Sunday, April 30, 2006

Critical Mass

Glenn Greenwald's blog is a daily must read.

I've been writing recently about how the media meme has changed and we are increasingly seeing more critical reporting on the Bushies and all they do.

Today Glenn has an excellent post on Bush's chronic refusal to follow the law. Here's a taste,
On March 24, 2006, The Boston Globe published an article by Charlie Savage reporting that the President, after signing into law the bill which renewed the Patriot Act, issued a "signing statement" making clear that "he did not consider himself bound" to comply with various reporting provisions in the law and therefore reserved the right to violate them. The article was extraordinary because it noted that the Patriot Act signing statement was merely "the latest in a string of high-profile instances in which Bush has cited his constitutional authority to bypass a law" -- and the article tied that ideology of lawlessness to, among other things, the President's deliberate violations of FISA when ordering warrantless eavesdropping on Americans.

The Globe has today published an even more sweeping and significant article, this one also by Savage, reporting as clearly and unambiguously as I have seen on the fact that the President not only believes that he has the right to break the law but has been exercising that right with staggering frequency, in almost every area of significance...
You need to read the whole post.

Isn't this behavior exactly what the founders had in mind when they placed impeachment into the constitution.

Zarqawi Story Confirmed.

By now you've probably heard the reports that Bush declined to take out Zarqawi in 2002 for political reasons.

Kevin Drum updates the story ,
[the Zarqawi] story always had a big problem: it was based on anonymous sources, which made it easy for the White House to ignore. Today, however, the Australian show Four Corners has gotten confirmation of the story from Michael Scheuer, former head of the CIA's Osama bin Laden unit:
He told Four Corners that during 2002, the Bush Administration received detailed intelligence about Zarqawi's training camp in Iraqi Kurdistan.

...."Almost every day we sent a package to the White House that had overhead imagery of the house he was staying in. It was a terrorist training camp...experimenting with ricin and anthrax...any collateral damage there would have been terrorists."
There more, and as Kevin concludes, "Perhaps someone will start off Tony Snow's White House career on the right foot by asking him about it on Monday."

Josh's Words of Wisdom

Josh has excellent post up today that you need to read.

He points out that the key to the admin's election strategy this year is to attack Iran. Josh then points out that it is "loser talk" for Ds to spend all their time planning on how to respond to the GOP. Winners stay on the intiative. Force the GOP to respond to us.

For 3 years I've been asking how Ds can expect voters to think the Ds will defend the nation when they won't even defend themselves.

Josh has crystalized my thoughts on this much better than I ever could,
If you think back to the Swift Boat debacle of 2004, the surface issue was John Kerry's honesty and bravery as a sailor in Vietnam. Far more powerful, however, was the meta-message: George Bush slaps John Kerry around and Kerry either can't or won't hit back. For voters concerned with security and the toughness of their leaders, that's a devastating message -- and one that has little or nothing to do with the truth of the surface charges. Someone who can't fight for himself certainly can't fight for you. At the time I called it the "Republicans' bitch-slap theory of electoral politics."
Josh has hit the nail on the head and clearly lays out why I, for one, have been so frustrated with my party. I went for Kerry early last round because above all else, I thought he would fight back. That he would slap down their sillyness, and couldn't believe it as I watched him swiftboated by a bunch of draft dodgers.

We're Losing the War on Terror

Lifted completely from Mathew Gross at Deride and Conquer:

We're losing the war on terror, and with some rapidity, according to the State Department:

Year/ Number of Terror Attacks Worldwide / Number of People Killed in Attacks
2003: 208 attacks causing 625 deaths.
2004: 3,168 attacks causing 1,907 deaths.
2005: 11,111 attacks causing 14,602 deaths.

Colbert at WH Correspondents' Dinner

This is a must see. It will lift your spirt.

Colbert cuts to the bone last night and His Majesty was not amused.

Crooks and Liars has the video.

E&P has the story.

Transcript here.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Rove's Problems Becoming More Clear

I've never been impressed with the story we've been told about Rove not initially testifying to a conversation with Cooper and coming in later to explain that he had forgotten the Cooper conversation. It's never seemed sexy enough to indict someone as powerful as Rove. And it was hard to believe Fitz would be spending so much time on it. It's just never added up.

Murray Waas writing in the National Journal has more details that clarify the story. Here's the crux,
Rove also testified to the grand jury that when he told Cooper that Plame worked at the agency, he was only passing along unverified gossip.

In contrast, Cooper has testified that Rove told him in a phone conversation on July 11, 2003, that Plame worked for the CIA and played a role in having the agency select her husband, former Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson, to make a fact-finding trip to Niger in 2002.

Cooper has also testified that Rove, as well as a second source -- I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, then-chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney -- portrayed the information about Plame as accurate and authoritative. Cooper has testified that based on his conversations with Rove and Libby, he felt confident enough about the information to identify Plame as a CIA officer in a July 17 Time story.
To recap, Rove had a conversation on July 11 with Time's Matt Cooper wherein, according to Cooper he "authoritatively confirmed that Plame was working for the CIA and sent Wilson to Niger. Rove was 'cautioning' Cooper to stay away from Wilson. Contrary to SOP, Rove told his assistant NOT to log the call with Cooper. Later, when questioned by the FBI, and then before the grand jury, Rove never mentions this call with Cooper...and there is no record of the call. Later yet, Rove's attorney, Luskin, is told by Vivica Novak (no relation) that everyone knows Rove and Cooper talked. Luskin freaks, tells Rove, they 're-check their records' (whatever) and Rove testifies again before the grand jury to explain how he has thousands of calls and it just slipped his mind, yada, yada, yada.

Bottom line is Cooper tells a very different story than Rove and Rove's story is full of holes and just doesn't add up.....Much like Libby. Fitz thinks Rove's a liar.

My guess is we'll be hearing more about what Rove didn't volunteer and Rove will be indicted.

Pay it Forward!

The absurd and cynical GOP proposal to attempt to bribe voters with a $100 rebate while maneuvering to save billions in oil industry tax breaks is less than certain to become law. For most of us, this is two tanks of gas at current prices.

My plan for spending this bribe should it pass? I'm going to thank the GOP by giving the entire amount to a progressive candidate for federal office.

We should all do this. Ask everyone you know, and post the same request on your blogs. Just think how happy this will make Frist and Hastert.

House GOP: Standing Up for What They Believe In!

From the AP:

House Republicans refused to go along with... Senate-passed repeal of $5 billion worth of oil industry tax breaks....

A resolution urging House negotiators to accept the Senate tax proposals failed 232-190, with only two Republicans voting for it.

These Rs are people of principal and they don't want any confusion on whose interests they protect:

Chevron Latest Oil Co. With Colossal Earns

$811 Billion Dollars!

This is much more than a 'mistake' or policy failure. This is a national disaster of enormous scale.

From today's WaPo: Projected Iraq War Costs Soar,
The cost of the war in Iraq will reach $320 billion after the expected passage next month of an emergency spending bill currently before the Senate, and that total is likely to more than double before the war ends, the Congressional Research Service estimated this week.

The analysis, distributed to some members of Congress on Tuesday night, provides the most official cost estimate yet of a war whose price tag will rise by nearly 17 percent this year...

Even if a gradual troop withdrawal begins this year, war costs in Iraq and Afghanistan are likely to rise by an additional $371 billion during the phaseout, the report said, citing a Congressional Budget Office study. When factoring in costs of the war in Afghanistan, the $811 billion total for both wars would have far exceeded the inflation-adjusted $549 billion cost of the Vietnam War.
Why shouldn't we hold these people accountable!

How can any rational person describe himself or herself as a 'fiscal conservative' and make excuses for this?

This is a freakin scandal and I don't understand why more people aren't outraged.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

This Could Get Interesting

Porter Goss shagging hookers at Duke's Love Shack?

What would that do to his security clearance?

Gotta love these 'family values'.

Rove Tying Up Loose Ends?

Paul Kiel writing at TPM Muckraker tells us that Karl's people say this 5th trip to the grand jury is good news for Karl as he was just tying up a few loose ends?

As I explained below, that's now how a grand jury works. If Fitz didn't intend on indicting Rove, there would be no loose ends to tie up. The investigation would be over.

Again, this doesn't mean that in the end, Fitz decides not to indict Rove; it only means he wants to indict him.

Another thought did occur to me after I wrote the post below. It's possible that Fitz is using the grand jury to get sworn testimony from Rove for us in the Libby prosecution. Easier than a deposition where Rove could have benefit of an attorney (in grand jury testimony, the witness cannot be defended by counsel). Before the grand jury it's just Fitz and Rove and Rove is under oath. Fitz could lock down Rove's story and then Fitz has Rove by the balls when Rove testifies in Libby's trial. Rove changes his story under penalty of certain prosecution.

Rove / Plame Update.

Last November I posted about the Viveca Novak conversation with Luskin, and couldn't figure out where it fit into Fitz's Plame investigation.

As you probably know by now, Rove has testified to the grand jury for the fifth time. Kevin at the Washington Monthly site has a good recap to keep us current, and he answers my question from last November.

People do not appear to really understand how a federal grand jury works. I'm no expert but I do have a basic understanding. Whether Rove 'volunteered' or was 'asked' to testify really doesn't mean much. The fact is, if Rove doesn't come in voluntarily, he can be subpoenaed. No one being investigated by a grand jury has any 'rights' except the 5th Amendment right against self-incrimination. So Rove can refuse to testify once he's before the grand jury, but that's about it -- and no one in Rove's position wants to take the 5th before a federal grand jury.

People being investigated don't get to tell their side of the story unless the prosecutor wants that testimony. Despite the rules being written to make a grand jury sound like an independant ivestigating body, in practice, the prosecutor has total control and the grand jury will only hear what the prosecutor wants them to hear, and will only indict those people the prosecutor asks them to indict. They can refuse to indict someone, but this rarely happens. As a practical matter, the grand jury's refusal to indict (called issuing a 'no true bill') is the outcome the prosecutor desires. The prosecutor doesn't think he or she can prove the case, but it's politically sensitive so he gets the grand jury to refuse to indict to take the heat off him. Everyone's heard the expression, "you could indict a ham sandwich."

So, with this is mind, here is my read on the ongoing Rove / Fitz dance. Fitz wants to indict Rove. Doesn't mean he will, but he wants too. If Fitz believed Rove and had lost interest in pursuing him, he would have stopped pursuing him. Fitz would have let the last grand jury expire without action on Rove and it would be over. And even if there were simply a few lingering questions, after the first go round with this second grand jury, he could just ask the judge to dismiss them without further action. Fitz were seeking a no true bill for some political reason, he could have done that last time Rove testified.

If Fitz is still bothering someone as powerful as Rove, it's because he wants to indict him. He may yet decide after this testimony that the case is too thin (he must be concerned about the case or Rove would be indicted now), but his goal seems pretty clear to me.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

What Snow Really Thinks of Gdub

Think Progress tells us what Tony Snow really thinks of President Bush.

As I said, this should be an interesting ride.

Samuelson Has a Point

WaPo columnist Robert Samuelson makes a good point in today's post.

New Team, Old Plan:
....The administration's central problem is its policies, not the people executing the policies. Some new players may outperform the old: They may call the right senator at the right time, cope better with unforeseen calamities (Hurricane Katrina) or provide stronger public defenses of administration actions. But these improvements, should they occur, cannot offset larger failings. These relate to Bush's agenda -- or lack of agenda. If you're driving in the wrong direction, or not driving at all, changing chauffeurs doesn't help....

Rs Just Can't Help Themselves

Judge them not by their words, but their deeds:

GOP Blocks Measures Boosting Taxes on Oil Companies' Profits
....The actions of Republicans hashing out a tax bill behind closed doors indicate that, despite tough talk from the White House and Capitol Hill, the party is not ready to hit the oil companies hard -- even on measures that have broad support in the Senate.

House Majority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) made it clear yesterday that the leadership would only go so far in punishing an industry enjoying record-breaking profits if that punishment could have broader negative consequences. In January, Exxon Mobil Corp. alone reported the highest corporate profit in U.S. history: $10.71 billion for the fourth quarter of 2005 and $36.13 billion for the entire year.
This has just been handed to the Ds on a silver platter. Why do I feel they work hard to fail in hanging this around the GOP neck like an albatross?

Tony Snow New White House Press Secretary

This should be an interesting ride.

Monday, April 24, 2006


of Americans approve of the job Gdub is doing according to the latest CNN Poll.

A personal best for Gdub.

Perhaps now would be a good time to start a pool on the date Gdub will break into the twenties.

And Then There Were 8

Think Progress reports that an 8th retired General has called for Rummy's outster.
Fox News is reporting an 8th general has called for Rumsfeld’s resignation. Ret. Marine General Paul Van Riper said he “constantly talks with many active duty and retired senior officers who share his feelings that Secretary Rumsfeld has not fought the Iraq war competently.” He told Fox that Rumsfeld has run the Pentagon through intimidation and that a change in leadership is needed....
To be fair, this is a very difficult situation for the Bushies. Of course, it should have never come to this as Rummy should have gone a long time ago. Now, having allowed the situation to fester, they must deal with these retired Generals and issues related to civilian control of the military.

Replacing Tres Sec Snow from the Inside

Reuters is reporting today that the Bushies may be giving up on getting a heavy hitter from Wall Street to take over at Tresury.

There is talk of Sec Gutierrez from Commerce or Deputy Sec of State Robert Zoellick.

It seems that only those who have drank the kool-aid have any interest in these jobs.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Miers out? Snow in?

You remember Harriet Miers. She thought Gdub was "the best governor ever" and "real cool". Gdub thought she'd be perfect for the Supreme Court.

Well, the court thing didn't work out, and now it sounds like Bolton doesn't think she needs to go altogether. This will be a great gauge of just how much support Bolton has from Gdub. My guess is that Harriet ain't going anywhere, but if he can push her out, we know this shake-up is serious.

Would Tony Snow really become WH press secretary? I find it hard to imagine, but in the same Times piece,
Republicans said that Tony Snow, a commentator for Fox News and a former speechwriter for Mr. Bush's father, was in negotiations for the job of White House press secretary....

Mr. Bolten has been focused on finding a new White House press secretary with good contacts in the Washington news media and a deep understanding of how they work.
Does Snow have these contacts? I would guess that the Washington Press Corps types wouldn't care much for the Fox fake news crowd, but of course, who else could they hope to get other than promoting from within?

As regular readers know, I'm wrong all the time about these things, but my guess is neither Miers or Snow is changing jobs anytime soon.

'Train Wreck' sums it up

Josh is right, the Katherine Harris for Senate campaign is a total train wreck. You really need to read the post to believe it. She's completely lost her mind, with the latest chapter being about her attempts to explain who paid for a $2800 dinner with admitted felon Mitchell Wade. It's hard to imagine who could still be working for her.

I hope she stays in the race long enough to squander her inheritance.

Ordinarily, I wouldn't much care about the campaign of a congress woman running for the Senate in a distant state, but I have an intense dislike of Harris, and of course, we don't want to loose ground in the Senate.

Call me provincial, but I want to know is how in the hell two people can spend $2800 on a single dinner? Does the menu feature endangered species? A $2000 bottle of champagne, or just $2000 cash in an envelope, Sopranos style, for one of the dinner guest? I'm guessing the latter.

These series of humiliations couldn't happen to a nicer person.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Party in Search of a Notion

You have to read Michael Tomasky's Party in Search of a Notion online at the American Prospect.

It makes an excellent compliment to Amy Sullivan's piece earlier this month at The Washington Monthly.

I'm digesting it and will try to post my thoughts in the next few days.

Rove Heading for Indictment?

Atrios said that David Suster said that Rove is likely heading for an idictment.

Of course, that would be great, but I'm wondering why it hasn't happened yet, since we are so late in the Plame game.

Maybe Fitz was distracted convicting Illinois former GOP Gov Ryan on all 22 counts.

Iran Has Been Trying to Talk to Us for 3 Years?

Kevin Drum has an excellent post up today documenting evidence that Iran has been trying to initiate talks with the Bushies for 3 years!

You need to read Kevin's post. He concludes,

With that as background, here's my suggestion: quit letting Cheney's crackpots run foreign policy and talk to Iran. After all, the administration's ideologues killed an opportunity to ratchet down tensions three years ago, and since then things have only gotten worse: Iran has elected a wingnut president, they've made progress on nuclear enrichment, gained considerable influence in Iraq, and increased their global economic leverage as oil supplies have gotten tighter. So why blow another chance? If the talks fail, then they fail. But what possible reason can there be to refuse to even discuss things with Iran — unless you're trying to leave no alternative to war?

That may well be the Bush administration's strategy, but ordinary horse sense suggests it shouldn't be anyone else's.


of Americans approve of the job Gdub is doing according to the latest Fox News Poll.

This is a new low among all polls.

So who do the Rs blame when Fox is the bearer of bad news?

White House Shifts Into Survival Mode

Recently, I've been writing about a meme shift in the press view of the Bushies (example). Before, no matter how big the defeat or screw-up, it seemed the press coverage was mostly positive even fawning.

If there was any doubt that the old view has changed, that doubt should be put to rest by today's front page WaPo headline: White House Shifts Into Survival Mode

Most interesting, at least to me, is that it appears there is an effort amoung the whispering insiders to lay much of the blame of the domestic defeats at Rove's feet.
....The domestic policy process has been hampered since Bolten went to OMB, and one Republican strategist close to the White House said the new chief of staff appears bent on trying to prevent Rove and others from interfering in every aspect of the governing process.

Rove will retain the "gravitational force" of his Bush relationship....But he added that Bolten believed that the strategy to overhaul Social Security was sloppy and hampered by Rove's becoming too involved in every aspect of the campaign -- policy, politics and communications.

Former administration officials said that Rove, though known for his ability to juggle many roles, was overwhelmed by the sheer volume of his responsibilities when he was promoted to deputy chief of staff after the 2004 election.

One former administration official, ...called yesterday's shift in Rove's responsibilities a "huge" development. "This is putting back things where they belong," he said. "It's given Josh back policy. Joel [Kaplan] is a total Josh disciple, and he is very good in the policy world. It focuses Karl back on politics, which is what he needs to do."
To be clear, no one questioned Rove's continued extreme influence over Gdub. But still,....

The Un-Spokesman

With McClellan out, the WH press corps now dumps all over him in today's WaPo.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

McClellan Out and Rove Shifts Focus But Where's the 'New Blood'?

McClellan Out as White House Press Secretary

McClellan's departure comes as no surprise and has been much talked about for some time. The interesting question is who will replace him? I find it very hard to imagine they will be able to get someone from the outside. Who would want that job now?

And isn't it interesting that the MSM seems to be parroting the 'shake-up' line from the Bushies when in fact, every job has been filed with Administration insiders.
  • Andy Card replaced by OMB chief Josh Bolton.
  • Josh Bolton's OMB job filled by US Trade Rep Rob Portman
  • Rove's "policy portfolio" will be taken over by Joel Kaplan from OMB.
So where's the shake-up? This is just musical chairs with the true believers.

As I mentioned earlier, They want to dump Snow at Treasury but can't find anyone with any credibility who wants anything to do with them.

And finally, I don't think this is in any way a demotion of Rove and I'll be curious to see what those 'in the know' think. It's inconceivable that anything happens to Rove that Rove doesn't want. He's giving up these extra chores to focus on the dirty work he does so well. The Ds would be wise to brace themselves for a very ugly onslaught.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

'The Emerging Environmental Majority'

Go read Kevin's postKevin's post at Political Animal about this article in the Washington Monthy.

Kevin concludes,
As more and more people begin to realize that the scientific debate over manmade global warming really is over, I think we can expect to see more shifts like this. It's a real opportunity for the liberal community to expand its reach.
This is increasing becoming an issue of concern for swing voters and a real opportunity for the Dems to grow their base. Parents rightly worry about the world their leaving their children. For the GOP talk of family values they couldn't care less about the world -- or debt -- they leave thier kids.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Ryan Guilty on All Counts

Those of you not from the Midwest may have been wondering where Patrick Fitzgerald has been hiding.

He's been in Chicago trying a racketeering case against the former Illinois Governor and the Governor's buddy. Today, he convicted both men on all counts . For Ryan, this was 22 counts, and in case you don't know, that's amazing. Most juries faced with so many counts will look to dump at least some of them.

Ryan faces more than 22 years in prision. But what should be most interesting to all of us is this,

Ryan was accused of steering big-money state contracts and leases, including a $25 million IBM computer deal, to his friends and political insiders while he was secretary of state in the 1990s and then as governor starting in 1999.

In return for help, he was rewarded with annual winter vacations in Jamaica, stays in Cancun and Palm Springs and gifts ranging from a golf bag to $145,000 in loans to his brother's business, prosecutors said.

Warner, 67, was one of those beneficiaries and raked in $3 million from Ryan-era deals,...
Sound familiar?

The Outrage Gap

Wow, what a slooooow news day.

Anyway, you need to read The Outrage Gap at American Prospect online. This is something that many of us worry about, and something I often harp on here.

Here is an edited taste to pique your interest,
....President Bush'’s approval ratings have begun to resemble his waist size, so we know people are tired of him and his way of doing things...Andd Democrats who are counting on the deepening disenchantment with Bush to take them over the top in November need to pay close attention.

Even as the case grows stronger that Bush led us into an expensive, pointless war that was undertaken under a veil of deception, miscalculation and hubris, Americans remain disengaged....

And while it's increasingly clear that the Republican revolution has devolved into a carnival of self-dealing and self-interest with utter disregard for the public good, Americans are not on edge, polls say. Almost 70 percent of the public believes the country is on the wrong track,... And ...nearly 90 percent, say political corruption is a serious problem. But despair is not driving any action. Americans might be sick and tired, but are they pissed off? Not so much. We'’re leaving that to the French.

Gas prices continue to rise, and here is where the monster might begin to stir, because when it takes $46 to fill up a Camry, outrage is overdue....Half of independents think the Democratic and Republican parties are equally corrupt, .... This is the textbook definition of cynicism, and Democrats need to be careful that it does not define a fall campaign in which everyone decides to stay home.

Now go read it. It's past the time to seize the day!

The NH Phone Jamming Matter

Josh has been all over this story from day 1, and it looks like his efforts are now paying off.

The NYTs has now The picked up the story.

Don't dismiss this article as insincere because it draws parallels to Watergate. The article is an interesting recap of what has transpired to date, and makes some good points.

Friday, April 14, 2006

GOP Attack Ads blame Reid

The Blog world is a buzz over attack ads the Rs are running in Spanish blaming Reid and the Ds for making Illegals felons.

Crooks and Liars has the scope. TPM Muckraker is all over the story as well.

Of course it's an outrageous lie. So now that we've pissed and moaned, what are we going to do about it? What is our counterbunch?

You can believe the GOP would already be threatening suit against any station who ran such lies against them.

Where is our response?

Selling Our Secrets in Afgan bazaars

The LATs originally broke this story finding that memory sticks stolen from inside the Bagram AF Base that contained secrets were being sold at street markets outside the Afghanistan base.

The Military had no idea.

The AP has picked up the story and updates us,
BAGRAM, Afghanistan - American investigators armed with a “box full” of cash have paid thousands of dollars to buy back stolen computer drives — many of which contain sensitive military data, shopkeepers outside the main U.S. military base in Afghanistan said Friday.

But dozens are still on sale, including memory sticks with information ranging from U.S. troop resumes to photographs of Air Force One during President Bush’s visit last month.

Gotta love that post 9/11 Security.

Gen Batiste Dumps on Rummy in a Big Way

This morning, retired Gen Batiste hit all 3 networks and called for Rummy to resign. Batiste is one of 6 recently retired Generals calling out Rumy.

The Raw Story has a good rundown with links and transcript excerpts.

A few things that stood out in my mind.

One, Gen Batiste turned down a promotion to 3 star and second in command in Iraq to retire this past November. That's literally, money out of his pocket. It is common for Generals to retire when they stop getting promoted.

Second, he made an accusation I hadn't see before: "...'We certainly had the troops necessary to win the fight to take down Saddam Hussein, but we in no way considered the hard work to win the peace. There was 10 years of good, deliberate war planning by U.S. Central Command that was essentially ignored.'" (emphasis mine)

I may have missed it, but I'm not aware of anyone previously accusing the Bushies of having ignored an actual plan in place. Maybe I'm reading too much into this?

It sounds like Rummy's days are numbered. Here will be the real test: Will Ret Gen Tommy Franks, Chief Bush military apologist, step-up and defend Rummy?

Bush's band of war-happy simpletons

via Atrios, This column in the Newark Star-Ledger:

Bush's band of war-happy simpletons

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

4th Retired US Iraq General Demands Rumsfeld Resign


A recently retired two-star general who just a year ago commanded a U.S. Army division in Iraq on Wednesday joined a small but growing list of former senior officers to call on Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to resign.

"I believe we need a fresh start in the Pentagon. We need a leader who understands teamwork, a leader who knows how to build teams, a leader that does it without intimidation," Maj. Gen. John Batiste, who commanded the Germany-based 1st Infantry Division in Iraq, said in an interview on CNN.

In recent weeks, retired Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Gregory Newbold, Army Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton and Marine Corps Gen. Anthony Zinni all spoke out against Rumsfeld. This comes as opinion polls show eroding public support for the 3-year-old war in which about 2,360 U.S. troops have died.

(From Think Progress)

Clinton's Job Approval Numbers

Dear all,

While reporting on polling that places President Bush's approval ratings at an all-time low for his presidency, NBC News White House correspondent Kelly O'Donnell and MSNBC correspondent David Shuster both falsely suggested that President Clinton's job approval ratings sank during the Monica Lewinsky controversy and his subsequent impeachment.

On the April 12 broadcast of NBC's Today, O'Donnell falsely claimed "President Clinton hit 41 percent [approval] around impeachment." Similarly, after characterizing Clinton as "a president who once argued it depends on what the definition of 'is' is" -- a reference to Clinton's semantic defense of himself during an August 17, 1998, deposition relating to the Lewinsky affair -- Shuster reported that "[t]he [Bush] administration's poll numbers are even lower than at the height of President Clinton's verbal gymnastics."

These claims regarding Clinton’s approval rating are just false. These facts are easy to obtain and this kind of sloppiness is difficult to understand. In fact, during President Clinton’s second term, his approval rating never hit below 58% and went as high as 70%.

Please provide me with a citation to support Kelly O’Donnell’s assertion that President Clinton’s approval rating was at 41% “around impeachment”.

I think a correction is in order on each broadcast where this misinformation occurred.

Thank you for your consideration and I look forward to Ms. O’Donnell’s citation.


Via Media Matters

Why We've Lost the Respect of the World

Reason # 1244: Anyone who has had even a passing interest in this story knows that this is an outragious lie. Iran Could Produce Nuclear Bomb in 16 Days.

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

The Timeline of a Lie

As the WaPo documented yesterday, the Bushies continued the lie of the mobile bio labs for more than a year after it was shown they were nothing of the sort.

Today, the WaPo has a great timeline. Check it out.

From 'Biological Laboratories' to Harmless Trailers

GOP Leaders to Drop Felony for Immigrants

GOP Leaders to Drop Felony for Immigrants

If they were really serious about illegal immigration, they would simply make it a felony to employ illegal immigrants with a two year minimum sentence.

No jobs, no illegals.

But then they would have to jail thousands of Republicans when all they really want is a ready supply of low wage workers, and to pretend to be tough to their ignorant, militant fringe.

Cheney Booed

After intial attempts by the WaPo to cover it up, their gossip columnists finally tell the truth,
Vice President Cheney , tapped to throw out the ceremonial first pitch at yesterday's Nationals home opener, drew boisterous boos from the moment he stepped on the field until he jogged off. The derisive greeting was surprisingly loud and long, given the bipartisan nature of our national pastime, and drowned out a smattering of applause reported from the upper decks.
Fox just tried to mute the booing on their live coverage.

The Case for Impeachment

In the March issue of Harper's, Lewis Lapham updates the case for impeachment of Bush.

Here is the official long form excerpt: The Case for Impeachment

Lacking Biolabs, Just Lie

From this morning's WaPo,

On May 29, 2003, 50 days after the fall of Baghdad, President Bush proclaimed a fresh victory for his administration in Iraq: Two small trailers captured by U.S. and Kurdish troops had turned out to be long-sought mobile "biological laboratories." He declared, "We have found the weapons of mass destruction."

The claim, repeated by top administration officials for months afterward, was hailed at the time as a vindication of the decision to go to war. But even as Bush spoke, U.S. intelligence officials possessed powerful evidence that it was not true.

A secret fact-finding mission to Iraq -- not made public until now -- had already concluded that the trailers had nothing to do with biological weapons. Leaders of the Pentagon-sponsored mission transmitted their unanimous findings to Washington in a field report on May 27, 2003, two days before the president's statement.

The three-page field report and a 122-page final report three weeks later were stamped "secret" and shelved. Meanwhile, for nearly a year, administration and intelligence officials continued to publicly assert that the trailers were weapons factories.

If we are being intellectually honest (and for the Rs we could add the word, "consistent") shouldn't we be seriously discussing impeachment? Isn't this exactly what the founders had in mind?

I undersand that a R Congress shields Bush from accountability. But isn't it past time for our press when interviewing Rs who voted to impeach Clinton, be asking them to explain to the American people why Bush should not be held accountable?

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Lieberman an Independant?

Give me a break! Never gonna happen

Chris Cillizza picks up the story from yesterday where whinnin Joe suggested he might run as an idie if he losses the primary.

Not in a million years. It's too hard, for one thing.

What we can conclude from this is that Lieberman knows he has a problem.

Interetingly, Cillizza tells us there is no serious R candidate. So we can keep the seat and dump whinnin Joe. And Rs can't cross over and vote for Joe in the primary to save him.

Gotta love that.

I think we need to show Ned a little love.

Monday, April 10, 2006

The Declassification Has Not been 'Confirmed',... matter what these sloppy news reports say.

The latest appears in today's NYTs.

The Times reports that an unnamed "senior administration official confirmed for the first time on Sunday" that Bush ordered the declassification of certain prewar intel on Iraq.

Evidently, this unnamed official only spoke to the Times after the AP published a supposed confirmation from an unnamed "attorney knowledgeable about the case".

The Times only vaguely concedes that this senior official's statements were in advancing the administrations agenda on this topic and key questions were not answered.

Neither unnamed source has offered any basic details of this alleged declassification by Bush, such as the extent of the declassification, dates or documentary evidence to memorialize the declassification. Based upon these reasons alone, we can assume both sources are lying.

This basic info is the key. No one seems to question that the President has the authority to declassify intel, which makes perfect sense. However, there must be some administrative procedure for declassify anything that at a minimum details the extent of the declassification (an entire report or only portions?) date, and acknowledgment of the authority to declassify. How else would anyone know what was and was not classified?

Anyone who has ever delt with the Federal Government will understand that the only record of a declassification cannot be the living memory of the people in the room when it took place. There must be a least a memo somewhere evidencing the basic details of the declassification.

And since there is no reason not to release declassified information to anyone who asks, nothing short of the written documentation of the extent of any declassification will confirm anything. If the Niger info was not classified, no one would care who released it to whom, and to the extent there was a question, the written documentation of the declassified information would end any dispute.

In short, these press reports of unnamed sources providing self-serving info don't confirm jack!

If this info was actually declassified, the matter would be cleared up instantly with documentation.

The lack of any documentation should tell anyone possessed of common sense that they are being schnookered.

A Broken Army

This is a matter that should concern all Americans. The Army is broken and our national security is jeopardized because of it.

From today's NYT,
Young Army officers, including growing numbers of captains who leave as soon as their initial commitment is fulfilled, are bailing out of active-duty service at rates that have alarmed senior officers. Last year, more than a third of the West Point class of 2000 left active duty at the earliest possible moment, after completing their five-year obligation.

It was the second year in a row of worsening retention numbers, apparently marking the end of a burst of patriotic fervor during which junior officers chose continued military service at unusually high rates.

The West Point graduates represent the best and brightest of our Army command; they are the future senior officers of the Army and we're losing an entire generation. It's difficult to exaggerate the significance of this.


of the public approved of the job Bush is doing as president, down 3 percentage points in the past month and his worst showing in Post-ABC polling on this key measure since he became president.

60% disapproved of his performance and 47% 'strongly' disappove of his handling of the Presidency.

And to our Republican friends, tell me just how Gdub recovers from this? He's a talentless hack who has lived on fear-mongering. The public has finally looked behind the curtain and nothing will save him now. Not even fear.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

The End Game for Cheney?

How long before we have serious calls from serious people for Cheney's resignation? There have been rumors even before the last election that he might leave and we heard those again in the last several weeks.

My guess is that starting this week we will hear some serious people calling for his head.

The Bush Presidency is over. It's been unravaling for the past year, but it seems clearly over now.

How low will Bush's poll numbers go? It's hard to imagine his number going much lower than they are at this point. He's already in Nixon territory now. It's hard to imagine anything lower than 32%.

How crazy will Bush get before 2008? This is the scary part. It's going to get very ugly. And by ugly I don't just mean wacko policy positions, but I think we are going to see Bush mentally collapse, saying and doing crazy things, key people resigning from the WH, Pentagon, etc. I mean Nixon ugly.

What do you think?

P.S.: In this vein, Tim makes a good point. How Long Before We See An Increase in the Security Alert Level.

The politics of fear is the only thing that has worked for Bush. His policies have never been especially popular outside of his base -- the 35% or so of those people who still approve of Bush's job performance.

We've not seen an increase in the DHS Threat Advisory since the Democratic National Convention. Well see an increase this summary, perhaps as early as June.

Explaining the Immigration Bill Collapse

Kevin has a great rundown at The Washington Monthly: The Immigration Two Step.

This is yet another complete failure of leadership on the part of Frist. Bill Frist is the best thing to happen to the Ds since we lost the FLA recount in 2000.

Hersh on CNN

Think Progress » Hersh: Our Military Is ‘Very Loyal to the President, But They’re Getting to the Edge’

Bush Was Desperate for Iraqi Invasion

Bush Was Set on Path to War, British Memo Says

It's a remarkable story that I intended to mention at the time in was published a couple weeks ago. I mention it now because it should be read with today's stories on the Niger fraud. With the UN finding no WMD, Bush was despirate for a basis to invade Iraq,
But behind closed doors, the president was certain that war was inevitable. During a private two-hour meeting in the Oval Office on Jan. 31, 2003, he made clear to Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain that he was determined to invade Iraq without the second resolution, or even if international arms inspectors failed to find unconventional weapons, said a confidential memo about the meeting written by Mr. Blair's top foreign policy adviser and reviewed by The New York Times.

Without much elaboration, the memo also says the president raised three possible ways of provoking a confrontation. Since they were first reported last month, neither the White House nor the British government has discussed them.

"The U.S. was thinking of flying U2 reconnaissance aircraft with fighter cover over Iraq, painted in U.N. colours," the memo says, attributing the idea to Mr. Bush. "If Saddam fired on them, he would be in breach."

It also described the president as saying, "The U.S. might be able to bring out a defector who could give a public presentation about Saddam's W.M.D," referring to weapons of mass destruction.

A brief clause in the memo refers to a third possibility, mentioned by Mr. Bush, a proposal to assassinate Saddam Hussein. The memo does not indicate how Mr. Blair responded to the idea.

George W. Bush: Liar

Turning to the Sunday WaPo we have this: A 'Concerted Effort' to Discredit Bush Critic.

First, Cheney's role in the Plame affair. Taken largely from Fitzgerald's now famous filing of late last week, The Post tells us a story of Cheney's central involvment in the Plame matter,
Bluntly and repeatedly, Fitzgerald placed Cheney at the center of that campaign. Citing grand jury testimony from the vice president's former chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Fitzgerald fingered Cheney as the first to voice a line of attack that at least three White House officials would soon deploy against former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV.
There is much more to the story about how Cheney and crew, knowing full well the Niger story to be false, worked tirelessly to sell the story any way, and destroy Wilson in the process.

With some very good original reporting we get the closest we'll likely ever get to a smoking gun on the Niger lie,
Tenet interceded to keep the claim out of a speech Bush gave in Cincinnati on Oct. 7, 2002, but by Dec. 19 it reappeared in a State Department "fact sheet." After that, the Pentagon asked for an authoritative judgment from the National Intelligence Council, the senior coordinating body for the 15 agencies that then constituted the U.S. intelligence community. Did Iraq and Niger discuss a uranium sale, or not? If they had, the Pentagon would need to reconsider its ties with Niger.

The council's reply, drafted in a January 2003 memo by the national intelligence officer for Africa, was unequivocal: The Niger story was baseless and should be laid to rest. Four U.S. officials with firsthand knowledge said in interviews that the memo, which has not been reported before, arrived at the White House as Bush and his highest-ranking advisers made the uranium story a centerpiece of their case for the rapidly approaching war against Iraq.
In simple terms, the President of the United States, despirate to invade Iraq, just stood in the well of Congress and told a complete lie to the American People.

NYTs Admits Coordinating propaganda with WH?

The Sunday NYTs, under the headline, "Report Leaked by Cheney Aide Was in Dispute" brings in their heavy hitter, David Sanger, to do an 'above the fold' piece on the latest revelation on WH leaks re the run-up to the war.

By now everyone knows the story. We learned this week that Bush told Cheney to leak to the press favorable intel to justify the invasion of Iraq. So, Libby gets the job and cherry picks some intel, believed to be false at the time, and lies to Judy Miller about it. The rest, as they say, is history.

If you don't know this history, this is a good summary that brings us current on where this narrative stands today. If you're obsessed with this story, you'll find nothing new here.

What I found most interesting about this article was the dark irony in their headline. While the Times assumes this is news to their readers, they oddly admit -- as if not knowingly -- that the dispute of this info was not news to the NYTs when they ran Judy's stories on their front page,

Mr. Fitzgerald, in his filing, said that Mr. Libby had been authorized to tell Judith Miller, then a reporter for The New York Times, on July 8, 2003, that a key finding of the 2002 intelligence estimate on Iraq was that Baghdad had been vigorously seeking to acquire uranium from Africa.

But a week earlier, in an interview in his State Department office, Mr. Powell told three other reporters for The Times that intelligence agencies had essentially rejected that contention, and were "no longer carrying it as a credible item" by early 2003, when he was preparing to make the case against Iraq at the United Nations.

Mr. Powell's queasiness with some of the intelligence has been well known, but the new revelations suggest that long after he had concluded the intelligence was faulty, Mr. Bush, Mr. Cheney and Mr. Libby were still promoting it.....

And so was the New York Times! The Times admits to having put on their front page stories by Judy Miller the accuracy of which they knew to be very questionable, without even a peep of a mention of the questionable information in any of those articles! Instead, the bury the doubts they get from Powell and go on ringing the bell for war on their front page.


Why Snow's Got To Go

Daniel Gross has a good piece up at Slate explaining why the Bushies want to dump Snow at Treasury and how hard it is to find a credible person to replace him.

In a very sad way, it funny.

Why Snow has got to go?
The dissatisfaction with Snow stems from the fact that he doesn't seem to convince enough Americans that it's raining when they're getting pissed on. Sure, the headline figures on gross domestic product, inflation, and the unemployment rate look fine. But median income hasn't budged in several years, and the tax cuts aren't trickling down. The richest of the rich are getting richer. As David Cay Johnston reported yesterday in the New York Times, "more than 70 percent of the tax savings on investment income went to the top 2 percent, about 2.6 million taxpayers.".....
Equally entertaining, is Dan's assessment of why the Bushies can't find talent,
In the 1980s and 1990s, when Wall Street types like Donald Regan, Nicholas Brady, and Robert Rubin eagerly served, the Treasury secretary had a great deal of policy power. By contrast, the Bush theory of Cabinet government is that secretaries take dictation from the White House. Snow has survived as long as he has largely because of his willingness to stifle any thoughts that stray beyond the confines of White House talking points. Ryan Lizza convincingly argues in the New Republic that a superhuman capacity for enduring humiliation is necessary to survive in Bushworld. As a class, Wall Street CEOs have virtually no capacity for enduring the slightest whiff of anything that could possibly be perceived as disrespect.

Working as a Cabinet secretary in the Bush administration is a great gig for career politicians and bureaucrats who haven't struck it rich. Participate eagerly in the process of crafting, selling, and executing policies—regardless of their merit, efficacy, or honesty—and you can make some money on the flip side as a lobbyist. It worked for John Ashcroft......

The Congressional Ds

Amy Sullivan has a good article up at the Washington Monthly: "Not as Lame as You Think".

She reminds us of something I've said many times. The talk of the disorganized Ds is really no different than the talk in the 90s about the Rs. Amy reminds us, for instance, that the "Contract with America" wasn't released until a month before the election.

Amy goes on to point out important victories the so-called do nothing Ds have orchestrated for which they get no credit. A good example is the Dubai Ports deal that Chuck Schumer outed.

Every D needs to read this article for perspective.

Now, having recommended this article, I want to add that at times Amy becomes an apologist for real failures of leadership for which criticism is deserved.

For instance, I do not share Amy's admiration for the way Rep Murtha was handled. Pelosi could have accomplished her goal without leaving Murtha completely out in the cold. You'll need to read Amy.

One other example. Amy tells the story of Rep Louise Slaughter and her very important report, "America for Sale: The Cost of Republican Corruption". A couple weeks after the report was released to screaming Rs, it came down from Pelosi's Leadership web site and the Rs claimed victory. Some D bloggers took the bait, so to speak, and called out Pelosi for capitulating to GOP whinnying. But Amy tells us not to worry because Pelosi and Slaughter could wink at each other knowing the secret truth: Content on the leadership web site automatically rotates off after a couple weeks.

So why the f*** doesn't Pelosi and Slaughter share this important info with anyone instead of just letting the Rs steal a win on something so very important! Why Amy! Better yet, why not keep Slaughters report permanently on the web site!

It was inept and lets not apologize for it by now letting us in on Pelosi's and Slaughter's little secret after the fact.

Read the article and tell me what you think.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Bush Planning Nuclear Strike on Iran?

Sy Hersh says just that in the New Yorker.

The article is lengthy but worth a read. The nuclear weapons in question are bunker-busters that would be used in an attempt to take out underground Iranian command and control. The neocons are hot to use tactical nukes. Many senior officers and officials have said they will resign if the US uses offensive nukes and there is good reason to believe for this reason alone, no nukes will be used.

Some highlights. Everyone, including the IAEA, believes Iran is working on nuclear weapons but there is no clear proof, and everyone agrees that it would be a bad thing for Iran to get a bomb and the ability to deliver a nuclear weapon.

There is disagreement on how many years away Iran is from such a bomb. There seems to be a general consensus of 5 to 10 year. The Bushies think it's immanent and their credibility is so shot that on one believes them.

Further the Bushies have learned nothing from Iraq and again want regime change in Iran as a goal. The rest of the world just wants no nukes.

The Bushies apparently believe that by relentlessly bombing and humiliating the Iranians that they will throw out their government and abandon radical Islam. The rest of the world marvels at the unrelenting ignorance of the Bushies. The rest of the world, including the non-neocon conservatives, worries that the consequences of even a massive conventional strike (the Bushies only do massive) hitting hundreds of target will have catastrophic consequences, and cementing support for a government that is now on the verge of collapse.

Some House members worry that Bush has a messianic complex and that he sees Iran as his legacy. They think this is bad.

Friday, April 07, 2006

How Long Before We See An Increase in the Security Alert Level

Bush at 36% in new poll, R's have lost advantage in the issue of national security and many doubt R's abilty to lead. I wonder how long it will be until we have a new "threat" that can't be explained in detail,affects a number of undisclosede cities and was stopped just in the nick of time but still allows Homeland Security to rasie the threat level "just in case"? I'd say about Mid-October, right before the election.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

What's an Earmark?

Daniel Engber in Slate explains it all.

Wow, A Traitor at A Presidential Event

Think Progress » VIDEO: Bush Event Goes Off Script

News Flash: Investment Income Tax Cuts Favor Wealthy!

Shocking news! When Gdub was selling his major tax cuts on investment income and claiming they would favor retires living from dividend check to dividend check, he lied!

They now want to make these tax cuts permanent, and to no one's surprise, are still lying.

Graphic: Who Benefits Most From Tax Cuts on Investment Income
(enlarge graphic)

Here is a quick rundown of the New York Times piece.
  • Taxpayers with incomes greater than $10 million, averaged about $500,000 in investment tax savings in 2003, and total tax savings, which included the two Bush tax cuts nearly doubled, to slightly more than $1 million.
  • Americans with annual incomes of $1 million or more 43 percent of all the savings on investment taxes in 2003. The savings for these taxpayers averaged about $41,400 each.
  • Tax cuts for the "merely rich" (hundreds of thousands of dollars a year), are falling behind the very wealthiest, in part because another provision, the alternative minimum tax.
  • More than 70 percent of the tax savings on investment income went to the top 2 percent, about 2.6 million taxpayers.
But one thing is certain about the GOP, they never let the facts get in the way of a good lie.

GOP Congressman David Camp from MI was their point man on the big lie. Last week, seeking to make these enormous tax breaks for the ultra-rich permanent during a time of wars lied,

"Nearly 60 percent of the taxpayers with incomes less than $100,000 had income from capital gains and dividends," he said on the House floor.

But I.R.S. data show that among the 90 percent of all taxpayers who made less than $100,000, dividend tax reductions benefited just one in seven and capital gains reductions one in 20.

Mr. Camp, who had said in an interview that his figures were correct, said Monday through a spokesman that he had been misinformed by the staff of the House Ways and Means Committee. But his office said he supported making the investment tax cuts permanent because cutting these rates was "good policy and good for our economy."

The cost of these cuts is $197 billion over the next 10 years, but these poor multi-millions need this relief that our children will pay for.

Go to the NYTs for the whole story.

Katie Couric

I'm trying to imagine something I care less about,....

No, there's nothing I care less about.

Tom DeLay, Perfect Organism

Michael Crowley at The Plank does a great job of summing up DeLay.

Read the whole thing. It's short, but here's a taste,
But no one ever called the Hammer self-aware. It's the same thing when he says his liberal enemies respect no bounds (see Texas redistricting), that they specialize in personal attacks (see impeachment), or that they're a bunch of pampered elites (see his personal butler).

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

The McKinney Fiasco

What a mess. I have no idea what happened in the Capital between Congresswoman McKinney and the Capital PD last week but it looks like the right is trying to make this a really bid deal, and it also looks like McKinney is dumb enough to play along.

The Ds would be wise to just ignore this.

If McKinney has any sense, she'll subpoena the complete Capital Hill PD file (to include any communtications with members), and get an immediate jury trial date.

Does anyone actually think the citizens of Washington DC are going to convict McKinney? I'd say the odds of such a conviction falls somewhere between 'fat chance' and 'not in a million years'.

The more McKinney prattles on the press on this, the more headlines she makes.

With a quick acquittal this story is dead.

DeLay Implicates Buckham

Yesterday I pointed out that Buckham was the key to DeLay's Federal indictment.

Paul Kiel at TPM Muckraker points us to a key passage in DeLay's Time interview wherein DeLay slips up and implicates Buckham. Although it is obvious at this point that Buckham is next, it's at least amusing to see DeLay concede the point.

Letter to Judicial Watch

Dear friends at Judicial Watch:

The Washington Post reports this morning that a possible motivation for Tom DeLay staying in his Congressional race to this point was to raise sufficient campaign funds to be converted to his legal defense fund.

The Post says, “Under federal campaign rules, any reelection money a lawmaker raises can be used to pay legal fees stemming from official duties.”

This begs the obvious question: Are clearly illegal acts including money laundering and bribery now “official duties” of our members of Congress?

If we assume that the Federal statute in question (they don’t cite it and I don’t know which section of the USC this falls under) is as the Post claims, than it seems to be to be a very good case for your organization to clarify in court the meaning of “official duties”.

It seems perfectly reasonable to allow the use of campaign funds to cover the cost of professional fees incurred in the maintaining of campaign funds, offices, employees, etc. and the cost incurred in winding all this down. But it seems equally reasonable that obviously criminal acts would not be included in the “official duties”.

What do you think?


The Latest DeLay Spin

Appears in today's WaPo: DeLay Departing on Own Terms. Same as the old spin?

The closest we'll likely ever get to the truth is buried deep in the article,
An additional impetus for putting off the resignation until now was suggested by John Feehery, a former aide to DeLay and House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.). "He needed to raise money for the defense fund. That was the bottom line," Feehery said. "He wanted to make sure he could take care of himself in the court of law." Under federal campaign rules, any reelection money a lawmaker raises can be used to pay legal fees stemming from official duties. (emphasis mine)
Are clearly illegal activities such as money laundering and accepting bribes a part of the official duties of a member of Congress?

Sounds like a good case -- a nobrainer -- for Judicial Watch. Before you scoff, you should read their statement applauding DeLay for resignation.

Then, you should email Judicial Watch as ask them to clarify through legal process if clearly illegal activites now include the official duties of members of Congress.

Attack Iran?

I did not think the Bush Admin was really serious about attacking Iran. I'm now convinced otherwise.

Read Steve Clemons at TPMCafe in follow-up to his NPR appearance yesterday.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Two Deadlines and an Exit

John Kerry's right. Iraq's leaders respond only to deadlines.

From tomorrow's NYTs (Sorry, but it's behind the TimeSelect Wall. I'll see if an open link is up in the morning)

....Iraqi politicians should be told that they have until May 15 to put together an effective unity government or we will immediately withdraw our military. If Iraqis aren't willing to build a unity government in the five months since the election, they're probably not willing to build one at all. The civil war will only get worse, and we will have no choice anyway but to leave.

If Iraq's leaders succeed in putting together a government, then we must agree on another deadline: a schedule for withdrawing American combat forces by year's end. Doing so will empower the new Iraqi leadership, put Iraqis in the position of running their own country and undermine support for the insurgency, which is fueled in large measure by the majority of Iraqis who want us to leave their country. Only troops essential to finishing the job of training Iraqi forces should remain.

For this transition to work, we must finally begin to engage in genuine diplomacy. We must immediately bring the leaders of the Iraqi factions together at a Dayton Accords-like summit meeting. In a neutral setting, Iraqis, working with our allies, the Arab League and the United Nations, would be compelled to reach a political agreement that includes security guarantees, the dismantling of the militias and shared goals for reconstruction.

Buckham is the key to indicting DeLay

DeLay is resigning because he knows that Buckham is the key to his ultimate indictment.

From today's WaPo,
The picture appeared to darken further last week with the guilty plea of Tony C. Rudy, DeLay's former deputy chief of staff. Edwin A. Buckham, the lawmaker's former chief of staff and his closest political and spiritual adviser, was described in court documents filed in the case as someone who collaborated with Rudy, Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff and former DeLay aide Michael Scanlon. They arranged payments, trips and favors that the department's investigators charged were part of an illegal conspiracy, according to the documents.....

....A grand jury subpoena issued by the FBI in February for records of the U.S. Family Network, a nonprofit group formed by Buckham, specifically asked for any documents related to DeLay; his wife, Christine; Buckham's lobbying firm; Rudy; and a variety of contributors to the group from among Abramoff's client list.
Not only did Buckham sell access to DeLay and DeLay's support for any given issue, but he also "employed" DeLay's wife at his lobbying firm.

The noose is tightening.

Let's join Atrios in the happy dance.

Wow, DeLay's Out

I completely missed this story last night.

From the WaPo,

Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Tex.), a primary architect of the Republican majority who became one of the most powerful and feared leaders in Washington, said this morning that he will give up his seat rather than face a reelection fight that appears increasingly unwinnable.

In a videotaped message aired this morning on stations in his home district, DeLay said that "the voters in the 22nd District of Texas deserve a campaign about the vital national issues they care most about . . . and not a campaign focused solely as a referendum on me. So today I am announcing my intention to resign my seat in the House."

Don't believe to the denials. The primary was just a couple weeks ago, and if he only cared for the party, he cold have stepped down then. So what's happened since the primary that could have changed Tom's mind?

On the heals of the Rudy plea, DeLay finally gets it. A Federal indictment is coming that is much bigger than his TX money laundering problems,..... to which, you may recall, DeLay has admitted his guilt to investigators.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Social Security Shenanigans

Josh is right, something is up on Social Security.

Sorry for my long absence, by the way. I'm fine and more on that later.

This is an important story, and it was actually Atrios broke the story.

Here is a quick re-cap. The SS admin must release an annual report by April 1 of each year reporting on the solvency of SS, future project, etc. And they've release this report early since always. Suddenly this year, no report and now we find out they have no plans to release such a report.

How about we all decide not to file our tax returns?

Anyway, here is my take on what's up. The admin has been claiming since day 1 that SS is broke and busted and must be put out of it's misery. So, while at the same time releasing rosy economic numbers, when talking about SS, the Bushies release dire numbers. Of course, both can't be true, but they're never held accountable.

Every year when the SS trustees report actually comes out, not only contradicts the Bushies claims of imminent collapse, but it fact show 200 billion dollar surpluses for several years to come. The Bushies reply by re-calculating the collapse to begin two years hence for reasons that make no mathematic sense.

So, now I guess they've decided that rather than be embarrassed by yet another report, that they would just refuse to comply with the law.

So, who will sue the trustees?