Democratic Underground

The Top 10 Conservative Idiots
(No. 230)

January 30, 2006
Perfect Storm Edition

It's rough sailing on Our Great Leader's sea of lies and deception these days. The Bush Administration (1,8) is impeding the Hurricane Katrina investigation, while a recent report belies the claim that things are going well in Iraq. Meanwhile George W. Bush (2,3,4,5,9) is up to his neck in the Jack Abramoff scandal, finally remembers Osama bin Laden, gets confused by the Constitution, and gives us his used car salesman pitch on the economy. Elsewhere, The RNC (6) holds a masterclass on the fine art of political spin, and Ann Coulter regales us with some of her best analysis yet. Enjoy, and don't forget the key!

1The Bush Administration covering your ass covering your ass screwing the poor
Two days before Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast, the White House was given "detailed warnings about the storm's likely impact, including eerily prescient predictions of breached levees, massive flooding, and major losses of life and property," according to the Washington Post. The report was delivered to the White House situation room on August 29, 2005.

Which is a little strange when you consider that on September 1, George W. Bush told Diane Sawyer that "I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees."

And it's even more strange when you consider that homeland security chief Michael Chertoff told reporters on September 3rd that the "perfect storm of a combination of catastrophes exceeded the foresight of the planners, and maybe anybody's foresight." Chertoff called the disaster "breathtaking in its surprise."

Nice to know that the president and the head of the Department of Homeland Security are fully briefed about what goes on in the White House situation room.

But I'm sure that we'll have a much clearer picture of what went wrong when the administration's response to the Katrina disaster is fully investigated. Don't expect that to happen any time soon though - according to ABC News, "The President is refusing to turn over certain documents about Hurricane Katrina. He also doesn't want senior White House officials testifying before two Congressional committees investigating the storm response."

Uh, what? Now why would the president disallow White House officials from testifying before Congress on this matter? Even Republicans are pissed. "I think the White House has gone too far in restricting basic information about who called whom on what day," said Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) last week.

Perhaps those in charge of rebuilding the levees in New Orleans should enlist White House officials to give them a hand. They certainly seem to be experts at constructing massive stone walls.

2George W. Bush covering your ass covering your ass
Last week the White House refused to release photographs of George W. Bush glad-handing Jack Abramoff inside the White House, sniffily suggesting that they are "not relevant," according to the Washington Post. Not relevant? Why, how convenient.

King George clearly thinks he knows what's best for the serfs, but perhaps he should release the photos and let the public decide for themselves whether they're relevant or not. After all, it's not often you get to see pictures of top administration officials hanging out with real live crooks.





On second thought, perhaps it is pretty irrelevant to release yet more photos of Our Great Leaders rubbing shoulders with people of, er, questionable morality.

3George W. Bush hypocrisy
Three days after the White House refused to release the Abramoff pictures because they're "not relevant," George W. Bush accidentally told reporters the real reason why they're being withheld:

There's thousands of people that come through and get their pictures taken. I'm also mindful that we live in a world in which those pictures will be used for pure political purposes...

No doubt. I'll be the first to admit that if we get our hands on those pictures, we'll have them plastered all over this website faster than you can say "probable cause."

But the White House certainly appears to have changed its tune when it comes to releasing photographs which could be used for "pure political purposes." Remember this?

Four months after Republicans first accused outgoing Clinton staffers of vandalizing government offices, the White House has provided photos of messy offices as proof.

Still locked in a spin-control battle with Clinton staffers over what happened in the final hours of the former president's term, the Bush White House has handed out photos taken shortly after the handover.

The photo at left, of an office in the White House counsel's suite at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, also known as the Old Executive Office Building, where many White House staffers work. It clearly shows disarray, with boxes, books, office supplies and papers piled about haphazardly. There does not, however, appear to be evidence in the photo of outright vandalism.


Last month, a review by the General Services Administration determined, "The condition of the real property was consistent with what we would expect to encounter when tenants vacate office space after an extended occupancy."- ABC News, June 4 2001

My, how times have changed.

But back to the matter at hand - it appears that the Bush administration is telling us that there's nothing wrong with wiretapping Americans, because, hey, if you've done nothing wrong then you've got nothing to worry about, right? Yet they then turn around and bust a nut to cover up these pictures because they're supposedly "not relevant."

Hey, if you've done nothing wrong... right?

4George W. Bush hypocrisy
Did you know that George W. Bush has just awoken from a four-year long coma? In the wake of the latest audio tape from Osama bin Laden, Our Great Leader had this to say:

I understand there are some in America who say, "Well this can't be true, there aren't still people willing to attack." All I would ask them to do is listen to the words of Osama bin Laden and take him seriously. When he says he's going to hurt the American people again or try to, he means it. I take it seriously and the people of NSA take it seriously and most of the American people take it seriously as well.

Perhaps if George W. Bush had taken it seriously when he was handed a daily briefing on August 6th 2001 titled "Bin Laden determined to strike in U.S.," the world would be a different place right now. But he didn't.

Still, Bush started to take bin Laden seriously after September 11th, right? For example, here's what he had to say on March 13, 2002:

Q: But don't you believe that the threat that bin Laden posed won't truly be eliminated until he is found either dead or alive?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, as I say, we haven't heard much from him. And I wouldn't necessarily say he's at the center of any command structure. And, again, I don't know where he is. I - I'll repeat what I said. I truly am not that concerned about him.

And then Bush invaded Iraq.

So why the sudden exhortations to take bin Laden seriously? I'll tell you why - because with the White House and the Republican party mired in scandal, a tape from bin Laden is like a breath of fresh air for Our Great Leader. Look out everyone! The boogeyman is coming! Terra terra terra! Frankly it's a little odd that Bush can still play the "tough on terrorism" card when the evidence of his failure is blasting from an Al Jazeera audiotape, but there you go.

Look George, the American people have been taking bin Laden seriously for years now. Perhaps if you'd taken him seriously before 9/11; perhaps if you'd tried to capture him in Afghanistan instead of charging into Iraq; perhaps we wouldn't be in this mess now.

5George W. Bush dumb
And now for a civics pop quiz. In the United States of America, free speech is:

a) a convenience
b) a custom
c) a right

If you answered "c) a right" - sorry, you're wrong. At least according to George W. Bush - the man who is allegedly determined to appoint "strict constructionists" to the Supreme Court. Here's what he had to say during a speech in Kansas last week:

A lot of people, I understand, disagreed with that decision, and that's what democracy is all about, that's what we believe in. We believe you can disagree. There's a custom in our country for people to express themselves, and it's good. It's what makes us a great country, that people can stand up and tell people what's on their mind.

And it seems that conservative confusion about the Constitution isn't limited to the president. Last week I got my regular dose of right-wing bullpoop in the form of a mass email from RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman. The email encouraged Republicans to support the Patriot Act. It began, "The President's most solemn duty under our Constitution is to protect the American people."

Oh is it? The presidential oath of office says this:

I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.

Sorry Ken, but the president's most solemn duty is to protect the Constitution; his role is to make sure that laws are enforced. Considering the spectacularly poor job this particular president is doing when it comes to following and upholding the law, it's not surprising that the RNC are keen to confuse their supporters on this issue.

6The RNC excessive spin excessive spin excessive spin
Of course, it helps that supporters of the RNC are easily confused. Last week Howard Dean had to face down the remarkably uninformed Katie Couric when she threw the stale old "Abramoff is a bipartisan scandal" at him. Here's the transcript:

COURIC: Hey, wait a second. Democrats took - Democrats took money from Abramoff too, Mr. Dean.

DEAN: That is absolutely false. That did not happen. Not one dime of money from Jack Abramoff went to any Democrat at any time.

COURIC: Let me just tell you - According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Abramoff and his associates gave $3 million to Republicans and $1.5 million to Democrats, including Sen. Minority Leader Harry Reid.

DEAN: Not one dime of Jack Abramoff money ever went to any Democrat. We can show you the FEC reports, we’d be very happy to do it. There’s a lot of stuff in the press that the Republican National Committee’s been spinning that this is a bipartisan scandal. It is a Republican-financed scandal. Not one dime of money from Jack Abramoff ever went to any Democrat, not one dime.

COURIC: Well, we'll obviously have to look into that and clarify that for our viewers at a later date.

Dean was, of course, absolutely correct - not one dime of Jack Abramoff money ever went to any Democrat.

But here comes the spin: the RNC promptly made a masterful attempt to drag Democrats into the very Republican Jack Abramoff scandal with this stunningly-crafted piece of literature:

Howard Dean can engage in all the Clintonian word games he wants, but the bottom line is Democrats have been on the receiving end of Abramoff affiliated money. Efforts by Abramoff Democrats to indicate otherwise only reminds Americans that their minority party is overtly hypocritical and will stop at nothing to score cheap political points. Our country expects its leaders to speak the truth, rather than engage in a partisan blame game when it behooves them politically.

Excuse me, "Abramoff Democrats?"

You mean Jack "Bush Pioneer" Abramoff? Jack "K Street Project" Abramoff? Jack "It is not our job to seek peaceful coexistence with the Left, our job is to remove them from power permanently" Abramoff?

Honestly, I think someone needs to hide the RNC's crack pipe.

6General Hayden unconstitutional
Let's get back to Constitutional issues for a moment - last week General Michael Hayden, principal deputy director of National Intelligence, gave a news conference on the NSA's warrantless wiretapping scandal. Let's just say it didn't go too well. From the transcript:

Q: Jonathan Landay with Knight Ridder. I'd like to stay on the same issue, and that had to do with the standard by which you use to target your wiretaps. I'm no lawyer, but my understanding is that the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution specifies that you must have probable cause to be able to do a search that does not violate an American's right against unlawful searches and seizures. Do you use -

HAYDEN: No, actually - the Fourth Amendment actually protects all of us against unreasonable search and seizure.

Q: But the -

HAYDEN: That's what it says.

Q: But the measure is probable cause, I believe.

HAYDEN: The amendment says unreasonable search and seizure.

Q: But does it not say probable -

HAYDEN: No. The amendment says -

Q: The court standard, the legal standard -

HAYDEN: - unreasonable search and seizure.

Q: The legal standard is probable cause, General. You used the terms just a few minutes ago, "We reasonably believe." And a FISA court, my understanding is, would not give you a warrant if you went before them and say "we reasonably believe"; you have to go to the FISA court, or the attorney general has to go to the FISA court and say, "we have probable cause." And so what many people believe - and I'd like you to respond to this - is that what you've actually done is crafted a detour around the FISA court by creating a new standard of "reasonably believe" in place of probable cause because the FISA court will not give you a warrant based on reasonable belief, you have to show probable cause. Could you respond to that, please?

HAYDEN: Sure. I didn't craft the authorization. I am responding to a lawful order. All right? The attorney general has averred to the lawfulness of the order. Just to be very clear - and believe me, if there's any amendment to the Constitution that employees of the National Security Agency are familiar with, it's the Fourth. And it is a reasonableness standard in the Fourth Amendment. And so what you've raised to me - and I'm not a lawyer, and don't want to become one - what you've raised to me is, in terms of quoting the Fourth Amendment, is an issue of the Constitution. The constitutional standard is "reasonable." And we believe - I am convinced that we are lawful because what it is we're doing is reasonable.

So who's right? Is Hayden correct in his statement that the Fourth Amendment only requires "reasonable belief" and not "probable cause" for searches and seizures?

Remember, this guy was director of the NSA when Bush's wiretapping program began in 2001. And let's not forget that "if there's any amendment to the Constitution that employees of the National Security Agency are familiar with, it's the Fourth."

Okay, here we go:

Amendment IV - Search and seizure
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.

Sorry General - you lose.

8The Bush Administration
The first report on the Iraq reconstruction effort was released by the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction last week, and the conclusions it drew were not pretty.

According to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune:

The report lays out evidence of the failure to plan for postinvasion Iraq, lack of adequate staff on the ground to oversee reconstruction, horrible bureaucratic infighting between the Pentagon and the State Department (the State Department gets our vote for being almost always right), and hundreds of millions of dollars gone missing. The fact is, the Bush administration - mostly in the guise of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's Pentagon - almost totally botched its ballyhooed reconstruction program.

In a related story, Dick Cheney's former company Halliburton announced a $1 billion fourth quarter profit last week.

9George W. Bush fiscal irresponsibility greed
Our Great Leader has recently been previewing some of the expected themes of his upcoming State of the Union Address in speeches around the country, and one of his favorite things to talk about has been the economy. Two weeks ago, for example, George appeared before a group of business leaders to proclaim that the economy is "robust."

''Things are going well... in the economy," he said. ''We added 4.6 million new jobs since April of 2003. What I'm telling you is the tax plan is working... Things are going fine."

Things are certainly going fine for Bush's fatcat buddies. As mentioned above, Halliburton is doing quite well for itself (thanks to a $540 million tax gain). And last week oil giant Exxon-Mobil posted the world's biggest ever profit - about $32 billion for 2005.

Things aren't quite so rosy elsewhere, however. According to the Washington Post, "The economy slowed to a near crawl in the final quarter of 2005, a listless showing that was the worst in three years ... [in the fourth quarter] spending grew at a 1.1 percent pace, the slowest since the second quarter of 2001 when the economy was suffering through a recession." And, "While growth slowed in the fourth quarter, inflation picked up, according to one price measure in the report that is closely watched by the Federal Reserve."

Of course, we're all used to George W. Bush's bizarro-world speeches where the economy is roaring, things couldn't be better in Iraq, and we're doing a great job fighting the war on terrorism. But I have a feeling that this year's State of the Union could bring new meaning to the term "divorced from reality."

10Ann Coulter excessive spin
And finally, we're all obviously familiar with Ann Coulter. But let's just refresh our memories with a few choice quotes from her top-selling bargain bin stuffer Slander:

If liberals expressed half as much self-righteous indignation about crime as they do about the random case of police brutality, one might be inclined to take them seriously. Criminals they like. It's the police they hate. (p.28)

Much of the left's hate speech bears greater similarity to a psychological disorder than to standard political discourse. (p.199)

Most of the time, liberals do not imagine the world is real. Their contribution to political debate is worthless, since even they do not believe things they say. The more shocking and iconoclastic they are, the more fashion points they accrue. (p.203)

Wow, strong stuff. Now Ann, of course, would never say something shocking to earn "fashion points." For example, here's her recent in-depth analysis of the current political situation on the U.S. Supreme Court, given during a lecture at Philander Smith College in Arkansas last week:

We need somebody to put rat poisoning in Justice Stevens' creme brulee.

She followed up with, "that's just a joke." Oh, well, ha ha then!

Of course, if Ann really did want to bump off judges who get in the way of the right-wing agenda, it wouldn't be that difficult - there's enough poison in her pen to wipe out the entire judicial branch. See you next week...

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