Excuses for Abuses | Get a Lawyer | “Dumper Stickers”

Excuses for Abuses—When Attorney General John Ashcroft told the nation in a televised news conference that terror strikes against the U.S. were imminent, he did it without the calmer Secretary of Homeland Security, Tom Ridge, by his side. Before many hours had passed, Ridge had pooh-poohed the warning.

Ashcroft blew it again in an appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee. The congressional interrogation was about Ashcroft’s advice, in an undisclosed memo to the president and the CIA, that torturing suspected terrorists in places like Guantánamo Bay and Abu Ghraib was okay. The memo does more than reveal the chain of command in authorizing the prison abuse; it sketches the stain of command.

Even though the memo had been seen by reporters and written about in the New York Timesand the Washington Post, Ashrcoft refused to discuss it with the Judiciary Committee, or to make it available to them, infuriating the committee’s Democratic members.

Ashcroft may have been in contempt of Congress, but Democrats can’t pursue that because it would have to be handled by a Justice Department lawyer, and it won’t be. But it was another bash-Ashcroft day when he defied Congress, and they are adding up.

The local D.C. magazine The Washingtonian is not noted for news breaks, but we have to divulge this tidbit. It says that Ashcroft “plans to leave if George W. Bush is re-elected.” It adds, “the White House has quietly sent word that if Ashcroft wants to leave earlier, that’s okay with the president.”

And under the headline “Cooling on Ashcroft” Time magazine asks itself: “Has John Ashcroft fallen out of favor at the White House?” Its answer: “The question may not be whether, but how far.”

Get a Lawyer—It turns out that President Bush—like President Clinton during the “Monica months”—can’t use a White House staff attorney to handle “personal” issues. So Bush has had to hire a private lawyer, James Sharp, to deal with any interrogation that comes his way from a federal prosecutor’s investigation of the Valerie Plame matter. The prosecutor is looking into who leaked the name of Plame, the CIA operative who is the wife of former ambassador—and whistle-blower—Joseph Wilson, to the press.

Wilson enraged the Bush White House when he went public with his conviction that Bush’s talk of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction in his State of the Union speech was bunk, so they went after him by telling the columnist Robert Novak to expose Plame’s job as an undercover agent and wreck her CIA career.

The Wall Street Journal says Sharp, the Bush lawyer, has been a donor to the campaign funds of Democrats, including Senators John Kerry and Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts, Senator Tom Daschle of South Dakota, and Representative Dick Gephardt of Missouri.

“Dumper” Stickers—We received an e-mail offering a large selection of pre-election bumper stickers, including: “Save the Environment—Plant a Bush Back in Texas”; “President Bush is an Oxymoron”; “Read Between the Pipelines”; “Regime Change Begins at Home” and “One Nation . . . Under Surveillance.”

The bumper stickers are available for $3 each, and there’s a reduced rate for orders of more. You can see the full selection at www.seeyageorge.com, the Texas-based shop of Two Unemployed Democrats, Inc., P.O. Box 3372, Austin, TX 78964. Phone: (512) 787-8855.

It’s getting international. The blurb for the Texas bumper stickers was forwarded to us from Hong Kong.

Then a reader in Switzerland sent us a card game, en français, labeled “Le Regime Bush—Les 52 Plus Dangereux Dignitaires Americains.”

Its deck of Washington wretches includes the Bush Secretary of the Interior, Gale Norton, identified as “ex-lobbyiste pour Delta Oil en Afghanistan, Secrétaire à l’Environment en charge du sabotage du protocols de Kyoto.” Even Texans can translate that.

We have also seen a Yankee card game available for $10 at www.election2004cards.com. It looks like you would need some basic experience at poker or bridge to sit at a table with others and play the game, but just scanning the names, the cartoon characters and the comments on the cards is a hilarious pre-election pastime.