Sid's Fishbowl
A proud member of the reality-based community (aquatic division)
Thursday, September 29, 2005

DeLay Must Appear in Austin on Charge:
DeLay's attorneys were working out the details of when the 11-term congressman would return to Texas in hopes of saving him from further embarrassment, they said.

"What we're trying to avoid is Ronnie Earle having him taken down in handcuffs, and fingerprinted and photographed. That's uncalled for and I don't think that's going to happen," said Dick DeGuerin, DeLay's attorney.

Earle, the Travis County district attorney, said it is up to the court to decide how DeLay would be arraigned.
How do they do it in Gitmo? That seems like a perfectly reasonable set of procedures to follow.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

House Majority Leader Tom DeLay Indicted:
A Texas grand jury on Wednesday charged Rep. Tom DeLay (search) and two political associates with conspiracy in a campaign finance scheme, an indictment that could force him to step down as House majority leader.
My favorite part? I read it first on Fox News!

Don't you find it interesting when the following phrases all appear in the same news story?
gangland-style execution
ties to the Gambino crime family
lobbyist Jack Abramoff
closely connected to House Majority Leader Tom DeLay
defrauding lenders in their $147 million purchase
sank into bankruptcy
reputed organized crime associate
late Gambino boss John Gotti
"cruises to nowhere" industry
11 gambling ships
2,300 slot machines and 175 gaming tables
young Republican activists
If it walks like a duck...

Thank goodness my tinfoil hat is waterproof.

The Guardian has the most bizarre Katrina story of all:
Armed dolphins, trained by the US military to shoot terrorists and pinpoint spies underwater, may be missing in the Gulf of Mexico.

Experts who have studied the US navy's cetacean training exercises claim the 36 mammals could be carrying 'toxic dart' guns. Divers and surfers risk attack, they claim, from a species considered to be among the planet's smartest. The US navy admits it has been training dolphins for military purposes, but has refused to confirm that any are missing.
(Via The Last Liberal in Central Florida)

Sunday, September 25, 2005

The foreign press takes note of the right-wing lunatics war supporters that gathered alongside the anti-war march yesterday:
Military families and others defending the war in Iraq took their turn Sunday to demonstrate on the National Mall, if in much smaller numbers, and counter the massive protest against the war a day earlier.

About 100 people had gathered before a stage set up on the eastern portion of the mall as the noon rally began. A large photo of an American flag served as a backdrop for the stage, and country music blared from speakers while other banners and signs proclaiming support for U.S. troops waved in the breeze.
OK, so 100 people showed up to support the war (a pretty fucking sick thought, when you get down to it) versus anywhere from 100,000 to 500,000 anti-war protesters. By my crude math, that's at least a thousand-to-one ratio.

But this, this was my favorite part:
War supporters said the scale of the anti-war march didn't take away from their cause.

"It's the silent majority,'' said 22-year-old Stephanie Grgurich of Leesburg, Va., who has a brother serving in Iraq.
Does that phrase sound familiar? Go back and read Richard Nixon's infamous "Silent Majority" speech, delivered November 3, 1969. The echoes of the current campaign are almost surreal:
I believe that one of the reasons for the deep division about Vietnam is that many Americans have lost confidence in what their Government has told them about our policy. The American people cannot and should not be asked to support a policy which involves the overriding issues of war and peace unless they know the truth about that policy.


[L]et me begin by describing the situation I found when I was inaugurated on January 20[, 1969]:

The war had been going on for four years. One thousand Americans had been killed in action. The training program for the South Vietnamese was behind schedule; 540,000 Americans were in Vietnam with no plans to reduce the number. No progress had been made at the negotiations in Paris and the United States had not put forth a comprehensive peace proposal. The war was causing deep division at home and criticism from many of our friends as well as our enemies abroad.


And so tonight -- to you, the great silent majority of my fellow Americans -- I ask for your support.

I pledged in my campaign for the presidency to end the war in a way that we could win the peace. I have initiated a plan of action which will enable me to keep that pledge.

The more support I can have from the American people, the sooner that pledge can be redeemed; for the more divided we are at home, the less likely the enemy is to negotiate at Paris.

Let us be united for peace. Let us also be united against defeat. Because let us understand: North Vietnam cannot defeat or humiliate the United States. Only Americans can do that.


For the future of peace, precipitate withdrawal would thus be a disaster of immense magnitude. A nation cannot remain great if it betrays its allies and lets down its friends. Our defeat and humiliation in South Vietnam without question would promote recklessness in the councils of those great powers who have not yet abandoned their goals of world conquest. This would spark violence wherever our commitments help maintain the peace -- in the Middle East, in Berlin, eventually even in the Western Hemisphere. Ultimately, this would cost more lives. It would not bring peace; it would bring more war.

For these reasons, I rejected the recommendation that I should end the war by immediately withdrawing all of our forces. I chose instead to change American policy on both the negotiating front and battlefront. In order to end a war fought on many fronts.


In July, on my visit to Vietnam, I changed General Abrams' orders so that they were consistent with the objectives of our new policies. Under the new orders, the primary mission of our troops is to enable the South Vietnamese forces to assume the full responsibility for the security of South Vietnam.

Our air operations have been reduced by over 20 percent.

And now we have begun to see the results of this long overdue change in American policy in Vietnam.
I am not quite sure what Nixon meant when he said that the death toll in Vietnam was only 1000 Americans when he took office in 1969. Over 14,000 Americans were killed in action in Vietnam in 1968.

Regardless, everything that Nixon said he feared actually came true. We didn't exit Vietnam with peace or honor. And when all was said and done more than 50,000 were dead, for what turned out to be a monstrous folly.

Iraq is worse. Far worse. It's hopelessly broken, and even the best-case scenarios make Vietnam look like a picnic. I assume that Bush will declare victory (again) sometime soon and begin drawing down U.S. forces in time for the 2006 midterm elections. But the violence is going to get worse, not better. Iraqification is no different from Vietnamization. The poorly trained, unmotivated army fighting in Iraq for a corrupt government doesn't have a chance, and we're probably going to see full-scale civil war in the next year or so.

Does a "silent majority" really support that? Here's one difference:

In October 1969, an opinion poll showed that 71% of Americans did support Nixon's Vietnam policy. Within two years, however, when that policy had turned out to be a disaster, the tide of public opinion turned:
Opinion polls indicate Nixon's approval rating among Americans has dropped to 50 percent, while approval of his Vietnam strategy has slipped to just 34 percent. Half of all Americans polled believe the war in Vietnam to be "morally wrong."
The parallels to Bush are startling. In 2003, the public mostly approved of the glorious adventure in Iraq, just as those 1969-era Americans were ready to give Nixon a chance to clean up the mess in Southeast Asia. But two years later, the latest CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll shows that today's "silent majority" thinks Bush is bungling Iraq, big time:
[S]upport for his management of the war in Iraq has dropped to 32 percent, with 67 percent telling pollsters they disapproved of how Bush is prosecuting the conflict.

The survey had a sampling error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

Fifty-nine percent said they considered the 2003 invasion of Iraq a mistake. That figure is the highest recorded in a CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll.

Only 39 percent said the invasion of Iraq was the right thing to do. Sixty-three percent said they wanted to see some or all U.S. troops withdrawn from that country.
It's 1971 all over again. I really didn't like this movie when I saw it the first time. I'm afraid the sequel's going to be far worse.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Billmon delivers a shot to the gut:

I didn't go to the big anti-war demo in Washington today -- and not just because I have the normal responsibilities of a middle-aged parent with a house, a mortgage, a dog and a backyard that badly needs mowing. I could have evaded all of those things. I decided not to go because up I've been deeply conflicted about the morality of supporting a rapid U.S. military withdrawal from Iraq.

That is, up until now.

Read the whole thing.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Yes, yes, the right squeals like Ned Beatty in Deliverance when they get compared to Nazis, but goddamn it's just so easy.

So today I refer you to a pair of fabulous sources on the subject.

Start with the Project for the OLD American Century, home to really great graphics like this one:

Fascism? Not us!

And then read Digby, who has a brilliant excerpt from Dr. Lawrence Britt that lists the 14 defining characteristics of fascist regimes of the 20th Century - Hitler, Mussolini, Franco (who's still dead), Suharto, and several Latin American despots. The "odd melding of corporatism and cronyism" that defines BushCo fits very well with this gang.

We have the National Enquirer:
Faced with the biggest crisis of his political life, President Bush has hit the bottle again, The National Enquirer can reveal.

Bush, who said he quit drinking the morning after his 40th birthday, has started boozing amid the Katrina catastrophe.

Family sources have told how the 59-year-old president was caught by First Lady Laura downing a shot of booze at their family ranch in Crawford, Texas, when he learned of the hurricane disaster.

His worried wife yelled at him: "Stop, George."
Huh. I've been yelling that at him for the past five years.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

The Washington Post reports:
The Bush administration is seeking to appoint a lawyer with little immigration or customs experience to head the troubled law enforcement agency that handles those issues, prompting sharp criticism from some employee groups, immigration advocates and homeland security experts.
Good heavens! Isn't this an important job?
Its personnel investigate immigrant, drug and weapon smuggling, and illegal exports, among other responsibilities.
But she must be a good manager, right?
In written answers to questions from Congress, Myers highlighted her year-long job as assistant secretary for export enforcement at Commerce, where she said she supervised 170 employees and a $25 million budget. ICE has more than 20,000 employees and a budget of approximately $4 billion.
Oh dear. So this is like someone who's run a dozen McDonald's franchises suddenly being promoted to CEO of McDonald's. Why on earth is this happening?
Myers held a variety of jobs over the past four years at the White House and at the departments of Commerce, Justice and Treasury, though none involved managing a large bureaucracy. Myers worked briefly as chief of staff to Michael Chertoff when he led the Justice Department's criminal division before he became Homeland Security secretary.

Myers also was an associate under independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr for about 16 months and has most recently served as a special assistant to President Bush handling personnel issues.

Her uncle is Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers, the departing chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. She married Chertoff's current chief of staff, John F. Wood, on Saturday.
Well. Glad they've learned their lessons after that Brownie/FEMA debacle.

I like Billmon's take:
I don't have anything original to add -- other than my deeply held suspicion that God has subcontracted the fashioning of reality to the spirits of Mark Twain and Franz Kafka, who are sitting around in heaven like a couple of coked up screenwriters, dreaming up ever more ridiculous characters and swapping increasingly absurd story lines.

. . .
Kafka: Oh? Well what about zees, Herr Twain: What if zat verr├╝ckt president of yours tried to fill a critical homeland security post with a 36-year-old lawyer whose main credentials for ze job are zat she once worked for Ken Starr, and is der niece of Herr General Dick Myers?

Twain: OK, you got me there, Franz. Not even an idiot or a congressman -- I repeat myself -- would fall for a damnfool yarn like that. Not after Katrina. Now tell me the one about the fellow who turned into a cockroach again.
And look, here comes another hurricane!

Monday, September 19, 2005

Last week, The Onion reported on a new no-bid Halliburton contract:
On Tuesday, Halliburton received a $110 million no-bid government contract to pry the gold fillings from the mouths of deceased disaster victims in the New Orleans-Gulf Coast area. "We are proud to serve the government in this time of crisis by recovering valuable resources from the wreckage of this deadly storm," said David J. Lesar, Halliburton's president. "The gold we recover from the human rubble of Katrina can be used to make fighter-jet electronics, supercomputer chips, inflation-proof A-grade investments, and luxury yachting watches."
I'm laughing, but I don't quite know why.

(Thanks, Tbogg)

New Gallup poll:
And support for [Bush's] management of the war in Iraq has dropped to 32 percent, with 67 percent telling pollsters they disapproved of how Bush is prosecuting the conflict.


Fifty-nine percent said they considered the 2003 invasion of Iraq a mistake. That figure is the highest recorded in a CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll.

Only 39 percent said the invasion of Iraq was the right thing to do. Sixty-three percent said they wanted to see some or all U.S. troops withdrawn from that country.
Mission accomplished!

Oh, and Democrats, you are fucking paying attention, aren't you?

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Tired of having to hold it while you're sitting through those tedious General Assembly meetings? Avoid embarrassing bathroom breaks with our portable U.N. urinal! Just slip it between your legs, unzip your zipper and you're good to go -- so to speak. The Pee Wee Model (shown here) and can easily fit up to 3 inches, and comes with a handy female adaptor, for that special diplomat in your life!

Also available in AWOL Yellow, GOP Red and New Orleans Brown.

Matching presidential guitar available while supplies last! Order today!

(via Billmon)

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Tom Tomorrow:

Just think about this: we've all made a lot of jokes about the Department of Homeland Security over the past four years. But apparently, the Department of Homeland Security has absolutely no plan for dealing with devastation on this scale, which is supposedly the thing we've all been worried about for four years.

Neither do they seem to have given much thought to the transportation of refugees after a catastrophic event. In this case, we had 24 hours notice and the vast majority of the population got out on their own. If a terrorist attack of this magnitude were to occur, it would occur without warning, and the refugee problem would be exponentially greater. But right now, they can't even get in enough busses to get those people out of the Superdome.

It may turn out that that stupid color coded chart really is Homeland Security's proudest achievement.

That was then:

This is now: