Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Ia!! Ia!! John Sununu Bows Before Yog-Sothoth!!

Timothy Noah welcomes Bush I Chief-of-Staff John Sununu to the Ancient, Hermetic, and Occult Order of the Shrill:

Bush Abandonment Watch, Part 3 - Sununu sinks the shiv. By Timothy Noah : I don't want to shortchange Brent Scowcroft, former national security advisor to George H.W. Bush, who all but calls the current president an arrogant little putz in the Oct. 31 New Yorker. But Scowcroft has been off the reservation since before the Iraq war began. To me, the surprising apostasy in Jeffrey Goldberg's piece on Scowcroft is expressed by John Sununu: "We always made sure the President was hearing all the possibilities," John Sununu, who served as chief of staff to George H.W. Bush, said. "That's one of the differences between the first Bush Administration and this Bush Administration." Ouch, babe!

Monday, October 24, 2005

David Brooks Is Transfomed into a Lesser Shoggoth!

I had not read--and as best as I can tell, Progressive Liberal had not read--David Brooks in the New York Times. But Mark A.R. Kleiman did. And boy is he shriller than ever. David Frum and company have some real competition. That's what I'm sayin.

Do not approach the scene of the incident unless you are a trained professional:

Angry Bear (PGL): Responsible Budgeting v. Big Government Conservatives: Mark Kleiman reads David Brooks and explodes:

David, it's not a matter of "not fully coherent" or lack of an "unorthodox management style": it's that every single thing his administration has turned its hand to, except lying to win elections, it's trashed! Bush and his people suck at vision, suck at making reasonable plans, suck at implementation, suck at planning, suck at intelligence and predicting, and suck at leadership. Cutting taxes and spending like a drunken sailor isn't some new kind of conservatism, it's an old kind of lunatic irresponsibility, the sort of thing the Bavarians put Ludwig in a soft room for. Sending the army and marines off undermanned and ill-equipped to be wrecked in the desert because Cheney had a pole up his rear end about Iraq isn't a shining new conservatism, it's criminal negligence. Stuffing the only government we have, and now the Supreme Court, with people who can't get through a day on their new jobs without spectacular blunders isn't a lack of unorthodox management, it's plain old really bad management! Farm bill, steel bill, FEMA, socialsecurityAbramoffMiersToraBoraonandonandon, a tornado of bad ideas and botches.

It seems Brooks has dusted off the Fred Barnes oxymoron about Bush being a big government conservative. Brooks and Barnes must ascribe to the free lunch view taught at National Review University -- that view being we can have more government spending and lower tax rates too. Mark Thoma skipped that lecture preferring to attend the latest lecture from Paul Krugman.

Fiscal conservatives might prefer the comments from Senator Mark Pryor:

Pryor said Congress and the Bush administration must return to an era of "responsible budgeting" and be less inclined to advocate tax cuts for special interests as a remedy for economic ills. "We simply must do a better job of putting the needs of all Americans over the wants of a privileged few," the senator said.What does responsible budgeting mean? What it does not mean is the tendency of the DeLay Republicans to shortchange education, health care, or assistance for the poor in order to fund more pork barrel spending. As Alice Rivlin said last year %u2013 we should spend smarter, not more. Responsible budgeting also means that we cease dumping huge deferred tax liabilities on our kids.

The Shrill Screams of Frank Rich Rend the Dark Massachusetts Night!

Frank Rich is shrill, and writes:

Karl and Scooter's Excellent Adventure - New York Times: THERE were no weapons of mass destruction. There was no collaboration between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda on 9/11. There was scant Pentagon planning for securing the peace should bad stuff happen after America invaded. Why, exactly, did we go to war in Iraq?

"It still isn't possible to be sure - and this remains the most remarkable thing about the Iraq war," writes the New Yorker journalist George Packer, a disenchanted liberal supporter of the invasion, in his essential new book, "The Assassins' Gate: America in Iraq." Even a former Bush administration State Department official who was present at the war's creation, Richard Haass, tells Mr. Packer that he expects to go to his grave "not knowing the answer."

Maybe. But the leak investigation now reaching its climax in Washington continues to offer big clues. We don't yet know whether Lewis (Scooter) Libby or Karl Rove has committed a crime, but the more we learn about their desperate efforts to take down a bit player like Joseph Wilson, the more we learn about the real secret they wanted to protect: the "why" of the war.... In Mr. Rove's case, let's go back to January 2002. By then the post-9/11 war in Afghanistan had succeeded in its mission to overthrow the Taliban and had done so with minimal American casualties. In a triumphalist speech to the Republican National Committee, Mr. Rove for the first time openly advanced the idea that the war on terror was the path to victory for that November's midterm elections. Candidates "can go to the country on this issue," he said, because voters "trust the Republican Party to do a better job of protecting and strengthening America's military might and thereby protecting America." It was an early taste of the rhetoric that would be used habitually to smear any war critics as unpatriotic.

But there were unspoken impediments to Mr. Rove's plan that he certainly knew about: Afghanistan was slipping off the radar screen of American voters, and the president's most grandiose objective, to capture Osama bin Laden "dead or alive," had not been achieved. How do you run on a war if the war looks as if it's shifting into neutral and the No. 1 evildoer has escaped?.... By Memorial Day 2002.... Mr. Rove could see that an untelevised and largely underground war against terrorists might not nail election victories without a jolt of shock and awe. It was a propitious moment to wag the dog.

Enter Scooter, stage right.... Well before Bush 43 took office, they had become fixated on Iraq, though for reasons having much to do with their ideas about realigning the states in the Middle East and little or nothing to do with the stateless terrorism of Al Qaeda.... But here, too, was an impediment: there had to be that "why" for the invasion, the very why that today can seem so elusive that Mr. Packer calls Iraq "the 'Rashomon' of wars." Abstract (and highly debatable) neocon notions of marching to Baghdad to make the Middle East safe for democracy (and more secure for Israel and uninterrupted oil production) would never fly with American voters as a trigger for war.... For Mr. Rove and Mr. Bush to get what they wanted most, slam-dunk midterm election victories, and for Mr. Libby and Mr. Cheney to get what they wanted most, a war in Iraq for reasons predating 9/11, their real whys for going to war had to be replaced by fictional, more salable ones. We wouldn't be invading Iraq to further Rovian domestic politics or neocon ideology; we'd be doing so instead because there was a direct connection between Saddam and Al Qaeda and because Saddam was on the verge of attacking America with nuclear weapons. The facts and intelligence had to be fixed to create these whys; any contradictory evidence had to be dismissed or suppressed.

Mr. Libby and Mr. Cheney were in the boiler room of the disinformation factory. The vice president's repetitive hyping of Saddam's nuclear ambitions in the summer and fall of 2002 as well as his persistence in advertising bogus Saddam-Qaeda ties were fed by the rogue intelligence operation set up in his own office.... THIS is what Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, then-Secretary of State Colin Powell's wartime chief of staff, was talking about last week when he publicly chastised the "Cheney-Rumsfeld cabal" for sowing potential disaster in Iraq, North Korea and Iran. It's this cabal that in 2002 pushed for much of the bogus W.M.D. evidence that ended up in Mr. Powell's now infamous February 2003 presentation to the U.N. It's this cabal whose propaganda was sold by the war's unannounced marketing arm, the White House Iraq Group, or WHIG...

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Brent Scowcroft Is Become Shrillness, Devourer of Worlds:

If the radiance of a thousand suns
were to burst at once into the sky
that would be like the shrillness
of George H.W. Bush best friend and ex-National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft.

Steve Clemons is the Master of Shrill Ceremonies:

The Washington Note Archives: Here is the release today from The New Yorker on the important article by Jeffrey Goldberg on Brent Scowcroft:

Brent Scowcroft on the War in Iraq and the Bush Administration

In "Breaking Ranks" (p. 54), in the October 31, 2005, issue of The New Yorker, Jeffrey Goldberg reports on the growing divide between the Bush Administration and its Republican critics. The criticism from Brent Scowcroft, the national security adviser to George H.W. Bush, has been particularly pronounced, Goldberg writes. Scowcroft recalls advice he gave the first President Bush at the conclusion of the first Gulf War, when there was pressure to remove Saddam Hussein.

It would have been easy to reach Baghdad, Scowcroft said, but what then? "At the minimum, we'd be an occupier in a hostile land. Our forces would be sniped at by guerrillas, and once we were there, how would we get out? What would be the rationale for leaving? I don't like the term 'exit strategy' -- but what do you do with Iraq once you own it?" Scowcroft then said of Iraq, "This is exactly where we are now. We own it. And we can't let go. We're getting sniped at. Now, will we win? I think there's a fair chance we'll win. But look at the cost."

Scowcroft has known George W. Bush for decades, but since the beginning of the Iraq war, he has been frozen out of the White House. "On the face of it," Goldberg writes, "this is remarkable," because Scowcroft's best friend is the former President Bush; the Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, was a Scowcroft protege; and Vice-President Dick Cheney is also a friend. "The real anomaly in the Administration is Cheney," Scowcroft told Goldberg.

"I consider Cheney a good friend -- I've known him for thirty years. But Dick Cheney I don't know anymore." When, in an e-mail, George H.W. Bush was asked about Scowcroft's most useful qualities as an adviser, the former President wrote that he "was very good about making sure that we did not simply consider the 'best case,' but instead considered what it would mean if things went our way, and also if they did not."

According to friends of the elder Bush, the "estrangement of his son and his best friend has been an abiding source of unhappiness," Goldberg writes. Scowcroft said he hoped for a better relationship with the son, and adds, "I like George Bush personally, and he is the son of a man I'm just crazy about." Of the differences between father and son, Scowcroft said, "I don't want to go there."

Colleagues have paid particular notice to the relationship between Scowcroft and Rice, who worked closely during the first Bush Administration. Friends of Scowcroft recall a dinner in September of 2002, when discussion of the impending war in Iraq became heated. As Goldberg reports, Rice finally said, irritably, "The world is a messy place, and someone has to clean it up."

Goldberg talks to the former Soviet dissident Natan Sharansky, whose book, "The Case for Democracy," came to national attention when George W. Bush told the Washington Times, "If you want a glimpse of how I think about foreign policy, read Natan Sharansky's book." In the book, Sharansky criticizes Bush's father for a speech he gave in 1991, in Ukraine, opposing a break with the Soviet Union -- a speech critics labelled "Chicken Kiev."

Sharansky tells Goldberg that soon after his book was published, he was invited to the White House to see the President. He says, "So I go to the White House and I see my book on his desk. It is open to page 210. He is really reading it. And we talk about democracy. This President is very great on democracy. At the end of the conversation, I say, 'Say hello to your mother and father.' And he said, 'My father?' He looked very surprised I would say this."

Sharansky went on, "So I say to the President, 'I like your father. He is very good to my wife when I am in prison.' And President Bush says, 'But what about Chicken Kiev?'"

The Administration, Goldberg writes, "remains committed to the export of democracy, and is publicly optimistic about the future in Iraq." Paul Wolfowitz, an architect of the Iraq war, tells Goldberg, "Wilson thought you could take a map of Europe and say, 'This is the way things are going to be.' That was unrealistic, but the world has changed a lot in a hundred years. The fact is that people can look around and see the overwhelming success of representative government."

"For Scowcroft," Goldberg writes, "the second Gulf war is a reminder of the unwelcome consequences of radical intervention, especially when it is attempted without sufficient understanding of America's limitations or of the history of a region." Scowcroft says, "I believe in the fallibility of human nature. We continually step on our best aspirations. We're humans. Given a chance to screw up, we will."

The October 31, 2005, issue of The New Yorker goes on sale at newsstands beginning Monday, October 24th. Selections from the magazine, as well as additional features, are available at http://www.newyorker.com.

Ia!! Ia!! Chris Nelson Is the Keymaster!! Yog-Sothoth Is the Gatekeeper!!

Chris Nelson is really shrill!

The Agonist writes:

The Agonist | thoughtful, global, timely: I offer you this as evidence that we have indeed come to this place, today's Nelson Report, written by Chris Nelson, an uber-insider, Beltway player/observer, if ever there were one.

He writes:

Democrats have a hard time keeping up with the deconstruction of President Bush by his own radical conservative supporters, in the wake of the very mediocre Supreme Court nomination of his den mother, sorry, his personal lawyer from Texas, exponential disenchantment with Iraq, the frantic, feckless post-Katrina posturing, et al. But in today's International Herald Tribune, former Carter National Security Advisor and genuine Washington Wiseman Zbigniew Brzezinski contributes as thorough a demolition of Bush's foreign policy as we've seen to date....

If politics were a football game, some might feel "Zbig" is guilty of hitting the quarterback after the play. But politics is real life, and the rules of sportsmanship don't apply. When you win, people ascribe almost superman powers to you (remember the political genius of the century, Karl Rove?) but when you start to lose on a regular basis, suddenly you are the emperor without his clothes (as Bush was portrayed in a recent Washington Post editorial cartoon by Tom Toles).

There is a cumulative effect to being systematically "disrespected", as Bush might say, in his characteristically dyslectic syntax. A critical, potentially fatal question now arises for political players in both parties, as also for foreign governments trying to plan their interaction with the US: is this man falling apart before our very eyes? If not physically and intellectually...and those questions are starting to be raised, see Dana Milbank in Wednesday's Washington Post, Oct. 12, pg. A-7...but politically?

One of the more revealing lines of Conservative attack against Bush's pick of the hapless Harriet Meirs for the Supreme Court is when we read senior establishment elite players like George Will or David Brooks or Bill Kristol or Charles Krauthammer laughing at the President's assertion that we should trust his judgment on how brilliant Ms. Miers really is. These former supporters sneeringly ask, in effect, "what the hell would Bush know about personal excellence!?"

This isn't just rude, it's devastating, given where it's coming from. And we have three more years with Bush in the White House. The implications of such questions even being asked, much less answered in the affirmative, are obvious, and boil down to the risk of political anarchy at home, and increasingly disconnected foreign policy, as per Brzezinski's analysis, overseas.

So the specific question for today is, what are the leadership implications? Even assuming Bush's team can come up with serious, meaningful approaches to the Delphi bankruptcy as a signal of the coming collapse of the Capitalist social contract with Labor (and what do you think the odds are on that? What are YOUR bright ideas?) how can this White House expect to enforce political discipline on a Congress just three months away from an election year, when it's everyone for themselves under the best of circumstances, and when a majority of Republicans remain incredibly uncomfortable voting for something as basic as Trade Adjustment Assistance?

We start with this right here now domestic political and economic crisis not because it's been unfolding for a decade, in slow motion, but because the increasing domestic crisis feeds, irreversibly, foreign policy pressures, and domestic trade policy pressures, to which no one, since NAFTA, has come up with any viable amelioration. Textile quotas to save the uneducated middle class? Twenty-seven percent tariffs on Chinese goods because we don't all want to end up working at Wal Mart, sans a living wage, sans any benefits, sans weekends off?

Delphi this week...and GM at some point, followed by its millions of suppliers and co-dependents. It's irreversible under the current system.

The industrial middle class of America has been under attack from globalization, and self-induced failures like no national health-care, for a generation. Even if some miracle set of programs arises from some latter day FDR and his New Deal (and remember, it was WW2 which ended the Great Depression here...think on that for a minute) it will take another generation to work out for the population as a whole. And that's if we're lucky and a real Marshall Plan for America can be developed....some way to provide Americans with a European-style "state subsidy" for the social benefits which stockholder-responsive private industry can no longer provide, at a profit, in the face of globalization.

The White House solution to date? Cut back on Medicaid and renege on pledges to Florida and the Gulf Coast for hurricane relief past and present. Anyone think an election-year Congress will bite on Medicaid cuts as the Big Plan?

Moving to the on-going disaster in Iraq, as US casualties approach 2,000 and the bombings continue unabated, find someone you know with a security clearance and ask them what they really think is happening, and is about to happen? What do you think the implications of this will be, across the board? Read Zbig, below, for a quick listing of all the other foreign policy problems we aren't honestly confronting.

To be crass for a moment, does all of the above mean the Democrats have a good chance of taking-back control of the House and Senate next year? Does it look better and better for Hillary in `08?

Maybe, but if they can't come up with any good ideas, is there any reason we should care? And for now, is it fair to be yelling at the Dems? The United States isn't a parliamentary democracy, we don't have a coherent Opposition, we don't have a Shadow Cabinet, and for Dems, we don't have a Newt Gingrich, with an over-arching philosophy, much less a plan!

Damn...we're going home for a drink...maybe Paul Krugman can come up with something....

Friday, October 21, 2005

They Say That We Are Mad, But Rumsfeld Is the Maddest of Them All

Chris Nelson and the "Republican Wisemen"--whoever they are--are shrill!

This is what Chris Nelson says the Republican wisemen think: they don't have "much trust or respect for Rice, and they share... the conviction that Rumsfeld is quite literally mad, and Cheney a dangerous, vindictive monomaniac."

The Washington Note Archives: The Nelson Report, 20 October 2005: POWELL AIDE NUKES CONDI/RUMMY/CHENEY: SPEAKING FOR POWELL? NOT EXACTLY. . .BUT. . . SUMMARY: Bearing in mind Oscar Wilde's advice that "revenge is a dish best eaten cold", how does one grasp the intention of former Colin Powell aide, Col. Lawrence Wilkerson's highly emotional, if fact-based and personal eye-witness account of the massive, collective failures and misdeeds of Condi Rice, Dick Cheney, Don Rumsfeld. . .and the current President Bush? (see link to full transcript below. . .)

Either first hand at The New America Foundation, or vicariously, courtesy of the Financial Times and IPS, Washington types watched this latest example of Republican auto-genocide with the delighted, if slightly stunned expressions of a pack of hyenas on the receiving end of fresh elephant, with no lions in sight. But what they wanted to know was "Is Wilkerson speaking directly for Powell and Armitage?"

The answer: not exactly. On the one hand, there is no question from private remarks and public grimaces, some reaching back to early 2001, neither Powell nor Armitage had or has much trust or respect for Rice, and they share with other senior Republican wisemen the conviction that Rumsfeld is quite literally mad, and Cheney a dangerous, vindictive monomaniac.

On the other hand, such views are normally dispensed as pearls before very closed groups of friends and retainers, often with the intent that rumors, if not full quotes, reach the ears of eager ink-stained wretches of the press, so that the Powell/Armitage reputation for speaking truth about power remains unsullied, and hopefully well-represented in the history books.

Just how brave they were up-front, in the face of the misdeeds of Rummy/Cheney/Rice being decried, is a question on which the history books may be slightly less generous than the daily press, but that's not our topic for tonight. . .except to note Wilkerson's stunning frankness in stressing the obstacles placed in the Powell/Armitage path directly by Rumsfeld/Cheney, or indirectly, through Rice's failure to perform the intended function of a National Security Advisor.

Implicitly, President Bush must be faulted for not seeing how he was being manipulated by Rumsfeld/Cheney. We noted in a Report several years ago an eye-witness account of Cabinet meetings discussing Iraq WMD which confirms the picture painted yesterday by Wilkerson: the gist of our quote was that "Rummy and Cheney spend their time spinning-up Bush, while Condi sits there saying nothing, leaving Powell totally isolated and ineffective." This was from a then-DOD source, we should add.

Back to Wilkerson: a careful read of the full transcript shows that he spent most of the time in a calm, if impassioned examination of how the national security function is supposed to work, both according to the 1947 law establishing the modern structures of power, and the practice of successful NSC's and good "foreign policy presidents".

Wilkerson and Powell worked for GHW Bush, and Wilkerson is unstinting in his praise of Poppa. And it must be noted that for all of his harsh words about the current President Bush's foreign policy operation, Wilkerson gives credit to Bush for taking a strong stand (by implication against Cheney and Rumsfeld) on not having a war with N. Korea. And he is complimentary of Rice as Secretary of State, crediting her successes to her strong personal relations with Bush. . . in fatal contrast to the Powell/Bush dysfunction.

But he blasts Bush for "cowboyism" for the disastrous treatment of Nobel Peace Prize winner Kim Dae-jung, when the then-president of South Korea was publicly humiliated by Bush in March, 2001, thus setting the stage for what became the current nuclear standoff with N. Korea.

Another topic of emotional importance in Wilkerson's talk, which clearly echoes Powell's personal concerns, was his denunciation of the "torture memo" and its effects, predicting "ten years from now, when we have the whole story, we are going to be ashamed."

What is he hinting? In some of the private chats noted above, Powell and Armitage have quoted President Bush, Rumsfeld and Cheney as leading a collective round of ridicule when Powell, at Cabinet meetings, and Armitage, at Subcabinet, sought to put limits on mistreatment of prisoners at Guantanamo. . . long before the cancer of Abu Ghraib. We reported on this at the time of last year's Senate hearings (the title of one was "A Fish Rots From The Head"). It will be interesting to find out if any of this was discussed with Special Prosecutor Fitzgerald, as he ponders conspiracy indictments. . .but that may be another story.

Our point in mentioning it tonight is that we think this casts light on Wilkerson's performance yesterday. . . it's hard to read between the lines and escape with anything less than his profound sense of shame and remorse that he and colleagues he so obviously considers authentic American heroes could have failed so badly to overcome the calculated, willful ignorance and mendacity of their opponents in the Bush Administration.

We cannot quote what Wilkerson actually said about DOD's Doug Feith, for example, because many of your spam-gards will block the words. Given the locale, it was quite astonishing, however accurate. Just cast your mind back to what the deposed Gen. Tommy Franks said about Feith. Wilkerson%u2019s point wasn't to show-off by being obscene. . .we think it was just one of many genuine cris de cour that came pouring out yesterday.

This leads to our final point for tonight. The Bush Administration may well be imploding before our eyes, with incalculable complexities for the country, as a leadership vacuum makes rational government even more difficult that it is already, and Democrats remain rudderless and devoid of a coherent idea. Yet the number of deeply patriotic, honest, self-less and effective men and women in this Administration is no less than any other, and a great deal more than some. It is literally heart-breaking to witness the death of a dream.... For a professional soldier like Wilkerson... betrayal. Men and women are being asked to lay down their lives for liars, incompetents. . . the Doug Feith's of this world. . . and the superiors who do no better. . . Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice. . . and Bush.

No wonder Colin Powell looks ashamed as he talks about his pre-Iraq war WMD testimony to the UN. . . he was the witting tool of fools. What could be worse, for any patriot?

I think Chris Nelson is calling for the impeachment of George W. Bush and Richard Cheney. I agree.

Brent Scowcroft Presides at This Evening's Midnight Rites

Steve Clemons says that Brent Scowcroft is really shrill:

The Washington Note Archives : The revered-in-tons-of-corners former National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft definitively breaks ranks with the Bush administration in an article by nearly the same name, "Breaking Ranks," appearing in the upcoming Monday issue of The New Yorker.

The article will outline what decisions and events have built up to turn Brent Scowcroft against this Bush administration. Yes, that's right. . ."turned Brent Scowcroft against this Bush administration."

Jeffrey Goldberg, the author of the piece, has pulled off a stunning coup by not only getting Brent Scowcroft to talk -- but also getting some incredibly juicy commentary from President George H.W. Bush on the performance of his son's national security team.

I don't have the full piece yet -- but I know it will be a blockbuster.

I also know that for all of those who had difficulty (read Rush Limbaugh) adjusting to former State Department Chief of Staff Lawrence Wilkerson's candid commentary on the White House's broken national security decision-making process, you are going to have an even more difficult time with revelations from Scowcroft.

They will be saying largely similar things about a "cabal" that undid our nation's security.

For those of you interested, here is a link to the transcript of the presentations by General Brent Scowcroft and former National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski that I helped host on January 6th of this year. Scowcroft's comments about "incipient civil war" in Iraq made global news and started a jousting match between my blog and David Frum's.

You can look back at the January archive here for more on that important Scowcroft battle.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

The Fearsome Beak of Col. Wilkerson Strikes!

Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, Colin Powell's Chief-of-Staff, is the shrillest creature on the planet earth:

FT.com / World - Transcript: Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson: transcript of talk given by Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, chief of staff to Mr Powell until last January.

I want to thank Steve [Clemons] and the American Foundation for giving me this opportunity and thank some of my friends for turning out. I see an assistant secretary over here, I think he's left that post now, who used to spend some time in my office. And I see others around the room. I see some journalists in here who have been trying religiously to get me over the last 3 or 4 months. You finally got me....

[I]n a very intimate way, I saw the George W. Bush administration from 2001 to early 2005.... I don't think even his critics would have argued that FDR wasn't a brilliant politician and a brilliant leader. But... how often does America get brilliant leaders?... I can count them myself on one hand.... So we need a system of checks and balances and institutional fabric that can withstand anybody, or at least nearly so. You laugh, but I'm not trying to solicit your laughter.... It's the old business of checks and balances....

Decisions that send men and women to die, decisions that have the potential to send men and women to die, decisions that confront situations like natural disasters and cause needless death or cause people to suffer misery that they shouldn't have to suffer, domestic and international decisions, should not be made in a secret way.... [F]undamental decisions about foreign policy should not be made in secret.... I would say that we have courted disaster, in Iraq, in North Korea, in Iran, generally with regard to domestic crises like Katrina, Rita and I could go on back, we haven't done very well on anything like that in a long time. And if something comes along that is truly serious, truly serious, something like a nuclear weapon going off in a major American city, or something like a major pandemic, you are going to see the ineptitude of this government in a way that will take you back to the Declaration of Independence....

Now, let me get a little more specific.... Almost everyone since the 1947 act, with the exception, I think, of Eisenhower, has in some way or another, perterbated, flummoxed, twisted, drew evolutionary trends with, whatever, the national security decision-making process.... John Kennedy trusted his brother... far more than he should have. Richard Nixon, oh my God.... Jimmy Carter allowed Brezinski to essentially negate his Secretary of State.... [W]hat Sandy Berger did to Madeline Albright.... But no one... has so flummoxed the process as the present administration. What do I mean by that? Remember what I said about the bureaucracy: if it's going to implement your decisions it has to participate in those decisions.... The complexity of the crises that confront governments today are just unprecedented.... [Y]our bureaucracy has got to be staffed with good people and they've got to work together... under leadership they trust....

That is not the case today....

[T]he case that I saw for 4 plus years was a case that I have never seen in my studies of aberration, bastardizations, changes to the national security process. What I saw was a cabal between the Vice President of the United States, Richard Cheney, and the Secretary of Defense... that made decisions that the bureaucracy did not know were being made.... Read George Packer's book The Assassin's Gate.... And I wish... I had been able to help George Packer write that book. In some places I could have given him a hell of a lot more specifics.... But if you want to read how the Cheney-Rumsfeld cabal flummoxed the process, read that book. And, of course, there are other names in there, Under Secretary of Defense Doug Feith, whom most of you probably know Tommy Frank said was the "stupidest blankety blank man in the world." He was. Let me testify to that. He was. Seldom in my life have I met a dumber man. And yet, and yet, after the Secretary of State agrees to a $400 billion department, rather than a $30 billion department, having control, at least in the immediate post-war period in Iraq, this man is put in charge. Not only is he put in charge, he is given carte blanche to tell the State Department to go screw themselves in a closet somewhere. That's not making excuses for the State Department. That's telling you how decisions were made and telling you how things got accomplished. Read George's book.

In so many ways I wanted to believe for 4 years that what I was seeing... was an extremely weak national security advisor [Condi Rice]... an extremely powerful Vice President... an extremely powerful... Secretary of Defense, remember a Vice President who's been Secretary of Defense... and also is a member of what Dwight Eisenhower... called in his farewell address the military industrial complex and don't you think they aren't....

So you've got this collegiality there between the Secretary of Defense and the Vice President. And then you've got a President who is not versed in international relations. And not too much interested in them either. And so it's not too difficult to make decisions in this... Oval Office cabal... that are the opposite of what you thought were made in the formal process.... And to myself I said, okay, put on your academic hat. Who's causing this? Well, the national security advisor. Even if the framers didn't envision that position, even if it's not subject to confirmation by the Senate, the national security advisor should be doing a better job. Now, I've come to a different conclusion.

The Process of Law Is Shrill and Unbalanced

Arrest warrant issued for DeLay

The Order is collecting donations to help provide ponies for those who can't afford them. Please donate if you can.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

We Welcome Robert Bork as Honorary Heresiarch

If you had told me, back in those halcyon days when the first notes of shrill unholy madness at the Bush administration ululated beneath the dead uncaring stars, that one day the loudest and shrillest bull shoggoth in the shrill chorus would be Robert "I Don't Understand Some of the Amendments" Bork--well, I would simply have refused to believe you.

Yet it is true.

We understand why Robert Bork has fallen into shrill unholy madness. He cannot face the fact that for six years he has carried water and made excuses for the incompetent and disastrous presidency of George W. Bush, humiliating himself in the belief that it will all be worth it when Bush appoints one of Bork's good friends to the Supreme Court, and now finds that Bush doesn't care about the Constitution-in-Exile--he cannot face that and remain sane.

We welcome him, and name him Honorary Heresiarch of the Ancient, Hermetic, and Occult Order of the Shrill--those who have been driven into the shrill unholy madness by the stupidity, mendacity, malevolence, and incompetence of George W. Bush and his administration. Just in time for Homecoming, too!

Bork Fhtagn!! Bork Fhtagn!! Ia!! Ia!!


WSJ.com - Slouching Towards Miers: With a single stroke -- the nomination of Harriet Miers -- the president has damaged the prospects for reform of a left-leaning and imperialistic Supreme Court, taken the heart out of a rising generation of constitutional scholars, and widened the fissures within the conservative movement. That's not a bad day's work -- for liberals. There is, to say the least, a heavy presumption that Ms. Miers is not qualified to be on the Supreme Court. It is not just that she has no known experience with constitutional law and no known opinions on judicial philosophy. It is worse than that. As president of the Texas Bar Association, she wrote columns for the association's journal. David Brooks of the New York Times examined those columns. He reports, with supporting examples, that the quality of her thought and writing demonstrates absolutely no "ability to write clearly and argue incisively."...

The administration's defense of the nomination is pathetic: Ms. Miers was a bar association president (a nonqualification for anyone familiar with the bureaucratic service that leads to such presidencies); she shares Mr. Bush's judicial philosophy (which seems to consist of bromides about "strict construction" and the like); and she is, as an evangelical Christian, deeply religious. That last, along with her contributions to pro-life causes, is designed to suggest that she does not like Roe v. Wade, though it certainly does not necessarily mean that she would vote to overturn that constitutional travesty.

There is a great deal more to constitutional law than hostility to Roe. Ms. Miers is reported to have endorsed affirmative action. That position, or its opposite, can be reconciled with Christian belief. Issues we cannot now identify or even imagine will come before the court in the next 20 years. Reliance upon religious faith tells us nothing about how a Justice Miers would rule. Only a commitment to originalism provides a solid foundation for constitutional adjudication. There is no sign that she has thought about, much less adopted, that philosophy of judging.

Some moderate (i.e., lukewarm) conservatives admonish the rest of us to hold our fire until Ms. Miers's performance at her hearing tells us more about her outlook on law.... She cannot be expected to endorse originalism; that would alienate the bloc of senators who think constitutional philosophy is about arriving at pleasing political results.... What we can expect in all probability is platitudes about not "legislating from the bench." The Senate is asked, then, to confirm a nominee with no visible judicial philosophy who lacks the basic skills of persuasive argument and clear writing.

But that is only part of the damage Mr. Bush has done. For the past 20 years conservatives have been articulating the philosophy of originalism, the only approach that can make judicial review democratically legitimate.... By passing over the many clearly qualified persons, male and female, to pick a stealth candidate, George W. Bush has sent a message to aspiring young originalists that it is better not to say anything remotely controversial, a sort of "Don't ask, don't tell" admonition to would-be judges. It is a blow in particular to the Federalist Society, most of whose members endorse originalism. The society, unlike the ACLU, takes no public positions, engages in no litigation, and includes people of differing views in its programs. It performs the invaluable function of making law students, in the heavily left-leaning schools, aware that there are respectable perspectives on law other than liberal activism. Yet the society has been defamed in McCarthyite fashion by liberals; and it appears to have been important to the White House that neither the new chief justice nor Ms. Miers had much to do with the Federalists.

Finally, this nomination has split the fragile conservative coalition on social issues into those appalled by the administration's cynicism and those still anxious, for a variety of reasons, to support or at least placate the president. Anger is growing between the two groups. The supporters should rethink. The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq aside, George W. Bush has not governed as a conservative (amnesty for illegal immigrants, reckless spending that will ultimately undo his tax cuts, signing a campaign finance bill even while maintaining its unconstitutionality). This George Bush, like his father, is showing himself to be indifferent, if not actively hostile, to conservative values. He appears embittered by conservative opposition to his nomination, which raises the possibility that if Ms. Miers is not confirmed, the next nominee will be even less acceptable to those asking for a restrained court. That, ironically, is the best argument for her confirmation. But it is not good enough...

Monday, October 17, 2005

Frank Rich Rises from the Deep!


t r u t h o u t - Frank Rich: It's Bush-Cheney, Not Rove-Libby : Throughout those crucial seven months between the creation of WHIG and the start of the American invasion of Iraq, there were indications that evidence of a Saddam nuclear program was fraudulent or nonexistent. Joseph Wilson's C.I.A. mission to Niger, in which he failed to find any evidence to back up uranium claims, took place nearly a year before the president's 16 words. But the truth never mattered. The Bush-Cheney product rolled out by Card, Rove, Libby & Company had been bought by Congress, the press and the public. The intelligence and facts had been successfully fixed to sell the war, and any memory of Mr. Bush's errant 16 words melted away in Shock and Awe. When, months later, a national security official, Stephen Hadley, took "responsibility" for allowing the president to address the nation about mythical uranium, no one knew that Mr. Hadley, too, had been a member of WHIG.

It was not until the war was supposedly over - with "Mission Accomplished," in May 2003 - that Mr. Wilson started to add his voice to those who were disputing the administration's uranium hype. Members of WHIG had a compelling motive to shut him down. In contrast to other skeptics, like Mohamed ElBaradei of the International Atomic Energy Agency (this year's Nobel Peace Prize winner), Mr. Wilson was an American diplomat; he had reported his findings in Niger to our own government. He was a dagger aimed at the heart of WHIG and its disinformation campaign. Exactly who tried to silence him and how is what Mr. Fitzgerald presumably will tell us.

It's long been my hunch that the WHIG-ites were at their most brazen (and, in legal terms, reckless) during the many months that preceded the appointment of Mr. Fitzgerald as special counsel. When Mr. Rove was asked on camera by ABC News in September 2003 if he had any knowledge of the Valerie Wilson leak and said no, it was only hours before the Justice Department would open its first leak investigation. When Scott McClellan later declared that he had been personally assured by Mr. Rove and Mr. Libby that they were "not involved" with the leak, the case was still in the safe hands of the attorney general then, John Ashcroft, himself a three-time Rove client in past political campaigns. Though Mr. Rove may be known as "Bush's brain," he wasn't smart enough to anticipate that Justice Department career employees would eventually pressure Mr. Ashcroft to recuse himself because of this conflict of interest, clearing the way for an outside prosecutor as independent as Mr. Fitzgerald.

We Welcome the Washington Post Editorial Board!

The Washington Post is shrill:

A Future Investigation: Administration officials frequently assert that prisoner treatment has been investigated by a number of military or Pentagon-appointed panels since the photos of abuse at the Abu Ghraib prison surfaced last year. What they don't acknowledge is the lack of independence of those probes or the very wide areas they have overlooked. There has been no investigation of Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, his senior staff, and White House and Justice Department lawyers who drafted or approved policies for detainee interrogations. There has been no investigation of CIA personnel, ranging from former director George J. Tenet to sersving personnel in Iraq, who are known to have been involved in the illegal hiding of "ghost detainees" from the International Red Cross and the "rendition" of suspects to countries that practice torture, as well as in cases of torture and homicide. Even a promised investigation by the CIA's own inspector general has never been delivered to Congress.

The lack of investigation means that many key questions about the prisoner abuse scandal remain unanswered. We know, for example, that abusive techniques first used on prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba with the approval of Mr. Rumsfeld, such as nudity, sexual humiliation and using dogs to threaten them, later spread to Afghanistan and Iraq. But it is not known how this "migration," as one official report described it, occurred.... A number of senior Army officers, most notably former Iraq commander Lt. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez and former Guantanamo commander Maj. Gen. Geoffrey D. Miller, have been implicated in serious offenses, including ordering or approving prisoner mistreatment. Yet the only direct investigation of these still-active generals, by the Army inspector general, resulted in no sanctions or charges. The head of the U.S. Southern Command, Gen. Bantz J. Craddock, refused to follow a recommendation by the Army's own investigators that Gen. Miller be held accountable for the "degrading and abusive treatment" of one Guantanamo prisoner.

We're willing to make a prediction: Some day there will be an exhaustive investigation of how and why prisoners were abused after 2001, and accountability will be assigned to the senior officers and officials who now hide behind their subordinates and inspector generals. Like the internment of ethnic Japanese during World War II or the CIA's involvement in Cold War-era coup plots and assassinations, government acts so at odds with fundamental American standards will eventually be exposed and disowned by our democracy. Yet it would be much better for the legacy of President Bush, and this Republican Congress, if that honest accounting were to begin now, rather than after they have left office.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

David Frum Hits 2.5 on the Krugman Shrillness Scale!

A shrill small voice from the cold Canadian north:

David Frum's Diary on National Review Online: TIME magazine is reporting that the White House intends to focus next week less on Harriet Miers' sex and religion, and more on her accomplishments. And here is what Joshua Bolten, former deputy chief of staff and now OMB director, has to say about those:

'You know, she's a very gracious and funny person,' said Joshua B. Bolten, the director of the Office of Management and Budget whom Ms. Miers succeeded as deputy White House chief of staff in 2003. 'I was racking my brain trying to think of something specific.'

In the next breath, Mr. Bolten recalled relaxing with her at Camp David. 'She is a very good bowler,' he said. 'For someone her size, she actually gets a lot of action out of the pins.'"

Friday, October 14, 2005

"Senior Military Officials" Join Fox News in Shrill Unholy Madness!

Fox News and senior military officials are shrill:

The Carpetbagger Report : How ridiculous was the White House's scripted teleconference yesterday? Even Fox News Channel blasted the Bush gang. Via Dan Froomkin, here's what Shepard Smith told FNC viewers last night:

"At least one senior military official tells Fox News that he is livid over the handling of U.S. troops in Iraq before their talk by satellite live with the president....

"As the White House tries to prop up support for an increasingly unpopular war, today -- to hear it from military brass -- it used soldiers as props on stage.

"One commander tells Fox it was scripted and rehearsed -- the troops were told what to say to the president and how to say it. And that, says another senior officer today, is outrageous.

The Liberal Internationalist Chapter Has a New Domination

John Ikenberry is shrill:

TPMCafe || The Future of Liberal Internationalism : I think that the current era of Bush foreign policy will be seen across the political spectrum as a grand strategic failure. (This is true even if one doesn't go as far as former head of the National Security Agency, Retired Lt. General William Odom, who argues that "The invasion of Iraq, I believe, will turn out to be the greatest strategic disaster in U.S. history.") I seriously doubt that any future president will model his or her foreign policy on Bush's post-911 emphasis on preemption, unilateralism, and conservative hegemony. The Iraq war will be seen as our era's Smoot-Hawley Tariff -- an icon of disaster. The costs of Bush's foreign policy in terms of exploding budget deficits, lost credibility, diminished moral authority, degraded military capacity, missed opportunities, and eroded international partnerships will be felt by Americans well into the future. My point is simply that liberal internationalism's big alternative is currently being pursued -- and it is being discredited even as I write. A time will come sooner or later when new leaders -- Democrat and Republican -- will want to chart a different course, and this will create a great opportunity for rebuilding the liberal internationalist coalition.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

We Welcome Margaret Thatcher to the Ranks of Shrill Critics of George W. Bush

Margaret Thatcher is shrill. Who'd a thunk it?

Independent Online Edition > UK Politics : app6 : Yesterday's Washington Post reported that when asked whether she would have invaded Iraq given the intelligence at the time, Lady Thatcher replied: "I was a scientist before I was a politician. And as a scientist I know you need facts, evidence and proof - and then you check, recheck and check again." She added: "The fact was that there were no facts, there was no evidence, and there was no proof. As a politician the most serious decision you can take is to commit your armed services to war from which they may not return."

More Shoggoths Among the National Reviewites

Jonathan Adler of National Review is shrill:

Bench Memos on National Review Online : Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Alice Batchelder was reportedly on the Administration’s short list for a Supreme Court vacancy at some point. According to FNC’s Brit Hume, she was struck from the list because of a record of “judicial activism.” In response to Bill Kristol’s suggestion that Batchelder would have been a better nominee on Fox News Sunday, Hume said

I can tell you this about Alice Batchelder. She was very, very closely vetted. And you know what they found? They found all kinds of evidence of activism in her record. And they were quite surprised and not pleased to find that.

Those familiar with Batchelder’s record were surprised at the charge. Over at No Left Turns, Robert Alt wonders where Hume got the idea that Batchelder is an “activist.” When Kristol questioned this new smear tactic, Brit incredulously suggested that this is something he found on his own. But, as Brit’s first statement makes clear, the only way he could have gotten this information about White House opinion is by hearing it from the White House (unless of course he is simply reporting second hand reports—-which would mean that he was engaging in rather loose reporting practices).

If the White House was the source of this charge (and other unflattering and even more spurious notions floated about Batchelder in recent weeks), it is very troubling. As Alt observes, smearing qualified candidates for the Court is no way for this administration to win back the trust and loyalty of the conservative base.

Jonathan Schwarz Reaches Five Octaves Above Middle C

In these degenerate times when even lifelong Reaganaut loyalists can find themselves in a state of shrill unholy madness at the mendacity, malevolence, incompetence, and sheer stupidity of George W. Bush and his administration, it is important to preserve distinctions. Jonathan Schwarz is of a higher grade of shrillness:

A Tiny Revolution: Wait, I've Changed My Mind And Decided Colin Powell Is The Most Honest Man On Earth : Yesterday I quietly and calmly explained that COLIN POWELL IS A GIGANTIC ERUPTING GEYSER OF LIES. Today I thought it might be fun to soberly and carefully describe why POWELL'S REAL NAME IS MR. BULLSHIT GOT-LIES PINOCCHIO. Below are all the nitty-gritty details; as far as I know, this has never been laid out to this extent before. Speaking of which, I actually do have a reason for doing this beyond my own personal amusement. (Although my own personal amusement is a significant factor.) More news on this soon.

Powell has gone to great lengths to create the impression he was desperate to make sure his U.N. presentation on February 5, 2003 was 100% accurate. According to the WMD Commission, he "engaged in an intense personal effort to explore every flaw in the intelligence he was about to present to the United Nations Security Council." Uh. Well. Hmm. Judge for yourself: At the beginning of the presentation, Powell stated:

My colleagues, every statement I make today is backed up by sources, solid sources. These are not assertions. What we're giving you are facts and conclusions based on solid intelligence.

Later in the presentation, in regards to whether Iraq had reconstituted a nuclear weapons program, he said:

...there is no doubt in my mind...

That's in public. What about in private? According to Larry Wilkerson, Powell's chief of staff, after the U.N. presentation

[Powell] had walked into my office musing and he said words to the effect of, I wonder how we'll all feel if we put half a million troops in Iraq and march from one end of the country to the other and find nothing.

Ia!! Ia!! Fund Fhtagn!! Fund Fhtagn!!

John Fund is shrill--and says "it's all Andrew Card's and Laura Bush's and Harriet Miers's fault: wise Dick Cheney and Alberto Gonzales tried to stop the insanity":

It's really crowded in here. That's just what I'm sayin'

OpinionJournal - John Fund on the Trail : Mr. Card is said to have shouted down objections to Ms. Miers at staff meetings. A senator attending the White House swearing-in of John Roberts four days before the Miers selection was announced was struck by how depressed White House staffers were during discussion of the next nominee. He says their reaction to him could have been characterized as, "Oh brother, you have no idea what's coming." A last minute effort was made to block the choice of Ms. Miers, including the offices of Vice President Cheney and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. It fell on deaf ears. First Lady Laura Bush, who went to Southern Methodist University at the same time as Ms. Miers, weighed in. On Sunday night, the president dined with Ms. Miers and the first lady to celebrate the nomination of what one presidential aide inartfully praised to me as that of "a female trailblazer who will walk in the footsteps of President Bush."

Although President Bush is ultimately responsible for the increasingly untenable selection, the nominee bears some responsibility. She could have... told the president to appoint her to a federal appeals court with the understanding she would be on the short list for the next Supreme Court vacancy. Or she might have said. "That's very flattering, Mr. President. Maybe another time after I'm in another job. But right now I need to keep my wits about me and give you the best possible advice I can about the other candidates. That's my one and only job, and I don't want to blow it." She did, he did, and the Senate must now deal with a nominee who keeps her thoughts so close to her vest that the number of people outside the White House who have ever discussed judicial philosophy with her appear to be countable on the fingers of one hand....

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Rich Lowry of National Review Is Shrill!

Rich Lowry has succumbed to shrill unholy madness!

Wampum: Agreeing With Rich Lowry: "Bush thus displays a touching faith in the power of hypocrisy, double standards, and contradictions to see his nominee through. The case for Miers is an unholy mess, an opportunistic collection of whatever rhetorical flotsam happens to be at hand."

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Kevin Hassett: Nyarlathotep Visiting Senior Fellow

The Ancient and Hermetic Order of the Shrill would like to announce the appointment of Kevin Hassett as Nyarlathotep Visiting Senior Fellow at Miskatonic University here in picturesque Arkham, Massachusetts.

We all remember (or at least some of us remember) how from 2000 to 2003 Kevin Hassett of the American Enterprise Institute was perhaps the most committed and aggressive non-administration-employed defender of the economic policies of George W. Bush who walked the earth.

There has been quite a change:

Kevin Hassett: "compassionate conservatism"... fatuous slogan... George W. Bush has outspent Lyndon B. Johnson.... During President Bush's first five years in office total real discretionary spending went up by 36.5 percent. That amount will only increase since these numbers don't take into account any spending related to Hurricane Katrina and several other supplemental spending bills related to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.... Looking forward, the story is much worse.... Rather than attack this cancerous growth, Republicans have fed it, doling out prescription drugs to seniors, hurricane relief and bridges-to-nowhere with equal glee.... [F]ive years into Bush's presidency, [fiscal] conservatives are still waiting for Wimpy to pay them on Tuesday for a hamburger today... spend-and-borrow faux conservatives... more dangerous than the former [statists of the past], and may take longer to defeat... dissatisfaction with our government's commitment... runs very deep.... It is quite general, and quite intense.... [Bush-supporting] Republicans have a very serious fight on their hands.

Kevin Hassett now ranks a 2.3 on the Krugman shrillness scale. We are pleased to welcome him into the ranks of the Ancient, Hermetic, and Occult Order of the Shrill--made up of those who have been driven into shrill unholy madness by the mendacity, malevolence, incompetence, and stupidity of George W. Bush and his administration and whose shrill screeds of Bush-hatred echo beneath the dead, uncaring stars--with the rank of Greater Shoggoth.

Ia!! Ia!! Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Kevin Hassett R'lyeh wagn'nagl fhtagn! Ia!! Ia!!!

Monday, October 10, 2005

Corner of Shrillness

I had never thought to see the day, but the heart and core of the Ancient, Occult, and Hermetic Order of the Shrill is now to be found at http://corner.nationalreview.com.

Here is some of the story of how this came to be:

Harriet Miers... the crawling chaos... I am the last... I will tell the audient void...

I do not recall distinctly when it began, but it was months ago. The general tension was horrible. To a season of political and social upheaval was added a strange and brooding apprehension of hideous physical danger; a danger widespread and all-embracing, such a danger as may be imagined only in the most terrible phantasms of the night. I recall that the people went about with pale and worried faces, and whispered warnings and prophecies which no one dared consciously repeat or acknowledge to himself that he had heard. A sense of monstrous guilt was upon the land, and out of the abysses between the stars swept chill currents that made men shiver in dark and lonely places. There was a demoniac alteration in the sequence of the seasons the autumn heat lingered fearsomely, and everyone felt that the world and perhaps the universe had passed from the control of known gods or forces to that of gods or forces which were unknown.

And it was then that Harriet Miers came out of the West Wing. Who she was, none could tell, but she was of the old Bush-loyal Texas blood and looked not like a member of the Federalist Society. The state Republican Party chairmen knelt when they saw her, yet could not say why. They said she had risen up out of decades of loyal Bush service, and that she had heard messages from places not of the reality-based community. Into the lands of the judicial branch came Harriet Miers, always buying strange instruments of glass and metal and combining them into instruments yet stranger. Conservative men advised one another to endorse Harriet Miers, and shuddered. And where Harriet Miers went, rest vanished, for the small hours were rent with the screams of conservative activists betrayed and undone. Never before had the screams of nightmare been such a public problem; now the Bush functionaries almost wished they could forbid sleep in the small hours, that the shrieks of conservative judicial activists might less horribly disturb the pale, pitying moon as it glimmered on green waters gliding under bridges, and old steeples crumbling against a sickly sky...

Ia!! Reynolds Fhtagn!! Ia!! Frum Fhtagn!! Ia!! Ia!!

As an emergency measure, we request that all members of the Ancient and Hermetic Order of the Shrill who can transform into tentacled giant cephalopod form do so and move to the Miskatonic River. We have a large new wave of recruits coming in. I know that you will miss the barbecue. But there will be plenty of crew racers from other colleges to feast upon.

Here they come now. It's a pack of... of... of... Greater Shoggoths led by Glenn Reynolds and John Fund. Ia!! Ia!! Ia!! Yog-Sothoth is the Gate!! Ia!! Ia!!

Instapundit.com - : A MIERS MELTDOWN? More and more, I have to wonder what the White House was thinking with this. First of all, when you're already under fire for cronyism, and you nominate someone who's, well, a crony, you ought to be locked-and-loaded in terms of response. They weren't.

Second of all, they seem to have managed to convince a lot of people on the social right that she's too liberal, while people on the libertarian-right worry that she's too much a fan of government power. Third, their response to critics and complaints has been slow and weak.

I realize that the White House is busy -- perhaps busier than we realize from news coverage -- with a lot of war and foreign-policy questions. But if so, isn't that more reason to go with a safe pick of the Michael McConnell variety? Whatever else she is (and she could, of course, turn out to be fine as a Justice) Miers wasn't a safe pick. Republican Senators are underwhelmed, as are Republican bloggers, and John Fund -- after doing some interviewing -- has changed his mind and now thinks she shouldn't be confirmed. Talk Radio host Michael Graham has started up a Stop Miers Now! website. And the White House, even if it's spoiling for a fight with its base, isn't up to the job, as Fund notes:

It is traditional for nominees to remain silent until their confirmation hearings. But previous nominees, while unable to speak for themselves, have been able to deploy an array of people to speak persuasively on their behalf. In this case, the White House spin team has been pathetic, dismissing much of the criticism of Ms. Miers as "elitism" or even echoing Democratic senators who view it as "sexist." But it was Richard Land , president of the Southern Baptist Convention, who went so far as to paint Ms. Miers as virtually a tool of the man who has been her client for the past decade. "In Texas, we have two important values, courage and loyalty," he told a conference call of conservative leaders last Thursday. "If Harriet Miers didn't rule the way George W. Bush thought she would, he would see that as an act of betrayal and so would she." That is an argument in her favor. It sounds more like a blood oath than a dignified nomination process aimed at finding the most qualified individual possible.

One nice thing about the Miers nomination is that nobody will ever, ever, ever again dare claim to anybody's face that George W. Bush makes good decisions via a well-run White House policy process. Nobody. Ever.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Gideon Rose Is the Gatekeeper!! George Packer Is the Keymaster!!

Gideon Rose and George Packer are shrill.

Especially worth noting is Gideon's comparison of George W. Bush to Daisy Buchanan from F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby: one of the "careless people... [who] smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess...":

Welcome to the Occupation: How could the strongest power in modern history, going to war against a much lesser opponent at a time and place of its own choosing, find itself stuck a few years later, hemorrhaging blood and treasure amid increasing chaos? Americans will be debating the answer for decades, and as they do, they are unlikely to find a better guide than George Packer's masterful new The Assassins' Gate.

In the run-up to the 2003 war, three rationales were offered for the invasion: fear of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, links between Iraq and terrorism, and a desire to bring liberal democracy to Iraq and the Middle East at large. The first was essentially an honest mistake.... The second was essentially a dishonest one; there were never any good reasons to think Iraq was connected to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks or likely to work closely with al Qaeda. The third... was a high-stakes gamble.... [F]ew experts thought it would be possible to transform Iraq's domestic structures quickly or easily, to say nothing of sparking a regional democratic revolution....

Packer... tells the story of this third rationale -- how it emerged, how the Bush administration tried to implement it and how things turned out... the case for democratization played an important role in buttressing the other two arguments and was the most exciting aspect of the endeavor.... The book is framed by the story of Kanan Makiya, an idealistic Iraqi exile whose writings had exposed the evil of Saddam Hussein's republic of fear and who had come to see American power as Iraq's only hope for a better future....

A hawkish liberal himself, Packer was torn between his sympathy for Makiya's goals and his misgivings about whether they were likely to be achieved. "I would run down the many compelling reasons why a war would be unwise, only to find at the end that Saddam was still in power, tormenting his people and defying the world," he writes. "The administration's war was not my war -- it was rushed, dishonest, unforgivably partisan, and destructive of alliances -- but objecting to the authors and their methods didn't seem reason enough to stand in the way." Eventually, crossing his fingers and deciding that Saddam Hussein had to be considered the greater evil, he went along for the ride (as did I). Packer's sketch of the prewar debates is subtle, sharp and poignant....

Writing with barely suppressed fury and continued bafflement, he describes how the great and noble enterprise he supported is inexplicably handed over to those least qualified to make it work: "No one at the top level of the administration was less interested in the future of Iraq than Donald Rumsfeld. Yet he would demand and receive control over the postwar, and he would entrust it to his more ideologically fervent aides, in whom he placed the same incurious confidence that the president placed in Rumsfeld." The result... has been one of the worst self-inflicted wounds in the history of U.S. foreign policy. The military leadership under Gen. Tommy Franks abdicated any responsibility... the civilian leadership at the Pentagon and in the vice president's office... block[ed] others from doing anything useful; a feckless president surrounded by sycophants and ideologues....

Thuggish Iraqis grow bolder as crime goes unpunished; decent Iraqis grow despondent as the occupying troops stand down and let chaos unfold.... Soon even Washington realized that things were not going well, and the first postwar team was abruptly sent packing. As Jay Garner and his hapless Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance were replaced by L. Paul Bremer and his Coalition Provisional Authority, a U.S. official tells Packer, the American approach shifted from "arrogance" to "hubris": "The arrogance phase was going in undermanned, underresourced, skim off the top layer of leadership, take control of a functioning state, and be out by six weeks and get the oil funds to pay for it. We all know for a variety of reasons that didn't work. So then you switch over to the hubris phase... we'll attack it with everything we have, we'll throw the many billion dollars at it, and to make Iraq safe for the future we have to do a root-and-branch transformation of the country in our own image."

That didn't work either, in part because ill-considered early decisions to pursue radical de-Baathification and disband the Iraqi army led many in the country's Sunni minority to oppose the occupation. Eventually the Bush administration shifted course again.... Packer relates all this clearly and briskly, painting moving portraits of both Iraqis and Americans while skillfully guiding the reader through the intricacies of colonial administration, Iraqi ethnic politics and Beltway skullduggery... putting the reader at the side of Walter Benjamin's angel of history, watching helplessly as the wreckage unfolds at his feet....

Ultimately, Packer refuses to tie the threads of his analysis together in a tidy bundle and settle accounts.... Given the sorry tale he has just told, this seems something of a cop-out. But it is also not entirely unreasonable, for although events in Iraq have now largely passed out of Washington's control, there is still a remote possibility that the worst outcomes... might be kept at bay, leaving the ending of one of the cruelest tyrannies in modern history as an accomplishment worth savoring.

It is not too soon, however, to return a judgment on those at the helm who took a difficult job and made it infinitely more so, dramatically undermining America's regional and global position in the process. They were "careless people," as Fitzgerald said of Tom and Daisy Buchanan, who "smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made." That, if nothing else, can stand as a lesson for future tender souls contemplating the possible benefits of liberal imperialism and mulling attempts to do the right thing with the wrong partners.

Ia Rose!! Packer fhtagn!!

The Business Online is shrill

Over in the United Kingdom, where they're approaching a full two hundred years without us beating the snot out of them, the staff of The Business Online appears to have been driven stark raving shrill. It seeems they may have to step off their "support the Republican no matter what" soapbox to get at some of that soap:

This newspaper is second to none in its pro-American sentiments; in the early Bush years it devoted much ink to defending the President against the often malevolent and ignorant attacks of a congenitally anti-American European media. But we know a lost cause when we see one: the longer President Bush occupies the White House the more it becomes clear that his big-government domestic policies, his preference for Republican and business cronies over talented administrators, his lack of a clear intellectual compass and his superficial and often wrong-headed grasp of international affairs – all have done more to destroy the legacy of Ronald Reagan, a President who halted then reversed America’s post-Vietnam decline, than any left-liberal Democrat or European America-hater could ever have dreamed of.
We asked our resident translator, and he says that the American-English version of the word they're looking for is: duh.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Homecoming at Miskatonic University!

We have long been proud to have Jonathan Chait as a high official in the Ancient and Hermetic Order of the Shrill. We are especially proud to have him here today to celebrate Miskatonic University's fall homecoming here in picturesque Arkham, Massachusetts. I think you will all agree that his shrill unholy madness reaches a glass-shattering pitch rarely heard in these degenerate days:

Cronyism as a core value - Los Angeles Times: OF ALL THE despondent conservative reactions to Harriet E. Miers' Supreme Court nomination, my favorite came from National Review editor Rich Lowry, who quoted a source he described as a "very pro-Bush legal type." The source complained that Miers is "not even second rate, but third rate," and proceeded to despair that "a crony at FEMA is one thing, but on the high court it's something else entirely." The Supreme Court, you see, is important. What bad could come of having a crony at FEMA? Oh, right.

The conservative schism over the Miers nomination has opened an interesting intellectual fault line on the right. Conservatives have long found cultural populism to be one of the most effective weapons in their arsenal. When you're stuck defending the interests of the super-rich, it's quite useful to position yourself against the educated snobs and phonies. For most conservatives, this is a useful cynical ploy, one that helped elect President Bush twice. But Bush actually believes it....

I suppose it is elitism of a sort to prefer Supreme Court justices who have experience with constitutional law, or have contributed to a law review, or were at least considered outstanding in some way. Miers does not exactly fit the bill. One former White House colleague, David Kuo, wrote: "When she was elevated from staff secretary to deputy chief of staff for policy, everyone was shocked. She didn't know policy." (He actually said this in the course of defending Miers!) Another former colleague, David Frum, reported that Miers once told him that Bush was the most brilliant man she had ever met.

Why did Bush select her? Because Miers has a personal rapport with the president, having known him from serving as his personal lawyer before following him to the White House. Most presidents would want their cronies to have some reasonably impressive legal credentials before ascending to the high court. But Bush seems to harbor a principled disdain for meritocracy. Cronyism is one of his core values....

Bush, an easygoing, fraternity-belonging, prep-school alum of modest achievements, embodied the Old Yale. He is said to have burned with resentment toward the striving meritocrats. The way Bush talks about Miers calls to mind the way Old Yalies talked about people such as Bush. He downplays her lack of formal achievements and emphasizes her good character.... The criticisms that many of us made of Bush in 2000 are the same criticisms conservatives are making of Miers today. Bush looks at Miers and probably sees someone like himself.

Shrillness Spreads Further into the American Enterprise Institute

Robert Bork is shrill:

Prairie Weather: Miers borked : Former federal judge Robert Bork whose nomination to the Supreme Court the Senate rejected in 1987 described the choice of Miers as "a disaster on every level."

Ia!! Ia!! Bork Fhtagn!! Bork Fhtagn!!

Friday, October 07, 2005

In Drowned R'lyeh... Charles Krauthammer...

Charles Krauthammer is shrill:

Withdraw This Nominee : If Harriet Miers were not a crony of the president of the United States, her nomination to the Supreme Court would be a joke, as it would have occurred to no one else to nominate her.We've had quite enough dynastic politics over the past decades. (Considering the trouble I have had with Benjamin and William Henry Harrison, I pity the schoolchildren of the future who will have to remember who was who in the Bush-Clinton-Bush-Clinton presidential alternations from 1989 to 2017.) But nominating a constitutional tabula rasa to sit on what is America's constitutional court is an exercise of regal authority with the arbitrariness of a king giving his favorite general a particularly plush dukedom. The only advance we've made since then is that Supreme Court dukedoms are not hereditary...

We get letters...

Dear Shrillblog,
We notice you're calling out a lot of former wingnuts as being shrill and unbalanced. Are they being admitted to the order? It seems like most of these people were mad back when George W. Bush was, well, you know.

Confused in Peoria

Thanks for your note. We love letters. To clarify two points:
  • Actually, we don't know.
  • Your gut instinct is correct: many if not most of the people we've called out recently are not members of The Order, because they were mad way back when. That said, we're an inclusive bunch, and not the types to ignore people who've been driven mad by one or more of the mendacity, malevolence, incompetence, corruption, uselessness, simple idiocy, or sheer disconnection from realty of the George W. Bush administration. While membership in The Order is limited those who were once sane, fair and balanced but have been driven mad rather recently, the ability to be shrill and unbalanced is largely unlimited. Yes, almost anyone can be shrill and unbalanced, be they conservative, liberal, Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, Green, Blue, Purple, or Ralph Reed*. In fact, we're pretty sure the only people who aren't allowed to be shrill and unbalanced are members of the A.N.S.W.E.R. coalition, because it's really hard to make a serious political point while you're giving away all your Mumia.
We hope this helps your shrilling,
The Management.

*Past results are not a guarantee of future performance, or of shrillness. Ralph Reed may currupt in transit. Offer good while supplies last. Offer not good in all states, such as grace.

Ia Fhtagn Kathryn Lopez!! Lopez Fhtagn!! Lopez Fhtagn!!

Kathryn Lopez is shrill:

The Corner on National Review Online : The president just took some questions. To sum up his message: She's my girl. She's a good girl. Trust me. I hate this groaning-when-the-president speaks reflex I've had all week on this issue.

Lesser shoggoths now guard the lobby of the building in which National Review has its headquarters.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

The American People are Shrill and Unbalanced

Yes, the American body politic - who as recently as last November was turning out by the 60-millions to offer their support for the George W. Bush administration - has been driven Shrill and unbalanced. In fact, a new CBS poll reveals that 69-74% of Americans have been driven out of the mainstream by the mendacity, malevolence, incompetence, and so on and so forth of the George W. Bush administration:

A growing number of Americans want U.S. troops to leave Iraq as soon as possible, rather than stay the course, and the highest percentage ever thinks the U.S. should have stayed out of Iraq. When given a set of options for paying for rebuilding the hurricane-racked Gulf Coast, only one — taking money from the Iraq War — gets majority support.

President George W. Bush's overall job approval rating has reached the lowest ever measured in this poll, and evaluations of his handling of Iraq, the economy and even his signature issue, terrorism, are also at all-time lows. More Americans than at any time since he took office think he does not share their priorities.

You were expecting a Lovecraft reference here. You don't get one. God Bless America.

Shrillness at the Washington Post...

After five years of hiding from the truth and pretending that George W. Bush is a half-competent chief executive, Jim Hoagland finally comes out of his closet and owns to his shrillness:

A President in Need of a Blunt Friend : Bush's floundering since he was caught off base and off guard by Hurricane Katrina strips the veil from a broad pattern of recurrent inattention to the duties of governance, of misplaced loyalty to incompetent subordinates, and a crippling refusal to look back at and learn from mistakes.

More Shrillness at the Washington Post...

Finally, the Washington Post editorial board is shrill:

Iraq Slips Away: There are many flaws in the proposed [Iraqi] constitution, but the most serious is its facilitation of a de facto partition of Iraq into several mini-states. Minority Kurds plan to preserve their existing statelet in northern Iraq and add to it the ethnically mixed city of Kirkuk and the oil fields nearby.

Shiite leaders have meanwhile announced plans for a nine-province "region" in southern Iraq that, with its own constitution, courts and security forces -- and control of some of the world's largest oil fields -- would very likely become an Islamic republic closely linked to Iran.

Left behind by these schemes would be the residents of Baghdad; Iraqis around the country who hoped for a secular and democratic state; and the minority Sunni population, which ruled the country under Saddam Hussein and constitutes the bulk of the armed insurgency. In such an Iraq, even moderate Sunnis would have an enduring source of grievance. Worse, they could be convinced by the upcoming referendum that seeking redress by political means is useless: It now seems likely that Sunnis will vote overwhelmingly against the constitution, and that it nevertheless will be ratified by Shiite and Kurdish votes. If, against the odds, the constitution is voted down, Shiites and Kurds could turn to violence.

Gen. Casey is not the only U.S. official who sees this potential disaster-in-the-making. Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. ambassador in Baghdad, has been working tirelessly for weeks to broker a compromise among Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds -- one that would necessarily involve curtailing Shiite ambitions under the banner of "federalism." But Mr. Khalilzad has achieved no breakthrough. It can't help his cause that in speaking publicly about Iraq, Mr. Bush never mentions this crucial diplomacy or hints that there might be trouble if it fails. He and other senior officials seemingly can't permit themselves to publicly acknowledge the obvious: that if there is no political accord in the coming weeks, the U.S. objective of creating a democratic Iraq, or even of preserving Iraq as a single state, could be lost. Yet Iraq's prospects would be better if its leaders heard the American president clearly describe the likely consequences of their current strategies. Iraq is risking a civil war, and Americans are not likely to support the further sacrifice of lives in defense of a Shiite Islamic republic, or a rump state of Kurdistan.

Remind me again: where is the Bush administration initiative that is (a) important, and (b) not completely bollixed up in the execution?

A Shrillness Explosion is in Progress!!

A shrillness explosion is in progress. Be careful! Situations like this can only be handled by trained professionals. Close your eyes and try to ignore the pretty lights. More later--if we are still sentient when this is over...

The entire Federalist Society, battalions of right-wing lawyers, and conservative lurkers who send email--all led by David Frum--are shrill:

David Frum's Diary on National Review Online : So if I don't dislike Miers and want the president to succeed, why am I speaking out?... I am speaking out because there are so many others who want to speak but cannot. I have spent hours over the past three days listening to conservative jurists on this topic - people who have devoted their lives to fighting battles for constitutionalism, for tort reform, for color-blind justice, people who fought the good fight to get Bork, Scalia, Thomas, and now Roberts onto the high Court. Their reaction to the nomination has been almost perfectly unanimous: Disappointment at best, dismay and anger at worst. Here's the tough truth, and it will become more and more important as the debate continues: There is scarcely a single knowledgeable legal conservative in Washington who supports this nomination. There are many who are prepared to accept her, reluctantly.... Some still hope that maybe it won't turn out as bad as it looks. But ask them: "Well what if the president had consulted you on this choice," and the answer is almost always some version of: "I would have thought he was joking."...

This oped by John Yoo gives a hint.... [G]iven the heavy hints that the administration has been throwing out recently, it must have taken strong courage for this man who is himself eminently qualified for an appellate judgeship, to have gone even as far as he did.... Inside the White House, Miers was best known, not as a conservative, not as a legal thinker, but as a petty bureaucrat.... "One former White House official familiar with both the counsel's office and Miers is more blunt. 'She failed in Card's office for two reasons,' the official says. 'First, because she can't make a decision, and second, because she can't delegate, she can't let anything go. And having failed for those two reasons, they move her to be the counsel for the president, which requires exactly those two talents.'"

The Washington Post reports that as staff secretary she was notorious for personally correcting the punctuation in White House memos. This is sadly true - and it is also true that in 14 months of working with her on punctuation, I never heard her say anything substantive about any policy issue, with one exception.... [Miers] "urged that the White House preserve the ABA's privileged role in reviewing the qualifications of judicial nominees."...

I am not saying she is a Michael Brown. But I am saying she is being chosen for her next job in exactly the same way and for the same reasons that Michael Brown was chosen for FEMA. And that is not good enough for me. Is it good enough for you? Hugh Hewitt, you are a lawyer: Is it really good enough for you?

Ia!! Colin Powell Fhtagn!! Colin Powell Fhtagn!!

Colin Powell is shrill:

Daily Dish : Oct 5, 2005

Dear Senator McCain,

I have read your proposed amendment to the Defense Appropriations Bill concerning the use of the Army Field Manual as the definitive guidance for the conduct of our troops with respect to detainees. I have also studied your impressive statement introducing the amendment.

I fully support this amendment. Further, I join General Shalikashvili and the long list of other senior officers who have written you a letter in support of the Amendment.

Our troops need to hear from the Congress, which has an obligation to speak to such matters under Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution. I also believe the world will note that America is making a clear statement with respect to the expected future behavior of our soldiers. Such a reaction will help deal with the terrible public diplomacy crisis created by Abu Ghraib.


General Colin L. Powell, USA (Retired)

Ann Althouse--last seen saying that there was a silver lining to the British police's shooting of innocent people on the subway--is now shrill:

Althouse: Miers supporters: something in writing, please? : I have yet to see a single piece of writing by Harriet Miers dealing with an issue of constitutional law or even anything purporting to demonstrate the analytical, interpretive skills required to serve on the Supreme Court. The nomination was announced on Monday. It's Thursday. Can we have something in writing that shows her mind in action, that inspires confidence that this is a person whose judgment we should all trust for the next two decades?

Holly Martins of Wonkette reports that Ann Coulter is shrill. My brain explodes:

How to Denounce a Conservative Hack Appointment (If You Really Must) - Wonkette : Whoa. First rock-ribbed Tory George Will denounces Harriet Miers as an unqualified hack, and now impeachment cheerleader Ann Coulter decries her as a blot on the noble tradition of conservative legal philosophy. Hear the loudmouthed stick-figure roar:

Being on the Supreme Court isn't like winning a "Best Employee of the Month" award. It's a real job.

One Web site defending Bush's choice... complains that Miers' critics "are playing the Democrats' game," claiming that the "GOP is not the party which idolizes Ivy League acceptability as the criterion of intellectual and mental fitness." (In the sort of error that results from trying to sound "Ivy League" rather than being clear, that sentence uses the grammatically incorrect "which" instead of "that." Web sites defending the academically mediocre would be a lot more convincing without all the grammatical errors.)

<> . . . . Au contraire! It is conservatives defending Miers' mediocre resume who are playing the Democrats' game. Contrary to recent practice, the job of being a Supreme Court justice is not to be a philosopher-king. Only someone who buys into the liberals' view of Supreme Court justices as philosopher-kings could hold legal training irrelevant to a job on the Supreme Court.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Ia! Will Fhtagn! Ia! George Will Fhtagn!! GEORGE WILL FHTAGN!!!!

Can This Nomination Be Justified? : There is no evidence that [Harriet Miers] is among the leading lights of American jurisprudence, or that she possesses talents commensurate with the Supreme Court's tasks. The president's "argument" for her amounts to: Trust me. There is no reason to, for several reasons.

He has neither the inclination nor the ability to make sophisticated judgments about competing approaches to construing the Constitution. Few presidents acquire such abilities in the course of their pre-presidential careers, and this president particularly is not disposed to such reflections.

Furthermore, there is no reason to believe that Miers's nomination resulted from the president's careful consultation with people capable of such judgments. If 100 such people had been asked to list 100 individuals who have given evidence of the reflectiveness and excellence requisite in a justice, Miers's name probably would not have appeared in any of the 10,000 places on those lists.

In addition, the president has forfeited his right to be trusted as a custodian of the Constitution. The forfeiture occurred March 27, 2002, when, in a private act betokening an uneasy conscience, he signed the McCain-Feingold law expanding government regulation of the timing, quantity and content of political speech. The day before the 2000 Iowa caucuses he was asked -- to ensure a considered response from him, he had been told in advance that he would be asked -- whether McCain-Feingold's core purposes are unconstitutional. He unhesitatingly said, "I agree." Asked if he thought presidents have a duty, pursuant to their oath to defend the Constitution, to make an independent judgment about the constitutionality of bills and to veto those he thinks unconstitutional, he briskly said, "I do."

It is important that Miers not be confirmed unless, in her 61st year, she suddenly and unexpectedly is found to have hitherto undisclosed interests and talents pertinent to the court's role. Otherwise the sound principle of substantial deference to a president's choice of judicial nominees will dissolve into a rationalization for senatorial abdication of the duty to hold presidents to some standards of seriousness that will prevent them from reducing the Supreme Court to a private plaything useful for fulfilling whims on behalf of friends.

Monday, October 03, 2005

It is almost leaf-peeping season along the beautiful banks of the Miskatonic River, here in picturesque Arkham, Massachusetts.

To add to the attrations, Greater Shoggoth Kevin Drum has rounded up all the new recruits to the Ancient, Occult, and Hermetic Order of the Shrill--those driven into shrill unholy madness by the mendacity, malevolence, incompetence, and just plain-old-stupidity of George W. Bush and his administration.

At this rate we're going to have to order a new printing of the Krugmanomicon! Since we have run out of space in the dormitories and the sanatorium, he has made them change into their cephalopod form and parked them in the Miskatonic for the moment. Don't go too close to the water--the beaks and bites of the Podhoretz and the Bainbridge are especially dangerous! But at night, when they ululate to the dead uncaring stars, there is a certain thrill... Children of the night, what music they make! Listen:

The Washington Monthly : BUSH BASHING....We already know that lots of conservative are skeptical about Harriet Miers, but what's more interesting is the number of conservatives who are turning their guns on George Bush himself. Here's a sampler:

Steve Dillard: I am done with President Bush.

John Podhoretz: I think this was a pick made out of droit de seigneur -- an "I am the president and this is what I want" arrogance.

Peter Robinson: What people see in this is the Bush of the first debate, the Bad Bush, the peevish rich boy who expects to get his way because it's his way.

Andrew Sullivan: Boy, does this pick remind us of who GWB is: about as arrogant a person as anyone who has ever held his office. Now the base knows how the rest of us have felt for close to five years.

Stephen Bainbridge: I got a lot of criticism for saying that George Bush was pissing away the conservative moment via his Iraq policies....With this appointment, I'd echo Andrew's sentiment with something a tad more off color: Bush is now peeing on the movement.

Rod Dreher: As for me, I am really, really disappointed in the president.

Bill Kristol: It is very hard to avoid the conclusion that President Bush flinched from a fight on constitutional philosophy.

Pat Buchanan: What is depressing here is not what the nomination tells us of her, but what it tells us of the president who appointed her....In picking her, Bush ran from a fight. The conservative movement has been had -- and not for the first time by a president by the name of Bush.

David Frum: The record shows I fear that the president's judgment has always been at its worst on personnel matters.

Michelle Malkin: Message to the White House: Don't get stuck on stupid.

Jonah Goldberg: Bush's instincts about where his principles should be are often right. But in this case the principle seems to be that Bush's instincts are principle enough.

Break out the Chateau Y'Shoggoth 4,279 B.C., and raise the glasses high in all of your tentacles! After five long years of fighting it--five long years of trying as hard as he can to be a good little Bush loyalist--ex-Bush speechwriter David "Axis of Evil" Frum is finally a memer of the Ancient, Occult, and Hermetic Order of the Shrill:

The Washington Note Archives : Here [David Frum's paragraph] is, recovered from the cache in my Google Desktop search:

[Harriet Miers] rose to her present position by her absolute devotion to George Bush. I mentioned last week that she told me that the president was the most brilliant man she had ever met. To flatter on such a scale a person must either be an unscrupulous dissembler, which Miers most certainly is not, or a natural follower. And natural followers do not belong on the Supreme Court of the United States.

Ia! Ia! Frum fhtagn! Frum fhtagn! Ia! Ia!