09 January, 2009

Happy Hour Discurso

Today's opining on the public discourse.

Blago's got to go, sez Illinois House:

Last night, Illinois' investigative committee, made up of members of both parties, voted unanimously to impeach Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D). Today, the full state House followed suit.

In a historic vote, the Illinois House has impeached Gov. Rod Blagojevich, directing the Senate to put the state's 40th chief executive on trial with the goal of removing him from office.

The vote by the House was 114-1 and marks the first time in the state's 190-year history that a governor has been impeached, despite Illinois' longstanding reputation for political corruption.

Rep. Milt Patterson (D-Chicago) was the lone vote against impeaching the governor. Patterson, from Chicago's Southwest Side, said after the roll call that he didn't feel it was his job to vote to impeach the governor. He declined comment on whether he approved of the job Blagojevich is doing.

I'm not sure what Patterson's talking about -- who else's job could it be? -- but the lack of unanimity doesn't much matter. The issue now heads to the state Senate for a trial, which is set to begin next week.

Blago, in the meantime, is desperately trying to ignore pesky details in the impeachment report such as his doing an end-run round hiring laws to hand jobs to political allies, pay-to-play activities, spending millions of taxpayer dollars on a flu vaccine that couldn't even be imported into the U.S., and that minor detail of getting arrested by the FBI for some of the most breathtaking corruption this side of the Republicon party. "They're after me for expanding health care!" was his theme during the press conference where he announced he'd battle it out to the bitter end. Never mind the fact that, while his expansion of health care was a good thing, doing it without seeking the proper authority or funding was rather less so. And never mind the fact that his health care shennanigans were a very small drop in a huge ocean.

You know, the man would go down in history as the most clueless, most corrupt, most egomaniacal fuckwit so far this century if he didn't have so much competition from the Cons. As it is, while I have to give him high marks for theatrics and chutzpah, he rather loses on the side of unmitigated evil.

I mean, seriously, how can Blago, fucked up as he is, really compare to these evil assclowns? Tell me how Blago can possibly play in these leagues:

Bill O'Reilly devoted another Talking Points Memo segment last night to his new pet thesis that Barack Obama is going to make the nation vulnerable to terrorist attack by taking torture off the table, and then brought Karl Rove on to back it all up:

You know, when he gets behind that desk, and has the awesome responsibility of protecting our country, anybody who's chief executive of the United States is going to want to have the ability, in a time of a great crisis, to call upon enhanded interrogation techniques.

A little later, he closes with this:

Look, if you've taken techniques that have kept America safe and you discard them, you are putting the country at risk and you're going to have to bear the consequences of that.

OK, let me see if I can keep this all straight.

We're now getting advice on how to prevent a terrorist attack from "the Brain" of an administration that manifestly failed at that because it was asleep at the wheel on 9/11, am I right? And they're telling us the torture regime they installed in the interim is responsible for the lack of subsequent attacks afterward -- rather than making the likelihood of future attacks greater?

Karl Rove was a key player in an administration that, in the first eight months of its tenure, specifically undermined counterterrorism programs in an essentially political dismissal of such work as "a Clinton thing."

There was the Aug. 6, 2001, presidential daily briefing titled "Bin Laden determined to strike in US," which concluded that terrorists planned to attack us using airplanes. It was ignored.

There was that briefing George Tenet gave Condi Rice on the immensity of the threat, which both she and George W. Bush also ignored -- and then lied about doing so afterward. Indeed, Rice and the Bush administration ent to great measures to cover up their own incompetence.

There was the Hart-Rudman Commission report, which warned the White House in May 2001 that it needed to take serious steps to prevent a terrorist attack. The report was ignored.

So was Richard Clarke's memo of January 2001 warning of the terrorist threat.

And finally, there were the Bush White House's pre-9/11 actions on a pure policy level: "Attorney General John Ashcroft not only moved aggressively to reduce DoJ's anti-terrorist budget but also shift DoJ's mission in spirit to emphasize its role as a domestic police force and anti-drug force." The administration also shifted Department of Defense counter-terrorism funding into missile-defense-system programs.

I believe Blago is all kinds of horrible, but I just cannot bring myself to believe that he would be quite as willfully ignorant as this. After all, a man who defies the legislature to get folks some health care is probably going to perk up an ear when the entire intelligence community is breaking down the doors trying to tell you a terrorist attack's coming, and it's going to be huge.

And yet, here we have Dick "Nobody Could've Seen It Coming" Cheney, trying to convince us that all of the catastrophes that happened on the Bush regime's watch were totally and completely unpredictable:

Yesterday in an interview with the Associated Press’s Deb Reichmann, Vice President Cheney repeatedly insisted that no one anticipated the looming U.S. financial crisis. “I don’t think anybody saw it coming,” he said. He then compared the financial crisis to 9/11, another crisis that supposedly no one predicted:

CHENEY: No, obviously, I wouldn’t have predicted that. On the other hand I wouldn’t have predicted 9/11, the global war on terror, the need to simultaneous run military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq or the near collapse of the financial system on a global basis, not just the U.S. […]

You may not have, Dick, but plenty of other people did. You and your bumbling buddy Bush just chose to ignore them.

Oh, and you might want to coordinate your spin with Bush's press secretaries, who want us to think Bush was the most prescient president evah:
Oddly enough, in today’s White House press briefing, Deputy Press Secretary Scott Stanzel insisted that the Bush administration “saw those [financial] problems on the horizon,” but it was Congress’s fault for taking “a long time…to act.”
So, which is it, Dick? Nobody could've foreseen, or we wouldn't prevented it if it wasn't for those meddling kids? Having cake and eating it too is not on today's menu.

Moving on with our "is Blago as bad as...?" theme, here's another item to consider:

If the FDA's work weren't so important, a story like this wouldn't be quite so painful.

In an unusually blunt letter, a group of federal scientists is complaining to the Obama transition team of widespread managerial misconduct in a division of the Food and Drug Administration. [...]

In their letter the FDA dissidents alleged that agency managers use intimidation to squelch scientific debate, leading to the approval of medical devices whose effectiveness is questionable and which may not be entirely safe.

"Managers with incompatible, discordant and irrelevant scientific and clinical expertise in devices...have ignored serious safety and effectiveness concerns of FDA experts," the letter said. "Managers have ordered, intimidated and coerced FDA experts to modify scientific evaluations, conclusions and recommendations in violation of the laws, rules and regulations, and to accept clinical and technical data that is not scientifically valid."

The scientists added that the FDA's scientific review process has been "corrupted and distorted" by Bush appointees, "thereby placing the American people at risk." They added, "Currently, there is an atmosphere at FDA in which the honest employee fears the dishonest employee, and not the other way around."

Hmm. Useless flu vaccine as compared to taking a shotgun to science at the FDA, thus ensuring that people died from drugs and medical devices that should never have seen a pharmacy shelf. That's a tough one, innit?

Then we have Sen. Jon Kyl, who doesn't like Eric Holder because Holder doesn't love eviscerating the Constitution and torturing people enough:

Speaking to right-wing radio host Hugh Hewitt, Kyl said that Holder had made “some very unfortunate statements about our interrogation” of terrorists, which made him think “he is not going to be supportive of the Patriot Act [and] the FISA law.” Kyl claimed this may be reason to oppose his nomination:

KYL: I think Eric Holder will have some problems. He has not been able to stand up to his bosses in the past, President Clinton when he wanted to do pardons that I think Holder must have realized were big mistakes but he facilitated. And he’s also made some very unfortunate statements about our interrogation of prisoners, terrorists, and other things that lead me to believe that he is not going to be supportive of the Patriot Act, the FISA law, and others. And if he can’t be supportive of those laws, then he shouldn’t be Attorney General.

Blagojevich is a disgusting, corrupt, egotistical asshole, but he's still playing in the minor leagues. When it comes to comparing his asshattery to the sheer outrageous fuckery the Cons engage in, it's obvious there is really no comparison at all.

Which is why I must now destroy your Friday by embedding this video:

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