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December 03, 2005

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Depraved, corrupt and decadent

We spend a lot of time discussig the damage done to us by Bush's foreign policy , but the damage done in other areas is every bit as extensive. One example: the Republicans put language in the budget bill that will allow special interest groups ( mostly miners) to buy public land in the National Parks and National Forests at 1890's prices. Unforgiveable.

I'd really like to hear from one of this blog's Bush apologists about this matter. Care to defend this policy?

It always amazed me that so many seemingly intelligent people defended Bush against chargees of ignorance by saying "well, that's OK, he'll surround himself with good, competent people." One of the hallmarks of ignorance is not knowing who the good, competent people are, or how to take their advice and create sound policy based on that advice. Ignorant people, and Bush is certainly one of them, feel better when they are able to surround themselves with equally ignorant people.

I plan to visit the United Kingdom next spring but right now I'm apprehensive about the visit. For the first time in my nearly fifty years on this planet, I am ashamed to be an American, and to be associated, even by extension, with this embarrassment of a president.

Chargees, of course, being an alternate spelling of charges.

The usual uninformed question, How did State handle these matters during Kosovo?

I'm usually on the other side but, I think the standard "The Democrats do it too" defence will do here.

I think it would be more transgressive against beltway norms to go the other way really. I think a good president could fill up the major appointed positions with nothing but whistle-blowers, people who demonstrably put the good of the country ahead of their jobs and personal well being.

My picks: Joe Wilson for Sec. State, Valerie Plame for head of CIA, Sibel Edmunds for head of the FBI, etc.

But that would upset just about every apple-cart there is.

"I'm usually on the other side but, I think the standard "The Democrats do it too" defence will do here."

Bushco* understands the principle that a quantitative difference can bring about a qualitative change. But Frank is right, there is no principled difference between a partisan Secretary of State and replacing every single non-Republican forest ranger. Subtly, there are laws involved. Wonder why?
But you can assign the Democrat forest ranger to some really horrible place, and use other legal means. Now a pattern of behavior might show intent and be actionable, but they are putting loyalists in the judiciary, so don't worry.

There are many Democrats, who will say we should not respond in kind if a Dem ever becomes President again. We should appoint qualified professionals, regardless of party, and not move to replace the hacks Bush has put in place. I can guarantee the next Democratic Presidency will be sabotaged failure, and probably the last.

The story about the Texas Redistricting has been floating around, but I don't think a post has been written here yet. Once the Republicans fully control all the levers of power, they will no longer even need to break to law to be invulnerable. They will be the law.

Treason The Domestic Component>

Majikthise

Thinking Outside the Box

Digby on bribery:

"I think we should consider it. At this rate, it's going to be 2100 before we ever get a chance to renact any true progressive legislation the old fashioned way, if then. It's time we in the reality based community faced the music. If you want something done in our government, you have to pay top dollar for it."

I suppose Digby was kidding. Bummer, but that's my party. Righteous losers.

The charge of folks on this site "hating America" was made a few threads ago but that person apparently went up a creek and couldn't find a paddle.

I would never say Bush and company hate America.

They simply don't know what it is. They simply love something else too much.

I agree with McManus that a Democratic Administration must "heighten the contradictions" and leave no stone unturned in flushing the Federal Government of (I would say Republicans; but these folks are something else and to use the term Republican would tarnish the reputation of real Republicans here) and demand and accept the resignations of all political appointees in the government, and under the Bush Administration, there won't be much above GS-13 that won't need to be purged.

Further, ilk like Delay, Norquist, Cheney, must be singled out by the next Democratic Administration by having their families' Social Security, Medicare, highway privileges, clean air privileges, National Park privileges, and the rest revoked.

I see (via Kevin Drum or DKOs, who cares?)libertarian and libertine Bob Livingston is pledging "revolution" because of the Bush Administration's utter lack of follow-through (his charge, not mine) in New Orleans.

May he have much worse problems than that under a Democratic Administration.

If these people don't like it and want to spill a little testosterone, show them the small print in the Patriot Act.

And then raise their taxes by some goodly amount, because barbed wire costs money. I want to get my love for the country they snuck into through their mother's birth canals by pure luck all over them.

This rant is brought to you by me only and all nice folks, especially DaveC, who show up here are exempt from its wrath.

Unless someone wants to step outside and settle the who-loves-America-most question.

I would lose that argument because I like most of America with the exception of downtown Sacremento, bits of Cleveland, and various polluted creeks.

But I'm up for a good fight.

To potential 'Clinton did it too' defenders of the administration's behavior as outlined in the K-R article: The burden is on you to cite cases of the Clinton administration doing anything like this kind of ideological and policy-support screening. This wouldn't be news if it weren't news, so to speak.

Oh, my god! Bush wants people he puts in place to actually support his policies. How dare he?

scientific advisory boards, whose role is simply to pronounce on scientific questions. Every time this or any other administration refuses to hire the best person for a basically apolitical job unless that person vocally supports them,

The real problem is that many of these people don't act apolitical. Then what do you do?

If the administration were looking for a person to develop policy on prenatal care, and refused to hire any expert on prenatal care who was not a Bush loyalist, that would show that it is prepared to sacrifice the quality of its policy on prenatal care, and thus (potentially) the lives and health of our children, in order to reward Bush loyalists. Similarly for any similar job.

Or if they hired someone who constantly undermined the administration policies that could also put the lives of our children in danger.

Of course most of those people already work at the CIA and work to undermine the President. This has obviously hurt the war effort in Iraq. But, not everyone cares about the lives of people in the military.

John,

How clever. If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and talks like a duck. Alot of people are going to think its a duck. It might not actually be one, but it sure is easily mistaken for one.


there is no principled difference between a partisan Secretary of State and replacing every single non-Republican forest ranger.

Of course there's a principled difference. Secretary of State is a political position. Forest ranger isn't. You can't be Secretary of State - that is, you can't do the job - if you strongly disagree with the President's foreign policy. You can disagree with the President's forest policy and still be an excellent ranger.

creek: there was a reason I put in the qualifier 'fundamentally apolitical jobs'. Of course the President has a right to select, for instance, the cabinet of his choice. But a lot of jobs in the federal government are fundamentally apolitical, and should be treated as such.

If you can show me cases of scientific advisory board members not doing their job (with the exception of political appointees made by this administration), fine. Until then, I'll continue to believe both the reports that I've read and the people I know in the scientific community, who tell me that this was not a problem, and that the attempt by this administration to politicize them is without precedent in recent history.

Finally, creek, as I said before: if you want to claim that someone hates America, know that you are making a serious accusation, and be prepared to back it up.

"But it's worth being angry about nonetheless."

True. And yet how to not be burned out from anger over torture?

"One example: the Republicans put language in the budget bill that will allow special interest groups ( mostly miners) to buy public land"

Plausible, but absent a cite, apparently non-existent. Am I the only one who thinks one can't believe claims absent cites? Perhaps so. For me, though, absent them, claims don't exist. It's all because of the aliens who stuck a probe up my ass, you know. That's an example.

Without a cite. (Although I support my claim with the fact that aliens also groped me in 1997; for example.)

Also, Democrats are all plaid.

For example. And they ate my homework. (Pointless and unsupported claims are worth such, aren't they?; why on earth go people make them?; I don't get it.)

Gary- Maybe the person making the claim figures anyone interested enought to snark about it either already knows, or can look it up their own damn selves.

"Am I the only one who thinks one can't believe claims absent cites?"

Gary do I need to cite the story about the career Forest Ranger (female) who got transferred? It was a widely published story in the first term. I couldn't tell from Bernard's comment whether he remembered it or not. I was trying to think of adequate search phrases.

How about all the DOJ Civil Rights Division lawyers leaving? That was a couple weeks ago.
Or the politicization of many other dep'ts.

We are not in a court of law, and I do not intentionally make things up. "Sun rises in east and here is the link" is a waste of everyone's time.

Here is a list for those interested. Obviously a 'partisan' site, but with the names, it should be easy to work backwards and find the news articles concerning the individuals. (there's also at least one link given for each person)

"In one recent case, a leading expert on conflict resolution who is a former senior State Department adviser was scheduled to participate in a U.S. Embassy-sponsored videoconference in Jerusalem last month, but at the last minute he was told that his participation no longer was required."

What was the topic of the U.S. Embassy-sponsored videoconference? If it was the Israel/Palestine conflict, the war on terrorism, or Middle East policies in general I can completely understand why you wouldn't put an administration critic in a U.S. Embassy-sponsored conference in Jerusalem. Everything the US does in Israel is scrutinized by the surrounding Arab countries. The existance of Jews in Jerusalem is a key point in some of the above-named conflicts.

These are not fundamentally apolitical topics. I wouldn't put a guy who objects to De-Baathification in a conference on any of those topics. Despite my best efforts, I can't find the topic of the teleconference. Does anyone know it?

Mining bill. Google News makes it easy.

I don't request cites in casual conversations with trustworthy people. I mean, they're good, but it's usually not that hard to find them oneself. And on certain subjects I trust certain people a whole lot without cites. If you know enough about a subject that you can no longer keep straight where you learned all of it, being asked for a cite gets damn annoying.

These are not fundamentally apolitical topics. I wouldn't put a guy who objects to De-Baathification in a conference on any of those topics. Despite my best efforts, I can't find the topic of the teleconference. Does anyone know it?

That's a fair point. The nearest thing I can come up with is this Iftar discussion or possibly some of the other video conferences held for Ramadan, but I don't know how good the Consulate is in updating its site, though the general time frame is about right. However, if it was on the subject of Israeli-Palestinian reconciliation, how relevant is David Phillips previous criticisms of the Administration on Iraq? At some point, the desire the politicize everything, while not unique to this administration, is true to a much greater extent than ever before.

Hil didn't quote this from the news story, which is, I think, relevant to many of the comments above:

The effort, known as the "U.S. Speakers/Specialist Program," is part of a public diplomacy effort to change negative foreign opinions of the United States. It's overseen by Undersecretary of State Karen Hughes, although the questionable practices reportedly began before she took up her post in September.

Using political views to screen candidates appears to violate the speaker program's charter, which is to present a "range of responsible opinion" in the United States to overseas audiences, not to hawk a particular administration's policies.

My new favorite adjective to describe the belief in a non-partisan program run by Ms. Hughes (or her predecessors) is adorable.

I may be getting old and flabby (well, I am, but I mean intellectually too) and, pace Gary, I can't link to any sources, but I find nothing either new or exceptionally objectionable about the government "vetting" those who are "sent overseas to represent the United States",.

I mean, in an ideal world they wouldn't do it, but I assume they always have, and with a certain logic. Forty years ago I had some contact with the Speakers' Bureau of the US Embassy, London, and although they scarcely would have tried to dictate what I (or any other speaker) said, I always presumed that they intended, when replying to a request from some British organization for a speaker on a given topic, to send out someone who "represented" something at least compatible with government policy on that topic. And why not?

This should NOT be read as an excuse for political litmus tests for scientific advisors or other nominally apolitical appointments. This is NOT to justify the occasional efforts of our government, past as well as present, to impede the travel or speech of American citizens not representing the government (as we used to do all the time in the early Cold War, where you could have your passport seized for attending the wrong "international conference"). This is NOT to condone jerking around a U.S. Senator, who has (IMHO) a right to represent the US wherever and however he pleases, regardless of whether the administration likes it.

But the original charge - that those chosen to "represent" the US overseas should be approved by the government - seems pretty weak to me, in comparison with a lot of the other stuff [sic] that's going on nowadays.

dr. ngo: I have no problem with the State Department vetting people to see (for instance) whether they would reflect credit on the US. In fact, I'd be worried if they didn't: if they somehow thought that even-handedness required them to send, oh, Lyndon LaRouche on speaking tours. What I mind is the substitution of "likes the Bush administration" for "will do credit to his/her country", or whatever other criterion they might legitimately use.

OT, Dana Priest earns a Pulitzer (again).

The CIA inspector general is investigating a growing number of what it calls "erroneous renditions," according to several former and current intelligence officials.

One official said about three dozen names fall in that category; others believe it is fewer. The list includes several people whose identities were offered by al Qaeda figures during CIA interrogations, officials said. One turned out to be an innocent college professor who had given the al Qaeda member a bad grade, one official said.

"They picked up the wrong people, who had no information. In many, many cases there was only some vague association" with terrorism, one CIA officer said.

I wouldn't believe that in a novel.

Also:

About a dozen men have been transferred by the CIA to Guantanamo Bay, according to a Washington Post review of military tribunal testimony and other records. Some CIA officials have argued that the facility has become, as one former senior official put it, "a dumping ground" for CIA mistakes.

This case was new to me:

Another CIA former captive, according to declassified testimony from military tribunals and other records, is Mohamedou Oulad Slahi, a Mauritanian and former Canada resident, who says he turned himself in to the Mauritanian police 18 days after the 9/11 attacks because he heard the Americans were looking for him. The CIA took him to Jordan, where he spent eight months undergoing interrogation, according to his testimony, before being taken to Guantanamo Bay.

I hope Condoleeza Rice has a really fun week in Europe.

That Masri story is something else. There does seem to be an admission in there, though. Can anyone see any reason not to get the checkbook out, big time?

WRT CIA rejects, I'm surprised to hear it's only a dozen. I'd be interested to know what HRW's figure is.

Katherine: post en route as we speak.

One turned out to be an innocent college professor who had given the al Qaeda member a bad grade, one official said.

Ahh, the life affirming characteristics of grade inflation, illustrated by a counter-example.

creek,
wtf are you doing here? I mean, a few threads back we're all waiting with baited breath for you to tell us the plan. You remember, the plan that was so well-known that we were all liars for acting like we didn't know what it was (ie not the plan that was so secret you couldn't mention it). The one that you were able to distill after listening to Bush's speeches.

Or are you just planning on jumping in early on every thread, lobbing some verbal hand grenades, getting to the point of having to really answer a question, and then jumping ahead to the next thread?
'Cos there's a word for that. They live under bridges sometimes...

To which I would add: this is also one in a string of reports about administration officials vetting all appointees for political views, even appointees to groups like scientific advisory boards, whose role is simply to pronounce on scientific questions.

Yes. I wrote about an example of this in my very first post on Liberal Street Fighter - April 30. I was writing as an irate telecommunications geek, more than anything else...

Gary,
Plausible, but absent a cite, apparently non-existent.

I don't think we necessarily need to assign discrete truth values to every statement. For example, if Bob says he read something someplace but can't remember where, I would throw that into the bucket with some other modifiers and come up with my (admittedly subjective) Believability Index.
If something sounds implausible to me, the BI goes down. If Bob can provide a cite (or if a bunch of other trustworthy people remember seeing it), then the BI goes up. But it doesn't go to 1 even then, since we all know that misleading and inaccurate stuff gets printed in reputable newspapers relatively frequently.

Which isn't to say that calling for a cite is inappropriate (now that I say that, I feel like such a nitpicker); actually, in this case (the law allowing mining companies to buy public land) I wanted to see one, too- mostly bc the original statement was vague & I wanted to learn more.
And so, thanks Bob for finding a link.

I don't use cites because it ruins the riff.

I look up to our Presidents and our current one has taught me by example that facts obscure absolute truth. Facts tend to evolve according to the cast of light, and I'm on to their game. The original intelligent design has been revealed to me, so I'm good to go.

I pick up facts as I go and internalize them, wrap them in spidery Thullen silk, and hang them in the corner for later entertainment value.

Plus, I figure everyone here is smarter and better-informed than I am.

Plus, I'm lazy.

Plus, I can't get over the fact that 14 people can read a cite and have 14 different opinions. I'm a relativist that way; heck, might as well skip the cite and get directly to the foodfight.

After all, if we live in a world containing Katherine's and Hilzoy's cites absolutely condemning torture and torture remains on the menu at the White House, then how exactly did cites edify the unedifiable.

Better to just cuss from the get-go.

Does this mean that Jimmy Carter can't be overly enthusiastic in certifying the overwhelming mandate that proves the legitimacy of Robert Mugabe's regime?

--

Plus, I figure everyone here is smarter and better-informed than I am.

no fair baiting people.

--

Clarence Page cracks me up, disapproving of US presenting its POV in Iraqi newspapers, while MoveOn.Org thinks that it has bought (possibly true) and paid for (definitely not true) the Tribune corporation.

I never cared for Jimmy Carter. He figures piety justifies all opinions.

Wait, are we still talking about Jimmy Carter?

I check in on the Carter Center from time to time.

I actually (heart) U BTW.

Hmmmm, Carter? Check out this James Wolcott blog post riffing on the fact that his book is #1 on the NYTimes bestseller list.

DaveC, in case you didn't notice, this thread was about the actions of the Bush administration.

OTOH, maybe I should take this as a surrender of the 'Clinton was worse!' theme.

Should we start a pool betting on when we'll see 'LBJ was worse!', 'Truman was worse!', FDR was worse!', etc. Of course, I've seen all three of those, so who's the next Democratic President?

One turned out to be an innocent college professor who had given the al Qaeda member a bad grade,

Am I just hallucinating, or was there a separate thread on this topic yesterday, which has since disappeared?

Never mind. It seems I was hallucinating (or at least reading ineptly) after all.

Maybe I should go to bed now.

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