Morning Report 1/31/06 U.S. On High Alert


Caveat emperor: Bush to speak, but not under oath


Harkavy (courtesy of Mike Ely)

Mike Ely‘s clever Firefox extension, the U.S. Department of Homeland Insecurity Idiocy Level, translates the Bush regime’s color-coded alerts into something just as useless, but funnier

If ever we needed a good laugh, the time is ripe, because we’re only a few hours away from George W. Bush‘s State of the Union speech.

For background, check out the History News Network’s perspective on past speeches by past presidents. I’m partial to that site anyway. You see, historians tend to sneer at journalists, and journalists tend to sneer at historians, and HNN tries to explain why that separation between journalism and history just won’t cut it these days, or any day:

Given how public opinion is shaped today, whipsawed emotionally on talk shows this way and that in response to the egos of the guests, the desire for ratings by the hosts and the search for profits by media companies and sponsors, historians are especially needed now. They can help remind us of the superficiality of what-happens-today-is-all-that-counts journalism.

Among the many duties we assume are these: To expose politicians who misrepresent history. To point out bogus analogies. To deflate beguiling myths. To remind Americans of the irony of history. To put events in context. To remind us all of the complexity of history.

Because we believe history is complicated our pages are open to people of all political persuasions. Left, right, center: all are welcome.

Back to Bush: The POTUS is likely to be more soothing and less bellicose tonight, as I’ve pointed out, but now he has even more reason to get his handlers to place a twinkle in his eye: The chief investigator of the Wampumgate scandal, Noel Hillman, has just left the building, for a presidentially appointed federal judgeship in New Jersey.

This move may delay the deadly fallout from that massive scandal long enough for the GOP to keep its death grip on Congress in this year’s elections. Now another prosecutor will have to get up to speed.

It’s enough to make you go postal, but someone in Santa Barbara, California, already beat you to it.

No, Bush won’t mention Wampumgate, but he’ll probably wax warmly about the Supreme Court, because 19 Democrats have caved in to the GOP. As the Washington Post‘s Charles Babington writes this morning:

The Senate voted 72 to 25 to end debate on Alito’s nomination and to allow a roll call on his confirmation today, shortly before noon. Alito’s supporters garnered a dozen more votes than the 60 they needed to choke off a Democratic filibuster effort, which would have allowed debate to continue indefinitely.

Leaders of both parties said Alito, 55, will comfortably win confirmation today, although not by the 78 to 22 margin that Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. received last fall. Legal analysts say Alito’s 15-year record as an appellate court judge suggests he may be more consistently conservative than Roberts. Moreover, they say, Alito is poised to make a larger impact on the court because he will replace Sandra Day O’Connor, the deciding vote in numerous 5 to 4 decisions over the years. Roberts succeeded a fellow conservative, the late William H. Rehnquist.

All the more reason for those of you who browse via Firefox to install Mike Ely‘s Homeland Insecurity Idiocy Level extension, which keeps you current with the regime. I couldn’t agree more with one Firefox denizen who wrote, “Useless, but funny!”

Ely, a web brainiac in southern Oregon, has raised a ruckus, especially among the humorless, with his funny extension. He explains it this way:

Based closely (a rewrite, basically) upon the excellent work of Scott Stroz (, this extension is designed to display, in humorous language, the current threat level at the US Department of Homeland Security.

More seriously, Ely’s just one of many smart computer jocks who have questioned the creepy new computerized voting machines purveyed by Bush partisans like Diebold’s Walden O’Dell.

But Ely doesn’t just speak in code. His extension has generated lots of comment from Firefox users, and he’s not afraid of the heat, explaining:

There is a difference between arguing one’s point of view and flat-out saying, “You’re wrong, I’m right, period.” While it’s arguably true that referring to George W. Bush as “an idiot” falls within this category, I’d have to say that lampooning our political figures is very much a time-honored tradition in this country. Remember poor Gerald Ford? The public really believed that the man couldn’t take two steps without tripping over his feet. Not to mention some of the jokes that went around about John Kerry – I think calling him “Lurch” was pretty funny, personally …

Ely tries to tell die-hard Republicans to get a funny bone and continues:

Bill Clinton tries to lie his way out of a blow job, fails, and you treat him as though he were the Second Coming of Lucifer or some shit. Meanwhile, Bush lies (deliberately, duh) about the reasons for going to war in Iraq, incidentally killing about 2,000 US soldiers so far, at least 27,000 Iraqi civilians, more than half of whom were women and children, and destroying any ounce of credibility, respect, and most importantly, support that we had from our neighbors. So he’s a hero? He’s got backbone? Doubtful. But let history judge his hubris, and may God forgive him in ways that I cannot.

As I write this, Ely’s “idiocy level” extension translates the DHS’s fearmongering “elevated” level of “threat” to “scared.” Me, I just know that God must have a sense of humor or she wouldn’t have scheduled Bush to speak tonight.

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