Democratic Underground

The Top 10 Conservative Idiots
(No. 232)

February 13, 2006
Fun With Dick And Scooter Edition

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So the Executive Branch wants greater powers during a time of war? Then perhaps Dick Cheney (1) should stop authorizing his subordinates to release top secret information as a form of pure political payback. It just doesn't really inspire a great deal of confidence, you know? On the subject of inspiring confidence, George W. Bush (2,3) is really starting to hate the names "Katrina" and "Jack," while Tom DeLay's (4) recent bout of amnesia is not particularly encouraging. Elsewhere, new GOP leader John Boehner (7) gets off to a great start, and Alberto Gonzales (9) shows about as much scientific prowess as George Deutsch (10). Enjoy, and don't forget the key!

1Dick Cheney helping the terrorists crook cyborg
It was revealed last week that Dick Cheney's former chief-of-staff Scooter Libby has dropped a dime on the vice president. Libby testified under oath that he was authorized to disclose classified information "by his superiors," according to a letter written by prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald.

That loud whirring you hear emanating from the direction of Washington D.C. is the sound of Cheney's pacemaker going into overdrive: if this information is true, then his next undisclosed location could well be a federal prison. Or perhaps Guantanamo Bay - I believe that's where they're supposed to keep enemies of the state these days. Hey, if he's really unlucky, Cheney could end up being "extraordinarily renditioned" to some black hole in Uzbekistan. (Don't worry Dick. After all, it's not really torture, right?)

This news comes hot on the heels of fresh information revealing that - despite the radical right's assertions to the contrary - Valerie Plame was an undercover agent. According to Newsweek, "Plame had indeed done 'covert work overseas' on counterproliferation matters in the past five years, and the CIA 'was making specific efforts to conceal' her identity, according to newly released portions of a judge's opinion."

Gentlemen, start your waterboards.

Incidentally, I'm sure you've heard by now that Dick Cheney shot one of his hunting companions over the weekend. Sources close to the vice president say that just before the incident Cheney was giving off sparks and shouting "EXTERMINATE! EXTERMINATE! ALL HUMANS MUST DIE!" He is currently undergoing repairs.

2George W. Bush photo-opping photo-opping screwing the poor
Remember that famous Bush quote from September 1 last year? The quote in which Bush revealed the depth of his incompetence by announcing that "I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees?"

Funny - that's not what practically everybody else in the world thought. According to a story by the Associated Press last week, not one, not two, but...

Twenty-eight government agencies, from local Louisiana parishes to the White House, reported that New Orleans levees were breached Aug. 29, the day Hurricane Katrina roared ashore, documents released Thursday show.

A timeline of e-mails, situation updates and weather reports, pieced together by Senate Democrats, indicates the Bush administration knew as early as 8:30 a.m. EST about levee failures that would ultimately lead to massive flooding of the city and its surrounding parishes.

Twenty-eight government agencies? White House officials knew the levees had been breached at 8:30 a.m. on August 29? Good lord! Where was George W. Bush during all of this? Why didn't he take charge of this situation? What on earth could he have been doing on August 29 that was more important than trying to alleviate the impact of the disaster that was about to unfold in New Orleans?

Well, yeah, sure - I guess he couldn't get out of Sen. McCain's birthday party. And to be fair, Bush was already in Arizona on August 29. You can't expect him to be everywhere at once.

But he rushed back to Washington D.C. immediately after that, right?

Okay, so he had to go do a photo-op in Coronado, Calif. on August 30. But let's not be too hasty - at this point the White House had only known for just over 24 hours that the levees had been breached and that the city of New Orleans was underwater. So give the president a break. After all that excitement at John McCain's birthday party, he needed a day to relax.

And hey, Bush flew over New Orleans on August 31, a mere two days after first receiving word that the levees had breached. What more do you want? I mean, pay no attention to his actions, listen to his words: "I understand the anxiety of people on the ground," he said.

See? Bush didn't need to step up and take charge after all. From the comfort of his luxuriously-appointed Boeing 747, he could understand the anxiety of the people on the ground. He could practically feel their pain. With capable disaster management professionals like Mike Brown in charge, he could be confident that the situation was well under control. As he said on the August 31 edition of Good Morning America, "I want people to know there's a lot of help coming."

In a related story, thousands of Katrina victims were evicted from hotels last week "as the Federal Emergency Management Agency began cutting off money to pay for their stays," according to CNN.

3George W. Bush cronyism lying
Just a few weeks ago Scott McClellan was busy insisting that George W. Bush did not know Jack Abramoff, had rarely met Jack Abramoff, and on those occasions when they did meet, had closed his eyes and put his fingers in his ears. Unfortunately for the White House, it appears that Mr. Abramoff doesn't like to be dissed in such a fashion.

Emails from Abramoff to Kim Eisler, editor of the Washingtonian magazine, were released last week - and it doesn't look too good for Our Great Leader. According to Abramoff, he was asked to join Bush at a little shindig down on the Crawford pig farm, along with some other $100,000-raising Bush Pioneers. "I was invited during the 2004 campaign," wrote Abramoff.

He also had this to say:

The guy saw me in almost a dozen settings, and joked with me about a bunch of things, including details of my kids. Perhaps he has forgotten everything, who knows.

Yes, who knows? Perhaps George W. Bush has forgotten everything. It wouldn't surprise me.

4Tom DeLay cronyism lying lying lying
Looks like Our Great Leader isn't the only one with a memory like a sieve. Last week the Former Hammer sent a letter to his few remaining supporters, begging them to get behind his upcoming re-election campaign. The letter read:

The notion that Abramoff was a close friend who wielded influence over me is absolutely untrue. Jack Abramoff and I were not close personal friends. I met with him only occasionally, in fact less frequently than numerous others who brought issues before Congress - never did he receive preferential treatment.

I guess he must be referring to a different Jack Abramoff, because here's what DeLay had to say during a trip to the Northern Marianas Island of Saipan in 1997:

When one of my closest and dearest friends, Jack Abramoff, your most able representative in Washington, D.C., invited me to the islands, I wanted to see firsthand the free-market success and the progress and reform you have made.

In case you were wondering, the all-expenses-paid trip to Saipan was arranged by that fellow whom Tom DeLay barely even recognizes, Jack, er, whatsisname.

5The Bush Administration fearmongering fearmongering
All of this bad news can only mean one thing - it's terror time! Last week the Bush administration reminded everyone of what a great job they're doing fighting the "war on terror" by releasing details of a terrorist plot to crash an airplane into a Los Angeles landmark in 2002. Cue Our Great Leader:

As the West Coast plot shows, in the war on terror we face a relentless and determined enemy that operates in many nations - so protecting our citizens requires unprecedented cooperation from many nations as well. By working together, we took dangerous terrorists off the streets. By working together, we stopped a catastrophic attack on our homeland.

George W. Bush was quick to laud this as a "foiled" plot, despite getting the name of the alleged target wrong (he said "Liberty Tower" - it's actually "Library Tower," now known as the U.S. Bank Tower). But upon closer inspection, Bush's thwarting of this "catastrophic attack" doesn't look quite so convincing.

First of all, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said last week that he was "blindsided" by the announcement. "I'm amazed that the president would make this (announcement) on national TV and not inform us of these details through the appropriate channels," he said last week. "I don't expect a call from the president - but somebody."

And then it was revealed that according to a combined wire services report, "Several U.S. intelligence officials are playing down the relative importance of an alleged al-Qaida plot to strike the West Coast after Sept. 11, 2001, cited by President Bush Thursday in defense of his campaign against terrorism." Oh really?

The intelligence officials, who declined to be identified because they did not want to criticize the White House publicly, said there is deep disagreement within the intelligence community over the seriousness of the scheme to attack the 73-story building and whether it was ever much more than talk.

Bruce Hoffman, a terrorism specialist with the Rand Corp., said Bush's account still leaves key questions unanswered.

"It doesn't really give us any more indication of whether this was a plot that was derailed or pre-empted, or a plot that was more in the realm of an idle daydream," Hoffman said.

But who cares about that - at least it put a good scare into the American people!

6People Who Should Mind Their Own Business crybaby
A large right-wing-generated non-scandal blew into town last week, as the late Coretta Scott King became the newest victim of People Who Should Mind Their Own Business.

We've known for a while that the radical right feels they should be able to dictate what is said at people's funerals ever since they almost crapped themselves after Paul Wellstone's memorial service. Last week they were frothing at the mouth once more when poor George W. Bush had to sit through some slightly uncomplimentary criticisms of his policies during Coretta Scott King's memorial. Can you imagine - the president had to actually listen to criticism? Unbelievable!

So tell me:

Coretta Scott King was a civil rights leader. Why was it wrong to say this at her memorial service?

The struggle for equal rights is not over. We only have to recall the color of the faces of those in Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi, those who were most devastated by Katrina, to know that there are not yet equal opportunities for all Americans. - Jimmy Carter

Coretta Scott King's family was spied on by the government. Why was it wrong to say this at her memorial service?

It was difficult for them personally - with the civil liberties of both husband and wife violated as they became the target of secret government wiretapping, other surveillance, and as you know, harassment from the FBI. - Jimmy Carter

Coretta Scott King was a vocal opponent of the Iraq War. Why was it wrong to say this at her memorial service?

She deplored the terror inflicted by our smart bombs on missions way afar. We know now that there were no weapons of mass destruction over there, but Coretta knew, and we know, that there are weapons of misdirection right down here. For war, billions more - but no more for the poor. - Rev. Joseph Lowery

Of course it wasn't wrong to say any of those things. But it certainly set off the right-wing howler monkeys who had a jolly old time on radio and cable news sniffing about "bad manners" and pontificating loudly about making funerals "political."

I'd suggest that if there's anything "political" about this brouhaha, it's the right-wing making a calculated, cynical attempt to drag Coretta Scott King, her memorial service, and her mourners through the mud in order to score partisan points. And if there were bad manners on display, I'd suggest that they belonged to George W. Bush, who apparently expected a standing ovation at the memorial of someone who was deeply opposed to everything he stands for. Perhaps he should stick to his pre-screened audiences in future.

6John Boehner cronyism palm-greasing
Last week the Republican party elected Rep. John Boehner of Ohio to replace Tom DeLay as House Majority Leader. Embattled by ethics scandals, the GOP were looking for a leader who could bring a fresh face and a new broom to sweep the party clean.

This week they may be wishing that they'd looked elsewhere. According to the Associated Press:

House Majority Leader John Boehner rents a basement apartment from a lobbyist whose clients had an interest in legislation overseen or sponsored by Boehner, according to lobbying records. ...

In a related development, it was revealed Wednesday that a former top aide to Boehner helped plan a 1996 trip to the Northern Mariana Islands that was organized by fallen lobbyist Jack Abramoff. ...

Since Boehner started campaigning early this year to replace DeLay as the No. 2-ranked House leader, he has denied having any relationship with Abramoff. Boehner has promised reforms to shake the GOP's Abramoff-related troubles.

Oh dear.


House Republicans loser
Still, this probably explains why the GOP's new strategy for victory in the 2006 elections is to retreat to Maryland's eastern shore and feast on their own propaganda. According to the New York Times:

Hunkered down at a retreat intended to help them regain their footing after a corruption scandal and a leadership shake-up, about 180 lawmakers were treated to a film spoof that portrayed Republicans as the "Star Wars" heroes being pursued by the evil Democratic empire led by "Darth Nancy." That would be Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, the House Democratic leader.

"After a decade of exile, the evil Democratic empire has created their most fearsome henchman to date, a mighty machine built to regain the majority once and for all," said the text that scrolled at the opening of the parody, which superimposed Ms. Pelosi's face on the movie villain.

You have to be kidding me - the party that currently rules the Senate, the House, and the White House; the party which is literally attempting to create an American empire run by an unaccountable, all-powerful president, is portraying themselves as the poor, downtrodden victims of the party which has no power whatsoever in Congress?

May the farce be with you.


Alberto Gonzales dumb dumb
Attorney General Alberto Gonzales appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee last week to defend the Bush administration's illegal warrantless wiretapping scheme. Unfortunately he didn't appear particularly prepared - apparently forgetting at one point that he was no longer the president's personal counsel, Gonzales referred to Bush as "my client." Whoops.

But the most bizarre moment of Gonzales's testimony surely came when he argued that there is a presidential precedent for spying on Americans. He said, "President Washington, President Lincoln, President Wilson, President Roosevelt have all authorized electronic surveillance on a far broader scale." Really? That's strange - I was under the impression that electronic surveillance required electricity.

It is possible, of course, that Gonzales may have been referring to the famous 18th Century Ben Franklin kite-flying experiment, which unbeknownst to most people was actually a secret operation to spy on nearby British sympathizers. The kite carried a chimp in a basket which was trained to draw pictures of the suspected collaborators. But the kite was struck by lightning, temporarily electrifying the monkey, and thus Ben Franklin performed - albeit briefly - the first ever electronic surveillance.

Sadly, the chimp died. But his legacy lived on and his offspring went on to participate in many other important government programs.

Rest in peace, Bobo.


George Deutsch dumb religious nut anti-environment
And finally, speaking of chimps in charge of important government programs, meet NASA public affairs officer George Deutsch. Actually I should say former NASA public affairs officer - Deutsch resigned in disgrace last week. Why? Let's just say he's no rocket scientist.

The 24-year-old Deutsch was given a job at NASA after working on George W. Bush's 2004 election campaign, and one of his duties was to censor the reports of some of the most brilliant scientists in the country. For example, he removed information from NASA's website which showed that 2005 was the warmest year on record, and forced a web designer to insert the word "theory" after every mention of the phrase "big bang." Here's how he explained the "big bang" incident:

The theory that the universe was created by a "big bang" is just that - a theory. It is not proven fact; it is opinion. Yes, the scientific community by and large may share this opinion, but that doesn't make it correct ... It is not Nasa's place, nor should it be, to make a declaration such as this about the existence of the universe that discounts intelligent design by a creator - the other half of the argument.

And this guy was a public affairs officer for NASA, for cryin' out loud.

It's quite clear that the Bush administration is infesting agencies with these brainless drones as part of their attempt to undermine the federal government. (Mike Brown anyone?) This probably explains why "The top climate scientist at NASA says the Bush administration has tried to stop him from speaking out since he gave a lecture last month calling for prompt reductions in emissions of greenhouse gases linked to global warming," according to a January New York Times article.

But that's not the end of the story - if you thought Deutsch was forced out because of his views, think again. It turns out that he'd decided to engage in a little bit of creative resume padding, which included listing a journalism degree from Texas A&M university as one of his academic achievements. Just one problem - he didn't have a degree from Texas A&M. In fact, he didn't have a degree from anywhere.

So, to recap, a 24-year-old with no college degree and a penchant for intelligent design was until very recently employed by the Bush administration to make sure that information which might upset the radical right could not be released to the public by NASA scientists.

I'd be shocked - if this sort of thing wasn't becoming so depressingly predictable. See you next week...

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