Americans have been waiting months for Mr. Bush to fire Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, who long ago proved that he was incompetent and more recently has proved that he can’t tell the truth. Mr. Bush refused to fire him after it was clear Mr. Gonzales lied about his role in the political purge of nine federal prosecutors. And he is still refusing to do so — even after testimony by the F.B.I. director, Robert Mueller, that suggests that Mr. Gonzales either lied to Congress about Mr. Bush’s warrantless wiretapping operation or at the very least twisted the truth so badly that it amounts to the same thing.The Times does a decent job of sorting through all the sorted details of Gonzales fall and Josh provides some historical background, the short of which is that Congress has never impeached a cabinet member before -- in the end, they are either fired or quit. Of course, we've never had a President implicated in, and likely being protected by, the wrong doing which would explain a lot (John Mitchell resigned to run CREEP before Watergate and his involvement was exposed.).
Democratic lawmakers are asking for a special prosecutor to look into Mr. Gonzales’s words and deeds. Solicitor General Paul Clement has a last chance to show that the Justice Department is still minimally functional by fulfilling that request.
If that does not happen, Congress should impeach Mr. Gonzales.
Saturday, July 28, 2007
And in Matt's comments Utica chimes in,
Maybe if the Prime Minister of Iraq doesn't like our commanding general in Iraq and wants us to stop arming Sunni groups, but the US government thinks our commanding general is a smart guy and we want to intensify the arming of Sunni groups that we ought to step back, take a deep breath, and decide to leave Iraq to the Iraqis.
It would be ridiculous, after all, to sack an American general because Nouri al-Maliki wants us to. But it would also be ridiculous for an American general to be running around Iraq implementing policies contrary to those of the [elected] Iraqi government we're supposed to be supporting. The best solution is to shake hands and go our separate ways.
...our consciences should be weighing very heavily on us for this war. the noble action for us is NOT to hand out a lot of guns to momentary allies (as if iraq were only a few thousand AK-47's away from stablizing). we've tried giving guns to lots of questionable people in the last forty years -- and it never seems to end well (see pinochet, bin laden, hussein). enough already! our weapons can simply do no GOOD in iraq. we had no right to go in, we have no right to be there today, and we will have no right to be there anytime in the forseeable future. no new plan of any sort can change that fact.I have nothing to add.
Kevin points to Samantha Powers review of Ian Shapiro's new book, Containment: Rebuilding a Strategy Against Global Terror. Powers argues that the author is at his "most persuasive" when he makes the case not to treat all Islamic terrorist threats as one monolithic enemy. To over simplify the argument, there are actually many competing agendas between these groups that can be exploited. "The Bush administration, by contrast, has grouped together a hugely diverse band of violent actors as terrorists, failing to employ divide-and-conquer tactics."
This is the serious side of dumb gaffes from people like Rudy Giuliani, who seem unable to distinguish between even simple divisions like Sunni and Shia. They're not just demonstrating a willful ignorance, they're demonstrating an ignorance of one of the key levers we have for fighting violent jihadism. If you treat everyone who's ever said a salaat as an enemy, you've lost the battle before it's even started.Indeed.
Of course, blurring the lines between Sunni and Shia is all about the neocon agenda. These groups are fighting each other for control of Iraq. It is the Sunnis who are blowing up our Soldiers and Marines with IEDs, but that is an inconvenient truth, as it is our Saudi friends who are the primary sponsor of these acts (Andrew Sullivan has more here), whereas it is the Iranians who the Neocons want to next "take out".
To say these people are "willfully ignorant" is to give them a break they don't deserve. The fact is that they have their own agenda that often only tangentially aligns with the best interest of the United State. More often than not, they seek to use the treasure and muscle of the American people to accomplish matters for their own business interest. In the Middle East, for example, by propping up business friendly governments like Saudi Arabia and toppling unfriendly governments like Iraq and Iran. It is not hard to make the case that the single largest supporter of global Islamic terrorism is Saudi Arabia -- It clearly was not Iraq and is not now Iran. But you would not know this by reviewing US ME policy pre or post September 11. If, on the other hand, the actual agenda of current US policy is to dominate the ME oil business -- not by "taking their oil" -- but by creating a controlled environment which allows these business interest to win (through consent or coercion) very favorable contracts for extracting, processing, shipping the oil, etc. US actions make much more sense. Maybe this would create a more staple ME long term, maybe it wouldn't, but it would make many major US companies very successful from either their direct involvement or indirect involvement supplying the military and civilian infrastructure. Is that in the best interest of the United States? Certainly many Republicans think so.
Friday, July 27, 2007
From the NYTs,
Iraq’s national government is refusing to take possession of thousands of American-financed reconstruction projects, forcing the United States either to hand them over to local Iraqis, who often lack the proper training and resources to keep the projects running, or commit new money to an effort that has already consumed billions of taxpayer dollars.On example cited by The Times was the Dora Power Plant where large power generating turbines were overhauled at a cost of $90 million to bring desperately needed power to Baghdad. The turbines were handed over to people who didn't know how to operate them and they were promptly loaded with the wrong fuel and wrecked.
The conclusions, detailed in a report released Friday by the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, a federal oversight agency, include the finding that of 2,797 completed projects costing $5.8 billion, Iraq’s national government had, by the spring of this year, accepted only 435 projects valued at $501 million. Few transfers to Iraqi national government control have taken place since the current Iraqi government, which is frequently criticized for inaction on matters relating to the American intervention, took office in 2006.
Thursday, July 26, 2007
I missed this earlier today from the NYTs,
WASHINGTON, July 26 — The dispute over the truthfulness of Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales reached a new intensity today as the F.B.I. Director, Robert S. Mueller 3rd, contradicted Mr. Gonzales’s sworn testimony before a Senate committee.Recall that Mueller was of the group that threatened to resign if the Admin went forward without DoJ approval.
Mr. Mueller told the House Judiciary Committee that the Bush administration’s secret eavesdropping program was the main topic at an encounter in the hospital room of then-Attorney General John Ashcroft on March 10, 2004, contrary to what Mr. Gonzales told a Senate panel on Tuesday.
Strange days indeed.
Just imagine what September is going to be like. It's entirely possible that by the end of the year the house of cards that is the Bush administration could collapse in a way that we have never seen before.
I always assumed this was nothing more than a typical friendly fire episode that the Army tried to cover up for PR reasons. It would have never occurred to me that his own comrades would have intentionally killed him.
Here is some provocative evidence taken from 2300 pages of testimony:
- Tillman had three M16 bullet wounds close together on his forehead which raised the immediate attention of the pathologist.
- The shots were fired from as close as 10 yards.
- No evidence at all of enemy fire was found at the scene — no one was hit by enemy fire, nor was any government equipment struck.
- The soldier at Tillman's side has told conflicting stories.
Congress will be hearing testimony next week.
Evidently, they share Bush's view that Congress is powerless. I disagree, but that's another matter.
How Clement responds will be very interesting.
Given the extreme direction this administration has taken lately lately on Congressional oversight, Gonzales, enforcement of subpoenas, etc. (this is the bunker mentality I wrote about earlier this year) I can't help but think that those remaining, self-respecting, competent folks left in this administration (and especially at DOJ) have to be desperately looking to get out.
Bush, Cheney and Gonzales may be ready to end their professional lives, but that isn't true for everyone who works for them.
Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) plans to review the Senate testimony of U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel A. Alito to determine if their reversal of several long-standing opinions conflicts with promises they made to senators to win confirmation.And then what Arlen?
Specter, who championed their confirmation, said Tuesday he will personally re-examine the testimony to see if their actions in court match what they told the Senate.
"There are things he has said, and I want to see how well he has complied with it," Specter said, singling out Roberts.
The once powerful and well respected Arlen Specter seems to just now be figuring out that he has become a sad fool. Something that has occurred to anyone paying attention about 5 years ago.
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
The blogs are all full of outrage today at Gonzales' most recent perjury before the Senate Judiciary Committee. The Democratic senators and Specter are outraged too. Specter went so far as to call Gonzales' testimony "actionable".
Earlier today, the NYTs reported that former members of the Senate Intelligence Committee contradicted Gonzales' testimony. Now, the AP has documents which directly contradict the Attorney General's testimony.
It's common knowledge that the Attorney General's testimony yesterday is only his most recent acts of perjury. So what is anyone going to do about it?
The White House has made it clear that they have no intention of respecting Congress or punishing the now routine perjury of cabinet members before Congress.
All the outrage in the world isn't going to change things and the continued whining without further action only makes Dems look weak and impotent, which is the point. This is a classic example of Josh Marshall's now famous bitch slap theory of politics.
Bush will never ask for Gonazales' resignation because replacing him with anyone who would be confirmed by the Senate could mean many, many criminal prosecutions.
If the Senators and members of Congress care at all about the Constitution of the United States, their institution and the separation of powers, the House will form an impeachment committee to begin the process of impeaching the purjurious Attorney General.
Finally, Congress needs to teach this Administration a lesson on Article I of the Constitution by refusing to fund the executive office of the President, the Vice President and the the Attorney General until they come into compliance with Congressional oversight. By this I mean, the funding to pay the salaries of all the political appointees who work directly for the President, the Vice President and Attorney General and there direct support staff. Not the entire DoJ, security etc.
We have a serious constitutional crisis the likes of which we have not seen since Watergate. It's time to stop whining and take action for the benefit of the Nation. If the members of Congress aren't willing to do their Constitutional duty, then they get what they deserve and we, the people, should throw them all out, Democrat and Republican alike.
This is beyond outrageous.
From the Politico,
Though he has not yet even declared he is running for president, Fred Thompson shook up his team Tuesday amid fears he was losing momentum and needed an injection of talent.That's right. When Thompson wants to run for President it's Phillip Morris he turns to.
Top advisers to the “Law & Order” actor and former U.S. senator from Tennessee had soured on Tom Collamore, the operations chief for the Republican presidential campaign in waiting.
Collamore, a former executive at Altria (nee Philip Morris), was moved to an advisory role Tuesday, advisers said.
Thompson had planned to formally announce on July 4, and that date keeps moving. Now, his non-campaign is being reshuffled.
My guess is that he will never announce.
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
You have to give Republicans points for consistency. They bring the Senate to a halt and then blame Democrats for not getting anything done. They destroy FEMA's ability to respond to natural disasters and then hold it up as an example of why you can't trust government to do anything right. They lose a war via unparalleled military incompetence and then claim that liberals are defeatists for pointing it out. They spend 20 years claiming that Social Security is going bankrupt and then use the resulting public insecurity about Social Security as an explanation for why the whole system needs to be privatized.Of course. This is what they do. And it works for them, due in no small part to the fact that the opposition party is so often helpless to respond to their prevarications. It's like watching the nerdy kid on the playground try to reason with the bully.
When the Dems start aggressively calling them out on it, and their media enablers, things will change. Until then, why would we expect the GOP to abandon a winning strategy?
While it may not be surprising per se, think about what it means for the institutions of justice in this country that the sitting Attorney General of the United States is suspected of perjury, by senators from his own party, who are willing to say so publicly, in matters involving national security and the fundamental constitutional rights of American citizens; yet, the President does nothing but voice his support for man.Like I said earlier, I feel like I'm living in this alternative universe. It seems that no one really seems to care. Journalist cover the story of the DoJ / Gonzales almost proforma but no one really seems to care......
I suppose we should not be surprised, but we should also not lose our capacity to be outraged.
Last summer at this time, I was in North Sulawesi Indonesia scuba diving. I had a new camera (Canon SD 550 Digital Elph) and was not happy with the underwater results. I felt like it kept overexposing pics, lacked fine detail, etc. Despite this unhappiness, I kept taking pictures. Since, I kept putting off going through them because of my unhappiness. A year later, migrating pictures to a new computer, I realized I had a couple hundred I hadn't seriously reviewed. So, I began to go through them and in the process found about 130 decent pics which I've now photoshop'ed and uploaded to my Flickr page.
I'm particularly proud of this picture which is about as perfect as I could ever hope with such a limited camera set up. This is a pygmy seahorse. They were only discovered in about 1970, are very rare, tiny and only found in parts of SE Asia around the Coral Triangle. I tried on two trips to get a decent picture of a pygmy seahorse and kept failing (close but bad exposure). Always overexposed, etc. Then I found this pic from last year that I had all along and it's perfect! I now have my masterpiece.
This is EXACTLY how these non-issues should be handled. It's bright, clever and entertaining while making the most important point about such silly non-issues that the GOP builds entire campaigns around.
[Note: The servers have been really overwhelmed so it may be difficult to view for a while]
25% of Americans approve of the way Bush is doing his job. An astounding 71% of Americans disapprove. These numbers are both records for this poll.
Most astounding is that 79% of independent voters disapprove of President Bush.
And despite these bleak numbers Giuliani, Romney and apparently Thompson are all running on 'more of the same / stay the course' themes even while they shy away from Bush by name. Is it any wonder they can't raise money or generate enthusiasm for their campaigns?
Sometimes I feel like I'm living is some kind of alternative universe.
Saturday, July 21, 2007
Ever feel embarrassed because a point so incredible obvious only hits you after the fact? Happens to me all the time, with the most recent example being on my drive this afternoon to Whole Foods™.
Anyway, the central point of the editorial was that not only does a bipartisan majority in Congress support a major reduction in troops in Iraq "over the next year or so" and redirection of those remaining from combat to training but "President Bush and his senior aides and generals also support this broad strategy, which was formulated by the bipartisan Baker-Hamilton commission. Mr. Bush recently said that "it's a position I'd like to see us in."
President Bush is the goddamn Commander-in-Chief! He doesn't need anyone's cooperation or permission to fully implement any troop reduction or withdrawal he damn well pleases and could do it this very moment if he so chose!!!!
To suggest that Harry Reid could stand in the President's way on such a move is the dumbest damn thing I think I've ever heard.
And gee, I feel dumb for not realizing this immediately.
More than a year before the 2008 elections, it is a political role reversal that bodes ill for President Bush's war strategy, not to mention his recent statement that Congress' role should merely be "funding the troops."Epso says what I think everyone knows about Reid's strategy. He doesn't want to give the GOP a water-downed "escape hatch" as an alternative to ending this war as quickly as possible. ANY 'compromise' will do nothing more than allow the Republicans in Congress to save face while continuing the war exactly as it is now since Bush has assured his Republican counterparts in Congress that he will veto any bill that seeks to bring troops home.
Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, made that clear Friday when he dismissed any suggestion that it could be November before a verdict is possible on the effects of the administration's current troop increase.
"September is the month we're looking at," he said unequivocally.
If Republicans struggling to regroup — with or without the president they have followed through four years of war — Democrats are on the march.
"Time and the American people are ... on our side," Sen. Harry Reid, the majority leader, said last week. The Nevada Democrat spoke in defeat, after Republicans — whatever their private misgivings — blocked a final vote on a troop withdrawal deadline.
Sadly, this is what our country has come to.
Matt Yglesias has the appropriate response: "Yes, yes . . . providing political cover to moderate Republicans who want to distance themselves from Bush while minimizing the practical impact of their actions would solve our problems in Iraq."
My views on this are here.
UPDATE: Turns out lots of people are upset with this editorial.
Kevin Drum observes, "After four years of Republican insistence that Congress's only role in the war is to pony up trainloads of money and then shut the hell up, it turns out that it's actually Democrats who are making consensus impossible."
Barbara O'Brien writes,
As Tbogg says, the shorter version of this rhetorical specimen is “The glaring lack of an exit strategy from Iraq is entirely Harry Reid’s fault.” The less short version is that, in HiattWorld, there is already a bipartisan consensus on what to do about Iraq that is also supported by the White House. The reason this consensus is not being carried out is that Harry Reid is standing in the way.The WaPo owes Harry Reid an apology.
In fact, the exact opposite is true.
Attacks in Iraq last month reached their highest daily average since May 2003, showing a surge in violence as President George W. Bush completed a buildup of U.S. troops, Pentagon statistics show.June represented the highest average daily number of attacks, 177.8, since Bush declared the way over on May 1, 2003.
The data, obtained by Reuters from the Defense Department, showed an upward trend in daily attacks over the past four months, when U.S. and Iraqi forces were ramping up operations against insurgents and militants, including al Qaeda, in Iraq.
The last time we tried a surge -- last summer -- the same thing happened -- violence actually increased.
Friday, July 20, 2007
“President Bush will undergo a routine colonoscopy Saturday, and will transfer power to Vice President Dick Cheney during the procedure, expected to take about two and a half hours, the chief White House spokesman said.”
That should just be long enough to launch a major attack against Iran.
UPDATE: This didn't take long.
You may recall that on June 11, 2007, in al-Marri v. Wright, (pdf of decision) the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Military Commissions Act cannot deny al-Marri his constitutional right to a trial. The court ruled that al-Marri must be released from military detention and either freed or placed in US civilian detention where the federal government would have to charge him with crimes.
The WaPo article is an interesting read and makes a very good case for believing al-Marri was a key Al-Qaeda operative. The Government insists that al-Marri was sent to the US pre-Sept 11, to establish cover as a student with his wife and 5 children, and act as an entry point contact for Al-Qaeda operatives entering the US.
It's hard to read this piece and not conclude that the FBI / DoJ blew it in a huge way by picking this guy up when they did. If even half of the FBI's allegations are true, al-Marri would have been the key to uprooting much of Al-Qaeda's US operatives had they placed him under extremely tight surveillance, bugged his phones, etc. Instead, they panicked and swept him up before he could get fully set-up. In fairness, hindsight is alway 20/20 and we must recall what was going on at the FBI in the weeks and months after Sept 11, and the very real fear that another attack was immanent. But these guys are supposed to be pros....
Unfortunately, their panic in 2001 may result in this guy getting sent back to Qatar or Saudi Arabia, and not bungling or incompetence, but liberty will be blamed.
Read the article. It's fascinating. And tell us what you think in comments.
"They won an election that we insisted upon having," Powell said. "And so, as unpleasant a group they may be and as distasteful as I find some of their positions, I think through some means, the Middle East Quartet… or through some means Hamas has to be engaged."Indeed.
Rice responded by asserting that hell would freeze over first.
The Senate Republicans are mad at Harry Reid for not being willing to compromise with them and allow them to save face after years of blindly supporting this disastrous war.
There is no compromise that the President will sign. To his credit, Bush could not be more clear on this matter.
Are these same Republicans willing to vote to override Bush's veto? Of course not: See the WINO Caucus.
All these Republicans want is a chance to save face. Fuck them. They voted for this war, and have blindly supported the war to this point, questioning the patriotism of anyone who disagreed.
They can wear this war around their necks for the rest of their lives.
Let's see how they feel after spending August at home with their voters.
It's time to bring this war to an end.
And by the way, it is more important than ever to let them all hear from you on this matter.
Via TPM, we get this bizarre story from the Boston Herald,
In an apparent violation of the law, a controverisal aide to ex-Gov. Mitt Romney created phony law enforcement badges that he and other staffers used on the campaign trail to strong-arm reporters, avoid paying tolls and trick security guards into giving them immediate access to campaign venues, sources told the Herald.Evidently, the use of this fake badges dates back to Garrity's work for then Gov. Romney, and were used to threaten reporters, and in at least one instance, not pay a toll on the turnpike.
The bogus badges were part of the bizarre security tactics allegedly employed by Jay Garrity, the director of operations for Romney who is under investigation for impersonating a law enforcement officer in two states. Garrity is on a leave of absence from the campaign while the probe is ongoing.
A campaign source said Garrity directed underlings on Romney’s presidential staff to use the badges at events nationwide to create an image of security and to ensure that the governor’s events went smoothly.
“They (the aides) knew the badges were fake and probably illegal,” said a presidential campaign source who asked for anonymity because the story could damage the individual’s career. “But they went along with it because Jay (Garrity) pushed it on them.”
It will be interesting to see how the Romney Campaign handles this first scandal.
Thursday, July 19, 2007
I switched months ago to the new and so-called improved blogger with a new look for this blog. However, I quickly noticed that the line spacing was messed up. All text lines after a block quote became single-spaced! It looked like crap and I couldn't figure out how to fix it. I emailed blogger and they were no help, yada, yada, yada.
Well, I finally found this blog and was able to adjust the CSS style sheet code to fix the problem.
Now, I'm very happy.
As I mentioned at the time, Thompson's spokesman offered an interesting, and lawyerly denial, "There's no documents to prove it, there's no billing records, and Thompson says he has no recollection of it, says it didn't happen."
Well, bad news for Fred. In fact, there are billing records, and The New York Times has them.
According to records from Arent Fox, the law firm based in Washington where Mr. Thompson worked part-time from 1991 to 1994, he charged the organization, the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association, about $5,000 for work he did in 1991 and 1992. The records show that Mr. Thompson, a probable Republican candidate for president in 2008, spent much of that time in telephone conferences with the president of the group, and on three occasions he reported lobbying administration officials on its behalf.Who knows what this does to Thompson's unofficial campaign.
My guess is that 'none of the above' will get a pump.
Now might be a good time to note, however, that the one-time savior of the GOP seems to have been slowed quite a bit. Thompson had initially planned to announce his official candidacy on July 4th, and still we wait. Word is that he has not been able to reach his goal of raising $5M as easily as he thought and turns out that getting together a real presidential campaign (with serious staff, and advisers on all key domestic and foreign policy issues) is hard work. Does this abortion issue really effect Thompson? Who knows, but it seems pretty clear that it doesn't help.
And finally, if you want to have a chuckle at Thompson's evolving prevarications on this issue, there is a great blog post here with all the gory details.
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
Lots of people are talking about what will happen to Iraq when the US occupation ends and this article contrasts the DoD view from the of the WH.
But a real issue no one is talking about his how we can possible get out of that mess without massive bloodshed. The logistics of withdrawal.
We have literally millions and millions of tons of equipment in Iraq that has been moved in over years. Pulling that equipment out will be a Hurculian task. And we will be shot at and attacked the entire time. You can't just airlift this stuff out. All this equipment must be driven to ports (in Kuwait?) cleaned up (can't bring home desert bugs and seeds) and loaded on to ships. Everyone agrees this will take months at best. Everyone also agrees that we cannot maintain current troop levels past next spring without extending tours beyond 15 months and sending in troops who haven't been home 12 months.
The bottom line is that we will be out of anything close to fresh troops by next spring and we need to get out. This is a huge looming disaster.
History is replete with bad withdrawal outcomes. Among the most horrific was the British departure from Afghanistan in 1842, when 16,500 active troops and civilians left Kabul thinking they had safe passage to India. Two weeks later, only one European arrived alive in Jalalabad, near the Afghan-Indian border.
The Soviet Union's withdrawal from Afghanistan, which began in May 1988 after a decade of occupation, reveals other mistakes to avoid. Like the U.S. troops who arrived in Iraq in 2003, the Soviet force in Afghanistan was overwhelmingly conventional, heavy with tanks and other armored vehicles. Once Moscow made public its plans to leave, the political and security situations unraveled much faster than anticipated. "The Soviet Army actually had to fight out of certain areas," said Army Maj. Daniel Morgan, a two-tour veteran of the Iraq war who has been studying the Soviet pullout at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., with an eye toward gleaning lessons for Iraq. "As a matter of fact, they had to airlift out of Kandahar, the fighting was so bad."
War supporters and opponents in Washington disagree on the lessons of the departure most deeply imprinted on the American psyche: the U.S. exit from Vietnam. "I saw it once before, a long time ago," Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), a Vietnam veteran and presidential candidate, said last week of an early Iraq withdrawal. "I saw a defeated military, and I saw how long it took a military that was defeated to recover."
Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Del.), also a White House hopeful, finds a different message in the Vietnam retreat. Saying that Baghdad would become "Saigon revisited," he warned that "we will be lifting American personnel off the roofs of buildings in the Green Zone if we do not change policy, and pretty drastically."
Romney is spending money faster than he is bringing it in. In the second quarter he raised $14M but he spent $20.5M. He had to loan his campaign $6.5 from his personal fortune. Of course, he has a real fortune (more than $200M), so he can afford it -- but he had vowed not to spend his own money on a campaign.
An added factor that no one wants to talk about is the role of fellow Mormons in financing Romney's campaign. The LDS business community is extremely wealthy and extremely tight-knit even to the point of crossing party lines to support Romney. I know of one very wealthy and Democratic attorney in Arizona who is a Mormon and heavily involved in the Romney campaign. Do not underestimate the ability of the LDS community to come through in a very big way to finance Romney.
Today, David Corn, writing in the same paper responds with Why Bush Is A Loser.
Corn naturally assumes that Kristol was being satirical. "Surely Kristol, the No. 1 cheerleader for the Iraq war, was mocking himself (and his neoconservative pals) for having been so mistaken about so much." Corn then reminds us of how well Kristol has done on past predictions,
On Sept. 18, 2002, he declared that a war in Iraq "could have terrifically good effects throughout the Middle East." A day later, he said Saddam Hussein was "past the finish line" in developing nuclear weapons. On Feb. 20, 2003, he said of Saddam: "He's got weapons of mass destruction.... Look, if we free the people of Iraq we will be respected in the Arab world." On March 1, 2003 -- 18 days before the invasion of Iraq -- Kristol dismissed the possibility of sectarian conflict afterward. He also said, "Very few wars in American history were prepared better or more thoroughly than this one by this president." He maintained that the war would cost $100 billion to $200 billion. (The running tab is now about half a trillion dollars.) On March 5, 2003, Kristol said, "We'll be vindicated when we discover the weapons of mass destruction."After suggesting that Kristol's license as a pundit should be revoked, he then goes on to respond, point by point, to Bill's delusional assertions.
Bill Kristol is a likable guy on TV and comes off as so reasonable in his tone and presentation. It's only when you listen to what he is actually saying that it becomes clear that he is a lunatic.
I do seriously wonder at what point, you stop inviting a guy like Kristol on your news show.
From the AP,
The latest Associated Press-Ipsos poll found that nearly a quarter of Republicans are unwilling to back top-tier hopefuls Rudy Giuliani, Fred Thompson, John McCain or Mitt Romney, and no one candidate has emerged as the clear front-runner among Christian evangelicals. Such dissatisfaction underscores the volatility of the 2008 GOP nomination fight.When Rudy entered the race, I predicted he would never be more popular than the day he announced. So far, that has been the case,
Giuliani's popularity continued to decline steadily as he faced a spate of headline headaches, came under increased scrutiny and saw the potential entry of Thompson in the mix; his support is at 21 percent compared with 27 percent in June and 35 percent in March.
The former New York mayor is running virtually even with Thompson, who has become a threat without even officially entering the race.
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
And yet, leaders from both parties will continue to talk endlessly about 'finding common ground' with the WH on Iraq -- not that Bush has ever, even once, said or done anything to gave anyone any reason to believe he might compromise.
The level of denial is truly astounding.
Monday, July 16, 2007
Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have both reported astonishing cash-on-hand numbers six months into the race. Obama has $34 million on hand for the primaries, just edging out Hillary's $33 million on hand for the primaries. On the Democratic side, John Edwards places a distant third with $12 million — an amount that would have been more than impressive four years ago!
Sunday, July 15, 2007
The former Fed Chairman, Paul Volcker, calls 'bullshit' on those who've suggested their fabulous accumulation in wealth is a natural result of their contributions to the overall national economy.
The great fortunes today are largely a result of the long bull market in stocks, Mr. Volcker said. Without rising stock prices, stock options would not have become a major source of riches for financiers and chief executives. Stock prices rise for a lot of reasons, Mr. Volcker said, including ones that have nothing to do with the actions of these people.Robert Crandall, the former CEO of American Airlines agrees,
“The market did not go up because businessmen got so much smarter,” he said, adding that the 1950s and 1960s, which the new tycoons denigrate as bureaucratic and uninspiring, “were very good economic times and no one was making what they are making now.”
The nation’s corporate chiefs would be living far less affluent lives, Mr. Crandall said, if fate had put them in, say, Uzbekistan instead of the United States, “where they are the beneficiaries of a market system that rewards a few people in extraordinary ways and leaves others behind.”The bulk of this wealth comes from enormous stock options and the wholesale transfer of corporate profits to a few people. The GOP has done an amazing PR job convincing the working class that the taxes on the super-rich designed to prevent such enormous accumulations of wealth is bad for workers and now the super rich are reaping those rewards.
“The way our society equalizes incomes,” he argued, “is through much higher taxes than we have today. There is no other way.”
Friday, July 13, 2007
Thursday, July 12, 2007
A counterterrorism official familiar with a five-page summary of the new government threat assessment called it a stark appraisal to be discussed at the White House on Thursday as part of a broader meeting on an upcoming National Intelligence Estimate.
The official and others spoke on condition of anonymity because the secret report remains classified.
Counterterrorism analysts produced the document, titled "Al-Qaida better positioned to strike the West." The document focuses on the terror group's safe haven in Pakistan and makes a range of observations about the threat posed to the United States and its allies, officials said.
Al-Qaida is "considerably operationally stronger than a year ago" and has "regrouped to an extent not seen since 2001," the official said, paraphrasing the report's conclusions. "They are showing greater and greater ability to plan attacks in Europe and the United States."
The group also has created "the most robust training program since 2001, with an interest in using European operatives," the official quoted the report as saying.
At the same time, this official said, the report speaks of "significant gaps in intelligence" so U.S. authorities may be ignorant of potential or planned attacks.
John Kringen, who heads the CIA's analysis directorate, echoed the concerns about al-Qaida's resurgence during testimony and conversations with reporters at a House Armed Services Committee hearing on Wednesday.
"They seem to be fairly well settled into the safe haven and the ungoverned spaces of Pakistan," Kringen testified. "We see more training. We see more money. We see more communications. We see that activity rising."
ViaTPM, Florida state Representative Bob Allen (R), who is co-chairman of McCain's Florida campaign, was arrested in a Titusville park restroom on charges of solicitation after he approached a plain clothes police officer and offered to perform oral sex on the officer for $20.
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
....John Fialka reports in the July 6 Wall Street Journal that NOPEC has won the support of veto-proof majorities in the House and Senate. The appeal of NOPEC extends from left to right; House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D.-Calif., is pushing it, and so is the Heritage Foundation. The Bush administration, however, can't stand the idea.Timothy Noah thinks that would be great and so do I.
One thing is for sure, if the bill actually passes, we will find out if they have the votes to over-ride a veto.
A change in course in Iraq is overdue. We must begin the responsible redeployment of our forces from Iraq. The strength of the American military depends on its readiness which is currently depleted after four years in the middle of a deteriorating sectarian conflict. Our military must transition to a limited presence that protects enduring American interests and restores the readiness of our forces.The Dems don't have the sounding board of talk radio to sell their message, but they have to get the American people involved in the process of pressuring the GOP that it's time to go.
It's not enough that 70% of Americans want out of Iraq. The public must be mobilized.
Message, message, message.
The Senate Appropriations committee has cut funding to Cheney's office until he decides to return to lawfulness.
A Senate appropriations panel chaired by Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., refused to fund $4.8 million in the vice president’s budget until Cheney’s office complies with parts of an executive order governing its handling of classified information.
At issue is a requirement that executive branch offices provide data on how much material they classify and declassify. That information is to be provided to the Information Security Oversight Office at The National Archives.
Cheney’s office, with backing from the White House, argues that the offices of the president and vice president are exempt from the order because they are not executive branch ”agencies.”
The funding cut came as the appropriations panel approved 5-4 along party lines a measure funding White House operations, the Treasury Department and many smaller agencies.
With upwards of 70% of the public ready to pull out of Iraq, the GOP in both chambers is starting to crack. The NYTs reported Saturday that Reid, rightly critical of himself and the Democratic caucus, is ready to confront this issue in the Senate, and he says, dig in.
Mr. Reid said he now saw ending the war as a moral duty, and even if the Senate again falls short, he said, he would turn again and again to Iraq until either the president relents or enough Republicans join Democrats to overrule Mr. Bush.The GOP can wring their hands all they want, withdrawal from Iraq has long been popular with the country, and their continued resistance is at their own peril.
“I think that each time these people vote to continue what’s going on in Iraq it is a bad, bad move for them and a worse move for our country,” Mr. Reid said.
The Dems in both chambers handed Bush a victory on the last spending bill by capitulating to his demands in the face of being unable to over-ride his veto.
In defense of Reid, the caucus in the Senate is really only 49 votes with Tim Johnson out with illness and Lieberman descending into madness.
Recent GOP defections on Iraq appear to be an attempt by the defectors to steal Democratic thunder by claiming leadership on ending Iraq.
Reid and Pelosi must have the courage of their convictions and dig in on Iraq. Hang this war around the President's neck and each and every GOP enabler who refuses to vote to over-ride any veto. This takes real courage and may well mean resending the same bills to the POTUS again and again.
Spencer Ackerman has put together a great guide to the Democratic bills / amendments to come up in the next few weeks.
Of particular interest are The Levin-Reed Timeline and the The Webb Troop Readiness Amendment.
The L/R Timeline is the most direct and similar to what Bush vetoed. I've always thought the timeline should be packaged as an implementation of the ISG, as Sens. Ken Salazar (D-CO) and Pete Domenici (R-NM) have proposed.
But most interesting to me is the Webb Troop Readiness bill which seems to take a page from the GOP play book making continued escalation impossible in a package that would be very hard to not support. As Spencer says,
[Webb's amendment increases] the amount of time active and reserve forces spend at home between deployments. While the precise numbers are unclear, if it passes, it will prevent the Pentagon from relieving units rotating out of Iraq in the spring with active-duty forces who haven't been home at for at least as long as their last tour, and three times as long for reservists. Due to the strain the four-year war has put on the military, Webb's amendment would very likely stop the surge by early 2008 and prevent any future escalation.With 70% percent of the public lining up for a complete withdrawal by Spring of 08, how does a GOP Senator oppose this bill. The GOP are masters at hanging this kind of bill on the Dems, but do the Dems have the skills to give as good as they've taken? We will find out.
Now McCain's campaign manager and chief strategist have left. Some officials say they were fired, others say they quit.
This campaign is quickly becoming a train wreck, and yet even now if you were to tell someone that McCain's campaign is falling apart, they would look at you like your crazy.
53% believe the problems the next president will face will mainly be the result of failures on the part of President Bush.
More importantly as Congress begins debate on continued funding of the war in Iraq, more than 70% of Americans think nearly all US troops should be out of Iraq by April.
....In the course of its tenure since the Sept. 11 attacks, the Bush administration has turned the entire government (and the DOJ in particular) into a veritable Augean stable on issues such as civil rights, civil liberties, international law and basic human rights, as well as criminal prosecution and federal employment and contracting practices. It has systematically undermined the rule of law in the name of fighting terrorism, and it has sought to insulate its actions from legislative or judicial scrutiny and accountability by invoking national security at every turn, engaging in persistent fearmongering, routinely impugning the integrity and/or patriotism of its critics, and protecting its own lawbreakers. This is neither normal government conduct nor "politics as usual," but a national disgrace of a magnitude unseen since the days of Watergate - which, in fact, I believe it eclipses.Koppel makes a very good point about the US Attorney scandal that is lost on the MSM,
In more than a quarter of a century at the DOJ, I have never before seen such consistent and marked disrespect on the part of the highest ranking government policymakers for both law and ethics. It is especially unheard of for U.S. attorneys to be targeted and removed on the basis of pressure and complaints from political figures dissatisfied with their handling of politically sensitive investigations and their unwillingness to "play ball." Enough information has already been disclosed to support the conclusion that this is exactly what happened here, at least in the case of former U.S. Attorney David C. Iglesias of New Mexico (and quite possibly in several others as well). Law enforcement is not supposed to be a political team sport, and prosecutorial independence and integrity are not "performance problems."
....it is no answer to say that U.S. attorneys are political appointees who serve at the pleasure of the president. The point that is lost on those who make this argument is that U.S. attorneys must not serve partisan purposes or advance a partisan agenda - which has nothing to do with requiring them to promote an administration's legitimate policy priorities.(Via Paul Kiel at TPM)
Monday, July 09, 2007
This is such a silly waist of time and it is unworthy of the Dems. The bottom line is that the Constitution grants the POTUS the absolute power to grant pardons and commutations.
I was disgusted and disappointed with Clinton's pardon of Mark Rich and I likewise feel the same way about the Libby commutation and inevitable pardon, but that's life. Congress can do nothing about it and it is a silly waist of time to hold hearings on the subject.
64% of Americans disapproved of the commutation and 70% of self-identified Republicans oppose a pardon. That has to be enough. Congress can do nothing about this Presidential power and hearings only make them look like Gingrich's Congress of the late 90s.
In short, Conyers and his committee have nothing to gain and can only lose by these hearings.
There is certainly much more important work to be done, so let's get on with it!
Sunday, July 08, 2007
Acknowledging that Americans reached the conclusion that it was time to go months ago,
Like many Americans, we have put off that conclusion, waiting for a sign that President Bush was seriously trying to dig the United States out of the disaster he created by invading Iraq without sufficient cause, in the face of global opposition, and without a plan to stabilize the country afterward....The editorial is sprawling and has something to say about the mechanics of withdrawal(the logistics will take time), The terrorism fight ("Despite President Bush’s repeated claims, Al Qaeda had no significant foothold in Iraq before the invasion, which gave it new base camps, new recruits and new prestige."),permanent bases (not sure but skeptical), the civil war (not a problem the US military can solve), the human (refugee) crisis (the region needs to step up), Iraq's neighbors (they need to stay out of it) and concludes,
While Mr. Bush scorns deadlines, he kept promising breakthroughs — after elections, after a constitution, after sending in thousands more troops. But those milestones came and went without any progress toward a stable, democratic Iraq or a path for withdrawal. It is frighteningly clear that Mr. Bush’s plan is to stay the course as long as he is president and dump the mess on his successor. Whatever his cause was, it is lost....
Continuing to sacrifice the lives and limbs of American soldiers is wrong. The war is sapping the strength of the nation’s alliances and its military forces. It is a dangerous diversion from the life-and-death struggle against terrorists. It is an increasing burden on American taxpayers, and it is a betrayal of a world that needs the wise application of American power and principle.
President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney have used demagoguery and fear to quell Americans’ demands for an end to this war. They say withdrawing will create bloodshed and chaos and encourage terrorists. Actually, all of that has already happened — the result of this unnecessary invasion and the incompetent management of this war.At long last, The New York Times and I are on the same page.
This country faces a choice. We can go on allowing Mr. Bush to drag out this war without end or purpose. Or we can insist that American troops are withdrawn as quickly and safely as we can manage — with as much effort as possible to stop the chaos from spreading.
Saturday, July 07, 2007
TUZ KHORMATO, Iraq - A suicide bomber detonated a truck full of explosives in the market of a Shiite farm town on Saturday,...Meanwhile, in the nearby village of Zargosh a car bomb killed at least 22.
Abdullah Jabara, the deputy governor of Salahuddin province, told state-run Iraqiya television that 115 people died — nearly three-quarters of them women, children and elderly. He blamed al-Qaida.
Police Col. Sherzad Abdullah, an officer in the Tuz Khormato police, also said 115 were killed and some 200 wounded. Tuz Khormato's police chief, Col. Abbas Mohammed Amin, put the toll at 150 dead.
Separately, 8 US Service members and one British soldier were killed in two days of fighting.
The Los Angeles Times reports Thompson lobbied Bush I on behalf of abortion rights group National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association. Thompson was hired to lobby the White House in opposition to the so-called 'gag rule' preventing Federally funded clinics from counseling abortion as an option.
Of course, Thompson is positioning himself as an anti-choice Republican in his WH run. His spokesman offers an interesting denial, ""There's no documents to prove it, there's no billing records, and Thompson says he has no recollection of it, says it didn't happen."
But sadly, there are records.
Minutes from the board's meeting of Sept. 14, 1991 — a copy of which DeSarno gave to The Times — say: "Judy [DeSarno] reported that the association had hired Fred Thompson Esq. as counsel to aid us in discussions with the administration" on the abortion counseling rule.The Fred Thompson's stepping in to 'save the day' meme just got very interesting.
Former Rep. Michael D. Barnes (D-Md.), a colleague at the lobbying and law firm where Thompson worked, said that DeSarno had asked him to recommend someone for the lobbying work and that he had suggested Thompson. He said it was "absolutely bizarre" for Thompson to deny that he lobbied against the abortion counseling rule.
"I talked to him while he was doing it, and I talked to [DeSarno] about the fact that she was very pleased with the work that he was doing for her organization," said Barnes. "I have strong, total recollection of that. This is not something I dreamed up or she dreamed up. This is fact."
But remember, George Bush I was for choice before he was against it, and the GOP doesn't have a lot of choices they like this year,.....
Friday, July 06, 2007
Thursday, July 05, 2007
The poll had a small sample (500 people) with a large margin of error (+ - 4.5%) and seems to reach several contradictory conclusions. The AP doesn't name the poll, pollster or link to the actual data.
What I thought was most interesting was this nugget burried near the bottom of the article: "Small majorities said [the government should] redistribute money with high taxes on the wealthy." I'd really like to see the actual question asked.
There is no doubt fertile ground here for the Dems. They just don't seem very good about tapping into this issue, John Edwards "two Americas" aside.
Wednesday, July 04, 2007
51% hold a favorable opinion of the Democratic party versus 36 percent for the GOP. That's the Republican Party's second-lowest rating in 15 years. Only in December 1998, when the Republican Congress voted to impeach Clinton, were they held in lower regard.
The Democratic favorable number is down 6 points from last November, which isn't bad given their failures in Congress. Americans want the war over. The Dems need to find the courage to stare down Bush on this issue. They blinked in round one. The public may not be as forgiving if they blink again.
The number of Obama donors since January has exceeded the total number of donors to Giuliani, Romney and McCain combined! In the second quarter, Obama raised more money that the top two GOP candidates combined.
Here's how they rank:
1. Barack Obama $32.5M
2. Hillary Clinton $27M
3. Rudy Giuliani $15M
4. Mitt Romney $14M
5. John McCain $11M
6. John Edwards $9M
7. Bill Richardson $7M
This is going to be quit a horse race. The GOP was convinced that McCain / Feingold would destroy Democratic fund raising. But this is the third consecetive election cycle that we've seen small Democratic donors step up in huge ways that are hard to explain. Obama and Clinton's combined $60M is more than all the other top candidates from both parties combined.
Could the GOP donors be holding back for Thompson? Will there be any money left for him when he finally gets in?
Watch this space.
Sunday, July 01, 2007
...A source close to Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., says his presidential campaign raised more than $30 million during the second quarter, which ended yesterday.Sen Clinton's people are leaking $27M as their figure. That could be accurate or it could be an attempt to lower expectations and then steal the headlines with a bigger number.
That figure tops Obama's haul during the first quarter of the year, when he reported raising $25.8 million.
In any event, $30M is a staggering number.