Down But Not Out: Empire Burlesque Returns

We were out of circulation for about a day due to a major technical upgrade that should make Empire Burlesque smoother, faster and more secure. (The website, that is, not necessarily the author.) But here's a quick round-up of items that we might have covered more in-depth today if not for the upgrade.

Rug, Meet Broom
Josh Marshall has another entry in his series of Bush "disappearing acts" of public information. This time, Bush Admin Makes White House Visitor Records Disappear.

Excerpt from Josh's excerpt from AP: The White House and the Secret Service quietly signed an agreement last spring in the midst of the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal declaring that records identifying visitors to the White House complex are not subject to public disclosure....The five-page document dated May 17 declares that all entry and exit data on White House visitors belongs to the White House as presidential records rather than to the Secret Service as agency records. Therefore, the agreement states, the material is not subject to public disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act.

In the past, Secret Service logs have revealed the comings and goings of various White House visitors, including Monica Lewinsky and Clinton campaign donor Denise Rich, the wife of fugitive financier Marc Rich, who received a pardon in the closing hours of the Clinton administration. The memo last spring was signed by the White House and Secret Service the day after a Washington-based group asked a federal judge to impose sanctions on the Secret Service in a dispute over White House visitor logs for Abramoff.

It will also prevent disclosure of all those visits by the ghost of Richard Nixon, who appears nightly in the Oval Office, exhorting Bush to "Drop the Big One! Drop the Big One on 'em! That's what I shoulda done!"

AP Mourns Another Staffer Killed in Iraq
AP, which as we all know because the rightwing bloggers tell us is actually an active arm of the Iraqi insurgents, is today mourning yet another staffer shot and killed in the streets of paradise that is Baghdad except that the defeatist, terrorist-loving liberal media won't show you that. From AP:

The body of an Associated Press employee was found shot in the back of the head Friday, six days after he was last seen by his family leaving for work.Ahmed Hadi Naji, 28, was the fourth AP staffer to die violently in the Iraq war and the second AP employee killed in less than a month. He had been a messenger and occasional cameraman for the AP for 2 1/2 years...

Naji's wife, Sahba'a Mudhar Khalil, reported him missing Dec. 30 when he did not return that evening. He had left home by motorcycle in the Ashurta Al Khamsa District in southwest Baghdad at 10:30 a.m., telling her he was going to the AP office. Naji's body was found in a morgue. In addition to his wife, Naji is survived by 4-month-old twins, a boy, Zaid, and a girl, Rand.

Hey, wait a minute: can AP produce these alleged children in order to prove that this alleged staffer was really killed violently in the New Eden on the Euphrates? Until they drag the weeping, shattered children out for a video spot on "Hot Air," we should all remain highly skeptical of this so-called "killing." Right, Michelle?

-- There is of course no point in wondering why Malkin and her ilk -- who have now put an Iraqi police captain's life in serious danger through their frankly lunatic raving about his non-existent non-existence -- can live with themselves. Anyone who has read, say, William Shrirer's Berlin Diary, where he details his dealings with an earlier set of "journalists" in lockstep thrall to the Leader, knows that with the warporn bloggers we are dealing with a common human type, the scientific term for which is, I believe, lickspittles. [Great stuff from Jon Schwarz on this as well.]

High Times
"The judge, he holds a grudge;/ he's gonna call on you./ But he's badly built/and he walks on stilts:/watch out he don't fall on you." -- Bob Dylan

This is old news by now, but still worth mentioning: the former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court was, in the first decade of his service on the high court, a full-blown pill-head. Bill Rehnquist, who began his career as a GOP spear-carrier trying to scare darkies away from the polls and was named to the Supreme Court as a joke by Nixon, was scarfing down three times the ordinary prescription of a powerful, addictive painkiller -- a medicine normally prescribed for only a week or two, but which Rehnquist gobbled for 10 years, before he was finally weaned from the drug -- after hallucinatory episodes -- by doctors, just a few years before he became Chief Justice.

Here again we see an ancient double standard operating: the elite are always allowed to indulge in practices for which the hoi polloi -- and especially the poor -- are subjected to harsh criminal punishments or thunderous condemnation. (See Nicole Bush, Rush Limbaugh, Mary Cheney, etc., etc., etc.) One reason why the freedoms of the Sixties and Seventies are so reviled by our "culture warriors" today is that they represented the democratization of privilege: suddenly the lower orders were openly divorcing, having abortions, having babies out of wedlock, taking dope, having sex where, when, how and with whom they pleased -- doing all the things that the high and mighty had always reserved for their own little circle. A whole society imbued with that sense of personal freedom is hard to control -- and so we've seen the fierce backlash, financed and planned in large part by major business interests (see The Powell Memo, which outlines one -- but just one -- thrust of this effort) and their useful tools on the ideological and religious extremist fringe (a Frankenstein's monster that now threatens to turn on its creators).

Let's put it this way: if you or I were abusing serious drugs for ten years, obtaining them by what almost certainly were fraudulent prescriptions, we would not be allowed to have a nice, long de-tox in a luxurious hospital then slide upward into one of the most powerful offices in the world. We'd be doing hard time in one of the prisons which have been filled to overflowing by the "War on Drugs" championed, sustained and upheld by pious pillars of society like William Rehnquist.
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