A brief update…have just grabbed a Harvard trained lawyer co-wurker of mine, and he did indeed explain to me that the White House might pursue a subpoena through DOJ or Treasury, but that it does not possess that power on its own. My eternal undying wish is still that these stories going ’round about this today would take the time to explain the subleties of law to readers.


Unfortunately, I must today call shenanigans on a story generated initially by film maker Michael Moore.

The story in question, breathlessly repeated by our uncritical media assclowns:



BURBANK-July 26, 2007 – Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker Michael Moore announced that the Bush Administration has subpoenaed him in the wake of his recent trip to Cuba on the July 26 episode of NBC’s “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” (Monday-Friday, 11:35 p.m. – 12:37 a.m. ET). “I haven’t even told my own family yet.” Moore began, “I was just informed when I was back there with Jay that the Bush administration has now issued a subpoena for me.”


What’s wrong with this story, kids, that the lip-doodling, non-thinking media have been touting today? What? What’s wrong with it?


Oh, this country’s going down. In flames. Wooooosh.

Chasing Ghosts

Paul Rieckhoff posts today at Huffington Post regarding the Dole-Shalala Report. Imagine how horrible this problem must actually be to have created a commission headed by Clinton’s HHS head and his vanquished political opponent. You do not get more bi-partisian than that. A commission with those bona fides produces gospel, and yet, the current president yesterday said he would take these “suggestions” under advisement.

As you will recall, Mr. Rieckhoff provided me with his fine book, Chasing Ghosts. It is very good. One does not realize how lackluster this government was about stepping up to properly equip and care for these troops. At one point Rieckhoff details a stark shortage of drinking water for the troops. A drinking water shortage. In Baghdad. There is also an incredible description of an exchange with an Iraqi doc. It seems that the Iraqis are under the notion that AIDS is not a problem for them.

Chasing Ghosts is an excellent memoir of an invasion and occupation this country should never have undertaken. Thank you, sir.

Impeach Impeach Impeach Impeach Impeach Impeach

Harry Reid this weekend pushed it away like it was a smelly bowl of oatmeal. Russ Feingold wasn’t quite as finicky as all that about it but did, in a more moderate course, hold his nose the whole time. And we all know that Nancy Pelosi has just plain scooped up that bowl and flinged it plum off the table.

Why, oh why, are Democrats so bloody scared of impeachment?

Do you think they know what it means?

The thought occurred to me this afternoon, as I remembered when, probably in or about seventh grade, some civics teacher had to twist some heads on straight regarding the ‘I’ word. It was a tall order of a lesson because so many to that point had already learned it completely wrong, and it is more difficult to unlearn than to learn.

This hero of a civics teacher had to disabuse a roomful of cocky teens of the notion that “impeachment” means you’re showing the Prez the door. He had to explain that impeachment is actually the first of a two part process, that what the House of Representatives actually does is to draw and approve the Articles of Impeachment, which is nothing more than an indictment, and that the trial itself goes forth in the Senate.

Is it possible that Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House, was down with the mumps that day? Or that senators Reid and Feingold are keeping their distance because they still hold the incorrect notion that impeachment is “don’t the the door hit ya?” Or are they merely afeared that their constituents are thusly ignorant?

Except that the polls aren’t bearing that last idea out, or else we’ve got voters sharpening their guillotine blades like the French were circa 1789. The polls said 46 percent wanted Bush impeached and that 54 percent wanted the same fate for the president. I mean, Cheney. Juxtapose those numbers versus the tumbling approval numbers, and the message seems clear. First 100 Hours, Our Asses. We didn’t put you Democrats in there to play footsie. Shake some foundations, or we’re lighting torches. That’s what’s on a majority of our minds these days regarding Congress.

A few weeks ago, Bill Moyers interviewed a liberal journalist and a conservative constitutional scholar.

Both of them convincingly and correctly argued for impeachment, not just to get the current president’s goat, not just to halt the insane occupation of Iraq, but to neuter a dangerous threat to the Constitution and to American democracy itself. If this Congress allows the current Administration to skate to 2009 without impeachment proceedings, they argued (and agreed), it tacitly approves of unchecked rendering and interrogation, of spying on Americans, and of a general overreach of the executive that Bruce Fein, the conservative one, said that even King George III wouldn’t have imagined.

It’s a stunning interview. If you haven’t seen it, please find it on the Tivo or on the Web.

I still say Congressional Democrats have Uzis in front of them that they’re not willing to touch in this fight, and that it’s insane and shameful. Impeachment hearings would offer more weight to the process and would more strongly compel testimony from reluctant witnesses. It might more vigorously shake the trees for whistle blowers and might at last reveal to the world this administration’s John Dean. It might bring truths forth that are so undeniable about the abyssmal, criminal behavior of the present administration that the Senate trial to follow would have no choice but to eschew politics in favor of a conviction and subsequent eviction of the current president and, perhaps, the current vice president.

There is a concept from behaviorist Abraham Maslow that haunts me perpetually regarding this situation, that if the only tool you think you have is a hammer, you tend to think every problem is a nail. This has certainly described the White House of the past six years, but I am fearing these days that it also describes our Congress. It is time to pause, step back, review the tool bench, and pick up the level instead of the hammer.

Impeachment. Now.


Quake jolts San Francisco Bay area

SAN FRANCISCO – An earthquake jolted San Francisco Bay area residents awake early Friday, breaking glass and rattling nerves, although there were no immediate reports of injuries.

The earthquake was recorded about 2 miles east of Oakland and had a preliminary magnitude of 4.2, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. It could be felt for up to 10 seconds on both sides of the San Francisco Bay after striking shortly after 4:40 a.m.

More than 1,000 customers in the Oakland area lost power, a Pacific Gas & Electric Co. spokesman said. Crews were investigating the outages.


Please do not forget this report, as reported in The New Republic.

“Before a storm sank New Orleans and a pair of Boeing 767s gored the Twin Towers, officials at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) drew up a list. It escaped notice in the months of second-guessing after the September 11 attacks but took on an air of prophecy within hours of Hurricane Katrina’s landfall. There were three disasters, FEMA managers concluded at an August 2001 training session, that Americans should beware above all others: a terrorist attack on New York City, a hurricane in New Orleans, and an earthquake near San Francisco. Four years later, it’s two down, one to go.”

What’s this White House really doing to batten down the hatches here at home? Is he meeting regularly with the Governator and/or with the mayor of Sam Francisco, establishing contingency plans and clear lines of reponsibility in case of The Big One? What has the Untied States done to fortify its power grid? What would this country be like right now if Hurricane Katrina had been a nukyoolar bomb instead of a simple natural disaster? And are we any more prepared for either a freakishly bad natural disaster or a manmade one? Have new, specific procedures been put into practice as to what to do if ever again four aeroplanes make complete U-Turns? Is “fighting them over there” actually improving our nation’s infrastructure and its preparedness? How high and strong and mighty could we make levies in NOLA with what we’ve spent in Iraq this month?

Every time I have to get on an aeroplane these days, I come away with a story. Last time, they had me sitting on the tarmac for an hour after another hour’s delay because, as they actually announced over an actual loudspeaker, “Uh, we’re having trouble getting a crew together for this flight, and, uh, the captain is uh, stuck in traffic.” People used to complain about lost luggage and peanuts, but now, airlines actually believe it’s okay to hold people in an airplane on the tarmac for hours. This to me at least anecdotally reflects a sad devolution of our transportaton infrastructure, and, to me, whence goes your transportation system, whence goes your country. Infrastructure, infrastructure, infrastructure. Roads. Bridges. Transportation. The Power Grid. What good is fighting them over there if we’re sitting in the dark over here?

<./meandering rant>

Sometimes A Cigar Tax Is Not Just A Cigar Tax


You might be noticing such a sentiment these days in the righty-tighty blogosphere. They’re freaking out! They’re outraged! Outraged, I tell you!

What’s got them all up in arms? Presidential signing statements? Flagrant politcization of the Department of Justice? 3,628 dead American troops?

Nope. Cigar taxes.

Here’s the quote you’ll see on the righty-tighty blogs from a cigar manufacturer in Tampa: “I’m not sure in the history of man, since our forefathers founded the country in 1776, that there’s ever been a tax increase of 20,000 percent.” The claim is that the evil commie tax-happy bastard Democrats scheming to raise the tax on cigars from one thin nickel to ten dollars. One of ’em goes as far as to ask: “Have Democrats in Congress finally found a way to tax Rush Limbaugh directly?”

Were that this statement were accurate, and were that it were so horrible anyways. Let’s have a looksee at what is actually happening. Please, bear with me, because the truth about this is buried in bullshit and so is therefore difficult to find.

The State Children’s Health Insurance Program is administered by Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, under the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. The program’s stated purpose is to “provide $24 billion in federal matching funds over 10 years to help states expand health care coverage to over 5 million of the nation’s uninsured children.” Its authorization expires Sept. 30. Senators have been in discussion about the program’s particulars, including how to fund it and, possibly, how to fund an expansion of it.

Now remember, one achievement of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s 100 Hours was to install pay-go. The 110th Congress isn’t allowed to just pull out its Discover Card. Or, as it might be said more formally: “The fiscal year 2008 budget resolution includes a ‘deficit neutral’ reserve fund that allows for up to $50 billion in new spending for SCHIP as long as those costs are fully offset.”

The righty-tighty bloggers would have you believe that the evil commie tax-happy bastard Democrats just pulled the idea of raising this tax out of their asses. But I found something rather interesting on the internets about that. Ready?

“Karen Ignagni, president and CEO of the insurance lobby group America’s Health Insurance Plans, said that her organization supports an expansion of SCHIP but is unwilling to pay for it by cutting Medicare Advantage payments. AHIP is lobbying for the tobacco tax to fund the program.”

Those evil commie tax-happy bastard insurance company lobbyists!

And who’s the evil commie tax-happy bastard Democrat who introduced a measure earlier this year that would increase the federal tobacco tax to help fund SCHIP?

Sen. Gordon Smith of Oregon. Who is a Republigoat.

Now that we’ve identified the evil commie tax-happy bastards, let’s do something novel and actually read the proposed language, shall we? “Large cigars are taxed at the rate equal to 53.13 percent of the manufacturer’s or importer’s sales price but not more than $10.00 per cigar; A $5 Cigar would be $7.50 A $10 Cigar would be $15.00.”

You mean a $5 cigar would not automatically cost $15? A $7.50 cigar wouldn’t automaticaly cost $17.50? That’s what the righty-tighty blogs would have you believe to read them. The $10 figure, the figure that gives them the “20,000 percent” ooga-booga number, is the ceiling, not the rule. Call the fire department, friends. Your pants are on fire.

But even if these alarmists were being 100-percent honest, I just have to ask: Would it be so bad? Is it not sensible to fund a health insurance program with tax money raised from a vanity that makes people unhealthy? They insist against universal health care in the Untied States of America, they insist against an excise tax to help cover children; why not just insist that Americans get a medical text and a scalpel and perform the damned surgeries themselves? C’mon, America! Pull yourselves up by your boot straps! Lazy bums!

I learned a long time ago in Washington that there is no issue that is ever as straightforward and square as it looks sitting in front of you on the table, and that, usually, to develop a true understanding of what’s going on, you will have to leap over a few acronyms, and you will have to occassionally scour for some facts. I have also learned that, generally, the more exclamation used in a presentation, the more likely it is that the presentor is lying. There is no mad rush by a conspiratorial group of evil commie tax-happy bastard Democrats to make Rush Limbaugh pay a million dollars for a cigar. Legislators are weighing options under new rules to expand funding for a vital health care program, an expansion that is likely to face a veto anyway.

These people should be farmers. Anyone who can make hay from horseshit should be a farmer.

Quorum Call

I’m watching the Span and just freaked out because they’re voting. It’s a quorum call.

Sherrod Brown rules.


quorum call – A call of the roll to establish whether a quorum is present. If any Senator “suggests the absence of a quorum,” the Presiding Officer must direct the roll to be called. Often, a quorum call is terminated by unanimous consent before completion, which permits the Senate to use the quorum call to obtain a brief delay to work out some difficulty or await a Senator’s arrival.  


I can see why this would be useful right now.