Monday, April 30, 2007

Is Fred Thompson Coming to the GOP's Rescue?

Stuart Rothenberg is the latest to speculate that Fred Thompson will jump into the race.

This is one of those rumors that just will not go away. Rothenberg sums it up this way,
But try as I might to dismiss the idea of a Thompson candidacy, I no longer can do so. It isn't that the former Senator from Tennessee is such a good fit for the role of presidential candidate. It's simply that none of the other cast members is a perfect fit either.

As every political analyst on the planet has observed for months, all of the top-tier GOP hopefuls face serious obstacles on the road to Minneapolis, and there clearly is a vacancy in the race for a mainstream conservative who doesn't have a reputation as a troublemaker within the party.


What Rothenberg fails to mention is the reason why Thompson will not be the nominee and also probably why he won't even run.Thompson suffers from Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma which is incurable, although Thompson insists is also in remission.

How can the GOP run their whispering campaign (already in full swing) against Edwards for his wife's illness with their nominee having cancer?

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Jon Stewart on Bill Moyers Journal

Jon Stewart gives a really excellent interview from Friday's Bill Moyers Journal.

It's a sad commentary that we need a comedy show to point to absurdities that the news media won't touch.

Here is a taste. Jon describes better than anyone how the Bushies function and what they now face,
JON STEWART: You know, one of the things that I do think government counts on is that people are busy. And it's very difficult to mobilize a busy and relatively affluent country, unless it's over really crucial-- you know, foundational issues. That come sort of sort of a tipping point.

BILL MOYERS: War? War?

JON STEWART: But war that hasn't affected us here, in the way that you would imagine a five-year war would affect a country....here's the disconnect. It's sort of this odd and I've always had this problem with the rationality of it. That the President says, "We are in the fight for a way of life. This is the greatest battle of our generation, and of the generations to come. "And, so what I'm going to do is you know, Iraq has to be won, or our way of life ends, and our children and our children's children all suffer. So, what I'm gonna do is send 10,000 more troops to Baghdad."

So, there's a disconnect ...you're telling me this is fight of our generation, and you're going to increase troops by 10 percent. And that's gonna do it. I'm sure what he would like to do is send 400,000 more troops there, but he can't, because he doesn't have them. And the way to get that would be to institute a draft. And the minute you do that, suddenly the country's not so damn busy anymore. And then they really fight back, and then the whole thing falls apart. So, they have a really delicate balance to walk between keeping us relatively fearful, but not so fearful that we stop what we're doing and really examine how it is that they've been waging this.
Watch and listen here.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

An inconvenient truth of another sort

The State Department's Annual assessment of global terrorism shows a 29% rise in terrorist attacks.

Condi Rice doesn't like these facts.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and her top aides earlier this week had considered postponing or downplaying the release of this year's edition of the terrorism report, officials in several agencies and on Capitol Hill said.

Ultimately, they decided to issue the report on or near the congressionally mandated deadline of Monday, the officials said.

The "Good News" we never hear about

$150 Million worth of projects the admin has offically declared a success.

From the New York Times,
In a troubling sign for the American-financed rebuilding program in Iraq, inspectors for a federal oversight agency have found that in a sampling of eight projects that the United States had declared successes, seven were no longer operating as designed because of plumbing and electrical failures, lack of proper maintenance, apparent looting and expensive equipment that lay idle.

The United States has previously admitted, sometimes under pressure from federal inspectors, that some of its reconstruction projects have been abandoned, delayed or poorly constructed. But this is the first time inspectors have found that projects officially declared a success — in some cases, as little as six months before the latest inspections — were no longer working properly.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Rush brings us "Barack the Magic Negro"

From TPM, we find out that Rush really is second to none in pandering to racism. You have to hear the Al Sharpton parodies to believe them.



You really can't make this stuff up.

NY gay marriage bill

Governor Eliot Spitzer (D) introduced a bill to legalize same-sex marriage in New York, making him “the first governor in the nation to introduce a gay marriage bill.”

Read Spitzer’s statement HERE.

This should be interesting.

84%

Number of Americans who believe that human activity is contributing to global warming, according to a new New York Times/CBS News poll. “The poll also found that Americans want the United States to support conservation and to be a global leader in addressing environmental problems.”

Why do we even indulge the silly arguments from the oil and gas industry and those they own?

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Al Qaeda in Iraq

Kevin Drum asks an important question today about Al Qaeda in Iraq and if the US isn't just making it worse.

Kevin points to Andrew Sullivan's observation,
I see no reason to believe that [the surge] can achieve anything close to our original objectives within the next six months, and no reason to believe that an indefinite occupation won't create as many problems as it solves. We are occupying a sovereign Muslim country indefinitely, against the wishes of a clear majority of Iraqis and Americans. That's the simple fact we have to remember. From everything we have discovered so far, that can't and won't work.

So we should leave. Soon. Let the Shia and tribal leaders and the Kurds confront al Qaeda. It's about time they did. And they have as good a reason as we do and far better knowledge of the enemy and the terrain. Until they own this war against Islamist terror, it won't be won. And by continuing to stay, we postpone the day when they have to fight for their own country and their own religion - and win the war we cannot win for them.
Kevin then asks,
Does anyone really doubt this? Putting aside questions about whether al-Qaeda in Iraq is really al-Qaeda — or merely a new name for the most extreme fringe of a nationalist insurgency — surely the best way to crush them is to leave. They are unloved by practically everybody, they draw their strength mainly from our continuing presence, and Iraqi security forces would likely decimate them if they were left to their own devices.

Yes, AQI's demise would come only at the end of a lengthy and brutal war, but how much worse is that than coming at the end of an even lengthier war run by the United States? Or perhaps not coming at all because this isn't the kind of war the United States military can fight effectively? Isn't it time to face up to this?
Some are quick to point out that in the absence of the US, Iran, Syria, etc. will rush in. Of course they are already in Iraq protecting their interest. And our friends, the Saudis are pouring in tens of millions of dollars of munitions to the Sunnis who use those weapons to kill US soldiers.

The withdrawal of our combat troops doesn't have to be unconditional. There is nothing to prevent the US from reminding everyone that we will come back if Al Qaeda attacks Americans from bases in Iraq or neighboring countries invade Iraq. Since everyone wants the US out, the way to keep us out is to eliminate AQI from Iraq and for the neighbors to stay out and let the Iraqis sort things out amongst themselves.

28%

President Bush’s approval rating in a new Harris survey, the lowest of his presidency.

Archbully

Archbully Raymond Burke strikes again.

I normally avoid local matters but the Archbishop of Saint Louis, Raymond Burke, is out of control.

The Catholic Church is a relic of the past that does not care what their members think. They operate as an absolute monarchy. You can complain until you are blue in the face, and no one will listen or care.

The only way to send a message to Burke, and more importantly his supervisors, is by money. If you don't believe that revenue is the first metric by which all bishops are judged, than you are naive. The Catholic Church is just like any other large institution. It cannot function without revenue.

As long as you dutifully make your diocesan contribution, you are part of the problem.

If you really want to send a message than send your would-be diocesan contribution to the Cardinal Glennon's Children's Foundation this year and every year until Burke is gone.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

McCain gets a dig in on Rudy

From McCain's announcement speech today,
We must also prepare, far better than we have, to respond quickly and effectively to another terrorist attack or natural calamity. When Americans confront a catastrophe, natural or man-made, they have a right to expect basic competence from their government. They won't accept that firemen and policemen are unable to communicate with each other in an emergency because they don't have the same radio frequency....
Ouch

(Via Atrios)

With friends like these....

As I noted last December, Bush and Cheney would become increasingly isolated as even members of their own party abandoned them.

David Ignatius' column today in the Washington Post: The Oval Office Bunker. It's all about Republicans anonymously giving up Bush and Cheney.

Here's a taste,
If you want to hear despair in Washington these days, talk to Republicans. ....[They] voice the bitterness and frustration of people chained to the hull of a sinking ship.

I spoke with a half-dozen prominent GOP operatives this past week, most of them high-level officials in the Reagan and Bush I and Bush II administrations, and I heard the same devastating critique: This White House is isolated and ineffective; the country has stopped listening to President Bush, just as it once tuned out the hapless Jimmy Carter; the president's misplaced sense of personal loyalty is hurting his party and the nation.

"This is the most incompetent White House I've seen since I came to Washington," said one GOP senator. "The White House legislative liaison team is incompetent, pitiful, embarrassing. My colleagues can't even tell you who the White House Senate liaison is. There is rank incompetence throughout the government. It's the weakest Cabinet I've seen." And remember, this is a Republican talking.


And it is only going to get worse.

How much longer can Gonzales hold on? Clearly, the honorable thing for Gonzales to do in the face of all this GOP criticism is step down, and yet he chooses to hang on like grim death. I guess he's still hoping for that Supreme Court nomination he had been promised. What does it say about Gonzales as a man and a friend that he would so selfishly swamp what's left of Bush's presidency?

My guess is that once Gonzales is out -- and he will be out -- the focus will turn to Condi.

Retired Generals Endorse the Iraq troop draw down

From the Speaker's blog,
“This important legislation sets a new direction for Iraq. It acknowledges that America went to war without mobilizing the nation, that our strategy in Iraq has been tragically flawed since the invasion in March 2003, that our Army and Marine Corps are at the breaking point with little to show for it, and that our military alone will never establish representative government in Iraq. The administration got it terribly wrong and I applaud our Congress for stepping up to their constitutional responsibilities.”
-Maj. Gen. John Batiste, USA, Ret.

“This bill gives General Petraeus great leverage for moving the Iraqi government down the more disciplined path laid out by the Iraq Study Group. The real audience for the timeline language is Prime Minister al-Maliki and the elected government of Iraq. The argument that this bill aides the enemy is simply not mature - nobody on the earth underestimates the United States’ capacity for unpredictability. It may further create some sense of urgency in the rest of our government, beginning with the State Department.”
-Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton, USA, Ret.

“The bill gives the president a chance to pull back from a disastrous course, re-orient US strategy to achieve regional stability, and win help from many other countries - the only way peace will eventually be achieved.”
-Lt. Gen. Wm. E. Odom, USA, Retired

”Supporting the Iraq Supplemental Bill not only reflects the thinking of the Iraq Study Group but puts teeth to the phrase “Supporting the Troops”. By establishing timelines it returns the responsibility of self preservation and regional sovereignty to the people of Iraq and their government.”
-Maj. Gen. Mel Montano, USANG, Ret

“We must commence a coordinated phased withdrawal of U.S. combat troops and condition our continuing support of the Iraqi government on its fulfilling the political commitments it has made to facilitate reconciliation of the contending secular factions. Otherwise, we will continue to be entwined in a hopeless quagmire, with continuing American casualties, which will render our ground forces ineffective.”
- Lt. Gen. Robert Gard, USA Ret.

Bill Moyers Journal returns tonight

Bill Moyers PBS series returns tonight (9 PM on Channel 9 in STL) with Buying the War.
In "Buying the War" Bill Moyers and producer Kathleen Hughes document the reporting of Walcott, Landay and Strobel, the Knight Ridder team that burrowed deep into the intelligence agencies to try and determine whether there was any evidence for the Bush Administration's case for war. "Many of the things that were said about Iraq didn't make sense," says Walcott. "And that really prompts you to ask, 'Wait a minute. Is this true? Does everyone agree that this is true? Does anyone think this is not true?'"
_____

"Buying the War" examines the press coverage in the lead-up to the war as evidence of a paradigm shift in the role of journalists in democracy and asks, four years after the invasion, what's changed? "More and more the media become, I think, common carriers of administration statements and critics of the administration," says THE WASHINGTON POST's Walter Pincus. "We've sort of given up being independent on our own."
Sounds like it will be worth a watch.

It wasn't always so...

The favorite GOP defense to any accusation of corruption -- once lying fails -- is to the 'everyone does it' defense. Well, this wasn't true of Nixon's crimes and this is not true of the Gonzales Justice Dept either.

Regarding the Gonzales hearings last week, Dahlia Lithwick writing in Slate noted,
One of the finest moments comes when Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., busts out a big, big chart. Which happens after almost everyone has gone home. The chart compares the Clinton protocol for appropriate contacts between the White House and the DoJ on pending criminal cases with the Bush protocol. According to Whitehouse, the Clinton protocol authorized just four folks at the White House to chat with three folks at Justice. The chart had four boxes talking to three boxes. Out comes the Bush protocol, and now 417 different people at the White House have contacts about pending criminal cases with 30-some people at Justice. You can just see zillions of small boxes nattering back and forth. It seems that just about everyone in the White House, including the guys in the mailroom, had a vote on ongoing criminal matters.

Sen. Pat Leahy, D-Vt., calls this "the most astounding thing" he's seen in 32 years.
As Kevin Drum wondered, why on earth would so many people at the WH need to be involved in the conduct of ongoing criminal matters?

This is exactly the kind of thing that occurs when there is no oversight.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

CREW chimes in...

on Scott Bloch.

Here's the gist,
The Office of Special Counsel (OSC), headed up by highly controversial presidential appointee Scott Bloch, is the wrong entity for this investigation. The fact that OSC has been charged with handling these matters suggests the possibility that the White House is orchestrating a cover-up of its illegal and improper activities.

Bloch has come under widespread criticism for his gross mismanagement and politicization of the office. Bloch is currently under investigation by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) for his mistreatment of career appointees, who have alleged the exact kind of retaliation that OSC is designed to investigate. OSC employees have alleged that Bloch has tossed out legitimate whistleblower cases to reduce the office backlog. The probe into Bloch’s conduct has been stymied by the fear of OSC staff that speaking to investigators will result in reprisal. Prominent conservatives, who support Bloch in part because he adopted a sexual orientation policy that makes it more difficult for gay employees to allege discrimination, have called on President Bush to protect Bloch from the OPM investigation.

Melanie Sloan, CREW’s executive director, issued the following statement about Bloch and OSC today: Statment here.

Secretaries day

Excuse me, "administrative assistants" day. I refuse to give them the week.

My simple rule of thumb: If you have a secretary, it's not your day.

My paralegal disagrees.

As I've followed the unfolding scandals at Justice, I've noted that everyone has a 'chief of staff' including several chief of staff. Not wanting to be outdone, I've renamed my secretary my 'chief of staff'. Does she still qualify for secretaries day?

Meet Scott J. Bloch

Scott heads the office of Special Counsel that announced yesterday that they were investigating Karl Rove and his minions for possible Hatch Act violations,etc.

Scott was in the news as recently as last February,
Special Counsel Accused Of Intimidation in Probe

Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, February 16, 2007; Page A21

A trouble-plagued whistle-blower investigation at the Office of Special Counsel -- whose duties include shielding federal whistle-blowers -- hit another snag this week when employees accused the special counsel of intimidation in the probe.

The Office of Personnel Management's inspector general has been investigating allegations by current and former OSC employees that Special Counsel Scott J. Bloch retaliated against underlings who disagreed with his policies -- by, among other means, transferring them out of state -- and tossed out legitimate whistle-blower cases to reduce the office backlog. Bloch denies the accusations, saying that under his leadership the agency has grown more efficient and receptive to whistle-blowers.

The rest of the story here.

This tells us all we need to know about how the Rove investigation will go.

OSC investigaton of Rove?

This has whitewash written all over it. Scott Bloch, who is leading the investigation, was appointed by Bush to his job.

Look for a quick investigation and a report absolving Rove and his minions of any wrongdoing. This 'investigation' will then become the basis for resisting and labeling as partisan any further inquiries.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Way past plan "B", we're heading for plan "G" in Iraq

Phillip Carter, writing in Slate, runs through plans A to the current plan F and suggest the next plan is to get the hell out.

Here is the lede,
...defining the current surge as a "Plan A" is a dangerously dishonest move that ignores the history of the Iraq war to date. In fact, since 2003, we have run through at least six plans, none of which has succeeded. The Petraeus plan is something more akin to Plan F—truly, the last Hail Mary play in the fourth quarter. And if it fails, then we better start considering Plan G, also known as "Get out of Iraq."

E. coli conservatives

Rick Perlstein has a new blog that may quickly become a must read.

And what's not love about this post tittle: E. coli conservatives

Lamenting what Rick calls "the Third Worlding of Americas food safety system" he notes,
The Associated Press studied the records and found that between 2003 and 2006 the Food and Drug Administration conducted 47 percent fewer safety inspections. FDA field offices have 12 percent fewer employees. Safety tests for food produced in the United States have gone down by three quarters—have almost ground to a halt—in the previous year alone.
This is a great post about the practical effects of conservative governance. Who needs costly inspectors, when we can identify food safety issues as soon as people start dying. Best warning bell of all!

Meanwhile, back in Iraq

Iraq has one of deadliest day on record

Four bombs have been detonated in a Shiite neighborhood. 183 dead and counting.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Online preference polls & the '08 primary vote

Although not scientific this is interesting stuff.

The websites MyDD and DailyKos, along with Moveon, conducted presidential preference polls this month and here's the result:

                   DKos    MyDD    MoveOn    MoveOnHP   DFA   Democrats.com

Edwards 42 43 25 25 24 41
Obama 25 34 28 19 28 18
Richardson 13 8 12 21 8 6
Clinton 3 4 11 7 9 9
Biden 0 1 6 10 2 2
Kucinich 2 1 17 16 10 24
Dodd 0 1 1 4 1 0


Notes and details here.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

CBS Poll: More Americans Want "General Pelosi," ?

This is really remarkable....and very bad news for the POTUS.

By a margin of 49% to 44%, Americans think Congress should have the final say on troop levels in Iraq.

Equally startling, the CBS poll also finds that 67 percent!!! of respondents think Congress should either allow funding only with a withdrawal time-line (58%) or cut off funding completely (9%).

Greg Sargent has the story.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Grim

Red Cross: Iraqi Situation Getting Worse | Chicago Tribune
GENEVA -- Millions of Iraqis are in a "disastrous" situation that is getting worse, with mothers appealing for someone to pick up the bodies on the street so their children will be spared the horror of looking at them on their way to school, the international Red Cross said Wednesday.
I have nothing to add.

Poll: More Americans Favor Congress Withholding Funds In Face Of Veto

This in interesting.

Greg Sargent has the story.

Here's the question:

Q: If George W. Bush vetoes the legislation, do you think Congress should pass another version of the bill that provides funding for the war without any conditions for troop withdrawal, or should Congress refuse to pass any funding bill until Bush agrees to accept conditions for withdrawal?

Fund the war without conditions: 43%
Withhold funding until Bush signs: 45%
Don't know: 12%

I'm Back!

Back from Bali, Indonesia. Had a great time. I'll post a Flickr link soon.

Now, I'm trying to get over jet lag.