Friday, September 28, 2007

Bill Sammon writes:
President Bush’s chief of staff says White House officials misjudged how much the presidential campaign would radicalize the Democratic Party against the Iraq war.

In an interview for the new book, “The Evangelical President,” White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten said he and other administration officials did not expect the Democratic presidential candidates to pull their party so sharply to the left.
Does that mean the 2/3 of the country who oppose the war are leftists? Uh, OK.
Apparently, Dan Rather was right all along regarding his National Guard story about GW.

Recall the firestorm waged in the wingnut blogosphere -- it was all a smokescreen to distract everyone from the fact that what Rather was reporting was absolutely true. "Hey, look over here, don't pay attention to that awful, awful story!" And it worked.
More corporate welfare enforced by this administration:
The Interior Department’s program to collect billions of dollars annually from oil and gas companies that drill on federal lands is troubled by mismanagement, ethical lapses and fears of retaliation against whistle-blowers, the department’s chief independent investigator has concluded.

The report, a result of a yearlong investigation, grew out of complaints by four auditors at the agency, who said that senior administration officials had blocked them from recovering money from oil companies that underpaid the government.
It suggested that the agency was too cozy with oil companies and that internal critics had good reason to fear punishment.
In one case, senior officials decided that it would impose a “hardship” on oil companies to demand that they calculate the back interest they owed after having been caught underpaying. The agency itself was years behind in billing the companies, because its computers could not perform the calculations.
This has the fingerprints of Gale Norton all over it.

You would think that the Iraq war was enough of a "gift" to the oil companies, but no, they want more, they always want more.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Bush vs. the kids

We knew he was a bully, but c'mon.

Bush's stance on the SCHIP issue is so extremely partisan and rotten that a very senior Republican member of the Senate felt compelled to slam it.

Worse yet, the private insurance companies Bush is supposedly protecting are in fact FOR the bill, or against Bush! It's similar to the many energy companies that back global warming measures, yet Junior opposes.

Is Bush less human (not to mention sensible) than corporations?

But then again this moron believed that Nelson Mandela was dead.
They just refuse to let it go: "Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson sought to revive the Bush administration's bid to overhaul Social Security, issuing the first of several papers aimed at finding 'common ground' on the issue."

Here's a suggestion, why not increase the age eligible to receive social security? As I wrote on December 11, 2004:
I think first and foremost the retirement age MUST be adjusted up; life expectancy has increased by 13%, or 9 years, since 1950 and yet thanks to gutless politicians, the age cutoff remains stagnant. A bump up of just one or two years would make a huge difference.
Needless to say, this age adjustment is long overdue and it makes complete sense -- just not politically. Heaven forbid if you piss off the voting bloc that makes up soon-to-receive social security checks. But the question then has to be asked, do they want to actually fix it or do they just want to privatize it?

Monday, September 24, 2007

Regarding those he terms "Chaos Hawks" (people who purposefully fan the flames of fear when it comes to Iraq), Kevin Drum writes:
[S]ince they can't point to much affirmative evidence that our presence is actually improving the political situation inside Iraq, they're forced to take the far more extreme position (see Crocker, Ryan, congressional testimony of) that if we leave Iraq the entire Middle East will go up in flames. But despite the fact that the scenario they lay out is almost cartoonishly harrowing, they barely even bother making a case for it. They just treat it as some kind of holy writ. To my ears, though, this sounds not like a sober and even-handed professional assessment, but more like a furious last ditch effort to frighten the public into opposing withdrawal — one that an awful lot of people seem to have accepted pretty uncritically. At the very minimum, though, can we at least have a serious conversation about this instead of simply accepting the maximally hawkish view at face value yet again?
Cartoonish indeed. Recently I wrote about how the going into Iraq part of the equation was equally painted with an animated brush, with promises of kisses, being greeted with roses, warm embraces, tears of joy -- "like the scene when Dorothy and gang show up at the Emerald City after killing the witch." These same folks conjure up equally fantastic imagery, only now it's on the gloom-and-doom end of the spectrum. Nothing is ever presented in a remotely serious or professional manner, but rather it's quite scary in its infantile depiction.

As we've come to expect from this administration, the policy has never been about sober, realistic assessment offering the opportunity to adapt and do what's ultimately right. Instead, it's always about Madison Avenue-style selling and pimping to get what they want. In this case, what they want is to dump a disaster and duck blame.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Republicans effectively defeated Sen. Jim Webb's bill that looked to lengthen time at home for soldiers before being sent back to Iraq for another tour of duty. As stated in the Washington Post, "Military families have bemoaned the stress of repeated deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. Some military personnel have spent more than half of the past five years deployed in war zones."

How is it possible anyone could've been against this bill? The GOP is always quick to point the finger at the Dems for lowering troop morale (always a bogus accusation), but doesn't this defeat do just that? The divorce rate in the military has increased dramatically since the start of this war, and yet here I thought Republicans were all about "family values" and the sanctity of marriage?

I guess it's much like everything else, they're for it as long as it's politically expedient. In this case, it was the middle-finger flashed to the troops for matters partisan in nature, with Bush/Cheney gleefully smiling in the background. Another in a series of outrages.

Friday, September 21, 2007

GW got pissed that his presidential stand-in, Petraeus, was on the receiving end of some stinging criticism (via But as Dan Froomkin writes:
Petraeus, the commander of U.S. forces in Iraq who spent much of last week touting rosy scenarios in Iraq and hawking the administration's stay-the-course plan, has become the most political of figures. And Bush has acknowledged that he is using the general to get out a message that the public wouldn't believe if it was coming from him. (Just yesterday, Bush told a group of conservative columnists: "People listen to Petraeus, not to me.")
Here's two fantasy follow-up questions for Bush: If you make a general your political standard-bearer, don't your political enemies get to take aim? And is it possible Democrats were reserving their outrage for issues other than a political ad?
Bush admits that he's in the toilet with the public so he must shove another stooge out on stage to lip-synch what he wants to say -- a bit like the cheesy ventriloquist act. Then when the act is hit with some tomatoes, Bush gets his back up and cries foul.

Gads, our management of geopolitical affairs has come down to this? Figuring out what to do in Iraq, how long we should stay, etc., is not the job of a military person but rather our elected top-dog civilian leader. Funny how ego-off-the-charts Mr. Decider is now deferring to his general; yes, he has sunk that low.

When does this increasingly sad and tragic nightmare end?!
I'm back!

So John Yoo, one of the many crazed lawyers tucked within this administration, said, "Bush's abrogations of power from the other branches are for the defense of the U.S. and, thus, good," (as per Meredith Hobbs).

Oh, I see. Any president who power-grabs despite what the Constitution says, all in the name of patriotism, is deemed "good" and I suppose therefore is permissible, if not wholeheartedly encouraged.

It's quite frightening Yoo is in a position of any influence.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The money question and non-answer:
It took three hearings before General David Petraeus finally got asked the most important question: Is the Iraq war, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee inquired at Tuesday afternoon's session, "making America safer?" Petraeus, the commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, was uncharacteristically uncertain. "Sir," he said, "I don't know, actually." For many watching, that answer was a stark indictment of the Bush Administration's conduct of the war over the past four years, and the logic behind it.
Perhaps Petraeus is telling the truth after all. Just imagine if this question was asked to Bush, Cheney or Rice (hint: they would not have candidly answered "I don't know").
Petraeus agreeing to speak "exclusively" with Fox News is all you have to know about the General's objectivity. I don't believe he spoke with other, less (fixed) partisan outlets. If he doesn't give the OK to a wider spectrum of media then we must conclude that his message is gamed, no less than handiwork aligned with this administration's message.
One of the most important and lucid blog entries I've read all year. A must-read.

It's funny in a disconcerting way how not too long ago Bush/Cheney predicted we would be greeted with open-arms in Iraq, as liberators, like the scene when Dorothy and gang show up at the Emerald City after killing the witch. Yet now the same people have completely shifted 180 degrees, breathlessly warning that if we leave Iraq will descend into utter chaos, with mass genocide, blood in the streets, etc.

How did we go from the Emerald City to hell in such short order? Oh, I forgot, the former was to get us into the war, the latter is to keep us from leaving.
You have to love that chart shown during the Petraeus testimony. A high school poly-sci class could've created it. Troop presence will go down over time. Duh. We know due to capacity, numbers will have to come down this April, but how about some hard timelines, dates, etc.? You know, details the experts are supposed to provide.

A joke. The quagmire continues for the next president to deal with. Mission accomplished.
In light of the Petraeus/Crocker show, some pithy, summary statements.

Eugene Robinson: "That noise you heard yesterday on Capitol Hill was the can being kicked further down the road leading to January 2009, when George W. Bush gets to hand off his Iraq fiasco to somebody else. It's clear by now that playing for time is the real White House strategy for Iraq. Everything else is tactical maneuver and rhetorical legerdemain -- nothing up my sleeve -- with which the administration is buying time, roughly in six-month increments."

What admirable, gutty leadership from The Decider. As he admitted in the book "Dead Certain," he can't wait to ditch these headaches of his design and retreat to his ranch.

Meanwhile, Kevin Drum commented on the latest poll figures in Iraq concerning the surge. The results are less than hopeful. In fact, Drum simply writes, "the surge can't work if this is how the Iraqi public views the U.S. presence."

But Petraeus/Crocker insist it's working, so we must believe.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

  • A Wall Street Journal story reminds us why the Petraeus/Crocker show doesn't really amount to much as far as the Dems are concerned. They continue to lack the votes needed to effect change -- this despite the fact polls consistently show that the public wants out of Iraq. In part, we can blame the Senate structure -- with Wyoming getting equal representation as New York or California -- for why we're stuck with this predicament.

  • A sign of the partitioning to come in Iraq? Some feel it's inevitable.

  • A study shows liberals and conservatives think differently -- how shocking! The study concludes "conservatives tend to be more structured and persistent in their judgments whereas liberals are more open to new experiences." Translation: conservatives stick to their beliefs no matter how much the facts prove otherwise (Iraq, cutting taxes, global warming, etc.). Liberals go with the facts and are more willing to change their position based on new evidence. Hmm, I wonder which sounds better....

  • Oh, and expect to read more quotes like this one, from political handicapper Stuart Rothenberg regarding the Senate: "a Democratic gain of five to seven seats (is) a serious possibility next year."
  • Sunday, September 09, 2007

    They're saber rattling -- again, this time about Iran.

    As Todd Gitlin writes:
    The Democrats have to stand up this week, loud, clear, and demonstrative, and declare that they will not get hustled into supporting a mindless, counterproductive attack on Iran. They will not appropriate funds for it. Half of them in the Senate got hustled at the equivalent moment in 2002 and now regret it, even if are only willing to use the euphemism "if I knew then what I know now."

    One thing they all must know now is who they are dealing with in the White House. The mania of George Bush and Dick Cheney is not the sum of all dangers today but it is, after all, a known quantity.

    This time, for sure, post-facto regret won't do.
    Bush/Cheney will have no qualms about dumping two messes on to the next president, while also using the amplified war presence to further paint Dems as war-weak, thus returning to their tried-and-true playbook in an election year. Fear and intimidation is all they know.

    But we're not really going to trust these guys to orchestrate another attack, are we? Leaving aside the problems of such with our stretched-thin military, Bush Inc. lied to get us into Iraq, they proceeded to get everything wrong in that gambit, the American public made a clear statement last November about their appetite for war, and yet now we're to allow these incompetents to blunder us into another debacle waiting to happen?

    The sad fact is perhaps Iran should be attacked in some form or fashion and perhaps under a different administration they would be trusted to go ahead. But we sadly can't trust the current bunch of cretins so in effect their track record of gross negligence and purposeful deception has left us more vulnerable and dangerously paralyzed. During this time in our history, the last thing we can afford to have is leadership with zero credibility -- but that's exactly what we've got.
    An excellent point made by Lt. Gen.William Odom (retired):
    [T]he implications for political consolidation in Iraq, the very thing that General David Petraeus and others say is essential for success, are adverse. Those Sunnis who are accepting the offer to fight al Qaeda in return for weapons and ammunition do so because they mistrust the present government in Baghdad. Most say so openly. In other words, they will fight on the U.S. side precisely because they do not trust their own government. That tells us that we are arming the enemies of the government whose election and legitimacy we sponsored. Perhaps the president can explain why he favors such a strange policy.
    The political situation in Iraq is indeed transforming like the dynamics that occurred in the novel "Lord of the Flies," with sides adapting in order to survive and best obtain power given the woeful lot dealt them. It's one thing for this to happen in a fictional account of boys stranded on an island, it's quite another for it to occur in a real-life, war-torn country with 25+ million people.

    How exactly does this leave hope for the future? What would Vegas place the odds at a favorable outcome? Remember all of the above when the Republicans eventually get around to blaming Democrats for the inevitable further trying times that await Iraq.

    Saturday, September 08, 2007

    Bush et al refuse to disclose the name of the private company involved in the mysterious disappearance of millions of official White House emails. We shouldn't be surprised since they likely (and absurdly) believe this is just another demand that falls under executive privilege, and reminds of Cheney rebuffing requests for the names of energy companies in policy meetings.

    The loss of these emails is a violation of law:
    According to the White House, at least five million e-mails were not properly archived and may be lost forever, in apparent violation of the Presidential Records Act. The post-Watergate law states that communications relating to official activity in the offices of the president and vice president are owned by the American public and cannot be destroyed.
    But more so, according to many tech specialists, it's impossible to truly delete or lose emails forever. They're always embedded somewhere on hard drives and they are retrievable.

    Waxman and company should not relent and keep upping the pressure.

    Friday, September 07, 2007

    Regarding the much-discussed "Dead Certain" book about Bush, it's hilarious to learn that the author Draper apparently spent years "lobbying" the president, trying to convince him that it would be a favorable portrait. Even if one spends years assuring Bush the book will be a valentine to him, it doesn't matter. All GW has to do is open his mouth for the record and embarrassing, shameful words come flowing forth. He can't help it. He's a complete ignoramus and he just can't hide that fact. To be complimentary, the book would have to be quote-free, and categorized as fiction.

    A favorite section in the book:
    Several of Bush's top advisers believe that the president's view of postwar Iraq was significantly affected by his meeting with three Iraqi exiles in the Oval Office several months before the 2003 invasion, Draper reports.

    He writes that all three exiles agreed without qualification that "Iraq would greet American forces with enthusiasm. Ethnic and religious tensions would dissolve with the collapse of Saddam's regime. And democracy would spring forth with little effort -- particularly in light of Bush's commitment to rebuild the country."
    So instead of siding with the many Middle East experts at the time who warned against the invasion or at minimum that we would not be greeted with open-arms (thus needing many more troops), our president decides to go with the guesses of three (3) random Iraqi exiles.

    Astonishing, but then again not.
    This gem in a recent WSJ story:
    After almost four years of trying to build Iraq's central government in Baghdad, the U.S. has found that what appears to work best in the divided country is just the opposite. So senior military officials are increasingly working to strengthen local players who are bringing some measure of stability to their communities. The new approach bears some striking similarities to the 'soft partition' strategy pushed by senior Democrats....
    For years Bush Inc. has clung to a fantasy, that a united, democratic Iraq was fully achievable, and it's been like pushing water up a river with a Dixie cup. The Dems have been on to this "revelation" for some time now so it's not really new news. Instead, it's just more proof of this administration's adamant refusal to adapt, to change, to re-work preconceived notions. Ultimately, such stubborn behavior has cost many, many lives and prolonged what perhaps didn't have to be a disaster.

    Wednesday, September 05, 2007

    I had to chuckle when I heard Sen. Arlen Specter came out in support of Larry Craig, urging him to fight. As you see at the top of this blog, Bush sided with the pro-choice, more/less pro-gay rights Specter over the ardent, far right Toomey and now it backfires on the GOP. Frankly, it's not the first time since Specter was not exactly laying over for Gonzo; in fact, he was often refreshingly blunt in his contempt for the former AG.

    As with McCain, even Bush has apparently found it difficult to navigate the looney partisan pretzel maze that currently makes up the GOP. None of the current batch of candidates are far enough to the right to win over the crazed base, and if they are they're near the bottom in the polls and likely unelectable on a national scale. The longer the party remains a willing hostage to the out-of-touch base, the further the party drifts towards obsolescence.

    But of course Specter is right about Craig, no chance for a guilty verdict in court. He did nothing wrong legally. The GOP is merely showing its zero tolerance for gay behavior. Throwing more red meat to the ravenous base....
    The last independent voice in the government, the GAO, reports that Iraq has failed on 15 of the 18 benchmarks. Passing on just 3 of 18? Isn't this a much lower pass rate than Bush's bogus report card a while back? So the trend is negative or in reverse -- bad, right?

    Sunday, September 02, 2007

    In response to a report concluding the Iraqi police force is so corrupt it should just be "scrapped" and "we should start over," Kevin Drum decides to summarize:
    So let's take stock. Pretty much everyone has lost confidence in Nouri al-Maliki, though there's no replacement in sight who seems like a better bet. The police force is so corrupt that the best advice the Jones commission can offer is to disband it completely and start over from scratch. And the Iraqi army, after three years of intensive training designed by one Gen. David Petraeus, has a grand total of six battalions capable of operating on their own.

    In other words, except for the fact that Iraq has a disfunctional government, a disfunctional police force, and a barely functional army, things are going great. I can't wait to see how Crocker and Petraeus spin this into an argument for staying another four years.
    Has Iraq become a bit like Bush? Bush's presidency has descended from bad to worse and yet his approval numbers seem to go no lower than about 30%. GW could be shown on national TV taking a dump on his Oval Office desk, buck naked, while watching porn and yet his approval rating might slip to perhaps 29%.

    Likewise, just how bad does it need to get in Iraq for it to have any added impact on politicians, the media, etc.? We read about the governmental problems, with Sunnis breaking away and the no-confidence in Maliki, U.S. troop deaths are up, and now we find the police force is as much a problem as the insurgency. Yet we'll witness Bush's flaks trot out the just-give-it-a-few-more-months line despite all evidence to the contrary being the right course of action.

    When Bush finally high-tails it out of DC, many will finally look back and realize that the many billions approved to extend this war was a complete waste of money. In addition, many more U.S. soldiers will have needlessly died in what has now clearly become a political exercise of putting lipstick on a pig until it can become a problem for someone else to remedy. Bush, Crocker, Petraeus et al truly know how bad it is and how much is already lost but they would rather prop-up fictional optimism to desperately kick the can down the road. What stalwart leadership.

    Saturday, September 01, 2007

    Fight them over there so we can destroy ourselves here...?

    From Chris Bowers, regarding Bush's $50 billion request for war funding on top of the already $147 billion requested, thus totaling almost $200 billion:
    [A]nother 1.5% of our gross national income will be sent to Iraq. We sent along another 0.7% back in May, and the DoD appropriations bill sent another 3.5% indirectly to Iraq. That makes a running total 5.7% of our gross national income spent on Iraq and the military so far this year. This is simply not sustainable. Among other things, the Soviet Empire's war in Afghanistan destroyed the Soviet Empire. The longer we keep sending 5-6% of our national income down the Iraq sinkhole, the more likely it becomes for the Iraq war to destroy us.
    Yup, the debacle over there is well on its way to topping $1 trillion in costs -- of course, not to mention the "cost" in human lives. Insanity.
    The growing list of sexual scandals from the "family values" party. (And this list is not up-to-date, only current since October 2006).