The Sounds of Silence

They say a picture speaks a thousand words. Don’t they? And there’s a picture of Stephen Colbert being watched by George W. Bush as the former gave his remarks at the White House Correspondents’ Association’s annual dinner in the nation’s capital this past Saturday, but more on that, later.

The New York Times found a way to give front page splash to one of the most frank and honest public appraisals of Mr. Bush’s presidency since 9/11 — at least one which the President or any of his allies and advisers has had to sit through in public — by reporting it three days after the fact as a story about the wildfire of “conversation” kindled in “the blogosphere” by posts of the C-Span feed that began appearing on the internet Sunday.

By now it’s widely known that Mr. Colbert, perhaps the second-most-popular talent in the Comedy Network stable of “entertainers,” lambasted — or in more current parlance bitch slapped — the leader of the Free World and his entire coterie of Mainstream Media eunuchs right in their own dining hall, using bravura command of deadpan irony, history, liturature, culture, and current events to show what a contemptible crowd of empty hats and shrinking violets we have working the levers of our democracy today.

As the night’s MC, President of the White House Correspondents’ Association, Mark Smith said in his introductory remarks, “tonight, no one is safe.”

And Mr. Colbert made the rounds, from the Vice President (on his honor at being invited to speak: “I feel like I’m dreaming, somebody pinch me. No, I’m a pretty heavy sleeper, somebody shoot me in the face.”) to the First Lady (“I’m sorry ma’am, I’ve never been a fan of books…they’re all fact, no heart), to polls (“a collection of statistics that reflect what people are thinking ‘in reality'”) and the question of “liberal bias” in the media (“reality has a well-known liberal bias”).

He skewered Secretary of State Donald Rumsfeld by introducing two Pentagon Generals in attendance as supporters of the embattled architect of the nation’s adventure in Iraq, asking, “you guys aren’t retired yet, right?” And he proceeded to finish off the entire command and control infrastructure by saying if they’re strong enough to go on the Sunday talk shows to bad-mouth the Sec-Def, they’re strong enough to remain in the military to “stand on a bank of computers and order men into battle.”

The Reverend Jesse Jackson came in for some ribbing as a man who “says what he wants, at the pace that he wants,” no matter what the question. But Mr. Colbert used that comment to set up one of his best lines of the night, on Global Warming. Interviewing the Reverend, he said, “is like boxing a glacier. Enjoy that metophor, by the way, because your grandchildren will have no idea what a glacier is.”

He took a hilarious pot-shot at Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, tossing off a series of Sicilian hand gestures toward the rogue jurist that would likely get him sliced into ribbons if offered in Little Italy instead of Foggy Bottom.

Despite the delicious easy pickings presented by the political establishment, Mr. Colbert reserved some of his most incisive, biting commentary for the media, on whose self-importance the night’s lavish self-congratulation was founded.

He laid out for them the chain of custody:

“the President makes decisions — he’s the decider — the Press Secretary announces those decisions, and you people of the press type those decisions down. Make, announce, type. Just put it through a spell check and go home. Get to know your family again. Make love to your wife. Write that novel you’ve got kicking around in your head. You know, the one about the intrepid Washington reporter with the courage to stand up to the administration. You know, fiction.”

The speech bears repeated listenings and watchings, for there is much to be said about the snapshot of our society portrayed therein, and it’s delivered with a verite simply not found in general circulation today.

What struck me about it on my first approach was the lack of laughter at what was supposed to be a comic monologue. Aside from a few slapstick moments like the comment about Mr. Cheney and the exchange with Mr. Scalia, much of Mr. Colbert’s remarks were met with nervous laughter at best and for large swaths of the over 20 minute delivery, little but the breathing of lots of people in formal attire in a large banquet hall.

Near the conclusion of his piece, Mr. Colbert took issue with those who would say the Bush administration today is simply rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic: “This administration isn’t sinking, it’s soaring. If anything, they’re rearranging the deck chairs on The Hindenburg.”

Now take a look at the picture.


  1. Michael Herdegen - May 3, 2006 @ 9:46 am

    [W]hat a contemptible crowd of empty hats and shrinking violets we have working the levers of our democracy today.

    Why don’t you run for office ?
    Then you might change what you dislike.

  2. lonbud - May 3, 2006 @ 4:26 pm

    funny thing, I get that a lot: “You should run for office.”

    Sadly, unless I become far more personally wealthy than I am currently, or am drafted by others of wealth willing to back my campaign, our system is not designed to allow me the opportunity to change what I dislike.

    Maybe one day, when I’m older, I’ll get into a Don Quixote suit and make a run at the windmills.

    In the meantime, about all I can do is raise a lonely voice here in my cell in the matrix.

  3. lonbud - May 4, 2006 @ 10:28 pm

    sounds of silence, indeed.

    this is a major dude of a topic. Sidney Blumenthal writes a far more adroit explication of this post’s conceit in a article, and lays out the stakes of the game:

    “Some in the press understand the peril posed to the First Amendment by an imperial president trying to smother the constitutional system of checks and balances. For those of the Washington press corps who reproved a court jester for his irreverence, the game of status is apparently more urgent than the danger to liberty. But it’s no laughing matter.”

    This is an inflection point. We’ve been shown the man behind the curtain. Now, how about a little fire, scarecrow?

  4. Michael Herdegen - May 5, 2006 @ 1:00 pm

    Sidney Blumenthal as conspiracy theorist ?

    I fail to see any imminent danger to the First Amendment.
    After all, in this forum alone, posters have linked to articles claiming that the President committed felonies, that America is losing the war in iraq, that America is losing to terrorists worldwide, that the Bush admin has a pattern of firing bureaucrats and officials who disagree too strongly with the President, that the Bush admin is destroying the environment…

    How did those articles get published, if the First Amendment is being subverted by an “imperial President” ?

  5. lonbud - May 5, 2006 @ 1:15 pm

    Michael, I’ve been trying to think of the right term for the correct degree of critical perspective you bring to assessment of BushCo, and I think I’ve settled on Pollyanna.

  6. Michael Herdegen - May 5, 2006 @ 1:52 pm

    And I dub thee Chicken Little.

    But you haven’t addressed my point, or examples. Saying that I’m in thrall to BushCo is rather irrelevant, if I’m also correct.

  7. lonbud - May 5, 2006 @ 8:16 pm

    Well, thanks, Michael, I guess, for pointing out the irrelevance of name-calling, although I strongly feel you are far more irrationally optimistic about the present state of affairs and prospects for the future than I am pessimistic, but that’s beside the point.

    While it’s true we’ve seen no shutting down of newspapers, magazines, TV or radio stations as yet, and no move by the government to take over any of same, it is clear the Bush administration has effectively reduced the free flow of information by many orders of magnitude more than any previous administration.

    Here are just a few recent citations (which you’ll no doubt contend proves the health and viability of the First Amendmant by their very presence); they delineate a small aspect of the current junta’s work in undermining the foundation of our democracy.

    The writing is on the wall, even if you can’t necessarily read it.

    The Palm Beach Post
    The San Jose Mercury News
    The Seattle Times
    The Albany Times Union

  8. Michael Herdegen - May 5, 2006 @ 10:22 pm

    I am optimistic, and indeed irrationally so, in the sense that some of my thoughts about what the future will be like are formed by instinct and by projecting current trends, rather than based on hard data.
    However, since you believe that in ten years Jane Sixpack will be more poor than she is now, and that American infant mortality will be higher, I don’t believe that I’m more optimistic than you are pessimistic.

    We’re both on the fringe, just in opposite directions.

    The Bush admin is definitely tight-lipped, but not by “orders of magnitude” more than previous admins.
    “[U]ndermining the foundation of our democracy” my spleen.
    The U.S. Freedom of Information Act was signed into law on July 4, 1966. Were we not a democracy until then ?

    The Press didn’t report on Kennedy’s extra-marital affairs in the early 60s – were we not a democracy then, when the Press withheld information from the public ?
    The Press didn’t tell the American people that F.D. Roosevelt was disabled, which was surely a material fact – are you willing to condemn the Roosevelt junta for subverting democracy ?

  9. lonbud - May 5, 2006 @ 11:16 pm

    One difference between us, Michael, is that you are prone to rely on instinct and projecting current trends to make predictions about the future, while I am prone to cite current events and point out inequities that exist today.

    I’d appreciate your citation of my belief that Jane Sixpack will be poorer in ten years than she is today, or that American infant mortality will be higher. While i do believe the country is being put into a precarious long-term financial position by BushCo policies, I am far more interested in seeing their current effects rolled back than in trying to predict just how badly they may affect anyone in a decade.

    Orders of magnitude is the proper phrase. This administration has been responsible for the redaction and removal of vastly more documentation about its policies and affairs — and the removal of previously available information and documentation about previous administrations (namely those of his father and Ronald Reagan) — than any administration in history.

    Kennedy’s sex life was no more relevant to the governing of the nation in the sixties than was Bill Clinton’s in the nineties; Roosevelt’s disability, while a material fact of his being, was not materially significant with resect to his capacity to fulfill the duties of his office.

  10. Michael Herdegen - May 6, 2006 @ 12:52 am

    Well, lon, that was an interesting set of references, but the thing that most struck me was how willing you are to seize upon the flimsiest shreds of proof in an attempt to patch together an “undermining [of] the foundation of our democracy” and a threat to the First Amendment.

    In the first place, all of the columns and articles were about secrecy, not about censorship. Text of the First Amendment:

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

    Where in your citations is there any hint of threat to the above ?

    The Palm Beach Post‘s editorial staff is upset because a Republican Congressperson criticized a Bush administration program that was reclassifying documents previously declassified – and the program was halted. Ooooh, scary.

    They also oppose a proposed Freedom of Information Act exemption to the 2007 National Defense Authorization Act.
    Newspaper editorialists of every political stripe oppose proposed legislation all the time. What’s so important about this time ?

    Then they write that “The White House is investigating The New York Times for revealing the president’s approval of warrantless wiretaps”, which isn’t quite right, of course: The White House isn’t investigating The New York Times, they’re investigating who gave them the classified info – which is exactly what the Times demanded be done in the Plame case.
    Does the editorial staff of The Palm Beach Post believe that the Press is above the law ?

    The San Jose Mercury News has a piece by Mark Silva of The Chicago Tribune, in which he writes:

    “He said very clearly that the president wants the right to announce things first, and that he also has a right to have information managed and he doesn’t want people freelancing,” one staffer recalled. “It was very clear that it was a cardinal sin to leak and that you’d better not.”

    One year later, Bush himself authorized the release to selected reporters of “relevant” portions of a then-classified National Intelligence Estimate to rebut criticism of the Iraq war, according to court documents.

    So the President doesn’t want junior staffers talking to the Press. How is that different from any other organization – business, political, or NGO ?

    Bush is authorized to declassify anything, since the POTUS is the classifying authority. No one disputes that.

    The Bush administration’s determination to manage information […] drew added attention recently when the CIA fired an official for unauthorized conversations with a reporter.

    Under which administration was it just fine for CIA officials to give unauthorized information to reporters ?!?
    Is Silva unaware of what the CIA is, and what it does ?
    (Or at least, what it’s supposed to do).

    In 2003, when Bush updated an executive order on classification of secret information, he empowered agencies to reseal information that already has been made public.

    “Prior to 2003, if it had been declassified under proper authority and released to the public, that was it, you couldn’t reclassify it at all,” said Bill Leonard, director of the Information Security Oversight Office at the National Archives.

    Several agencies and presidential libraries already had been withdrawing information from the National Archives, and the CIA last year withdrew 254 documents after it found that declassified documents had been circulated on the Internet. In an audit of a sample of such withdrawals from the Archives since 1995, the [Information Security Oversight Office at the National Archives] last week reported that 24 percent “were clearly inappropriate for continued classification” and that an additional 12 percent were “questionable.”

    “A stunning, large percentage of the documents examined were wrongly classified,” said Allen Weinstein, U.S. archivist. “In short, more than one of every [four] documents removed from the open shelves and barred to researchers should not have been tampered with.”

    In other words, according to Allen Weinstein and the ISOO, a stunningly large percentage of the documents examined were wrongly classified – THREE out of every FOUR shouldn’t have been declassified in the first place !

    Bush issued an executive order in December on “Improving Agency Disclosure of Information.”
    The order called for “a citizen-centered and results-oriented approach” to improving performance and “strengthening compliance” with the Freedom of Information Act. But it did not reverse the administration’s determination, laid out in a 2001 policy, to protect information in which “institutional, commercial and personal privacy interests could be implicated by disclosure.”

    The 2005 order does require every agency to review its handling of requests and deliver an “improvement plan” by June.

    So, rather than increasing secrecy, as you hold, the Bush admin is actually decreasing secrecy, by fulfilling more FOIA requests.

    The Seattle Times has Mark Silva again, pretty much the same as above. The relevant graf:

    Bush and Cheney have made it clear they are intent on reclaiming presidential powers lost by Bush predecessors. That erosion of power started with President Nixon…

    So, Silva agrees with my assessment that what Bush is doing isn’t by any stretch of the imagination undermining democracy, unless one holds that America wasn’t a democracy until Gerald Ford was POTUS.

    In fact, due to the usurpation of Executive powers by Congress, one might argue that over the past forty years it’s been Congress that has upset the Constitutionally-established checks and balances of our system.

    The Albany Times Union has a story by Mark Feldstein, in which he relates how a pair of FBI agents showed up at his house. They were polite, and answered all of his questions.
    They wanted to see some documents that Feldstein had in his possession, among the private papers of a late investigative journalist that Feldstein is writing a book about.

    Feldstein told them that he would not let them see the documents, that he would not answer any questions about what he’d read, that he would not tell them the names of anyone else who had read some of the papers and might be willing to talk to the FBI, and that he wanted the agents to leave.

    In other words, nothing happened.
    Feldstein’s entire tale boils down to “I don’t like the FBI”. The agents were polite, and when Feldstein would give them nothing, they didn’t “find” a kilo of coke, or simply take the documents – instead, they just left.
    Oooooh, scary, redux. features an opinion piece by Michael Winship, who begins, apropos of nothing, by relating how Dylan Thomas drank himself to death one night 52 years ago, in a tavern a few blocks from where Winship now resides.
    Slightly interesting, but redolent of a writer desperate to make the wordcount.

    Writes Winship:

    In the [Boston Globe] article, headlined, “Bush Challenges Hundreds of Laws,” Charlie Savage reports, “President Bush has quietly claimed the authority to disobey more than 750 laws enacted since he took office, asserting that he has the power to set aside any statute passed by Congress when it conflicts with his interpretation of the Constitution…”
    [A]ccording to the Globe, “after the media and the lawmakers have left the White House, Bush quietly files ‘signing statements’ — official documents in which a president lays out his legal interpretation of a bill for the federal bureaucracy to follow when implementing the new law…”

    Just as every other President has done.
    Congress is ONE of three branches of government, and neither they nor the Executive has the final say in what is Constitutional. Congress has no authority to demand that the President hew to their every whim.

    [Bush] has appended such statements to more than one of every 10 bills he has signed.
    “‘He agrees to a compromise with members of Congress, and all of them are there for a public bill-signing ceremony, but then he takes back those compromises — and more often than not, without the Congress or the press or the public knowing what has happened,’ said Christopher Kelley, a Miami University of Ohio political science professor who studies executive power.
    “Thus, Congress never gets the opportunity to override a veto and the executive does what it wants…

    The executive branch can be sued over their interpretation of any law, and then the branch that actually does decide about Constitutionality can settle the dispute. The Executive branch does what it wants – within the confines of what the Courts allow.
    That’s not exactly carte blanche.

    Further, signing statements are official, filed documents, in which the President’s legal interpretation of a bill is spelled out, for the federal bureaucracy to follow when implementing the new law, a process that Bush has enacted over 750 times, with more than 10% of the bills that he’s signed into law, and yet Professor Kelley would have us believe that Congress is unaware that it’s going on ?!?

    It’s a normal part of the process.

    So, given all of the above, what is it that you found in those five pieces that alarms you so ?

  11. Michael Herdegen - May 6, 2006 @ 2:02 am

    Lovely Rita

    lonbud Says:

    October 6th, 2005 at 8:02 pm

    …in ten years America’s:

    Infant mortality will be worse than it is today in absolute terms and our rank among nations will be lower;

    Number of citizens per capita living in poverty will be greater than it is today and our rank among nations will be lower;

    Air and water will be measurably more polluted than it is today and our rank among nations will be lower;

    Number of citizens per capita suffering from cancer, heart disease, lung disease, and mental illness will be greater than it is today and our rank among nations will be lower.

    Roosevelt’s disability, while a material fact of his being, was not materially significant with resect to his capacity to fulfill the duties of his office.

    But very materially significant to his ability to win re-election, as were his extra-marital affairs with Lucy Mercer and Missy LeHand, among others.

    While his handicap ought not to matter, and there was an extremely good reason that he took mistresses, nonetheless those things are within the public’s right to know about their President.

    You claim that reclassifying documents from the Reagan era is a danger to the Republic, but manipulating public opinion by withholding medical and ethical information about a sitting President, to increase his chances of winning re-election, is NOT ?!
    What was that you were saying about juntas, again ?

    Recall that Bush’s drunk driving arrest was made public, that he was accused of being a cocaine addict, and the huge amount of attention paid to his Nat’l Guard service records.
    Based on your statements about FDR, you’d have to conclude that it would be OK to have hushed all of that up, right ?
    (And JFK still hasn’t released his service records, as he promised that he would back in ’04. It’s rumored that he’s delusionally thinking that he might have a shot at the ’08 nomination – Ha!! As if).

    I am prone to cite current events and point out inequities that exist today…
    I am far more interested in seeing their current effects rolled back than in trying to predict just how badly they may affect anyone in a decade.

    While that may be your tendency, every time you claim that we’re losing the war in Iraq, or the war against terrorists, you’re looking PAST current events, and even ignoring current trends, to make a prediction based on future setbacks that you feel are sure to occur.

  12. Tam O’Tellico - May 6, 2006 @ 6:09 am

    M: If there’s anything about W that is clear, it’s that he’s one of the most successful people in America.

    If there’s anything about W that is clear, it’s that he engenders such undeserved devotion among the fringe that Michael could make such a statement in spite of all the evidence to the contrary. I am reminded of the barb tossed at W’s daddy years ago: “George Bush was born on third base and thinks he hit a triple.”

    Well, it Daddy was self-deluded, Junior is far, far worse – but that is no excuse for you to be deluded, Michael. The evidence is plain.

    The long list of Bush’s failures and his limited successes in no way adds up to his being one of the most successful people in America. If so,, then certainly by the standards you are using, you must add Bill Clinton to your list.

    I won’t repeat the long litany of Bush’s business disasters here. I will repeat that his “success” with the Texas Rangers was largely the result of leaving the citizens of Arlington holding the bag while he ran off with the profits. Ask those he’s burned: Bush doesn’t pay his bills.

    Yes, he gets points for his modest success as governor of the looniest (by any standard) state in the Union. But in my book, he gets no points for his “election” to the Presidency. That came despite the fact that he was clearly not the choice of a majority of Americans, despite the fact that the votes he did get are still in dispute, and despite the fact that it required the unprecedented action of the Supreme Court to push him into office.

    He does get points for his re-election in 2004 – at least in that election, he got a majority of the still-disputed votes. But that election certainly not warrant his triumphal boasts of a mandate either. After all, 52 million people voted for a very imperfect alternative, and against a sitting President in the middle of a war. Name another example of that in American history.

    But regardless of Bush’s limited successes and his checkered past, his performance as President alone disqualifies him as a success. Rather, if asked today, most historians would rate him the worst President in U.S. history. (citation available if youdon’t believe it)

    As we well know, history will ultimately judge. But even if history does not consider him the worst, there is no possible way he will be judged a success.

  13. Michael Herdegen - May 6, 2006 @ 6:37 am

    Yes, William J. Clinton is among the most successful people in America.

    I’ve read the historian poll. Note that the conclusion is NOT that “most historians rate Bush as…”, it’s that “most of the historians POLLED rate…”
    Do you believe that the survey participants were a random sampling of historians from across America ?

    Do you believe that there’s any probative value in attempting to rate Bush against other Presidents three years before he leaves office ?!?

    But there is one bit of valuable information that we can glean from their effort: Any “historian” willing to call Bush “the worst President in U.S. history” reveals themselves as incompetent.
    No person with a working knowledge of American history would make that determination.

  14. lonbud - May 6, 2006 @ 9:48 am

    Well, thanks for the citation to the Lovely Rita piece, Michael. We’ll see who’s right come the appointed time.

    It’s disappointing the way this discussion inevitably devolves to another round of “I say he is” vs. “I say he ain’t.”

    Your attempt to whitewash w’s inabilities under the JFK and FDR exemptions doesn’t quite track, however. The things about those former presidents that the press voluntarily chose not to report were personal matters having no influence or bearing on the abilities or qualifications of those men for office. The things about w — such as his history as a drunk and a cocaine abuser and his privileged dereliction of duty in the National Guard — speak directly to his qualifications for office. Big difference.

  15. Tam O’Tellico - May 6, 2006 @ 9:46 pm

    If this were merely an argument about the relative morality of Presidents, neither Bush nor FDR nor JFK or Bill Clinton would stand a chance of displacing Warren G. Harding.

    But my admittedly premature judgment is not based on an assessment of Bush’s morals, but on his performance as a skillful and successful leader in what is undoubtedly one of the most difficult jobs on earth. So far, he is flunking period.

    Michael, you are quite right on two counts – not every historian has been polled and any assessment must at this point be temporary. Nevertheless, the clear consensus by those who get paid to judge these things is that Bush’s performance has been awful and is getting worse by the moment.

    Does the mean Bush is the worst President ever? No, it only means that he is definitely in the running. If that proves to be the case, poor old Warren G. will have lost even that dubious distinction.

  16. lonbud - May 6, 2006 @ 10:18 pm

    Tam O’ there’s nothing premature about your judgment. w’s presidency was bereft of vision from the outset, crippled at birth by the decider’s congenital self-satisfaction.

    With three years to go, spent of all politcal capital, with his party scrambling into self-preservation mode, w can accomplish nothing to prevent his being written into history as an incompetent.

    Not that he cares. As far as he’s concerned, he’s got the 14 SUV phalanx to cruise around in, Air Force One, and all the perquisites of The High Life to enjoy for the duration — with plenty of jack to get him through the lean retirement years in comfort, as well. Beyond that, he said himself, “Who cares? We’ll all be dead.”

    Oh, to be such a success in life.

  17. Tam O’Tellico - May 7, 2006 @ 8:42 pm

    Whatever political acumen once attributed to Roverboy and the Bushmen has disappeared beneath the muck in the Plame and Abramoff Affairs and the scandal of the Iraq and Katrina failures. Witness the Goss Gaffe.

    Goss was a poor choice to begin with, a martinet guaranteed to rile a CIA already steaming from taking the fall for pre-war intel failures in Iraq. The boys in the know at The Company knew way back when what the rest of America is beginning to discover – that the CIA got a helluva lot closer to the truth than the Bushmen.

    Nevertheless, Bush insisted on Goss, and the ever-compliant Republicans rolled-over without so much as a whimper of protest. Goss immediately began to clean house and install his incompetent and high-handed cronies at the Company, thereby insuring the departure of some of the CIA’s ablest veterans. The trashing of Tenet and the appointment of Goss also brought about Bush’s worst nightmare – loose lips at The Company.

    But in spite of his monumental mismanagement, Goss remained until his surprising resignation this week. So why this sudden departure?

    The ill-advised TV photo-op with Bush and Goss provided no answers; instead, it strained credulity and only raised more questions. Rumors began to circulate even before the couple’s awkward dance was over.

    Initially, the resignation was chalked up to a pissing contest between Goss and John Negroponte. The story line was that Goss was pouting over being passed over for Negroponte’s job.

    But even as the pundits were pundictating, their explanation seemed illogical to me. Goss was an experienced hand in Washington, not the kind of guy who would resign such an important post in an adolescent fit of pique.

    The next scenario proffered was that Negroponte insisted Goss be dumped because under his mismanagement the CIA would be further politicized and rendered useless. That’s a much more plausible scenario, the kind of ring of half-truth that gets spin doctors the big bucks.

    But that ain’t the way things work in Powertown, and when such things happen, it’s a pretty safe bet that beneath the fancy excuses, there’s illicit sex and bag money.

    Enter the Duke.

    It now appears Goss’s resignation may be tied to the Duke Cunningham scandal, and now the sordid truth is beginning to ooze out. Details are still sketchy, but so far it appears Goss may not be directly involved in what’s already being called Hookergate – power-brokers and prositutes in, of all places, the Watergate Hotel.

    May I suggest that Osama do us all a favor and on his next adventure in terrorism, his boys should fly into that den of iniquity. Can you imagine how that would play on Al Jazeera?

    But Goss is still in trouble because at the very least he showed criminally poor judgment in appointing some of these infantile characters to some of the most important posts at The Company.

    Look for the name Dusty Foggo on a Justice Dept wanted poster real soon. No, I’m not making this up.

  18. bubbles - May 11, 2006 @ 1:34 pm

    What will we learn next, that the NSA is spying on a ‘political enemies list’?

  19. lonbud - May 11, 2006 @ 7:46 pm

    There is no telling what sort of institutional nefariousness this pack of paranoid security fetishists has cooked up. I can hear their apologists now: the innocent have nothing to fear; every available tool should be employed for victory in the WOT; it’s not spying, it’s data mining; only America-haters want to hamstring the government; if you’re against letting the NSA do its job, you’re supporting the terrorists; yadda, yadda, yadda.

    Polls would suggest the public is beginning to get wise, though it may well be too late for that.

  20. bubbles - May 12, 2006 @ 3:26 am

    At Tapped, Matthew Yglesias says the program is evidence of the Bush administration’s “widening cycle of lawlessness.” He writes:

    It’s important to link this up to the broader chain. One thing the Bush administration says it can do with this meta-data is to start tapping your calls and listening in, without getting a warrant from anyone. Having listened in on your calls, the administration asserts that if it doesn’t like what it hears, it has the authority to detain you indefinitely without trial or charges, torture you until you confess or implicate others, extradite you to a Third World country to be tortured, ship you to a secret prison facility in Eastern Europe, or all of the above. If, having kidnapped and tortured you, the administration determines you were innocent after all, you’ll be dumped without papers somewhere in Albania left to fend for yourself.

  21. Tam O’Tellico - May 12, 2006 @ 7:42 am

    Bubbles scenario may seem far-fetched, but those of us who oppose this administration have every right to be concerned. When the President publicly proclaims himself above the law, and his henchmen lawyers justify the most extreme draconian measures on the thinnest of arguments, fear of further transgressions is not irrational.

    Like Daddy used to say “Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t out to get you.”

    The same administration that is hell-bent on reversing the New Deal wants us to trust them while they are also taking away our most basic freedoms. Of course, this is all justified as a fight against terrorism. Certainly, we all have to fear terrorists, but that fear is as overblown as the rhetoric about WMD. The irony in this should be lost on no one: This New Deal busting administraion has taken us from “We have nothing to fear but fear itself” to “Fear everything.”

    This administration and its Radical Right supporters fear liberals, homos, environmentalists, secular-humanists, immigrants, reporters, scientists, intellectuals, Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Atheists, France, Russia, Iran, Venezuela, Mexico and Grenada. Consequently, we fear them.

    We are at very difficult and trying point in the history of our nation, and what everyone seems to have forgotten is that fear and paranoia are contagious. As the great 20th Century philosopher Steven Stills once put it during a similar period: “Paranoia strikes deep.”

    History makes it plain that mass paranoia inevitably leads to despotism. Bubbles may yet be proven right if our paranoia causes us to become another land of The Disappeared.

  22. bubbles - May 12, 2006 @ 8:17 am

    Tam O’Tellico

    The scenarios above would seem the far-fetched fantasy of conspiracy theorists except for the uncomfortable fact that there are documented examples and pending cases in court. Regarding all the fear mongering, while it been a proven formula for repressive regimes and military industrialists this gang has taken it to such an extreme that I’m reminded of the Lenny Bruce routine in which he shouts nigger so many times the crowd starts laughing.

  23. lonbud - May 12, 2006 @ 9:27 am

    Clearly, then, Mr. Colbert, rather than employing the subtle mechanisms of irony and wit, might have done better to just look at the President and shout, “Liar, liar, liar, liar, liar, liar, liar, liar, liar, liar, liar, liar, liar, liar, liar, liar, liar, liar, liar, liar, liar, liar, liar, liar, liar, liar, liar, liar, liar, liar, liar, liar, liar, liar, liar, liar, liar, liar, liar, liar, liar, liar, liar, liar, liar, liar, liar, liar, liar, liar, liar, liar, liar, liar, liar, liar, liar, liar, liar, liar, liar, liar, liar, liar, liar, liar, liar, liar, liar, liar, liar, liar, liar, liar, liar, liar, liar, liar, liar, liar, liar, liar, liar, liar, liar, liar, liar, liar, liar, liar, liar, liar, liar, liar, liar, liar, liar, liar, liar, liar, liar, liar, liar, liar, liar, liar, liar, liar, liar, liar, liar, liar, liar, liar, liar, liar, liar, liar, liar, liar, liar, liar, liar, liar, liar, liar, liar, liar, liar, liar, liar, liar, liar, liar, liar, liar, liar, liar, liar, liar, liar…”

  24. lonbud - May 13, 2006 @ 11:33 am

    And just in case anyone thinks Bubbles or Tam O are out beyond the pale on their Security State conceptualizations, read this excellent post from The Whiskey Bar. Orwell may have been off by a few decades, but he had a pretty accurate nightmare.

    Thanks, Butler, for the tip.

  25. martin Weiss - July 23, 2006 @ 10:06 am

    LD great exchange of polar views. Kudos to all participants, regardless of perspectives. This is what its all about in a democracy. Also respect to all for their heart felt convictions. Keep up the dialogue but just remember the great Lou Reed lyric: its easy nuff to say what is wrong , but that’s not what I wanna hear all night long ….some people are like human tuenols. So my friend inject your proposals for solutions and lets move forward.

Leave a Reply