J. Good morning, and welcome to The Mojowire, Vol. 2, No. 05... I'm Mojo...
S. And I'm Sean, it's Saturday, March 20 2004, Day 1,084 of the Neocon Captivity, and here’s the news for the week gone-by...
J. Brought to you by Mojohaus-fine journalism, afflicting the comfortable since 1988. Now headlines, from Mojohaus:
S. First this morning, a bright, fiery ball of untidiness reduced a Bagdad hotel to rubble Wednesday, with more ancillary untidiness exploding across the country in the last two days. And yet, the Bush Administration still wants us to believe all is well.
J. Next, the Neocons are at it again, this time making claims that Democracy in Europe is too important to leave in the hands of a bunch of greasy Al-Qaeda lovin' appeasers. And the Spanish election is just the tip of the Anti-American iceberg.
S. Strychnine will not be with us this morning, as he is currently descending down the gravity well in a firey ball of plasma preparing to appear at our tour stop in Santa Ana this evening...more on that at the end of the show
J. Next, we take a look at the odd case of Dennis Miller and his little watched chatting pie hole show on CNBC. People are not only realizing that he's not funny anymore, he's actually just plain stoopid; just ask historian Eric Alterman who suffered an hour with Miller the other night.
S. Finally, all you pre-law types listen up...we are going to break down the Cheney Supreme Court case this morning and attempt to reason out why Justice Antonin Scalia will not recuse himself from the case after his numerous personal contacts with Cheney...
J. …So stand by to stand by while we get ready to pull the pin on this thing...
A YEAR OF UNTIDINESS
J. As a woman was being interviewed on Arab-language news in Bagdad the other day, her figure was thrown into deep sihlouette as a firey ball of untidiness blasted away the relative calm of the evening. The car bomb, estimated at about a thousand pounds of plastic explosives, completely demolished the Mt. Lebanon Hotel, popular with aid workers and other westerners.
At the same time, coalition forces were fighting pitched gun battles with guerillas all around the country as revelers prepare to celebrate a full year of unmade beds, unkept hair and dirty dishes piling up in the sink of untidy freedom.
Now, if loyal Mojowire listeners will be remembered of it, this is just the latest symptom of "untidiness" that has swept across Iraq since U.S. forces began the liberation of the country a year ago today.
Remember, it was Donald Rumsfeld, pronouncing from his obsidian throne on his Mysterious Island of Eagle Fist Kung Fu Warriors, that in the wake of chaos, violence and generally unpolite behavior that greeted the liberators in Bagdad that "freedom can be untidy."
So 550 American soldiers died, thousands wounded for hospital corners, squared away lockers and shiny brass?
The fact is that situation has not really improved that much in Iraq since the invasion took place, either in Bagdad or in any of the ancillary areas where the coalition is working to restore some measure of regular civil life.
In Basra, the British are having a tough time dealing with the locals and the new Iraqi police are not helping, having been implicated in gun attacks on street merchants deemed to be breaking Islamic law by selling beer or selling at religiously inappropriate times.
In the restive town of Fallujah on Thursday, insurgents with AK-47 rifles and rocket-propelled grenades fought U.S. troops guarding a local government building. One civilian died and another was wounded. The U.S. military said eight U.S. soldiers and a Marine were wounded when a mortar round hit a roof.
The security situation is clearly dangerous, in spite of the Bush Administration’s best efforts at convincing everyone that things in Iraq are starting to resemble a Norman Rockwell painting as each day passes. This of course is bolstered by the near complete blackout on any news regarding American military casualties and Iraqi civilian deaths.
Look, we're not rooting for the guerillas, we don't want to see Americans coming home in those metal boxes, but that doesn’t change the apparent fact that our glorious war of liberation has turned into exactly what we were said it would more than a year ago -- an asymetric war of attrition where small groups of insurgents working on ground they know very well settle in for a long term campaign of hit and run, hitting a larger, clumbsier enemy who can’t react fast enough to rapidly changing conditions.
S. This becomes even more frustrating as, one by one, the various rationales for the war are each exposed as the mendacious house of cards we also highly suspected they were at the time.
Weapons of Mass Destruction? Here is this from U.S.'s own weapons inspector and chief of the Iraqi Survey Group David Kay in an interview last week with a private thinktank, The Arms Control Association:
ACT: Vice President Cheney recently said that there might still be weapons of mass destruction found in Iraq. Your mid-January report was obviously fairly skeptical of that possibility. Do you think he's being realistic? Do you think his comments are helpful?
Kay: What worries me about the vice president's statement is, I think people who hold out for a Hail-Mary pass--and lo and behold maybe we'll find that stockpile a year or two years out so everyone keeps searching-delay the inevitable looking back at what went wrong...It's a little like the analogy I sometimes use: in Apollo 13, if when the astronauts had said, "Houston, we have a problem," mission control had responded, "Well, you're only a third of the way to the moon. Why don't you keep going and we'll see how serious this problem is? And if and when you get there you don't make it, we'll investigate and we'll fix it for the next one."... I think you can read that statement of the vice president and say that he certainly is in denial and is holding hope that well, maybe the weapons will eventually be discovered. … I think most others at the working level recognize the correctness of the assessment that those weapons don't exist.
Terrorist connections? The only Al Qaeda connection to Iraq that has any credibility has been the group Ansar Al Islam, which was a Iranian backed group operating against the Northern Kurds and certainly not there with the blessing of the Baathist regime. There was simply no terrorist threat from Iraq, a country, by the way almost as nearly as high on the Al Qaeda hit list as the U.S.
Human Rights? Fine, if you want to make an argument that Saddam was a bad guy and needed to suck the pipe for various human rights violations, sure. But how many other countries could that be said of? Why aren't we invading them?
In fact... why are we actually negotiating with states we know sponsor terrorism, such as Pakistan, Libya and Syria?
There is no consistency to our foreign policy, and about all we have managed to accomplish since 9/11 is the reinforcement of every negative stereotype of America and Americans that has ever graced the editorial cartoons and coffeehouse conversations of the rest of the world. It is time for Americans to understand that our foreign policy is a disaster that will only lead to further violence against Americans.
Thanks W, thanks for drawing that big bullseye on me, if I ever want to travel the world...thanks a lot for that...
WE’RE SO NOT COOL!
J. And while we're on the subject of missed moments, Yasser Arafat and George W. Bush have one thing in common -- when the call to historical significance came, they both were unable to get to the phone. In Arafat's case, he simply could not reach out and grasp what was being offered in the 90s during talks brokered by then-President Clinton.
And when that call came for W in the wake of 9/11 to be a world leader of vision, consequence and impact, he, unfortunately was out on a beer run for Scooter Libby and Steve Hadley, which in truth, that was the only reason the Vice President’s Iraq Working Group let W. hang out with them.
This little parable might be more amusing if it wasn't costing so many innocent lives in Iraq and around the world.
A couple of points for you to ponder: First, a new series of polls conducted by the Pew Institute have found that American policy is being universally panned across the world and especially in the Middle East...
Yeah, I know, try to curb your shock and amazement that lo and behold, contrary to the sick fantasies of Rummy and the Veep of Arabs throwing roses at GIs rolling across the region like the grainy black and white footage of French women throwing their undergarments at the liberating armies in Europe 60 years ago, our current military adventure is being greeted with a bit more skepticism by the locals.
One of the most recent examples of this -- besides hotels being blown up in downtown Bagdad -- was the summary dismissal of the Partido Popular from the Spanish government and being replaced with a more left leaning, internationalist government of Prime Minister-elect Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero.
There is evidence that the race had been much closer than previously reported before the Atocha train bombings, with the two frontrunners polling within the margins. Then when Aznar's government attempted to use state controlled media to hide the fact that they had been bombed by Al Qaeda, that was just too much for people who thought that ties to American imperialism were not good policy for Spain to begin with.
And it has not just been Spain. W has been an election liability for several world leaders, and this has not gone unnoticed by those in the coalition of the willingly bought.
Foreign Policy expert Ivo Daadler sagely pointed this out to the American Prospect last week:
"This is the third election of a major ally in which the party running against George Bush won. Look at Germany in '02, South Korea in '03, and now Spain. The message is: If you want to get re-elected, don't go to Crawford. Bush is a political liability -- in Europe, in particular. His foreign policy has trampled on the European views and it's now resulting in the election of governments that do not support his approach,"
S. This has been tied to John Kerry's statement last week that he has been in touch with several world leaders who are begging him to please, please send Bush back to Crawford, Texas. When called on to the carpet for allowing Democrats to run such heinous smack, Conservative News Network Chief Xenophobe Wolf Blitzer found himself on the business-end of the pimp hand brought down by former U.N. Ambassador Richard Holbrooke:
John Kerry committed an unpardonable crime in Washington: he spoketh the truth. What he said is self-evidently true. There's a new poll out today by the Pew Institute, a worldwide pool, which shows massive and growing anti-Americanism around the world. ...John Kerry said something everybody knows is true. And, Wolf, you know it's true. And why don't I say just one other thing. Why don't you, instead of staging a silly he said/he said between the White House, which is throwing all this mud at John Kerry after he said something true. Why don't you poll your foreign correspondents on CNN. And ask them who the population and leaderships in the world would prefer to see elected?"
But what has been more reprehensible has been the sudden, yet predictable betrayal of democracy by the Neocons, who as we all know have only the most tenuous grasp on this whole freedom thing anyway.
Aside from the anticipated comparisons to "Munich, 1938" and "appeasment" there has been an undercurrent in many of the comments that perhaps European democracy is just too important to be reliably left in the hands of the voters.
The danger is that Europe's reaction to a war that has now reached its soil'', the Washington Post editorial said this week, ''will be retreat and appeasement rather than strengthened resolve'', a point echoed by Edward Luttwak, a long-time fixture of the national-security commentariat who wrote in the bastion of liberal media, 'New York Times', ''the Zapateros of Europe ... seem bent on validating the crudest caricatures of 'old European' cowardly decadence''
And just as a quick reminder, we would like to take this time to remind the Neocon hive brain that Spain does in fact have a history with facism and that their tolerance on this subject is pretty thin, and with damn good reason.
And lest we forget, the Spanish have been fighting radical Islamists since 711 c.e....that’s right, for the last 1,300 years, so having some pissant henchmen of this administration call out the Spainish for "appeasement" is beyond insulting to Spain and once again shows the lack of intellect in this adminsitration and an utter disrespect for context, nuance or critical thought.
And who is our Maximum Leader's point man in Spain, none other than Orange County's own Walmart Magnate and low-rent Charles Foster Kane, George Agyros...No wonder Spain’s relationship with Washington has been flushed in a swirl of blue water...
Now it's time for American voters to get out there and run the Bush Administration into the Potomac, and salt their earth in their wake, before we become anymore of an international punchline.
THAT’S JUST MY OPINION, I’M PROBABLY WRONG...
J. It's a shame...you know, I remember when Dennis Miller, right or wrong, was actually a funny guy. I blame Monday Night Football and Rupert Murdoch. I think spending any amount of time near the intellect-vacuum of Dan Fouts and cashing a check from Mestipholes Murdoch must have had some temporal mind-eating effect on Miller's talent.
I mean, we even crib from him the occasional one-liner from his days as an honest-to-God funnyman...His HBO show was a pretty good, pretty edgy bit for a while, but things began to slip. Perhaps it was the inevitable slouch towards mediocre success in a town where the only thing bigger than the silicon implants are the egos of those making it up the show biz ladder.
But something happened to Miller's rhetoric around 1997-1998. He began to manifest this weird tendency towards law and order, berating once venerated insitutions as the ACLU. There were hints that now that he had made a comfortable escape from an urban environment into the seclusion of a gated West Hills community, he was ready to tell the rest of those unlucky slobs that they should all get jobs as famous humorists and TV personalities, and quit asking the government for handouts...
It seemed like he was losing his edge and becoming yet another footsoldier in the vast legion of scared cranky middle age white guys who thought America owed them something and were getting tired of seeing the darkies and the wetbacks getting over, while worrying about their own tottering careers...
Then his HBO show got cancelled, and was let go after he spent two painful seasons with Monday Night Football trying desperately not to make Dan Fouts sound any dumber than he is and was let, only to start showing up as an occasional comedy chimp for FOXNews.
Then the CNBC gig came along, produced primarily by the same team that put on the Terminator's gubentorial bid, and oddly enough, had him on as the first guest on Miller’s new show...
And since that high water mark, about five minutes into the new show, the ratings have gone completly into the sink, rivaling the sub-basement records set by the like of Michael Weiner nee Savage on CNBC's partner in crime, MSNBC.
It seems like Miller's career was not going anywhere in particular, but hey as long as the paychecks cashed and he was still capable of making the occasional pop-culture reference in a desparate, yet pointedly doomed attempt at coolness, then sure, he could take up an hour of their network time they couldn't sell anyway.
But there may be more wrong in Dennis's world than even we thought. Last week, one of his guests was the noted commentator Eric Alterman, who came back from taping the episode with a tragic tale of disconnectedness and horrible talentless hackery...
But we’ll let Eric pick up the story...
S. "Anyway, what was so weird about it was how professional it seemed until I finally sat down with Miller. It was set up long in advance by the book’s publicists. The car came on time. In my dressing room, which was pretty elaborate as such things go, I met with a series of staff members who informed me that Dennis would be wanting to discuss topics such as George Soros and the funding of 527s; whether Bush was exploiting the 9/11 families, and I forget what else, just like a real talk show.
"Then I go out there and what? I’m talking to a stoned teenager, who can’t be bothered to say more than, "Whoh, man, you are so totally screwed up. Like, you really believe that stuff, dude?" I paraphrase, but really, Dennis did not say much more than that. Everyone on staff was extremely apologetic afterward and the word "unprofessional" was used over and over."
I remember seeing Dennis act like a real interviewer, even with people he disagreed with on his HBO show. This was painful. It was like watching an over the hill ball player step into the batter’s box, hoping against hope he has one more decent swing in him, or an old point guard trying to take some youngster to the rack and watching his layup get swatted into the cheap seats...
And it’s not like Alterman is some flash in the pan Hollywood-Activist-of-the-Week, this is a guy with major game...he is a international political scholar, historian and author. And Miller and his team couldn't be bothered to take their guest seriously enough to bring the real heat if that's what they wanted.
No, instead, they resorted to the old conservative saw perfected by the likes of GOP Chief Hack Bob Novak and others like William O'Reilly, that if you’re really not that bright or don’t have a real take, you can always fall back on dismissive sarcasm because the Joe Sixpacks of America drowing in their barcaloungers can’t tell the difference between that and serious intellectual discourse...
Or, to quote an earlier Dennis Miller: "This was an age where mean got confused with hip, saracastic with smart and the Mercedes logo for the peace symbol."
Oddly enough, Alterman said he generally tries to avoid doing the chatting head shows on the major news outlets, because his instincts tell him, and rightly so, that they are not real conduits for learned discussion, they are for ignorant blowhards to get phat stax of mad bank for shouting at each other in an unintelligible fashion while pretending they had something important to contribute to the civic debate.
Which of course, is the complete antithesis of the Mojowire and we would like to take this opportunity to extend an invitation to Mr. Alterman to appear on the wire to discuss the co-opting of the national news media by corporate interests and how the various models of Ameircan news gathering actually tacitly conspire against tradtional notions of journalist-as-watchdog. One of our Mojowire agents provoceteurs will be in touch.
At the end of the day, the most damning thing Alterman said about his little trip through CNBC’s looking glass was:
"I’ve been on O’Reilly, and Scarborough and Michael Medved’s silly radio program a couple of times but never have I encountered a guy who could not be bothered to make his own case on his own show. Really, what can CNBC be thinking with this guy? His ratings are not just in the toilet they have traveled all the way to the septic tank. And as we all know, they need to pay audience members to show up."
Ahhh, so long Dennis...alas, we hardly knew ye...
FRIENDS IN HIGH PLACES
J. An unprecedented event took place last week. A sitting Supreme Court Justice (and we use the term "justice" loosely in connection with this person) penned a 5,000 word defense of why he should be allowed to sit in judgement of a friends personal matter without any appearance of impropriety.
The Justice, as you might know, is Antonin Scalia, who's main function in life would appear to be ensure neo-con power in Washington by whatever means necessary and further the work of dominionists who would govern America like a Chrisitian Taliban.
Look, we are going to make this one easy for you: regardless of your greasy legal arguments, at the end of the day, we simply don't trust you, Tony! You are a tool and a weak-minded jurist.
But, I see we are jumping ahead of ourselves a bit. So let's hit rewind and take a quick trip down memory lane to see how we ended up in this horrible place... Shortly after the Bush cabal seized power in their not-so-bloodless coup (again with the help of Tony Scalia), Vice President Dick...may I call you "Dick" Mr. Vice President? ...Cheney held some meetings with a little band of oily brothers that came to be known as the National Energy Policy Development Group, which included not only members of the federal government but several of the Bush Campaign's biggest energy industry wheel greasers, including, it is suspected, the likes of Ken Lay of Enron and some of Cheney's old pals at Halliburton.
The subject of their meetings was national energy policy, but the Vice President has been very reticent in telling people what actually went on in those meetings or who was there. It is suspected that not only was drilling in the Arctic and continuation of oil as the primary fuel for America discussed, but also possibly how to best divvy up Iraqi oil, almost two years before the invasion took place.
So you can see, the Vice President probably has a lot to hide. And then some disparate groups like the Sierra Club and the right wing cranks at Judicial Watch got together and sued Cheney and the government to get minutes of those meetings and Dick has been kicking and screaming all the way to the Supreme Court.
At one point, a federal court issued a Writ of Mandamus, which is a legal term meaning a court order etched in the rock of ages, and disobedience to which earns you a bright blue bolt from the heavens... The DC Court of Appeals last year overturned the Mandamus and now the thing is set up for a hearing before the Supremes.
Now while this was all being debated in the lower appellate courts, Tony called on Dick to ask if his old pal from the Ford Administration would like to take a weekend of Duck Hunting with an oil equipment guy at his private reserve down in Louisiana.
This activity got up the noses of some of the petitioners in this case, feeling that Tony might not be, in the strictest sense, an impartial jurist. The other day, Tony fired off a 21 page scud at taxpayer expense explaining how even if everything they say is true, he should still be allowed to sit in on the case and do whatever Dick needs him to do.
S. And now you’ve been introduced to our contestants, let’s get into a little bit of detail, shall we?
In his meandering, and at times scatterbrained memo, Tony makes the essential argument that "hey, lots of judges know people here in Washington, so what’s so wrong with me hearing Dick’s case?"
Actually, it's a pretty fair question. There's an old adage about lobbyists in Washington dating back to the Johnson Administration that might apply here: "If you can't drink their booze, sleep with their hookers and take their money, then vote against them the next day, you are in the wrong business."
Hey Tony, we think you are in the wrong business...
His history is somewhat against him here... Most justices, even ones we disagree with, such as Anthony Kennedy or even William Renquist generally have a consistency about them. Well, Tony does, too, but it has nothing to with solid jurisprudence or well founded notions of our laws or legal system.
In short, Tony is every bit the activist judge that the right wing tin-foil hat brigade bloviate about so incessantly.
For instance: In 2000, shortly before the the whole Gore v. Bush decision, Tony wrote a majority opinion regarding federal port fees in Charleston, South Carolina. The basic take was that those kind of local administrative functions had no business being done by the state. It was tantamount to federal intereference with a state activity and of course the federal government couldn’t do that.
In less than 90 days, his ideology swung around 180 degrees and he ruled that the Federal Government had every right to stop a state from recounting votes, and that the state had no business interfering in such a critical federal function. And he did it quoting the 10th Amendment to the Consititutions both times...
So, yeah, his commitment ideology is somewhat questionable...so is his actual honesty as a jurist. In his letter excusing himself from judicial ethics rules, he states that Dick never had a chance to put the squeeze on him...saying the trip was:
"not an intimate setting. The group hunted that afternoon and Tuesday and Wednesday mornings; it fished (in two boats) Tuesday afternoon. All meals were in common. Sleeping was in rooms of two or three, except for the Vice President, who had his own quarters. Hunting was in two- or three-man blinds. As it turned out, I never hunted in the same blind with the Vice President. Nor was I alone with him at any time during the trip, except, perhaps, for instances so brief and unintentional that I would not recall them—walking to or from a boat, perhaps, or going to or from dinner. Of course we said not a word about the present case."
But right before claiming that at no time did he and Vice President so much as exchange a meaningful glace all weekend, he says that he and his kids were on Dick’s Air Force 2 Gulfstream Jet at the Veep's invitation, for the six hour flight from Viriginia to Louisiana.
Were you in the baggage compartment? Locked in the bathroom? Flying the plane? If not, then you and Dick shared a pretty intimate six hour flight in the passenger cabin of a not-very-big airplane.
And then goes on a great length, while defending his own impartiality, to explain why this case does not impinge on the integrity or trust of the Vice President, not even one whit... In fact, reading the memo, he appears to be deciding the case before a single bit of testimony has been heard...
"Certainly as far as the legal issues immedi-ately presented to me are concerned, this is "a run-of-the-mill legal dispute about an administrative decision." I am asked to determine what powers the District Court pos-sessed under FACA, and whether the Court of Appeals should have asserted mandamus or appellate jurisdiction over the District Court.
"Nothing this Court says on those subjects will have any bearing upon the reputation and integrity of Richard Cheney. Moreover, even if this Court affirms the decision below and allows discovery to proceed in the District Court, the issue that would ultimately present itself still would have no bearing upon the reputa-tion and integrity of Richard Cheney."
So at the end of the day, as far as he is concerned, the Vice President's secret meetings with energy industry executives that might well have plunged the world into war are a "run of the mill legal dispute."
Look, this is very simple, these people will stop at nothing to retain control over this country, and Tony Scalia is merely one of their lackeys. This is about power...who rules, and right now it is them.
This should serve as a horrible object lesson to all on why we need to get our campaign on, and summon up the fist of the firey righteous wrath of the pre-Atomic Space God Jehovah-I to break a boot off in this administration’s collective posterior. C'mon, get up, the time is now...we're not gettin' any younger... or freer!
J. So our patriotic thought for the day: Accountability of government officials to the electorate means the terrorists win, or as John Ashcroft says..."I love the smell of Semtex in the morning...it smells like...victory..."
S. And that's all for this week, tune in again soon for another exciting installment, until, of course, we are declared enemies of the state.
And remember, you can now email the Mojowire at Mojohaus@hotmail.com, that’s M-O-J-O-H-A-U-S@hotmail.com. Email, us hippies! And now you can check out the Mojowire online at Mojowire.Blogspot.com; you can read the entire archive along with our general ramblings...
J. This has been the Mojowire, brought to you by Mojohaus... Mojohaus-fine journalism, afflicting the comfortable since 1988, and produced by our super funky fly producer Mike Payne and the Darkling Eclectica, here on KUCI, 88.9...