Wednesday, April 27, 2005

April 26, 2005

Another Magical Mystery Tour of the Morning News

Flying Miss Daisy-Cutter
What’s President Bush to do? On one hand his Social Security “reforms” are floundering. On the other hand his party’s leader in the House, fellow Texan, Tom DeLay, is dying a death by a thousand (self-inflicted) cuts.

Well, if you are George Bush what you do is put the two together to see if two negatives can add up to a positive – (further proof that in Texas schools at least one student was left behind, and yet he grew up to be President anyway.) But I digress.

Tom DeLay and Social Security, what kind of pairing is that? I mean DeLay is the same guy who cares so little for his own widowed, aging mother that he has refused to even talk to her for years. Now the President wants to see if DeLay can help him out of his SS mess in return for the appearance the Prez still supports the embattled Majority Leader.

CRAWFORD, Texas (AP) -- President Bush is adding a helper to his Social Security road tour: House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, who is facing allegations of ethical improprieties but is seen by the White House as crucial to pushing Bush's plans through Congress. (Full Story)

DeLay will even get to ride back to Washington aboard Air Force One. I don’t know about you, but rather than helping DeLay a ride back home on Air Force One is only likely to remind folks of Newt Gingrich’s final days as a Washington big shot. Remember, it was about the time that Gingrich’s arrogance had worn thin that he too got a ride on Air Force One back to DC. But Bill Clinton was President then and Gingrich got thrown in the luggage compartment instead of getting VIP seating up front. When the plane landed at Andrews’s AFB mechanics nearly scrambled the fire trucks because of a loud whine emanating from the plane. It turned out to just be Gingrich complaining about the service.

Anyway, shortly thereafter Gingrich was a private citizen again and is still flying coach.

Now we have this political kabuki dance of death, Bush and DeLay, two drowning men desperately clinging to each other hoping the other can figure out how to get them both back to dry land.

But it's not working. Polls have nose-dived for both Bush personally and his Social Security private accounts plan. The same goes for DeLay’s popularity as new stories break daily about his extraordinarily sleazy behavior in office. While a self-avowed born-again Christian, DeLay now appears to have more in common with felonious conman, Rev. James Baker than Rev. Billy Graham.

All of which makes the President’s DeLay-outreach so remarkable. The imagery dances in my head; Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid hiding out aboard Air Force One. Bonnie and Clyde upgrade their ride. Two of the universe’s emptiest of empty suits, flying high in tax-payer provided luxury singing “Closer my Lord to Thee,” in two-part harmony.

Imagine that.

Glass House Cleaning Time
The Crips and Bloods are fixin’ to go to war. The evidence is everywhere – shredders smoking late into the night in congressional offices and congressional aides running all over DC paying bills their bosses had let lobbyists pick up for them.

As Democrats mass for a frontal assault on House Majority Leader Tom DeLay’s fundraising, travel and lobbyist misbehaviors, they are busy trying to make sure the other side can’t find any dirt on them.

“Members of Congress are rushing to amend their travel and campaign records, fearing that the controversy over House Majority Leader Tom DeLay will trigger an ethics war that will bring greater scrutiny to their own travel and official activities….. Lawmakers are paying old restaurant bills, filing missing forms and correcting erroneous ones as journalists and political opponents comb through records and DeLay (R-Tex.) attempts to answer questions about travel financing and his past relationships with lobbyists. (Washington Post – Full Story)

And lookie here. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who is leading attacks in the House on DeLay, failed to report a 2004 trip to South Korea until a Washington Post reporter asked her office about it. Presto-chango, in the blink of an eye Pelosi dispatched an aide to filed the late disclosure form for the $9,087 trip.

Pelosi’s lame response: “I did not know I was supposed to file these forms and I apologize for its lateness."

Okay, not to be critical and I’m just wondering out loud here, but what would Rep. Nancy say if Tom DeLay used that excuse? She’s a lady so I suppose she would probably not shout “Bullshit!” Maybe the lady would say something more along the lines of, “Give me a break, Tom. I wasn’t born yesterday, and neither were you!”

Of course now she can’t say anything like that.

Memo to Nancy Pelosi:
Review advice given to Caesar’s wife. Follow it.

Every Floridian a Dirty Harry
If you live in Florida and you have always wished you could pump hot lead into an overly aggressive Jehovah Witness or those way-too-clean-cut Mormon missionary kids, your chance has arrived.

It is either a Wild West revival, a return to the days of "shoot first and ask questions later," or a triumph for the "Castle Doctrine" -- the notion that enemies invade personal space at their peril…..Such dueling rhetoric marked the debate over a measure that Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) could sign as early as Tuesday. The legislation passed so emphatically that National Rifle Association backers plan to take it to statehouses across the nation, including Virginia's, over the next year. The law will let Floridians "meet force with force," erasing the "duty to retreat" when they fear for their lives outside of their homes, in their cars or businesses, or on the street. (Full Story)

The Florida measure stipulates that any person "has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm."

Can you imagine what might have happened if this were Florida law when federal immigration agents rushed into a private home to snatch young Cuban Élan Gonzalez? It could have gotten real ugly I think.

Anyway, Gov. Jeb Bush is all over this idea and says he will sign the measure into law just as soon as he finishes cleaning his gun.

The law’s nickname is “The Castle Doctrine.” Does that mean Floridians can also have moats filled with hungry alligators around their homes as well? I mean, that would sure save on ammo.

Just a thought.

This Just In – There Were No WMDs
The last hope for Bush Neo-cons who took us to war was that they would find Iraq’s missing WMDs hidden in U-Rent self-storage units in Syria. But all they found was tons of homus.

“U.S. investigators hunting for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq have found no evidence that such material was moved to Syria for safekeeping before the war, according to a final report of the investigation released yesterday. (Full Story)

The report blew away the last of the administration's arguments for going to war in Iraq. Instead inspectors found that the 1991 Persian Gulf War and subsequent U.N. sanctions had destroyed all of Iraq's illicit weapons.

This now leaves the Bush administration with one final rationalization – that Saddam continued to hope that someday he could resume his WMD programs. This the WWMD threat… Wishing for Weapons of Mass Destruction.

Anyone else out there wishing they had nukes? Oh yeah, Iran. North Korea was wishing, but they are over it. They have them now. That happened while John Bolton was wringing his hands over Cuba’s non-existent WMD programs.

But see, now I’ve said too much…

By Stephen Pizzo
Raconteur at Large

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