Thursday, December 22


The year in review. If nothing else, read it for the jokes (most of which are not among these excerpts -- I'm feeling too serious today).

By the time we got to Cunningham’s sobbing exit, no one — absolutely no one — could keep track of all the scandals involving the Bush-Cheney administration, the Republican Congress, and state and local Republican leaders and their corporate and evangelical cronies. There were procurement scandals, media scandals, emergency-preparedness scandals, even treason scandals. These people stole everything, from coins in Ohio to billions in Iraq — including, in the estimation of some, the 2004 election, giving George W. Bush a matched set of nebulous claims to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
Bush-Cheney’s cynicism and contempt for the media, and their administration’s repeatedly exposed practice of fabricating and/or planting stories became so blatant in 2005 that newscasts should have begun with the disclaimer "I’m George W. Bush and I approved of this message."
Traitorgate was the epicenter of the snarl in the Bush-Cheney web of deceit, combining as it did the administration’s media manipulation, its phony case for war, and its low-blow tactics. New York Times reporter Judith Miller was the gray lady down on the administration for exclusive access to every falsehood it wanted planted in the paper of record to make its phony case for war in Iraq. Miller, a viciously ambitious, narcissistic journalist made up of equal parts tenacity and wrong-headedness, had been informed of Plame’s identity by Scooter Libby.
The Washington Post’s Bob Woodward also traded ethics for access and got caught in the swirl of Traitorgate. As the story was exploding, Woodward went on Larry King and matter-of-factly implied the whole affair was a tempest in a teapot. He failed to disclose his own involvement, but we soon learned that he was just another rat in the sewer that ran between the White House and the corporate media. Richard Nixon would be so proud of him!
The Republican Congress was a disgrace throughout the year. Low points included the ethics scandals that embroiled both the House and Senate majority leaders. Congressman Tom DeLay was indicted for money laundering, the only known connection to anything clean in his sordid career. A primary player in DeLay’s K Street (soon to be renamed Shakedown Street) Project was lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who funneled funds, goods, and junkets to DeLay and others in exchange for right of first refusal on all legislation...Dr. Bill Frist, the Senate’s majority leader, was plagued by vision problems that actually caused him to see too much — like the contents of his blind trust, which now has him under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission. His super vision also allowed him to use a home video to pronounce that Terri Schiavo was not in a persistent vegetative state. Of course he was wrong -- she was in Florida.
Camp Casey was so traumatic for W that he was probably relieved when Hurricane Katrina’s epic storm surge washed Cindy Sheehan out of the headlines. As ever, Bush was careless about what he wished for, and soon the world was looking at shocking aerial views of a country run by dim frat boys.
After Katrina, it began to seem that Bush’s actions and policies were nothing more than the result of drunken bar bets. In fact, the very reputable National Enquirer posited that W was back on the bottle. That would explain Bush’s nomination of Harriet Miers: Watch this, this’ll be funny — the next person that walks in here, I’m naming to the Supreme Court.

Two interesting stories came out in December. The first exposed Bush’s practice of wire-tapping American citizens without so much as clearing the microscopic hurdle of obtaining a special secret-court warrant. But hey, if you don’t have anything to hide, what are you worried about?
Notwithstanding attempts by Bush-Cheney to rig Iraqi and American news with phony stories planted by its media operatives in the slimy Rendon and Lincoln Groups, the truth has been announced in the blood-curdling screams of agony from the victims of its torture. Whether at the hands of US military personnel, CIA agents, private contractors, or collaborating thugs from other nations, torture has become synonymous with our nation’s foreign policy.

Despite Bush’s strong denials and Condi Rice’s assurances that this administration has a strict policy of probably never committing torture, Dick Cheney’s legislative arm-twisting on the matter tells the real story. Any agreement the administration may make with John McCain or anyone else will be entered into with all the sincerity of its promise to rebuild New Orleans.

Regardless of what Bush makes of the latest election in Iraq, his game is up there. Congressman Jack Murtha, a man who never met a military action he’d question, has become the voice of the generals Donald Rumsfeld has censored. He knows the cause is lost, and that it’s time to get out. He knows that US troop presence will do nothing more than provoke perpetual violence. And he’s earned a crisp salute for saying so.
The majority of Americans now know that Bush justified this needless fight by lying to Congress, the American people, and the entire world. His premises were false, his motives were megalomaniacal. The results are tragic.

Bush picked a fight he didn’t need to pick. And lost. In doing so he weakened our nation and allies, and strengthened our enemies. And he did one more thing: he secured his place in history as a dangerous and soulless lunatic. It would require serious generosity to simply label him as pathetic.


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