Sid's Fishbowl
A proud member of the reality-based community (aquatic division)
Friday, October 28, 2005

Standards of Official Conduct:

January 20, 2001


SUBJECT: Standards of Official Conduct

Everyone who enters into public service for the United States has a duty to the American people to maintain the highest standards of integrity in Government. I ask you to ensure that all personnel within your departments and agencies are familiar with, and faithfully observe, applicable ethics laws and regulations, including the following general principles from the Standards of Ethical Conduct for Employees of the Executive Branch:

(1) Public service is a public trust, requiring employees to place loyalty to the Constitution, the laws, and ethical principles above private gain.

(2) Employees shall not hold financial interests that conflict with the conscientious performance of duty.

(3) Employees shall not engage in financial transactions using nonpublic Government information or allow the improper use of such information to further any private interest.

(4) An employee shall not, except as permitted by applicable law or regulation, solicit or accept any gift or other item of monetary value from any person or entity seeking official action from, doing business with, or conducting activities regulated by the employee's agency, or whose interests may be substantially affected by the performance or nonperformance of the employee's duties.

(5) Employees shall put forth honest effort in the performance of their duties.

(6) Employees shall not knowingly make unauthorized commitments or promises of any kind purporting to bind the Government.

(7) Employees shall not use public office for private gain.

(8) Employees shall act impartially and not give preferential treatment to any private organization or individual.

(9) Employees shall protect and conserve Federal property and shall not use it for other than authorized activities.

(10) Employees shall not engage in outside employment or activities, including seeking or negotiating for employment, that conflict with official Government duties and responsibilities.

(11) Employees shall disclose waste, fraud, abuse, and corruption to appropriate authorities.

(12) Employees shall satisfy in good faith their obligations as citizens, including all just financial obligations, especially those -- such as Federal, State, or local taxes -- that are imposed by law.

(13) Employees shall adhere to all laws and regulations that provide equal opportunity for all Americans regardless of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, or handicap.

(14) Employees shall endeavor to avoid any actions creating the appearance that they are violating applicable law or the ethical standards in applicable regulations.

Executive branch employees should also be fully aware that their post-employment activities with respect to lobbying and other forms of representation will be bound by the restrictions of 18 U.S.C. 207.

Please thank the personnel of your departments and agencies for their commitment to maintain the highest standards of integrity in Government as we serve the American people.


Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Athenae explains why Karl Rove is so loathed and despised:
I say to everybody who claims to be shocked at this turn of events, at the state of politics today, knowing what these guys were like before, what exactly did you expect?

Joe Wilson got pissed off, tied a noose around his neck and showed up at a press conference to tell Saddam Hussein that if Hussein wanted to hang him, Wilson'd bring his own fucking rope. Valerie Plame got death threats from Al Qaeda, per Larry Johnson on CNN today, and went back to work the next day. These weren't people who didn't understand the importance of what they were doing.

But to Bush and his administration, everything was a cheap political shot. It's been said of Republicans that they know how to run a campaign but have no idea how to run a country; there's nowhere that's clearer than it is in this case. They only have one speed: Week Before Election Day, when everything's about getting the smear out as fast as you can to taint the public's impression of your opponents. And man, does it ever work for them on the trail, except here's the problem. That's the only place it works.

In order to get the job done, to fight terrorism and actually do it well, they were going to have deal with people who disagreed with them. They were going to have to deal with people they didn't like, and with people they didn't want to have around, because those people were good at their jobs. They could have tolerated a little dissent from some unexciting bureaucrats who got the job done, and yeah, there would have been a couple of days of kerfluffle and then it would have been over. Instead they went nuclear on everybody who spoke out against them, on Paul O'Neill, on Richard Clarke, on John Weaver, on anybody who so much as raised his or her voice, and the list goes on.

It's not mark of strength, it never is, to barrel down on somebody smaller than you. If you're really the leader of the free world, if you're really the strongest and biggest badass the land has ever known, you aren't threatened by anybody. Least of all another American speaking his or her mind.

But they never were our leaders. They told us to be afraid, and they turned us on each other, and they gave away our money to their friends and killed our sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers, husbands and wives. They sniped and they snarled, but they never did lead us. They never brought us an inch above ourselves, or a milimeter closer together.

For all their blithering about restoring honor and dignity, for all the lofty words that come from their speechwriters' offices, they are small men, and their vision only extends to power, not poetry. They don't understand what service to your country means; look at their service records. They don't understand what respect that should entail; look what they did to Max Cleland, to John Kerry. They don't understand anything except how to step hardest on somebody's fingers on their way up the stairs.

They got to the top, and had no idea where they were, or why. And the mountain's crashing down on them now, so I say again, what exactly did you think was going to happen?

"It’s getting hard to keep track of all the lies we’ve been told."

The Huffington Post

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Who will be indicted?

The consensus from Atrios' comments:

Joe Wilson
Valerie Plame
Bill Clinton
Hillary Clinton
Al Franken
Sandy Berger
and Aaron Burr

Heh. Indeed.

My list includes:

Stephen Hadley
John Bolton
Ari Fleischer
Tom DeLay (oh, wait, he's already been indicted!)

So who do you want for Fitzmas?

From a commenter at Atrios:

Will somebody give Bush a blow-job already so we can start the impeachment?

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Steve Clemons passes along highlights of a New Yorker profile of Brent Scowcroft, containing this amazing anecdote:
Goldberg talks to the former Soviet dissident Natan Sharansky, whose book, 'The Case for Democracy,' came to national attention when George W. Bush told the Washington Times, 'If you want a glimpse of how I think about foreign policy, read Natan Sharansky's book.' In the book, Sharansky criticizes Bush's father for a speech he gave in 1991, in Ukraine, opposing a break with the Soviet Union -- a speech critics labelled 'Chicken Kiev.'

Sharansky tells Goldberg that soon after his book was published, he was invited to the White House to see the President. He says, 'So I go to the White House and I see my book on his desk. It is open to page 210. He is really reading it. And we talk about democracy. This President is very great on democracy. At the end of the conversation, I say, 'Say hello to your mother and father.' And he said, 'My father?' He looked very surprised I would say this.'

Sharansky went on, 'So I say to the President, 'I like your father. He is very good to my wife when I am in prison.' And President Bush says, 'But what about Chicken Kiev?''"
That sound you hear is my head hitting the desk, over and over again.

James Wolcott:
Look at how the press talks about Rove. He's the nervous system of the White House staff, the chief architect of Republican dominance, the 7200 rpm hard drive of the Bush machine, the jolly pirate who guides the ship of state; without Rove, Bush will be reduced to wandering around the White House bumping into walls like a robot on the blink.

Rove is considered indispensable, irreplaceable. But you, Scooter? You're being treated as not just dispensable but disposable. Rove is Bush's evil genius. Dick Cheney doesn't need an evil genius. He's his own evil genius. Once your nameplate has been removed from your desk, Burns will simply find himself another Smithers to pledge groveling obedience.
Wolcott speculates that Libby will not go quietly but will try to take some of the thugs in the WH with him. Pass the popcorn, please.

Oh, and has anyone else noticed that "Rove and Libby" sounds a lot like "Hunt and Liddy"? Just sayin'. (Thanks to Imus and Wolcott for the poetic justice.)

Saturday, October 22, 2005

I missed Al Franken on Letterman last night, but a reliable source tells he said this:

“So apparently, Karl Rove and Scooter Libby are guilty of treason-- and now it looks like they’re going to be executed…

I’m not sure how I feel about this, because on one hand, I’m against capitol punishment….”

Heh. Indeed.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Brad R. watchs the Wilkerson tape and says he's shrill, "like Spinal Tap designed his sound system and turned his shrillness dial up to '11.'" An illustration:
And I'll finish just by bringing it down screechingly to the ground, and tell you that the detainee abuse issue is just such a concrete example of (the decision making process within the Bush administration) I've just described to you, that ten years from now or so- when it's really, really put to the acid test, ironed out, and people have looked at it from every angle- we are going to be ashamed of what we allowed to happen. I don't know how many people saw the Frontline documentary last night. Very well-done, I thought, but it didn't get anywhere near the specifics that need to be shown, that need to come out, that need to say to the American people, "This is not us. This is not the way we do business in the world..."

I don't think in our history we've ever had a Presidential involvement, a Secretarial involvement, a Vice-Presidential involvement, an Attorney General involvement in telling our troops that, essentially, carte blanche is the way you should feel. You should not have any qualms because this is a different kind of conflict... I understand the radical change in the nature of our enemy, but that doesn't mean we make a radical change in the nature of America. But that's what we did. And we did it in private. And we did it in such privacy that the Secretary of State had to open the door to my office one day... and he said, "Larry. Larry, get everything. Get all the paperwork. Get the ICRC (International Community of the Red Cross) reports. Get everything. I think this is going to be a real mess...

As former soldiers, we knew that you don't have this kind of pervasive attitude out there unless you've condoned it. And whether you did it explicitly or not is irrelevant. If you did it at all... you're in trouble. Because that slippery slope is truly slippery, and it will take years to reverse the situation.
I hope Colin Powell understands how complicit he's been in this whole fucking mess. He knows, and yet he remains silent. That won't go over well in the purge trials.

Colin Powell's former chief of staff spills his guts:
Vice-President Dick Cheney and a handful of others had hijacked the government's foreign policy apparatus, deciding in secret to carry out policies that had left the US weaker and more isolated in the world, the top aide to former Secretary of State Colin Powell claimed on Wednesday.

In a scathing attack on the record of President George W. Bush, Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, chief of staff to Mr Powell until last January, said: “What I saw was a cabal between the vice-president of the United States, Richard Cheney, and the secretary of defense, Donald Rumsfeld, on critical issues that made decisions that the bureaucracy did not know were being made.

“Now it is paying the consequences of making those decisions in secret, but far more telling to me is America is paying the consequences.”
Watch the video here.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Because Thomas DeFrank of the Daily News is a professional reporter, he can't actually write the proper closing paragraph of this story:
Other sources confirmed, however, that Bush was initially furious with Rove in 2003 when his deputy chief of staff conceded he had talked to the press about the Plame leak.

Bush has always known that Rove often talks with reporters anonymously and he generally approved of such contacts, one source said.

But the President felt Rove and other members of the White House damage-control team did a clumsy job in their campaign to discredit Plame's husband, Joseph Wilson, the ex-diplomat who criticized Bush's claim that Saddam Hussen tried to buy weapons-grade uranium in Niger.
Bush was furious because these guys got caught. In fact, that appears to be the only measure of incompetence in the Bush White House. Do whatever you have to do, but don't get caught.

And let the record show that I posted this 14 minutes before Atrios, who obviously ripped off my brilliant thought.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Judith Miller then:
Miller has reacted angrily to criticism of her pre-war reporting. In a May 27, 2004 article in Salon, published the day after the Times mea culpa, James C. Moore quoted her: "You know what," she offered angrily. "I was proved fucking right. That's what happened. People who disagreed with me were saying, 'There she goes again.' But I was proved fucking right." This quotation was originally in relation to another Miller story, wherein she indicated that trailers found in Iraq had been proven to be mobile weapons labs. That too was later shown to be untrue.
Judith Miller now:
Ms. Miller said that she was proud of her journalism career, including her work on Al Qaeda, biological warfare and Islamic militancy. But she acknowledged serious flaws in her articles on Iraqi weapons.

"W.M.D. - I got it totally wrong," she said. "The analysts, the experts and the journalists who covered them - we were all wrong. If your sources are wrong, you are wrong. I did the best job that I could."
The reporters assigned to unravel this story for the New York Times say, "In two interviews, Ms. Miller generally would not discuss her interactions with editors, elaborate on the written account of her grand jury testimony or allow reporters to review her notes."

Well, of course she wouldn't. Mustn't actually share any information with the public.

PZ Myers:
You would be surprised at how much email is sent to me telling me to stop being so derisive, that harsh language and ridicule turn people off and repel the very ones we're trying to persuade. My reply is like the one above; by refusing to ridicule the ridiculous, by watering down every criticism into a mannered circumlocution, we have created an environment where idiots thrive unchallenged. We have a twit for a president because so many people made apologies for his ludicrous lack of qualifications—we need more people unabashedly pointing out fools.

I'm doing my part to fight Idiot America. I hope more people join me.
Fuck yeah.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Oh, this is rich! Time's Blog of the Year PowerLine, plus the racist Michelle Malkin, and someone named Tapscott are practically peeing themselves over the M$M's conspiratorial failure to investigate a bombing in Oklahoma by a so-called radical Islamist student.

So the Wall Street Journal sends some professional reports to the scene, who investigate thoroughly and conclude that the wingnuts are full of shit. Best of all, the story's free for all readers!

Corrections, retractions, and apologies to appear on aforesaid wingnut blogs around when monkeys fly out my butt.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

General Tommy Franks famously called Douglas Feith "the fucking stupidest guy on the face of the earth".

It appeared the title was his forever.

No more. Congratulations, Richard Cohen. You're the new holder of the title.

In one column of breathtaking stupidity and cluelessness, you've snatched the title away and raised the bar so high that no one may ever clear it.

If you have any sense of history, you'll retire now rather than sully your legacy.

August J. Pollak (of Overboard fame) found this real obituary in the Chicago Tribune:
Theodore Roosevelt Heller, 88, loving father of Charles (Joann) Heller; dear brother of the late Sonya (the late Jack) Steinberg. Ted was discharged from the U.S. Army during WWII due to service related injuries, and then forced his way back into the Illinois National Guard insisting no one tells him when to serve his country. Graveside services Tuesday 11 a.m. at Waldheim Jewish Cemetery (Ziditshover section), 1700 S. Harlem Ave., Chicago. In lieu of flowers, please send acerbic letters to Republicans.
R.I.P., sir.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Dana Milbank wears out his little clicker:
But this much could be seen watching the tape of NBC's broadcast during Bush's 14-minute pre-sunrise interview, in which he stood unprotected by the usual lectern. The president was a blur of blinks, taps, jiggles, pivots and shifts. Bush has always been an active man, but standing with Lauer and the serene, steady first lady, he had the body language of a man wishing urgently to be elsewhere.

The fidgeting clearly corresponded to the questioning. When Lauer asked if Bush, after a slow response to Katrina, was 'trying to get a second chance to make a good first impression,' Bush blinked 24 times in his answer. When asked why Gulf Coast residents would have to pay back funds but Iraqis would not, Bush blinked 23 times and hitched his trousers up by the belt.

When the questioning turned to Miers, Bush blinked 37 times in a single answer -- along with a lick of the lips, three weight shifts and some serious foot jiggling. Laura Bush, by contrast, delivered only three blinks and stood still through her entire answer about encouraging volunteerism.
I guess the Steely-Eyed Rocketman costume has been put away for good.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Calling Joe Lieberman a tool is not McCarthyism. And no, Bull Moose, it doesn't matter what Joe did 43 years ago. It matters what he did in 2001, and 2002, and 2003, and especially 2004. And most especially 2005.

You're standing in front of an empty suit.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Market whiz John Hussman reports:
Well, the market fell last week, apparently on news that President Bush chose Tommy “Moe” Johnson, a Domino's pizza delivery boy, as his nominee to replace Alan Greenspan as Fed Chairman.

“I was just in the right place at the right time” said Tommy, who had inadvertently wandered into the Oval Office with a large pepperoni as Bush was making his choice. Runners up included Martin “Eenie” Feldstein of the National Bureau of Economic Research, John “Meenie” Taylor of Stanford University, and Ben “Mynie” Bernanke of the Council of Economic Advisors.
It's funny because it could so easily be true.

(Thanks to James Wolcott for the pointer.)

Oh, and now the part that's not so funny. It's October, the month when markets crash. And it appears, if Hussman is correct, that President Hoover Bush 43 is about to preside over a doozy.


Sunday, October 09, 2005

Armando at the Daily Kos:
It is NOT unfair now to speculate that a New York Times reporter conspired with members of the Bush Administration in a scheme to discredit a critic of the Bush regime. It is NOT unfair now to speculate that the management of the New York Times is engaged in obfuscation and stonewalling in order to cover up its complicity in Ms. Miller's actions.
I also think it's completely reasonable to drag JimmyJeff Gannon into the grand jury room. Oh, to have him testify under oath about his private meetings with White House officials!

Amanda from Pandagon tells a story about life in Austin:
People often ask me why I live in Texas, in no small part because they mistakenly believe that we are wall-to-wall reactionary Klan-joining rednecks. You can explain a million times that you love it because people's politics are to the left while they are just as ornery as Texans elsewhere, and probably more so, until you are blue in the face and some won't get it. But tonight I went to go see The Gossip at Emo's and the bartender told us a classic Austin story.

He and his brother we driving down I-35 and they saw some guys holding up signs that said, 'Stop Gay Marriage'. This irritated them, so they went to the bar, got some old signs, flipped them over and wrote, 'These guys are gay,' on them with a big arrow and went and stood next to them for a couple of hours with the sign pointed at them and the 'protesters' stupidly never even noticed them. Or, it was suggested, they did but they simply didn't have a problem with the sign. I said that it was probably because they were a gay couple and didn't want marriage legalized due to parental pressure to marry that they were avoiding.

Anyway, that's the sort of shit that goes on constantly here and that's why I'm never going to leave. The ornery attitude that underlies a lot of mean-spirited conservatism can be harnessed to fight it, too, and that's afight more of us are undertaking than the press would have you believe.
Heh. Indeed, y'all.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Damn! Molly Ivins can nail it with words that should be etched in stone:
the Republican right came to Washington to start a revolution and stayed to run a racket. It has become a game of ideological flim-flam, a scam in which all manner of distracting hoo-hah -- abortion, judicial activism, even "the war on terra" -- is used to obscure the fact that the government has been taken over by people who are using it to make money for themselves and their friends.
She's good. Read the rest.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

The BBC has this eyewitness account of a June 2003 meeting with George W. Bush and Palestinian leaders, as recounted by Palestinian Foreign Minister Nabil Shaath:
"'President Bush said to all of us: 'I'm driven with a mission from God. God would tell me, 'George, go and fight those terrorists in Afghanistan.' And I did, and then God would tell me, 'George, go and end the tyranny in Iraq …' And I did. And now, again, I feel God's words coming to me, 'Go get the Palestinians their state and get the Israelis their security, and get peace in the Middle East.' And by God I'm gonna do it.''"
I had heard this story before (it was reported in a lot of not-so-mainstream sites contemporaneously, mostly based on a story in Ha'aretz). The story made it into a long MSN story during the 2004 campaign, but this is the first time I've seen the account fleshed out so thoroughly in a mainstream source.

Oh, and that thumping sound? That's my head hitting the desk repeatedly.

(via Unfogged)

Move over George H.W. Bush! There's a new engineer at the helm of the economy, and it looks like the train wreck will be of epic proportions. The University of Michigan's latest Survey of Consumers has the glum news:
Consumer confidence plunged in September to its lowest level in more than a dozen years. “High gas prices had a devastating impact on consumers’ budgets and caused consumers to expect a worsening financial situation during the year ahead,” according to Richard Curtin, the Director of the University of Michigan’s Surveys of Consumers. Over the past fifty years, such steep and widespread declines in confidence have typically triggered recessions. “Among the prior declines that sparked recessions, the most comparable situation was in August of 1990, when consumer confidence fell from the about the same level, by about the same amount, and prompted by the same steep increases in gas prices,” noted Curtin. The key issue is whether the rise in Federal spending due to Katrina and Rita will be sufficient to offset the decline in consumer spending. “While the economy may not be technically falling into recession, the data indicate that consumer spending will weaken in the months ahead,” said Curtin.

The Index of Consumer Sentiment was 76.9 in the September 2005 survey, down from 89.1 in August and 96.5 in July. The one month decline of 12.2 points equaled the largest monthly decline recorded since 1978; the combined August and September decline was the largest two month decline on record, falling a total of 19.6 Index-points. [Emphasis added]
Mission accomplished?

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Today's New York Times has huge news:
The 1918 influenza virus, the cause of one of history's most deadly epidemics, has been reconstructed and found to be a bird flu that jumped directly to humans, two teams of federal and university scientists announced yesterday.

It was the culmination of work that began a decade ago and involved fishing tiny fragments of the 1918 virus from snippets of lung tissue from two soldiers and an Alaskan woman who died in the 1918 pandemic. The soldiers' tissue had been saved in an Army pathology warehouse, and the woman had been buried in permanently frozen ground.

'This is huge, huge, huge,' said John Oxford, a professor of virology at St. Bartholomew's and the Royal London Hospital who was not part of the research team. 'It's a huge breakthrough to be able to put a searchlight on a virus that killed 50 million people. I can't think of anything bigger that's happened in virology for many years.'

The scientists painstakingly traced the genetic sequence, synthesized the virus using tools of molecular biology, and infected mice and human lung cells with it in a secure laboratory at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.

So how should we respond to this?

By cutting funding for the CDC, of course. The center's budget was already due to be slashed:
The Bush administration this week proposed a $531 million reduction in the budget for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and public health advocacy groups are lashing out at the money-saving measure.

President Bush's proposed fiscal 2006 budget includes a 6.6 percent funding cutback for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, according to an analysis from Trust for America's Health, a nonprofit organization in Washington.
But wait, there's more. Just two weeks ago, USA Today reported that the Republican Congress was prepared to cut even more from the CDC budget:
A group of conservative Republicans led by Rep. Mike Pence of Indiana proposed a variety of spending cuts to pay for hurricane relief efforts along the Gulf Coast. ... [A] wish list of cuts released by the House Republican Study Committee, a group of 110 fiscal conservatives ... [proposes to] reduce funding for the Centers of Disease of Control and Prevention by $1.8 billion for 2006 .

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Some very nice Anti-Bush Gear. I have no idea who these people are, but they've got some smart designs. My inner geek likes this one:

Read The Poor Man:
If I were some kind of important Democratic talking head, my main role would be waiting for some conservative to claim to oppose Miers, and then say, matter-of-factly: “no, you don’t.” Because you don’t. It’s too fucking late for you. When Bush’s ratings were not quite so humiliating, he could appoint cronies ’til the cows came home and I didn’t hear you say boo about it. Miers will probably be a disasterous justice, but it’s hard to concieve of a situation in which she’d kill more people than Brownie, let alone Richard Perle. This is what you voted for. No: this is what you lied for, stole for, smeared for, and killed for. It’s funny how you’ve all just noticed that Bush is a shitty, selfish President, right about the same time you noticed that Tom DeLay uses the federal budget as his own personal bribe fund, right about the same time they both started polling in territory usually reserved for Vanilla Ice and oral gonorrhea. Hell, I’d want off that ship, too, but you can’t have it. Look: Bush is hot shit, and one way or another he’s going to walk away from this. You aren’t.

Monday, October 03, 2005

I want DNA testing on that blue dress.

Today's Wall Street Journal Online has this headline (subscription required), which is probably more true than anyone wants to believe. (Click to see a larger version.)

It didn't take them long to fix it, but the screen capture lives on forever!