Wednesday, June 27, 2007

It's been several weeks since media whore Ann Coulter has been in the headlines so of course she felt the need to open her mouth and make another ingenious, reasoned comment: "If I'm going to say anything about John Edwards in the future, I'll just wish he had been killed in a terrorist assassination plot."

I wonder if the lunatic right will applaud this latest disgraceful salvo? Funny how Bush's poll numbers continue to head south, with many Republicans becoming "brave" and daring to criticize the administration, yet we nary hear a peep of condemnation directed at the pathetic Coulter. Yeah, those courageous souls on the right. What principles, what backbone.

It's easy to throw cream pies in Bush's face now -- him being lame duck and all, but he's been this bad for years and yet these same Republicans looked the other way or simply rubber-stamped anything he was doing then. Elizabeth Edwards has more courage in her pinky finger than most of these lap-dog politicians combined. Kudos to her for taking at least one minute out of her life to admonish the despicable Coulter -- but it should just be one minute, as Coulter's not worth much more than that.
After the Dems caved in late May regarding Iraq, I both wanted to condemn them but held back some, writing at the time:
In light of the intractable veto and the known hatchet artists for the GOP, the Dems could be playing the smart poker hand by letting the tide of the war play out. A formal timeline was dropped, but a comprehensive report is slated for September, Bush must give a status report by July 15th on Iraq's progress towards meeting benchmarks, and there are indications judgments will be made well before September rolls around -- in particular by more than a few Republicans.

Assuming no miraculous turnaround in Iraq, GW's popularity will remain in the toilet and the pressure to withdraw will only increase.

Is it, dare say, immoral for the Dems to back away from digging in and demanding a timeline? On principle, yes, but practically, not really. In this case, the practical could be the wiser, and more effective, choice.
It's been just about a month since then and Iraq has not improved, Bush's poll numbers continue to reach new lows, and more Republicans have thrown in the towel on the war, increasing pressure on lame duck GW:
Republican support for the Iraq war is slipping by the day. After four years of combat and more than 3,560 U.S. deaths, two Republican senators previously reluctant to challenge President Bush on the war announced they could no longer support the deployment of 157,000 troops and asked the president to begin bringing them home.
Lugar and Voinovich are not the first GOP members to call for U.S. troops to leave Iraq. Sens. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, Olympia Snowe of Maine and Gordon Smith of Oregon made similar remarks earlier this year. But their public break is significant because it raises the possibility that Senate Democrats could muster the 60 votes needed to pass legislation that would call for Bush to bring troops home.

Their remarks also are an early warning shot to a lame duck president that GOP support for the war is thinning. The administration is not expected until September to say whether a recent troop buildup in Iraq is working.

"Everyone should take note, especially the administration," said Snowe, R-Maine, noting Lugar's senior position within the GOP. "It certainly indicates the tide is turning."
It certainly looks like the Democratic leadership were not so dumb a month ago.... With time, Republicans will continue to help with achieving much of the heavy lifting, as they abandon this withering president to save themselves. After all, they are politicians.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

In today's Washington Post: "The big question right now among Republicans is how to remove Vice President Cheney from office. Even before this week's blockbuster series in The Post, discontent in Republican ranks was rising. As the reputed architect of the war in Iraq, Cheney is viewed as toxic...."

Of all the evil, inept people to populate this administration through the years, the GOP has finally decided that Cheney is just too evil and inept, and gosh darn it he must go! After subjecting the country to this maniacal a-hole for 6+ years, Republicans decide now to shit-can him to save their political skins come an election year. Chain(ey) of fools.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

For the past several months, many of we bloggers have been writing about the slow death of John McCain's campaign, but how long before Giuliani suffers the same fate? If there's any justice, he will.

Yesterday, Steven Benen wrote about the company Rudy keeps, with Time magazine asking, "How many alleged criminals can a law-and-order candidate be associated with before it starts to hurt?" Benen tallies up the infamous Bernard Kerik, Rudy's SC campaign chairman's recent indictment for cocaine distribution, but also Rudy employs an alleged child abuser(!) -- and he's supposedly America's Mayor?

Rolling Stone magazine appears to be on a roll with their political reports and Matt Taibbi's piece on Giuliani is a terrific read. Taibbi basically reiterates the case Rudy has been making for months on the campaign trail: if you want four more years of GW, vote Giuliani.
Just like Bush, Rudy appeals to the couch-bound bully in all of us, and part of the allure of his campaign is the promise to put the Pentagon and the power of the White House at that bully's disposal.
To the extent that conservatism in the Bush years has morphed into a celebration of mindless patriotism and the paranoid witch-hunting of liberals and other dissenters, Rudy seems the most anxious of any Republican candidate to take up that mantle. Like Bush, Rudy has repeatedly shown that he has no problem lumping his enemies in with "the terrorists" if that's what it takes to get over.
[T]here's no question that Giuliani has made the continuation of Swift-Boating politics a linchpin of his candidacy. His political hires speak deeply to that tendency. Chris Henick, formerly Karl Rove's most trusted deputy, is now a key aide at Giuliani Partners, the security firm set up by the mayor to cash in on his 9/11 image..."Rudy definitely got some of Bush's heavier hitters, including all the Swift Boater types," says Alex Cohen, a senior researcher at Public Citizen, who tracks the president's top donors.
In his years as mayor -- and his subsequent career as a lobbyist -- Rudy jumped into bed with anyone who could afford a rubber. Saudi Arabia, Rupert Murdoch, tobacco interests, pharmaceutical companies, private prisons, Bechtel, ChevronTexaco -- Giuliani took money from them all. You could change Rudy's mind literally in the time it took to write a check. A former prosecutor, Giuliani used to call drug dealers "murderers." But as a lobbyist he agreed to represent Seisint, a security firm run by former cocaine smuggler Hank Asher. "I have a great admiration for what he's doing," Rudy gushed after taking $2 million of Asher's money.
That last paragraph depicting Rudy's greed and thirst for money was written long before the recent revelation concerning Rudy's choice for lucrative speaking fees over serving on the Iraq Study Panel. Self before country -- yeah, sounds like GW.

Another Bush/Rudy similarity: huge ego married with astonishing ignorance -- an immensely dangerous combination. Fred Kaplan of Slate recently wrote:
The fact is, Giuliani has no idea what he's talking about. On the campaign trail he says that the terrorist threat "is something I understand better than anyone else running for president." As the mayor of New York City on Sept. 11, 2001, he may have lived more intimately with the consequences of terrorism, but this has no bearing on his inexperience or his scant insight in the realm of foreign policy. He is, in fact, that most dangerous would-be world leader: a man who doesn't seem to know how much he doesn't know.
"Has no idea what he's talking about" could've easily been written about Bush in his 2000 run, but also at anytime since then. Both Rudy and GW are clueless, yet through bullying and sheer determined insistence they pull off the image that they at least appear to know what they're talking about. Many have since wised up to Bush being a know-nothing buffoon, and it will just take some time for the same to occur for Rudy.

As I've been complaining about since February, we have the wrong NYC mayor running for president. A month ago, Bruce Reed wrote:
Giuliani's never-ending stumbles over such an obvious hurdle as abortion suggest that he has approached his campaign with insufficient seriousness. By contrast, Bloomberg's calculated bids for attention on climate change, education, and guns give every indication that his unannounced campaign for the presidency is running on all cylinders.

As a shadow candidate, Bloomberg is running the campaign Giuliani should have run, as a pragmatist who helped a big city take on big problems. Earlier this month, Bloomberg launched a Web site that outlines his stands on the big issues in greater detail than Giuliani can provide after five months in the race.
Who knows, in a few months the picture could greatly change, with Rudy having finally imploded and Bloomberg making a surprise go of it. Stay tuned.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Yesterday, Dan Froomkin noticed something I wrote about on Thursday, that "Cheney's office was complying in 2001 and 2002 but decided to stop doing so in 2003. Smells like he didn't like doing it in those first two years, had David Addington et al working overtime to come up with some interpretation voiding this need to be accountable, and lo and behold in 2003 they apparently came up with some deranged view that they hoisted and have been hoisting ever since -- until we finally got a congress that would fight back."

Froomkin argues:
On March 25, 2003, just days after ordering U.S. troops into Iraq, Bush signed an executive order amending Executive Order 12958, which President Clinton had signed in 1995, and which laid out a host of rules about the classification and declassification of secret information.

Bush did not change the requirement that federal agencies report at least once a year on their implementation of those policies. Nor did he change the definition of who was covered by the reporting requirements. That continued to include any "entity within the executive branch that comes into the possession of classified information."

But Bush did make one major change: Giving the vice president all the same classification powers as the president. Clinton's order had assigned those powers only to the president, agency heads and their specifically designated subordinates. Bush's order added one more party: The vice president. Or, in the precise and possibly telling words of the order: "[I]n the performance of executive duties, the Vice President."
We've known for quite some time that this VP is by far the most powerful in history, and with this bit of news it quickly becomes evident how this was made possible: Bush has made him equal to himself, changing the equation to "VP = President". Just more pissing on our Constitution by the gang that oh-so favors strict constructionism. An absolute joke.

The mafia is often used as an appropriate analogy for this administration and it's perfectly conceivable that Bush decided in 2003 to officially designate Cheney as his henchman, the go-to guy for all needed dirty work, his Luca Brasi.

This mob must go!

Friday, June 22, 2007

The Big Bail Out

Senior personnel are beginning to leave all areas of government and the expectation is for this pace to quicken very soon:
At least 20 senior aides have left important posts in the White House, Pentagon or State Department over the past six months, as chaos has deepened in Iraq. “There’s a real sense of fatigue and very little sense of purpose,” said a senior official, who asked not to be named. “My guess is you’re going to see a lot more departures.”
It's one thing to be a lame duck, it's quite another to be a slowly rotting carcass attracting flies. Where does this leave we the people in terms of governance we deserve? Granted, that same question could be asked about the last six years, but will there be one person left of any remote sense of quality to help guide an administration that effectively has become the Exxon Valdez? Can we possibly petition to have the presidential election this November, for the sake of the country? Bush, for one, would surely not protest the idea.

Yet, in some demented way, Bush may have done some good by insuring through his wreck-of-a-reign that we never, ever elect someone like him again. He has been so bad on so many fronts that one can only hope this lesson has sunk in, deep.
Is Dick Cheney the King of America?

As the Democratic-led Congress digs deeper into this administration's wrong doings, we continue to find Cheney showing up as a force that had huge impact and yet desired zero accountability, believing he was beyond it both legally and conceptually.

Chairman of the Oversight Committee, Henry Waxman, has written a letter to Cheney stating, "Your office may have the worst record in the executive branch for safeguarding classified information...Given this record, serious questions can be raised about both the legality and the advisability of exempting your office from the rules that apply to all other executive branch officials."

Cheney argues that the VP office is not part of the executive branch of government and therefore does not have to comply with numerous laws and orders. Last time I looked, his office was listed under "Executive Branch" of government. Also, isn't it quite interesting that Cheney's office was complying in 2001 and 2002 but decided to stop doing so in 2003. Smells like he didn't like doing it in those first two years, had David Addington et al working overtime to come up with some interpretation voiding this need to be accountable, and lo and behold in 2003 they apparently came up with some deranged view that they hoisted and have been hoisting ever since -- until we finally got a congress that would fight back.

In addition, King Cheney looked to abolish the agency that was giving him such headaches.

As if the above wasn't bad enough, we also learn from Rolling Stone magazine:
It is no secret that industry-connected appointees within the White House have worked actively to distort the findings of federal climate scientists, playing down the threat of climate change. But a new investigation by Rolling Stone reveals that those distortions were sanctioned at the highest levels of our government, in a policy formulated by the vice president, implemented by the White House Council on Environmental Quality and enforced by none other than Karl Rove. An examination of thousands of pages of internal documents that the White House has been forced to relinquish under the Freedom of Information Act - as well as interviews with more than a dozen current and former administration scientists and climate-policy officials - confirms that the White House has implemented an industry-formulated disinformation campaign designed to actively mislead the American public on global warming and to forestall limits on climate polluters.
"It's a charade," says Jeremy Symons, who represented the EPA on Cheney's energy task force, the industry-studded group that met in secret to craft the administration's energy policy. "They have a single-minded determination to do nothing - while making it look like they are doing something."
A must-read article. Bush/Cheney/Rove basically organized and carried out a mafia-like hit on facts and science.

But deniers of climate change, who buy into all the orchestrated disinformation, will simply deny this investigation. After all, it's by the leftist, pinko Rolling Stone! Always easier to deny, deny, deny rather than get angry and demand accountability and retribution.

But one thing is certain: Cheney is one scary, scary entity (in his case, saying "person" just doesn't seem to fit).

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

On his radio show today, Hugh Hewitt interviewed the director of The Nixon Presidential Library, John Taylor. Hewitt mentioned to Taylor that Andrew Sullivan recently quipped that Hillary Clinton is "Nixon in a pant suit." Somewhat interestingly, Taylor responded that the one thing they certainly have in common is they're polarizing, but he added if people think this attribute could hurt Clinton to just consider that Nixon won two elections, the second one by a huge margin.

I accept his point, but remain doubtful whether the comparison is truly valid. Yes, a public figure is not doomed for being liked and disliked at extremes. However, it's difficult to see where it helps come election time, especially since the reality for Hillary will come down to X number of folks will never vote for her and X number will because they'll never vote for the GOP alternative. Also, if for the sake of argument we continue to assume she gets the Dem nod for next November, it's still too early to tell if she'll face off against as weak a candidate as McGovern turned out to be vs. Nixon.

My fear is a bigger hurdle for her will be closet sexism. Telling a pollster over the phone that you like Hillary and will vote for her is one thing, but unfortunately many could do quite the opposite when they get behind the curtain and have to pull the lever. During that moment of truth, deep-seeded feelings have a way of bubbling up -- no matter how ugly or wrong those feeling may be. The same could be said for Gore when he chose Lieberman, with closet antisemitism likely costing the ticket valuable votes, and closet racism could potentially cost Obama votes.

Yes, a horrible topic to consider and think about, but in this country -- where many still hold on to such backward, heinous beliefs -- it's a sad reality.
The Dem-controlled Congress continues to bring accountability back to DC. Their latest finding? Karl Rove and several of his colleagues used RNC email accounts for official business.

In short, they broke the law, period. Forget the fact they then deleted many if not most of those emails. The fact remains what they did was illegal -- THEY BROKE THE LAW.

Where is the condemnation from the sanctimonious "rule of law" crowd that so desperately wanted to hoist Bill Clinton from office? Hell, where is the outrage from the so-called liberal press? (crickets)

Of course, all of the above occurred with AG Gonzo well aware and yet he did nothing to stop it.

Sometimes you just run out of words....
Regarding progress with the surge, the recent U.S. News & World Report offers, "early indications are far from encouraging." In addition, "the Pentagon reports that overall violence levels nationwide remain as high as ever. Indeed, even as U.S. troops boost their presence in some Baghdad neighborhoods, many insurgents appear to have simply moved to outlying provinces that now have a much thinner security presence."

It's like the arcade game whack-a-mole. They just reappear somewhere else, only to then move back from whence they came. An exercise in futility with the end result being U.S. soldier fatalities. Madness.
Sometimes you just have to ask "why?"

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The administration and the military have been hard at work trying to postpone this September as the month of reckoning for the Iraq surge. Hopefully, the Democrats will maintain spines and hold them to this deadline.

But in addition to Dems, count on many Republicans to also stand pat on September. Sen. GOP leader Mitch McConnell has recently stated, "I think everybody anticipates that there's going to be a new strategy in the fall...The time to properly evaluate that, it strikes me, is in September."

Look, it comes down to two realities: the political fate of more than a few Republicans heading into 2008 versus attempts to preserve the legacy of a failed, lame duck president. Which do you think will win out? My money is on the vote-thirsty former.
The following quote pretty much sums up Iraq: "The same policymakers who assumed that Iraq would be a cakewalk now assume that the hard-to-predict consequences of leaving will be vastly worse than the demonstrated costs of hanging on."

But are we to grant them a mulligan for getting Iraq completely wrong, assuming no one is perfect and they deserve another chance? Don't think so, for one because this war was not all about a single, huge decision but instead has been comprised of many decisions. So these guys are not 0-1 but rather more like 0-58. They've been wrong, repeatedly. It's called incompetence.
After 9/11, did GW's craziness blackmail Tony Blair?

Monday, June 18, 2007

The religious right is working to make America more secular:
In a paper in the American Sociological Review, Michael Hout and Claude S. Fischer announced the startling fact that the percentage of Americans who said they had “no religious preference” had doubled in less than 10 years, rising from 7 percent to 14 percent of the population. This unexpected spike wasn’t the result of growing atheism, Hout and Fischer argued; rather, more Americans were distancing themselves from organized religion as “a symbolic statement” against the religious right.
Many Americans are choosing to exchange freedom from eternal damnation for a blatant expression against conservative organized religion. I wonder to what extent the reasoning is something along the lines of if God endorses and condones the likes of Dobson, Falwell, or Robertson, I'd rather be an atheist. Oh, the irony.

Also, there's proof that Democrats should give up their attempts to court the votes of the deeply religious (meaning don't wear religion on one's sleeve while campaigning):
Liberals have spent much of the past six years straining to cut into the GOP’s advantage among religious voters. But when the Democrats finally shattered the Republican majority in the 2006 midterms, it was their consolidation of the secular vote that helped put them over the top. Despite all their efforts to close the God gap, the Democrats managed barely any gains among frequent churchgoers last November—but their share of the vote among Americans who never attend church at all leaped to 67 percent, from 55 percent in 2002.
Democrats should stick to the issues and ease up on the religion talk. The growth is apparently away from religion anyway thanks to the intolerant, hateful Dobson/Falwell/Robertson sect.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

It's not surprising that Judge Walton would receive several threatening letters "wishing bad things on me and my family.” What is surprising is that no one in this administration, namely Bush, would take just a minute to publicly denounce those who sent such letters. But then again I'm not surprised.
Yeah, it sucks only when Bush criticizes his own (wasn't a problem when directed at Dems). And according to Trent Lott, it sucks only when the conservative talk radio dumbo machine is "pounding" their own (but apparently it's OK when they spread lies and distortions about everything else).

Friday, June 15, 2007

Dan Froomkin (facetiously?) wonders why Bush isn't being more forthcoming about exactly why the nine federal prosecutors were fired.
Instead, the White House's carefully parsed and entirely unforthcoming statements on this matter are reminiscent of the response four years ago to allegations that White House aides had leaked CIA agent Valerie Plame's identity to reporters.

Back then, Bush could well have demanded an answer from his staffers and then shared it with the American people. He chose not to. Whether he chose not to because he knew that two of his top aides were involved in the leaking is still, to this day, not entirely clear. By stonewalling, Bush was able to postpone that revelation until after getting reelected.
The obvious reason must be that because of the severity of the wrong committed, Bush would rather opt for the slower-moving course of action tied to subpoenas and court rulings than the much more expedient alternative of him willfully coming clean. Such stonewalling proved beneficial in the 2004 election with the Plame scandal, and as with Iraq, Bush is just desperately trying to run out the accountability clock. January 2009 cannot come fast enough for this failed lame duck.

It's up to the Democrats to push hard and remain in hot pursuit of the truth for this "mystery" to come to an appropriate end.
Libby must go directly to jail. The pardon clock starts now.
On Monday morning the Sopranos final episode overshadowed news that U.S. forces in Iraq are collaborating with Sunni insurgents, arming those who have recently fought us. There is a big problem:
Americans officers acknowledge that providing weapons to breakaway rebel groups is not new in counterinsurgency warfare, and that in places where it has been tried before, including the French colonial war in Algeria, the British-led fight against insurgents in Malaya in the early 1950s, and in Vietnam, the effort often backfired, with weapons given to the rebels being turned against the forces providing them.
Despite this less-than-sparkling track record, the fact that we're willing to gamble on this arrangement -- potentially jeopardizing the lives of many U.S. soldiers -- is an indication of just how bad things have devolved in Iraq. Now we are just rolling the dice and keeping our fingers crossed.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Things continue to remain bleak in Iraq:
Iraq’s political leaders have failed to reach agreements on nearly every law that the Americans have demanded as benchmarks, despite heavy pressure from Congress, the White House and top military commanders. With only three months until progress reports are due in Washington, the deadlock has reached a point where many Iraqi and American officials now question whether any substantive laws will pass before the end of the year.
Our soldiers stay there, fighting and dying, so that these lawmakers can stall and agree to disagree. Enough.
History dictates if Republicans can't easily take the rural vote, they're in trouble. Big trouble.
Video about the outbreak of amnesia in this administration. Funny, but not really.
A federal appeals court has ruled against Bush's enemy combatant policy.

"The President cannot eliminate constitutional protections with the stroke of a pen by proclaiming a civilian, even a criminal civilian, an enemy combatant subject to indefinite military detention," the panel found.

Judge Motz wrote, "To sanction such presidential authority to order the military to seize and indefinitely detain civilians, even if the president calls them ‘enemy combatants,’ would have disastrous consequences for the Constitution — and the country. We refuse to recognize a claim to power that would so alter the constitutional foundations of our republic.”

What's amazing is that it took an appeal to recognize the obvious: what this administration has been trying to get away with -- and thus far succeeded -- was all along fundamentally un-American and unconstitutional. The fact that our judicial system finally worked to admonish this wrong is a relief, albeit long overdue.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Regarding the outcry by the right for a Libby pardon, Dick Polman sums things up nicely:
So here’s the Republican bible on selective morality: If a high official of a Republican administration lies under oath and obstructs justice in order to impede a national security investigation, and to prevent a prosecutor from even determining whether an “underlying crime” had been committed,” that’s perfectly fine. But if a Democratic president lies under oath to impede a sex investigation (even when there was no underlying crime, since the sex with Monica Lewinsky was consensual, no illegal), those are sufficient grounds for throwing the president out of office – because, after all, perjury for any reason is not only wrong, it is also a violation of “the rule of law.”
Or as Glenn Greenwald succinctly puts it, "It is hardly surprising that the right-wing movement of which he [Libby] is a part operates from the premise that their comrades ought to be exempt from criminal prosecution even when they commit felonies."

Did anyone really think the Bill Clinton witch hunt was really about the GOP's sanctimonious concern for the rule of law? Laughable.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Regarding the no-confidence in Gonzo resolution, Steve Benen wrote about the words of longtime DoJ employee Dan Metcalfe, who stated, “I think the way in which the firings themselves were handled was abominable, the way in which the ensuing controversy was handled was abysmal, and the way in which Gonzales has handled himself is absolutely appalling. As a long-term Justice Department official, I am embarrassed and increasingly incensed that he is still in there.”

Benen wrote, "Everyone in the Senate chamber, regardless of party or intellect, knows that Metcalfe’s perspective is a) accurate; b) frightening; and c) common among career officials at the DoJ. To vote against the no-confidence resolution is to endorse the indefensible status quo."

Well, 38 voted for the indefensible. Click here to see the names and how they voted. Print it out and save. If you are in a state that has a senator who voted "No" to this resolution, please seriously consider not voting for this person when up for re-election. In all honesty, how could you?

Oh, and notice Lieberman voted "No". It's one thing for him to claim he is with Bush and the Republicans when it comes to Iraq, but the sheer incompetence and likely law-breaking ways of Gonzales are a bit removed from anything directly involved with Iraq. How can Lieberman possibly defend this vote? Even seven Republicans had enough sense to vote the other way.

One of those Republicans being Sen. Arlen Specter. However, Specter first came out saying he hoped this resolution was not some partisan attempt to embarrass Bush, but went on to say, "If you ask Arlen Specter, do I have confidence in Attorney General Gonzales, the answer is a resounding no. I'm going to vote that I have no confidence in Attorney General Gonzales."

OK, so Specter qualifies as "I didn't like the resolution before I voted for it."

Meanwhile, on Olbermann's Countdown tonight, Howard Fineman said this resolution was a "largely inside the beltway issue that is...too abstract for most people to be following." Fineman then said, "But it is significant enough for those senators who are up for re-election, those Republicans in those swing states, to be cautious."

What the hell is Fineman saying exactly? That the public at large is just too dumb to follow this issue, much less care about it, but for some reason the citizens in purple-ish states are smart enough and care enough to make the issue matter? Just nonsensical, downright stupid reasoning.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Bravo to the final Sopranos episode. I won't say much for now given many may still not have seen it, but Chase is brilliant -- and remains so when taking poignant shots at GW and his supporters. Note that Carm and T are Bushies, and yet when their son says he wants to join the Army to go fight in Afghanistan, suddenly the war over there sucks and is too dangerous for their boy. The yellow ribbon and bravery talk is all well and good as long as it's someone else's child doing the actual fighting. Suddenly out of the blue, AJ's parents back up the truck with all kinds of amazing offers (movie exec, club owner) to entice him away from a life in the military. Also, notice that these job offers could've been offered to AJ many episodes ago, perhaps alleviating some of his depression and grief, but Carm and T only decide to dump this mother load of future jobs when he expresses interest in fighting Bush's war over there (so they won't come here). Made in America. Yup, Chase is brilliant.
Dick Polman (and Paul Krugman) explains how Romney either blatantly lied last Tuesday night or he's woefully misinformed. Whichever the case, this occurrence alone should preclude Romney from becoming president.

Thanks to the newly awoken independents, we may not have to worry:
The big challenge for Romney would come later, if he wins the GOP nomination. Uttering falsehoods about why we went to war – particularly in an autumn debate - probably wouldn’t fly with swing-voting independents, most of whom now believe that the invasion was a mistake and that the ruling Republicans misled the nation. In 2008, no Republican can win if he leaves the impression that he will be as averse to factual reality as the man he seeks to replace.
Matt Cooper feels there's a very good chance Bush will not pardon Libby. He sums things up by writing, "Unfortunately for Libby, Bush's not a pardon kind of guy."

We'll see. Bush may dislike pardons, but Libby is a "special" friend candidate. Given his fall-guy status, look for an exception to be made. Loyalty is the golden rule with GW and easily trumps anything having to do with appearances much less the rule of law. Just consider the lengths he's going through for Gonzo.

Bush will likely take the heat and commute the sentence.
In this week's NY Observer, just on pages 16-17, we find Mayor Mike Bloomberg taking on the "gun nuts," as well as looking to increase recycling levels, and there's an appropriate mention by Joe Conason of Giuliani's gift to Bloomberg: "When he [Rudy] departed City Hall, he left on his desk a gaping deficit of nearly $4 billion—and Mayor Michael Bloomberg had no choice but to raise taxes."

He's not the first Republican to cut taxes while in office only to hand the deficit bag over to the incoming person to fix. But it's crystal clear that this country would be much better off if they had the current NYC mayor as a real choice for the White House, as opposed to his smoke-and-mirrors, GW-for-four-more-years predecessor.
From The Progress Report:
Last month's dramatic testimony by former Deputy Attorney General James Comey has prompted renewed attention and focus on the administration's warrantless domestic spying efforts. Describing the shocking lengths that the White House went to in order to gain legal sanction for its surveillance program, Comey revealed that President Bush called then-Attorney General John Ashcroft's wife to seek permission for former chief of staff Andrew Card and then-White House counsel Alberto Gonzales to visit a debilitated and hospitalized Ashcroft at his bedside. The White House orchestrated the hospital visit in March 2004, one day after a meeting between Vice President Dick Cheney and Comey in which Justice Department officials announced their staunch opposition to certifying the program. Cheney tried to skirt Comey's authority by seeking Ashcroft's approval, but Ashcroft demurred as well. The White House then reauthorized the spying program "without a signature from the Department of Justice attesting as to its legality," prompting at least eight top Justice officials to threaten their resignation. Bush finally backed down, altering the program in order to get the Justice Department's sign-off. The saga over the White House's trevails to get legal approval underscores the serious questions that surround the program -- questions that remain largely unresolved to this day.
The more we learn about the Ashcroft/hospital saga, as well as the domestic spying program in general, the more outrageous it all becomes. We now know that it was Bush who phoned Ashcroft's wife for permission to visit her ailing husband, who at the time was no longer the man in charge, but no matter. So we now know it was Bush who initiated the attempt to circumvent the JD by swooping in on Ashcroft. We also know wiretapping / eavesdropping activity went on for several months without the JD's approval, meaning crimes were repeatedly and systematically committed at that time. We also now know Cheney blocked the promotion of a JD official who dared to raise questions about the legality of the surveillance program -- that combined with the threat of massive resignations within the JD and yet we're to believe there were no major disagreement's in the department about this program?

These guys are beyond running a sham government. Yes, they operate as if in a banana republic, but in such a country there would've likely been a coup by now.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

The good news just keeps on coming:

  • Bush visits with the Pope amidst thousands of anti-American protesters. Over 10,000 police will attempt to keep the peace, but they're warning all U.S. tourists to not become easy marks. Yeah, I know, it's not Bush's fault one iota, this global anti-American sentiment, just a bunch of lefty, commie lunatics. F*ck'em, right?

  • Gen. Peter Pace is out. Gates blatantly admitted he didn't want Pace to have to answer the tough questions regarding the Iraq war. Better to duck accountability altogether. Keep running from it and hopefully it will become someone else's problem. I suppose it didn't help that Pace seemed to be quite the dunce, writing a letter in support of Libby (unheard of for military officer) and expressing his views concerning the "right" kind of sexuality.

  • Reports are that Turkey has been shelling northern Iraq and have crossed the border at least once to conduct fighting. Is this just one more thing to worry about, Turkey getting drawn into invading Iraq? Just when the U.S. is trying to calm Iraq down, we now have this news, which would certainly ramp up the chaos. Is this a new tact of the insurgency, to incite and suck in other countries? The situation just continues to worsen.
  • Friday, June 08, 2007

    So Fitzgerald wanted a 30-37 month sentence, Libby's defense wanted probation, the Reagan/GW appointed Judge Reggie Walton went with Fitzgerald, and the judge stated evidence of guilt was "overwhelming." If the judge decides Libby should go to prison, it just further drives home the degree of Libby's guilt.

    And yet Bush will still pardon a very, very guilty Libby? Also ignoring the Justice Department's pardon regulations that 1) require a period of at least five years after conviction, and 2) the person must show genuine remorse. Libby clearly does not qualify under either one.

    If Bush pardons Libby, freeing him of jail time, it should haunt Bush at every turn, not just in his remaining 18 months in office but even after in private life. Also, if a pardon doesn't sink his poll numbers below 20%, nothing will.

    But one can make the case that Bush might be potentially willing to let Libby rot in jail (I don't believe it, but let's just assume). Bush recently said, "it wouldn't be appropriate for me to discuss the case until after the legal remedies have run its course." And when Perino was asked when is the legal process considered over, she said, "when those appeals are exhausted."

    So the president will not speak about the case until the appeals process has "run its course." Wow, sounds like GW is (finally) going to respect our legal system -- so much so that he's not going to say a word about the Libby case. Let's see if this new-found sanctity for the law stance holds up if Libby gets sent to the pokey next week. Will Bush then continue to let the judicial process run its course? Will he patiently wait for the appeals to exhaust themselves?

    Or will he instead go from seeming respectful with silence on the matter to the opposite extreme and grant a pardon? How will he then explain the abrupt shift from no-comment silence out of respect for forthcoming appeals to a pardon?

    It screams just one thing: bullsh*t followed by more bullsh*t.

    Wednesday, June 06, 2007

    In Bob Herbert's latest column, he writes about a familiar topic these days: prospects for Gore running in 2008.
    I find myself speculating on what might have been if the man who got the most votes in 2000 had actually become president. It’s like imagining an alternate universe.

    The war in Iraq would never have occurred. Support and respect for the U.S. around the globe would not have plummeted to levels that are both embarrassing and dangerous. The surpluses of the Clinton years would not have been squandered like casino chips in the hands of a compulsive gambler on a monumental losing streak.
    Not to diminish Herbert's words, but it's hard to imagine that anyone would've screwed things up worse than GW in his two terms.

    Herbert has this nugget from Gore, "You know, I don’t really think I’m that good at politics, to tell you the truth. Some people find out important things about themselves early in life. Others take a long time.”

    Sounds like he's simply playing down expectations, which is typical behavior for anyone running or planning to run for president. We especially observed this with Rove's handling of Bush, set the bar low and it makes it that much easier to excel and appear winning.

    If anything, Gore appears to be getting better at politics.

    Concerning Iraq, Gore says the objective should be "to get our troops out of there as soon as possible while simultaneously observing the moral duty that all of us share — including those of us who opposed this war in the first instance — to remove our troops in a way that doesn’t do further avoidable damage to the people who live there."

    A near perfect answer, especially for a presidential contender. Note he made sure to remind that he "opposed this war in the first instance."

    Yeah, I think the door's still wide open.
    Regarding immigration, Bush has been criticizing his own and Peggy Noonan for one is not pleased. Dick Polman writes:
    Noonan is particularly incensed about President Bush’s shoddy treatment of his conservative critics. Many members of the increasingly fragile GOP coalition have strongly attacked Bush’s path-to-citizenship immigration bill, and, in response, he has impugned their patriotism. Last week, Bush said that opponents of his immigration bill “don’t want to do what’s right for America.” Bush surrogates have intimated the same thing.

    Noonan is nonplused: “Why would they speak so insultingly, with such hostility, of opponents who are concerned citizens? And often, though not exclusively, (of) concerned conservatives?” My response to that is: Welcome to the club, Peggy. For years, Bush and his surrogates have suggested that they alone have a monopoly on the national interest, and that those who disagree with them are ipso facto threats to the national interest. (Bush, referring to his Senate Democratic critics in 2002, said that they were “not interested in the security of the American people.”) It’s only now, apparently, that Noonan and other mainstream Republicans have fully come to appreciate the Bush team’s signature arrogance.
    Hmm, it's not fun when shoe is on the other foot, huh Peggy? I suppose it's also unpleasant to see your guy for what he truly is: a superficial, callow coward who relies on name calling and inflammatory, false accusations as a pathetic means to get his way.

    Bush has been doing this for years to the Dems, and it was acceptable then by the likes of Noonan. However, apparently it's insulting and hostile only when such treatment is directed at oneself. The height of ignorance.
    Before the far right goes ballistic over the Libby decision, likely blaming everyone but Libby himself, let it be known that the judge (Walton) was first appointed by Reagan in 1981 and then appointed to the federal bench in 2001 by GW. It would appear that he ain't no liberal.

    Tuesday, June 05, 2007

    More evidence that Cheney is the most powerful (and crazed-maniacal) VP in history:
    Multiple sources have reported that a senior aide on Vice President Cheney's national security team has been meeting with policy hands of the American Enterprise Institute, one other think tank, and more than one national security consulting house and explicitly stating that Vice President Cheney does not support President Bush's tack towards Condoleezza Rice's diplomatic efforts and fears that the president is taking diplomacy with Iran too seriously.

    This White House official has stated to several Washington insiders that Cheney is planning to deploy an "end run strategy" around the president if he and his team lose the policy argument.

    The thinking on Cheney's team is to collude with Israel, nudging Israel at some key moment in the ongoing standoff between Iran's nuclear activities and international frustration over this to mount a small-scale conventional strike against Natanz using cruise missiles (i.e., not ballistic missiles).

    This strategy would sidestep controversies over bomber aircraft and overflight rights over other Middle East nations and could be expected to trigger a sufficient Iranian counter-strike against US forces in the Gulf -- which just became significantly larger -- as to compel Bush to forgo the diplomatic track that the administration realists are advocating and engage in another war.
    The zinger of this information is the admission by this Cheney aide that Cheney himself is frustrated with President Bush and believes, much like Richard Perle, that Bush is making a disastrous mistake by aligning himself with the policy course that Condoleezza Rice, Bob Gates, Michael Hayden and McConnell have sculpted.

    According to this official, Cheney believes that Bush can not be counted on to make the "right decision" when it comes to dealing with Iran and thus Cheney believes that he must tie the president's hands.

    Sunday, June 03, 2007

    Regarding Bush's latest global warming announcement, the conservative Wall Street Journal wrote, it "effectively removes the U.S. as the last doubter among big developed nations." Well let's give GW a medal!

    But the fact remains, thanks to Bush the U.S. is far, far from the first real mover on the issue. This latest proposal is just more nothing dressed up as something.

    Dan Froomkin wrote, "Bush's proposal calls for a new round of international meetings that would nearly outlast his presidency. The purpose of the meetings would not be to set caps on emissions, but to establish what the White House -- uncorking a bold new euphemism -- calls 'aspirational goals.' But a change in rhetoric was enough to generate some headlines about the administration's attention to the issue."

    It was just more (black) smoke and mirrors, more kicking the can down the road to run out the clock, and yet look good doing it via duping the always-gullible "liberal" media that he actually intends to do something of substance and with teeth.

    To get translations of what Bush really meant, click here.

    On this subject of global warming, in the debut issue of Portfolio magazine, John Cassidy glibly writes, "I did a quick cost-benefit analysis of this presumed product of climate change...What about the costs? The only one I could think of was that a few people might have decided they no longer needed a winter vacation, which would hurt the airlines and the Florida tourism industry."

    Why is it when I read about climate change, often the only item of concern referred to is the actual warming of the atmosphere, and then at times you do read about how this could be a good thing. Are these people insane? What do they think is causing the warming? It's not just CO2 (which I'm fairly certain we humans do not breathe in and benefit from), but pollution, toxins, harmful emissions -- all leading to health problems frequently resulting in death.

    So next time you read or hear of this sort of pro/con debate regarding global warming, remember the issue involves much more than just about needing fewer sweaters in the winter.
    Harold Meyerson recently wrote:
    Of all the absurdities attending our unending war in Iraq, the greatest is this: We are fighting to defend that which is not there.

    We are fighting for a national government that is not national but sectarian, and has shown no capacity to govern. We are training Iraq's security forces to combat sectarian violence though those forces are thoroughly sectarian and have themselves engaged in large-scale sectarian violence. We are fighting for a nonsectarian, pluralistic Iraq, though whatever nonsectarian and pluralistic institutions existed before our invasion have long since been blasted out of existence. In the December 2005 parliamentary elections, the one nonsectarian party, which ran both Shiite and Sunni candidates, won just 8 percent of the vote.

    Every day, George W. Bush asks young Americans to die in defense of an Iraq that has ceased to exist (if it ever did) in the hearts and minds of Iraqis.
    In contrast to the notion held in Bush's juvenile imagination, the only unified Iraq known to have ever existed was an artificial one, held together by the brute force of Saddam.

    The evil tyrant is long gone but GW continues to believe in the possibility of a structure that was only possible with Saddam alive.
    Something the Dems could have been strongly banking on when reluctantly deciding to fold regarding their demands for a timetable. In due time, Republicans will look to save their own political skins versus siding with a lame duck, increasingly unpopular president.
    Could Gonzo be facing disbarment? And if it occurs, would GW continue to fight to keep him as AG? Like Homer Simpson said about that delectable pig, "It's still good! It's still good!"
    So many of our soldiers are now getting killed in Iraq, individual ceremonies are becoming impossible, necessitating one ceremony for all. Posted with no comment.
    More proof that Ronald Reagan was a liberal compared to today's far right:
    And yet, it [the immigration bill] faces a barrage of criticism on the right from those who seem to reject any solution to immigration that does not deport 12 million people. Anything else they call amnesty. The term amnesty comes from the 1986 immigration bill, supported and signed by Ronald Reagan, which gave many illegal immigrants in the United States immediate permanent residency—green cards—with few requirements, a tiny fee and a fast-tracked application process. The current proposal would allow illegal immigrants to apply for a green card after a minimum of eight years, the payment of large fines and fees and proof of clean records and good employment history.
    The right loves to cloak themselves in Reagan nostalgia -- as long as it's cleansed from much of what represents actual reality. They didn't waste any time in revising history.
    Yesterday, Michael Kinsley wrote:
    There was a time, circa 1999, when Republicans considered it the height of naivete, irresponsibility and indifference to the fate of American soldiers to commit any troops to action in a foreign country without what used to be called an "exit strategy." That was when the president was a Democrat. Now it is considered the height of naivete, irresponsibility and indifference to the fate of American soldiers to suggest the possibility of any exit strategy short of triumph. If you do, you are betraying the troops. And no one sees actual triumph in the cards, so there is no exit strategy.
    Just more partisan hypocrisy. If Bill Clinton = wrong, if GW = A-OK.

    Saturday, June 02, 2007

    This Tuesday Scooter Libby is to be sentenced. Do you think the judge will favor "160 heartfelt letters" sent to him by close friends, most requesting leniency, or the prosecutor, Patrick Fitzgerald?
    Fitzgerald said the punishment would match the gravity of the offense and the intensity of his investigation into what he considered a serious violation of national security laws. He argued that Libby deserved an enhanced sentence because he "substantially interfered" with the special counsel's probe, which reached into Cheney's office in an effort to determine who might have orchestrated the leak.

    Fitzgerald also said that the evidence he collected showed that Libby's lies followed substantial deliberation and were not "inadvertent" or unplanned, as Libby's attorneys had argued.
    Purposeful obstruction of justice to get to the truth, involving a case of national security during a time of war -- yeah, sounds like a pretty serious offense to me, at least much more so than lying about blowjobs.

    We'll see what the judge thinks this Tuesday....
    Yes, it's time for a smart U.S. president.

    As Eugene Robinson writes:
    I want a president who reads newspapers...I want a president who looks forward to policy meetings...I want a president who believes in empirical fact...I want a president smart enough to know a good deal about science...I want the next president to be intellectually curious -- and also intellectually honest...I don't want the candidates to pretend to be average people, because why would we choose an ordinary person for such an extraordinary job?
    100% agreed. And guess who Robinson favors? (Hint: he's not running -- yet).

    Friday, June 01, 2007

    We have more truth coming from an ex-president than the current one (the quote is more than a year old, but even more relevant today):
    JIMMY CARTER: What I believe is that there are people in Washington now, some of our top leaders, who never intend to withdraw military forces from Iraq and they're looking for ten, 20, 50 years in the future...because that was the reason that we went into Iraq was to establish a permanent military base in the Gulf region and I have never heard any of our leaders say that they would commit themselves to the Iraqi people that ten years from now there will be no military bases of the United States in Iraq.
    More of the typical Orwellian double-speak:
    Later, Snow said it was impossible to say if U.S. troops would remain in Iraq for some 50 years, as they have in South Korea. "I don't know," he said. "It is an unanswerable question. But I'm not making that suggestion. ... The war on terror is a long war."
    In the same breath, two opposing notions: Snow is not making the suggestion that our troops will remain in Iraq for long, but the war is a long one -- huh? And he makes the insinuation that war is an infinite continuum, an eternal quest. It's lunacy.