Just As I Thought

An embarrassment of idiocy

There’s so much amusing fodder in this week’s Top Ten Conservative Idiots, that I don’t know where to begin. Oh, of course I do — with number 1!

Massive props to George W. Bush this week for visiting Iraq on Thanksgiving. This exquisitely-planned publicity stunt photo-op was meticulously carried out, from skipping out on dinner at the pig farm under the noses of reporters, to George’s keen interest in staying out of harm’s way (“I was fully prepared to turn this baby around, come home”), to prancing around with an inedible turkey in front of the cameras for two and a half hours before, uh, flying home again. Through an amazing coincidence, Bush also managed to upstage Senator Hillary Clinton’s official trip through Afghanistan and Iraq, where, unlike Our Great Leader, she didn’t hide in a bubble, spent considerably more than two and a half hours on the ground, and met with soldiers, civilians, and members of Iraq’s Governing Council. Come to think of it, Bush’s “visit” was actually pretty lame. Not to mention the fact that if everything’s going so great in Iraq, why did he have to make the trip in complete secrecy? Hmmm. It’s okay though because despite the quagmire in Iraq and the huge deficit caused by the billions of dollars of taxpayer money we’re currently throwing directly into the pockets of his campaign contributors, Our Great Leader has come up with an exciting new plan to brighten the nation’s mood – by returning man to the moon. We’re not entirely sure why he wants to do this – does he think Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction are up there or something? Gonna find bin Laden holed up in a crater eating moon cheese? Tell you what though, to show his support for this massive endeavor perhaps George could volunteer to be an experimental chimp during the testing phase. That would be cool.

Number 3 this week is Diebold, the company that runs the electronic voting machines… and is itself run by Republican fundraisers. Gee, does that sound… well… like it creates a situation where we need international observers for our elections?

So the company that is in control of so many of our votes – the company whose CEO is “committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the President next year” (see Idiots 124) – has finally caved in its attempt to squash the First Amendment rights of freedom-loving Americans. After the Electronic Frontier Foundation threatened to sue, Diebold retracted the threats it had made towards websites (including Democratic Underground) and ISPs who were hosting, or even merely linking to, the company’s leaked memos. (The memos are quite something, and detail a staggering degree of incompetence at the company. You can read them here.) In a letter to the people it had threatened to sue, Diebold’s president announced that they were backing off and then went on to make some pretty lame excuses for their behavior: “No company – whether an ISP, a software developer, or any type of company – wants its internal conversations openly broadcast, and I am sure your internal business correspondence includes information involving the unique capabilities and insights that you feel are important to the successful operation of your company. The correspondence between individuals within our company often contains information concerning unique software, features and capabilities that provide Diebold with a potential advantage in a competitive marketplace.” A potential advantage in a competitive marketplace? Excuse me, these are our frickin’ votes you’re talking about here. Damn straight we’re interested in what goes on behind the scenes at Diebold – and if you won’t allow that, you have no business determining the outcome of public elections. In a related story, it was reported last week that Diebold’s memos reveal that they would charge the state of Maryland “up the yin-yang” if Maryland wanted their voting machines to have the ability to keep a voter-verified paper trail – thus making it prohibitively expensive for the state to be able to double-check what Diebold are up to. Gee, I feel so safe knowing that our democracy rests in the hands of these scumbags.

Number 4? The White House in honor of it’s ever-evolving stories:

It seems that a favorite hobby of this White House is making things up, and Bush’s 150-minute tiptoe through Baghdad International Airport gave them the opportunity to do just that. According to the Washington Post, communications director Dan Bartlett described the intense secrecy surrounding the flight thusly: “Air Force One had come within sight of a British Airways flight over water. The British Airways pilot, Bartlett said, radioed to ask, ‘Did I just see Air Force One?,’ and, after a pause, the Air Force One pilot radioed back, ‘Gulfstream 5.’ After a long silence, Bartlett said, the British Airways pilot seemed to realize he was in on a secret and said, ‘Oh.'” Isn’t that an exciting story? Well it would be – if it had actually happened. The next day British Airways reported to Reuters that none of their aircraft had contacted Air Force One during its flight. So the White House had to change its story: apparently the British Airways aircraft didn’t contact Air Force One, it contacted air traffic control in London. Case closed. Except… that didn’t actually happen either – British Airways and Britain’s National Air Traffic Services both denied this second version of events. So the White House revised its story again, this time claiming that “the aircraft inquiring about Air Force One was, in fact, ‘a non-UK operator,'” and that “The presidential pilots thought the query ‘was coming from a pilot with a British accent, and so that’s why they had concluded that it was a British Airways plane.'” Okay. And why is this such a big deal? Well, during a recent White House press briefing, Scott McLellan was quick to explain: “what we always try to do for you all in the press corps is to provide you a little color of important events, because we believe that’s helpful to you for your stories, and to do your reporting to the American people.” So there you have it, folks – finally, official proof that they just make stuff up and try to pass it off as fact.

Here’s a bizarre comment which features in #6, Congress, emphasis added:

Fresh from their victory over CBS in the battle to canonize St. Ronnie of Reagan, Republicans are at it again. This time the plan is to put The Gipper on the humble dime – replacing Franklin Roosevelt. Around 80 Republicans lawmakers have apparently signed on to this plan – a.k.a. “the dumbest and most pointless plan since invading Iraq” – although they do have a really great reason. Want to hear it? According to Rep. Mark Souder, “It is particularly fitting to honor the Freedom President on this particular piece of coinage because, as has been pointed out, President Reagan was wounded under the left arm by a bullet that had ricocheted and flattened to the size of a dime.”

Number 8 points out yet another example of the gracious, uniting, changed-tone Republicans in Congress:

There’s a new kind of game in Washington, and unfortunately it’s one that the Republicans have been playing behind our backs for the last several years. Gone are the days of compromise and reasonable bipartisanship – as soon as George W. Bush walked through the door of the White House claiming that he would be a “uniter, not a divider” and that he would “change the tone” in Washington, Congressional Republicans have done whatever it takes to shaft the Democrats at every turn. And when I say whatever it takes, I mean whatever it takes. Take the recent vote on the Medicare Bill, for example, which eventually passed 220-215. I say “eventually” because after the regulation 15 minutes, House Speaker Dennis Hastert kept the vote open for a full three hours while Republicans tried to round up enough votes to win. But that’s not the bad part. After the Republicans finally managed to beat enough of their team into lockstep – uh, I mean, gently persuade them to change their votes – it was alleged by several media outlets that at least one Republican had attempted to use bribery as a means of getting a congressman to change his vote. Apparently an “undisclosed Republican” told Rep. Nick Smith (R-Mich) that “business interests would contribute $100,000 to help his son, Brad, succeed him” as congressman after Smith steps down in 2004. (Smith’s son is running for the seat, and I’m sure $100,000 would be quite useful.) Rep. Nick Smith did the honorable things and turned down the offer – but the fact that it was made in the first place speaks volumes about the party in charge right now. Despicable.

And number 10 is fun — the story of Neil Bush and the mysterious women who appeared from no one, had sex, then disappeared into the night. You’ll have to link through to read this one, gang.

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