Thursday, August 30, 2007

By far the biggest surprise that stems from the GAO progress report is not the bad news on Iraq but rather that there still apparently exists one office of the government that has remained objective, having yet to be politically corrupted. I say "yet" since already the administration is lambasting it, applying patented pressure to get the message it desires.

I wonder if the GAO's budget will be slashed in the near future....
For me, the Larry Craig saga is infuriating for the blatant hypocrisy involved. How many more times must we witness an anti-gay Republican zealot caught in some secretive gay act? Those in the supposed party of "family values" who preach about the evils of homosexuality are very often the ones committing the "heinous" homosexual acts. As I wrote yesterday, "it's getting to where if you're adamantly against gay rights/marriage and you're a Republican, then there's a 99.9% chance that you're gay! Those Republicans definitely not gay and are against all things gay should be furious!!"

The fact that Craig as a person got caught in a bathroom looking for whatever concerns me less. It's more of a private matter for his family to deal with. In fact, if you're a resident from Idaho and you don't like what you are hearing, one can ask why you voted for him given Craig has had a long-standing history of revelations along these lines. This recent bit of news is not 100% shocking, but it has less to do with his role as a public servant.

Which brings me to what indeed is most infuriating about this incident. Many Republicans are stumbling over each other to demand that Craig resign, however where were these same Republicans to apply even some minimal pressure on Bush when all of the many scandals and lies accumulated while the GOP controlled Congress? A man is nabbed in a bathroom looking for you know what and he's suddenly the anti-Christ to the GOP, yet all the filth, slime and law-breaking behavior that went on during those six years was apparently tolerable to them, simply business as usual.

With his party slamming him hard right now, needing a sacrificial lamb given their dire straights in the polls, if Craig had any guts he would turn the tables and publicly say as much right back at them.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

I'm sure it's been asked elsewhere, but why did the Sen. Larry Craig arrest take two months to surface in the news? It occurred in June -- why the long delay? Was someone(s) covering it up for Craig?

I'll postulate another theory. It's very likely Craig's arrest in June was kept very quiet by the powers that be, but when it came time for Gonzales to resign, high-up Republicans knew they needed to find some diversion to fill up the media space. It didn't take long for them to find this juicy scandal just waiting to be leaked. Craig has likely been a longtime headache to many in the party, with his history of sexual run-ins and denials, and needless to say it didn't help his cause that his reported-on encounters were non-heterosexual in nature. (Prostitutes, affairs, etc., are seemingly OK in the GOP, but not gay sex). Also, the governor in Idaho is Republican, making a replacement safe for the party. So perhaps the Craig story was a strategic leak to benefit Gonzales. It's possible.

But on another note, it's getting to where if you're adamantly against gay rights/marriage and you're a Republican, then there's a 99.9% chance that you're gay! Those Republicans definitely not gay and are against all things gay should be furious!!
With Gonzo finally, well, gone-zo, we can spend at least a minute or two putting some perspective on his time of disservice. Many easily concede that GW will go down as one of the worst U.S. presidents ever, and yet even on this subject there is still at least some debate. However, where there can be no debate whatsoever is on Gonzales being by far the worst Attorney General in the history of this great country. The man even this dimwit in the White House calls Fredo holds this title without question. He broke the mold and it will be nearly impossible to have an AG as bad.

But while we're on the subject, let's just try to list others who have been in this administration and very much qualify as being the worst ever in their governmental role. We've already named GW and Gonzo, but how about Cheney as worst ever VP, Rumsfeld as worst ever Secretary of Defense, Brownie as worst head of FEMA, Gale Norton as worst ever at Interior, Condi Rice as worst ever NSA, whoever heads the EPA as worst ever.... (feel free to add your own in comments).
Steve Benen writes, "More and more, I’m starting to understand why conservatives seem less informed. Last night, for example, both Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity presented the news to their (misguided) viewers, and neglected to mention the Alberto Gonzales resignation and the Larry Craig sex scandal."

I just assume there were more urgent stories involving teen promiscuity and a public school teacher stopping a student from reciting the Lord's Prayer.
In the NY Times today, Sheryl Stolberg had this gem of a quote about the scandal-ridden GOP:
"The real question for Republicans in Washington is how low can you go, because we are approaching a level of ridiculousness," said [Republican strategist Scott] Reed, sounding exasperated in an interview on Tuesday morning. "You can't make this stuff up. And the impact this is having on the grass-roots around the country is devastating. Republicans think the governing class in Washington are a bunch of buffoons who have total disregard for the principles of the party, the law of the land and the future of the country."
Again, this from a Republican strategist, who makes his living by getting hired and paid by Republicans. Do you think he would be saying such things publicly if he didn't feel it was safe to do so? Reed has likely tapped into a strong feeling of enough-is-enough within his party and that it's time for serious, thorough reform. No more lip-service calls for cleaning up Washington or any such similar crap Bush was peddling when campaigning in 2000. The rot and stench in the GOP is so bad, so beyond-the-pale, that a party strategist must state for the record that it's reached the "level of ridiculousness." Wow.

Is it any wonder the future looks dire for the party?
A Democracy Corps poll from the Washington firm of Greenberg Quinlan Rosner suggests voters ages 18 to 29 have undergone a striking political evolution in recent years.

Young Americans have become so profoundly alienated from Republican ideals on issues including the war in Iraq, global warming, same-sex marriage and illegal immigration that their defections suggest a political setback that could haunt Republicans "for many generations to come," the poll said.
Republicans had better listen to Scott Reed and fast or the likes of him will be unemployed "for many generations to come."

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

  • With all of the sexual misconduct scandals befalling the GOP, Steve Benen helps to remind us why it's so very different than if the same were to happen to the Dems: "The difference, however, is that only one side claims the moral high-ground, holds itself out as the arbiter of virtue, is quick to judge moral/sexual failings in others, and wants desperately to use the power of the state to regulate (and ban) some of the behavior they personally engage in." In other words, the GOP = the party of hypocrisy.

  • Be very, very, very afraid. Bush warns that Iran may be responsible for a "nuclear holocaust" if allowed to get atomic weapons and he states, "We will confront this danger before it is too late." In accordance with Cheney's 1% doctrine, get ready for Bush to attack Iran -- and yet leave the Iraq problem for the next president. Actually, he will have attacked both countries and will leave the fallout of both for the next president. Bush makes messes, big ones, he doesn't clean them up. BTW, with over one million Iraqi civilians killed since we invaded, does this count as a holocaust? Not via nuclear means, but still a mass slaughter I would say.

  • What a surprise. Ted Nugent threatens gun violence against two U.S. senators, and yet he too -- like Bush, Cheney, et al -- was a chicken-hawk. The Republican Party is a perfect home for him.

  • Regarding GW's amazingly ludicrous comparison between Iraq and Vietnam, Dan Froomkin writes, "The obvious lesson of Vietnam is not that leaving a quagmire leads to disaster, but that staying only makes things worse. (And oh yes: that we shouldn't get into them in the first place.)" And the LA Times has this: "Historian Robert Dallek, who has written about the comparisons of Iraq to Vietnam, accused Bush of twisting history. 'It just boggles my mind, the distortions I feel are perpetrated here by the president....We were in Vietnam for 10 years. We dropped more bombs on Vietnam than we did in all of World War II in every theater. We lost 58,700 American lives, the second-greatest loss of lives in a foreign conflict....What is Bush suggesting? That we didn't fight hard enough, stay long enough? That's nonsense. It's a distortion....We've been in Iraq longer than we fought in World War II. It's a disaster, and this is a political attempt to lay the blame for the disaster on his opponents. But the disaster is the consequence of going in, not getting out.'" Well put. Over 3700 American soldiers have died in Iraq, far short of Vietnam's figure. Does that mean we have tens of thousands more lives to spare?

  • From Kevin Drum, another great quote related to Bush's Iraq/Vietnam comparison: "Consider two other big counterinsurgency wars that were going badly after a few years: Vietnam in 1964 and Afghanistan in 1984. In both cases, the entangled superpower had the option of either pulling out and taking its lumps or extending the conflict, and in both cases it made the choice to extend the conflict. And both times that was the wrong decision. Staying in Vietnam did immense long-term damage to the national security of both Southeast Asia and the United States, and staying in Afghanistan was a leading cause of the eventual collapse of the Soviet Union....So if you had to guess whether another five or ten years would be good or bad for the United States, the odds say it will be bad. Very, very bad." Also, recall that the Soviet/Afghan conflict made possible the rise of Osama bin Laden. I wonder what heinous figure(s) will rise from the ruin of Iraq?
  • Trying to catch-up after brief hiatus, but needless to say I will have more regarding the stick-a-fork-in-me Fredo Gonzo bye-bye news.

    In the meantime, I'd just like to mention that on August 14th I wrote:
    So why is Rove leaving? Many speculate it's so he can get ready to play a big role in the 2008 election, but he could've stayed in the White House to do that. After all, he conducted all things political while working under Bush, what would have changed?

    Another guess is it could mean an indictment is coming (finally) and given all the scandals in the hopper it was deemed best for him to be already gone. Maybe.

    I'll throw another potential reason out there: it could make way for Gonzo's resignation. Imagine Alberto having to quit with Rove, the boy "genius," still in power -- it would make Rove look bad. But more so, with Rove creating an exit wake he makes it more palpable for another high-up official to follow (of course, for family reasons). With Rove leaving, it creates a symbolic notion that it's over, this administration is winding down. Again, just another theory.
    Rove quits and two weeks later so does Gonzo. I'm not saying they're necessarily connected, but hey, with all that I read immediately following Rove's departure I didn't read this "theory" anywhere....

    One thing is for certain: the Dems best not back off and ratchet down the pressure. They should if anything increase demands in the investigations and push towards prosecution wherever appropriate. If they need help staying focused, they only have to imagine if this were Bill Clinton's mess (I know, I know, but try hard to imagine) what the GOP would be doing at this time. Yeah, right, they'd be exhausting every channel, every outlet, every last possible way to f*ck him -- only in this case they'd be doing the country a service.

    Wednesday, August 22, 2007

    If a government collapses in the woods and no one is there to...

    Has the hope of any political progress in Iraq come to this, calls for the PM to step down? Just how screwed up is the governmental situation over there? How can Bush et al expect any improvement to come militarily -- at least insofar as improvement independent of U.S. urging -- if the political outlook remains bleak and is perhaps worsening?

    Yet it is written elsewhere:
    US officials in Baghdad and Washington, under pressure to show political progress in Iraq to an increasingly skeptical Congress, are scrambling to shore up support for Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, whose shaky coalition government has been on the verge of collapse since a rash of Cabinet defections earlier this month, analysts and government officials said yesterday.

    At least three separate attempts to unseat Maliki are unfolding in Baghdad -- two from within his own Shi'ite coalition. Nearly half of the ministers in his Cabinet have resigned or are boycotting official meetings. The defections have so thinned the ranks of his supporters that some analysts say that Maliki might not be able to survive a vote of no confidence in the Iraqi parliament, if such a vote were called.

    "My view is that his government is in essential collapse," said Kenneth Katzman, a Middle East specialist at the Congressional Research Service, the research arm of Congress.
    To what extent, if at all, does the average American know about this imminent "collapse"? To what extent will the Petraeus report mention it?

    So many questions, so few offered answers.

    Tuesday, August 21, 2007

    A few weeks ago, a Boston Globe article about women's health briefly mentioned a terrific point about Cheney's "One Percent Doctrine." In a nutshell, this doctrine prescribes that even if an outcome has just a 1% chance of occurring, act as if it's 99% certain to happen and do everything necessary to stop it.

    Sound rationale? Like something that will realistically sustain through time? With regards to health care, the authors of the article state, "By focusing maximum resources on preventing an extremely rare but potentially disastrous outcome over necessary preventive care," our health care system "misallocates resources and undermines primary care."

    In other words, there instead should be a 99% doctrine. By focusing on the rare 1%, we divert needed dollars away from the much more commonly-occurring problems to address the statistical outlier. This tendency is inefficient. Yes, such outliers can happen, though remote, and they can be devastating, but again in the long-run given the limitation of finite budgets and the needs dictated by the 99%, we simply can't devote the bulk of time and money on low-probability chance. Better to focus on the 99% while doing everything possible to minimize the effects of outliers.

    Example: stock portfolios are diversified to negate the occasional, though inevitable, steep price decline in a holding. One usually never knows where or when it will occur, but it does, and diversification (99%) helps greatly in negating the impact.

    Perhaps this thinking will change with the exit of this guard.
    Can someone tell me what happened to Dennis Miller? You know, the snarky comedian who used to crack us up on SNL and who later had his own weekly show on HBO that in many ways cleared the way for Bill Maher's show. Like Maher, Miller would lampoon politicians with a definite leftist tilt, always ringing true in his exposure of hypocrisy and basically anything stupid.

    But what the hell happened? It's as if he was hit by lightning and turned into what he spent years targeting in his humor. I seem to recall reading somewhere that he claimed 9-11 changed everything, transforming him into at first the host of a barely watched CNBC program and more recently into a somewhat-hip, right-wing radio talker.

    Have you checked out his radio gig? I sampled a bit this weekend and wow, to say he has switched sides is putting it lightly. To start, you have to check out his web site, The Dennis Miller Zone. Sound familiar? Yeah, as in The No Spin Zone. Also like Bill O'Reilly's web site, Miller has an online store where you can spend your hard-earned money on DMZ baseball caps and bumper stickers. Then go to iTunes to download his latest radio podcast, and there you'll notice that those who subscribe to Miller's podcast also subscribe to the right-wing shows of Michael Medved, Michael Savage, and yes, Bill O'Reilly. I kid you not.

    On his August 17th program, Miller was plugging an appearance that supports our troops, which while of course it's for a good cause, it smacked so much of Sean Hannity's "Freedom" concerts I again just couldn't believe what this guy has morphed into.

    Some of the wisdom spouting from his lips? Regarding global warming, Miller has become a huge skeptic, stating that for us to believe we mere humans could do anything to harm this planet's atmosphere is frankly "narcissistic" in his view. Further, he asserts, "we play a small, small part... if you really go and look at the composition of the atmosphere, see how much man-made.... it's under less than 1/2 of 1 percent is man-made CO2 emissions added to the atmosphere...." Say what? Our atmosphere is comprised of less than 0.5% of man-made CO2? OK Dennis, whatever you say. You're not a scientist and you implore your audience to go and look up the figures, admitting you don't have a clue, but we'll take your acumen to the bank. Boy, I feel better.

    He pokes fun at Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid when a caller brings up the low approval rating of Congress. Opting not to link the low rating with the fact that Reid/Pelosi have not gone far enough in fighting Bush and taking back our country, Miller instead wishes to focus on their lack of spine to de-fund the war and we have to fight the terrorists over there and now. Straight out of the neocon playbook.

    Oh, he also goes on to joke about testing a nuclear bomb in the mountains of Pakistan, that because we can't get the nightly weather report right we should therefore have little faith in any of the science backing global warming, that a prisoner should pay property tax on his cell -- need more? Look, his entire delivery is as if it's the show Jack Nicholson's McMurphy (from Cuckoo's Nest) would have had post-electro-shock, just before Chief Bromden snuffed him out. It's really sad.

    One can argue whether Miller truly had an epiphany post-9/11 or did he suddenly realize what a great thing the Limbaughs and O'Reillys of the world had going, making a ton of dough tossing off nutty opinions and frequent distortions and lies to a zombie-like audience. I won't venture a guess, you decide.
    A few weeks ago, the NY Times reviewed Robert Frank's book "Falling Behind" and one of the main points Frank makes is very relevant to what's occurring in the credit markets today. The problem relates to what could be called "keeping up with the uber-Jones" syndrome.
    Frank argues, the problem is that extreme consumption...helps shape norms for the whole society, not just his fellow plutocrats. “The mere presence of ... larger mansions, for example, may shift some people’s perceptions about how big a house one can build without seeming overly ostentatious,” Frank writes.

    That shifting perception combines with the powerful driving force of “relative deprivation.” When asked whether they’d rather have a 4,000-square-foot house in a neighborhood of 6,000-square-foot McMansions, or a 3,000-square-foot home in a zone of 2,000-square-foot bungalows, most people opt to lord it over their neighbors. Indirectly, then, Bill Gates’s construction of a 40,000-square-foot house has caused the middle manager in Tacoma to take out a no-money-down mortgage for his 3,500-square-foot faux colonial.
    Between 1980 and 2001, Frank notes, the median size of new homes in the United States rose from 1,600 to 2,100 square feet, “despite the fact that the median family’s real income had changed little in the intervening years.” The end result? Frank methodically presents data showing that the typical American now works more, saves less, commutes longer and borrows more to maintain what he or she views as an appropriate standard of living.
    It's one thing for income inequality to worsen, it's quite another to have that unfortunate trend fail to impact those who are not as wealthy in the form of tempering desires and needs and keeping matters in perspective.

    It's not so much Frank's blaming the rich but rather just stating what sadly is: 1) the income gap is expanding, and 2) the have-nots' perceptions are influenced by the haves, as absurd as such comparisons are. In effect, many have become fiscal slaves to their vanity, doing whatever is necessary to obtain material items that are either sheer extravagence or out of their price range, or both.

    This helps to explain the resulting record-high debt load accumulated by individuals over the last several years. However with cracks showing recently, the proverbial house of cards could tumble quite soon. The question is will the government allow it to happen sans a bailout or will the Fed simply continue to pump enormous liquidity into the system, once again postponing a needed correction? We know the government protects the rich and if the average American were to become insolvent or significantly impaired spending-wise, the economy would tank, greatly harming the fortunes that depend on steady commerce.

    Look for politicians to come to the aid of their wealthy donors and agree to bailout the debt-ridden, wannabe-rich types, with the final bill ultimately handed to the taxpayers.

    Monday, August 20, 2007

    In yesterday's NY Times, Adam Cohen makes the case that if the Congress does not impeach Gonzales, they will be insulting the intent of our founding fathers. That's right, the authors of our Constitution specifically put in place safeguards to address exactly what's been occurring with the Gonzo mess. It's not as if our hands are tied. The likes of Madison and Jefferson insured that we had recourse to rid the government of someone like this Attorney General.

    Will Congress act, or is it simply better to have such a buffoon remain in power heading into an election year so as to tag the GOP with another albatross? These jelly-spined Dems are likely leaning with the latter, but Gonzo is undoubtedly holding back the facts on tons of wrong doing. Remove him and the Dems will soon hit the mother load of eventually-known scandals. Talk about juicy campaign material.... (Oops, forgot to mention, it also should be absolutely intolerable at any point in time to have a certifiable dunderhead heading up our legal system, at least IMHO).

    Saturday, August 18, 2007

    Former Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson writes:
    [Karl] Rove argues that Republicans win as activist reformers, in the tradition of Lincoln, McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt. "We were founded as a reformist party," he said in our conversation this week, "not to be against something, but to help the little guy get ahead."[bold added]
    Hilarious. The real question is does Gerson actually believe this BS? Perhaps in Teddy Roosevelt's day the Republican Party cared about "the little guy," but the modern day GOP could give two sh*ts. The rich guy, big or small, is who they cater to, absolutely.

    Just how removed are these folks in their thinking? Yeah, and Michael Vick cares much for dogs.

    Thursday, August 16, 2007

    Fables & Fiction

    The Iraq progress report from General Petraeus will apparently not be written by Petraeus, but rather by White House hacks. Dan Froomkin writes, "The 'Petraeus Report' instead looking more like a White House con job in the making. The Bush administration has been trying for months to restore its credibility on Iraq...But now it turns out it that White House aides will actually write the 'Petraeus Report,' not the general himself."

    Yes, Bush lied (again). And if this report will be anything like the many doctored-up EPA reports, the laughable Gonzo testimony, the selling of Social Security reform, the claims of no torture, and "legal" eavesdropping, to name just a few, then next month we can look forward to hearing lots of fables and fiction about progress in Iraq.
    Hillary will very likely be the Democratic nominee in 2008. How do I know? Since resigning, Karl Rove can't seem to stop criticizing her. That's a tell.

    If it does come down to Hillary vs. Rove/GOP candidate, then the supposed genius of politics will be facing the true genius: Bill Clinton. Hillary is sure to get loads of excellent advice from her husband. It's safe to say that The Turd has more than met his match in Bill.

    This should be good.
    In response to a question about how his sons show support for our military in Iraq, Romney said they do so via buying a Winnebago and riding across the country to help in his presidential campaign.

    Oh boy. This appears to be just another Republican case of NIMF: Not In My Family (similar to NIMBY: Not In My BackYard). They're all for war -- as long as they or their love ones don't have to serve. Actually fighting the war is apparently for less fortunate chumps.
    Do the right-wing dopes of the airwaves ever realize how preposterous they sound?

    Mental-giant Sean Hannity decided to malign John Edwards for doing what nearly everyone does before going on TV: receive make-up and insure that they look their best.
    HANNITY: -- John Edwards on the set, getting ready for an interview. This goes on for five minutes: the primping of the hair over and over and over again...He is an intellectual lightweight.
    Five minutes? I don't seem to recall what Hannity had to say about Bush sitting for seven minutes in front of children after being told on 9/11 that we were under attack. One could argue this disgraceful set of minutes was a bit worse and a bit more meaningful.

    Tuesday, August 14, 2007

    I perused around looking for items concerning the resignation of Feces Blossom.

    David Corn writes, "In a June 2006 speech, Rove blasted Democrats for advocating 'cutting and running' in Iraq. He said of the Democrats, 'They may be with you for the first shots. But they're not going ... to be with you for the tough battles.' But isn't Rove now doing the same on a personal scale? He is departing the White House when the going in Iraq is as tough as it ever was."

    Yup, it's what these chicken-hawk Republicans do, create fiascoes where others sacrifice, but they slink off unharmed (physically), hoping to escape blame, moving on to serve only themselves.

    Conservative Andrew Sullivan writes:
    The man's legacy is a conservative movement largely discredited and disunited, a president with lower consistent approval ratings than any in modern history, a generational shift to the Democrats, a resurgent al Qaeda, an endless catastrophe in Iraq, a long hard struggle in Afghanistan, a fiscal legacy that means bankrupting America within a decade, and the poisoning of American religion with politics and vice-versa. For this, he got two terms of power - which the GOP used mainly to enrich themselves, their clients and to expand government's reach and and drain on the productive sector. In the re-election, the president with a relatively strong economy, and a war in progress, managed to eke out 51 percent. Why? Because Rove preferred to divide the country and get his 51 percent, than unite it and get America's 60. In a time of grave danger and war, Rove picked party over country. Such a choice was and remains despicable.

    Rove is one of the worst political strategists in recent times. He took a chance to realign the country and to unite it in a war - and threw it away in a binge of hate-filled niche campaigning, polarization and short-term expediency. His divisive politics and elevation of corrupt mediocrities to every branch of government has turned an entire generation off the conservative label. And rightly so.
    Did I mention that Sullivan is a conservative? Count him among the many former Reagan officials that I've cited on this blog who have expressed great disdain and alarm for what this administration has done to the country, of course led from start to almost-finish by this pudgy, crazed, monocled lunatic.

    Long-time follower of Rove, James Moore, writes:
    When I first started reporting on Karl Rove in the late 1970s, I was impressed by his singularity of purpose and his willingness to say or do whatever was necessary to succeed. This amorality, a complete lack of concern for right or wrong or harm done, will be his legacy in the American political process. Lives and careers might be destroyed, great institutions compromised, the truth sullied until it is unrecognizable, but all of that will be acceptable collateral damage to Karl as long as he and his party and candidates have won the day.
    All of the institutions of our government, like our judicial system, which used to be considered politically sacrosanct, have now been polluted by his political ambitions. Changes in environmental regulations allowing the clear-cutting of forests have been renamed The Healthy Forests Initiative while deregulation of factories discharging dangerous particulates into the air has taken on the Roverian brand of The Blue Skies Initiative. He hides our own complicity in his disgusting work through the manipulation of language and we are comforted and less resistant. We all ought to be ashamed; not just Karl.
    [I] am confident history will condemn Rove and view him as a man who divided his own country to win and cared not a scintilla about the consequences of his actions beyond political victory. I have been accused for more than 25 years of overstating Karl's importance and his influence but I am certain history will judge him the most profoundly disturbing political force our country has seen in almost 100 years.
    Just more irony from these clowns, Rove relied so much on the religious right, and yet here he is a non-believer. He had to be considering his many heinous acts committed.

    Grover Norquist penned a predictable valentine to Rove, basing it on a twisted version of history. He claims Rove "reenergized the entire Reagan coalition in South Carolina" to move Bush ahead of McCain, but Grover neglects to mention how Rove went to the gutter to achieve this win (recall push-polls, illegitimate black baby, etc.). Norquist crows about the Gore defeat, but neglects to mention Gore actually received 600,000+ more votes than Bush, needing the help of Katherine Harris and the Supreme Court to snatch the win away from the former VP. The win over Kerry is likewise hailed as a big win, but no mention of the Swift Boat smear campaign or coordinated intimidation tactics at the polls. To put it mildly, Norquist is quite delusional.

    So why is Rove leaving? Many speculate it's so he can get ready to play a big role in the 2008 election, but he could've stayed in the White House to do that. After all, he conducted all things political while working under Bush, what would have changed?

    Another guess is it could mean an indictment is coming (finally) and given all the scandals in the hopper it was deemed best for him to be already gone. Maybe.

    I'll throw another potential reason out there: it could make way for Gonzo's resignation. Imagine Alberto having to quit with Rove, the boy "genius," still in power -- it would make Rove look bad. But more so, with Rove creating an exit wake he makes it more palpable for another high-up official to follow (of course, for family reasons). With Rove leaving, it creates a symbolic notion that it's over, this administration is winding down. Again, just another theory.

    We may begin to see less fight and more immediate spinning of GW's legacy. They may feel the need to start now since it's almost conventional wisdom that Bush will go down as one of the worst presidents ever. To change that accepted belief will require massive amounts of propaganda, distortion, and lies -- and we know Karl is up to the task.
    Oh, how comforting:

    “George Bush is counting the minutes till he gets out of town. I always felt about George Bush — that he wanted to win desperately, I’m not sure he really wanted to be president and he’s looking enviously at Karl Rove as he heads back to Texas.” -- Howard Fineman (Newsweek), 8/13/07

    Monday, August 13, 2007

    So the turd is calling it quits. After spending 6+ years helping to ruin the country, he feels it's time to move on, to be with his family (of course).

    Dan Froomkin writes:
    After years of being lauded as a political genius, Rove nevertheless leaves his party in worse shape than he found it, with his boss profoundly discredited in the eyes of the American people.

    When historians look back at Bush's squandered opportunity to unite the country and even the world behind a shared agenda after 9/11, part of the blame will go to Vice President Cheney and the decision to invade Iraq. But part will accrue to Rove for choosing to use national security as a wedge issue.
    Rove told Gigot he first floated the idea of leaving a year ago and made his decision after White House Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten recently told senior aides that if they stayed past Labor Day they were committing to stay to the end -- to January 2009.

    But is there some other reason? Is there some other shoe about to drop?
    Rove taking orders from Bolten? Absurd. He hired Bolten. This decision is odd. Rove had many opportunities since the 2006 election to call it quits, why now?

    Michael Tomasky has a great line, "There is, though, a silver lining: Rove may have indeed played a part in bringing about a political realignment. It just won't be the one he had in mind."
    This past Friday on her radio show, Randi Rhodes reminded us of a lawsuit involving reporters who filed suit against their employer, Fox News, in response to refusing to distort a news story and by not cooperating the reporters were fired. A jury ruled in their favor and awarded them restitution, but Fox appealed and won.

    With that ruling, there is now legal precedent siding with the fabrication of news. Just wait to see what Murdoch does to the Wall Street Journal.
    Dick Polman points out how Romney's vote total (4516) in Iowa fell short of the 2nd place finisher in 1999, Steve Forbes, who received 4921 votes. In fact, voter turnout this past weekend was 40% lower than in 1999.

    It brings to mind perhaps the GOP's biggest problem for the 2008 race: lack of interest. Republican voters may not cross over to vote for the other party, but that doesn't mean they simply won't stay home in droves, putting much less pressure on the Dems to get out the vote. Now let's just hope the machines work....
    Reminder: Dick Cheney 1994, in a more lucid and sane time for him. Funny how years later all his reasons went out the window.

    Sunday, August 12, 2007

    As for Rudy, many bloggers are mentioning Wayne Barrett's eye-opening piece. Steve Benen writes, "The entire piece -- which, if read, should effectively end Giuliani's presidential ambitions...Giuliani's decisions should be a national scandal that not only force him from the presidential race, but may even shame him permanently."

    Of the many blockbuster items in the piece, the biggie is Rudy apparently desiring the WTC site as the NYC command center so that he could use it as a "convenient love nest" with Judi Nathan. Go ahead, laugh out loud, but read the article and draw your own conclusions.

    Barrett writes, "Opponents, too, haven't dared to question his terror credentials, as if doing so would be an unpatriotic bow to Osama bin Laden," but all of that restraint should end in short order. Rudy's bigger-than-life myth built on a single tragic event is gradually receiving the light and lampooning it deserves. As more facts become known, none if any are complimentary to Giuliani and instead show him to be just another slimy politician, one who will do whatever it takes to grab power, to dispose of his enemies, to win. Soon the voting public will say "9/11 hero my ass!" as they recognize the true heroes to be the firemen and policemen on that fateful day, the Ground-Zero rescue workers, the U.S. soldiers, etc. -- but not the NYC mayor.

    Rudy will fight this collective realization, with his usual snarl and condescension, and that will just accelerate his downfall. Just deserts, finally.
    Romney won the Iowa straw poll -- no shocker since Rudy and McCain didn't bother showing up, and Romney spent a tidy sum on winning this contest. In the end, Romney will play it up to the hilt to gain momentum, but in reality it's fairly meaningless with regards to where the field will shake out over time.

    Note that despite Rudy and McCain writing off Iowa, one would've thought that just their name recognition stood for something, enough to land them finishing better than their woeful showings of 8th and 10th respectively. I mean c'mon, 8th for that 9/11 hero, America's mayor? And McCain coming in one place short of dead last -- when does he finally give up?

    Interesting tid-bit: 1500 votes were affected by "voting machine error," or nearly 11% of the total votes. If this were on a national scale, it would be front-page news in big type.

    Friday, August 10, 2007

    Another doozy of a quote from GW: "If one were to look hard one could find indications the [Iraqi] government is learning how to function.”

    Wow. So a government flipping the bird to VP Cheney when he urged them not to go on vacation, and they did anyway, and then to see the Sunni bloc withdraw -- folks, this is a government dissolving before our eyes. Bush is simply beyond delusional, to the point where it's truly frightening.

    Oh, and given Bush's track record with making predictions, given his recent attempts at assuring nervous investors that markets will stabilize, if any of us had half a brain we'd be selling everything and stuffing it under the mattress.
    We've known for weeks that Cheney is trying his hardest to get Bush to bomb Iran (and more proof just keeps surfacing). Fortunately, David Gardner helps to shed some light on the matter.
    US commanders seem to have no trouble detecting the hand of Tehran everywhere. This largely evidence-free blaming of serial setbacks on Iranian forces is a bad case of denial. First, the insurgency is overwhelmingly Iraqi and Sunni, built around a new generation of jihadis created by the US invasion. Second, to the extent foreign fighters are involved these have come mostly from US-allied and Sunni Saudi Arabia, not Shia Iran. Third, the lethal roadside bombs with shaped charges that US officials have coated with a spurious veneer of sophistication to prove Iranian provenance are mostly made by Iraqi army-trained engineers – from high explosive looted from those unsecured arms dumps.
    Just to review, the insurgency is not Iranian per se but rather Iraqis reacting to the US invasion, any foreign fighters are much more likely to come from Saudi Arabia than Iran, and roadside bombs that Bush et al keep trying to link to Iran in fact more closely align with Iraqi engineers and our bungled protection of armed depots.

    But what the heck, it's probably still better to believe that ever-truthful Cheney, right?
    Hilarious. Bush states he's against a rise in the gas tax to help fund national infrastructure repairs, suggesting Congress should reduce earmark/pork spending to get the needed dollars. What's hilarious is for years the GOP-controlled Congress spent our tax money like drunken soldiers out on liberty and yet you heard not one word then by GW with regards to halting such waste and redirecting it towards our roads and bridges. Nope, not a peep. But now, well, now he directs his ire on this subject at the Democrats. What an ass.
    David Broder decided to write a column about a subject I've written about several times here: how are the GOP candidates going to be able to go hard right to win over their base and thus the party nomination, only to then veer hard left to the middle to win over the rest of America (which is far away from many of the far-right positions)? I for one don't think it's possible given the width of the chasm between this GOP and more mainstream John Q. Public.
    Didn't GW's dad do this with Iraq (encouraging uprising) and it was a disaster....?
    President Bush today called on the Iranian people to reject their hard-line government, saying they "can do better" and need not be isolated by a leadership that destabilizes its neighbors and pursues a suspected nuclear weapons program.
    Speaking of Daddy Bush, yesterday's NY Times piece suggests GHW gets more involved in GW's presidency than publicly known. I wonder does GHW really want it to be known that he's had more say and influence on his son's disaster of a presidency? Who in their right mind would want any association with calamitous reign if they could avoid it...?

    Tuesday, August 07, 2007

    So the Dems got weak in the knees and caved to Bush on expanding the eavesdropping program. Many wonder how the party in control could be strong-armed by an increasingly powerless president. Go figure. Worse yet, it's a matter of the fox guarding the hen house since the people running the program are also the people who are to make sure the program complies with and does not abuse the law. One of the two in charge to ensure this? Alberto Gonzales.

    Glenn Greenwald wrote, "It is staggering, and truly disgusting, that even in August, 2007 -- almost six years removed from the 9/11 attacks and with the Bush presidency cemented as one of the weakest and most despised in American history -- that George W. Bush can 'demand' that the Congress jump and re-write legislation at his will." Jack Balkin wrote, "The passage of the new FISA bill by the Senate and now the House demonstrates that the Democrats stand neither for defending civil liberties nor for checking executive power....Conversely, the new bill shows that the Republican Party can get the Democrats to surrender almost any civil liberty-- indeed, to give the President just as much unchecked power as he might obtain under a Republican controlled Congress-- simply by playing the fear card repeatedly and without shame."

    As horrifically bad as Bush's reign has been, it's not difficult to get mightily disgusted with the folks who serve as the alternative. A larger group of grubbing wet noodles would be hard to find.
    The Iraqi government continues to unravel.

    It will be impossible for the progress report due in September to be anything but negative. Very negative. Yet, reality never stopped this administration before so get ready for a twisted version of non-truths.
    The U.S. military lost 190,000 guns in Iraq, many of which likely ended up in the hands of the insurgents -- the same folks who are fighting our troops. And guess who was in charge when this screw-up occurred? The right's favorite, General David Petraeus. Bravo.
    "Rudy would make a terrible president…”

    The above quote is from none other than Jerome Hauer, Giuliani's emergency management director from 1996 to 2000. He said, "Rudy would make a terrible president and that is why I am speaking now. He’s a control freak who micro-manages decision, he has a confrontational character trait and picks fights just to score points. He is the last thing this country needs as president right now.”

    Ouch. Words served up on a silver platter for the existing GOP contenders to use against Rudy, and then the Democrat running next year will likewise certainly get some good mileage out of the quote.

    Don't be surprised if other Giuliani associates begin to speak out. Just a suspicion.

    Monday, August 06, 2007

    Guess who said this:
    I don’t think it’s the job of the United States to export our form of government. It’s the job of the United States to protect our citizens, to secure our own borders, which we have failed to do for over 20 years. It’s the job of our government to make us free and us safe…I don’t think we can force people to accept our way of life, our way of government. What we can to is to create the strongest America: change our tax system, make it so that people are healthier, create the enviable education system on this planet, make sure that jobs come back to this country rather than disappear from this country…That makes a whole lot more sense to me than spending billions and billions and billions of dollars to try to prop up some government we don’t even like when we get it.
    A Democrat? Guess again. Try GOP prez contender Mike Huckabee, a conservative who is typically observed throwing red meat to the religious right. Perhaps the tide is beginning to turn, with Republican hopefuls beginning to learn the harsh lesson of John McCain and begin now to distance themselves from Bush.

    But Dick Polman writes, "If these guys are talking this way about Bush now, even while attempting to woo Republican primary voters, imagine what the putative nominee will sound like next spring, when it’s time to woo the independent swing voters who have already judged Bush to be an irreparable disaster." I've written many times before that when the eventual GOP nominee must reverse course and renounce all of his pro-Bush statements in attempt to win over mainstream America, it will ring hollow and false. To nail down the party nomination too much will have been said in support of GW and the country will simply not have the stomach for someone who even remotely offers a hint that we'll have to suffer through four more years of this nightmare. To that end, the GOP has no shot at the White House in 2008.
    Bush threatens to veto the House-approved energy bill because it reduces tax breaks and corporate welfare for the energy companies. No shock here given a president who has basically governed for the energy companies, allowing them to write legislation and in large part it's why we're in Iraq in the first place. A bill comes along that stresses conservation and renewable resources at the expense of oil and gas interests and you can be sure GW is going to nix it. Had enough?

    Sunday, August 05, 2007

    Regarding the question of why the Republicans appear more than willing to go down with the sinking ship, I am just as perplexed as Steve Benen. They continue to sip the cyanide-laced juice despite the elections last year and having the lamest of presidents as their leader. What am I missing? Oh, that's right, they remain principled, right.

    Then again, Republicans didn't make much sense when they were in control, why expect anything different now....
    Brandon Friedman, senior advisor to, spoke last week on Guy James' radio show. Brandon reiterated that the surge was not working, mentioning in particular that the July fatality rate for U.S. soldiers was the highest yet for that month. Not to mention access to electricity is down to 1-2 hours per 24-hour day, the Sunni bloc recently pulled out of the Iraqi government, and as we know the Iraqi government decided to go on vacation for all of August despite knowing full well the moment of truth is fast approaching here in the U.S. to judge the war (one month away). Apparently they could give two sh*ts.

    Friedman also made clear that most politicians visiting Iraq get the "dog and pony" show (yeah, I know, surprise!). He said the military wants to look good, like true professionals, so they make sure any visitors from Washington see them at their best, see the Iraq situation at its best, and make sure the delivered message is a positive one. It's similar to business firms and clients, where everyday work occurs in a casual setting, but when a client comes to call it's on with the suit & tie (if male), the desk is cleaned up, and smiles appear all around.

    This war has long ago devolved well beyond the point where fake formalities should mean anything, much less energy spent to pawn them off on our representatives. Enough. For once, let's get unvarnished truth to be the main priority conveyed.

    Saturday, August 04, 2007

    Interesting. The latest Fox News poll has Hillary Clinton defeating Giuliani by a 46%-41% margin. It also has Hillary defeating all other GOP candidates, notably Romney by a whopping 15%, and again need I remind this is the Fox News poll.

    There is unfortunate sexism in this country that will be a hurdle for any woman to overcome when running for president -- for Hillary no different. Yet, given the woeful slate of GOP contenders, Hillary could very well cruise into the White House despite the chauvinistic stigma facing her.

    Nothing against Hillary, but this current bunch of nitwits comprising the GOP secretly despise the fact that for the first time a woman could win the presidency while they're in office. It's similar to no pitcher wants to be the one to serve up Bonds' record-breaking homer. Republicans have always been heavily male-dominated and to think a woman could win the White House surely keeps them up at night.
    Truly a sad state of affairs when in response to the Minneapolis bridge tragedy, politicians suddenly wake up to the fact that our infrastructure has been in desperate need of repair and maintenance. This realization is not new news. For years reports have been produced highlighting this need, but of course it would require billions of dollars and thus gets promptly ignored by politicians.
    U.S. politicians on Thursday treated the collapse of a highway bridge that killed or injured dozens of people as a jarring wake-up call to fix the nation's aging roads and bridges, but experts have been sounding the alarm for years with limited success.
    Rep. James Oberstar, the Minnesota Democrat who chairs the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, blamed President George W. Bush's administration for shortchanging road and bridge repair in a highway funding bill two years ago.

    Bush, he said, "failed to support a robust investment in surface transportation," adding the president insisted on only $2 billion a year for bridge reconstruction when lawmakers were pushing for $3 billion a year.
    The problem of aging infrastructure is not new. A 2002 report by the Department of Transportation said about 30 percent of the nation's highway bridges were structurally or functionally deficient.
    A 2005 report by the American Society of Civil Engineers gave the country's infrastructure an unacceptable D grade -- almost failing. The group estimated the United States needed to spend $1.6 trillion over five years to put its infrastructure into good shape.

    "This has been out there for quite some time," said Kent Harries, an engineering professor at the University of Pittsburgh. "It's not only the transportation and bridge infrastructure, it is infrastructure in general."
    The work will require billions of dollars and you'll hear Washington talk about a choice between cutting programs/costs or raising taxes. What you likely won't hear is the $500 billion price tag of the Iraq war which will eventually cost $2 trillion.

    So it's OK to spend that much money on a lied-into war that was poorly planned, has only worsened our national security, and has resulted in the deaths of 3600+ U.S. soldiers. But when it comes to money needed for our roads and bridges, that will require sacrifice here at home. I guess those millions of kids without insurance will remain uninsured.

    Thursday, August 02, 2007

    Recently on three separate occassions, Bush has invited the following lists of talking heads and journalists to the White House: Glenn Beck, Bill Bennett, Neal Boortz, Scott Hennon, Laura Ingraham, Lars Larson, Mark Levin, Michael Medved, Janet Parshall, Hugh Hewitt, Sean Hannity, Mike Gallagher, David Brooks, Rich Lowry, and Kate O’Beirne.

    Imagine Bill Clinton having private meetings with this many liberal/progressive journalists and bloggers -- we'd never hear the end of it from the GOP scream machine.

    I had to laugh though. Notice two names not on the list above? Rush Limbaugh and Bill O'Reilly. Apparently GW has invited every right-wing zealot and nutjob on the air waves, but not those two blowhards.

    Wow, for even Bush to exclude them amongst that list of luminaries is quite a statement.
    Yesterday on his always-terrific radio show, Guy James pointed out a crucial yet subtle truism. He mentioned how over and over we've heard Bush utter the line, "I took an oath to protect the American people."

    But Guy rightfully states that Bush took no such oath, nor has any president prior to GW. The oath of office for the President of the United States is, "I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States." They are not one and the same. Protecting the Constitution is not necessarily synonymous with protecting the people. Our founding fathers did not intend for the president to trample on freedoms and rights, invade privacy, strip away liberties in the name of security, etc. In fact, they wrote the Constitution to guarantee that such attempts to over-reach by the president -- and thus become king-like -- would be strictly forbidden.

    But what's another stretched truth for this current embarrassment in the White House? Is there any reason for him to suddenly start being factually correct?

    Wednesday, August 01, 2007

    Great piece in Slate written by Iraq war vet Phillip Carter.

    Some segments:
    [Speaking of the O'Hanlon and Pollack op-ed] They go on to describe the myriad ways the surge is succeeding on the security front. But in emphasizing this aspect of current operations, they downplay the more critical questions relating to political progress and the ability of Iraq's national government to actually govern. Security is not an end in itself. It is just one component, albeit an important one, of a comprehensive counterinsurgency strategy. Unless it is paired with a successful political strategy that consolidates military gains and translates increased security into support from the Iraqi people, these security improvements will, over time, be irrelevant.
    Truth is elusive in Iraq; it always remains just out of focus. In Iraq you can find evidence on the ground to support just about any conclusion you choose; most visitors arrive, see what they want to see, and go home believing even more strongly in the positions they held before they landed in Iraq. It takes months—perhaps even years—to gain the depth and perspective on Iraq necessary to develop a reasonably objective and balanced understanding of events there. Neither O'Hanlon and Pollack nor conservative scholars like Fred Kagan, the intellectual architect of the current surge, spend nearly enough time in Iraq to understand its shifting, uncertain realities.
    O'Hanlon and Pollack admit that "victory" is probably no longer attainable—only some "sustainable stability" that might allow Iraq to keep itself together when U.S. forces eventually depart. But this reveals the fatal flaw in their argument. The lid will remain on the Iraq pot only as long as we are willing to commit to our current troop levels. Reducing troop levels from the current 160,000 to 60,000 or 80,000, and/or transitioning to an "adviser model," will allow the situation to deteriorate out of control, as it did in 2005 when U.S. forces drew down and pulled back from most Iraqi cities.
    So, what are we to do? Sadly, as professor Andrew Bacevich writes in this week's New Republic (subscription required), we may be past the point where good deeds can save Iraq:
    [T]his much is certain: The moment when Americans might have persuaded Iraqis to embrace them as liberators has long since passed. We have failed to make good on too many promises. In our heavy-handed efforts to root out insurgents, we have too frequently mistaken the innocent for the guilty. However inadvertently, we have killed and maimed too many civilians. Sadly, in places like Abu Ghraib and Haditha, we have committed too many crimes. We have just plain screwed up too many times.
    If it is true that victory, or anything close to it, lies beyond our reach, we can no longer justify the cost of persevering in Iraq. It is time to begin the long march home. (bold added)
    Carter does what many are not doing: face the ugly truths, but then concede to the only rational course of action given the circumstances. He fully recognizes that a withdrawal could result in chaos, but nonetheless he ultimately endorses that we must begin our exit.

    Carter emphasizes a key point, that political progress is just as important as military progress. Without advances being made politically, any advances made militarily could be for naught.

    Mark Lynch echoes these thoughts.
    The point is that the Bush administration itself argues that its new strategy should be judged by the political process, not at the military level. By its own standards it has clearly failed....The administration and its supporters sold the surge on the premise that it would pay its dividends at the level of national Iraqi politics. It hasn't. The Sunnis have left the government, none of the political benchmarks have been met, and they won't be since the Parliament has adjourned until September.
    Yes, in case you missed it, the Sunni political bloc decided to quit or pull out of the "national unity" government -- a huge setback. Meanwhile, last night Cheney said to Larry King that we were making "significant progress" in Iraq. Earth to Dick....

    The question now is what will they try to shift our attention to next to buy more time?
    Are we to conclude that despite the many known problems of e-voting machines, which seemingly more often than not disfavor Dems over Republicans, Democratic senators are so confident they'll trounce Republicans next year that they're willing to give up the fight to have these machines produce a paper audit trail...??
    On occasion, I read the latest column from Steve Forbes just to get a glimpse of what it may have been like if he were elected president (recall way back when, he did run). His ideas are often, shall I say, out there.

    His latest, a proposed solution to our health care problems: go overseas to get your surgery ("medical tourism"). Yes, hop a plane and fly to one of many "top-tier" hospitals to get your bone marrow transplant or open-heart surgery -- at a discount! Oh, and while there and recovering, venture out and take in the sights! See, it's win-win.

    Forbes says this could "solve" our health care crisis. As bad as GW is, aren't you glad this guy ain't sitting in the White House?
    Exhibit #483 proving Cheney lives in a far away, parallel universe:
    Cheney also defended embattled Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, saying that Gonzales "has testified truthfully" before Congress and has performed well as head of the Justice Department.

    "I'm a big fan of Al's," Cheney said in the radio interview. "...I think Al has done a good job under difficult circumstances. The debate between he and the Senate is something they're going to have to resolve. But I think he has testified truthfully."