Saturday, July 30, 2005

More catch-up items:

  • The NY Times mentions that with all this union fracturing the Dems will surely be hurt by it. I beg to differ. What's implied in this thinking is that union voters are predominantly under some kind of mind control by the labor bosses, who apparently shower their members with a variety of pro-Dem propaganda. Never mind the fact that most union members are within a demographic that would normally be inclined to vote Dem, not requiring the force-fed "education" from the union's powers-that-be. The labor bloc by definition of their income, race, etc. is simply going to vote more so Dem than GOP. And besides, where is it said that the newly formed union/coalition won't contribute just as much to the Dem Party?

  • Helen Thomas asks the obvious: "Two years and he [Bush] can't call Rove in and find out what the hell is going on? All he has to do is call him in?" And McClellan's non-answer: "Because there's an investigation continuing at this point, the appropriate people handling these issues are the people investigating this investigation." How is it the American public is standing for this bullsh*t?

  • I highly recommend listening to former CIA officer Larry Johnson on Al Franken's radio show. He's extremely well-informed and doesn't hold back on his comments.

  • I noticed the passing of the CAFTA bill was another past-midnight session. Recall DeLay did this to pass that rotten prescription bill. He's making a habit of breaking congressional tradition (being progressive?!) by doing whatever it takes to get bills passed that he and the White House favor. In this case, the bill squeaked by 217-215.

  • 93% of Americans want government to develop new energy technologies and require auto industry to make cars and trucks that get better gas mileage. And yet, the auto industry successfully removed a measure in the latest energy bill that would've required increasing the fuel-efficiency of cars and trucks.
  • Just some of the items I've come across while catching up:

  • Among all of the other things making him unqualified, we now learn that Bolton is a liar. If he can't recall this incident, then one has to question his mental capabilities and have it further weigh against him given the importance of this position. But, it apparently won't matter since King George plans to override all democratic-like means and appoint him when Congress is out.

  • Meanwhile, the King's popularity continues to scrape bottom as impeachment momentum continues to grow.

  • Could that (GW's piss-poor poll numbers, making him an even lamer duck) have anything to do with Frist's astonishing moment of sanity, with him flip-flopping and now supporting stem cell research? Or could it be that Frist wants to run badly in '08 and realizes the public supports stem cell research overwhelmingly? Does political skin once again triumph over supposed moral stands and principles? Oh, me thinks so. At end of the day, these guys don't give a hoot about abortion and the like when it comes to playing politics. Just look at Santorum and GW when it came to pro-choice Specter vs. pro-life Toomey: they both endorsed Specter over Toomey. Bunch of hypocrites. Yes, Frist got slammed by conservatives for this move, but he looked at the pros and cons vote-wise come 2008 and decided otherwise -- his BS about sanctity of life be damned.
  • Thursday, July 28, 2005

    I've been away for several days getting some much needed R&R. I plan to spend tomorrow catching up (have I missed much?) and then begin posting, lots.

    Wednesday, July 20, 2005

    So Bush went against the wishes of the people to nominate a woman (80% favored) that was in favor of existing abortion laws and that was not overly conservative -- at least by the standard of Justice O'Connor (just 17% deemed her conservative). Nope, instead he chose payback to -- you guessed it -- his religious & far-right supporters.

    Roberts is clearly not a mainstream, moderate conservative. He doesn't have an extensive record to go on -- which is by design since Rove/Bush wanted to keep the Dems guessing and give them as little damning evidence as possible. However, based on what you can find is a judge/lawyer who is deeply entrenched in Republican-backed organizations, one who actively fought for Bush in the vote recount of 2000 (another payback by Bush), one who is strongly opposed to environmental protections and regulations, one who has stated that Roe v. Wade should be "overruled" and has argued against doctors having the free speech to advise patients about abortion, and one who voted against Cheney having to turn over his infamous energy notes. And this is just what we know based on his relatively scant record. As the WSJ puts it, Roberts' short time on the bench gives the White House a "strategic advantage." It pays to pick a rookie!

    All you really need to know is Matt Drudge had blaring on his web site, "Thank you, Mr. President." Oh, and that the far-right nutjob Hugh Hewitt is best buddies with Roberts.

    Many editorials have lamely described Roberts as somewhat moderate, not by providing specifics concerning his record but rather doing so in relation to who they expected Bush to nominate. Most thought the nominee would be a much more overtly far-right candidate. Instead, Roberts is a stealth choice.

    If he's thought not to be an extremist, it's by design. Rove/Bush simply had to pick someone who was a bit more right-wing than O'Connor; it's all relative. If he were to replace Rehnquist, many wingnuts would have been far more disappointed. However, when Rehnquist retires, then they'll pick a more obviously strident right-wing nominee, with the end result being -- poof, a Court that overall is farther to the right than it was with O'Connor and Rehnquist.

    Look, as much as I despise most of what I've read about Roberts' rulings and positions (esp. about the environment), he's a shoe-in. Harry Reid has already uttered that he has "suitable legal credentials," i.e. he's in. I tend to agree with this take, particularly since the Dems have shown they don't have the stomach for a fight and there upcoming "resistance" will be all bluster and for the cameras. They will NOT go to the mat so just get it over with and refocus attention to all of the other GOP sh*t that's piling up. Ironically, Rove/Bush are likely praying that the Dems will engage in a protracted ugly fight so that it will continue to run the clock on delaying media attention spent on Rove's Plame mess.

    Yes, it's disturbing that Roberts is fairly young and that we'll have to live with his decisions for a few decades. But in reality (reminder: we're reality-based), who did we think we were going to get, another Ginsburg? Or even a Souter? This entire SCOTUS process is a lost cause (almost as if the Dems knew as much when agreeing to the idiotic Catch-22 filibuster agreement). No, the REAL fight, one that can be won, is regarding the ever-growing mountain of sleaze, lies, deception, and slime (Rove, DeLay, DSM, Iraq debacle, environmental policy doctoring, etc.). This SCOTUS fight can't possibly be won so like a smart general would do, proper strategic decisions need to be made to channel the resources and attention to the right battles, the ones that with proper execution can expose the GOP's Achilles heel for the fatal blow.

    To defeat Rove's army requires shrewdness, chess-like maneuvers, focus, discipline, and the willingness to look at the bigger picture and see the mission through to its poetic completion. Too often the Dems have taken Rove's bait and paid for it. Schiavo and DSM simply fell into their laps. It's time for smart planning and purposeful action. The Dems still have plenty to work with thanks to blundering and blind-with-power Republicans. They simply need to realize this fact and use the time effectively and wisely.

    Tuesday, July 19, 2005

    The Top 10 Conservative Idiots (Volume #206)
    E.P.A. to spend millions on public relations:
    “Good science does not need spin,” stated PEER Program Director Rebecca Roose, pointing to recent reports that have faulted the agency for improperly altering scientific work on mercury, asbestos, water pollution and even the public health dangers at the World Trade Center following the September 11 attacks. “EPA’s scientists are telling us that there is not enough funding for vital environmental and health research but there appears to be no shortage of money for media manipulation.”
    Also, this revealing factoid: since 1970 the size of the average home has increased 55 percent, while the size of the average family has decreased 13 percent.
    A religious theme park (called "The Holy Land Experience"), costing $30 per person to enter, gets tax-exempt status. I kid you not. It's run by an organization called Zion's Hope with the stated goal of converting Jews to Christianity.

    Didn't "The Simpsons" (justifiably) lampoon something like this?
    Perjury?

    The Washington Post reports:
    A former Justice Department official who talks frequently to people involved in the case said signs point to special prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald focusing on the aftermath of the leak rather than the disclosure.

    "I think he made his decisions months ago that there wasn't a crime when the leak occurred," said the former official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. "Now, he's looking at a cover-up: perjury, obstruction of justice, false statements to an FBI agent."

    A few discrepancies have emerged in public statements about the case, offering clues to potential contradictions being examined by the grand jury. Cooper wrote in his Time account of his grand jury appearance that "a surprising line of questioning had to do with, of all things, welfare reform." But Cooper wrote that he "can't find any record of talking about it with him on July 11, and I don't recall doing so." Rove has maintained that the conversation was initially about welfare reform, according to a lawyer familiar with his side of the story.
    Ahh, the old refrain, "the cover-up is worse than the crime." And I seem to recall a certain prosecutor looking to go after someone by the name of Bill Clinton over possible perjury charges (recall the endless refrain, "the rule of law"). Of course, that was over a BJ and not the releasing of confidential information (i.e. illegal act) that could put the lives of several CIA agents in jeopardy. But I digress....

    Let's see how the wingnuts respond this time around. Is it any wonder this administration is bereft of credibility?
    "A friend raises the interesting point about whether there's a grandfather clause on the president's new no-felons-employed here rule. If you committed a crime during Iran-Contra, can you work in this administration? Or does the rule -- presumably -- only apply to felonies commited in the course of employment." -- Josh Marshall
    "The news that Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff was the second possible source in the leaking of the identity of a CIA agent to Time magazine elevates the scandal to a whole new level."

    Monday, July 18, 2005

    The fact that in speaking with Cooper, Rove did not state Plame's name specifically, and instead chose to name her by marital status, tells me that he knew exactly what he was doing. I find it extremely hard to believe that someone as knowledgeable as Rove was unaware of her name. In fact, with it coming out today that when asked by Republicans (!) why was he pursuing Wilson so intensively, Rove responded because "he's a Democrat."

    Given how Rove operates, with thorough, almost obsessive, research, it's just ludicrous to believe that he did not come across Valerie's name at some point. He did not deny that he was pursuing Wilson so aggressively but rather confirmed it with the "he's a Democrat" response. It simply stands to reason that Rove knew her name before speaking with Cooper, but even more so knew the law well enough to make sure that he skirted it ever so slightly, clearly conveying his message (as Cooper confirmed) at the same time.

    He's simply one evil SOB. We'll have to wait and see if any CIA agents were killed as a result of this leak. In the meantime, it's quite ironic to see such a "righteous" figure serve as the brains and driving force on the side that has most of the born-agains, evangelicals, etc. Funny how they know when to rise up with rage -- and when to simply look the other way (as Jesus would have done???).
    "It is quite instructive and shocking, even with this administration, that the outing of a CIA agent, her front company, and god knows how many other agents and operations, is met with a collective shrug from wingnut circles. While a blow job gave them the vapors, a genuine breach of national security gives them no pause." -- Kos
    Josh Marshall writes, "Bush sets high new standard: no felons on White House staff." Add this one to the ever-expanding list of GW flip-flops.
    Some interesting items at meta-blog The Daou Report:
    "Was it through my conversation with Rove that I learned for the first time that Wilson's wife worked at the CIA and may have been responsible for sending him? Yes. Did Rove say that she worked at the "agency" on "WMD"? Yes." - Matt Cooper July, 2005
    "Speculation on Rove - Everyone (except for the dittoheads) seems to agree that the investigation has moved beyond the Plame leak into something more serious. On the far end, we have to consider what is in the CIA after-action report. If any of our intelligence officers were assassinated as a result of this leak then we are talking about a nightmare of Watergate proportions." -- Booman Tribune
    Example (from Kevin Drum) of the GOP disinformation campaign being conducted regarding the Rove/Plame controversy:
    Mark Steyn — who appears to have been driven around the bend by the fact that liberals think it's wrong for the White House to casually blow the cover of a clandestine CIA agent in order to discredit her husband — passes along the latest conservative meme:
    As her weirdly self-obsesssed husband Joseph C. Wilson IV conceded on CNN the other day, she wasn't a "clandestine officer" and, indeed, hadn't been one for six years. So one can only "leak" her name in the sense that one can "leak" the name of the checkout clerk at Home Depot.
    Let's roll the tape. Here's Wilson on CNN last Thursday:
    BLITZER: But the other argument that's been made against you is that you've sought to capitalize on this extravaganza, having that photo shoot with your wife, who was a clandestine officer of the CIA....

    WILSON: My wife was not a clandestine officer the day that Bob Novak blew her identity.
    Wilson is obviously saying that his wife stopped being clandestine as soon as Novak wrote about her, not that she was never clandestine. Can't these guys do any better than that?
    And Kevin follows with his typically lucid and dead-on correct reasoning:
    Steyn, along with most of the right these days, spends nearly the entire column flinging mud at Joe Wilson, and I suppose I might do the same if I found myself in Steyn's increasingly uncomfortable shoes. After all, it's been obvious for some time, and is even more obvious now, that multiple people in the White House spoke to multiple reporters about Valerie Plame's CIA status even though that information compromised a potentially important covert operation. There's really no honorable way to claim that this is an OK thing to do, so the only option left is to try and divert attention away from that basic fact.

    It's pretty sad when conservatives become so obsessed with protecting their own that they're reduced to claiming that outing a CIA agent is no worse than outing a Home Depot clerk. That's some heavy duty moral clarity for you, folks.

    Sunday, July 17, 2005

    I have a question: do the Dems have attack-dog-like point people specifically assigned to the quickly-evolving Rove/Plame scandal? It's obvious the GOP (as usual) does as they've already set in motion their coordinated, obfuscate-like-crazy affront on the matter. It's what they do -- ironically, mastered by Rove.

    Where's the evidence that the Dems are staying one step ahead of the GOP shenanigans? Democrats can't rely solely on Air America and the liberal blogosphere to keep this controversy on the front-and-center burner. Instead, they need to take a page from the Clinton playbook and assemble a control center (ala Carville/Stephanopoulos) that conducts intensive research and strategy, and responds immediately.

    If the Dems fail to do this, Rove will escape. Make no mistake. As NBC's Tim Russert heard from a Republican, if it were a Democrat in the White House, the GOP-controlled Congress would already be advancing several investigations. Instead, we have the likes of Republican Norm Coleman pleading, "Stop the partisan attacks. Let's get away from the gotcha politics." (Funny how they dislike "gotcha" crap when it's one of their own taking it on the chin....).

    Heck, the Dems should directly be consulting with Carville (Where is the guy? He's been more AWOL than Cheney!), and Bill Clinton. The chickens are coming home to roost for Rove -- long overdue. On the heels of the filibuster-agreement debacle, the Dems can't screw this one up.

    Saturday, July 16, 2005

    Some talk radio round-up (and contrast). Yesterday, movie-reviewer-turned-rightwing-ideologue Michael Medved was talking about that blistering subject greatly affecting the country: slavery reparations. Not Rove, or even Iraq or the Supreme Court.

    When the sh*t is hitting the fan for the GOP, I just love to tune in to rightwing radio to see what topics they've decided to focus on. Never fails: it's never the brewing topic(s) against their side. Another example: Bill Bennett this week was talking about, what else, sexual abstinence in children (in addition to how terrific a golfer his dad is/was).

    Meanwhile, on reality-based talk radio, Al Franken had on former Republican congressman Bob Barr (recall, a Clinton impeacher) and he commented on the Rove mess (a credit to him right there) and stated that he would expect some brave (?) Republicans to eventually call for Rove to resign. In other words, what I said here a few days ago. We'll see. They're a gutless, unprincipled bunch so I remain skeptical. But above all else, with lameduck, numbers-in-toilet GW flapping in the wind, they'll ultimately focus on their own political skins/future.

    And Al once again reminded us of the nearly $9 billion that continues to be unaccounted for in Iraq, and yet Republican Norm Coleman -- in charge of initiating investigations on such matters -- does nothing.

    Friday, July 15, 2005

    Another great Paul Krugman column. He says what needs to be said.

    Segments:
    What Mr. Rove understood, long before the rest of us, is that we're not living in the America of the past, where even partisans sometimes changed their views when faced with the facts. Instead, we're living in a country in which there is no longer such a thing as nonpolitical truth. In particular, there are now few, if any, limits to what conservative politicians can get away with: the faithful will follow the twists and turns of the party line with a loyalty that would have pleased the Comintern.
    <...>
    Mr. Rove has been much criticized for saying that liberals responded to the attack by wanting to offer the terrorists therapy - but what he said about conservatives, that they "saw the savagery of 9/11 and the attacks and prepared for war," is equally false. What many of them actually saw was a domestic political opportunity - and none more so than Mr. Rove.
    <...>
    Mr. Rove also understands, better than anyone else in American politics, the power of smear tactics. Attacks on someone who contradicts the official line don't have to be true, or even plausible, to undermine that person's effectiveness. All they have to do is get a lot of media play, and they'll create the sense that there must be something wrong with the guy.

    And now we know just how far he was willing to go with these smear tactics: as part of the effort to discredit Joseph Wilson IV, Mr. Rove leaked the fact that Mr. Wilson's wife worked for the C.I.A. I don't know whether Mr. Rove can be convicted of a crime, but there's no question that he damaged national security for partisan advantage. If a Democrat had done that, Republicans would call it treason.
    Krugman neglects to assign shame to those who allow themselves to be influenced by Rove's deceitful tactics; it wouldn't work for him if not for them.

    If Rove escapes this one, it says much about the American public and just how much bullsh*t they're willing to eat and let slide. Clinton had to walk the plank for a blowjob, but this bespectacled, evil fellow could in fact somehow, someway slither away free from what appears to be by all accounts an illegal act of treason. Yep, if he still has a job in the not too distant future, then there's no hope for this country.
    It's been 36+ hours since this story was released and not a peep from the anti-abortion, "culture of life," and/or religious right folks.... Where's the OUTRAGE?! (crickets)
    Shifting HS $$$ from blue to red?

    A NY Times editorial yesterday discussed how homeland security funds have been rerouted away from high-risk states to low-risk ones. This despite HS chief Michael Chertoff imploring that the money be distributed based on risk.

    Based on risk -- hmmm. What are the odds of a terrorist attack occurring in Wyoming or Nebraska or Oklahoma as compared to much bluer states such as Illinois (Chicago), California (LA), New York (NYC), or Massachusetts (Boston)? What's going on here? Partisan punishment inflicted on those states that went with Kerry? Pork is bad enough but when it comes to domestic security, how insane has the brutish ideological divide become?

    Thursday, July 14, 2005

    "GOP on Offense in Defense of Rove"

    This is much like during last year's election, when one of the more obvious stark contrasts between Kerry and Bush was Kerry's decorated military service versus Bush's AWOL "service." What did Rove decide to do? Attack Kerry's service.

    What are they doing now that Rove has by most accounts been caught red-handed in this Plame affair? Attack!

    The following are some choice segments from the Washington Post article (my comments in italics):

    "Republicans mounted an aggressive and coordinated defense of Karl Rove yesterday, contending that the White House's top political adviser did nothing improper or illegal when he discussed a covert CIA official with a reporter." ("Did nothing improper or illegal when he discussed a covert CIA official with a reporter" -- isn't this an oxymoron?)

    "The emerging GOP strategy -- devised by Mehlman and other Rove loyalists outside of the White House -- is to try to undermine those Democrats calling for Rove's ouster, play down Rove's role and wait for President Bush's forthcoming Supreme Court selection to drown out the controversy, according to several high-level Republicans." (Smear Dems, "play down" Rove's role in a Rove-centric scandal, and expedite a distraction -- what a substantive, on-point defense!)

    "Rove has not been asked by senior White House officials whether he did anything illegal.... 'What you all need to figure out is, does this amount to a crime? That is a legitimate debate.'" (How can they know if anything criminal or illegal occurred if they're not asking questions? By using telepathy? Interpret Rove's facial expressions or demeanor??)

    "Bush has said if any White House officials were involved, they would be fired." (Whereas Rove's legal case hinges on the key word "knowingly," his job status according to GW's past statements hinges on the word "involved." Rove's involvement in the Plame leak has already been firmly established. The fact that Rove still has a job today speaks volumes to Bush's lack of sincerity and accountability.) UPDATE.

    "'In all honesty, the facts thus far -- and the e-mail involved -- indicate to me that there is not a problem here,' said Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah)." (Nuf said. There's a HUGE problem here.)
    To get a sample of the "fair and balanced" reporting over at FOX News, just check this out. Imagine if CBS or ABC had someone say something this biased -- leaving aside the idiocy of the content. ABC's Terry Moran is dead-on correct, though he's simply stating the obvious.

    Wednesday, July 13, 2005

    Many might say: "So what if Rove gets fired (assuming not worse). He'll still advise GW and perform all of his evil magic, only not officially."

    Yes, likely very true. However, apart from the necessity to do what's required concerning this potentially illegal, treasonous act, the sacking of Rove will amount to a HUGE high-profile pock-mark that the Dems can point to regularly, esp. during upcoming elections. What they need is for the smelly refuse on the GOP compost pile to continue to grow. With the Downing Street Memos, DeLay's never-ending troubles, Abramoff's lobbying connections, the Schiavo meddling, plus this Rove controversy, it all combines into a growing mosaic that if done correctly, the Dems can frame to pound home a strong message.

    With GW's popularity already abysmally low, it won't take much to level a fatal blow, helping to cement these bottom-dwelling levels. It's well-known in the world of stocks, once a stock sinks so low that it pierces through the sub-$10 level, it's tough for the stock to regain it's momentum and make it back into double-digits. The stock enters a death-spiral and eventually bottoms in this nether land where popularity becomes so scant, there's insufficient demand to push the stock up. This scenario could play out for GW.

    By waking up the public to this expanding morass of stink and slime, and doing so through repetition and not off-putting heavy-handedness, it could serve as that proverbial arrow shot through the GOP heel.

    Tuesday, July 12, 2005

    Close your eyes for a second and imagine if President Clinton’s top political advisor had just admitted that he had revealed the identity of a covert CIA operative. His main defense was that he indicated exactly who she was but didn’t give her name.
    If this was a Democratic White House, we'd have Congressional hearings in a second.

    To witness Scott McClellan progressivley sweat and do a tap dance as he peddles empty statements and outright horsesh*t, click here. It's about time this lame-ass pack of White House reporters woke up! Does GW and his cohorts work for us or is he in fact a king? For the last few years, it's tough telling the difference.

    And on a different note, did you know that if you excluded the government's hiring, private sector employment is only 100,000 jobs higher than it was at the end of December 2000? (source: Dr. Scott Brown, Raymond James)
    As I've been periodically reminding here since the start of the year, the GOP implosion is forthcoming. The Rove/Plame controversy continues to brew and take on more and more stink, and meanwhile GW's popularity is as low as ever. As they did with DeLay (notice how the BugMan's world of slime has taken a back seat to the new scumbag of the hour, Rove), look for a few "brave" Republicans to begin to speak out and implore that Rove come clean. After that initial wave, then look for a few more to meekly phrase that he should resign.

    Again, with Bush's numbers in the toilet, effectively insuring lame-duck status, with DeLay in all kinds of trouble, with Frist seemingly vanishing with his influence, with Rove increasingly facing well-deserved pressure, and with Cheney AWOL (anybody seen him lately?), many Republicans will begin to focus on their own political skins. We've already seen signs of fracturing. The Supreme Court vacancy (soon plural with Rehnquist) promises to be heated not just between the two political parties but also from within the GOP, sure to bring on more internal rupture and divide.

    The dominos are falling. Be patient.
    From NewDonkey.com:
    I have an almost superstitious fear of getting too caught up in the unfolding story of Karl Rove's possible involvement in outing a CIA agent, and/or lying about it. In the Abramoff-Reed-Norquist Indian Casino Shakedown Scandal, we're already being richly treated to a Morality Play of epic proportions, wherein in which the extraordinary arrogance, hypocrisy and greed of key players in the current conservative Ascendancy have led them steadily to sordid acts of self-destruction.

    But ah, could it be possible that the man who has raised dirty tricks, poltical intimidation, and character assassination to the highest levels of geopolitical strategy could be laid low by a cheap act of personal spite aimed at an obscure former diplomat who threw a minor monkey wrench into the run-up to the war in Iraq? Could the top operative in a leak-proof White House be brought down by a leak? Is the Boy Genius capable of such stupidity?

    If so, and Rove falls from power, it will be another sign that the legendary discipline and self-confidence of the Bush administration during W.'s first term represented little more than an unusual ability to ignore the consequences of their irresponsible acts. You can't do that perpetually, of course, and that's why the air now seems filled with the squawking of so many chickens coming home to roost.

    Monday, July 11, 2005

    In this week's U.S. News & WR, "Washington Whispers" writes about how GW & Co. are scrambling to find ways to once again have the public (blindly) back the war effort. Their latest tactic? To roll back time some 200+ years and use life then as a fair comparison:
    The strategy was inspired by a simple comment made by 1776 author David McCullough in an interview with Tim Russert on CNBC, insiders say. "If [the Revolution] had been covered by the media, and the country had seen how horrible the conditions were, how badly things were being run by the officers, and what a very serious soup we were in," said this historian, "I think that would have been it."
    So their solution is to further remove us from reality and to use our imagination that we're fighting a war as if it were being fought when muskets and horses were used. Forget that we in fact do have modern channels of media, that the pace of life has been increasing for decades (perhaps exponentially), that what used to take days or weeks to get to a battlefield now just takes hours. What they're really saying is simply ignore what you're reading and hearing about regarding this war -- suspend interest, don't care, and just carry on with your life. And don't renew your interest until the news becomes more favorable (assuming it ever does).

    Also, don't you just love the way they strongly encouraged the media to broadcast the "shock and awe" footage of the war, but now that the occupation has grown increasingly more bloody and dire, the new strategy is to temper the coverage. It was good to play up the awesome force of our military when we were blowing up buildings left and right, but it's now bad to offer such same coverage when events have taken a turn for the worse. Also, the media came in pretty handy when they staged the toppling of Saddam's statue, and when "Mission Accomplished" was declared by a flown-in, flack-suited GW.

    What's really laughable is the media is not really covering the war as much as GW & Co. make it out. Yes, we frequently read of a downed helicopter or an insurgent bombing or attack, but how often do we read of reports that puts things in perspective, that specifically states the number of dead U.S. soldiers, that wonders what the mission is at this point? That kind of reporting is really only occurring in the blogosphere -- not the mainstream media. It's more of a 20-second mention, if at all, before they're off to the latest about Tom Cruise and scientology.

    It makes sense that this administration thinks the "liberal" press is to blame for the public's nosedive in support of the war. They take no responsibility for it. They never take responsibility for anything -- that's bad, anyway.

    Uh, perhaps the Downing Street Memos have something to do with the public's diminishing support, or the now-obvious mismanagement of the "mission," or the lack of any coherent and reasonable strategy on what they plan to do from here, or that senior officials are contradicting each other (e.g. Cheney's "last throes" vs. Rummy's "2017"). No, instead, it's the supposed exhaustive coverage by the media -- an absolute ludicrous suggestion. In fact, I would love to see some kind of a media research project that compares the amount of media coverage for Clinton's Whitewater "scandal" or even his drawn-out impeachment hearings as compared to the coverage dedicated to this Iraq war.

    Oh, and is the administration now taking policy cues from a best-selling historical author? Are you kidding me? Rove is too busy with other things these days (believable)....?

    Sunday, July 10, 2005

    From Buzzflash (about this Newsweek story):
    Rove said she [Plame] worked for the agency. But notice the specious argument that Newsweek falls for by saying he disclosed that Joe Wilson's wife worked for the CIA and specialized in Weapons of Mass Destruction, "Nothing in the Cooper e-mail suggests that Rove used Plame's name." Hey, How Stupid Does Newsweek Think We Are? If You Tell a Reporter, Joe Wilson's Wife is a CIA Operative Specializing in WMD, You are Outing Her, In Violation of the National Security Interests of the United States of America. A Four Year Old Could Figure That Out. Get Us a Four Year Old.
    More on this story from David Corn.

    Recall Clinton's absurd "It depends on what the meaning of the word 'is' is." With good reason, he was ridiculed for this from the right. Well, now we have Rove apparently not actually saying "Plame" but rather "Joe Wilson's Wife," as if there's a difference when it came to outing her. If true, Rove's "defense" is arguably more absurd than Clinton's and without question is it more serious. Rather than involving a sexual act with an intern, Rove's transgression involves treason, an illegal act, and risking the lives of many people.

    C'mon "liberal" media, get some spine and go after this story with the vigor and tenacity that you did for all of the Clinton nonsense. Whitewater, Monica, Travelgate, etc., amounted to a hill of beans compared to what's brewing here.

    Friday, July 08, 2005

    It's about ten days after the fact, but I wanted to comment on several lines from Bush's June 28th speech on national TV (my comments in italics):
    The terrorists who attacked us and the terrorists we face murder in the name of a totalitarian ideology that hates freedom, rejects tolerance and despises all dissent. (Here we have a link between 9/11 and Iraq -- despite GW himself stating for the record that there's no evidence of this link; a lie)
    <...>
    After September the 11th, I made a commitment to the American people: This nation will not wait to be attacked again. We will defend our freedom. We will take the fight to the enemy.
    Iraq is the latest battlefield in this war. (But Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11 and had no terrorists. Nearly all of the terrorists were Saudi so we should've attacked Saudi Arabia, right?).
    <...>
    Our mission in Iraq is clear: We're hunting down the terrorists. (Well, no, the mission has been anything but clear. For one, it started with WMDs and then morphed into other missions, but also Iraq had no terrorists. Only after we invaded has it been a breeding ground for new terrorists -- which we now must hunt down.)
    <...>
    A little over a year ago, I spoke to the nation and described our coalition's goal in Iraq. I said that America's mission in Iraq is to defeat an enemy and give strength to a friend -- a free, representative government that is an ally in the war on terror and a beacon of hope in a part of the world that is desperate for reform. (That's bull. He originally said it was about WMDs, yellow cake, aluminum tubes, etc., and THAT'S how he got Congress to agree to the whole thing. If he simply made the case that he wanted to free Iraq from tyranny -- when so many other countries likewise deserve such liberation (North Korea, Iran, etc.), he would've got nowhere with Congress or the American people).
    <...>
    One year ago today, we restored sovereignty to the Iraqi people. In January 2005, more than 8 million Iraqi men and women voted in elections that were free and fair and took time on -- and took place on time. (He mentions a number, 8 million. Why no mention of the number of dead U.S. soldiers? More than 1700? No pictures allowed, no honoring, just silence.)
    <...>
    In the past year, the international community has stepped forward with vital assistance. Some 30 nations have troops in Iraq, and many others are contributing non-military assistance. (Name the 30 nations. Also, name how many have dropped out in the last two years.)

    The United Nations is in Iraq to help Iraqis write a constitution and conduct their next elections. (Don't you just love how GW loves the UN now?!)
    <...>
    To complete the mission, we will continue to hunt down the terrorists and insurgents. (I thought it was "completed"? Recall the "Mission Accomplished" sign?)
    <...>
    The principal task of our military is to find and defeat the terrorists. And that is why we are on the offense. (By definition, implies finite, an end. As if we'll actually find and kill the last terrorist and then just leave. I suppose just like we'll hunt down and kill every last drug kingpin in the War on Drugs. Like Chuck Hagel says, this White House is disconnected from reality.)
    <...>
    We are building up Iraqi security forces as quickly as possible so they can assume the lead in defeating the terrorists and insurgents. (Because NOW Iraq has terrorists in the country.)
    <...>
    The new Iraqi security forces are proving their courage every day. More than 2,000 members of Iraqi security forces have given their lives in the line of duty. (Again, he states a number here but seems to refuse to mention the number (1700+) of U.S. soldiers that "have given their lives in the line of duty.")
    <...>
    We will stay in Iraq as long as we are needed and not a day longer. (Just idiotic and meaningless. Could mean three months or three decades.)
    <...>
    If our commanders on the ground say we need more troops, I will send them. But our commanders tell me they have the number of troops they need to do their job. (A lie. I've posted several quotes from military officials stating we're undermanned and have been so from the start.)
    <...>
    By taking these critical steps and meeting their deadlines, Iraqis will bind their multiethnic society together in a democracy that respects the will of the majority and protects minority rights. (Protects minority rights? Like our Congress that wishes to get rid of the filibuster??)
    <...>
    Before our coalition liberated Iraq, Libya was secretly pursuing nuclear weapons. Today the leader of Libya has given up his chemical and nuclear weapons programs. (Most of this was pre-9/11, much less Iraq, started by Clinton. Why doesn't GW take credit for the Berlin Wall falling?)
    <...>
    They are trying to shake our will in Iraq, just as they tried to shake our will on September 11, 2001. (Another (!) wrongful link between 9/11 and Iraq.)
    <...>
    In this war, we have lost good men and women who left our shores to defend freedom and did not live to make the journey home. (Why not state numbers, like he did for the Iraqis (2000)?)
    <...>
    I thank those of you who've re-enlisted in an hour when your country needs you. (Many had no choice, were coerced.)
    <...>
    We live in freedom because every generation has produced patriots willing to serve a cause greater than themselves. Those who serve today are taking their rightful place among the greatest generations that have worn our nation's uniform. (Let's compare Kerry's service to Bush's, or Cheney's, or Rove's. Galling.)
    <...>
    When the history of this period is written, the liberation of Afghanistan and the liberation of Iraq will be remembered as great turning points in the story of freedom. (We shall see. Given the Downing Street Memos and other sources of purposeful lies and deception, I have a feeling the history books will be filled with quite a different take on this shameful time in our lives.)
    For more comments on the speech, go to Factcheck.org.
    David Sirota writes:
    Media Matters points out that Fox News' top anchorman, Brit Hume, gave us a glimpse into just how cynical, greedy and disgusting the right-wing's outlook on the world is:
    "My first thought when I heard - just on a personal basis, when I heard there had been this attack and I saw the futures this morning, which were really in the tank, I thought, 'Hmmm, time to buy.'"
    - Fox News's Brit Hume, 7/7/05
    That's right - his first thought after hearing about the awful terrorist attack in London today wasn't "how tragic," or "let's say a prayer for the dead," or "how can I help the victims" - his first thought was, there was a terrorist attack, how can I personally profit off it?
    <...>
    Of course, this was only the worst example from Fox. Earlier in the day, Fox reporter Brian Kilmeade seemed to cheer on the attack because he said "it works to our advantage." Meanwhile, Fox's Stuart Varney was genuinely excited that the attack will mean other progressive issues will now be knocked out of the public debate. "It takes global warming off the front burner," Varney frothed. "It takes African aid off the front burner. It sticks terrorism and the fight on the war on terror, right up front all over again."
    With all that's going on with the Plame affair, with names such as Miller, Cooper, and Rove being mentioned, I ask: what about Bob?
    Here's one of many examples of where some much needed regulation is a good thing.

    Huge mutual fund firm Fidelity Investments has decided to revamp its research approach. In the past, the firm would hire young analysts fresh out of college and then have them cover an industry for a few years before promoting them to manage a fund.

    Fidelity's COO, Bob Reynolds, commented on this change in the August edition of SmartMoney, "It's now more advantageous to have people experienced in a particular industry than ever before." Morningstar analyst Russ Kinnel states, "In the past, Fidelity could use its muscle to make up for its lack of depth. An analyst who had only been covering semiconductors for nine months could still do better than most because companies would give him information ahead of other analysts. That can't happen anymore."

    In other words, Fidelity has always been accustomed to using its size and influence to game the system, to gain an unfair advantage by nearly always being the first to know anything about a stock before their competitors. They could effectively front-run the information. This is a big no-no and the long-needed correction only came about through regulation.

    Let it be known that such rule changes came about thanks to Donaldson at the SEC -- who steadfastly resisted the pressure he received from the GOP to not introduce such rules. He's now gone and it will be interesting to see what happens with corporate-cozy Cox in his place. Nevertheless, regulations are not inherently evil or bad and can very often help to level the playing field for all Americans and encourage fair play and genuine competition.

    Thursday, July 07, 2005

    This London attack is horrifying, tragic and awful. At least 40 people are reported dead so far.

    With all that's occurred, wouldn't you think the terror alert in our country would be raised? And yet Reuters reports that US officials have "no immediate plan to raise the terrorism alert level."

    Can anyone recall just prior to the November '04 election the brisk activity of this terror alert system? It was up, it was down, it was up again, etc. Tom Ridge recently came out saying he was against many of these alert raisings, and in fact many were based on shoddy/fake/little intel.

    Yet, with the London bombings, no raising of the terror alert. Outrageous, and very telling.

    UPDATE: Only now do they raise the alert. What took so long? It's certainly not an election year anymore....

    Wednesday, July 06, 2005

    For those of us who believe Democrats won’t be taken seriously until they beef up their national security bona fides, the spectacle of liberals channeling their most conspiratorial impulses can be too much to bear. “Although the public’s perception of Iraq is changing, Democrats cannot become the antiwar party,” wrote the Democratic Leadership Council’s Marshall Wittmann this week. “Even at the apex of the Vietnam war in 1968, the American people elected the most hawkish candidate.” -- Noam Scheiber, The New Republic, 7/4/05
    I'm growing a bit weary of people who should be wiser than to compare Iraq to Vietnam. Sure there are similarities between the two, however there's one enormous difference: before the Vietnam War there was no other war like it; Iraq has Vietnam as a precedent.

    Vietnam is a lasting example of an American conflict gone terribly wrong. Prior to it, we had no such similar kind of "defeat." To this day, the general public has strong feelings about what Vietnam meant to this country and it's safe to say that most Americans will never want to repeat it. Ever.

    That said, it makes no sense for Scheiber or Wittmann to draw conclusions today based on those things that occurred then. Perhaps "the most hawkish candidate" was elected then because voters still had no clear idea or appreciation of what was going on with the war and they were still used to America kicking butt in every previous armed conflict. With over thirty years to digest this nightmarish memory, today's voter is likely to take quite a different stance than those in the late 1960s.

    From the start of the Iraq invasion to the present, or just a little over two years, we've seen a complete reversal in poll numbers with most Americans now opposing the occupation. It begs the question: could this fairly swift reversal in poll numbers have occurred so quickly if it weren't for Vietnam as a resounding and horrific reminder? The last thing the public wants is Vietnam II -- again, confirming the impact of Vietnam as a haunting memory and one that will greatly influence actions, and reactions, to this current debacle in Iraq.
  • Prettying up a skunk. The WSJ reports that with conservatives falling over each other to knock Gonzales that it might make him more confirm-able as liberals (stupidly) get swayed into believing he therefore can't be that bad. The Dems were stupid enough to agree to that filibuster deal, so anything is possible.

  • However, the GOP can't help itself as they continue to fight within the party about just how far to the right they need to go regarding this Court nomination. The implosion is on track....

  • Abramoff apparently comped congressional Republican meals at his restaurant -- an ethics rules violation. What will be the defense of these freeloading Republicans?

  • "Since Sept. 11, 2001, President Bush has made many speeches in support of the global war on terrorism, including his address last week exhorting Americans to stay the course in Iraq. Unfortunately, he has never made a recruiting speech," writes Phil Carter. Perhaps that's because it would be an admission of weakness, or rather of perceiving reality. Can't convey that!

  • The "liberal" media has no interest in pursuing the details behind the Downing Street Memos -- certainly not like they tracked down every last detail concerning Whitewater. Why is this? Because they're not interested in high crimes (treason) and misdemeanors, but rather low (blowjobs) "crimes."

  • Another reason to hate the Red Sox (I'm a Yankee fan).
  • Surprise!
      Halliburton wins nearly $5B in Iraq work orders
    (MarketWatch) Halliburton Co. has been awarded work orders totaling $4.97 billion to provide logistics support for U.S. Army forces in Iraq, the Washington Post reported. The new award amounts to $1 billion more than what the Army paid for similar services the previous year, the newspaper said. With this latest deal, Halliburton will continue to supply May 2006 food, sanitation, laundry and other logistical services for the troops as they battle the Iraq insurgency more than two years after Saddam Hussein was toppled from power. Under the Army's previous order for logistics support, Halliburton was paid $6.3 billion for work during the first two years of the occupation, according to the Post. Last week, the Pentagon confirmed that defense auditors have questioned more than $1 billion of the bills that Halliburton has submitted for work in Iraq.
    OK, so apparently 2+ years after "Mission Accomplished," the war is becoming more expensive (to the tune of +58% in this case), and we continue to dole out such inflated sums to a company that defense auditors have "questioned" concerning prior exorbitant bills. Rigorous accountability about all aspects of this Iraq debacle just continues to be non-existent.

    Tuesday, July 05, 2005

    What does it say about the left/right state of affairs in this country when Alberto Gonzalez is regarded as too liberal?
    Asked in the interview whether climate change was "man-made," Bush replied, "To a certain extent it is, obviously." What? Isn't more "science" needed?

    At least Ahnold -- among MANY other Republicans succumbing to reason -- has weighed in on this matter stating, "The debate is over. We know the science. We see the threat posed by changes in our climate and we know the time for action is now."
    For those who at least peruse through the right-wing blogosphere, you may have noticed this common trend:
    The President hasn't even nominated anyone, and already the Democrats are threatening a filibuster - the nominee must be a "consensus" judge; well, from what I can see, the 62 million votes that President Bush got last November puts him squarely in the consensus mainstream of American politics. -- Blogs for Bush
    I can't tell you how many times I read or hear a r-winger still using the November election as some kind of up-to-the-minute appraisal of GW. (And note how they use absolute numbers (62 mil.) as opposed to percentages (50.7%), lamely trying to amplify their point).

    Newsflash: November '04 is over seven months ago; much has happened since then. In fact, in most of the current polls (read: multiple, pick your outlet), GW is hitting rock-bottom. And as usual, the Clinton rule: imagine the r-wing blogosphere if Clinton were still in office -- you think they wouldn't be focusing on the current low polling numbers? However, when it comes to GW, they prefer to freeze time (then again, they're not progressive).

    I suspect that given the trend in these poll figures, they will want to continue to cherish Bush's meager 50.7% election figure for quite some time as there's a good chance he'll never see 50+% again in any popular measure.

    Monday, July 04, 2005

  • They should have this yellow ribbon for cars: "Support Our Troops -- Despite Our President."

  • Great letter to the Boston Globe:
    Oh those dirty, rotten leftist rascals

    John Jaeger has helped me see the light at last (''In past wars, the US didn't have an exit strategy," letter, June 26). How could we liberals have stood idly by during the nightmare that was the Clinton administration?

    Shame on that rogue who promised tax cuts and instead gave us a balanced budget. Not to mention his love life, which will scar many generations to come. And now here we are today criticizing a president who falsifies data used to send the country to war! The hypocrisy!

    The liberals' worst crime is to claim that there is some kind of difference between Operation Iraqi Freedom and World War II. It's amazing that these people would say that there is something different about a war against Nazis committing genocide against Jews and a war about oil, oops, I mean weapons of mass destruction. Of course the White House will soon ''discover" that the WMDs have been shipped from Iraq to North Korea. Obviously a preemptive strike will follow. -- DANNY MORAFF
  • Sunday, July 03, 2005

    Harper's Index is always chock-full of interesting, and very revealing, items. Some examples from April's edition:
    Percentage of born-again U.S. Christians who have been divorced: 35

    Percentage of other Americans who have been: 35

    Chances that the divorce of a born-again Christian happened after he or she accepted Christ: 9 in 10

    Estimated number of young Christians in 1995 who had pledged to wait until marriage for sex: 2,500,000

    Estimated percentage who waited: 12
    In the July 4th edition of TNR, a letter from Doy L. Daniels Jr.:
    As a Christian with a divinity degree and about to begin doctoral work at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, I can offer one bit of insight about the conservative divide Andrew Sullivan cites (“Crisis of Faith,” May 2&9). The problem is that “conservative” Christians have no idea what it means to be conservative Christians. Jesus taught that we who follow Him will “bring good news to the poor, release to the captive,” and relief for the diseased — we are instruments of mercy among the poor, suffering, and marginalized. The Gospel of Christ is absolutely radical. Denying the children of illegal immigrants necessary social services, waging retaliatory war, ignoring the poor, providing medical care based on ability to pay, homophobia, sexism, and classism are not remotely Christian, “conservative” or otherwise.
    Just look at what's going on in Ohio. And recall that in a Wall Street Journal (note: right-wing paper) poll, concerning the question "When it comes to social and moral issues facing the country, do you think that the federal government should generally be more active or less active?," it was an overwhelming 54/35 siding with "Should be less active."

    However, if you're rooting for the demise of the GOP, than I suppose you'd want them to continue doing what they're doing (i.e ignoring the wishes of the general public). But make no mistake, Rove & Co. realize that the hardcore right-wing Christians et al turn out big time to vote, whereas the "general public" is much more lax in this regard. So they will consider these poll figures but always view them in light of voting tendencies, throwing their zealots necessary red meat, etc. -- a balancing act.

    Currently, this matter is causing some real friction within the GOP as the religious right faction is demanding more and more say and influence and yet more moderate factions are beginning to draw lines in the sand. Strap in, it's going to be fun!

    Saturday, July 02, 2005

    With Justice Sandra O'Connor's announced retirement, I'm reading a good amount of laudatory editorials -- perhaps containing a bit too much praise. The Washington Post writes, "Her instincts were pragmatic. She had a pronounced tendency to decide cases on their facts, leaving herself room to shift gears when facts were different." And the NY Times describes her as a "sensible, pragmatic jurist."

    That's all well and good, and given she's in the company of folks like Scalia and Thomas, being tagged "sensible" and "pragmatic" is a no-brainer in a relative sense. However, please, let us not forget one huge decision she made: to side with the 5-4 majority that voted to effectively award the disputed 2000 presidential election to Bush. Also recall that O'Connor reportedly said to her husband that she would be reluctant to retire if a Democrat were in the White House.

    It's bad enough that in 2000 she was on the side of one of the worst Supreme Court decisions in history, with many legal scholars at the time stating this fact. But then to apparently have done so due to something as selfish as this legacy concern is really not especially honorable (!).

    Has she been one of the better jurists on the Court? As I already alluded to, when you consider the likes of Thomas and Scalia, she has been indeed. However, let's not get carried away.
    Me thinks we've found the skunk:
    The e-mails surrendered by Time Inc., which are largely between Cooper and his editors, show that one of Cooper's sources was White House deputy chief of staff Karl Rove, according to two lawyers who asked not to be identified because they are representing witnesses sympathetic to the White House. Cooper and a Time spokeswoman declined to comment. But in an interview with NEWSWEEK, Rove's lawyer, Robert Luskin, confirmed that Rove had been interviewed by Cooper for the article. -- Michael Isikoff, Newsweek
    Rove seemingly being a Nixonian rat fink. Raise your hand if this news is much of a surprise....

    UPDATE: Good points made here.
    Excellent column by Paul Krugman yesterday. As usual, well reasoned, many good points.

    If we exit Iraq, will the country inevitably become the next Afghanistan? Krugman says not necessarily and that the alternative (staying and fighting) could be worse. Iraq is the #1 breeding ground for new terrorists so in many ways it's already the new Afghanistan -- only we continue to see many U.S. soldiers killed in the process. As Krugman states,
    It's far more likely that if the Iraqi government knew that our support had an expiration date, it would both look to its own defenses and, more important, try harder to find a political solution to the insurgency.

    The Iraq that emerges once U.S. forces are gone won't bear much resemblance to the free-market, pro-American, Israel-friendly democracy the neocons promised. But it will pose less of a terrorist threat than the Iraq we have now.
    In addition, his larger point is well taken: Bush created a terrorist breeding ground (via lies and deception) and now we're forced into this conundrum of, as The Clash once said, "Should I Stay Or Should I Go Now?" In effect, Bush and his twisted neocons have successfully blackmailed our country.

    Happy 4th!

    Friday, July 01, 2005

    From Peter Daou:
    THE 'I' WORD - For political observers and operatives, a key benefit of blogwatching is the capacity to spot trends days, weeks, or even months in advance. One theme beginning a slow ascent to the upper echelons of the 'sphere is the 'I' word. Although the impeachment of George W. Bush seems to be a mathematical improbability (considering the partisan balance of Congress), bloggers are beginning to raise the issue, here, here, here, here, and here. A newly released Zogby poll suggesting supporters of impeachment outweigh opponents in some parts of the country gives a boost to those calling for Bush's impeachment, and the Downing Street Memos have given ammunition to those who argue that the Bush administration committed the ultimate sin: lying to America about war.
    Lying about blowjobs = impeach-worthy; lying about war = ???. In effect, the GOP then does not help GW now in that they lowered the bar so much when going after Clinton that the newly-established litmus test does not bode well for the Smirky One. Thanks Newt, Starr, Hyde, etc.!