I Write Letters

My letter to Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA):

I would like to thank the Senator profusely for his clandestine amendment to the USA PATRIOT Act reauthorization which permits the president to replace US Attorneys without Congressional approval. You might have read about it in the news lately.

It could seem strange that a Democrat like myself would appreciate such a heinous abortion of justice, so let me explain. The boxer Cassius Clay, nee Muhammad Ali often won with a strategy he called rope-a-dope. He’d fake weakness, encouraging his opponent to get confident and overextend himself. Then Ali would lay him flat.

As near as I can tell the Senator must have had something similar in mind. We all know that the president takes full advantage of every legal loophole that the GOP Congress handed him. He even uses loopholes that don’t exist. So it’s a dead certainty that if Senator Specter handed Bush a power, especially in secret like he did that particular provision, the president would abuse it.

And how! Judging by this week’s headlines the president jumped through this loophole with both feet. Thanks to the Senator’s secret provision, George Bush overextended himself and Congress is about to lay him flat. It’s too bad that the Senator has no reelection campaign to which I can contribute, but if and when he’s in Pittsburgh I would be glad to buy him a beer. Properly disclosed, of course.

yours,

Tim

Read more from Josh Marshall, who has pushed this story more than any other blogger.

***Update***

As an addendum, I really hate centipedes. Spiders are cool, but there’s something about centipedes that drives me up the wall. So when those long-legged house centipedes show up in my bathroom I don’t want to get close enough to squash them. Instead I hit it with the Tilex spray (active ingredient: bleach). Sensing that it’s fucked, the centipede runs around like mad for a short while, occasionally jettisoning a twitching leg. I guess the idea is that whatever attacked it will get distracted by the leg long enough to find some kind of shelter. Lizards do this with their tails, but centipedes make a better example because they can dump a decent number of legs in the course of a chase.

In related news Kyle Sampson, the Gonzales subordinate whose fingerprints are all over the US Attorney scandal, resigned last night.

***Update 2***

Jeebus. The same staffer who inserted the clandestine PATRIOT Act provision was given one of the US Attorney jobs.

You cannot be cynical enough for these guys. They always do you one better.






54 replies
  1. 1
    Zifnab says:

    Are you saying Arlen Specter is the type of guy you’d like to have a beer with? He should run for President!

  2. 2

    As we used to say in the Army, Bush as really stepped on his dick.

    What’s truly lorious is that this only March and the Democrats have barely had time to investigate anything. Wait until they go digging over at the EPA, OSHA, and DOD.

    And Chenyburton fleeing to Dubai. I can’t wait for those harings.

    We’re going to see lots of people in jail.

    Ha Ha.

  3. 3

    I’m wondering what the eminent Dr. Cole thinks of having Patrick Leahy in charge of Judiciary now? Although the actual firings of the US Attorneys weren’t crimes, lying to the Judiciary Committee certainly is…me, I’m glad that there’s a tough and nasty Dem there right now.

  4. 4
    Mr Furious says:

    Wow. That post at TPM is really exciting. Meaning of course, I am bound to be disappointed. But one can hope, right?

  5. 5
    Keith says:

    I’ve been conditioned to believe that this will fizzle out in a noisy week of dying (npi) blondes and Charles Krauthammer telling me that “this…is…nothing”.
    Seriously, though, I am amazed that Gonzales CoS resigned over this (unless he always intended to join the private sector, and he actually resigned months ago before all this happened, yada yada). Now that I think about it, Harriet Miers kinda abruptly left at the beginning of the year, too. Maybe it does have legs.

  6. 6
    Zifnab says:

    Now that I think about it, Harriet Miers kinda abruptly left at the beginning of the year, too.

    Less “left” and more “was fire” after the Bush team decided they needed someone a little more rough-and-tumble to represent them in the rain of lawsuits that they knew were coming. Harriet Miers was a setup for the SCOTUS bench, but I doubt they took her seriously as an attorney.

  7. 7
    dreggas says:

    Hmmm use of the DOJ against ones political enemies…I smell an impeachment a-brewing.

  8. 8
    Zifnab says:

    In related news Kyle Sampson, the Gonzales subordinate whose fingerprints are all over the US Attorney scandal, resigned last night.

    That’s a fantastic segway.

  9. 9
    RandyH says:

    I have a feeling that many more sunordinates of Abu Gonzales will be resigning and disappearing themselves soon. Lawyering up to cover for your boss’s evil-doings (like Scooter did) is expensive. Much easier to disappear.

  10. 10
    mrmobi says:

    Josh Marshall has been all over this. I actually think this present the most danger to the Bush administration that has been seen to this point.

    Tim, I hate to spoil your centipede-killing, but I think I read somewhere that centipedes eat their own weight in other insects every day.

    Also, Tim, have you seen that excellent video of a South American centipede (i.e., really big!) catching and eating a BAT! One of the scariest things I’ve ever seen.

  11. 11
    Mr Furious says:

    I hear ya, Tim. The creature that really gets me is the House Centipede a.k.a. “those fucking alien bugs.”

    Ugh. I hate those things. They are fast, and too big to smash. Reading that wikipedia site was both quease-inducing and informative. If you can stand the thought of those nasty mothers living in your house they are actually very beneficial, as they eat a whole host of pests, and do no damage. But they can live 3 to 7 years! Yikes! I think a seven-year-old one could run off with my keys!

    No, I cannot have those guys in my house, no matter what they eat.

  12. 12
    Mr Furious says:

    I’m funny about the bugs… right now my house is beset with box elder bugs. These are beetles that are approximately the same size and shape as the roaches I would see in one of my Brooklyn apartments, yet they do not bother me in the least. In fact, I will often just scoop them up and toss them outside, or even let them go about their slow, ambling business.

    But a roach? Freaks me out. Disgusting.

    A big factor? The surprise. I never like to move an object and have something scurry away. The ladybugs and box elders just crawl on out and say “hi”, it’s those sneaky motherfuckers that I can’t stand.

  13. 13
    Mr Furious says:

    [taps finger] …I’m waiting for Darrelll to show up and tell us how un moonbats are just suffering from BDS (Bug Derangement Syndrome)…

  14. 14
    dreggas says:

    Most bugs don’t bother me but I do detest roaches. Fortunately we have a lot of black widows around which keep the roach population down. Of course there is the trade off of watching where you are raching or walking when outside but so long as the widows stay outside they can live peacefully. If one of em (or one of the brown recluses we have) get in my apartment they’re dead.

    Incidentally a black widow lives for 3 years unless squashed.

  15. 15
    Tsulagi says:

    Good to see the most qualified person for the SCOTUS was involved in this thing. Wonder if she drew smiley faces on USA’s termination letters.

    I’m hoping the Dems are able to get deep into the NSA wiretapping. Gauging by dipshit’s panicked reaction when that story first broke, I’d think there’s some serious crap there.

    At his first press conference after the story came out I remember him saying it was “treasonous” to even talk about the NSA program. Of course then he immediately proceeded to talk about it and tell everyone else they shouldn’t.

    You just know people like Rove and others would have found that tool useful. Listen in to see if any reporters are terraists, with the side benefit of knowing which stories they might be working on and their sources. Maybe listen in to Dems who surely were plotting terrorist lovin legislation or treasonous attacks on the Patriot Act. It’s hard work keeping the country safe from all the enemies within.

  16. 16
    Tsulagi says:

    BTW, if you like spiders, then you’d love Iraq. Maybe you could even train these cool camel spiders to fetch.

  17. 17
    Andrew says:

    Geez, Tim, if you love Arlen so much, why don’t you marry him?

    That’s a fantastic segway.

    I’m really nor sure how a blog comment is good personal transporter device.

  18. 18
    Tsulagi says:

    Hmmm…apparently the site I used for the camel spider photo doesn’t like being hot linked.

    Try again.

  19. 19
    ThymeZone says:

    In the fullness of time, the astonishing and appalling abuse of our laws and systems by these crazy lying motherfuckers will become more and more hideous as more abuses are exposed.

    The mind just boggles. The Bush administration is surely the greatest cautionary tale we’ll ever tell about this country and how to fuck it up.

  20. 20
    dreggas says:

    Tsulagi Says:

    BTW, if you like spiders, then you’d love Iraq. Maybe you could even train these cool camel spiders to fetch.

    I remember there was a pet store in NY selling these when I was living there. They even had special packages of “camel hair” to give them to use for nesting. Freakiest damn thing I ever saw.

  21. 21
    Jake says:

    The boxer Cassius Clay, nee Muhammad Ali

    You got your chronology reversed. But you’re thinking about the damn house centipedes and that would confuse anyone. The first time I saw one of those fuckers I was in college. I am not afraid of snakes, spiders, you name it, but one look at this two-inch long nightmare from Satan’s fevered dreams sent me into full dry-mouth terror mode. And of course where other buildings had roaches or ants our dorm rooms had HC’s (the mouse sized water bugs stayed in the kitchen) and they might appear at any moment ANY WHERE. And you know what else those long legs are good for? If you swat one off the wall it floats down like a feather.

    I see them very rarely in my current abode, remind myself they are there to eat the other bugs and go into another room. Currently we have stink bugs that are trying to take over the place. And not the green ones which at least look nice. These grey suckers look like some sort of industrial creation and they don’t fly too good. I keep hoping the cats will play with one though…

  22. 22
    dreggas says:

    Abu is gonna hold a presser at 2:00pm today probably to tell us we’re all “quaint” for getting riled up about Attorneygate.

  23. 23
    ThymeZone says:

    John and Martha Mitchell had nothing on these potatoheads, that’s for sure.

  24. 24
    Mr Furious says:

    Jake, the first place I ever saw one of those HC’s was at a house I rented after college. I was telling guys at work about these things and was mocked. A few months later, we all heard a yelp from the editor’s office, and he screamed for me to come in and look at this thing on his wall. Everybody ran in, and I confirmed that yes, that was the “alien bug” to which I referred earlier.

    Everybody was justifiably shaken, and as soon as somebody made a move on it, it dropped to the floor and got away.

    That editor worked out in the bullpen for the next two days.

  25. 25
    dreggas says:

    Wow listening to a caller on CSpan radio right now, a republican hammering Gonzales and the admin saying they should resign and be impeached and hammering the lemmings that just want to scream about clinton rather than address the fact that these guys are crooks.

  26. 26
    David says:

    In the fullness of time, the astonishing and appalling abuse of our laws and systems by these crazy lying motherfuckers will become more and more hideous as more abuses are exposed.

    I’d settle for the exposure and re-education of everyone who mistakenly thinks they know how to spell “segue”.

  27. 27
    Krista says:

    George Bush overextended himself and Congress is about to lay him flat

    Are they, though? I still don’t fully trust Dems to stand up to the President’s obscene power grabs. They’d been so cowed by the “soft on terrorism” rhetoric that they’ve let all of this crap just pass by. If it were Clinton, and the Republican Congress, they would have had his head 5 times over by now.

    As far as bugs go, my list of loathed bugs includes earwigs (the buggers ate all my bean plants last year), and mosquitoes and blackflies (’cause they just piss me off).

  28. 28
    dreggas says:

    Are they, though? I still don’t fully trust Dems to stand up to the President’s obscene power grabs. They’d been so cowed by the “soft on terrorism” rhetoric that they’ve let all of this crap just pass by. If it were Clinton, and the Republican Congress, they would have had his head 5 times over by now.

    We’ll see, I am following this over at TPM since Josh and the crew are doing (as usual) a great job on it. All the things being found are hard to ignore and this may be the smoking gun so to speak. Of course I am eagerly awaiting Abu’s presser to see what he has to say for himself.

  29. 29
    Mr Furious says:

    “…listening to CSpan radio right now…”

    NERD!

  30. 30
    dreggas says:

    Mr Furious Says:

    “…listening to CSpan radio right now…”

    NERD!

    eh it’s the only way I get to follow this stuff from work. Of course I turned it off when some republican house member got up and started screaming off the talking points about how the democrats want us to lose blah blah blah. Now am happily listening to Coal Chamber.

  31. 31
    dreggas says:

    Oh boy…this is going to get even better (or worse depending on how you look at it.)

    Tim check what Sully has here: Link

  32. 32
    Keith says:

    On the centipede stuff, here’s a nice story for you: in my last month of college, my apartment (kinda nasty because it was small, and I had 2 dogs) got hit with a massive millipede infestation. They would literally come up through cracks in the tile EVERYWHERE. I would walk the apartment and kill 50 of them, stepping on them or cutting them in half as they sat on the walls. I would then sweep them up and throw them away. In 15 minutes, half the amount were back. In 30, they were all back. It went on like that for a full month (maybe even two), with my sanity only preserved by having a waterbed at the time that they could not climb.
    It wound up taking me pouring an entire jug of bleach on the floor to kill them all.

  33. 33
    Tulkinghorn says:

    Mr Furious Says:

    [taps finger] …I’m waiting for Darrelll to show up and tell us how un moonbats are just suffering from BDS (Bug Derangement Syndrome)…

    Steve, Other Steve, Other Andrew and pb are busy pummeling him downstairs in the Coulter thread (Darrell is sticking to a comparison of Michael Moore and Coulter). At some point he will get bored and look up here, so enjoy it while it lasts.

  34. 34
    Jay C says:

    Well, apparently, AG AG waltzed thru his press-conference this afternoon without saying much; so I guess USAttorneygate is back-burnered for a while – at least as far as DoJ is concerned. However, I think the media have (for a change) got their teeth into this, and the story isn’t going to be going away anytime soon.

    I’ve also seen the first volley of counter-attack from the Right Wing Noise Machine start up in the blogosphere: since the initial dismissals of the whole thing (“Overblown personnel matter”??) haven’t worked, the next round seems to concentrating on deflection (i.e. squawk “Clinton, Clinton, Clinton!” 24/7 in the hope that the public will be fooled), with strong undertones of tu quoque (i.e., that Democrats are trying, somehow, to derail investigations into their “corruption”); and finishing with a notable aftertaste of stonewall (“it’s all in hand: nothing to see, move along”).

    Unfortunately, I wouldn’t be anteing up for the resignation pool just yet: the capacity for denial at the Bush White House is near-bottomless, and AG is a long-time insider. Embarrasssment, yes: especially when Congress gets around to making a real investigation (assuming they do) – but I just can’t see AG Gonzales falling on his sword for Dubya over a “scandal” like this.

    But then, this affair does seem to have more legs than one of Tim’s loathed centipedes – so I may be proved wrong yet.

  35. 35
    Jay C says:

    Criminy, AG Gonzales’ presser was even more pathetic than I thought! Shorter Bert: “Not MY fault: I can’t supervise everything!”

    Why didn’t he just claim that he had had a full report on the scandal, but had to throw it out unread because his dog crapped on it!

    I may have been wrong about that resignation pool, afer all!

  36. 36
    dreggas says:

    Even more coming out now about Sampson. Again TPM has the goods and some of the juicier stuff (such as how sampson was going to replace the Utah US Attorney but it was given to the staffer for specter etc.)

    more here: http://www.tpmmuckraker.com/archives/002748.php

  37. 37
    Punchy says:

    The centipede fear is natural, Tim. When guys see centipedes, they see all those damn legs and think about how many friggin pairs of shoes just one centipede would need to buy. The thought of that many shoes on one credit card throws (especially married) men into either a freak-out, or more likely, a terrible flash-back.

  38. 38
    BARRASSO says:

    Mr Furios must have a different breed of box elder than I had I never saw one much bigger than a earwig, but I had the same reaction they never bothered me, maybe because they are slow. I drank one accidentally and just spit it out without a bother. Maybe because roaches look wet and box elders look dry.

  39. 39
    Rome Again says:

    and here I thought I was the only one who had a penchant for torturing the buggy speci with household cleaners (it’s always the nearest thing to grab).

    I did once have a Pink and the Brain moment though, where I wondered if I sort of enjoyed it, and could consider myself a bug-torturer. I carried around some guilt for about a day, and then saw a spider and promptly forgot all about it, grabbed the scrubbing bubbles.

  40. 40
    Rome Again says:

    The centipede fear is natural, Tim. When guys see centipedes, they see all those damn legs and think about how many friggin pairs of shoes just one centipede would need to buy. The thought of that many shoes on one credit card throws (especially married) men into either a freak-out, or more likely, a terrible flash-back.

    Imelda? Is that you?

  41. 41
    Zifnab says:

    Of course I turned it off when some republican house member got up and started screaming off the talking points about how the democrats want us to lose blah blah blah. Now am happily listening to Coal Chamber.

    You know what would be awesome? A filibuster by Barry White. I would totally tune in to CSPAN for that.

  42. 42
    Rome Again says:

    You know what would be awesome? A filibuster by Barry White. I would totally tune in to CSPAN for that.

    Shall we summon him from the grave?

  43. 43
    Mr Furious says:

    Barasso–

    More likely I had smaller roaches than you. The roaches I would get in my NTC apartment were fairly small. Didn’t make them any less dirty and disgusting…

    The box elders in my house have bodies about a half inch long, maybe a little bigger.

    And the cool orange racing stripes.

  44. 44

    […] This sarcastic post from Balloon Juice though has a novel summary of what is going on with the Attorney General firings and how it occurred. This is just a fascinating piece of political good-on-paper-bad-in-practice maneuvering on the part of the Republican Party, as well as great political detective work on the part of Talking Points Memo. […]

  45. 45

    […] Maybe so, but not such a great strategy when there isn’t a referee anywhere in the world willing to count the dude out. […]

  46. 46
    dreggas says:

    Re: Roaches

    I attended Basic Training at Fort Jackson So Carolina. They had freaking roaches everywhere even in the damn mess back in the storage area and there wasn’t a damn thing to be done about it. However one night I was heading to the latrine, didn’t have my glasses on and once in the latrine out of the corner of my eye I see this big black thing scurrying across the floor it was a 1.5 inch wide 3 inch long cock roach, had to beat the damn thing with a broom.

  47. 47
    Jake says:

    Mr Furios must have a different breed of box elder than I had I never saw one much bigger than a earwig

    Oh you just haaaaad to mention earwigs, didn’t you. Never trust a bug that a cat won’t chase.

  48. 48
    Bruce Moomaw says:

    The only place I’ve encountered House Centipedes was in my dorm during the year I was at the U. of Chicago, where they would ripple across the walls quite frequently. The first time I saw one it gave me the willies, but I then assumed that they were harmless. Until two weeks ago, that is — when I read that on top of being ugly as Hell, the little monsters can give you quite a painful bite, “resembling a bee sting”, which is nice. (Just be grateful that we don’t have any of those giant centipedes that live all over the place in the tropics and have been known to snatch bats out of midair and force people to have their limbs amputated. Indeed, all poisonous animals in North America are pretty well-mannered compared to those in South America, Africa, Asia and Australia.)

    As for millipedes, they’re centipedes’ nicer cousins — they are totally vegetarian and don’t bite at all. I’ve always thought they were rather charming, although admittedly I never had an army of them invade my house. (Their idea of a defense is just to coil up into a watchspring and exude some kind of stuff that probably irritates other insects and small predators, but which for humans only has a mildly acrid smell and temporarily gives your skin a brown stain — although sometimes it actually contains a small human-harmless trace of cyanide.)

  49. 49
    Richard 23 says:

    Tim, have you ever run across a silverfish? I haven’t seen one in years, but when I did it freaked the crap out of me. Those things are fast! And gross! And if you have one, you’ve got plenty more lurking in the shadows. Ugh.

  50. 50
    Jake says:

    Silverfish are fine (so is everything when compared to centipieds) and apparently they can go a crazy amount of time with out food. But those suckers like to eat the glue in book bindings, ergo they must DIE.

    If you want to see some ginormous millipieds go to Shenandoah National Park in the spring. And if something goes ScRuNCH! while you’re walking. Don’t look down. Just don’t.

  51. 51
    Otto Man says:

    Cassius Clay, nee Muhammad Ali

    It’s not just the chronology reversed, but you made him a woman, too, since “née” is the feminine form of the word. Luckily, he’s too old to avenge the slight.

    Should be “Muhammed Ali, né Cassius Clay.”

  52. 52
    Bruce Moomaw says:

    Hell, I’ve recently been eying a couple of giant African millipedes, about 10 inches long, on sale at my local pet shop for $15 each. They don’t scare me at all — they are, as I say, absolutely harmless — and I find them mildly intriguing just because they’re so strange. They seem to spend all their time either eating (strictly vegetables), curled up asleep, or bent around grooming their underbellies one segment at a time. (I did see one once bent around with a large part of his tail section marching over the top of his head, which reminded me of that old joke about the centipede who actually started thinking about how he walked and couldn’t do it any more.)

    I notice that Tim isn’t afraid of spiders; but I am — in an oddly specialized way. Tarantulas never frightened me even as a kid; but the big Golden Garden Spiders that lived in my childhood home of Missouri used to scare the hell out of me — something to do with their thin legs. Since most anthropologists think that the fear of snakes that exists in many people (and many other animals) is actually a protective instinct that evolved in us during all those millions of years our ancestors spent on the African savannahs, I sometimes wonder whether there might have been some extremely poisonous species of spider there during our hominid days that is now extinct.

    Finally, for any ladies reading this thread, never forget the intriguing and useful fact discovered decades ago by Lily Tomlin: feminine deodorant spray kills cockroaches.

  53. 53

    […] Centipedes and scandals. Revisit a short vignette that I wrote about a week ago: […]

  54. 54

    […] Now read this post that I wrote in May. Use it as the basis for a friendly note to your favorite member of the Senate judiciary committee. I think I’m going to get back in touch with Arlen Specter. […]

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] Now read this post that I wrote in May. Use it as the basis for a friendly note to your favorite member of the Senate judiciary committee. I think I’m going to get back in touch with Arlen Specter. […]

  2. […] Centipedes and scandals. Revisit a short vignette that I wrote about a week ago: […]

  3. […] Maybe so, but not such a great strategy when there isn’t a referee anywhere in the world willing to count the dude out. […]

  4. […] This sarcastic post from Balloon Juice though has a novel summary of what is going on with the Attorney General firings and how it occurred. This is just a fascinating piece of political good-on-paper-bad-in-practice maneuvering on the part of the Republican Party, as well as great political detective work on the part of Talking Points Memo. […]

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