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Friday, January 06, 2006

Usually, one waits until the end of a calendar year to look back and pick out various highlights. I was thinking of looking back at the comments I wrote here in 2005 to see if I might select the best and the worst or the funniest or silliest in various categories - but then I got totally distracted by the possibility that there might already be a lock on the above named (imaginary) award for 2006!!! 359 days early!!

It’s between two prime candidates - the Vice President of the United States and the increasingly bizarre acting religious broadcaster Pat Robertson.

It’s hard to figure out what happened to Dick Cheney. I have heard many people say that the Dick Cheney they used to know no longer exists. I heard Tom Oliphant yesterday say something to the effect that it was almost as though over the course of leaving government, becoming a multi - millionaire in the private sector and then returning to government - he had undergone a personality transplant.

Since the attack of 9/11 and even more since the Iraq invasion, he has said one incredibly disingenuous thing after another. In a court of law he would have been convicted of perjury many times over. But surely his comments of January 4 - in the midst of claims of a Presidential right to monitor the communications of American citizens without court approval - have to be the most dishonest among a string of vocalized dishonesties. So much so that in the aforementioned court of law, what he said the other day could easily be interpreted as an admission that he, the President and the entire administration, are guilty of dereliction of duty. They, who were sworn to protect the people of the United States, were laying down on the job when they should have been the most vigilant.

Look at what he said when speaking in defense of the President’s unchecked use of wiretapping and other monitoring within the United States.
"Another vital step the President took in the days following 9/11 was to authorize the National Security Agency to intercept a certain category of terrorist-linked international communications. There are no communications more important to the safety of the United States than those related to al Qaeda that have one end in the United States. If we'd been able to do this before 9/11, we might have been able to pick up on two hijackers who subsequently flew a jet into the Pentagon. They were in the United States, communicating."
"If we’d been able to do this!!" If you listen to Mr. Cheney and his boss speak of their right to use the National Security Agency to monitor Americans without court approval because of the President’s inherent power to do so under a variety of scenarios, the question screams from the heavens - why didn’t you?? You’re intimating that you knew of these two future hijackers but weren’t able to check on them?? Because some law prevented you from doing so??

It is almost as if Mr. Cheney is rehearsing for a possible stint as a substitute host of The Daily Show when Jon Stewart is on vacation.

Of course, with or without obeying the law and getting routine warrants within 72 hours of locking on to the communications of Khalid Almihdhar or Nawaf Alhazmi or Salem Alhazm or Hani Hanjour or Majed Moqed - Mr. Cheney didn’t mention which two - it could have been done. There was nothing to stop it. Except stupidity. Except hubris. Richard Clarke tried to warn officials of the Bush administration of the very real threat of a major terrorist attack before 9/11 - but he was ignored. None of the new power elite wanted advice from a holdover from the previous administration.

When Cheney makes the kind of statement that he did in his January 4 speech and doesn’t order it changed in the transcript that can be found at the VP’s web site, you have to wonder if he either doesn’t understand the impact of what he said or has become so brazen that he is comfortable saying anything he feels like saying to attack or otherwise disparage anyone who has the temerity to suggest that Emperor George is not fully clothed.

He is certainly a leading candidate for the above mentioned imaginary award. But the competition is tough. Pat Robertson is another who says one nutty thing after another in his own long running version of "Can You Top This." The day after Mr. Cheney had submitted his entry, the Reverend Pat, as though sensing that he might be falling behind in the race, charged in with his explanation of Ariel Sharon’s stroke. Not a Bill Frist kind of long distance medical diagnosis. There was no videotape of Sharon in the OR intensive care. Just the usual Robertson approach to differential diagnosis. Said the 700 Club Ringmaster:
"In the book of Joel, the prophet Joel makes it very clear that God has ‘enmity against those who divide My land.’ God considers this land to be His. When you read the Bible, He said this is my land. For any Prime Minister of Israel who decides he will carve it up and give it away, God said, "No, this is Mine."

"He was dividing God's land, and I would say, 'Woe unto any prime minister of Israel who takes a similar course to appease the European Union, the United Nations or the United States of America,'"
So now we know. If Ehud Olmert orders troops back into Gaza and declares the entire west bank a part of Greater Israel, Sharon will recover promptly. Otherwise forget about it. He’s a goner. You have to wonder why God kills off all of the other millions of us who die. Or does he just personally kill those who offend him and lets the rest of us go when our bodies give out? We'll have to ask Pat that question.

Pat Robertson once made a bid to become the Republican Presidential candidate. Can you imagine a world with Pat Robertson as President of the United States, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as President of the Iranian/Iraqi Alliance, Kim Jong as Supreme Leader of all Asia and Dick Cheney hovering in the background playing supreme puppeteer of the world?

To quote Charles Dickens via the words of Ebenezer Scrooge. "I’ll retire to bedlam!"