by Gilles d'Aymery
"Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities."
(Swans - March 26, 2007) I FOUND THIS LITTLE GEM in our local rag (AVA, March 14, 2007):
I just hope that folks won't totally lose their heads while they're trying to do the good hard work changing stuff, and lose sight of a few facts they'd rather forget. Such facts as, the modern world runs on petroleum, and a plurality of the petroleum happens to be emplaced in the region of the Persian Gulf, and there has never been an empire in history that has willingly walked away from a resource base perceived to be absolutely essential to its survival, and the United States will not be the first empire to do so, regardless of what the citizens think they think, regardless of what the Congress wants the citizens to think they think, no matter who says what. We are staying there, one way or another, until that fucker is sucked up dry, and if you don't understand that, well, take another hit off the tailpipe.
I THOUGHT that it had come straight from the mouth of Dick-a-gallon in one of his speeches delivered at whatever Veterans of Foreign Wars convention he regularly attends. "People, the sacrifice of our troops, of the best army in the world's history, is patriotism pure and simple. We are fighting for our gallon way of life, no chicken shit." Typical Dicksie tune, (and I don't mean Dixie Chicks) said or left unsaid... But no, these words came from some Jay Williamson of Santa Rosa in a letter that poked fun at the environmentalists and Greenies who tout biofuels as the next best thing to deliver us from our addiction to oil. You know my take on ethanol and other cellulosic bloviations, don't you? It's a charade. Dick knows it and that's why he holds conservation in such high esteem.
BUT LET'S NOT be too hard on poor Dick Cheney and his protégé, Baby Bush, the great decider. They've had a rough few weeks of late. Scooter Libby was found guilty of perjury and obstruction of justice. Then the Walter Reed scandal brought to light how much the country takes care of its veterans. A couple of heads had to fall to contain the damage to the administration. On or about that time the FBI admitted that it had conducted wiretapping of American citizens that may well have been illegal, or extralegal as they put it; but that story got nowhere because Mr. Bush refused to grant security clearances to the Justice Department lawyers put in charge of the internal investigation in the secret spying program. No security clearances, no investigation: Voila! Fortunately, the testimony under oath of the telegenic Valerie Plame Wilson took the attention away from these peccadilloes and brought to life the fact that indeed she was a covert, "classified," CIA agent, and her outing had first, ended her career and second, endangered many other operatives worldwide. We then found out, though the Mainstream Media has kept very quiet on that particular aspect of the Plame affair, that the White House, according to the testimony (under oath) of James Knodell, its Director of the Office of Security, has yet to conduct an in-house investigation on who leaked Plame to the press; this, of course, in light of the president himself and his press secretary claiming that a probe was being conducted, and any leaker(s) would be fired on the spot. While Karl Rove is still untouched, firing, indeed did occur: Eight US Attorneys are gone -- no relation to the Armani operative -- with the merit of having the news cycle move on as fast as possible from one issue to the other.
ENTERS PATRICK LEAHY, the senior senator of Vermont, and old Democrat New Dealer with a legendary bonhomie. He makes me think of Henri IV in the 16th century, who wanted every French household to afford a weekly poule au pot. Some five centuries later, Leahy likes chickens and in moderation a trip here and there to your local store. Leahy is a moderate man. In contrast, Dick Cheney is better associated with the gallon-deliveryman of Americana. For Dick-a-gallon, chickens we have aplenty, courtesy of Foster Farms, but it won't do much good if you can't get to the store -- hence the gallons. Dick is more ambitious: 10 gallons a day to get to Wal*Mart and buy your daily chicken. That's progress. Dick has been relentless in his pursuit, and anyone laying in his path has suffered consequences. That's where Dick and Pat came to a chicken head a year or so ago, and it was in the middle of the road; it left no feather unruffled.
DICK-A-GALLON argued with Pat Leahy that the latter should simply forget about his poule au pot and his moderation. The country was moving on to much bigger, daring ventures, filled with muchas gallinas and plenty of gallons to satisfy our insatiable thirst for a future filled with hope and energy. A chicken a minute, no less. The senator would have nothing of it and kept advocating for a more prudent approach. Dick would have nothing of it either. It's everything or nothing, you must bet the house, he seemed to mean. With prudence we would not be in Iraq, and without Iraq, where would you find the chickens, he asserted. Pat retorted that something was not everything but still was better than nothing. One chicken is fewer than two chickens but it's more than no chicken at all. Dick, not particularly known for either moderation or patience, told the good senator to "go fuck yourself" -- end of conversation (Americans love to converse). It should be said that at the time this friendly exchange happened, Dick was the super vice president of the USA and Pat was in the minority. Dicksenians were looking for the Rovellian 1,000-year Republican Reich and couldn't give a chicken-shit with their poule au pot in moderation. Leahy survived as best he could, his ego slightly hurt, his stature faintly blemished, making fun of the encounter.
IT WAS THEN. It is now. It turns out that instead of lying dead on the floor of the Senate Pat Leahy is having the time of his life as, after the 2006 elections that brought the fraternal opposition back in the driver's seat, he's once again the chairman of the very powerful US Senate Judicial Committee. That committee, it just happens, can issue subpoenas. For the ignoramuses out there, a subpoena is a little piece of paper that forces anyone, with all the power of the law -- you, me, the top of the crest (which is neither you nor me) -- to come out and tell their story, or stories, under oath. Oath is supposedly a way to get to the truth in the American mythology. Truth is a big part of that mythology, so help me gawd. Un-truth is most often punished with jail time. This is America. No chicken shit here, ya' hear.
SEEMS that the Dicksies have been chicken-shitting for six years, but it can't literally (factually) be proven. The Dicksies take advantage of the literal (factual) part of the circumstances. They don't testify. Can't prove it...no bullshit...take a hike...back to the gallons (and the chickens). Being under oath to spill the beans or risk jail time is what the modern-day royalty is all about. Heresy will not be tolerated. The chickens will run out of seeds. The gallons will spill on the surface. Life will be good ever after. Problem is that Pat Leahy, fully aware of all the baloney and hogwash (the "gallonery"), still supports the chickens, wishes life was what it used to be, and clearly remembers that he was told to go fuck himself.
ENTERS AL GONZALES, the US Attorney General. The man has been in the eye of a controversial hurricane since the day he issued memos supporting the legality of torture -- that torture was okay...as okay as American pie. Some have dared to disagree. Some have been pissed by the legal finding that has pretty much shot the reputation of the USA in the entire world (beside Israel and the Marshall Islands). Leahy noticed. Leahy has been pissed for a long few years. Leahy wants redress. Who would not, beside the Dicksies?
WHEN GONZALES'S Department of Justice fired eight US Attorneys, the process was done as usual in secrecy. Supposedly, the eight were going to leave quietly and not rock the boat. After all they were political appointees of the Bush administration and were serving at the president's pleasure. They could be fired at will, quite legally. However, the process was not only secret, it was also very clumsy, utterly botched. First, instead of firing them one at a time they chose the method known in Washington as a Saturday night massacre. Second, instead of sending a nice letter thanking them for their excellent work for and service to the country, letting them know that the president was very grateful but felt it was time to inject new blood in the system, and that letters of recommendation and high regards would be forthcoming in short order, they simply Donald Trump-like said, you're fired.
OF COURSE, that was not the most pleasant method of operating, but then again this is not an administration known for its pleasantness and affability. Two or three attorneys, shell-shocked, called to get an explanation for the termination. They were told the decision had been made after competence reviews that were not favorable. Problem is that they had received stellar reviews from their immediate supervisors at the DOJ -- "distinguished performance," no less. So, they did not keep quiet, and that raised the attention of the Congress. Mr. Gonzales went to the Senate Judiciary Committee and confirmed that the decision was purely competence related, that the process could have been better handled, that he was sorry and took full responsibility. It was not a political decision, he added. The White House was not involved. He himself had not been involved; he had delegated the work to his chief of staff Kyle Sampson, and on and on and on. Kyle Sampson has resigned.
WHAT DID NOT SQUARE though is that six of the eight had excellent ratings from DOJ. A couple of canned attorneys went on to testify. It also turned out that the attorney fired in Arkansas was replaced by a close aide to Karl Rove (and a former Republican National Committee operative) through a recess appointment that bypassed Senate confirmation. The Judiciary Committee became more suspicious and kept asking more questions; and as more disclosures were made, they found out that well, yes, after all, Karl Rove had been involved at the periphery, as well as then-White House counsel Harriet Miers. Go-fuck-himself Patrick Leahy, as said, is the chairman of the Judiciary Committee. He went on TV and said he was sick and tired, wanted to know what the administration was hiding, and would bring a few officials of DOJ and the White House (including Rove and Miers) to appear before the committee and testify under oath. Attorneygate had begun.
THE WHITE HOUSE, which has nothing to hide and want the truth as much as Congress, but wants to defend the principle of executive privilege, made a "very generous offer": The officials, including Rove and Miers, would go and answer the questions of a few chosen Congress people, in closed session, without cameras or transcript, and not under oath. Mr. Leahy in turn convened the Judiciary Committee, which in its majority (including one or more Republican senators) voted to grant the chairman the power to issue subpoenas. As the week came to a close the DOJ disclosed an e-mail that clearly indicated that the Attorney General had been involved in the process more than one month before what he had indicated under testimony. Mr. Bush has no recollection of having ever discussed the matter with his aides. He was too busy clearing brush in Crawford.
THE FUN is just beginning as scandal after scandal are popping to the surface with increased repetitiveness. Next Thursday, Kyle Sampson will appear before the Judiciary Committee. Will he take the Fifth? There's a foul odor that emanates from this White House as though it had been invaded by skunks. In the wake of Harriet Miers and Mr. Sampson's departure, expect more rats to leave this sinking ship. Or will the Dicksies dodge yet another bullet; scandal will be replaced by scandal; the Democrats will support continuation of the war; and the chickens will go home to roost in the quiet darkness of their cozy coops. Next stop, Iran.
AFFAIRE A SUIVRE, but one wonders whether Dick-a-gallon experiences any regret for his chicken-shit expletive...
TO END WITH ANOTHER GEM, this time more enlightened:
UPPER & LOWER CASES: I've always been curious about those expressions. Why not use capital case or under case? I've been befuddled by that question for as long as I've been in this country. Can't they, I always wondered, process information as simple as typesets as the whole world does? Well, of course not. This is America. Finally, thanks to old Bruce Anderson and a knowledgeable reader, I finally got the answer that needs be shared widely. Writes Frank Cieciorka in response to Anderson (in the AVA, March 14, 2007):
I think you conflated hot type and cold type in your article. On a linotype machine molten lead is poured into a matrix created by a keyboard on the machine to make a line of type. Hence the name of the machine. Cold type is done one letter at a time by hand. Each letter was compartmentalized in a case called a California Job Case. Each font and type size had its own case. The capital letters were in the upper part of the case, which is whay [sic] they are called "upper case" and the lower part of the case contained "lower case" letters. With practice one could pull the proper letters out of the case without checking the label on each compartment the way a touch typist doesn't need to look at the keyboard. That assumes that they were put back properly when the printing was done and the block of type was disassembled. Of course the letters were in mirror image in order to read properly when turned face down for printing. In mirror image a lower case "p" reads as a lower case "q" and vice versa. Son one had to be careful putting them away. That gave rise to the expression "mind your p's and q's."
. . . . .
Ç'est la vie...
And so it goes...
La vie, friends, is a cheap commodity, but worth maintaining when one can.the life line won't hurt you much, but it'll make a heck of a difference for Swans.