Saturday, December 31, 2005

2005 in a nutshell! 

I am pleased to present: Tomkitty’s year in review
Why not, right?  I saw an older boy do a year in review piece and thought it was alright.

I’m going to try to keep everything in order, but some events crossed months, so bare with me.  This is more or less a rundown of Neo-con fuck-ups for the year aught 5, and lord knows there were many, so forgive me if I miss a few, or if something is out of place.

‘05 has been a bad year for journalism and a good year for news, oddly enough.  In fact the item that got me blogging occurred on January 26th, 2005, which now seems so long ago.  You see, there was this gay prostitute who went by the name of Bulldog, (or Jeff Gannon… or was it Jim Guckert?  Oh wait! They are the same guy!). Some how, some way, he found himself inside the White House press corp and had gained a reputation of asking soft questions to keep the press secretary, and on one occasion the president himself, from being bombarded with actual inquiries that made some in the administration uncomfortable.  The funny thing, (well there are a lot of funny things about this case, but I’ll save the jokes about lubricants for another time), was that Bulldog’s news outlet, Talon News, didn’t exist until long after he was granted access to the press room.  Combine that with the entry logs (must… resist… inappropriate… jokes!) for the White House and we get a gay prostitute/reporter showing up at the White House on days where there were no briefings, and sometimes not leaving until the following morning.  I’ll say it again, if Clinton were president while this was going on, the neo-cons would have had a gallows built for him on Capitol Hill. Check out the video from the Daily Show posted at Media Matters for America, it sums it up nicely.

This event in my mind was the start of a great unveiling that started to show America just what the people in charge were capable of.  This item got very little attention in the MSM, but quite a bit of notice on the blogs.  Ron Brynaert over at Why Are We Back in Iraq and the folks at the Nashua Advocate covered this more than any of the major news outlets, and I tend to think that if more people were made aware of it from the start, could have spelled out more trouble for the neo-cons from the get-go.  But as I have said, this was the start of the 05 problems for the bushies.  It revived allegations from ’04 of fake news provided by the government to support the administrations agenda, and then into the discovery that the administration had actually paid folks like Armstrong Williams for support of it policies on the airways. This had gotten to the point where the GAO (General Accounting Office) had to spell out for the administration that their activities in this regard were outright wrong.

The MSM tried mightily not to touch on these issues too much and moved on to… George Bushes Rockin’ Social Security Tour!  YEE-HAHH!!!  This is one of my favorites from the year.  I loved the talk from the right-wing pundits: George Bush is out to prove that Social Security is not the ‘Third Rail’ of politics.  Turns out that it was the third rail, and even though georgie had gotten the shit shocked out of him, no one in the administration bothered to tell him that his ideas for reforming Social Security were dead long before the tour stopped.  When you have to get your mom to go out on the road with you, a woman who will not need to worry about the existence of Social Security by the way, you should consider that portion of your agenda deader that Dillinger.

Every where he turned he faced criticism regarding his ‘plan’.  In fact, just like the war in Iraq, he didn’t have a plan, just the desire to privatize Social Security.  This did not go down well obviously, and most republicans bailed on him to avoid going down on the same sinking ship.  His plans for reform got rolling in February following the State of the Union Address, some say it was effectively dead in April, some say June, though I think it wasn’t ever alive to begin with.  

In March we saw the end of the Terri Shiavo incident in which ‘small government’ conservatives decided that the roll of the federal government extended into the private lives of American families.  It was a sad time, but as I have expressed in previous posts on the subject, it wasn’t any of my business, it wasn’t Jeb Bush’s business, it wasn’t the business of the congress, or the office of the president.  The republicans took a different tack, and eventually made it plain that Terri’s life was a ‘great political issue’, according to a memo that was written by Brian Darling, the legal counsel to Florida Republican senator Mel Martinez. This memo outlines how this woman’s life could be used against democrats in the upcoming elections.  President bush even went so far as to take time off from his vacation to address the issue (you could have knocked me over with a feather), and we got to see Bill Frist diagnose Terri by viewing a video tape.  The way they scrambled about over an issue that was none of their concern was truly impressive.  But we should remember to always be wary when these jackasses start talking about passing a bill out of no where on a weekend..,  Nothing good can come from that.

April - May
While we move away from Terri and georgie gets back to beating the dead horse that was his plan for Social Security reform, we get another item of news that the MSM were content to try and ignore:  The Downing Street Memos.
Here is my favorite quote from those documents:

Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy.

This I thought for sure would have been the straw, but I guess the camel’s back was a lot stronger than I gave it credit for.  Of course it didn’t help that the MSM didn’t want to touch the story with a ten foot pole.  These memos help to give context to the run up to the war that we, the focus group, knew was likely, but finally had seen proven definitively.  All they had was the desire to go to war, but that had no legal justification or cause.  There were (are) much worse threats to the free world than Saddam Hussein; he did not have stock piles of WMDs, he was not a grave and growing threat, had no connection to 9/11, and not only did the folks in the UK government know it, they were trying to get their American counterparts onboard with less rash actions than they had in mind.  This memo was never proven a phony, and was acknowledged to be authentic by both the UK and US governments, though they like to refer to it as nothing new before putting their tails between their legs and scuttling off.  The memo was released at a pivotal moment for Tony Blair’s reelection campaign, but his party was still able to maintain a slim majority in parliament.

But again, the MSM kept shifting the focus elsewhere, and we all moved on.  Not that there weren’t other juicy things to move on too however.  

June - July
In June, we started to here the rumbling caused by the CIA leak investigation.  Karl Rove and Scooter Libby were in the hot seat, along with 2 reporters, Matt Cooper and Judith Miller.  Miller ended up going to jail on July 6th for refusing to testify, and for a brief time she looked like a martyr for journalistic freedom.  Who would have guessed that a reporter protecting her source, normally considered a noble thing, would be just as complicit as the person she was protecting?  I know I’m getting ahead of myself, as this story got hotter long after July, so I will try to keep things moving.

CAFTA, the Central American Free Trade Act passed the House just after midnight on July 28th, only after house republicans broke the rules by extending the vote after the time allotted had expired.  What else could they do but break the rules, right?  It was clear when the time ran out that CAFTA was shot down, but by extending the time allowed them to twist some arms, cajole, bribe and beg the needed votes out of the other members.  We learn from the republicans once again that if the rules stand in the way, why give in to honest debate when you can just break them and get what you want any way.  This is a valuable lessons they are teaching our future generations, isn’t it?

In August, we see what may be the beginning of the end of the big money conservative scourge that has set up residence in DC.  Jack Abramoff is indicted on charges of fraud on the 11th.  This man was a power-broker extraordinaire, he seemed hell bent these past few years trying to build a gambling empire and doling out lost of cash to gain influence.  The indictment stemmed from his attempted acquisition of Sun Cruz Casinos, a cruise ship business that takes its customers out to international waters of the coast off Florida in order to gamble.  This purchase involved wire-fraud, false banking documents and ended in the murder of the owner of the casinos.  This is too complicated to leave as a foot note, so I won’t elaborate much further, but Mr. Abramoff has donated money to many many DC politicians in order to gain favors for himself and the clients of his lobbying firm.  The most notable names to have received favors and donations from (or through) him are Tom Delay, George Bush and Bob Ney of Ohio.  At the end of the year its looks as though he will be taking a deal and offering testimony against some of the folks in DC that he has worked with over the years.  Stay tuned on this one, it is far from over.

At the beginning of August, georgie is feeling a bit stressed out by all his ‘hard work’, you know talking about Social Security in ways that no one wants to hear, and he decided he needs some rest.  He officially broke the record for the amount of vacation taken by a sitting president.    Then a little voice popped up on the radio and TV, threatening to ruin his bike rides and brush clearing.  This voice which sounds like it belongs to a child, innocent and full of uncomfortable truth, had a very important question for the president, and he didn’t want to hear it.  The voice belonged to the mother of a young man who lost his life in service to this country in Iraq. The voice was that of Cindy Sheehan. How great was that in the beginning, all the right-wing nut jobs fell silent…  asking themselves ‘Are even we so evil as to attack a mother who is grieving the loss of her war hero son?’  The answer was yes in the end, but they took a few good weeks to ponder that one.   I love it when they get that puzzled look on their faces.

This mighty little voice, my dear Cindy, followed the great and powerful Bush to his home in Crawford Texas, where she and her growing legions of followers sat out side his ranch while GEORGE BUSH TOOK THE LONGEST VACATION IN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORY, DURING A WAR.
All she wanted was for him to answer a simple question:  Why did my son have to die?

Figuratively, George Bush took out a Colt .45, loaded all six chambers, and shot himself 3 times in each foot.  A lot of his supporters were nervous about that one, most thinking it would have been better to talk to her straight out rather than hide from her. And they were right.  I could see it on the faces of my conservative colleagues, which just makes me smile wider.

While Cindy and her legions were kick starting the anti-war movement, and George Bush was trying to hide from her by scuttling about pretending to work on HIS 5 WEEK VACATION by talking about his LOOOOOOOOOONG dead plans for Social Security reform, a massive series of unfortunate events began to unfold.

An event long feared had occurred; New Orleans was hit by a category 3 hurricane.  There was a brief moment when everyone thought things were going to be okay, but then the levees broke and flooded the city.  The damage to the region was great and spread across states, but NO was smacked the hardest.  Our buddy george was caught flat-footed, and in this instance as the polls showed, the shit was running uphill.

The finger pointing began swiftly; it was the mayor’s fault, the governor’s fault, it was FEMA’s fault, it was the president’s fault.  I tend to think that there is plenty of blame to go around on that one, but if the fault has to be someone’s it was Michael “Brownie” Brown’s fault.  This man, appointed to the position by the president and approved by congress, was dangerously unqualified for the position.  No one whose biggest spot on their resume is certifying people to judge Arabian horses is qualified to deal with large scale catastrophes, unless of course NO was flooded with horses that needed to be judged, than this guy might be your man.

This is another event that is not done in my mind, as we are still trying to deal with the aftermath, but lets tackle another effect of this event: Oil Prices.

Seems that the gulf coast is a major port and refining center for the countries oil industry, and once the hurricane passed, oil prices shot through the roof in short order.  In the end it turned out that the industry bore only ‘mild’ damage (not to say there was none, I got to personally see some of the damage that shut down several refineries, some day I will tell you all that very interesting story), seeing a total drop in output of only 1%. Oil had passed $70.00 a barrel, and it looked as though that was completely unwarranted.  Execs from the major oil companies were called to capital hill to testify about the situation, but were relieved from having to take the oath before speaking.  This might not have really saved them as it turns out, and I didn’t know this, that you can still find yourself in hot water for making false statements to congress even if you’re not under oath.  This may have a bearing on Dick Cheney’s Secret Energy meetings, to which all giving testimony that day denied that a representative from their companies participated in.  Again, this might come back around in ‘06.

Further on the matter of the hurricanes of ’05, did anyone else notice how many of the buggers there were?  We actually had to roll over the naming system and start using the Greek alphabet to keep track of all the tropical storms that were forming.  Admittedly, I am taking a break from my usual tree-hugging to make this post, but it was interesting to here the up tick in discussions about global warming, even on Faux News!

September also held the loss of Chief Justice William Renquist when he died from cancer. John Roberts who was nominated by george to replace Sandra Day O’Conner who was retiring from he Supreme Court, was bumped up to replace Renquist as chief justice.  Bushie makes his next misstep by nominating his bestest-legal-buddy-in-the-whole-widest-world to take over for O’Conner; Harriet Myers.  Who knows, if it wasn’t for the fact that most of her legal history revolved around the idiot in chief, or perhaps if george hadn’t said she was the best he could find for the job, or maybe if conservatives hadn’t come out so strongly against her, she might have made it.  But when you get Ann Coulter criticizing the pick, you know you have a problem as a neo-con. “Bush may as well appoint his chauffeur head of NASA as put Miers on the Supreme Court.” – Ann ‘Crazy Bitch’ Coulter

Harriet stepped aside, leading to the nomination of Sam Alito, who will bring the police state to America, he swears. (by the way, fuck him in the ear.)

End of September – October
Judy Miller was released from jail on September 29th after agreeing to testify as to her source for the leaking of Valerie Plame’s identity.  Mind you that she never actually printed anything on the subject (that was Bobby Novak), but she was one of the early recipients of this information from a man that would later be indicted on October 31st, Scooter Libby. It seems he couldn’t keep his story straight, and Miller’s notebook proved him to be a liar.  He was indicted on 5 counts including obstruction of justice, perjury, and false statements made to investigators.  The right wingers cried “but he wasn’t indicted for the crime under investigation”, and I echo them from their statements back in ’98 concerning the Clinton investigation: “a lie is a lie.”  If he did nothing wrong, and he was on the up-and-up, why did he lie?  I don’t think he was protecting his wife from hearing that Judy Miller gave him oral sex in exchange for a juicy leak (pun intended), they were awfully chummy and had many a meal together, but we will have to wait until the trial to find that out.  Our buddy Karl Rove is going to have to sit in the ‘wait and see’ pile for ‘06, as it doesn’t look like the heat is off over there.  In general however, keep an eye on the VP’s office.  Dicky-boy should be resigning over ‘health reasons’ any day now.

And don’t think that I have stepped over a story here, Tom Delay was indicted on conspiracy charges on the 28th of September and stepped down as House leader the same day as Judy’s release.  His mug shot was photogenic however, not a Nick Nolte by any stretch of he imagination.  Tom is still sitting in limbo while he fights the charges.  We should see some more on this in the New Year, but it did also call into question of the legality of his Texas voter redistricting that helped him secure that state for the republicans.  At this time the conspiracy charge has been dropped, but he still get to look forward to a trial concerning money laundering.

September was a very bad month indeed for the blessed neo-cons.

The rest of the year kept marching on, dealing blows to the right-wing nuts.

A new name appeared on my radar.  John Murtha of Pennsylvania. On November 17th, Mr. Murtha introduced a resolution calling for the redeployment of American troops from Iraq, and never in your life had you seen such a childish reaction from a political party as the republicans offered that day.  Murtha’s resolution didn’t specify a time table, just that they be redeployed at the earliest possible moment, and not even all at once and went on to provide for a “A quick-reaction U.S. force and an over-the-horizon presence of U.S Marines shall be deployed in the region.”  But our republican friends just couldn’t have that.  Representative Duncan Hunter of California offered a counter proposal: Resolved, that it is the sense of the House of Representatives that the deployment of United States forces in Iraq be terminated right away.  See the childishness?  This is the equivalent of an angry teenager stalking to their room and slamming the door in response to their parent’s request to sit down and talk about their bad grades in school.

In the end, Hunter’s joke resolution was defeated, as it should have been. Then a few weeks later following the Iraqi elections, Don ‘You don’t need no stinkin’ body armor!’ Rumsfeld brings up the notion of troop withdrawals, like it’s their idea.  I think they got the point, but couldn’t discuss things like adults.  Troops can only stay in the region for so long for the good of the Iraqi people, combined with the patience of the American electorate, which is waning with every death.  The sweet Neo-cons don’t have much to look forward to if the situation in Iraq isn’t stable and shining by the time the ‘06 elections roll around.  They have to draw down the troop levels, but it has to be their idea, and they still get to bare the blame if the situation in Iraq has not drastically improved by 11 months from now. Try not to choke on those sour grapes now.

We had hit a point running up to Christmas that the Democrats again showed off their shiny new spine when they dragged out the remaining days in congress to protest the addition of the ANWR provision into the defense spending bill.  In that we saw once more that the Republicans are quite willing, if not eager, to change the rules to suit their needs.  If there is a law or statute that stands in the way of their agenda, they will knock it down rather than work around it and gain actual support of the goals they seek.  They will sacrifice legality for expediency every time.

Earlier this year I had changed my voter registration because I had taken exception to the Dems not getting behind John Murtha quickly enough, or solidly enough.  But I have to give them points for fighting that one.  I have been so down on them, I expected them to let that one slide through without a fight.  Kudos to you guys!  Keep that up and I might be back in the party for the 08 primaries (not bloody likely, but I think they need encouragement, the poor things.)

Novembers runs into December and Bill O’Rielly runs his head into a wall… repeatedly apparently, judging by the obvious brain damage.  Bill has gone above and beyond, and given me hours of laughter.  He, along with John Gibson who literally ‘wrote the book’, have been feverishly insisting that Christmas is under attack by the secular left.  Now, speaking as an atheist who appreciates science and academic achievement, Merry Christmas Billy!

We end the year with a stunner. (I’m not sure if I am being sarcastic with that word or not) George Bush Jr., against all legal authority provided to the executive branch by the constitution, has been approving wire-tapping on American citizens without a warrant by the NSA.  I can’t say I’m shocked, georgie hates the mere notion of civil liberties, but I am certainly pleasantly surprised by the general reaction.  As we head into ‘06, we see a president that thinks he can write his own rules, regardless of the constitution.  He over-stepped his bounds at a time when he had just begun to speak honestly with the electorate.  A few weeks ago he spoke of the toll in terms of Iraqi lives that his foolish war racked up.  And at that moment he found the voice to speak honestly (or rather the moment his wife and mother took it upon themselves to help him address his image problem) he gets knocked back by allegations that he overrode the constitution with an authority he did not have. There has since been an investigation in to the leak about this illegal program launched by the DOJ, which might effect the New York Times, who originally publish the story.  Not that they don’t have here share of black eyes from this past year (See Judith Miller).  But in the end, its George who is in the hot seat, and republican senator Arlen Specter has promise hears on the matter in the New Year.

Somebody buy georgie a fiddle.

Well, that about wraps it up for ’05.  I know I didn’t hit everything, who could really?  The republicans screwed up a lot this past year, and also had to reap a lot of what they sewed from their previous years in power.  They got rapped on the knuckles for their stance on torture, they got popped for over stepping their bounds again and again.  And hopefully ’06 will see them knocked back down to where they belong, into the screaming minority.

Hey folks, its been a blast!  I’m off to enjoy the remainder of my vacation, and drink too much to celebrate the New Year.  

Here’s to another year of Neo-con fuck-ups!


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