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FourthBranch Is Badder Than Bauer [UPDATED]

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UPDATE: Cartoon today by Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist David Horsey of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer SEE ALSO: The video of the Daily Show on Cheney. (A sample: “He is neither man nor beast, yet has elements of the twain. He is at once everything and nothing, substance without form, shape without motion, time without reason… he is the Highlander.”)

There are the real men, the Bauer Men:

  • “A fisherman who was trapped in a boat as it was taking on water used a pocket knife to cut off two fingertips so he could escape.” (Seattle PI)

  • “Bill asks why Jack isn’t eating, and he says, ‘I can’t eat this chicken. After biting that guy’s neck a couple of days ago, chicken tastes like terrorist to me now’.” (“24 – Two Days Later,” by The Amazing Steve, Dave Barry blog)
  • “Fourthbranch Cheney and his lawyer David Addington are the Cardinal Richelieus of the 21st century, pulling all the strings behind the scenes and bending American government to their will. Despite the capability and experience of other White House insiders, they just can’t beat Fourthbranch …” (“Is Fourthbranch Blackmailing Bush?,” by DDay)
  • “[T]he NSC director and her top aides are not allowed to exchange private memos in the Bush/Cheney White House. Apparently the West Wing has been transformed into a panopticon for the benefit of Dick Cheney and his staff: they can watch you, but you can’t watch back. Jeremy Bentham’s passion for ‘invisible omniscience’ must have struck a chord with them.” (“THE PANOPTICON WHITE HOUSE,” Kevin Drum, Washington Monthly)

Then there are the weinie wimps like Gen. Colin Powell, Condi Rice, All-Hat Bush, and the Washington Post:

  • “Maybe it’s because Powell and Rice are acting under expected rules of conduct and have sufficient respect for their peers [BOZOS!], while Cheney appears to have none of these burdens. Cheney is apparently spying on all his counterparts in government, acting like a panopticon who sees all and knows all, taking information in and not letting any out.” (“Is Fourthbranch Blackmailing Bush?,” by DDay)
  • “The Washington Post changed its headline in today’s hard copy from ‘The Unseen Path to Cruelty’ to ‘Pushing the Envelope on Presidential Power’ in the electronic version. One of the article’s authors was just asked in a live chat why he omitted my report of torture. The Post’s Gellman said: ‘Oh, we’ve omitted a lot more than that’.” (“WaPo ‘Unseen Path to Cruelty’ Was Totally Premeditated, Forseeable & Earlier Than Date Given,” by Jesselyn Radack)

  • “Vice President Dick Cheney bypassed environmentally ‘clueless’ President Bush to craft administration’s climate change agenda.” (ThinkProgress)

As Larry pointed out to us last week, men like Justice Antonin Scalia — and Vice President Dick Cheney — live in a bizarro fantasy world in which the preposterous plotlines of Fox’s “24″ are more real than reality itself.

This past week Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia at least added his name to the list of folks who ought to be impeached because of his bizarre and disturbing endorsement of torture. Scalia, who was attending a legal conference in Ottawa, cited the exploits of the mythical terrorist fighter, Jack Bauer of 24 fame, to justify torture. Scalia opined that:

“Jack Bauer saved Los Angeles. … He saved hundreds of thousands of lives,” Judge Scalia said. Then, recalling Season 2, where the agent’s rough interrogation tactics saved California from a terrorist nuke, the Supreme Court judge etched a line in the sand.

“Are you going to convict Jack Bauer?” Judge Scalia challenged his fellow judges. “Say that criminal law is against him? ‘You have the right to a jury trial?’ Is any jury going to convict Jack Bauer? I don’t think so.

“So the question is really whether we believe in these absolutes. And ought we believe in these absolutes.”

From Other Lisa, who found this in Salon‘s War Room letters:

With apologies to Rod Serling and “Twilight Zone” fans everywhere

There is a fourth branch of government beyond that which is known to man. It is a branch as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man’s fears and the summit of his knowledge. This is the branch of imagination. It is an area which we call the Cheney Zone.

I’m assuming you’re all reading the four-part series in the Washington Post and have noted related conversations at many blogs, including Balkinization Blog by Marty Lederman.

It’s so beyond comprehension, I can’t help but see the total absurdity of it.

Someone should satirize it:

7:02 pm – Jack enters the restaurant. The hostess asks if Jack had reservations. Jack says, “I’m not Native American. I’m just here to meet some friends.” Jack sees Bill, Chloe and Morris in a booth in the back of the restaurant near a small musical quartet, and starts towards them.

7:03 pm – On his way to the table, Jack briefly interrogates one of the customers after seeing a table with a suspicious plate of linguini covered with crumbled Pop Tarts and French fries. Jack finally concludes the customer just has an extremely bad sense of taste, and he continues through the restaurant to the table where his friends are seated.

7:04 pm – Jack sits down in the booth with the others, and thanks them for inviting him out for dinner, and especially for not picking a Chinese restaurant. Bill tells Jack that CTU has hired him as a consultant.

Chloe tells Jack, “I’m so sorry about Audrey.”

Jack looks down at the table and says, “Thanks, Chloe, but Audrey is going to be fine”.

Chloe says, “That’s what I meant”.

Bill distracts them both and says, “I have it on authority that Cheng has been released from custody.”

Chloe rolls her eyes. “We all know that, Bill. I’m the one that told you that!”

Bill doesn’t seem to hear this and continues, “Cheng was released to the Chinese embassy just a couple of hours ago. The White House had him released after the Chinese ambassador threatened to cut off all shipments of wonton wrappers to the United States, unless Cheng was remanded to Chinese custody”.

Jack slams his fist onto the table. “Don’t they know what Cheng is capable of? The last few days just haven’t made any sense to me. First we thwart a plot to blow up a major city with a nuclear weapon…”

Bill points out, “They blew up Valencia, Jack”.

Jack continues, “I said MAJOR city… Ok, I see your point. We mostly thwarted them. That’s beside the point.” He glares at Bill. “…Anyway, it turns out that my dad, brother, a Russian general who was under the delusion he had detachable arms, and some Mid-Eastern terrorists from a country whose name we never found out are all in on this bomb plot. We get that fixed, and then we have to fight the Chinese over a computer chip, AND over what they did to Audrey! Does that make sense to anyone here?” Everyone is quiet.

The waiter arrives with drinks for Chloe, Morris, and Bill, and asks Jack for his drink order. Jack orders a margarita with a perimeter of salt. …

(Read all of “24 – Two Days Later,” by The Amazing Steve, Dave Barry blog)

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  • Montag

    It’s like that old cartoon, “If you’re not outraged you’re just not paying attention.”

  • http://profile.typekey.com/mpumpky/ PrchrLady

    Thank you for a great discussion… Shirin, the link I had missed, so thanks for reposting.

    I too, get somewhat overwhelmed some days with all the crap that goes down from this cabal. I too, fight in the only way I can, mostly with words these days, and like each of you above, often am faced with ridicule, harassment, and confrontatiuonal situations when holding firm to my ground. Some days its harder to take than others, but we are doing what we must do… I could not live with myself if I did not…It halps hearing each of your stories and I really do think that we are making a difference.

    You mentioned MLK, Ghandi, two of my heroes, along with Mother Theresa, and a few more. It is true, one small act of kindness can change the world. They followed the truth that they knew in their hearts, and the world is better for their efforts. May God strengthen bless ALL our efforts to bring the truth to light, and peace and justice to his people.

  • http://noquarter.typepad.com susanUnPC

    Thank you, Shirin. That’s important. I will take a look for sure.

  • Shirin

    Susan, I put a link in the “refugee” threat to a page that contains some information on how people can help Iraqi refugees, along with links to the organizations that are providing assistance. I am not sure you saw it, so here it is again:

    http://dancewater.blogspot.com/2007/05/iraqi-refugee-crisis_13.html

  • rjj

    That Sally Quinn byline is a tad incongruous, isn’t it? What has she written lately?

  • Montag

    During the Constitutional Convention in 1787 they created the then-unique office of President, but then were stuck with he problem of how to address the holder of the office–”Hey, you!” just didn’t cut it. George Washington finally settled it when, as the first holder of the office, he insisted on, “Mr. President.”

    But one idea they were kicking around resonates today. They drew on the Kingdom of Poland, where there was no regular succession, which had Parliament ELECT each new King. And they called the office holder, “Your Elected Majesty.” Perhaps this is what we should be calling Dick Cheney now, since he’s not part of the Executive Branch but rather like Queen Elizabeth–”His Elected Majesty Dick Cheney.”

    Or perhaps for those informal occasions, “The Royal Dick.”

  • Shirin

    Why I continue to do whatever I can to say “no”? hmmmmm – maybe it’s because since I first learned to say “no” I have always been a contrary little s*** who could not tolerate abuse of power or injustice without doing, or at least saying something about it.

  • Leslie

    Shirin,
    Another reason I cling to optimism–it’s like a life raft. Otherwise, I start to feel like a Bushie victim, without any say or control over what this country does. I refuse to give Bush [Cheney] that kind of control.

    That’s probably why you continue to do whatever you can too? Why you speak out, write, demonstrate and post comments here.

  • http://noquarter.typepad.com susanUnPC

    Anderson Cooper breathlessly covered Lugar’s speech last night … it struck me as mostly covering his ass because he’s been criticized in his home-state newspapers.

    Sally Quinn’s piece — I’ve now read it — is STUPID-O.

    Her solution is for Bush to get rid of Cheney and install Fred Thompson.

    BooMan has a fun, long takedown of it:
    http://www.boomantribune.com/story/2007/6/26/13234/8535

  • Leslie

    Shirin,
    Dunno about you, but I could use a Bushie vacation. My skin has become thin.

    Yeah, for me there’s no alternative, but to keep doing whatever I can every day, even if it’s one small act. My optimism comes from seeing Bush’s poll ratings drop to 26%, or Waxman launching another investigation, or WaPo outing Cheney…or coming here to read other people’s comments and know I’m not alone. Others want to stop the Bushies too.

    And I’ve shared your sense of dread since 9/11 too. Just like you, my dread grew from what Bush was saying and doing. Actually, my dread preceded 9/11–beginning the moment the Supreme Court chose Bush. Because that idiot has his finger on the button. Worse, Cheney also has his finger on the button.

    Susan,
    I sure hope so! His isn’t the only bill either.

    Regarding the GOP, doubt anything will come of that either. You know, everyone has been talking about Lugar’s ground-breaking bring the troops home now speech. Only Lugar said he has no intentions of voting to bring the troops home.

  • http://noquarter.typepad.com susanUnPC

    Just saw this at Memeorandum:

    SALLY QUINN: A GOP Plan To Oust Cheney — The big question right now among Republicans is how to remove Vice President Cheney from office. Even before this week’s blockbuster series in The Post, discontent in Republican ranks was rising. — As the reputed architect of the war in Iraq …
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/06/25/AR2007062501038.html

    Haven’t read the full piece yet, but I kinda doubt anything will come of it from the GOP side.

  • http://noquarter.typepad.com susanUnPC

    Does Rahm Emanuel’s idea to take away Cheney’s “executive branch” monies have any chance at all? Or is it just rabblerousing?

  • Shirin

    Leslie,

    We all need pep talks from time to time – from ourselves and from others too. Beating one’s head against the wall takes its toll, after all!

  • Leslie

    Shirin,
    That’s the pep talk I give myself, OK.

  • Leslie

    Geez Shirin,
    What makes you think I was talking about you!?

  • Shirin

    Leslie, I have never said I was giving up. Why do you think I come here and other places and why do you think I do not shy away from taking on people like Homer and Just Someone? Why do you think I keep writing, and speaking to groups and individuals every day? Why do you think I do interviews with anyone anywhere any time of the day or night? (My last one was with a South African radio station at 4 AM my time, my next one is a one hour interview on Iraq and recent events in Palestine with a small, local station in California coming up next week.)

    And by the way the “one thing a day” bit is something I have been saying since 2002, so it seems we think alike. :o }

    Leslie, perhaps you are right in your optimism, and I am wrong in my pessimism. I have been deeply pessimistic since the moment I heard the news on the morning of Sept 11, 2001, and when I began to hear the Bushites and the pundits talking about Saddam and Iraq within hours of the attacks, I knew that Iraq was doomed. But I did not give up then, and I will not give up now.

    Look, during 2002 and 2003 people kept asking me why I kept going to demonstrations, and teach-ins, and speaking at rallies, and to community groups, and so on when it was obvious that nothing was going to stop what the Bush regime was going to do. My response to them was that maybe I cannot make a difference in what happens, but if I remain silent, I am giving my consent. At least, at the end of the day, when it is all done, I will know that I did not consent.

    So, I will keep speaking, and writing, and demonstrating, and neglecting my home and family (and when I can get away with it, my work) in order to be able to know that no matter what happens I never consented to any of it.

    And in the meantime, I am also buying a property outside the United States in case I need someplace to go to.

  • Leslie

    I remain optimistic Shirin. Because the other option is unacceptable: Giving up and doing nothing.

    It just takes one person +one person +one person +one person, etc. to change things. Even if you can only do one small thing a day. Think about it.

    Who was Martin Luther King Jr., Mahatma Gandhi, JFK, Rachel Carson, or anyone you admire…Who are they? They were or are one person. That’s where it starts!

  • Shirin

    No doubt, Leslie, but some of the cows, at least, have already escaped from the barn.

    Nevertheless, I really do not have any hope that this will cause any great change. I have long since lost whatever confidence I had that either the government or the people will be sufficiently outraged to do anything. Apathy and petty self-interest appear to be just too widespread.

    Maybe they will surprise us this time, but I will not stop breathing until that happens.

  • Leslie

    I’m sure Cheney is working on fixing the loophole.

  • Shirin

    “It’s surprising Cheney has allowed WaPo to write this profile.”

    Maybe he didn’t allow it. maybe it just means that the press is not entirely unfree after all.

  • Leslie

    Speaking of the Cheney Zone, if Cheney is the de facto president, vice president,
    Senate president, secretary of state, national security adviser and director of CIA, etc. [as Keith Olbermann said last night], but Cheney’s not part of the executive branch….

    And Bush is _____________ fill in the blank. Although, when he ran for office, Bush claimed he was running for President and everyone in the country thought so too.

    But now Bush says he’s also not part of the executive branch. Therefore Bush doesn’t have to follow Bush’s orders, and neither does Cheney….

    Ummm…who is running the country? Or are we not supposed to know for national security reasons?

  • Leslie

    It’s surprising Cheney has allowed WaPo to write this profile.

  • Mr.Murder

    In the more broad context of the region, there has been a historical consensus that any presence in the Mideast to the extent a defined side could be taken was considered a catalyst to broaden the war with neighboring lands:
    “Document 3: Department of State Cable from Alexander M. Haig, Jr. to All Near Eastern and South Asian Diplomatic Posts. “Military Equipment for Iran and Iraq,” February 16, 1981.

    A State Department cable delineates official U.S. arms export policy for Iran and Iraq as it stood in early 1981: the “U.S. position has been to avoid taking sides in an effort to prevent widening the conflict, bring an end to the fighting and restore stability to the area.”

    Source: Declassified under the Freedom of Information Act”
    http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB82/#docs

    Thus the argument of maintaining a presence, in context of historical analysis, is to essentially broaden the war and increase the number of enemies we face.

  • Montag

    Here’s an old animated cartoon that shows Dick Cheney as the Fourth Branch of government in his secret headquarters under the Vice President’s residence. I’m sure the resemblance to Dr. Evil is purely a coincidence. Look how terrified the cat he’s stroking is! It’s an homage to the 1960s spy comedy, “Get Smart:”

    http://www.toostupidtobepresident.com/shockwave/get_stupid.htm

  • JL

    Bush is the ultimate weenie still searching for a daddy figure..

  • http://takeaction.wordpress.com/ A.Citizen

    The foul FourthBranchers are running out of time and rhetoric.

    ‘I’m not part of the Executive…’ whines the fat old man.

    Sheesh. Any highschooler knows that just is not so.

  • otherlisa

    I wonder if they blew up Valencia because of its status as ultra-low-budget filming center, where no one really wants to go…