.

Alan Bisbort has a better way to celebrate: Donate $61 to someone or some group to help repair even a bit of the damage caused by the Bush administration.
Consider, for example, sending $61 to a friend who needs help with the bills after her recent illness and lack of insurance has wiped out her life's savings (I've got a couple candidates, if you're stumped for anyone who qualifies). Or consider sending $61 to any prisoner jailed for political reasons. (My personal pick is Jeff Luers; for more information, visit Or just send the $61 to the usual suspects who are out there on the front lines, trying to redress global crises and political repression: Greenpeace (, Earth First! (, Wild Aid (, Population Connection (, Amnesty International (, and Doctors Without Borders (

The point is to send the $61 anywhere that offers hope, compassion, healing. That means, literally, anywhere but the GOP!
Bisbort urges that you accompany your gift with a note explaining its significance.

Mickeleh's Take: It's a great idea. Where will you donate your $61?

Surprise: Bush Can Use Language With Great Precision

A running bit on Letterman called "Great Moments in Presidential Speeches," follows the classic comedy three-step of set-up, set-up, punchline.

  1. Set-up: FDR, delivering his best remembered line: "The only thing we have to fear is... fear itself"
  2. Set-up: JFK, delivering his best remembered line: "Ahsk not what youah country can do faw you. Ahsk what you can do faw yoah country"
  3. Punchline: GWB, fumfering and stammering, eyes darting, shoulders hunched
It's a sure-fire laugh. But it's Bush and team that get the last laugh. When the chips are down, Bush says neither more nor less than he means.

When Plame's name was first leaked, Bush said: "If there is a leak out of my administration, I want to know who it is. And if the person has violated the law, the person will be taken care of.'' After a jury said Libby violated the law, Bush took very good care of him. (With an implication of even better care to come.)

When Gonzales play-acted advanced Alzheimer's in front of the U.S. Senate, Bush said Gonzales "answered every answer he could possibly answer, honestly answer, in a way that increased my confidence in his ability to do his job.” Translation: Gonzales answered only the questions that could be answered without implicating Rove, Cheney, or me. His ability to stonewall increased my confidence that he could do his job, which is to shield the rest of us." He went on to say, "Some senators didn’t like his explanation, but he answered as honestly as he could."

Mickeleh's Take: If a prisoner is stabbed in a fight, and he tells the authorities that he must have slipped and fallen on the shiv, he gains status in the yard for having "held his mud." Libby and Gonzales both held their mud. They'll be taken care of.

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Wednesday, July 04, 2007

When in the Course of Human Events...

On this fourth of July, please take a step to help put an end to the injustice of King George. I'm so appalled at the distance between the ideals under which this country was founded and the conduct of its current administration. Kohut says that in the Pew surveys, the single word that respondents use to describe Bush is "incompetent."

But incompetence is the least of it. IMHO, incompetence is a smokescreen for a very effective dismantling of the rule of law in this country.

In commuting Libby's sentence, Bush reaffirms that he believes that the Cheney-Bush administration is above the law.

In commuting Libby's sentence, Bush reveals that his insistence on on strict, mandatory sentencing guidelines does not apply to him or his cronies.

In commuting Libby's sentence, Bush tramples on the myth of fair, impartial justice.

In commuting Libby's sentence, Bush endorses obstruction of justice as a legitimate tool of statecraft to be applied when convenient.

Clemency has no part in Bush's calculation. He's simply reinforcing the stonewall that has protected Cheney, Rove, and ultimately himself.

Commuting Libby's sentence isn't about loyalty to Libby any more than endorsing Gonzales is about loyalty to Gonzales. In both cases, Bush is working to keep up the firewall that keeps real justice at bay.

Congress can leap that firewall with subpoenas backed by the force of impeachment. Will the Senate convict? unlikely. But the impeachment and investigation can move forwared and uncover the truth.

Please take an action to resist. Call the White House. Call your congressional reps. Sign this petition to subpoena Cheney and, if he resists, impeach him:
"Congress must force Vice President Cheney to respond to its subpoenas. If he continues to obstruct justice and disregard the rule of law, Congress has no choice but to begin impeachment proceedings against him."

Mickeleh's take
: ... it becomes necessary.

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