Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire



Pants on Fire


Micromanagement of War By Congress Not The Ideal Solution

The House has passed a spending bill which sets a deadline for withdrawing troops from Iraq. True to form, George Bush responded dishonestly in trying to portray this as endangering the troops. As the bill provides funding until the troops are brought home there is zero validity to this charge. If anything, it might make them safer by making them appear less like a permanent occupying force, making them less a target as they are caught in the middle of a civil war. Ultimately, if the goal is protection of the troops the best way to do that is to get them out of Iraq.

Republicans will complain that micromanagement of a war by Congress is not a good idea. They are right. This is not the best way to handle a war, but we have no choice when faced with a President who has deceived Congress and the American people about the war, who manages the war in an incompetent manner, and who engages in a foreign policy which jeopardizes our national security. Congress has no choice but to step in, as was requested by the majority who voted the Republicans out in the midterm elections.

Ideally it would not be necessary for Congress to set a deadline and attempt to manage the war in this manner. The best approach would be to remove George Bush and Dick Cheney from office. As this is not politically feasible, the next best choice is to have Congress do everything possible to reduce the harm done by the worst President in US history.

SciFi Friday: Robots Invade City Streets, Heroes Finale, and Mary Jane Watson

As we await Sunday’s finale, I already reported the news that Battlestar Galactica will have twenty-two episodes next season. We will have to wait until the fourth quarter for the two-hour episode and then January for the regular episodes. The third season had a number of elements we wouldn’t have predicted during season two in light of the occupation of New Caprica. Next year might also have a change in course of the show, possibly influenced by the identity of who ever is revealed to be a Cylon, and the fate of Kara Thrace. I would be quite surprised, and most fans would be very disappointed, if Starbuck doesn’t reappear in the finale.

While we might be terrified to see Cylons on our city’s streets, the United States Postal Service thought that placing R2-D2 in on the streets would be helpful to promote a new stamp. The New York Daily News Reports:

Coming to a Manhattan streetcorner near you – and a select few in the other four boroughs – a “Star Wars”-themed letter box in the form of lovable R2-D2.

Overnight, two dozen boxes were to get a robotic makeover as part of a gimmick to promote a new stamp out March 28.

In a news release, the Postal Service likened itself to the feisty little droid, boldly declaring that R2 “embodies the trust and dependability for which the Postal Service is so renowned.”

The R2-D2 boxes will pop up in 200 cities nationwide. In New York, most will be in high-traffic areas in Manhattan, like 43rd St. and Broadway, 58th St. and Fifth Ave., and 33rd St. and Seventh Ave.

The official announcement is scheduled for March 28. Until then we have this video for Star Wars fans.

More information has been released about the Heroes season finale:

Tim Kring, creator of NBC’s Heroes, revealed to SCI FI Wire that the first-season finale will comprise the last three episodes of the year, will bring all of the main characters together in New York—and will ultimately result in the death of one or more heroes. “The whole thing converges in New York, … and they’re all there, and all of them play a role,” Kring said in an interview at Wizard World in Los Angeles on March 17. “Even though some may feel like they’re less significant to the final event, when you analyze it, each one had to play that role in order for the final event to be solved, and so there really was a kind of destiny quality to them coming together and having each one fulfilling [one thing] and one specific role.”

Kring and company are completing the final draft of the season finale script—episode number 23, called “How to Stop an Exploding Man”—which goes into production in a week and is slated to air on May 23. Meanwhile, production has begun on the previous episode, “Landslide,” Kring said.

As for the deaths? All Kring will say is that people die, including main characters. “The thing is, people knew fairly early on [that they might not make it through the season],” Kring said of the cast members. “Everybody, every actor that we’ve spoken to. I mean, … we’ve spoken about this idea, that on this show the story is king and everybody is in service of that story. It’s not a star vehicle. No, the show does not live or die by any one character. And so every actor should realize that at some point their ticket might come up. It’s both sad and exciting at the same time.”



Kristin Dunst does not believe there will be a Spider-Man 4 in the near future:

At this year’s ShoWest in Las Vegas, Kirsten Dunst showed up to accept the ShoWest Female Star of the Year, and at the press conference that preceded the awards ceremony, the question on many minds was whether she would be willing to make another movie in the “Spider-Man” franchise.

“Well, I think Sam has dedicated so much of his life, like more than ten years, to the Spider-Man franchise with so much passion and love, the man is burnt out at this time,” she told reporters. “I think he needs a long vacation to put his creativity towards something else and then maybe we’ll revisit it. I told Sam that we should do a ‘Spider-Man 4’ that’s completely low budget–‘Evil Dead’ style–where Mary Jane has eight children with very little special effects and then we’ll get a whole new audience, we’d make a lot of money because it wouldn’t cost as much and everyone would go see it.”

When asked about the rumors that Sony is moving forward with a fourth movie with or without Raimi, Dunst was surprised that someone would even suggest it. “Do they want to give Sam Rami a heart attack? That’s evil. Sorry, that’s not happening any time soon. I would just say no for Sam’s sake so that he can have a break. We would all do it together because Sam, Tobey and I are a team now, but there’s no way it’s going to happen very soon. I just can’t imagine that. We don’t have the story to tell right now.”

After seeing Locke killing or destroying repeatedly in recent episodes, the latest episode of Lost had him destroy the sub which could have led to the freedom for at least one major character. The story line had him helping out Ben without realizing it, but ultimately JJ Abrams also needed to work out a plot twist to keep Jack from leaving.

Was anyone really surprised to see that it was Locke’s father behind that door? It should lead to some family reunion. At least this time Locke might have the upper hand in the relationship.

If you think all politicians sound the same, check out this web site. A Finnish member of parliament is running for reelection, and offers translation of his web site in Klingon. An English translation is also available, but what fun is that? That would be like reading Hamlet in English rather than the original Klingon. There were some problems in translating the site. For example, the Klingon language has no word for “tolerance.” At least they could still communicate with conservatives who have no need of such words.

Congressonal Oversight and the Prosecutor Scandal

If only David Brooks could get over the need to constantly bash Democrats, even when deep down he knows they are right, he could have some valuable things to say. Yesterday’s column draws an important distinction when speaking of political appointees in connection to the fired federal prosecutors:

Since godlike impartiality is probably not possible, the founders figured, at least the prosecutors could be held accountable to the electorate. The founders made prosecutors political appointees.

But the word “political” in this context has two meanings, one philosophic, one partisan. The prosecutors are properly political when their choices are influenced by the policy priorities of elected officeholders. If the president thinks prosecutors should spend more time going after terrorists, prosecutors should follow his lead.

But prosecutors are improperly political if they bow to pressure to protect members of the president’s party or team.

Brooks finds plenty of fault in how the Bush administration handled this scandal:

Prosecutors, like other professionals, develop a code of honor to help them steer through the gray areas. This code of honor consists of a series of habits and understandings to help individual prosecutors know how to behave when loyalty to the law is in tension with loyalty to the president.

People in well-led agencies are acutely conscious of this sort of honor code. If you work for, say, George Shultz or Robert Rubin, you will have a daily example of how to behave. If you work for some others, your sense of honor will be fuzzy, at best.

When you look at the prosecutors who were fired by the Bush administration, you see some who were fired for proper political reasons and some who were fired for improper ones. Carol Lam seems to have been properly let go because she did not share the president’s priorities on illegal immigration cases. David Iglesias seems to have been improperly let go because he offended some members of the president’s party.

But what’s striking in reading through the Justice Department e-mail messages is that senior people in that agency seem never to have thought about the proper role of politics in their decision-making. They reacted like chickens with their heads cut off when this scandal broke because they could not articulate the differences between a proper political firing and an improper one.

Moreover, they had no coherent sense of honor. Alberto Gonzales apparently never communicated a code of conduct to guide them as they wrestled with various political pressures. That’s a grievous failure of leadership.

At that point, Brooks must have realized he was being too honest. He remedied this by claiming that the Democrats, “apparently out of legislative ideas after only 11 weeks in the majority, have gone into full scandal mode.” We see both his obligatory bashing of Democrats which is irrelevant to the topic of the day’s column as well as an illogical criticism. If there is reason to believe that prosecutors were fired improperly for political reasons there is reason for Congress to investigate. That’s one of the concepts developed by the founders who Brooks refers to earlier in his concept.

Michael Kinsley is another columnist who is failing to understand the proper role of Congressional oversight. He defends his attitude at the end of his current blog entry:

Rereading what I wrote a couple days ago in this blog, one thing does bother me (and AnaMarie rightly called me on it, as did a couple of commentors). I seem to have displayed a cavalier attitude about official lying. I stand by my description of the administration as “comically mendacious”—anyone who hasn’t been entertained by the tango of mid-course corrections is missing a real treat. But it’s also serious. I do tend to think that the solution is in electoral politics—punish liars by voting against them– and not in subpoenas and hearings and special prosecutors and impeachment talk and all the other paraphernalia of scandal.

In order for the voters to punish liars by voting against them, it is necessary for the voters to know the truth and to have the liars identified. Such investigations are exactly what we need Congress to be doing, and that includes issuing subpoenas to senior White House officials who are refusing to testify under oath and with an official record. After all, this is an example of electoral politics at work. The voters, finally realizing they were lied to in 2000 and 2004, voted out the Republicans and elected the Democrats to provide long needed oversight.

Bill Clinton Complains “It’s Just Not Fair”

Bill Clinton is upset with the manner in which Hillary’s position on the war is being portrayed:

Former President Bill Clinton yesterday complained that “it”s just not fair” the way his wife, presidential candidate Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), is being depicted for her controversial Iraq war vote…

He said he had re-read the Iraq resolution last week, and that his wife had voted only for “coercive inspections.” Clinton justified his wife’s refusal to apologize for her vote by explaining that she was acting out of concern that future presidents might need similar language authorizing “coercive inspections to avoid conflict.”

“It’s just not fair to say that people who voted for the resolution wanted war,” Clinton said.

The former president also quoted an interview with Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) in this month’s GQ magazine, explaining that Hagel’s justification for his vote on the war is very similar to Hillary Clinton’s. “All these people who criticize Hillary all the time all love Hagel for being a critic of the war,” Clinton said.

The real problem isn’t the vote. Reading Hillary Clinton’s Senate Floor Speech makes it clear that at the time she was not eager to go to war and voted for the resolution primarily in the hopes of achieving a diplomatic resolution. The IWR has been used far too much as a litmus test of one’s views on the war. We need to look at more than this vote to achieve a full view of her views.

In 2003 I supported John Kerry for the ’04 nomination despite disagreeing with his vote on the IWR because of his overall view on the war. Not only did Kerry speak out more clearly about the potential that Bush could misuse the authorization to use war as a last resort, he also promised at the time to oppose Bush if he did misuse the authority. John Kerry kept his word. While he made a mistake, which he later admitted, in trusting Bush with this authority, Kerry did speak out many times against going to war before the war began. Kerry made his opposition to going to war clear in his Senate floor statement at the time of the IWR vote, in op-eds in the New York Times and Foreign Affairs, in his pre-war Georgetown Speech, and when he protested going to war by calling for regime change in the United States at the onset of the war.

If Hillary Clinton wants any chance at getting past this issue she must do three things:

  • She must show that opposed going to war unnecessarily not only in her Senate Floor Speech but in other statements leading up to the war. She is widely viewed as having become a cheerleader for the war. If this view is unfair we will need to see it in her statements leading up to the war.
  • She must make clear her views on the proper use of military force. This issue goes beyond what happened in the past as it raises questions of what Clinton would do in the future if she had to make decisions of war and peace.
  • She must admit, as John Kerry and John Edwards have, that she was wrong in voting for the Iraq War Resolution.

Bush Accused of Violating Spending Limits in 2004 Election

The Washington Post reports:

The three Democrats on the Federal Election Commission revealed yesterday that they strongly believe President Bush exceeded legal spending limits during the 2004 presidential contest and that his campaign owes the government $40 million.

Their concerns spilled out during a vote to approve an audit of the Bush campaign’s finances, which is conducted to make sure the campaign adhered to spending rules after accepting $74.6 million in public money for the 2004 general election.

Not very surprisingly, the Republicans on the panel claim, “There was no violation of the law.”