Democratic Underground

The Top 10 Conservative Idiots
(No. 226)

December 19, 2005
Spy Hard With A Vengeance Edition

'Tis the season to... spy on American citizens? Apparently so. But that's not all George W. Bush (1,2,4,7) has been up to - with the Iraqi elections, the Tom DeLay case, and a report indicating that Congress didn't see the same intelligence as the White House prior to the Iraq war, it's been quite a week for Our Great Leader. Elsewhere, Condoleezza Rice (3) has been put in charge of rebuilding Iraq (again), Bill Frist (5) has got more to worry about than his SEC investigation, Bob Novak (6) is heading to Fox News, and Bill O'Reilly (10) has lost his mind - just in time for Christmas. Enjoy, and don't forget the key!

1George W. Bush snooping snooping snooping unconstitutional
You want a political bombshell? I got yer political bombshell right here. Just when you thought things couldn't get any worse for George W. Bush and his rapidly deteriorating administration, the New York Times reported that the National Security Agency has been spying on American citizens. According to the Times:

President Bush secretly authorized the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on Americans and others inside the United States to search for evidence of terrorist activity without the court-approved warrants ordinarily required for domestic spying, according to government officials.

Under a presidential order signed in 2002, the intelligence agency has monitored the international telephone calls and international e-mail messages of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people inside the United States without warrants over the past three years in an effort to track possible "dirty numbers" linked to Al Qaeda, the officials said.

Oh boy. In case you were wondering - no, this isn't entirely legal. According to the Washington Post, "Congressional sources familiar with limited aspects of the program would not discuss any classified details but made it clear there were serious questions about the legality of the NSA actions." And then of course there's that pesky Fourth Amendment:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

And this spying was specifically mandated by the president of the United States via executive order, and kept secret from courts that are supposed to oversee this kind of activity, as well as from Congress.

Now, the NSA was supposed to be spying on people who are connected to "potential terrorism-related activities," which is still illegal but there you go. But considering the fact that news also broke last week of a secret Pentagon database used to collect data on peace protesters, one has to wonder if the two stories are somehow related.

Bottom line: George W. Bush has ordered American intelligence agencies to spy on American citizens on American soil, and has allowed the Pentagon to surveil American citizens who are are opposed the war in Iraq. This is not conspiracy theory stuff - this is real, it is happening, and not only has Bush admitted it, he's proud of it.

So now can we impeach him?

2George W. Bush helping the terrorists helping the terrorists
It's going to take a few weeks for the Iraqi election results to come in, so while we're waiting let's take a look at George W. Bush's efforts to bring democracy to the Middle East. First of all, big-cheese Iranian cleric Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani "called Iraq's parliamentary elections a 'victory' for Iran and said the vote had shattered any U.S. expansionist ambitions in the Middle East," according to the Financial Times.

It's no wonder that Iran, a charter member of the Axis of Evil, is delighted at the turn of events in Iraq. I mean, twenty years ago they were in the middle of a bloody, violent war with Iraq, against a secular dictator by the name of Saddam Hussein, who was being funded and armed by the United States. Twenty years later Saddam is gone, Iraq has been destroyed, and its people are on the verge of electing a Shiite theocracy.

The cost? Let's do a quick end-of-year round-up. Last week George W. Bush casually estimated that 30,000 Iraqis have lost their lives since the U.S. invaded. (He didn't bat an eyelid. It was quite impressive.) Meanwhile, the death toll among American soldiers has passed 2,150, with at least 15,000 wounded (and the dead are being shipped back as freight, if you can believe it). It was also announced last week that the cost of the Iraq war to the American taxpayer will soon balloon past $500 billion. That's half a trillion dollars.

Meanwhile, Iraq has become a training ground for anti-American terrorists, the torture rooms have re-opened, Osama bin Laden is still at large, no weapons of mass destruction have been discovered, and Iran is throwing a party.

So I guess it's a big thumbs-up so far for Our Great Leader's Great Middle East Experiment!

3Condoleezza Rice
George W. Bush gave Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice a very important job last week. According to the Financial Times:

President George W. Bush on Wednesday announced that the State Department would lead all US post-conflict reconstruction, a move that supersedes the controversial decision to give that task to the Pentagon in Iraq following the 2003 invasion. ... A former senior official involved in what he called the "chaos" of post-war reconstruction efforts in Iraq said yesterday's announcement also affirmed the growing power and influence of Condoleezza Rice, secretary of state.

Ah yes, those "chaotic" postwar reconstruction efforts. Now who was in charge of those again...? Let me see here... (cue wobbly visuals and bleepy keyboard music as we travel back in time)

USA Today, 10/6/2003:
President Bush is giving his national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, the authority to manage postwar Iraq and the rebuilding of Afghanistan. ... Rice will head the Iraq Stabilization Group, which will have coordinating committees on counterterrorism, economic development, political affairs and media messages.

Huh. So... how did that work out? (wobble wobble bleep bleep)

Washington Post, 5/18/2004:
With all the chaos and uncertainty in Iraq, this would be a good time to call on the White House's Iraq Stabilization Group. At least it would have been a good time to call on the Stabilization Group if the group itself had not become, er, unstable. ... Critics of recent U.S. actions in Iraq, including some within the White House, said the destabilized Stabilization Group is a metaphor for an Iraq policy that is adrift as U.S. ambitions in the country are thwarted by an insurgency and a prisoner-abuse scandal.

I can't wait for Dubya to announce that he's got this great new guy called Mike Brown to run FEMA.

Incidentally, Condoleezza Rice also said last week that "I should remind people we are there [in Iraq] under a U.N. mandate." Really? UN Secretary General Kofi Annan thinks differently; he's called the invasion of Iraq "illegal" and "not in conformity with the UN Charter." I guess someone must have their wires crossed.

4George W. Bush hypocrisy
Scott McClellan was quite happy to comment on the CIA leak case until the Bush administration suddenly realized that they might all actually be in deep shit. So for months now the White House's cunning plan has been to simply stonewall any questions about Patrick Fitzgerald's probe by announcing that they won't discuss anything related to an "ongoing investigation."

But it seems that some investigations may be more, uh, ongoing than others. Last week George W. Bush was pressed to remark on Tom DeLay's criminal capers, and was asked specifically if he thinks DeLay is innocent.

"Yes I do," Bush replied.

Curious! So Dubya feels comfortable proclaiming DeLay's innocence, yet won't comment on any aspect of the CIA leak case because it's an "ongoing investigation?" That smells worse than the sewer under Rush Limbaugh's house.

Scott McClellan managed to explain the whole thing away though, saying, "We don't typically tend to get into discussing legal matters of that nature. But in this instance, the president chose to respond to it ... Call it presidential prerogative."

Okay, I'll call it presidential prerogative. Why, Scotty, is Our Great Leader using presidential prerogative to decide which ongoing investigations he will comment on and which he will not? See, it's just that you keep saying things like this:

This is relating to an ongoing criminal investigation. There are clear distinctions in that. That's a nice try to get us to discuss an ongoing investigation, but I think we need to let that investigation continue.

...and this:

I told you and the President told you earlier today that we don't want to prejudge the outcome of an ongoing investigation. And I think we've been round and round on this for two days now.

And this:

Because of the ongoing investigation and legal proceedings, at the direction of the White House Counsel's Office, all White House officials, including myself, are not going to be able to respond to questions or discuss the factual circumstances of the matter.

It's strange really - all this time, Scott McClellan has been making out that the White House couldn't comment on Fitzgerald's investigation for serious legal reasons. But I guess now we know that the president can open his yap about "ongoing investigations" any time the mood strikes him, then we also know that the White House's silence on the CIA leak case is nothing more than pure political stonewalling.

Just in case anyone was still thinking that there might be another explanation.

5Bill Frist palm-greasing palm-greasing
As if being investigated by the SEC for alleged insider trading (see Idiots 220) isn't bad enough, a recent report on further dodgy dealings may ensure that Bill Frist will have a particularly miserable Christmas this year. Last week it was reported that the Senate Majority Leader's AIDS charity "paid nearly a half-million dollars in consulting fees to members of his political inner circle," according to the Associated Press.

Tax returns show that the $4.4 million dollars raised by Frist's charity came from just 18 unknown donors, and only $3 million went to AIDS causes. The rest went to "overhead," which included "$456,125 in consulting fees to two firms run by Frist's longtime political fundraiser, Linus Catignani. One is jointly run by Linda Bond, the wife of Sen. Christopher 'Kit' Bond, R-Mo.," again according to the AP.

So why is Frist taking huge chunks of cash which is supposed to go to AIDS charities and giving it to his political fundraiser? Your guess is as good as mine. And if your guess is "because Frist is an unethical crook," then your guess is the same as mine.

6Bob Novak partisanship
The last time we featured Bob Novak in the Top 10 Conservative Idiots, he'd just detonated a drunken bullshit explosion live on national television (see Idiots 209). Add that to the fact that Novak is at the very center of the CIA leak investigation - he was the person who first published Valerie Plame's identity in his syndicated column - and you'd think that no respectable news organization would want to go near the old bastard with a ten-foot pole.

And you'd be absolutely right! Last week Fox News announced that Novak will be joining them as a contributor beginning in January, where he'll fit right in with such journalistic giants as Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity. Apparently one of the reasons that CNN dumped Novak (aside from the bullshit explosion) was because they were worried about "keeping the political columnist on the air with his involvement in the CIA leak case." Wow, that sounds almost... ethical.

Fox News, it appears, has no such problem with Novak's involvement. In fact, be sure to look out for his new regular segment on the CIA leak case which my sources tell me is tentatively titled Nothing To See Here, Move Along Now. (Apparently Fox News settled on that after discarding my personal favorite, Well I Think That's Bullshit, and the less popular Who Are You People And Where's My Soup?)

6George W. Bush lying
So you know how Our Great Leader keeps insisting that Congress had the "same intelligence" that he did when deciding whether or not to invade Iraq? He's been saying it an awful lot recently.

Well last week a report released by the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service revealed that, in fact, "The president, and a small number of presidentially designated Cabinet-level officials, including the vice president ... have access to a far greater overall volume of intelligence and to more sensitive intelligence information, including information regarding intelligence sources and methods."

Yes folks, the president was lying. Go on, tell me you're shocked.

You know, it kinda makes me wonder what would have happened if it had been George W. Bush who cut down that mythical cherry tree instead of George Washington. I think it might have gone something like this:

  • First he would have claimed that the cherry tree was harboring weapons of mass destruction.

  • Then he would have insisted that the cherry tree was in league with Al Qaeda.

  • Then he would have explained that he was just trying to bring freedom to the cherry tree.

  • Then he would have pretended that Congress had the same intelligence about the cherry tree when they gave him the authority to cut it down.

  • Finally he would have announced that if he had to do it all over again, he still would have cut down the cherry tree.

And then he would have gotten his ass spanked.

8Chris Wallace hypocrisy
Fox News anchor Chris Wallace is a big fan of the Ten Commandments. Back in August 2003, he had this to say about the controversy surrounding Roy Moore and the Alabama Supreme Court (see Idiots passim):

The state's defrocked Chief Justice, Roy Moore, needs to back off. Federal courts get to decide what counts as constitutional and they've spoken. Nevertheless, I'm glad he picked the fight. ... Frankly, I'd rather risk the counsel of the Ten Commandments, which advocate humility before God and uprightness before society, than follow sages who claim they can heal kids' spiritual wounds by teaching them how to stretch prophylactic devices over cucumbers, members of the squash family and an assortment of tree-ripened tropical fruits.

Um... prophylactic devices... what? Well, never mind that. Take it from me, Chris Wallace is a big fan of the Ten Commandments all right - at least, as far as they relate to other people. Last week Wallace publicly reacted to news that his father, veteran broadcaster Mike Wallace, had dared to criticize George W. Bush:

He's lost it. The man has lost it. What can I say. He's 87-years old and things have set in. I mean, we're going to have a competence hearing pretty soon. ... He's checked out. I don't understand it.

I shall now refer to my handy guide to all things relating to the Ten Commandments, Kirk Cameron's website Let's see here... the Fifth Commandment is "Honor your father and your mother," and Kirk says, "Have you always honored your parents in a way that's pleasing in the sight of God? Ask Him to remind you of the sins of your youth. You may have forgotten them, but God hasn't."

Sorry Chris, it's the burning lake of hellfire for you. Happy Holidays.

9Earl Van Den Heuvel dumb dumb dumb dumb dumb racism
You know, I've been putting this column together for almost five years now and during that time I've written about some pretty wacky stuff - but this particular entry really does stand out. Meet Earl Van Den Heuvel. Earl is an alderman on Green Bay's city council, and last week he was also exposed as a complete and utter moron.

It all began when a man named "Don" phoned WTAQ Radio during a call-in segment on The Jerry Bader Show and pontificated thusly:

They are committing the crimes and they are doing these things, and I'll tell you what, it's about time we start cracking down on these people. If he's got his pants hanging down to his knees, like most of these young black youth have, I'm gonna call the police. I have and I will. Being a racist may be a smart thing to protect your property in this city. Until the people start changing, until the people start doing the things they need to do to bring around their people, you're not stupid for being a racist, you're smart and you're looking out for your property.

Unfortunately for "Don," several WTAQ staffers thought that his voiced seemed awfully familiar - not unlike the voice of Earl Van Den Heuvel, in fact. So Jerry Bader called Van Den Heuvel to straighten things out. "I said, 'Earl, did you call my show last night?'" reported Bader, "'No, no I didn't call your show.' 'You didn't call my show pretending to be Don in Green Bay?' 'No. Why would I do that?'"

Why indeed? Unsatisfied, Bader had a forensic audio company compare "Don's" voice to Van Den Heuvel's, and - surprise, surprise - they said that the voices matched. When confronted, Van Den Heuvel admitted that, yes, it was him all along.

Which doesn't leave me with much more to say other than: what a tool.

10Bill O'Reilly lying
And finally, it seems that the closer we get to Christmas, the closer Bill O'Reilly gets to a nervous breakdown. The Falafel Master was back in the news again last week after claiming that "In Plano, Texas, a school told students they couldn't wear red and green because they are Christmas colors."

Oh really? Turns out that's not quite true. In fact, it's not even remotely true. In fact, the school district's attorneys subsequently sent Bill a letter requesting that "in the future, he ask his fact checkers to do a more thorough job of confirming the facts before he airs them." Oops.

But apparently Plano isn't the only town featured in O'Reilly's bizarre no-red-or-green-colors-for-you fantasy. Here's what he had to say about Saginaw, Michigan:

In Saginaw, Michigan, the township opposes red and green clothing on anyone. In Saginaw Township, they basically said, anybody, we don't want you to wear red or green. I would dress up head to toe in red to green if I were in Saginaw, Michigan.

According to "Mid-Michigan's News Leader" WNEM-TV5, "O'Reilly's comments are flat-out not true. [Township supervisor Tim] Braun goes on to say the township hall has red and green Christmas lights adorning the building at night."

Off his meds, I tell ya.

The Top 10 Conservative Idiots is taking a break for the holidays - uh, I mean, Christmas. We'll be back on Monday, January 9. See you next year!

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