The Top Ten Conservative
Idiots (No. 151)
April 12, 2004
Patterns of Suspicious Activity Edition
The 9/11 investigation continued their public hearings last week, and it was another big week for conservative idiocy. In fact, I think this may be the first time ever that the first six slots on the Top 10 list were taken by only three different people. In order: Rice... Bush... Rice... Bush... Bush & Cheney... Cheney. No surprises there. Condoleezza Rice (1, 3) laid it on thick before the commission, while George W. Bush (2, 4, 5) was just thick. Good thing for him that he's got Dick Cheney (5, 6) to hold his hand during these difficult hearings. Meanwhile, we've got old favorites Antonin Scalia (8) and Bill O'Reilly (10). And if you ever want to crucify the Easter Bunny, don't miss #9 for some fundie hilarity. Enjoy, and as usual, don't forget the key!
So let's see... Condi Rice was told during the transition that terrorism should be a top priority. There was warning after warning after warning during the summer of 2001 that an attack was coming. The August 6th Presidential Daily Briefing (PDB) - which arrived while Bush was on vacation - was entitled, "Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside the United States." The FBI and the CIA knew that al Qaeda cells were operating inside the US, and they knew that suspected terrorists were attending flight schools. The PDB warned that "FBI information since that time indicates patterns of suspicious activity in this country consistent with preparations for hijackings or other types of attacks, including recent surveillance of federal buildings in New York." Rice acknowledged during her testimony that intelligence agencies had informed her of "Unbelievable news in coming weeks…. Big event…. There will be a very, very, very, very big uproar…. There will be attacks in the near future." But... BUT... there wasn't a "silver bullet" to stop al Qaeda, and there were so many systemic and structural problems, and anyway, despite all the warnings, we didn't actually know exactly when or where they were going to attack... so what the heck, there really wasn't much point in trying to do anything at all, was there.
According to Condoleezza Rice, terrorism was the Bush administration's highest priority during the summer of 2001. "The president of the United States had us at battle stations during this period of time." Oh really? Here's what George W. Bush had to say on August 6th, the day he received the now infamous daily briefing which warned that Osama bin Laden was determined to attack the United States and al Qaeda members were already scouting federal buildings in New York: "No mulligans, except on the first tee... That's just to loosen up. You see, most people get to hit practice balls, but as you know, I'm walking out here, I'm fixing to go hit. Tight back, older guy - I hit the speed limit on July 6th." According to the Washington Post, Bush's staff said at the time that "by far the biggest issue on his agenda was his decision on federal funding of stem cell research, followed by education, immigration and the Social Security 'lockbox.'" Now, during the rest of August, Bush did speak about a "menace" which threatened America. His name was - you guessed it - Saddam Hussein. "We are committed to defending America and our allies against ballistic missile attacks, against weapons of mass destruction held by rogue leaders in rogue nations that hate America, hate our values and hate what we stand for," he said on August 29. Well I guess the focus on Saddam was well-deserved, because to Bush's credit, at no point did Saddam attack the United States with intercontinental ballistic missiles full of chemicals or, uh, "reconstituted nuclear weapons." Good job, George.
One of the more interesting parts of Condi Rice's testimony - aside from all the parts where she made it pretty clear that hey, it's not the national security adviser's responsibility to, uh, take care of the nation's security - was her response to the question asking why there was no response to the USS Cole attack. The Cole attack took place a few weeks before the 2000 election and the FBI and CIA didn't have hard evidence of who was responsible until January. But why was there no follow-up from the Bush administration after they were installed? After all, Richard Clarke presented Condoleezza Rice with a memo on January 25th 2001, which included, "Appendix A: Strategy for the elimination of the jihadist threat of al Qaeda," and "Appendix B: Political military plan for al Qaeda." Condi's answer to the question during her testimony was: "I believe that there's a question of whether or not you respond in a tactical sense or whether you respond in a strategic sense; whether or not you decide that you're going to respond to every attack with minimal use of military force and go after every - on a kind of tit-for-tat basis... I do not believe to this day that it would have been a good thing to respond to the Cole, given the kinds of options that we were going to have." So let me get this straight - when Bill Clinton attacks bin Laden's training camps he's "wagging the dog." But when he doesn't attack bin Laden's training camps he's weak on terrorism. And now here's Condi Rice saying that to this day she believes that it wouldn't have done any good to respond to the attack on the USS Cole anyway! Although, you can hardly blame her. Obviously Saddam was a much higher priority in the war on terror than Osama, what with all his weapons of mass destruction and stuff.
As Iraq burns, destruction abounds, and soldiers and civilians alike are killed and injured, George W. Bush is on his 33rd vacation to the presidential pig farm in Crawford, Texas. Apparently a study by CBS News shows that Bush has spent all or part of 233 days at his ranch, which - coincidentally - is exactly the same number of days during which his administration did nothing to try to prevent 9/11 after coming to power. My, my. (Oh, and apparently if you add in his trips to Camp David and Kennebunkport, he's spent 500 days - or 40 percent of his presidency - at one of his three retreats.) After watching Condoleezza Rice's testimony last week, Our Great Leader apparently "toured his ranch with National Rifle Association Chief Executive Wayne LaPierre and other leaders of hunting groups and gave an interview to Ladies' Home Journal." Well, got to get your priorities in order I suppose. At a campaign event last week John Kerry said: "I notice President Bush is taking some days off down at Crawford, Texas, and I'm told that when he takes days off, you know, he totally relaxes: He doesn't watch television, he doesn't read the newspapers, he doesn't make long-term plans, doesn't worry about the economy. I thought about that for a moment. I said, sounds to me like it's just like life in Washington, doesn't it?" According to the Washington Post "White House communications director Dan Bartlett retorted that Bush is 'not skiing' in Texas." Well, uh, yeah. That would be pretty stupid.
W. Bush and Dick Cheney
Since we've been talking about testifying before the 9/11 Commission this week, we should probably note that George W. Bush and Dick Cheney will be testifying before the panel - not only in private, which is to be expected, but together. Yes, that's right - Bush is such a hopeless case that he has to have his vice president sit in while the Commission ask questions. I mean, can you imagine what it would be like to watch Bush go, alone, through what Condi Rice went through last week? It would be brutal. It's absolutely no wonder that he doesn't want to testify by himself - because it would simply prove that he doesn't know jack shit about what's been going on in his own administration. See, Bush likes to delegate. That means he sits on his ass - mostly in Crawford, or Kennebunkport, or at Camp David - while his team of happy bureaucrats get busy at their jobs. Or don't get busy at their jobs, if Condoleezza Rice's testimony is anything to go by. Actually, making Bush testify alone before the 9/11 Commission would probably count as a form of cruel and unusual punishment. Thank goodness Uncle Dick will be there to hold his hand - I'm sure the Commission would hate to see a grown man cry.
And speaking of Dick Cheney, here's a story which slipped under the radar last week. If you've been paying attention to the ongoing TV ad campaign put out by Team Bush, you may be familiar with the attack ad which claims John Kerry would raise gas prices by 50 cents a gallon. The ad is, of course, a complete fabrication - in fact, John Kerry chose not to co-sponsor or even vote for a Sen. Charles Robb bill which would have phased in a 50 cent tax increase on gas ten years ago. Funnily enough though, back in 1986 a Republican congressman by the name of Dick Cheney introduced legislation that, according to the New York Times, would have "caused the price of oil, and ultimately the price of gasoline paid by drivers, to soar by billions of dollars per year." Not only that, but according to both Democratic and Republican lawmakers, "the Cheney plan and similar proposals [were] 'snake oil' that would throw 400,000 Americans out of work." Shortly after introducing the legislation, Cheney said, "Let us rid ourselves of the fiction that low oil prices are somehow good for the United States." Tell you what Dick, how about, "let us rid ourselves of the fiction that the Bush administration is somehow good for the United States."
More 9/11 investigation news: last week, for some bizarre reason, the White House was preventing the 9/11 Commission from seeing 69 Clinton-era documents "which include references to al Qaeda, Osama bin Laden and other issues relevant to the panel's work" according to the Washington Post. Now why on earth would the White House want to do that? After all, Bill Clinton did absolutely nothing to fight terrorism, did he? Surely those papers will simply demonstrate that Clinton's lackadaisical approach toward al Qaeda was the benchmark for the Bush administration's own policy towards terrorists - that they really didn't think fighting al Qaeda was urgent, because the Clinton administration didn't put a high priority on it. I mean, I honestly can't possibly think of a single reason why the White House would not want to release papers which are certain to bolster their own claims and make their predecessors look bad. Oh... wait a minute.
Yup, cover-ups and redactions seem to be the order of the day for conservatives right now. Check this out - last week Antonin Scalia forced two reporters to erase the tape recordings they were making during his speech at a Mississippi high school. Although the audience was not warned beforehand that recordings would be prohibited, a deputy federal marshal approached the reporters in the middle of the speech and demanded that they blank their tapes. According to the Associated Press, one reporter "initially resisted, but later showed the deputy how to erase the digital recording after the officer took the device from her hands. The exchange occurred in the front row of the auditorium while Scalia delivered his speech about the Constitution." Said Scalia during his speech, "The Constitution of the United States is extraordinary and amazing. People just don't revere it like they used to." Damn straight, ever since they added that stupid amendment about freedom of the press this whole country's gone straight down the tubes.
Yesterday was Easter Sunday, and what better way to introduce young children to the loving teachings of Jesus Christ than by... whipping the Easter bunny. That's what happened at a fundie nutcase performance at the Glassport, PA, memorial stadium last week, and the children loved it. Just kidding - they were horrified. According to the Associated Press, "Melissa Salzmann, who took her 4-year-old son J.T., said the program was inappropriate for young children. 'He was crying and asking me why the bunny was being whipped,' Salzmann said." Not only that, but apparently, "Performers broke eggs meant for an Easter egg hunt and also portrayed a drunken man and a self-mutilating woman." Because let's face it folks, it was Jesus Christ himself who said, "Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for I will kick the crap, out of the Easter bunny, and smash all their Easter eggs, and teach them a short, sharp lesson, about who's the boss around here, you little bastards. Why, I oughta..."
And finally: Good Lord, is there anything Bill O'Reilly won't cry about? Last week our no-spin friend was pissing and moaning about the launch of Air America, the new liberal radio network. "Never in the history of the American press has one tiny enterprise gotten so much free publicity," whined O'Reilly during the Talking Points Memo of his TV show (which he uses to cross-promote his radio show, naturally). "The reason, of course, is that the elites want liberal bomb throwers to embarrass and defame people with whom they disagree. It's like hiring hit men and women." Oh for heaven's sake, Bill. First of all, you're sitting smack dab in the middle of a massive conservative media empire, so why don't you just dry those tears and cheer yourself up by thinking of the millions of people that you, Limbaugh, Hannity, Savage, North, Reagan, Liddy, etc., etc., etc., brainwash every single day of the week. Feel better now? Good. So here's my theory - perhaps Air America is big news specifically because there are hardly any liberal voices in the media. It's simple man-bites-dog principle. I mean, who wants to read a story about yet another boring conservative gasbag with a radio show? It's not like there aren't enough of you around, Bill. See you next week!