Saturday, March 31, 2007
Given we've seen fewer people identifying themselves as Republicans, many have chosen instead to be called Independent and it's great to see their views line up more closely with the Democrats. It wasn't too long ago that the "I" tag really just meant Republican-Light.
Someday the Democrats may learn an important lesson about the collective wisdom of the media in the nation’s capital: On important questions of policy and politics, the Washington press corps is almost always wrong. They are always full of opinions about everything from clothing, haircuts and marital problems to political tactics, but the safest course is always to ignore their advice.
At the moment, the most popular line among the certified pundits is that the Congressional Democrats are in danger of displaying excessive zeal in probing Bush administration corruption—and specifically the apparent politicization of the federal law-enforcement system by the White House and the Justice Department.
But the Washington punditry has been reliably wrong about everything of consequence for many years, from Whitewater to weapons of mass destruction. For any sane politician, the “biggest risk” is listening to these people.
Since the substantive issues raised by the U.S. attorney purge—such as the political abuse of law enforcement by the White House and the false testimony of Attorney General Gonzales, among others—are of such scant interest to so many commentators, let’s focus instead on public opinion.
While the cable sages were castigating the Democrats for trying to “flog” Mr. Rove, the pollsters at CNN–USA Today were asking voters about the issue. The answers were decisive: By a margin of three to one, the respondents supported the issuance of those supposedly controversial subpoenas. In fact, most said they wanted not just Mr. Rove but the President himself to appear in Congress and answer for his actions and those of his subordinates.
The Washington press corps is just as remote from American views and values as when it was howling for President Clinton’s head. By now, the Democrats should know that when these soothsayers warn against your present course, it is best to keep going straight ahead. And when they complain that you’re barking up the wrong tree, it is time to bark louder.
Friday, March 30, 2007
The scandal unfolding around the firing of eight U.S. attorneys compels the conclusion that the Bush administration has rewarded loyalty over all else. A destructive pattern of partisan political actions at the Justice Department started long before this incident, however, as those of us who worked in its civil rights division can attest.Sounds to me as if some illegal activity could've occurred. But in a nutshell, the Justice Department under Bush has been run with this operative phrase in mind, "The rule of law be damned." Recall what DiIulio said, "There is no precedent in any modern White House for what is going on in this one: a complete lack of a policy apparatus. What you've got is everything--and I mean everything--being run by the political arm," and we see it here in the JD.
I spent more than 35 years in the department enforcing federal civil rights laws — particularly voting rights. Before leaving in 2005, I worked for attorneys general with dramatically different political philosophies — from John Mitchell to Ed Meese to Janet Reno. Regardless of the administration, the political appointees had respect for the experience and judgment of longtime civil servants.
Under the Bush administration, however, all that changed. Over the last six years, this Justice Department has ignored the advice of its staff and skewed aspects of law enforcement in ways that clearly were intended to influence the outcome of elections.
Wednesday, March 28, 2007
In fact, Vietnam vet Sen. Chuck Hagel sums up this sentiment when recently stating, "We essentially are ruining our National Guard. We are destroying our Army. We’re destroying our Marine Corps."
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
Uh yeah, that sounds darn serious to me. To believe it's not is to drink the Kool-Aid this administration is serving. And I've read in several places that there's at least one other huge shoe to drop, if not two or three or four. Many Republicans (likely in the know) are running for cover. Get ready, it's only going to get uglier from here.
For all the intensity and hostility awash in our politics, there are some lines we just assume aren't going to be crossed, lines that are so basic that the civil compact itself can't easily survive if they're not respected.
....No system is perfect and partisan affiliation may distort the justice system at the margins.
But none of what we're seeing here is at the margins. What we seem to see are repeated cases in which US Attorneys were fired for not pursuing bogus prosecutions of persons of the opposite party. Or vice versa. There's little doubt that that is why McKay and Iglesias were fired and there's mounting evidence that this was the case in other firings as well. The idea that a senator calls a US Attorney at home just weeks before a federal elections and tries to jawbone him into indicting someone to help a friend get reelected is shocking. Think about it for a second. It's genuinely shocking. At a minimum one would imagine such bad acts take place with more indirection and deniability. And yet the Domenici-Iglesias call has now been relegated to the status of a footnote in the expanding scandal, notwithstanding the fact that there's now documentary evidence showing that Domenici's substantial calls to the White House and Justice Department played a direct role in getting Iglesias fired.
So what you have here is this basic line being breached. But not only that. What is equally threatening is the systematic nature of the offense. This isn't one US Attorney out to get Democrats or one rogue senator trying to monkey around with the justice system. The same thing happened in Washington state and New Mexico -- with the same sort of complaints being received and acted upon at the White House and the Department of Justice. Indeed, there appears to have been a whole process in place to root out prosecutors who wouldn't prostitute their offices for partisan goals.
We all understand that politics and the law aren't two hermetically sealed domains. And we understand that partisanship may come into play at the margins. But we expect it to be the exception to the rule and a rare one. But here it appears to have become the rule rather than the exception, a systematic effort at the highest levels to hijack the Justice Department and use it to advance the interest of one party over the other by use of selective prosecution.
In the interview, John Bolton closes by stating, "In hindsight I'd have turned responsibility back to the Iraqis a lot earlier than we did."
Incredible. As they continue to second-guess their prior inept moves, with perfect 20/20 rear-view vision no less, they still can't come up with anything that makes much sense.
So Bolton is saying if they could do it over again, the best course of action would've been to hand the country over to the Iraqis sooner -- implying what exactly? That our soldiers would be leaving by now since, I assume, the country would be a peaceful, blossoming democracy? Based on what can he credibly conclude this? As it is, our troops can barely keep the country together and it's grown increasingly worse, and yet we're to believe that handing the reigns of power over sooner would've been the key to halting eventual civil war and bloody mayhem...? But I thought the neocons all along have been saying that's precisely why we've had to stay?
These guys have attempted the game of do-over so many times in their heads they don't even know themselves what they're saying. (Even scarier, Bolton used to be our top guy in the UN -- yikes).
Saturday, March 24, 2007
Yesterday on Rolling Stone's blog, "Sources have been telling me John McCain’s got money troubles, but this email to supporters yesterday sounds downright desperate. Pleading for max donations in advance of the FEC quarterly report is not what’ frontrunners do…"
It's sort of sad. When McCain stayed true to his message, he got shredded by the lunatic extreme in his party. This time around, he attempts to make peace with the extremists by flip-flopping to their liking, only to be rejected. Looks like he's 0-2.
Given his age, he's done. It's one thing to have your party spurn you for what you truly believe in, it's another when you prostitute your positions to better fit the party and they spurn you again.
Again, it's over.
Oops! This will truly crank up the calls for his resignation (with many Republicans joining the call just to get this scandal off the front page), but should it end there? There still exists the high likelihood laws were broken concerning this entire fiasco and if so, the rule of law should be protected.
Right Republicans? Recall that banshee-cry a decade ago about the sanctity of the rule of law? Hello, anyone there? I guess as Republicans did then, Dems should proceed in impeaching Gonzales.
Friday, March 23, 2007
Snow regarding our system of government, "The executive branch is under no compulsion to testify to Congress, because Congress in fact doesn’t have oversight ability.”
Wow, what to say. Fifth-graders would be able to correct this one. The Founding Fathers spin in their graves, but they've been spinning like rotisserie chickens for the last six years.
There is no such thing as an ironclad “executive privilege” doctrine that can shield Bush, or any other president, from congressional subpoenas. And that’s not surprising, since the Constitution never mentions one. Indeed, in 1974, when Nixon tried to invoke “executive privilege” as a way to shield the secret tapes of his conversations with aides, the U.S. Supreme Court – chaired at the time by one of Nixon’s own appointees – unanimously ruled that “absent a claim of need to protect military, diplomatic, or sensitive national security secrets,” a president is on weak ground.All the more reason for the Dems to ignore yesterday's Washington Post editorial and settle for nothing less than under oath testimony.
When under fire, Bush and his aides use language with great cunning. Some observers of Bush's comments on Tuesday, for instance, could have walked away thinking he had definitively denied that partisan politics played a role in the firings. But in fact, as I wrote in yesterday's column, all Bush really said was that "there is no indication that anybody did anything improper." The existence of a transcript creates the possibility that reporters will follow up and ask him what that really means.For years now, Rove and gang have been able to stoke up their wingnut scream machine to have everyone believe the MSM truly is extremely liberal. Leaving aside that it's nonsense, they've been able to use this perception to shame the journalists into silence. Instead of doing their jobs and asking the tough questions, they've kept silent so as to not appear overly attack-dog-ish and thus liberal. As a result, this administration has had it easy for many years -- much, much easier than Bill Clinton had in his two terms.
Elite Washington journalists are notoriously averse to doing anything that might get them labeled as liberals -- but there is nothing remotely partisan about grilling administration officials relentlessly about their resistance to creating a public record on a matter of such significance.
I thought the MSM was waking up to all of this manipulation, but many still appear to be intimidated by it and cower. Sad.
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
Joining a rising corporate chorus itching to sink money into clean energy projects, big investors will press the US Congress to pass laws attempting to tackle global warming.
The dozens of investors include Merrill Lynch, The Capital Group, which manages US$850 billion in mutual funds, and the California Public Employees Retirement System, the largest US pension fund, said a source at Ceres, a Boston-based coalition of investors and environmentalists.
Absolutely. The cynicism directed at them is deserved and appropriate since in nearly every instance in the past it's proven to be correct. For years, this administration enjoyed an unfettered atmosphere of entrusting the benefit of the doubt and they massively abused it for far too long, making many look foolish in the process. Times have indeed changed and the rule now is to not trust anything they say, and instead just assume the opposite is true. They've earned that skeptical reception and have only themselves to blame.
Therefore, when GW chooses to defiantly thumb his nose at calls for under-oath testimony, Leahy et al should pursue it vigorously without yielding a bit. It simply means there's much wrong to be discovered. Also, the pressure should continue unabated even after they attempt to end the hunt by tossing another fall-guy (Gonzales) on the growing scandal pile.
Stay with the rotten scent until the source is found. Don't compromise or grow weary of the fight. We've had six years of that crap, six years too many.
One of the interesting things this affair demonstrates is that Bush and his confidants are still clueless. They genuinely didn't expect this to blow up in their faces. They thought everyone would buy their story that this was a routine housecleaning and then move on. They simply haven't figured out that, given their track record over the past six years, no one is willing to give them the benefit of the doubt anymore.So true, and it's quite pleasing to see GW squirm and show obvious pissed-off frustration at this new way. He's the spoiled child who suddenly is no longer getting everything he wants.
On same subject, as I mentioned in a prior post, it's great to see Sen. Pat Leahy stand up to these guys and not back down. Yesterday, the White House offered to send Rove and Miers to testify in Congress but not under oath. Thankfully, Leahy didn't take long to shoot this offer down stating, "I don't accept his offer. Testimony should be on the record and under oath. That's the formula for true accountability."
A no-brainer. Why send anyone to tell the truth and yet stipulate no-way to the under oath part -- implying what exactly....? You'll agree to come and talk but not necessarily tell the truth?
As Kevin stated, these folks are still clueless.
Sunday, March 18, 2007
On Keith Olbermann's show:
OLBERMANN: The president‘s claim today in Mexico that firings like this are, as he said, a customary practice by the presidents. In fact, in historical fact, it‘s extremely rare for even one U.S. attorney to be dismissed during a president‘s term, let alone eight of them. This is something that the ousted chief of staff to Mr. Gonzales, Kyle Sampson, himself commented on in one of those e-mails that came out in the document dump yesterday.Some key differences: 1) past presidents replace most of the prosecutors at the start of their terms, not midway through, and it's esp. common when the incoming president is of a different party then the exiting one (such as Clinton and Bush I), and 2) there's no evidence, at all, that Clinton removed any due to political purposes or retribution -- which is the case in this instance with GW.
And this question is thus meant literally. When the spin like that is more easily dismissed and disproved than if you were to lie about whether today is Wednesday or it‘s Tuesday, who are they trying to fool with that?
WOLFFE: I have no idea why they‘re trying to use this line. It‘s so patently untrue. You know, they‘d be better off saying, Listen, these are the reasons we fired these people. I think the hearings are going to go there. What were their personnel failures, their management failures?
Or at the very least to say, Listen, we have different standards. We are the Bush administration. We are going to do things our own way.
But this idea that there was somehow a precedent, that every other president has done this, is patently false.
As the Boston Globe penned in an editorial:
So please, enough with the Clinton canard. It's what these guys do, fabricate when they're up against a wall.
It is customary for newly elected presidents to replace large numbers of US attorneys, especially if the new president is from a different party. It is not customary for presidents to sweep out many of their own appointees to these positions in the middle of their administration.
Attorney General Alberto Gonzales caved in to pressure from the White House for such a housecleaning in recent months. Then department officials led Congress to believe that the eight US attorneys in question were forced out for performance problems, not for what now appears to be the real reason in at least some cases -- that the prosecutors were not sufficiently partisan in election and political corruption cases. Gonzales has lost any credibility he had with Congress and the public as the nation's chief law enforcer. He should resign.
Look what flip-flopping has done for McCain. As if learning from his travails in 2000, this time around the supposed maverick sold his soul to the Falwells and Dobsons on the far right only to see him gain less than when he started the whore-like behavior. It appears as if the more moderate folk in and outside the GOP rejected McCain as he morphed his positions to appeal to the radical right, and meanwhile the radical right proceeded to likewise reject McCain as they didn't trust his sudden verge to their side. In trying to please the extreme, he's ended up simply pleasing very few and thus his poll numbers have taken a nose-dive. In fact, rumors swirl that he'll eventually be forced to drop out of the race, with staff exiting and financial support waning.
Lesson well learned, and it's one Hillary should well absorb. She's been dancing with the conservatives, hoping to court their approval, while still managing to maintain her good standing with the rest in her party. It's a risky tightrope walk and if not handled deftly can lead to disaster.
Saturday, March 17, 2007
Thursday, March 15, 2007
On whether Rove might testify, [Sen. Pat] Leahy said, “He can appear voluntarily if he wants. If he doesn’t, I will subpoena him."I can't tell you how refreshing it is to hear words like this. Finally, the do-what-we-f*cking-want crowd are getting their just desserts.
Leahy added, “The attorney general said, ‘Well, there are some staff people or lower level people — I am not sure whether I want to allow them to testify or not.’ I said, ‘Frankly, Mr. attorney general, it’s not your decision, it’s mine and the committee’s.’ We will have some subpoenas.”
President Bush yesterday acknowledged that he mentioned some Republican complaints about U.S. attorneys to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales last fall. And lo and behold, not long after that, a total of eight prosecutors had been purged from their jobs, for reasons the White House has yet to make clear.
Did Bush pull the trigger himself? Apparently not. He says he didn't name names or demand that anybody be fired.
But did he have to?
In any organization, there is such a thing as its "corporate culture." This White House's corporate culture is that Bush gets what he wants. Sometimes, he doesn't even have to say what that is; it's understood.
And no one understands Bush better -- or responds with more alacrity -- than his longtime "enabler", Alberto Gonzales.
Wednesday, March 14, 2007
The firing of the prosecutors was shameful. But what you really worry about is what the guys who were not fired did in order to keep on the administration‘s good side....And also on the show, GW law professor Jonathan Turley:
We have statistical evidence. Donald Shields (ph) and James Creighton (ph) did a study of press reports of attorneys‘ actions across the country, and they found that while that the statewide races, it was sort of rough parity, at the local level, it was seven to one investigations or charges against Democrats compared with Republicans, which strongly suggests you have a real pattern in which the U.S. attorneys‘ offices are being used to—for political purposes, and it just happens that these eight guys who got fired weren‘t going along with the program....
We need more of those numbers, the Creighton and Shields numbers are interesting, they‘re very revealing. But we really need to know a lot more about specifically what went on all across the country. New Jersey, there are strong suspicions. There‘s questions in New Hampshire. There‘s questions in Kentucky. We need to know exactly what‘s going on in terms of the misuse of the Justice Department.
I think that‘s everyone‘s concern, that not what did these people fail to do that got them fired, but what the other people did do that kept them in their jobs....
You also worry what this tells other U.S. attorneys. I mean, the impression is that if you go after someone like Jerry Lewis or other powerful people like Cunningham, that you‘re really risking your career, and that maybe you‘d be better suited finding other targets....Seeing Karl Rove in this issue is really something that sticks out. I mean, this is the pig in the parlor. I mean, not that he‘s a pig. But he sticks out, and no one wants to talk about it, perhaps, in the White House. But any involvement of Karl Rove on this issue really screams for investigation.
The above comments get to the crux of the danger behind this scandal: to what extent were political threats used to intimidate sitting prosecutors into doing the administration's partisan bidding? Eight apparently rebuffed the threats and paid the price, but of even greater concern is how many prosecutors agreed to cut deals and carry out their marching orders, thus tossing aside objectivity when it came to enforcing our system of law, all to save their jobs...?The rampant thuggery and use of intimidation in every aspect of government are trademark tactics of this White House and it continues to exhibit no bounds.
It follows the recurring pattern in his life: screw up, duck or place blame, and then pass the mess on to others to clean up. Worst president ever.
However, it's all a bit troubling. Carney now admits he was wrong, that his original assumption was "the Bush White House and Justice Department were guilty of poorly executed acts of crass political patronage."
So to Carney the White House and Justice Dept. firing federal prosecutors out of "crass political patronage" was apparently not a big deal. It's only additional info he's learned since that has made him upset. Huh?
When it comes to enforcing the law, there's zero room for partisan rewards and punishment. Period. It appears as if Carney was not as alarmed by such an obvious no-no at the start -- only coming to his senses later.
Here's a classic case of something that might have flew under the radar as in years past, but instead thanks to Dem-led hearings is receiving the attention it deserves. In the process, the public -- and journalists -- are waking up.
With regards to Carney's initial yawn-like reaction, is it any wonder the MSM has remained clueless and feckless for so long concerning this administration?
New flash: Bush flips these polls. The majority of Americans favor a withdrawal from Iraq, stem cell research, and steps to be taken to stop global warming. Of course, Bush is on the other side of all three, and this list could be much longer.
A king answers to no one -- certainly not the lowly public. Get ready for a pardon.
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
On June 5, Libby will return to court for sentencing by Judge Reggie Walton, a no-nonsense jurist who metes out tough prison sentences and cuts no slack for white-collar defendants. Libby could get two years. His lawyers will ask that Libby be allowed to remain free while his appeals work their way through the courts. As he has in past prosecutions, Fitzgerald is likely to press for Libby to go straight to prison. "Fitz is so by-the- book he would send his own mother to jail," joked a veteran federal prosecutor who asked not to be identified talking about his colleague.Will Bush let his fall guy sit in jail for many months, or will he grant an immediate pardon? Stay tuned.
(And after Libby's pardoned, how long before Fox News hires him as a commentator?)
The Army is ordering injured troops to go to Iraq.How long before they start sending over blind soldiers?
As the military scrambles to pour more soldiers into Iraq, a unit of the Army's 3rd Infantry Division at Fort Benning, Ga., is deploying troops with serious injuries and other medical problems, including GIs who doctors have said are medically unfit for battle. Some are too injured to wear their body armor, according to medical records.
Sunday, March 11, 2007
As Steve Benen pointed out:
Sen. John McCain (affair, divorce), former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (affair, divorce, affair, divorce), and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani (divorce, affair, nasty divorce).Great to see that hypocrisy and self-righteous finger-pointing is still tradition #1 in the GOP -- their longest held tradition (and the one thing they're extremely competent at upholding).
UPDATE: Newt's admission won't stop Rev. Falwell from backing him. Figures. For the religious right, it's always been about politics first, with God and Jesus a far, far distant priority.
Saturday, March 10, 2007
This administration has operated on the basis of a hyperpartisanship not seen in decades. Worse, the destroy-the-opposition, our-team-vs.-their-team approach has infected large parts of the conservative movement and the Republican Party. That's a shame, since there are plenty of good people in both. Still, the tendency to subordinate principles to win short-term victories and cover up for the administration is, alas, rampant on the right.Exactly. Bill Clinton was to be tossed out of office due to "the rule of law," but when said rule of law happens to go against one of their own, they quickly and adamantly make exceptions and cry foul.
Take the rush of conservative organs demanding an immediate pardon of Scooter Libby after his conviction on four counts related to lying and obstruction of justice. Last I checked, conservatives were deeply committed to the rule of law. They said so frequently during the Clinton impeachment saga.
But the conscientious Libby jury had barely announced its conclusions when the Wall Street Journal editorial page and the National Review, among others, called for a pardon because the case, as the Journal editorial put it, involved "a travesty of justice."In other words, when an impartial judicial system does something that conservatives don't like, the will of conservatives, not the rule of law, should triumph.
Apparently our judicial system only works when decisions are handed down that they favor, but it's to be criticized and undermined if the verdict is not to their liking. Oh, I see. I believe that's how most despots operate.
If for some reason the jury decided Libby was innocent on all counts, you better believe we would've heard laudatory plaudits from the conservative scream machine, embracing the beauty of our legal system. Instead, we had to endure them clamoring for a do-over in the form of a pardon, with many suggesting the jury was confused or worse, clueless.
Their shrill reaction to this justified outcome serves to convey a concise portrait of what they've become. In short, duplicitous hypocrites who view the world as simply us vs. them, and any principles held can always be conveniently broken.
The above aside, when we think in terms of who is vulnerable in Iraq, Americans need to realize it's not just 135K U.S. soldiers exposed and at risk each day but also 120K contractors hired by the U.S. to assist the military -- or nearly the equivalent number to troops. A total of more than 250,000 Americans are vulnerable in Iraq (not counting the additional 48,000 troops and support personnel to be sent as part of the "surge").
The unseen body bags are not always occupied by fallen soldiers.
The 298/67 ratio is a statistical oddity given at the federal level the number of Republicans under investigation and/or indictment clearly has outnumbered that of Dems. As the authors state, the difference here being the federal level has national press exposure, further insuring fairness and due diligence, as opposed to the local level which suffers from a dearth of media coverage and thus is more prone to rigged shenanigans.
Donald Shields and John Cragan, two professors of communication, have compiled a database of investigations and/or indictments of candidates and elected officials by U.S. attorneys since the Bush administration came to power. Of the 375 cases they identified, 10 involved independents, 67 involved Republicans, and 298 involved Democrats. The main source of this partisan tilt was a huge disparity in investigations of local politicians, in which Democrats were seven times as likely as Republicans to face Justice Department scrutiny.How can this have been happening without a national uproar? The authors explain: “We believe that this tremendous disparity is politically motivated and it occurs because the local (non-statewide and non-Congressional) investigations occur under the radar of a diligent national press.
Much of this under-the-radar maneuvering occurred with the scandalous firing of federal prosecutors, but thanks to newly-in-control Dem call for hearings, the rot and filth is being shown the light of day and made known.
Let's hope we get to see much more of this long-overdue national exposure to countless number of highly questionable practices committed over the last seven years.
Thursday, March 08, 2007
“They thought it was OK for prosecutors to pursue the president for lying about sex, and now they think it’s unfair to prosecute someone in the White House for lying to a grand jury about outing a CIA agent,” Lanny J. Davis, Clinton’s special counsel during that time, said Wednesday. “This is not just hypocritical. It is comical.”
Look for GW to make an exception. And at that point, sometime late next year, what will he care how it looks. His disgraceful legacy will have already been set in stone, his time in office riddled with unethical behavior so no big shakes to commit one more unseemly act for the guy who bit the bullet for him.
The president has since indicated he intended to go by the book in granting what few pardons he’d hand out—considering only requests that had first been reviewed by the Justice Department under a series of publicly available guidelines.
Those regulations, which are discussed on the Justice Department Web site at www.usdoj.gov/pardon, would seem to make a Libby pardon a nonstarter in George W. Bush’s White House. They “require a petitioner to wait a period of at least five years after conviction or release from confinement (whichever is later) before filing a pardon application,” according to the Justice Web site.
It would be just one more filthy move in a series of many. Also I recall his father making a few questionable pardons (Caspar Weinberger, Elliott Abrams, and others involved in Iran-Contra).
With the verdict in, a smattering of wise words:
Fortunately, the trial showed that whereas this administration controlled the media for far too long, in the end they couldn't control "the message" when it came to facts, the jury, and the law. Chalk up a victory for our court system.
Dan Froomkin: "There is an enormous public-policy factor here -- something more important than the vague, theoretical possibility of influencing a fair trial. Just for example, no executive of any company would be allowed by his shareholders to remain mum on a top aide's indictment -- not to mention conviction. He'd be fired....What are the ethical standards for this White House? What is considered acceptable behavior and what is not? What is a firing offense?" Also, Froomkin criticizes his own employer (Washington Post), stating today's editorial makes "assertions that aren't supported by facts that have been reported by its own news operation." Philadelphia Inquirer: "If the president truly does respect this verdict, he ought to be seeking resignations. Rove, the architect of his presidency, was neck-deep in the scheme to discredit Wilson....And what of Cheney, whose bidding Libby clearly was doing? Libby is the only one headed for jail, but the verdict condemns higher government officials in absentia." Dana Milbank: "As a political matter, Libby's trial had long ago ceased to be about one man's guilt or innocence. Witnesses made it plain that at least three other administration officials had joined Libby in leaking the identity of undercover CIA officer Valerie Plame, including top Bush strategist Karl Rove." [Agreed. In accordance with any kind of ethical litmus test, Karl Rove should've submitted his resignation yesterday. The same holds true for Cheney. However, given the nonexistent ethical standards in this cabal, one can just dream on]. Andrew Sullivan: "Something is rotten in the heart of Washington; and it lies in the vice-president's office. The salience of this case is obvious. What it is really about - what it has always been about - is whether this administration deliberately misled the American people about WMD intelligence before the war. The risks Cheney took to attack Wilson, the insane over-reaction that otherwise very smart men in this administration engaged in to rebut a relatively trivial issue: all this strongly implies the fact they were terrified that the full details of their pre-war WMD knowledge would come out. Fitzgerald could smell this. He was right to pursue it, and to prove that a brilliant, intelligent, sane man like Libby would risk jail to protect his bosses. What was he really trying to hide? We now need a Congressional investigation to find out more, to subpoena Cheney and, if he won't cooperate, consider impeaching him."
Tuesday, March 06, 2007
Forget the fact that Bush has already tried several plans in Iraq, so Plan B now is really more like Plan J. Also leave aside the question of who or what will categorically decide that this latest plan has failed. I mean, would Bush or Cheney ever state it has failed?
Given how Bush's previous plans in Iraq have failed -- and given his continued insistence that failure is "not an option" lest Iraq become a safe haven for terrorists -- it would have been entirely appropriate for the press corps to repeatedly, if not incessantly, demand answers to those two critical questions.
That didn't happen. And after a while, the stunning illogic of there being no apparent Plan B and no credible leverage with the Iraqis became just another inexplicable and yet almost entirely unmentioned part of the backstory.
But to fight a war with no alternative scenarios or game plans at the ready is insane. Such stubborn short-sightedness contributed to what doomed the British in the Revolutionary War. Their insistence on sticking with tradition and what they knew, attacking in straight-line, row-like formation, made it easy for them to be shot like ducks in a barrel. No flexibility, no Plan B, just certain death.
It's also equivalent to a football team coming into the game with a detailed plan, and at some point in the first quarter realizing it wasn't going to work. The successful teams quickly make adjustments. The bad ones I suppose end up behaving like this current administration.
Conservative pundit Andrew Sullivan frets, "My fear is that Bush has not thought this through. There is no plan B because his rigid, incurious mind doesn’t have the dexterity to entertain it. The fundamentalist psyche doesn’t like paradox or nuance."
Yes, Bush is conservative -- insofar as conserving brain cells.
Let's see what the Dems will further uncover and perhaps do about this latest scum-filled injustice.
Monday, March 05, 2007
You’re probably expecting to hear from someone who disagrees with the comptroller general’s numbers, projections, and analysis. But hardly anyone does. He is accompanied on the wake-up tour by economists from the conservative Heritage Foundation, the left-leaning Brookings Institution, and the non-partisan Concord Coalition. The only dissenters seem to be a small minority of economists who believe either that the U.S. can grow its way out of the problem, or that Walker is over-stating it.Yes, so nearly no one disagrees with Walker -- not the far-right Heritage Foundation, Fed head Bernanke, or GOP Sen. Conrad. But lo and behold, you can always count on the wonderful folks from that stalwart beacon of serious journalism, the Wall Street Journal editorial page, to defend the indefensible and reject that which all others have embraced. Hell, I find Star to be much more credible.
"The Wall Street Journal for example calls you 'Chicken Little,' running around saying that the 'sky is falling, the sky is falling,'" Kroft remarks.
"Unfortunately they don't get it. I don't know anybody who has done their homework, has researched history, and who's good at math who would tell you that we can grow our way out of this problem," Walker replies.
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke validated much of Walker's take on the situation at congressional hearings this year, and so did ranking Republicans and Democrats on the Senate Budget Committee. Senator Kent Conrad of North Dakota is the Chairman.
Sen. Conrad thinks David Walker is "providing an enormous public service."
Sunday, March 04, 2007
That said, the exception should come when seemingly more credible folks are in the mix, hearing the absurdities that flow from the mouth of one of these clowns and not doing anything to denounce or correct what they hear. Case and point: Ann Coulter's noxious comments at the CPAC conference, with all GOP candidates but McCain in attendance. I have yet to read anything remotely resembling condemnation from the right. Notta. And the candidates have remained mum -- perhaps not wanting to piss-off the anti-gay conservatives by rejecting Coulter's homophobic comments.
Although the left does not have an equivalent wacko contingent like the Coulters, Malkins, and Limbaughs of the world, just imagine if we did and such asinine words were spoken. The wingnuts would immediately spring into action, demanding retraction, hoisting the "how dare you!" accusations like green beer on St. Pat's Day -- similar to what they did for the "wasted" comment by Obama (and yet predictably not for McCain).
John Whiteside writes:
Here's what's I find funny: conservative friends will tell me that nobody really looks at Coulter as a serious person. With her calls for assassinations of public officials, general name-calling, and highly casual relationship with anything resembling facts, she's the court jester, a source of entertainment whom nobody really thinks of as one of the grown-ups.
But there she is, a featured speaker at this event... and there are the attendees, clapping for her.
Conservatives who like to get worked up about what they call "Bush derangement syndrome" (which is just an odd term for "disagreeing with Bush's failed policies"), or rude bloggers hired by Democratic campaigns, or anonymous comments on liberal blogs, should be asked to hold their thoughts until they can explain Coulter's presence in anything resembling serious - or even just adult - conservative circles.
Those who happily cheer on someone while she suggests that a Senator should be shot, a Supreme Court justice should be poisoned, and that a presidential candidate is a "faggot" have no credibility when commenting on the civility or appropriateness of anybody else's words.
People in pain, their lives in the midst of a stalled recovery -- and yet this prez, lame duck no less (key point), makes photo ops priority #1. It's what they do.
We would like to believe that the Bush administration has finally figured out how dangerous and counterproductive it is to hype intelligence — and that that’s why officials are admitting they’re not sure North Korea ever got very far with a secret uranium-based nuclear program. But we doubt it....We suspect that this week’s confessions of doubt about North Korea had less to do with a sudden burst of candor than the fact that Pyongyang has agreed to readmit nuclear inspectors — who probably won’t be able to find the active uranium enrichment program the administration has been alleging for more than four years.
It seems as if the MSM has finally caught on to the BS games played by this administration. Better late than never.
Saturday, March 03, 2007
Nearly 90 percent of Army National Guard units in the United States are rated "not ready" -- largely as a result of shortfalls in billions of dollars' worth of equipment -- jeopardizing their capability to respond to crises at home and abroad, according to a congressional commission that released a preliminary report yesterday on the state of U.S. military reserve forces.
The Bush administration is backing away from its long-held assertions that North Korea has an active clandestine program to enrich uranium, leading some experts to believe that the original U.S. intelligence that started the crisis over Pyongyang's nuclear ambitions may have been flawed.... The administration's stance today stands in sharp contrast to the certainty expressed by top officials in 2002, when the administration accused Pyongyang of running a secret uranium program -- and demanded it be dismantled at once.... In 2002, the United States led a drive to suspend shipments of fuel oil promised to Pyongyang under a 1994 accord that froze a North Korean plutonium facility. The collapse of the 1994 agreement freed North Korea to build up a stockpile of plutonium for as many as a dozen nuclear weapons.Um, yeah, and that 1994 accord was President Clinton's work; thanks to GW et al, its trashing has led to NK's nuke build-up. Chalk up another victory for the current presiding nincompoops.
Now they're scurrying for cover. They cry "foul!" with not much to go on, but then back off when real proof is about to be known.
“The question now is whether we would be in the position of having to get the North Koreans to give up a sizable arsenal if this had been handled differently,” a senior administration official said this week.
The disclosure underscores broader questions about the ability of intelligence agencies to discern the precise status of foreign weapons programs. The original assessment about North Korea came during the same period that the administration was building its case about Iraq’s unconventional weapons programs, which turned out to be based on flawed intelligence. And the new North Korea assessment comes amid debate over intelligence about Iran’s weapons.
“The administration appears to have made a very costly decision that has resulted in a fourfold increase in the nuclear weapons of North Korea,” Senator Reed said in an interview on Wednesday. “If that was based in part on mixing up North Korea’s ambitions with their accomplishments, it’s important.”
It is unclear why the new assessment is being disclosed now. But some officials suggested that the timing could be linked to North Korea’s recent agreement to reopen its doors to international arms inspectors. As a result, these officials have said, the intelligence agencies are facing the possibility that their assessments will once again be compared to what is actually found on the ground. “This may be preventative,” one American diplomat said.
Is it any wonder their credibility is near zero?
Thursday, March 01, 2007
A by-product of these activities has been the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam and are hostile to America and sympathetic to Al Qaeda.Scary, scary stuff indeed. With this administration making the (trumped up) case for and execution of invading non-9/11-involved Iraq, they've opened the holding pen filled with 500 cats and now they're chasing them willy-nilly, left and right. And we all belong to the group of exposed, vulnerable mice.
Al Qaeda is Sunni, and many of its operatives came from extremist religious circles inside Saudi Arabia.
They [the administration] ignored warnings from the intelligence community about the ties between Iraqi Shiite leaders and Iran, where some had lived in exile for years. Now, to the distress of the White House, Iran has forged a close relationship with the Shiite-dominated [Iraqi] government.
[Martin] Indyk, who is the director of the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution, added that, in his opinion, it was not clear whether the White House was fully aware of the strategic implications of its new policy. “The White House is not just doubling the bet in Iraq,” he said. “It’s doubling the bet across the region. This could get very complicated. Everything is upside down.”
Flynt Leverett, a former Bush Administration National Security Council official, told me that “there is nothing coincidental or ironic” about the new strategy with regard to Iraq. “The Administration is trying to make a case that Iran is more dangerous and more provocative than the Sunni insurgents to American interests in Iraq, when—if you look at the actual casualty numbers—the punishment inflicted on America by the Sunnis is greater by an order of magnitude,” Leverett said. “This is all part of the campaign of provocative steps to increase the pressure on Iran. The idea is that at some point the Iranians will respond and then the Administration will have an open door to strike at them.”
The Pentagon is continuing intensive planning for a possible bombing attack on Iran, a process that began last year, at the direction of the President. In recent months, the former intelligence official told me, a special planning group has been established in the offices of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, charged with creating a contingency bombing plan for Iran that can be implemented, upon orders from the President, within twenty-four hours.
“Today, the only army capable of containing Iran”—the Iraqi Army—“has been destroyed by the United States. You’re now dealing with an Iran that could be nuclear-capable and has a standing army of four hundred and fifty thousand soldiers.”
“The last time Iran was a threat, the Saudis were able to mobilize the worst kinds of Islamic radicals. Once you get them out of the box, you can’t put them back.”
The [Saudi] princes are gambling that they will not be overthrown as long as they continue to support religious schools and charities linked to the extremists. The Administration’s new strategy is heavily dependent on this bargain.
“We are in a program to enhance the Sunni capability to resist Shiite influence, and we’re spreading the money around as much as we can,” the former senior intelligence official said. The problem was that such money “always gets in more pockets than you think it will,” he said. “In this process, we’re financing a lot of bad guys with some serious potential unintended consequences. We don’t have the ability to determine and get pay vouchers signed by the people we like and avoid the people we don’t like. It’s a very high-risk venture.”
American, European, and Arab officials I spoke to told me that the Siniora government and its allies had allowed some aid to end up in the hands of emerging Sunni radical groups in northern Lebanon, the Bekaa Valley, and around Palestinian refugee camps in the south. These groups, though small, are seen as a buffer to Hezbollah; at the same time, their ideological ties are with Al Qaeda....“Salafis are sick and hateful, and I’m very much against the idea of flirting with them,” he said. “They hate the Shiites, but they hate Americans more. If you try to outsmart them, they will outsmart us. It will be ugly.”
Nasrallah said he believed that President Bush’s goal was “the drawing of a new map for the region. They want the partition of Iraq. Iraq is not on the edge of a civil war—there is a civil war. There is ethnic and sectarian cleansing. The daily killing and displacement which is taking place in Iraq aims at achieving three Iraqi parts, which will be sectarian and ethnically pure as a prelude to the partition of Iraq. Within one or two years at the most, there will be total Sunni areas, total Shiite areas, and total Kurdish areas. Even in Baghdad, there is a fear that it might be divided into two areas, one Sunni and one Shiite.”
He went on, “I can say that President Bush is lying when he says he does not want Iraq to be partitioned. All the facts occurring now on the ground make you swear he is dragging Iraq to partition. And a day will come when he will say, ‘I cannot do anything, since the Iraqis want the partition of their country and I honor the wishes of the people of Iraq.’ ”
The Bush Administration’s reliance on clandestine operations that have not been reported to Congress and its dealings with intermediaries with questionable agendas have recalled, for some in Washington, an earlier chapter in history. Two decades ago, the Reagan Administration attempted to fund the Nicaraguan contras illegally, with the help of secret arms sales to Iran. Saudi money was involved in what became known as the Iran-Contra scandal, and a few of the players back then—notably Prince Bandar and Elliott Abrams—are involved in today’s dealings.
Iran-Contra was the subject of an informal “lessons learned” discussion two years ago among veterans of the scandal. Abrams led the discussion. One conclusion was that even though the program was eventually exposed, it had been possible to execute it without telling Congress. As to what the experience taught them, in terms of future covert operations, the participants found: “One, you can’t trust our friends. Two, the C.I.A. has got to be totally out of it. Three, you can’t trust the uniformed military, and four, it’s got to be run out of the Vice-President’s office”—a reference to Cheney’s role, the former senior intelligence official said....
The Pentagon consultant added that one difficulty, in terms of oversight, was accounting for covert funds. “There are many, many pots of black money, scattered in many places and used all over the world on a variety of missions,” he said. The budgetary chaos in Iraq, where billions of dollars are unaccounted for, has made it a vehicle for such transactions, according to the former senior intelligence official and the retired four-star general.
“This goes back to Iran-Contra,” a former National Security Council aide told me. “And much of what they’re doing is to keep the agency out of it.” He said that Congress was not being briefed on the full extent of the U.S.-Saudi operations. And, he said, “The C.I.A. is asking, ‘What’s going on?’ They’re concerned, because they think it’s amateur hour.”
As an example, he recently announced his GOP dream ticket in 2008: Kyl/Forbes. Yes, the far, far to the right Senator from Arizona for president and looney-tunes Forbes as VP. Yikes.
Once you get beyond the giggling, this says much about the far right's appetite for Rudy or McCain. Of course, Bennett will support either of those two over any Dem, but it's obvious from his Kyl/Forbes mention that he's not in love with the current GOP front-runners.
As much as McCain and Rudy are trying desperately to win over the extreme faction of the party -- flip-flopping like pancakes at IHOP, it still may not be working. Interesting.