Why Oh Why Are We Ruled by These Liars? (Heckuva Job, Bushie! Edition)
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If I Had Infinite Hours in the Day: 20060101

If I had infinite Hours in the day:

http://www.discourse.net/archives/2005/12/dont_even_think_about_it.html Discourse.net: "Via Concurring Opinions, this marvelous piece of refried boilerplate from the AALS Section on Contracts: 'IMPORTANT SMALL PRINT LEGAL DISCLAIMER This web site is a forum for the exchange of information and points of view. Opinions expressed here are not necessarily those of the Section on Contracts or of the Association of American Law Schools, which when you think about it are really only reified abstractions that have no independent existence and therefore cannot really have any "opinions" about anything at all, so we are not sure why we have to say this. All statements herein are the sole responsibility of the authors, except for any that are inaccurate, irresponsible, tasteless, or actionable, which are solely the responsibility of student editorial assistants who are working as independent contractors and for whom we will accept absolutely no responsibility whatsoever. There are no warranties, either express or implied, for the use of this site. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice, since only an idiot would take free legal advice on an important issue from the casual musings of a law professor instead of paying a practicing lawyer who actually knows the law of the jurisdiction you're in. Any disputes arising as a result of your use of this site shall be decided by arbitration under the rules of the International Chamber of Commerce in Japan, unless you happen to be somewhere in or near Japan, in which case it shall be decided in Belgium. Your reading of this provision signifies your assent to all its terms.""

http://www.tpmcafe.com/story/2005/12/29/153133/55 Larry Johnson tell us to go read Gary Berntsen's Jawbreaker: "I've sent Gary a nasty note because his story kept me up till 4 am today.... Gary Berntsen was the second CIA officer sent to Afghanistan and put in charge of directing the destruction of Al Qaeda and the hunt for Bin Laden.... The key news from Gary's book is that we had Bin Laden in our sights but Tommy Franks and JSOC Commander, Dell Dailey, dilly dallied and did not deploy U.S. troops requested by Berntsen to the battle at Tora Bora. We could of had him; we should of had him; but we let Bin Laden get away. Gary's book is important in another regard. It shows what the CIA is capable of doing and why we need this capability in addition to the talents offered by U.S. military special operations forces. When the CIA puts its mind to it, it can move fast, innovate on the fly, and do some mind boggling things. But JAWBREAKER also uncovers why the CIA is at times a faltering, incompetent, risk averse bureaucracy..."

http://bobgeiger.blogspot.com/2005/12/friday-poll-dancing.htmlYellow Dog Blog looks at polls: "A recent CNN/USA Today/Gallup Poll, conducted December 16-18, shows that Americans didn't really buy George W. Bush's repetitive series of stay-the-course speeches on Iraq in December. Bush's approval rating -- which is the basic measurement of how well the public believes a president is doing his job -- stands at 41 percent, while more than half, or 56 percent, disapprove of how Bush is handling the presidency.... 53 percent have an unfavorable opinion of Bush personally 61 percent disapprove of the president's handling of Iraq. 52 percent of Americans say it was a mistake sending troops to Iraq..."

http://jameswolcott.com/archives/2005/12/the_pericles_of.php James Wolcott takes on Victor Davis Hanson: "The Pericles of Petticoat Junction.... Adjusting his tunic (just back from the laundry) and crown of laurel, Victor Davis Hanson presents his year-end oration on the august NRO. He detects mumblings in the ranks, wavering will and sour complacency amongst the flock.... For a few heady months, Americans were in high anxiety and on high alert, a warrior nation leaning forward into the future to shake the rotten fruit afflicting the tree of civilization. And now? Now they can't scarf down those Cheez Doodles fast enough as they bask in the creature comforts they take for granted. It's not really their fault. Liberal media and politicians have lulled them into false security.... An old-style conservative would have pinned the blame on the sainted Dr. Spock for creating a culture of coddling, but Hanson, being a neocon wrapped with the finest tobacco, has a loftier explanation on tap. 'One cause is the demise of history. The past is either not taught enough, or presented wrongly as a therapeutic exercise to excise our purported sins... a historically ignorant populace who knows nothing about past American wars and their disappointments -- and has absolutely no frame of reference to make sense of the present other than its own mercurial emotional state in any given news cycle.' This, of course, is the same populace that Hanson and his kind invoke whenever they piss scorn on the effete media elite who lack the bedrock wisdom and common sense of real people. When the polls show a majority of Americans support Bush, they're wiser than than the cynical pundits; when a majority of Americans oppose Bush, they're a bunch of dummies who don't know how good they have it.... [I]t's the sneer Hanson directs at the reporters based in Iraq that's the most disgusting. 'Run around looking for scoops'--he makes them sound like the student journalists on Smallville, a gang of juvenile sprites. Does he really think John Burns, Anthony Shadid, Tom Lasseter, Ellen Knickmeyer, and the other journalists risking their lives every day in Iraq are doing it looking for gotcha scoops?.... Sniffs Hanson: 'Read the papers about an average day in Washington D.C., Los Angeles, Detroit, or even in smaller places like Fresno. The headlines are mostly the story of mayhem -- murder, rape, arson, and theft. Yet, we think Afghanistan is failing or Iraq hopeless when we watch similar violence on television, as if they do such things and we surely do not.' How many car bombs have gone off in Fresno lately? Scores of journalists have died violent deaths covering Iraq..."

Joshua Micah Marshall praises Washington Post reporter R. Jeffrey Smith http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/12/30/AR2005123001480_pf.html, who appears to have put a lot of the pieces together: "Buckle-up your seatbelts. Then go read this Post article on Tom DeLay, Jack Abramoff, Russian arms-and-oil hustlers, a piggy bank called the U.S. Family Network and a whole lot more.... This is a helluva piece of reporting. And the story the author, R. Jeffrey Smith, tells has so many moving parts.... The key points, though, ran as follows, near as I can tell. For five years in the late 1990s there was an outfit called the U.S. Family Network... a piggy bank and money pass-through by and for a number of DeLay operators -- including Jack Abramoff and Ed Buckham. The Marianas Island sweatshop folks chipped in half a million dollars; the Choctaws chipped in a quarter million; and some shadowy Russian oil and gas interests (also Abramoff clients) ponied up a cool million dollars for USFN -- money laundered through a now-defunct British law firm. (The Russians apparently wanted to give DeLay a fancy car; but DeLay's folks suggested that might cause problems.) Basically everybody who gave was getting something from DeLay; and USFN was the coin machine.... What's going on here? Abramoff's involved in this one; but not just him -- one-time partner and (surprisingly dangerous to Abramoff) eventual rival Ed Buckham. Foreign and domestic corporations pay money in to front groups for favors. And what happens to the money? Lots certainly goes to personally enrich the chief lobbyists like Abramoff and Buckham. But look closely and you'll see that lots gets pumped back in to the machine -- the capitol hill 'safe house', political ads, money to the consultancies that no doubt underwrites other political operations, 'grassroots' and otherwise. It's like we've been telling you for months. This is a slush fund. Lots of secret money, often from overseas, that can get spread around off the books in DC. That's how this sort of political machine works." Kudos as well to the other members of the authorial team: Lucy Shackelford, Alice Crites, Madonna Lebling, Karl Evanz, Meg Smith; and Derek Willis.