If Only I Had Known

Henceforth, whenever mail, electronic or otherwise, delivers to me news I don’t wish to hear, or act upon, like the President of the United States, I shall simply not open it, and therefore, it won’t have happened. I’m kicking myself now about all the mortgage payments I have stupidly made over the years.

And now, the following discussion with the wife on the matter:

Me: What would you say if I suggested to you that from now on, if something comes in the mail we don’t want to know about, like our mortgage and bills, we just refuse to open them, like the President?

Wife: Okay. Can we do that with our taxes, too?

Me: I don’t see why not!

Wife: Actually, I have a better idea. Rather than ignoring our bills, why don’t we just mulch the current president and put someone else in there?

Me: I don’t think we have to mulch him. There’s an election coming up.

Wife: No. Mulch and start over.

I should note that Krissy’s tolerance for shenanigans these days is really rather low.

Also: Hey, you know what I would do if the White House told me that it wouldn’t accept an e-mail with a Supreme Court-ordered document in it? I would PRINT IT OUT and DELIVER IT BY HAND. Because you can do that. Seriously, now, does every single appointee of the Bush Administration have the IQ of a LOLCat?  “Oh noes! Theyz not openz our e-mailz! Our public policiz is rooned!” To be flummoxed by a recalcitrant refusing to download a file suggests, well, that you are a candidate for mulching.

The more I think about this the more I feel I am in danger of bleeding uncontrollably from the ears, so instead and per recent tradition, here’s a picture of a cat:

Hmmm. I think I’ll just go ahead and bleed from the ears anyway.

90 thoughts on “If Only I Had Known

  1. My only response is we need to get off our asses in November and put make sure Obama is put in office. That’s no guarantee this kind of s*** will stop, but it’s a start.

  2. How come on my feed it’s a picture of a goddamn cat, but when I come through to comment (and say something to the effect of how the profanity illustrates teh Disgust perfectly in that instance), the profanity has disappeared?

    I call shenanigans!

    Oh! And now the feed’s different too.

    Am I crazy???

  3. Punkrockhockeymom:

    Sometimes I’ll edit to put in something I think is better (or at least different). If I do, it’s generally right after I’ve posted.

    Chris Gerrib:

    Yeah, I’d get hell for that if I tried to write it. Fiction has standards reality doesn’t.

  4. Clearly the EPA delivered this report to the wrong place.

    The Oval office is not the Supreme Court. They have different addresses. Even different email addresses.

    But if Bush didn’t open the email how did he know to put “pressure” the EPA to water down the report?

    I mean, it could have been “watered down” to begin with.

    Someone needs to ask those anonymous sources.

    And I love this

    It now accepts the work of government scientists studying global warming, such as last week’s review forecasting more drenching rains, parching droughts and intense hurricanes as global temperatures warm (www.climatescience.gov).

    I guess these “scientists” haven’t heard the news that hurricanes are caused by cool air over warm water.

    Maybe that’s why they have trouble predicting the weather in Vermont for more than three days ahead.

    But what do I know? I don’t read my email either….

  5. I heartily approve of Krissy. She is welcome to join my champagne celebration the morning of Jan 20th.

  6. Oh noes! Our SUVs are KILLING Mars and Jupiter! If only I had known OUR greenhouse gases could reach across space! What have we done!?

    Mars
    Jupiter Quick, everyone buy a Prius, NOW!

  7. Frank, I suspect that a climate scientist will know what causes a hurricane. What makes you think that global temperatures warming will not cause these conditions? It’s not like it’s a homogeneous temperature rise. ‘”Scientists”‘ my ass.

    (I’m quoting the scare quotes)

  8. Just had a quick game of Team Fortress 2 to try that out as a battle-cry, and you know what? It really works. Especially whilst laying waste with a minigun.

    Scalzi’s name is a killing word, too.

  9. Skar & Frank – the debate over global warming is legitimate. Not opening an email as if that means you don’t have to take action on it is juvenile.

  10. “…the debate over global warming is legitimate.”

    Absolutely. Politically motivated scaremongering and cherry-picking data is not.

    “Not opening an email as if that means you don’t have to take action on it is juvenile.”

    Not what happened according to the linked article. Insisting that the report be edited before officially receiving it is hardly ‘not taking action.’

  11. “Editing” in this case being “materially changing the substance of the report to better fit the political views of the White House.”

    I suspect the White House just didn’t want the political fallout of having to reject the report. However, this particular action of their is so asinine and stupid (and, also, a failure as a tactic, since now it’s news) that it makes the White House look even more incompetent than it might have look had it simply rejected the report and had done with it. Not an excellent way for the GOP to argue it should keep the keys to the executive branch for four more years.

  12. Frank, Skar, at some point in time, regardless of partisan loyalties, don’t you just have to stop defending the indefensible? Saying “LALALA not listening until this email says what I want” is in no way, shape, or form responsible government.

  13. But, Eddie! If they hadn’t have done that, then they might have had to face reality! and who knows what that would do to the White House. Especially at this late date.

  14. Chris Gerrib

    the debate over global warming is legitimate.

    Who said it wasn’t? Clearly there has been Global Warming since the end of the last Ice Age (not to mention the end of the little Ice Age, which began after the Global Warming age that allowed Vikings to farm in Greenalnd).

    What is illegitimate is the dire speculation regarding where the climate is headed when presented as fact.

    What is illegitimate is ascribing causes when these are as yet undetermined.

    What is illegitimate is people attempting to short-circuit science for political purposes.

    What is illegitimate are supposed scientists attempting to get Congress to punish all dissenters.

    Not opening an email as if that means you don’t have to take action on it is juvenile.

    The action was for the EEOC to deliver a report to the Supreme Court.

    There was no action for Bush to read the report. No do we even know that it was sent to him (in email? Gimme a break) nor what he did with when he got it.

    Notice, there are no actual named sources in the article.

    In any case, The Court request a report, the report was written, the report was delivered.

    Not much of a story if you ask me.

    Oh, and BTW, the Supreme Court does not take official submittals via email

  15. The debate about how hurricanes will be affected by global warming is still active, as far as I know. The first theory was that they wouldn’t be affected much, because they are driven by the differential between warm water and cooler up per atmosphere, and if both atmosphere and water warmed the differential would be the same. Then there was a competing theory whose models suggested that water would warm faster than air, and that there would be about the same number, but they would be stronger. There was also a camp that argued that there would be more, and that we were already seeing that — they were mapping hurricane frequency to temperature rises.

    I think, to the extent there is any consensus, there is some agreement that hurricane strength will increase, but great uncertainty and argument about whether we will see the same, more, or even less hurricanes.

  16. ““Editing” in this case being “materially changing the substance of the report to better fit the political views of the White House.””
    Yes, I thought that was clear from the article. As bad as that is (in all the many dimensions), it’s not just saying “Lalalalalalala, you never sent that.”

    Eddie Clark:
    You mistake my purpose. I’m not defending the action of the whitehouse, in this case. I’m objecting to the endless “piling on” and deceptive oversimplification that is becoming more and more the norm when discussing these things.

    Just like categorizing Frank and my comments as springing solely from “partisan loyalties” is deceptive oversimplification, prejudice even.

  17. The current White House Administration did something irrational/stupid/overtly political/possibly unconstitutional?

    Hold on.

    I’ve misplaced my shock. Has anyone seen my shock or my disbelieve?

  18. John@17:
    Given that the EPA simply changed the report, I can’t imagine that a good case can be made for it representing “reality” either before or after the edits.

  19. I’m surprised they haven’t claimed: “We thought ‘Hot Global Warming Action’ and ‘Trans-Paleozoic Climate Change’ were spam.”

  20. Not opening the mail (electronic or otherwise) is equivalent to plugging your ears and chanting “la la la, I can’t hear you”.

    All of which show a remarkably low maturity level, one that we sadly have grown to expect from our elected officials.

    (yes Jim, I’m thinking specifically of Don Young, in case you’re wondering)

  21. Frank:

    “The action was for the EEOC to deliver a report to the Supreme Court.”

    Wha? Where are you getting that? Cite, please, since actual ruling that precipitated the report does not specify the report was to go to the Supreme Court, so I have to wonder if you’re pulling this assertion out of your ass, there, Frank.

    Moreover, if the report were meant for the Supreme Court, how would the White House blocking it until it was sufficiently politically acceptable be any better? because in that case it would be materially interfering with with workings of the Supreme Court. Which seems problematic on a number of levels.

    Skar:

    Inasmuch as the changing of the report now apparently renders it inconclusive, it seems doubtful. And in any event, given the White House’s rather tendentious history with reality, whenever reality conflicts with its political goals, if one is to make any assumptions in this regard, it’s not toward the report reflecting reality after the White House had its way with it.

  22. This kind of thing actually has a long and entertaining history in our country going back at least to Marbury V. Madison which was all about a refusal to deliver a letter. Yes it is a bunch of lawyers playing games with semantics ( constructive receipt, plausible deniability, etc…) but it’s not as new or as original as you suggest. Some of these childish antics have actually become cherished traditions. The pocket veto, and the modern filibuster where no one actually filibusters come to mind. Politicians live in a very different reality than the rest of us and they make up the rules without any regard for the real world.

    It’s also very bipartisan. In my opinion if you had posted this as an example of the foibles of our political class it would have worked better. Instead your eagerness to make this a proxy for the IQ of the current President makes it just one more lame example of BDS.

    Speaking of metaphorically unopened e-mail… Obama has flip flopped on every campaign promise that he has made so far ( FISA, Iran, NAFTA, Wright, etc); announced that he sees dead people at his rallies; promised to raise gas prices; premptively claimed racism; and announced that using his full name is a smear tactic. Yet you still somehow think that he is different from every other professional politician in the country. Good luck with that.

  23. Skar

    Just like categorizing Frank and my comments as springing solely from “partisan loyalties” is deceptive oversimplification, prejudice even.

    Oh. Make no mistake, I have partisan loyalties:

    To science.

    That is why I am as passionate about the illegitimate use of science as it relates to “Global Warming” as I am about Creation “Science”.

    I have been an engineer for most of my adult life. And I have a great respect for testing and analyzing data and going where the data takes you.

    Junk science, especially when (selectively) propagated by the media that is supposed to be informing the great unwashed masses, is still junk science.

    And what disheartens me even more, is the lack of critical reading skills.

    But I suppose that and the lack of critical data evaluation skills are closely related.

    And I suppose it is too much to ask for a Press that actually informs…

  24. Drew:

    “It’s also very bipartisan.”

    You know, people rationalizing goddamn idiotic incompetence by saying “oh, well, it’s bipartisan,” really need to get a fucking clue. The issue in this case is not whether the White House is held by one party or the other; the issue is that it is held by goddamn idiotic incompetents who see not answering e-mail as a valid way of working national policy. I’d object to it in a Democratic White House as well (both being incompetent and ducking e-mails with reports in them).

  25. What is illegitimate is people attempting to short-circuit science for political purposes.

    Like shutting down vital stem cell research to pander to right-to-life idiots who think protecting a clump of cells is more important than finding ways to save the lives of people who are already here.

    Or promoting intelligent design as a scientific and intellectual equivalent to evolution, when ID fails to meet even the most basic standards of a scientific theory.

    Or, um, tasking an agency to look into a potential environmental catastrophe and then rejecting its conclusions because they aren’t politically convenient. Thank goodness that never happens.

  26. “Like shutting down vital stem cell research to pander to right-to-life idiots who think protecting a clump of cells is more important than finding ways to save the lives of people who are already here.”

    There, see, a fine example of someone who has a solid grasp of the other side’s argument and the facts and isn’t afraid to present them honestly.

    Wait…

  27. “Also: Hey, you know what I would do if the White House told me that it wouldn’t accept an e-mail with a Supreme Court-ordered document in it? I would PRINT IT OUT and DELIVER IT BY HAND. Because you can do that.”

    As I recall, John, you have no printer, so you actually couldn’t do this. And then we would have another civil war. Just because you can’t be bothered to own a printer.

    Way to go.

    JAB

  28. What makes you think Bush is even capable of reading an email, much less turning on a computer?

    Remember, this is the president who had to have someone make a DVD OF THE TV NEWS COVERAGE OF HURRICANE KATRINA, so that he could “better understand” what was going on.

  29. You know, to be clear about this, my major issue in this particular case is specifically the White House maneuver of “we’re not reading your report, therefore it does not exist,” not whether the White House had substantive issue with the conclusions/recommendation of the report. Even if it did, the appropriate response to it, in my mind, was not to work from the philosophy that not reading the report was an at all rational way of dealing with it.

    Note also that the original entry is equally full of ire at the EPA for accepting the “we didn’t read it, it didn’t happen” method of White House policy making.

  30. There’s no point in arguing with some people. They know what they know because Someone Important who proudly Knows Nothing told them.

    This is how you get people arguing against Global Warming. Sober scientists state it exists. Radio entertainers say it doesn’t exist.

    Amazingly enough, that’s sufficient for some people.

    I truly find it hard to come up with reasons why humanity deserves to not go extinct, sometimes.

  31. Why not confuse the White House? Send it with a deceptive subject line… I smell a contest! Come up with the subject line most likely to make a White House staffer open your email!

  32. Scalzi – your issue is irrelevant when we can blast each other regarding stem cells and ID, which were clearly justified in this thread regarding an EPA report on greenhouse gasses.

  33. Wow, there are still people who deny that global warming exists? I thought the debate had largely moved on to whether it was anthropogenic.

  34. Here’s the part that made actual foam ooze out my ears as my brain turned to mush:

    “Over the past five days, the officials said, the White House successfully put pressure on the E.P.A. to eliminate large sections of the original analysis that supported regulation, including a finding that tough regulation of motor vehicle emissions could produce $500 billion to $2 trillion in economic benefits over the next 32 years.”

    Only one reason to strike down regulation that would produce that kind of economic stimulus that I can think of: it would mean less oil and gas profits.

    When the hell are we going to arrest and try these clowns?

  35. Patrick M:

    Oh, I know. Call me crazy for suggesting that it might be useful to keep things in the comment thread focused, rather than letting folks employ the tactic of introducing aside-the-point arguments for the specific purpose of derailing the thread. I mean, I must be nuts. And you know who else was nuts? Hitler, that’s who.

  36. I am sure this administration and previous administrations have ignored advisory e-mails and reports and will continue to do so. Do you seriously consider every e-mail that you get?

    Hey, you know what I would do if the White House told me that it wouldn’t accept an e-mail with a Supreme Court-ordered document in it?

    Does it say this in the case? The NYT article only references that the Sup. Ct. required a determination by the EPA.

    I think this President has done plenty of things that warrant scrutiny, but I don’t know if this is one of them.

  37. Steve S:

    “Do you seriously consider every e-mail that you get?”

    No. But on the other hand, not every e-mail I get includes a major report from the EPA. Nor am I the White House, running the actual country. Nor, in my case, does ignoring an e-mail have national implications on how we as a country deal with the environment. Which is to say, this wasn’t just any e-mail, sent to any person. It was a specific e-mail sent to a specific place, and its substance was important enough that the Supreme Court ruled on a case that had a direct impact on its creation.

    “The NYT article only references that the Sup. Ct. required a determination by the EPA.”

    Which, apparently, the report no longer features. In any event, by focusing on the latter part of the sentence, you’re missing the important major issue (i.e., the White House refusing to acknowledge a major report by the EPA).

    “I think this President has done plenty of things that warrant scrutiny, but I don’t know if this is one of them.”

    I do. It does.

  38. “I do. It does.”

    This, I think, is what Drew was getting at @ 27. He wasn’t defending the action, he was pointing out that it is perfectly normal for politicians to do this kind of thing (which doesn’t address whether it’s reasonable at all) and that singling out the president is an example of BDS and misses the mark since they all do this kind of thing.

    The fact that the email thing (which, though unreasonable is apparently par for the course in Washington) got picked up and waved around by the media says a lot about the media.

    But, as Frank said, I suppose it is too much to ask for a Press that actually informs…

  39. This issue is not political, it’s about adult conduct. For example, if you go to your doctor and are told you need an operation, possible responses include but are not limited to:
    A) I’m not getting one
    B) I want a second opinion
    C) I’m not listening to you until you tell me I don’t need an operation.

    “A” and “B” are valid adult responses. “C” is only valid if you’re writing a script for a bad sitcom.

    The Bush administration seems to have selected response “C.”

    Response “C” is not valid for adults, Democrat, Republican or Communist.

  40. Skar:

    “He wasn’t defending the action, he was pointing out that it is perfectly normal for politicians to do this kind of thing.”

    First, two people asserting on a comment thread this is a perfectly commonplace sort of thing doesn’t mean it is, and second, it’s worth noting that that the action of not answering mail in Marbury precipitated something of a constitutional crisis, requiring the Supreme Court to carve out its role of judicial review, so using that as an example to promulgate an “oh, this stuff goes on all the time” handwaving argument is ironic, to say the least.

    Aside from that, complaining that this president is being “singled out,” among other details misses the point that at the moment, he’s the only president we’ve got, and noting when the president does something stupid is useful to the health of the nation, and the press is quite correct in noting it. When we get another president, if he does something equally stupid, I’m all for noting that, too. I’m pro-competence in my presidents, whatever their politics or party.

  41. Of course, going to the EPA to ask if they need to regulate even more things is kind of like going to that doctor and asking him if you need an expensive operation when you know he’s a crack addict.

    Bureaucracies are addicted to rules regulations and more bureaucracy.

  42. Skar, would you like me to keep track of when you attempt to derail the thread into pointless argumentation, or would you prefer to keep track of that yourself?

  43. Drew points out that this is an example in the traditional use of political a tool; which is correct. The problem here is that the current administration prefers to use any and all political tools to govern in a shortsighted, crony ridden, dogmatic manner, rather than lead the nation. We have seen time and again that knowledge and facts are suppressed in the face of policy. The Bush White House is betraying it’s business roots by managing the country on a “next quarter bottom line” basis. This refusal to take the long view has pervaded the private sector for decades and lead to the decline of many of America’s innovative economic gems (HP, Motorola, AT&T etc.) does it surprise you that the same management philosophy is tanking to government once the Bizniz guys take charge.

  44. “First, two people asserting on a comment thread this is a perfectly commonplace sort of thing doesn’t mean it is,”

    Yeah, given. So the response would then be to demonstrate that it’s not, in fact, commonplace rather than another waving of the hands argument to that effect.

    IMO, it IS commonplace, but my evidence is anecdotal at best and I am easily swayed by facts.

    “…noting when the president does something stupid is useful to the health of the nation, and the press is quite correct in noting it.”

    Agreed. It’s also useful to the health of the nation to note when other politicians and even presidential candidates do stupid things. And from where I sit Democratic candidates and sitting politicians don’t get nearly as much ‘stupid’ press as they should in recent times.

    “When we get another president, if he does something equally stupid, I’m all for noting that, too. I’m pro-competence in my presidents, whatever their politics or party.”

    No argument there.

  45. My apologies, I wasn’t aware that: “Bureaucracies are addicted to rules regulations and more bureaucracy,” or that the EPA is a bureaucracy, or that the whitehouse was dealing with a report from the EPA, were arguable.

    I thought I was pointing out the obvious.

    (Skar rubs at the red handprint on his cheek and sits down)

  46. “It’s also useful to the health of the nation to note when other politicians and even presidential candidates do stupid things.”

    You do realize that all of those incidents wouldn’t fit in one post/article, right? So, this would be a post regarding one such incident. Should there be a disclaimer that this is not the only occurrence of politician done wrong?

  47. C) I’m not listening to you until you tell me I don’t need an operation.

    This is completely absurd. The Order was not addressed to the White House. The White House may have been cc’d for courtesy but it had nothing to do with the White House.

    In fact, one could argue that the White House shouldn’t have had input to the report at all since SCOTUS did not request the information from the White House.

    The reporter in this case makes a bunch of assumptions and then ascribes motivations to Bush.

    So, in line with the above let’s examine this:

    The White House in December [refused to accept the Environmental Protection Agency’s conclusion that greenhouse gases are pollutants that must be controlled], telling agency officials that an e-mail message containing the document would not be opened, senior E.P.A. officials said last week.

    Now let’s examine the bracketed portion. Did the White House tell the EPA that it doesn’t accept a conclusion it hadn’t read? The unbracketed portion seems to indicate a factual statement: Bush told EPA officials it would not open the document.

    Now it could be it didn’t want to appear to influence the report.

    It could be it didn’t have time, and was expressing confidence that the EPA could fulfill its mandate without help.

    Or it could be the White House said “thanks for the notice, but we don’t need to review this. We’ll wait for the book.”

    The first (bracketed) part appears to be complete speculation given the attribution specifically stated in the latter part.

    But it colors how you think about the information you are being presented with.

    Let’s just look at one more statement:

    The document, which ended up in e-mail limbo, without official status, was the E.P.A.’s answer to a 2007 Supreme Court ruling that required it to determine whether greenhouse gases represent a danger to health or the environment, the officials said.

    “Without official status”. What does that mean? It was not a document the White House needed to accept or reject. The White House was not even the “official” consumer of the report.

    Do they mean that since it was unreleased it had no “official status”? Because most certainly once it was handed to the SCOTUS it had all kinds of official status.

    The whole article is like this: a mix of speculation, random information, misleading information, and a tiny smattering of what might be fact.

    The piece has a theme though, oh yes it does.

    But that theme is not intended to inform anyone about any real issue.

    You might just call it a hit piece.

    But it is certainly poor journalism.

  48. “Should there be a disclaimer that this is not the only occurrence of politician done wrong?”
    Skar successfully refrains from a further discursion on his perception of a slant in the press.

  49. For those who’ve actually followed the link: the picture of the Torrance refinery that accompanied the article strikes me as misleading in the context of the article. I’ve worked in refineries, and they are nasty, unpleasant places. There is no doubt that they are capable of emitting noxious materials. However, what the picture shows is steam, aka water.

    Admittedly, it’s pretty hard to get a picture of an operating refinery that doesn’t have big clouds of steam, so maybe it’s not intentional. OTOH, what in the article is specific to refineries? Show a coal-burning power plant if you want to show something emitting greenhouse gases.

  50. On June 20th Scalzi said:
    Translation: “They’re legally married but I’m in denial, so I’m just going to pretend it didn’t happen, like that season on Dallas. La la la la la la, I can’t see you married homos.”
    .
    .
    On June 25th Dubya said:
    Translation: “There may be an EPA report but I’m in denial, so I’m just going to pretend it didn’t happen, like that season on Dallas. La la la la la la, I can’t see you greenhouse gases.”

  51. John, you need to take an anti-BDS pill, or you won’t make it to November to vote.

    It seems to me that both the Creationists and the GlobalWarmingists have a great deal of faith, and not a lot of proof. One group wants to tear out the goal posts altogether, the other keeps moving them to fit the current path of the ball.

    Has any official government document ever been delivered exclusively by e-mail?

  52. When denialists say “I haven’t seen convincing evidence that global warming exists/is anthropogenic”, this is what they mean. They actually haven’t seen the convincing evidence.

  53. htom:

    “John, you need to take an anti-BDS pill, or you won’t make it to November to vote.”

    Are you kidding? I’ve made it through seven and a half years of the dude. The last few months will be no problem.

  54. Bush Derangement Syndrome is this wonderful invention, as far as I can see, that allows those that wish to to essentially say “Yes, Bush did something crappy, but other people did that too, so its unfair to complain about it unless you also complain about all of the other bad things other people have done.”

    Please, John, next time you want to say something mean about a terrible president, list all the bad things that other presidents have done, too!

    And Skar and Frank, apologies for the insinuation of partisan motives upthread. I genuinely couldn’t see any other motive here, but I am wrong. Pedantic, argument fudging devil’s-adovcatery is entirely nonpartisan :D.

  55. It’s unclear to me what sending the EPA report to OMB was supposed to accomplish, frankly. Although often draft reports with broad political or economic implications must be sent up the chain of command for review and approval, so perhaps that’s what happened here.

    But I’m not sure what OMB’s refusal to open or approve the report would result in, other than delay of EPA’s decision-making process.

    In either event, it’s a stupid thing to do, to refuse even to open the email.

  56. Oh my. Ohhhh, my I’ve just twigged.

    Official White House Response:

    tl;dr

    I need a lie down. I’m either laughing or sobbing and I don’t know which.

  57. Frank, you’re grasping at straws.

    Let’s start with your first unfounded supposition: Maybe this was an email from the EEOC (Huh, how’d they get involved here?) to the Supreme Court, just cc’d to White House as a courtesy. Nope, that one’s factually wrong.

    Maybe the White House refused to read the report because they didn’t want to unduly influence it? Again, huh? That’s just…completely a-logical. Refusing to receive a report is a way to avoid influencing it? And they clearly *did* exert undue influence on the report.

    Moving on, you next claim the White House was not the intended recipient of the report. And you’re flat wrong again. The EPA wrote a draft report and submitted it to the White House for approval. The report process at that point stopped, waiting for White House response.

    On occasion, you make smart cogent arguments. On other occasions you engage in wild hand-waving and uninformed assertions in support of the Republicans in general and President Bush in specific. I think we’re in column B today.

    If this article is a smear job filled with inaccuracies and irrelevancies, why was the White House response to it basically, “No Comment.”

  58. Eddie Clark:

    “Please, John, next time you want to say something mean about a terrible president, list all the bad things that other presidents have done, too!”

    Yes, this is a common misapprehension, that

    a) bad behavior on the part of an individual is excused or mitigated by similar (real or asserted) bad behavior in others;

    b) any notice of bad behavior must include as many possible examples of similar (real or asserted) bad behavior in others.

    The answer to both of these is “well, no.” Bush’s asstardery is neither excused by ex-presidents being asstards nor requires examples of former asstardery on the part of ex-presidents to be recognized as bad in itself.

    Also, of course, it’s not actually derangement to note that Bush is an appallingly bad president who does (and whose proxies do) asstardtastic things. Because he is and does, and it’s not derangement to note what happens in reality.

  59. “a) bad behavior on the part of an individual is excused or mitigated by bad behavior in others;

    b) any notice of bad behavior must include as many possible examples of bad behavior in others as possible. ”

    Yeah, no one here is making either of these claims. What’s revealing is when the outraged and frothy screaming that starts every time Bush does something asstardish is superimposed on the blank lack of response mingled with occasional handwaving misdirection that accompanies people like John Murtha, or any non-republican, doing asstardish things.

    You’d think that asstardery would elicit the same reaction in all cases from an evenhanded observer. This is manifestly not the case either here or in the wider press.

  60. Skar,

    John Murtha isn’t in the big chair at the oval office. Fuckwittery from there should be punished with the Really Big Stick. I’m not surprised that Bush hasn’t been impeached, but I’m actually quite disheartened at the lack of assassination attempts.

  61. Same thing was going on 9 years ago.

    Note that I’m not saying fuckwittery should go unpunished. Only that it should be punished in all cases, not JUST when the fuckwit happens to be hold views you disagree with.

  62. Skar:

    “You’d think that asstardery would elicit the same reaction in all cases from an evenhanded observer.”

    Skar, you’ve obviously never read my bit on how this site is inherently unfair. Please do read it; it will cure you of the notion that objectivity is what I’m doing here. If you can’t handle this, that’s your problem.

    If you want to start a blog where you evenhandedly go after all varieties of asstardery, you have my blessing. Go and be busy.

    Aside from this, don’t be silly. A sitting president fomenting asstardery is inherently more interesting and newsworthy than others being asstards because the sitting president of the United States is the most powerful human on the planet. Even if one wanted to be “evenhanded” about it, it’s not possible. The President of the US is in a class by himself, sui generis, etc.

  63. John @ XX: the issue is that it is held by goddamn idiotic incompetents who see not answering e-mail as a valid way of working national policy

    Look, I know you’ve got the whole “Bush = incompetent” macro programmed into your word processor and all, but really now — doesn’t gamesmanship at the level of leaving official communiques in legal limbo suggest a rather finely-tuned political competency? Be as unhappy with the result as you like, but give credit where it’s due.

  64. gerrymander:

    “doesn’t gamesmanship at the level of leaving official communiques in legal limbo suggest a rather finely-tuned political competency?”

    No, not really, any more than conceiving an alternative judicial system for detainees we’ve gotten in Iraq or Afghanistan that’s been knocked down as unconstitutional time and again by the Supreme Court counts as competent. In both cases, they’d’ve probably been better to go with established practices and policies.

    I’ll grant you the Bush Administration is good at finding what appear to be niggly little loopholes to avoid doing what it doesn’t want to do, but that doesn’t suggest competence, except in a very narrow view defined as “competent in avoidance behaviors that inevitably reveal one’s incompetence.” It’s the presidential equivalent of those people in Idaho who declare themselves their own country, get hauled into court and then declare the court has no standing because the American flag in the court has a gold fringe. It’s clever, in its narrow, idiotic way, but it’s not competent.

  65. I had, in fact, read your bit on the fairness of the site. Note that I did not say anything was ‘unfair,’ only ‘revealing.’

    By leaving the comments open you give me permission to chime in when you and other commenters say things I consider to be asstardery. I can only assume that you planned on that.

    Aside from this, you are, of course, right about the sitting president being more newsworthy, more interesting, and more in need of scrutiny than anyone else for a variety of reasons. I enjoy your posts, political and otherwise, even when I don’t agree with them. It’s why I’m still reading.

    In this case I think the brouhaha over the email is a little naive, a mountain out of a molehill, a tempest in a teapot. But hey, what’s the point of life if you can’t think the other guy is just plain dead wrong occasionally.

  66. Skar:

    “By leaving the comments open you give me permission to chime in when you and other commenters say things I consider to be asstardery.”

    As long as they are somewhat germane to the discussion at hand, go right ahead. As politely as you can, of course.

  67. I think the over-arching argument is:

    “If you think this is unfair, then feel free to spend decades building a professional, public reputation, then make your own website and verbally bitchslap things you don’t like”.

    I like putting it like that. It gives me warm fuzzies.

  68. MarkHB:

    Well, to be fair, I was doing it when this Web site was still made from hand-rolled html. And before that, I was doing it in things called “newspapers,” which were huge columns of words, on sheets made of cellulose fiber! No, I don’t imagine you see those any more.

  69. Cellulose fibre? Eewwww! That sounds really unhygeinic. And it wouldn’t have hyperlinks! How would that work?

    Nah, John, lay off the cough syrup – you’re making stuff up now.

  70. After reading the article I want to know what controlled substance the Transportation dept official was on when he stated that he though gas would be $2.51 per gallon in 22 years?

    The only way I could see that was if all cars and trucks were electric and there was almost no demand for gasoline.

  71. The Bush administration seems to be adopting the mottos of “out of sight, out of mind,” as well as the time-tested “If I don’t remember it, it didn’t happen.”

    You’d think the so-called leader of the free world would act a little more mature, at least.

    What a freakin’ embarrassment.

  72. Look, the White House didn’t accept the report because if they had, it would have been an official document subject to a FOIFA request. Then you could compare the two documents (file ignored, subsequently edited and official report) and show exactly where and what was changed at behest of the White House.

    By ignoring the report, ignoring it publicly (as in “we never opened it, don’t ask us what was in in”) the White House can exert pressure to change the report language (which was then done) all while being able to deny they forced the change, or that any changes were made.

    What this article points out is the mechanism. It’s a procedural report. If you all aren’t used to seeing such reporting, obviously you haven’t been following politics since Nixon lost to JFK when practices and procedures (as in “how they won”) became as important as “issues.” The story here is how the White House gained “plausible deniability” while having the report changed.

  73. You know, Steve? That makes perfect sense. Doesn’t say anything good about the current residents of the White House, but it does make sense.

  74. This is why I like to focus on objectively awful decisions and events the White House and it’s appointees have made or taken part in. Like the Albania arms trading scandal, ties with Enron, the Veeps denigration of a conservation policy, the fact that a major domestic policy adviser was busted for ripping off a Target store, and blamed his Evil Twin. Real f*ckups. Provable f*ckups. f*ckups with no debate that they were f*ckups.

    Conservatives will just keep plugging fingers into the sea wall that is the Bush administration leaking all over everyone’s lives with things like the EPA letter. But there’s just a few holes that no one can deny exists. I expect people to still try, but they look like dolts when doing so unless you’re a total lockstep conservatives-can-do-no-wrong fascist.

    Plenty conservatives lauded Ollie North and G. Gordon Liddy. But in doing so, they’re not making the conservative movement look good to outside observers. Both of those people are crooks. Both engaged in the crooked behavior to further the conservative cause.

    All people like Frank and Skar end up doing in cases like that is trying out the “tu quoque” arguments to steal focus from the criticism.

  75. Um, hi. I’m here via Making Light’s comment thread on this story, to which I linked in my LiveJournal. Someone on my friends list then commented after this wise:

    “That story is tripe. All official EPA business is done in hard copy, with a room full of lawyers, not by email (my sister is an official US Navy liaison to the EPA, she looked at that article and ROFLed).”

    I don’t know how true this is, or if it has any bearing, but I thought I might pass it on for what it’s worth.

  76. Now, I can’t quite remember where I read the following – it was on a blog somewhere in the Internet, which is about as accurate as “it was on land, somewhere on the planet Earth” – but it might be germane to the idea of hand-delivering reports to the President;

    If I’m remembering it correctly, White House insiders have said that people who tell the President things he doesn’t want to hear don’t work again. That could be entirely incorrect, or biased, or a flat-out lie – but if it’s true (and I don’t have much trouble believing it’s true, but neither do I have trouble believing it’s /un/true) it would explain why people might avoid hand-delivering his mail.

  77. According to real climate scientists (the ones who use a billion year average, not a cherry-picked “1961-1990 is ‘average’” average), we’re currently 7-10C BELOW average.

    As with every time this debate arises online, I shall now proceed outside to burn a tire.

    Luckily, I’m deployed to a location where burning tires, venting refrigerant to the atmosphere, torching methane from the wells, burning plastic and other activities considered normal and wholesome before America became decadent are not only endorsed, but encouraged.

    Think of me as doing my part for the currently dangerously cold global mean.

    Ecologically,

    Mike

  78. WEll, I’m sure glad that I’m going to live for a billion years, and so will have time to swan about on the earth when it has recovered from the damage wrought by us humans.
    Seriously Mike, are you being sarcastic or stupid?

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