Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Licensed To Lie

“I say what's the time? It's time to lie like hell!
Said, what's the time? It's time to lie like hell


Who doesn't love "perks"?

Many times, they're the reason we take one job over another, or why we put up with bullshit about something we otherwise wouldn't. The perks. baby...the Goddamn perks!

And there are a load of really neat "perks" you get when you're the President or work in the President's cabinet. There's the cool, free travel. There's the way-clearing security detail. You don't even have to deal with intemperate people/folks who disagree with you--just label 'em dangerous and they can be spirited away from the building, area, or country to a local holding cell, or as far away as Guantanamo, so you're no longer troubled by 'em, if that's how you want it.

Free, high-quality medical care beyond what Johnny Lunchpail has access to, is yours to be had. No one with questions has to know your comings or goings--you can purge visitor logs, or block access to your phone records. Shit, you can even drunkenly shoot a dude's face off and get away with it. And...the slow-movin' bastard who didn't duck your random, Rumplemintz-fueled shotgun blast will even apologize for causing you to waste valuable buckshot!

Yes, Bush administration "perks" are Peeps-dipped-in-honey-and-rolled-in-confectioner's-sugar-and-flaked-coconut schweet. Yes, indeedy-doo.

But the "perk" that's the most awesome of all, the one that makes a Wall Streeter who gets a ten-figure bonus because of lucky-fuck rolls of the financial dice, as jealous as Josie & The Pussycats' Alexandra is the seldom discussed, License To Lie.

"The wha?"

I said, License To Lie.

I know. You haven't heard of it. It's kinda like that secret executive washroom you just found out about after six years on the job...or the undiscussed stipend the bosses get that covers expensive parking in-town. But The License To Lie is real, baby. Real, and as Al B. Sure used to say "In Effect Mode", too.

So who's got it? Who's rockin' it? Can I/you get it?

No, we can't. Because we aren't the President, and don't work for him, or have ever worked for him, or have tangible, tactile evidence of wrong-doing on his and his cronies parts--so no. We don't get the "license".

Although, I suppose I could refer to the "license" by its technical term, without having to use the scare quotes, huh? Okay...I will. It saves me keystrokes and HTML coding for all those funky bolds n' itals.

They also call it Executive Privilege, okay?

Ohhhhh, now you get it. :)

That's right, people your (somebody's--not mine) President yesterday trotted out that shattered-leg lame excuse for not allowing the "Dots-her-I's-with-hearts" Harriet Miers, and vapid, goggle-eyed, Administration Batshit Blonde Number 372, *Sara Taylor to testify under oath in the ugly, fired attorneys scandal. Note that these two so-full-of-Kool-Aid-that-they-trundle-around-screaming-"Oh Yeah!" loyal Bushies are no longer administration employees. Both booked up from their gigs to respectively spend more time taking belly dance lessons so as to finally entice "The Decider" away from that mean, old wife of his, and to finally count up that glass unicorn collection.

These people don't work for Bush anymore. But somehow, in spite of their now being private citizens, they can magically be transformed into examples of Bushus Employus Emeritus via Executive Privilege, and never, ever have to comment about the shady shit they engaged in and covered up when they were actually in employ at The White House.

Now, I know what you're thinking--above and beyond picturing Sara Taylor's counting glass unicorns as old Amy Grant tunes drone in the background--you're thinking, "Can Executive Privilege go that far? Should it?"

Well...let's take a look at that, shall we?

Here is what White House Lying Fuck (I'm ditching all the euphemisms now) Tony Snow let slither out of his reptilian mouth in March on the subject during a press gaggle on the matter.

Q: “Just to follow up on one point earlier, yesterday the President said, and you've repeated, that the principle at stake here with executive privilege is that the President needs to get candid advice from his advisors, right?”

MR. SNOW: “What the President has talked about is privileged communications with close staff members, that is correct.”

And here's what Bush's White House Lying Fuck Counsel Fred Fielding said about it in the last 72 hours:

"Executive privilege protects "a fundamental right of the presidency," Fielding wrote in Monday's letter, allowing Bush to "receive candid advice from his advisors and that those advisors be able to communicate freely and openly with the president."

Fairly clear. All legal-like and what-not. The president should have that right, one would suppose. The right to get "candid and unfettered advice" from his people without the fear of them being brought up before everyone to discuss those sensitive conversations.

But let's go back to that gaggle in March for a the immediate follow-up to Snow's statement:

Q: “But earlier you were saying that, when I asked about, well, was the President informed of this decision, did the President sign off on U.S. attorneys being fired, you said the President has no recollection of being informed of all this?”

MR. SNOW: “Correct”.

Q: “So were his advisors really advising him on this? Is this really privileged communication involving the President and his advisors, if the President wasn't looped in, you're saying, on this decision? So it was other people --”

MR. SNOW: “Well, that also falls into the intriguing question category.”


Let's go back to more of the record for some, well...clarification on that. Say, this past June 28th:

Reporter: “Is the president saying ... that he himself personally was in receipt of advice about the U.S. attorney firings, and that's why he's invoking the privilege? The documents went to him; that his staff provided him with advice, and that's what he's protecting?”

Senior Administration Official: “Oh no, no, that would be a misconstruction of the breadth of the executive privilege ...”

Reporter: “So, he is still maintaining that he had nothing to do with the actual discussions between White House staff, meaning [former White House counsel Harriet] Miers and [former White House political director] Sara Taylor, and the Justice Department related to the attorney firings -- that he had no direct involvement?”

Senior Administration Official: “No, there's no change in our position at all ... He has no personal involvement. Our position has never been any different than that.”

Okay...got it. The president was NOT apprised on these decisions as per the attorneys, and nor was his right hand of dispensation of evil, Karl Rove--according to Administration officials.

Now, let's look at what sort of information Executive Privilege is supposed to cover-- just for, you know--shits and giggles, okay?

"In the Supreme Court case of United States v. Nixon, Nixon's lawyers argued that executive privilege should extend to certain conversations between the president and his aides, even when national security is not at stake. They argued that in order for aides to give good advice and to truly explore various alternatives, they had to be able to be candid. If they were going to issue frank opinions, they had to know that what they said was going to be kept confidential.

In the opinion, the Supreme Court conceded that there is indeed a privilege for "confidential executive deliberations" about matters of policy having nothing to do with national security. This privilege is constitutionally based, deriving form the separation of powers. However, the Court held that this privilege is not absolute but can be overcome if a judge concludes that there is a compelling governmental interest in getting access to the otherwise privileged conversations, as in the case of the Nixon tapes."

Between the president and his aides.

Common ground here. Except for one simple thing, if you read the White House's reasoning--not even terribly closely, you see that there are tacit denials of having even discussed the attorneys issue. The most Bush has "said" he had to do with it is to having heard some of the "complaints about certain attorneys", and mentioning that to his toy consigliere Alberto Gonzales. No involvement. No discussions.

So...if he supposedly had no discussions on the matter with these people--Miers, Taylor, and Rove--then why, oh why is executive privilege--and the mantra of "candid discussions with aides" being invoked here?

Cue a busted, flustered Ralph Kramden.

Mark Green, former NY Public Advocate, and present top dog at Air America was on Hardball yesterday, and as smart as he is, he usually isn't very good at putting talking points across with his on-air demeanor. But he simply fucking nailed it on the executive privilege bed-shit:

MARK GREEN: “Now, president Bush has said, he had no role in it. Okay? Taking him at his word, then why won't he allow his aides to testify since there can't be executive privilege?..........”

MATTHEWS: (To GOP apologist/lying fuck pundit) "Lemme go to you John. The point--I think Mark made a good lawyer's point there, which is that if the president's claiming confidentiality of relationships with his aides, which makes sense, and then he denies he had any confidential conversations with them about this--what's his point? What's his claim of executive privilege if he wasn't involved?"

Now, in fairness...at this point, I should've included the GOP apologist/lying fuck pundit's response defending the policy...but for the sake of not embarrassing him, I won't--because he didn't even give one. He couldn't begin to answer that simple question put out there by Mark Green and yes, Tweety. His response is here, and it basically consists of him nervously chuckling and saying 'Bush feels he's got a strong case, he's got two chips left to bet, and what has he got to lose?'.

That's it. There is no substantive answer. The same way there was NO substantive answer when Cheney faced a similar question mere days ago over his claim that he was not a member of the executive branch in an effort to block access to information. He'd claimed executive privilege to duck releasing the minutes and attendee list of his first term energy meetings five years ago. Arguing this on the merits for these people is a no-win situation. It's like a one-handed three-card monte dealer lamely trying to fleece you. Except when you bust him and pick the obviously correct card, he simply says "Uh...nope, try again, and adamantly refuses to flip the damned thing over. So, the question remains--why..do they invoke this executive privilege thing on a fucking whim?

Answer: It's not on a fucking whim. A good lawyer friend of mine discussed this with me the other night and said,

"You don't buy an top-of-the-line safe to store dust bunnies in. It's for your valuables...stuff you don't want anybody but you to ever have access to. Executive privilege is a safe...a super-vault...fucking Fort Knox. You don't use it for just nothin'. It's for hiding away the most valuable, precious stuff you have. Stuff that would break you if it was in someone else's hands."

And thus, Executive Privilege becomes that ultimate "perk"--oops! There I go with the scare quotes again--it becomes...A License To Lie. The most super-absorbent Depends™ adult diaper, ever--capable of holding as much vile shit you can fill it with. But eventually, it stinks-- in spite of its absorbency, the deodorant in it can be overwhelmed. And while yes, it can hold an endless flow of shit, that doesn't mean the Depends™ doesn't actually expand to accommodate it.

Eventually, it becomes quite evident--"sniff!"--that someone...or something is totally...full of shit. :)

Vile image, yes--I know. Here's the PG version you can use on you gossamer-eared fundie "friends".

Ever have the superhero fantasy? You know, the one everyone has at some point in life? Where you imagine you've woken up with super powers.

What do you do with 'em?

Maybe you do some good...save a tree-ed cat.

Free a pinned construction worker.

Stop a mugging or two.

But at some point, human nature takes over in the daydream--and self-interest comes into play. You consider the ways, and just how much you can enrich yourself--how to use your powers for personal gain. Press coal into priceless diamonds maybe, rip boulders of gold from the very ground. But once you're on that track, the imagination moves on...you muse on how to rob a bank and get away with it. How to surreptitiously get back at people who you want revenge on. And so on and so forth. But sane folks almost always come back to reality, realizing that one would have to temper those powers to live amongst regular people. You can't really abuse that kind of power. It's the Spider-Man mantra writ large. "With great power, comes great responsibility"...and all that.

What we're looking at here--the Bush administration--is a group of stunted, spoiled fantasists who never have that moment of clarity that brings the absolute power daydream back to earth. These are people who actually don't realize that the power isn't absolute. It doesn't make you immortal. It's not the ultimate cheat code that gives you unlimited lives until you "beat the game". It has consequences. Effect. It sets precedent. Nixon tried to abuse it, and got smacked down. Clinton as well, and he got cock-punched (which is the "yang" I suppose, to getting cock-something else-ed). Will the judiciary pimp-slap Bush on this greased, rocket-driven slide down the icy, slippery slope? Odds would say, "no.", based on how he's managed to stack the court. But what he HAS done with this naked, ass-covering act is claw hammer the barely operating cerebrum of an already paralyzed legacy of a presidency to the point that the Florida shenanigans of 2000, the Katrina debacle, and even the "Mission Accomplished" moment will probably start to look like lesser events in the eyes of history. History is notoriously "Ike-on-Tina" unkind to instances like this from a president--and always will be. And when his party...his party, backs him up on this, tacitly, implicitly or benignly via silence, they run the monstrous risk of being judged on this act in elections to come. Get yer elephant bells and dynamite-plunger radios out of mothballs ya'll. We're on the verge of 1974 2.0. The backbreaking events leading this trip down memory lane probably being LibbyGate, and this craven act.

This cowardly act.

This unconstitutional act.

This solid de-marcation-on-the-historical-presidential-timeline-of-stupid-as-hell, act.

But it's the mega-"perk", this Executive Privilege. It's access to the secret corporate Olympic swimming pool. Meant to be used quietly, with little or no spectacle. And the President has brazenly...left a steaming, Caddyshack-esque turd floating right in the middle of it.

And abused it, twisting it into, a flat-out License To Lie

But I suppose one just "has to fight...for their right...to cover their a-a-a-a-asssssssss!"

*We'll see just what happens on Wednesday with homegirl's "testimony"---don't hold your breath, ya'll.