Friday, February 24, 2006

A Turning Point?

Proof that you can fool some of the people some of the time, but you can't fool all of the people all the time...

Among the new Rasmussen Reports poll findings-
For the first time ever, Americans have a slight preference for Democrats in Congress over the President on national security issues. Forty-three percent (43%) say they trust the Democrats more on this issue today while 41% prefer the President.

See the link above for more poll results/analysis on this.

The wall has been breached. The Democrats need to keep fighting. Let's hope they're paying attention.

Sweep It All Up: 9/11 Memos Revealed

"You can't distinguish between al Qaeda and Saddam when you talk about the war on terror."
--President George W. Bush (September 25, 2002)

Kudos to Andrew Sullivan for pointing his readers to this... Even more definitive proof that Rumsfeld and others began the buildup to war with Iraq on the morning of September 11th, courtesy of a resourceful blogger and the Freedom of Information Act.

Possibly even more powerful in getting public support for war in Iraq than the false WMD intelligence (because at least many in Congress did believe that one) was the lie that Iraq had ties to Al Qeada and the 9/11 attacks. So powerful was this lie that even as of a few months ago, polls showed a significant percentage of Americans still believe Saddam/Iraq were responsible for the attacks. This lie was subtlely laid out in statements by administration officials like Vice President Cheney, statements that they now deny ever having said. But while the PR campaign for this lie didn't begin until September 2002 (after all, you don't introduce new products in August), the real desire for the war began as far back as '97/'98 and the actual push for the war began on September 11, 2001 as smoke still rose out of the World Trade Center and Pentagon.

The push for war in Iraq on September 11th mostly revolves around Donald Rumsfeld. In accounts noted by the 9/11 Commission, Richard Clarke, and Bob Woodward, the Secretary of Defense was quite vocal that day to many that a link between Saddam and the attacks be found that could be used as a justification for war. The famous quote, "Go massive . . . Sweep it all up. Things related and not.", was made public in a 2002 CBS News report. Now documents have surfaced that verify all of this.

Thad Anderson, a blogger at, submitted a Freedom of Information Act request last year for Department of Defense staffer Stephen Cambone's notes from meetings with Donald Rumsfeld on the afternoon of 9/11 (the ones cited by the 9/11 Commission). Two weeks ago, he received those notes and have laid them all out in his blog (see previous link). He has also uploaded the documents as a photo set on Flickr. Among the instructions Cambone wrote down in these notes were to "get info fast" to "judge whether [we can] hit SH [Saddam Hussein] at the same time" and "not only UBL [Usama bin Laden]". Cambone does note on the same page that it is "hard to get a good case". Further down that same page is the instruction to "Go massive - Sweep it all up. Things related and not." This page is dated 2:40 PM on September 11, 2001.

Here is that page-

You can download a torrent of all the documents- here. Or see his blog for links.

At the conclusion of his post on this, Sullivan said:
"My confidence that there was no deliberate misleading of the American people after 9/11 just slipped a notch."

Wow, really, ya think? [*hits head on desk*]

I know I am probably just preaching to choir here, but to say this is one of the greatest crimes in modern American history is, to me, an understatement. These people had an obsession with Iraq and even as I stood on a rooftop in downtown Manhattan staring at the huge cloud of smoke that was the World Trade Center, and while others in government rushed around trying to figure out what happened, all Rumsfeld and his companions were thinking about was their vendetta against Saddam Hussein. And though they knew their case was false, they presented it to the American people and succeeded a year later into morphing bin Laden into Hussein. They sent troops off to war without a plan. They have spent almost half a trillion dollars trying to get it right. They have cost tens of thousands of people their lives. And yet the true villains of 9/11 remain free. So many questions from that day remain unanswered. And worldwide terrorism has increased. If this is not a crime... what is?

They will likely never be held accountable for it, but it's important to know the truth.

Thank god for the Freedom of Information Act, that's for sure.


Get Together

"Come on people now
Smile on your brother
Everybody get together
Try to love one another
Right now"

As violence grows, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq has a message to its people. From the NY Times:
Mr. Khalilzad, in a conference call with reporters, said: "What we've seen in the past two days, the attack has had a major impact here, getting everyone's attention that Iraq is in danger."

The country's leaders, he added, "must come together, they must compromise with each other to bring the people of Iraq together and save this country."

I'd like to see that happen, but this isn't a new situation; it's merely the tipping point. These groups have hated each other from the beginning. This is nothing new. The violence isn't new, it's just intensified. Even before the bombing of the shrine, there seemed little hope of all sides finding common democratic ground. Now? Well, it just got that much harder. Not that it means Khalilzad shouldn't try, of course. It's just that idea of 'compromise' is not likely in this environment (see also: Israel/Palestine).

And President Bush said this: "Iraq remains a serious situation. But I'm optimistic."

You were optimistic before the war. How'd that turn out? Those are roadside bombs, not roses, they are throwing at our feet, sir. Perhaps it's time to start withdrawing our troops (who are a lightning rod for violence in that country) and start letting the Iraqis figure this out for themselves. I know, Mr. Bush, that you feel guilty for invading their country without a plan, for telling the insurgency to bring it on, and for wasting the goodwill (and treasury) of the American people on this war. But eventually we're gonna have to take the training wheels off their bike and let them go. Now seems a good time to start.

[See also- AP: Baghdad Sealed Off to Stem Violence]

Links of the Day: Republican Scandals Edition

It's Friday, so why not an all-Republican-scandals edition of today's links?


-Rather than bothering with proving his innocence, Libby just wants the case thrown out:
Special Counsel in Plame Case Invalid, Libby Contends

-The investigation into the crimes of Jack Abramoff goes global:
Abramoff ties to Russians probed

-Tom Delay tries to back away from one of his "closest and dearest friends", Jack Abramoff:
DeLay Writes Letters: It’s “Absolutely Untrue” That Abramoff Was “A Close Friend”

Bush Flinches On Port Deal

Not unexpected, of course. He never fights a battle he can't win.

Reuters: Bush would accept slight delay in ports deal- Rove
President George W. Bush would accept a slight delay in permitting Dubai Ports World to acquire a British company that operates six key U.S. ports, senior White House adviser Karl Rove told Fox News...

More than likely Bush and Rove hope the delay will allow the intense criticism to cool.

The AP also has a report- Delay Possible on Ports; Dems Want Probe

The AP further reports that the UAE company has agreed to the delay.

This reminds me somewhat of the ongoing debate over the President's NSA spying program. The President makes a major decision without oversight (except in this, Bush didn't even know about it!), Congress understandably flips out, Bush acts tough and assures everyone that not only is he is right but we are borderline traitors for questioning him, Congress flinches but still stands its ground, finally the President agrees to some retroactive oversight if they agree to rubberstamp his decision in the end, and Congress agrees and lays down arms.

Just another week in Washington DC.

Russell Shaw posts on how Republicans are falling into line-
They've Gotten The White House Talking Points: GOP, Talk Show Hosts Now Falling Into Line on Ports Deal

As Charles Krauthammer said on Fox News, "Democrats are not going to shift on this. Republicans will". Umm, you sure you wanna brag about that, Chuck?

[Related video- Lou Dobbs on CNN - The Bush-UAE Challenge]

Hoisted On His Own Petard

William Greider has a great article in The Nation on how 4+ years of Bush's fearmongering and political hysteria have come back to bite him...

The Boy Who Cried Wolf

Money quote passage-
Bush was the principal author, along with his straight-shooting Vice President, and now he is hoisted by his own fear-mongering propaganda. The basic hysteria was invented from risks of terrorism, enlarged ridiculously by the President's open-ended claim that we are endangered everywhere and anywhere (he decides where). Anyone who resists that proposition is a coward or, worse, a subversive. We are enticed to believe we are fighting a new cold war. But are we? People are entitled to ask. Bush picked at their emotional wounds after 9/11 and encouraged them to imagine endless versions of even-larger danger. What if someone shipped a nuke into New York Harbor? Or poured anthrax in the drinking water? OK, a lot of Americans got scared, even people who ought to know better.

So why is the fearmonger-in-chief being so casual about this Dubai business?

Because at some level of consciousness even George Bush knows the inflated fears are bogus.

What he said.

The Abortion Battles Begin?

Here is a seemingly local story with national implications...

NY Times: South Dakota Approves Bill Outlawing Nearly All Abortions
The South Dakota Senate today approved a bill that would outlaw nearly all abortions in the state, a measure that could become the most sweeping ban approved by a state in more than a decade.

If the bill is signed by Gov. Michael Rounds, a Republican who opposes abortion, advocates of abortion rights have pledged to challenge it in court immediately — and that is precisely what the bill's supporters have in mind...

With Chief Justice Roberts and Sam Alito's places on the Supreme Court secured, conservatives are already anticipating a Roe v. Wade rematch. Cases like this lay the groundwork. It is not the only case either. Earlier this week, it was reported that the Supreme Court "will consider the constitutionality of banning a type of late-term abortion". For reasons that I have honestly never understood, conservatives decided that abortion was the big issue of our times and they have dedicated over two decades to seeing it destroyed. With all that is happening in our country and the world, it is sad that this is still a major area of concern for them. I can understand some have legitimate moral concerns (somewhat hypocritical given other things conservatives support, like war), and I do sincerely respect that argument, but I think we could reach greater understanding by standing in someone else's shoes. The whole concept of 'choice' is not really that crazy.

But here we are. These battles will be fought. So... yea.

Damn, now I made myself depressed again. George Will was right! I guess ignorance would be bliss.

The Politics of Leaking

"Did the Bush administration 'authorize' the leak of classified information to Bob Woodward? And did those leaks damage national security?"

These are among the issues addressed in Murray Waas' newest article.

Recommended read.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Jurassic Beaver

One of the Intelligent Designer's lost inventions... revealed!

AP: Fossil Overturns Ideas of Jurassic Mammals

Bush: "People don't need to worry about security"

President Bush today:
"And so people don't need to worry about security. This deal wouldn't go forward if we were concerned about the security for the United States of America."

We don't need to worry about security? Sweet!! :D

So Mr. President, when will you be complying with surveillance laws and warrant requirements, restoring our system of three equal branches of government, and scaling back the civil liberty intrusions your administration has enacted in the name of the all-mighty war on terror? [*taps fingers*] ... Hello?

[PS- A must-read article by the Village Voice's Nat Hentoff:
The War on Privacy-
Rumsfeld warns that the enemy can succeed in changing our way of life. It already has.

As Civil War Escalates, Polls Show Majority Of Americans Oppose War

Even though the U.S. continues to deny it, civil war is underway in Iraq.

After the insurgent bombing of a Shiite shrine, the existing fighting has escalated and spread all over Iraq. The AP reports that "Gunmen shot dead 47 civilians and left their bodies in a ditch near Baghdad Thursday as militia battles and sectarian reprisals followed the bombing of a sacred Shiite shrine. Sunni Arabs suspended their participation in talks on a new government." Over 100 people have been killed in the last two days, including some journalists.

The U.S. continues to urge calm, but they long ago stopped listening to us.

A new Gallup poll (predating the bombing) has the numbers on support for Iraq-
More Americans than nearly ever before now say the war in Iraq is a "mistake" for the United States, according to a new Gallup poll. That figure now stands at 55%, up 4% point since late January. Only once before was the figure higher, at 59%, and that was during the period of overall pessimism right after Hurricane Katrina hit...

And yet, the odd aspect of this is that, despite the majority having opposed the war for some time now (since at least last summer), very few in Washington are vocalizing that opposition. No major Democratic candidates will come out on a platform involving opposition to our involvement in Iraq. The most high-profile candidate on that issue was Paul Hackett and he was forced out of the race by his own party. In Congress, Rep. Murtha has been very open about the realities of this war and no one's paying attention to him as if he's radical like Cindy Sheehan sipping margaritas with Hugo Chavez. Murtha said Iraq was in civil war months ago (little doubts there now) and that we need to begin redeploying our troops immediately for their safety as well as to not further stoke insurgency fires. The majority of the country seems to be at that stance already, so why are the politicians still hiding? No doubt they are scared of the political ramifications... but that's how we got into this mess in the first place! Cowed Democrats helped get us into this war, all I ask is for some Democrats with balls to help get us out.

Chris Matthews even touched on this issue somewhat on Monday's Hardball-
MATTHEWS: Is this the Democrats squeamish about running an out and out war critic? ... [T]hey don't seem to have one now in the whole country. I keep thinking of the race in Pennsylvania, we always talk about, the Bob Casey versus the incumbent senator. Nothing on the war really. You know, you think about where the war is going to be fought.

Here we have the biggest issue of our time, we argue about it here all the time. Most Americans argue about it over the dinner table, I assume, it's casualties, it's cost, it's a trillion dollars and nobody argues about the policy in elections.

FINEMAN: I think it's mystifying at this point. We sat around here at this table and said this is one of the biggest decisions any president would ever make on the war in Iraq and it's either right or it's wrong and the Democrats need to find a way to frame a message and I think they need war heroes to do it.

MATTHEWS: The stunning thing is the latest Gallup poll, the oldest poll we have in the country, 56 percent of the people say they don't think the war is something we should be fighting. They don't like this war. They don't believe in it, they don't think it was smart, and yet it's still treated as a weird marginal minority weirdo issue, like, oh, you're anti-war, you're kind of out of it. It's a strange disconnect.

He's right about that disconnect.

I've said it before- The Democrats need to go for broke and fight on these issues. Fight on the war! Fight on the ports! Fight on warrantless spying! Fight, fight, fight! What do they have to lose?

[PS- Even Bill O'Reilly wants us to get out of Iraq. Et tu, Bill'O?!]

Hey, Maybe He's A Nice Guy After All!

AP: Bolton takes U.N. colleagues to Knicks game
It was a night for the U.N. Security Council to forget scandals, global conflicts and divisive debates and watch cheerleaders, tumbling acrobats, a lopsided basketball game — and even catch a glimpse of Woody Allen.

At the invitation of U.S. Ambassador John Bolton, council members headed to Madison Square Garden on Wednesday to watch the New York Knicks get trounced 103-83 by the Miami Heat, their 17th loss in the last 19 games...

Bolton told reporters:
"It was a fun game despite the outcome, and I think it gave the ambassadors a real view of what happens in everyday America and gets them out of their bubble. I can't think of an event that's both more international ... but more American as well."

World peace surely can't be far behind now.

'I Forgot'...

...That will be Scooter Libby's defense.

In an affidavit, Libby's lawyer, Ted Wells, argued that:
"Given the urgent national security issues that commanded Mr. Libby's attention, it is understandable that he may have forgotten or misremembered relatively less significant events. Such relatively less important events include alleged snippets of conversation about Valerie Plame Wilson's employment status."

Ummm, yea, good luck with that, Scooty.

Alberto Gonzales added that if Libby were any more forgetful, he'd be a terrorist.

Related articles-
-Lawyers Say Libby Needs to Refresh Memory on Plame Talk
-Prosecutor Says Libby Seeks to Thwart Criminal Case
-Gonzales Withholding Plame Emails

"We will learn from the lessons of the past to better protect the American people"

...President Bush said that today in a Cabinet meeting discussing the White House's internal Katrina report. Ironic, no? The White House's report basically states: We coulda done better. Thanks for your hard work figuring that out, guys! I'm sure the people of the Gulf Coast appreciate your wrist slapping too. We understand how uncomfortable it would be to actually hold some people accountable for this.

The AP article on the report states-
The report says that despite people and resources sent after the storm hit, "the response to Hurricane Katrina fell far short of the seamless, coordinated effort that had been envisioned by President Bush" when he ordered the government to craft disaster response plans two years earlier.

Gee willickers, ya think?!

The next time an American city is being destroyed, they promise to get it right.

Finally, The Onion has the scoop on new changes being made to FEMA-

Ladies And Gentlemen, We Have A Wedge Issue...

Here is the 2006 version of the gay marriage electoral battles-

Drives to ban gay adoption heat up in 16 states
Efforts to ban gays and lesbians from adopting children are emerging across the USA as a second front in the culture wars that began during the 2004 elections over same-sex marriage.

Steps to pass laws or secure November ballot initiatives are underway in at least 16 states, adoption, gay rights and conservative groups say. Some, such as Ohio, Georgia and Kentucky, approved constitutional amendments in 2004 banning gay marriage...

Who do these gays think they are- taking in children in need of families?!! They're monsters!!!

I believe the wise philosopher Lewis Black said it best- "They don't know gays, so they're against gay marriage. Which is just unbelievable. I mean, after 9/11, that's something you're gonna fucking worry about now? You need a hobby! On the list of things we have to worry about, gay marriage is on page 6 after 'Are we eating too much garlic as a people?'."

Ports In A Storm

Well this article isn't going to help matters...

AP: Arab Co., White House Had Secret Agreement

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

The Port Deal: Layers of Controversy

Before my head explodes (as it often does), here some miscellaneous thoughts and nuances to this controversy... These are the other aspects of this multi-layered story I haven't blogged about yet.

Bur first, I am still in awe that the White House's defense is that, despite his veto-promise bravado yesterday, President Bush had no idea about the deal at all until the press reported the controversy! A MSN article this afternoon has the headline: "Bush was in dark on port deal". 'Nuff said. On an issue where his national security priorities are under attack, does the President really want to remind Americans of the perception that he is often in the dark?

Moving on, beside the legitimate security concerns, there may be even more tangible issues in question.

The first is that the administration did not comply with a federal law requiring a 45-day investigation of the deal. This administration sure does have a poor track record of following the law, doesn't it? As noted in the NY Times, "such an investigation is mandatory when the acquiring company is controlled by or acting on behalf of a foreign government. Administration officials said they conducted additional inquires because of the ties to the United Arab Emirates, but they could not say why a 45-day investigation did not occur". NY Senators Schumer and Clinton have called for that investigation to now take place; they were joined in that request by Mayor Bloomberg.

And don't forget that Sec. Rumsfeld claimed to only have learned about the deal a few days ago, even though he is a member of the Committee on Foreign Investments in the United States (which supposedly approved the deal). So there's definitely something fishy there.

The second reason, as reported in the Daily News, is cronyism concerns due to White House ties to the Dubai firm. Treasury Secretary John Snow was chairman of the CSX rail firm that sold its own international port operations to to the Dubai firm in 2004. Snow's Treasury Department is the agency that signed off on the deal. Also of concern is David Sanborn. Sanborn currently heads the U.S. Maritime Administration. He also runs the Dubai firm's European and Latin American operations. These concerns are something that investigation might want to look into.

The real reason that Bush is insisting on this deal appears to be out of military necessity. The UAE allows us access to their ports and airfields, which are a great location for us to base out of in our neverending wars in the Middle East. And if they want a lucrative port deal in return, we are hardly in a position to say no. Apparently, Sen. Warner confirmed as much on CNN tonight. As Digby notes, "It's nothing personal. It's strictly business."

Defenders of the deal say criticism is manufactured and irrational, noting that before this week no one cared about what companies controlled the ports. That's because we (like, apparently, President Bush) just found out about this issue last week when the story appeared in the papers. I admit my (naive?) ignorance in assuming that foreign governments, from any part of the world, did not control any U.S. ports. Out of curiousity, do we own ports in any other countries? At this point, I'll assume we do.

So globalization is a factor here too. I have never been a fan of it (in the capitalist sense, culturally it is a very good). Because of this phenomenon more and more Americans are forced to work shit jobs at Walmart or McDonalds because the real jobs are being sent overseas to be done by people who are paid pennies and treated like slaves. It hurts the U.S. economy and only furthers the rich/poor gap in the countries we export our businesses to. And people do get upset about that. So shouldn't we have an issue with foreign governments owning parts of our national infrastructure?

At the same time, I do not support economic isolationism. We all share this world and we should communicate with each other and share our cultures and goods. But President Bush has never wanted to really do that, except where economically convenient. He and fellow conservatives have spent the better part of the past 4-5 years thumbing their noses at the world and different cultures (yum, freedom fries!). But when it comes to state-owned corporations, well suddenly Bush is all hugs and politically correct. In summary- People bad, corporations good.

So I have no issue with foreign companies operating inside the U.S. and doing good business with us (and vice versa). We should have good-faith relationships. But a foreign government controlling ports is a whole other ball of wax.

The only real concern I would side with defenders of the deal is how Arabs will perceive this outrage. Reuters has an article about this stating that Arab analysts believe the opposition "reflects a Western phobia of Arabs which could scare off other Middle East investors". I understand their concern and lawmakers must be publically vocal in reassuring them that's not the case. The concerns here are very specific and not to be seen as an insult to the Middle East as a whole.

And to whatever extent that there is a race component to the outrage (from either right or left), it is merely the consequence of 4+ years of intense fear-mongering by the Bush administration. He is now sowing what he has reaped with his tactics. There is even a Reuters article detailing this exact point.

On the trust issue, this is also the result of Bush's breaches of trust (pre-war intelligence, etc). Those of us in cities like New York and New Orleans, who've suffered greatly as a result of Bush's incompetence, are certainly not likely to trust him on any issue of consequence.

Finally, there is some hypocrisy here from the right (on two levels).

The first is their previous lack of open concern for port security (their focus was on border security- darn those Mexicans!). John Kerry made port security a key campaign issue in 2004 and was blown off. On numerous occassions, Republican senators voted against bills that had port security fixes in them. Their anger this time likely originates from an existing, and growing, shift away from the White House due to numerous scandals.

The second level of hypocrisy is Congress suddenly being universally angry that the White House has denied them their oversight powers. Many of those speaking out now stood by the President when he declared his inherent constitutional authority to violate the FISA law and spy on Americans. As Atrios sarcastically noted, "Bush does, of course, have inherent authority under Article II to make all decisions relating to national security". Glenn Greenwald expanded on this in great detail, noting that "It is really quite astounding to watch Congressional Republicans fall all over themselves advocating legislation, on the grounds of national security, to force the President to reverse his decision about who is going to operate our ports. Many of these same Republicans have been defending Bush’s violations of FISA on the ground that Congress lacks constitutional authority to restrict or regulate the President’s Article II power to act unilaterally with regard to matters of national security".

Whatever their motivation (whether election year logistics or otherwise), it's good that everything is working together on this one. I am glad these Congressional Republicans have remembered that we have checks and balances in America, and that it is their job to hold the President accountable for his actions. Letting the President do his own thing without oversight can be very dangerous. I'll be counting on them to remember that as the NSA spying scandal continues on.

One thing is certain here- This will clearly not blow over anytime soon.

[Previous entries-
-Port Of Contention
-President Bush: 'I Have No Idea What Goes On In My Own Administration']

Portgate: Rebuttals

Not everyone thinks the port deal is a big issue.

To be fair to any reader(s) who's on that side, here's some links...

National Review: Un-American-
A disappointing and damaging response to the Dubai deal.

Washington Post: Port Security Humbug

ThinkProgress: COUNTERPOINT: In Pursuit of an Honest Debate On Dubai Ports Deal

Iraq: Civil War Escalated?

Here is the story in a nutshell... Earlier in the day, in Iraq, a famous Shiite shrine in Samarra was bombed by insurgents. It is believed this was attack was aimed at further pushing the country into civil war. USAToday notes that the bombing "has renewed fears of an escalation in violence between the country's Sunni and Shiite Muslim communities" and the AP notes that "the string of back-and-forth attacks seemed to push Iraq closer to all-out civil war than at any point in the three years since the U.S.-led overthrow of Saddam Hussein".

Reuters reports that reprisal attacks against Sunnis have already begun. The U.S. pledged to help restore the mosque and urged calm, but a lot of the anger is directed at the U.S. for allowing this to happen. This is only going to escalate in the days and weeks to come.

Time magazine has a photo essay on the bombing.

And Juan Cole has a good post that's making the rounds-
Shiite protests Roil Iraq
Tuesday was an apocalyptic day in Iraq. I am not normally exactly sanguine about the situation there. But the atmospherics are very, very bad, in a way that most Western observers will miss...

This is likely a turning point. And not the kind of corner-turning Bush promised us was happening.

Shit, meet fan.

Report: 98 Detainees Have Died In U.S. Custody Since 2002

Human Rights First has issued a troubling report on detainee deaths.

ThinkProgress has a summary-
Human Rights First just released a report concluding that since Aug. 2002, 98 detainees have died while in U.S. custody in the global war on terror. “According to the U.S. military’s own classifications, 34 of these cases are suspected or confirmed homicides; Human Rights First has identified another 11 in which the facts suggest death as a result of physical abuse or harsh conditions of detention.” The report also found that officials often failed to report the deaths and “effective punishment has been too little and too late.”...

Links of the Day

My mind is swirling with information today. Here's some of it...

-The White House will have its own assessment- My guess? They think they did a heckuva job:
White House to Issue Own Katrina Report

-Yahoo issues some odd bans on usernames:
Yahoo!Mail bans Allah and Dirty Harry handles

-Finally, the White House continues to fight investigations into its spying:
House Democrat says White House nixed NSA briefing

President Bush: 'I Have No Idea What Goes On In My Own Administration'

The President is feeling the heat on the port deal and this is him distancing himself...

AP: Bush Didn't Know About Ports Deal
President Bush was unaware of the pending sale of shipping operations at six major U.S. seaports to a state-owned business in the United Arab Emirates until the deal already had been approved by his administration, the White House said Wednesday.

Defending the deal anew, the administration also said that it should have briefed Congress sooner about the transaction, which has triggered a major political backlash among both Republicans and Democrats...

This, this, is his defense? That he is so clueless about the goings-on of his own administration that he was unaware that such a major deal was being worked on until it had already been approved? Once again, when the President comes under fire (for 9/11, for Iraq, for Katrina, for torture, etc), he passes the buck and claims ignorance on everything. Harry Truman he's not.

Yesterday, so sure was he of the importance of this deal, that he came out swinging to defend his good name and threatening vetos against any action Congress might dare to pass. Today... he's just some fucking idiot who had no idea the deal had even been made until he read about it in a memo. Call it the Donald Rumsfeld defense. I believe neither's accounts. It is presposterous that the President would have so adamantly defending a deal he wasn't aware of.

Is anyone buying this?

What's next? Bush will insist he got 'faulty intelligence' about the deal?

President Bush apparently realized he had to choose between being the guy who personally approved this universally controversial deal, or the guy who just stumbles around the White House while everyone else pulls the strings of power. Oddly, he seems to have chosen the latter. Of course, the cluelessness and incompetence of the President has never bothered his key supporters, so maybe he is correct in assuming it's preferable to the Executive arrogance he presented yesterday. I suppose Karl Rove made the call that incompetence will sell better than a direct bad decision.

As Jack Cafferty said yesterday, I would like to believe this is the straw that breaks the camel's back. Should this not finally convince Bush's remaining supporters that, not only can he not be trusted on national security, but that he doesn't even seem to want to be bothered with the basic duties of his office (except when he needs unprecedented executive powers to go around existing laws)? If not, what could possibly be the breaking point?

Would there ever be one?

And, finally, as pointed out by Digby and others, this super-secretive, national security President appears to have more trust in the United Arab Emirates government than he does in the United States Congress or the FISA court. He has made clear that there is no law, whether new or old, that will stop him doing what he wants in the name of the 'war'. And he will involve Congress and the Courts in the decisions and debates only when he sees fit to do so. In defending our freedoms, the President has declared himself the right to curtail many freedoms along the way. And yet now, when faced with bipartisan anger over this port deal, he says that WE are overreacting. How anyone can defend this man has long been beyond me.

Nothing this man says, or does, can be trusted. What has he done to make me believe otherwise?

Sorry your majesty, even you can't talk your way out of this mess.

Michelle Malkin's False Argument

The racist Coulter-wannabe Michelle Malkin is all giddy over the port controversy. Having spent years ranting against evil A-rabs on her website (even if it means hypocritically defending the free speech of Danish newspapers while simultaneously fighting America's own free press), Michelle says that she is glad treasonous liberals are joining her in the fight. In her new syndicated column (entitled 'They are all profilers now'), she says that she is pleased that Democrats and liberals are joining her in the racist profiling she has been advocating for years. She wishes.

What is happening here with the opposition to this port deal is not xenophobia or racism or profiling. It is simply an opposition to a foreign government (especially one with known terrorist ties), read: not individual people, controlling key parts of our national infrastructure.

Profiling is discriminating against individuals based on race or background. An example of profiling is the historically disgraceful internment of Japanese Americans during WWII (which Malkin wrote a book not just defending, but praising). Modern examples of profiling would be the U.S. government rounding up random Muslims, based on circumstancial evidence or even just suspicious names, and disappearing them to prisons without any due process. This too is greatly defended by those on the far right like Malkin... and criticized by those of us who choose to learn the lessons of history and demand justice for American citizens. That is profiling. And it is wrong.

The debate we are having over the ports is a legitimate, and possibly overdue, one.

Shame on Ms. Malkin for attempting to drag the debate down to her racist level, however unsurprising her response is.

Stories That Make Me Smile

Sometimes I come across a news item that you just gotta love. This is one- Bikers roll to military funerals to oppose anti-gay protests

Typical Bush

Here's an interesting story that is typical Bush...

Two weeks ago (just a week after the State of the Union address), 32 employees of the Energy Department's National Renewable Energy Laboratory were laid off due to Bush's budget cuts. This laboratory is, according to the Energy Department website, the "premier laboratory for renewable energy research and development and a leading laboratory for energy efficiency R&D". But that's just the beginning.

Yesterday, as part of his yes-I-am-(sorta)-serious-about-renewable-energy PR campaign, President Bush gave a speech at that same Energy Laboratory. The day before this speech, realizing how it would look for the President to speak at the lab where he'd just axed over two dozen employees (including eight researchers), the White House immediately reinstated the jobs. In his remarks yesterday, the President called the lay-offs a "discrepancy" and apologized for any "mixed signals" that were sent.

That's George W. Bush's governing in a nutshell right there.

If you're worried about losing your job, pray that Bush will need to use your office for a photo-op.

[Related article- Bush Continues Focus On Alternative Fuels]

Port Of Contention, Pt. II

The NY Times has a good editorial on the port story today-

The President and the Ports

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Port Of Contention

The President refuses to budge even an inch on the ports deal.

To all the conservatives mad at Bush on this, I say: Welcome to our world!

AP: Bush: Arab Co. Port Deal Should Proceed
President Bush said Tuesday that the deal allowing an Arab company to take over six major U.S. seaports should go forward and that he would veto any congressional effort to stop it...

...Bush called reporters to his conference room on the plane after returning from a speech in Colorado, addressing a controversy that is becoming a major headache for the White House. He said the seaports arrangement was "a legitimate deal that will not jeopardize the security of the country."...

Gee, I wonder why so few are willing to trust Bush on this one.

Bottom line: I feel it is wrong in general for foreign governments to have control over our ports. Any government. But when it is a legitimately suspicious government like the UAE, then cause for concern is even greater. There surely must be U.S. companies capable of doing the job, and just as eager for the work. Or was this simply of question of who was the highest bidder?

How cheap do our ports come, by the way?

Jack Cafferty said this today on CNN:
Wolf, this may be the straw that finally breaks the camel's back, this deal to sell control of six US ports to a company controlled by the United Arab Emirates. There are now actually Senators and Congressmen and Governors and Mayors telling the White House "you're not gonna do this." And it's about time. No one has said "no" to this administration on anything that matters in a very long time. Well this matters. It matters a lot. If this deal is allowed to go through, we deserve whatever we get. A country with ties to terrorists will have a presence at six critical doorways to our country. And if anyone thinks that the terrorists, in time, won't figure out how to exploit that, then we're all done. Nothing's happened yet, mind you, but if our elected representatives don't do everything in their power to stop this thing, each of us should vow to work tirelessly to see that they are removed from public office. We're at a crossroads - which way will we choose?

As usual, Cafferty hits the nail on the head in his straightforward style.

And ThinkProgress reports on what may be one of the more nonsensical aspects of this story... Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said this today about the deal: "I am reluctant to make judgments based on the minimal amount of information I have because I just heard about this over the weekend." Yet, as ThinkProgress notes, the White House has said the Defense Department was part of "a rigorous review" of the program. And, in addition, Rumsfeld is a key member of the Committee on Foreign Investments in the United States- the group which unanimously approved the sale on February 13.

So was Mr. Rumsfeld lying today? Or is he as forgetful as the terrorists? You decide.

The Bush administration criticism of their critics is based partially on their notion that is simply anti-Arab prejudice. That is pure nonsense; this is not an issue of Arabs' civil rights like those the left have rightfully defended over the past few years. It is simply about a suspect foreign government controlling key ports inside the United States.

The President stated "I want those who are questioning it to step up and explain why all of a sudden a Middle Eastern company is held to a different standard than a Great British company". Ignore that the United Arab Emirates has had legitimate ties to terrorism. He also said "I am trying to conduct foreign policy now by saying to the people of the world, `We'll treat you fairly.'" Sir, you long ago lost your credibility on foreign policy fairness. And how odd that George W. Bush is now suddenly so sensitive about race-based profiling.

Firedoglake has a take on this talking point: "How ironic is it that this Administration would whine about false racism when the facts so clearly point to their incompetence and lack of any real consideration of the risks involved in this back-door outsourcing deal, and their overriding need, again and again, to promote profit and cronyism and the quickie, secret deal for their pals over the safety of the American public?"

The crux of the story is, of course, President Bush's insistence that he would veto any law passed by Congress to stop this deal. This would, if done, be Bush's first ever veto in his 5+ years in office (he previously threatened a veto over the anti-torture bill before Congress overwhelmingly called his bluff). Think about that.

This President is planning to veto any legislative stops to this sale? The same President who fought tooth and nail to protect his right to torture people, even though it makes us war criminals in the eyes of the world? The same President who insisted we face such grave threats that we had to invade a sovereign nation with no ties to Al Qeada? The same President who has reneged on his pledge to rid his administration of the Plame leaker? The same President who thought Brownie did a heckuva job in New Orleans? The same President who believes our national security is so fragile that he can't even be bothered to get legally required warrants (even retroactively) to wiretap on Americans, even though it violates an essential bedrock of our democracy? The same President who wants to curtail the freedom of a press that exposes these wrongdoings? That same President?

Karl Rove wants a debate on national security priorities? Bring it on.

Why? Because read 'em and weep, Bush supporters- This President is happy to sell our ports to the highest bidder (terrorism connections be damned) and he doesn't care what you think. When his majesty has made up his mind, no cry of outrage from the commoners can dissuade him.

This Modern World

Strategic Redeployment

Ignoring that Rep. Murtha has had one for months, the Democrats finalize their strategy for Iraq...

Boston Globe: Democrats may unite on plan to pull troops

See Iraq withdrawal, deployment in region

After months of trying unsuccessfully to develop a common message on the war in Iraq, Democratic Party leaders are beginning to coalesce around a broad plan to begin a quick withdrawal of US troops and install them elsewhere in the region, where they could respond to emergencies in Iraq and help fight terrorism in other countries.

The concept, dubbed ''strategic redeployment," is outlined in a slim, nine-page report coauthored by a former Reagan administration assistant Defense secretary, Lawrence J. Korb, in the fall. It sets a goal of a phased troop withdrawal that would take nearly all US troops out of Iraq by the end of 2007, although many Democrats disagree on whether troop draw-downs should be tied to a timeline...

And Jack Reed casts aside the false argument made by war supporters-
Reed, an Army veteran and former paratrooper who has been charged with developing a party strategy on the war, said the plan is attractive to many Democrats because it rejects what he calls the ''false dichotomy" suggested by President Bush: that the only options in Iraq are ''stay the course" or ''cut and run."

And Eric Massa, one of the Fightin' Dems running for office, says-
''You can't stand in front of people and say, 'We want your vote,' and not tell people what it is they're voting for," said Massa, a former Navy officer. ''We all know that staying the course is not a strategy that's going to work."

Amen to that.

Now Democrats need to get out there and preach this plan to the masses.

Go now! Go!

[PS- Violence continues amid a clash with U.S. leaders on the makeup of the government:
Bomb kills 21 as Iraqi leaders urged to unite (AP)]

Folk Songs Of The Far Right Wing

Dean Opperman at the Huffington Post presents a commercial for a great music collection-

Folk Songs of the Far Right Wing

New Orleans: The Path To Recovery

With Mardi Gras season underway, New Orleans takes a great step forward on the road to recovery-

AP: New Orleans rebuilding plan takes shape
Long-awaited plans to rebuild New Orleans and compensate hundreds of thousands of hurricane victims took shape on Monday as Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco announced details of a program that would give homeowners up to $150,000.

It is the clearest recovery plan to emerge since Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast nearly six months ago and follows a White House request to Congress last week for an additional $4.2 billion in federal funds for Louisiana...

I recommend reading the full article... This really is the most clearly outlined plan they've released thus far. It's just a start, and this will take a great deal of time, but it's a sign that they're ready to rebuild. As Gov. Blanco said, "We're just beginning the process". The article also notes that uninsured citizens in the flood zones will be (mostly) covered in this plan as well. The article states that "Owners will be able to use the funds to rebuild, repair, relocate or accept a buyout of their mortgage". The plan is pending approval from Congress and Blanco does intend to get feedback from residents as well.

In related news, Harry Shearer has been blogging from Mardi Gras. An interesting read:
-What Kind of Carnival?
-A Carnival Diary, Part One
-Carnival Diary, part two
-Carnival Diary, part 3

[PS- Found these eye-opening videos of the aftermath in St. Bernard Parish: Katrina Videos]

"No one in future generations will be able to defend America's honor, without having this thrown back in their faces"

Andrew Sullivan writes about the war crimes committed under the Bush/Cheney administration-

A Transformative Issue

Darn that seditious conservative bastard!

Links of the Day

Okay, so nobody wants any Cookiepuss for my big celebration?

Oh well, more for me!

If you want, though, I do have these links as party favors-

-Once again, the 'national security' President proves he'll sell us all out if it's politically expedient:
Bush faces pressure to block port deal

-An unpopular abortion ban comes before the Courts; guess how Alito and Roberts will rule:
Justices to Weigh Late-Term Abortion Ban

-Abramoff was paid $1.2 million for his ability to organize a meeting with President Bush, even though the two obviously didn't know each other, despite what common sense and photographic evidence might otherwise suggest:
Ex-Malaysia PM: Abramoff Was Paid $1.2M

I'm Oscar! Dot Com!

Scooter Libby's defense trust has set up an official website for him...

Vice President Cheney vouches for him; what more do you people want??!

Celebrate With Me

According to Blogger, this is my 1,000th entry on this blog.

Let's celebrate. Anyone wanna pick up a Cookiepuss from Carvel?

"Our nation is on the threshold of new energy technology that I think will startle the American people"

Does he mean it literally this time? That would certainly startle me...

AP: Bush: U.S. on Verge of Energy Breakthrough
Saying the nation is on the verge of technological breakthroughs that would "startle" most Americans, President Bush on Monday outlined his energy proposals to help wean the country off foreign oil.

Less than half the crude oil used by refineries is produced in the United States, while 60 percent comes from foreign nations, Bush said during the first stop on a two-day trip to talk about energy....

...Energy conservation groups and environmentalists say they're pleased that the president, a former oil man in Texas, is stressing alternative sources of energy, but they contend his proposals don't go far enough. They say the administration must consider greater fuel-efficiency standards for cars, and some economists believe it's best to increase the gas tax to force consumers to change their driving habits...

Like the poster on Mulder's wall says- 'I want to believe'.

I really do.

Maybe we'll kick that oil habit yet... And the sky will fill with rainbows... The sky will be clear and the green land plentiful... And our new utopia will shine a light across the world... [*falls asleep on keyboard*]

Monday, February 20, 2006

Hackett Update

Paul Hackett is moving on after being pushed out of his Senate race...


Cites need to provide candidates early support that he never got from the party

Citing the need to help other candidates in the same situation he was in, former candidate for the US Senate Seat in Ohio and Iraq Veteran Paul Hackett is announcing his decision to join Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America Political Action Committee (IAVA PAC) today, as a member of the group's Board of Advisors. IAVA PAC will benefit those candidates, who like Hackett, are Iraq or Afghanistan Veterans seeking to continue their service to their country by seeking elected office.

"Anyone who was upset about what happened to my Senate campaign should support IAVA PAC to help ensure it happens to no one else," said Hackett...

Good for him.

You can find out more about this organization- here.

[Related blog post-
Searching for the Democrats - The National Security Rap]

Coalition Of American Churches Denouce U.S. Policy

Here is an interesting story I came across today... U.S. church alliance denounces Iraq war
A coalition of American churches sharply denounced the U.S.-led war in Iraq on Saturday, accusing Washington of "raining down terror" and apologizing to other nations for "the violence, degradation and poverty our nation has sown."

The statement, issued at the largest gathering of Christian churches in nearly a decade, also warned the United States was pushing the world toward environmental catastrophe with a "culture of consumption" and its refusal to back international accords seeking to battle global warming.

"We lament with special anguish the war in Iraq, launched in deception and violating global norms of justice and human rights," said the statement from representatives of the 34 U.S. members of World Council of Churches. "We mourn all who have died or been injured in this war. We acknowledge with shame abuses carried out in our name."...

Part of the statement released by the groups reads-
"Our country responded [to the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks] by seeking to reclaim a privileged and secure place in the world, raining down terror on the truly vulnerable among our global neighbors ... entering into imperial projects that seek to dominate and control for the sake of national interests. Nations have been demonized and God has been enlisted in national agendas that are nothing short of idolatrous."

The statement released also spoke of how Katrina exposed those "left behind" in our country. It also says that the churches had "grown heavy with guilt" for not speaking out sooner on these issues.

When Al Gore says these things, he is labeled as "seditious" by the right.

But what do they say when the same honest sentiments are espoused by the Christian leaders whom they court for votes and whose views they misrepresent for political gain? I am sure, though, that there is friction between various U.S. churches on where they stand on this issue. But I am also sure that the majority of the religious community here has grown increasingly unable to square the moral teachings of Christianity with the decidedly immoral behavior of the Bush administration.

Karl Rove is no doubt thinking of a new boogeyman to scare them all into shape again.

Links of the Day

Happy President's Day! Now, how come I don't have off? James Polk would be pissed.

Here's some links...

-Chertoff is reassuring us on the port deal? The guy who let New Orleans drown? No, thank you:
Chertoff says Dubai port deal includes safeguards

-Speaking of New Orleans, some in Congress want major FEMA changes:
Lawmakers Call for Overhauling FEMA

-And Homeland Security is protecting us... from internet porn:
Policing Porn Is Not Part of Job Description

King George Has A Lot To Hide, Pt. II

Earlier, I posted about White House efforts to stop legitimate Congressional investigations into the President's warrantless wiretapping activities. Their efforts to do so are only continuining to ruffle Congressional feathers and reveals much about their fears.

As Glenn Greenwald again notes, this frantic desperation to stop investigations debunks the Rove-ian talking point that the administration welcomed this debate, because they believe it's a "win" for them politically. But their actions speak louder than words. They fear this scandal and have done everything they could to keep it out of the public spotlight. They have politically threatened Republicans, made bargains with Senators, and characterized any critics as sympathizers to Al Qaeda.

Their excuse for fighting these inquiries is that investigations could betray our secrets to our enemies. Yet common sense tells you that terrorists already know we are spying on them and the basics of what such surveillance entails. Besides, no planned investigations were going to get into operational details of the program, just its legality... And that's the issue where the administration knows they are wrong. They broke the law. And their desire to squash any debates on that issue trumps their faux-tough posturing on it.

Bottom line, they are not behaving like men who are sure they are right.

Also contrary to their talking points, the fire on this scandal is coming not from partisan Democrats (who actually have been fairly silent on this one), but rather from high-ranking Republicans. Nonsensically, right-wing bloggers continue to portray this is a partisan conflict (even as Democrats remain silent); it is not. It is, in reality, a classic constitutional conflict over the issue of checks and balances. And the most outspoken critics of the President's action have been reliable Republican players like Arlen Specter, Lindsey Graham, John McCain, Olympia Snowe, and Chuck Hagel, among others. As proof of how genuine conservative anger over this is, when Sen. Roberts appeared to be caving to administration pressure on hearings, his hometown paper- the Wichita Eagle- wrote an editorial questioning his credibility and called him a "reliable partisan apologist for the Bush administration on intelligence and security controversies" and worrying that he seemed "prepared to write the Bush team a series of blank checks to conduct the war on terror, even to the point of ignoring policy mistakes and possible violations of law".

This scandal and outrage is real and even Karl Rove can't make it go away.

Now bring on the hearings.

King George Has A Lot To Hide

"[Critics] are only opposed to this because they don’t want anyone finding out what they’ve been up to. … What have you folks been doing that you so desperately want to keep hidden?"
--Rush Limbaugh (December 22, 2005)

Makes sense, I guess. If you've done nothing wrong, you have nothing to hide, right?

Bush administration, what do you think?...

Washington Post: White House Working to Avoid Wiretap Probe

But Some Republicans Say Bush Must Be More Open About Eavesdropping Program

At two key moments in recent days, White House officials contacted congressional leaders just ahead of intelligence committee meetings that could have stirred demands for a deeper review of the administration's warrantless-surveillance program, according to House and Senate sources.

In both cases, the administration was spared the outcome it most feared, and it won praise in some circles for showing more openness to congressional oversight.

But the actions have angered some lawmakers who think the administration's purported concessions mean little. Some Republicans said that the White House came closer to suffering a big setback than is widely known, and that President Bush must be more forthcoming about the eavesdropping program to retain Congress's good will...

The NY Times also has a story today on the issue-
But two days before Mr. Bush spoke, the White House opened the door to talks in the hope of avoiding a full-scale Congressional investigation. According to lawmakers involved in the discussions, a number of senior officials, including Harriet E. Miers, the White House counsel, and Andrew H. Card Jr., the chief of staff, began contacting members of the Senate to determine what it would take to derail the investigation.

WOW. Talk about desperate, no?

Sabotaging investigations. How Nixonian of them (or Clinton-esque for those on the right).

Nice to see King George more worried about his power and secrecy than Congress' legitimate concerns.

If only he was this concerned about capturing Osama...

[PS- Resources for debunking White House arguments:
-NSA legal arguments
-King-George-gate: Myths v. Realities]

Meeting The Press

One would assume a big political nerd like me would watch "Meet The Press" every week. Yet somehow I usually can't manage to subject myself to the masturbatory farce that is Tim Russert's Sunday Morning Beltway Circle Jerk. I would rather be shot in the face by the Vice President than sit through a full episode. Luckily for me, there are many who do watch and fill us all in on the frightening details. I did see clips and transcripts of yesterday's installment and, boy, did I miss a good one.

The star (and I mean literally- Russert gave her the bulk of the air time) was former Bush/Cheney advisor Mary Matalin. The topic on hand (as if you didn't guess already) was the Cheney shooting story. Ms. Matalin was there in a praying mantis stance ready to pounce on anyone who tried to talk around the official White House talking points. This picture shows her working her claws, ready to snap away-

This made for interesting TV because among her fellow panel guests were David Gregory, one of the few members of the White House Press Corp with the balls to take McClellan to task for his lies, and Maureen Dowd, the deliciously saucy diva of the NY Times editorial staff. Gregory and Dowd both tried to refute Matalin's discrepancy-filled version of the shooting story, as well as put the outrage into the larger context of a secretive, imperial White House. Matalin showed her true colors as Mr. Gregory was questioning her and she went all Malkin on him...
GREGORY: The vice president's office doesn't feel an obligation to disclose that to the American people directly. You do it through a ranch owner in Texas? It just -- it just strikes me as odd.

MATALIN: It strikes you as odd because you live in a parallel universe....

GREGORY: If you thought he did everything right... why did you do a big national interview this week?

MATALIN: Because you went on a jihad, David. For four days you went on a Jihad.

GREGORY: And that's an unfortunate use of that word, by the way. This is not what that was.

(Bold added by me)

If there was any doubt as to the maturity (or lack thereof) of Matalin's arguments, this exchange erased them. Apparently, in the world of Bush/Cheney followers, demanding honesty and accountability from the White House is tantamount to a jihadist attack. As Steve at Left Coaster notes, this was "a prime example of how this administration’s defenders manage to equate criticism and dissent with terrorism" and how "Matalin lapsed into that pathetic 'you criticize us, you are a terrorist' mindset all too easily." Hey she did work for Dick Cheney and George Bush, so she learned from the masters.

If you want to see video of this mess, Crooks and Liars has the goods.

And, as always, Arianna dissects the show in her weekly Russert Watch:
Russert Watch: The Mary Matalin Horror Show

Republican Ethics Reform Coming Along As Quickly As The Freedom Tower

Voters don't need to elect a Democratic majority, the Republicans say. They'll just clean up Washington themselves!

And they plan to start any day now. Yep, any day now...

Washington Post: Promise to Shore Up Ethics Loses Speed

GOP Schedule Slips In House; Senate Panels to Act Soon

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Is There a Case for Impeachment?

I want to go to this-

You can order tickets- here.

"Anything you want me to do??"

You can always judge how badly government officials were fucking up by the emails involved.

The Abramoff/Scanlon emails, for example, provided a great insight into their criminal mindset.

And let's not forget the emails of Michael 'Fashion God' Brown.

Now Newsweek has a look at some more of the Katrina emails-
The Back-Channel Chatter After Katrina

A series of previously unreleased e-mails shows an administration in chaos in the wake of the storm.

More great work from the party of national security.

King George and Prime Minister Cheney: Who Has The Power?

Who really runs this country? And just how much control does this President have over his Vice? Who does the Vice President answer to, if anyone? An old debate rages anew in the wake of the shooting imbroglio...

Newsweek has a great cover story looking inside the secret world of Dick Cheney:
The Shot Heard Round the World-

He peppered a man in the face, but didn't tell his boss. Inside Dick Cheney's dark, secretive mind-set—and the forces that made it that way.

Dick Cheney has never been your normal politician. He has never seemed as eager to please, as needy for votes and approval and headlines as, say, Bill Clinton. Cheney can seem taciturn, self-contained, a little gloomy; in recent years, his manner has been not just unwelcoming but stand-offish. This is not to say, however, that he is entirely modest and self-effacing, or that he does not crave power as much as or more than any office-seeker. This, after all, is a man who, in conducting a search for George W. Bush's vice president, picked himself...

And what an excellent choice he made.

One key section describe's Cheney role in the crucial morning of 9/11-
Cheney testified to the 9/11 Commission that he spoke with President Bush before giving an order to shoot down a hijacked civilian airliner that appeared headed toward Washington. (The plane was United Flight 93, which crashed in a Pennsylvania field after a brave revolt by the passengers.) But a source close to the commission, who declined to be identified revealing sensitive information, says that none of the staffers who worked on this aspect of the investigation believed Cheney's version of events. .... Legally, Cheney was required to get permission from his commander in chief, who was traveling (but reachable) at the time. If the public ever found out that Cheney gave the order on his own, it would have strongly fed the view that he was the real power behind the throne.

But does Cheney still wield that level of power? Recent events may have changed that-
Cheney unquestionably exerted enormous influence on Bush in those early days. But Bush's aides say that the president has become less dependent on Cheney for advice, particularly in foreign affairs. The two men still have private lunches, but no longer every week. There are signs now that Bush listens to more-moderate voices on national security. On a range of foreign-policy crises, from Iran to North Korea, Cheney's forward-leaning posture has given way to the mainstream, multilateralist approach advocated now by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Of course, when the White House is ever questioned on these cracks, we get the standard "Everything's fine! They couldn't be closer" blow-off remarks we always get. My personal guess is that Plamegate was the tipping point for President Bush. I think even most Bush critics agree that the conspiracy to destroy Joseph Wilson originated from Cheney's office (though Bush was no doubt more aware of events than he lets on). And as expected, as the investigation deepens, all arrows point directly to Dick Cheney as the guy behind it all. Damaging national security for political gain is nothing new to the Bush administration, but no doubt King George was less than pleased with how this whole mess is turning out.

However, considering their shared lust for power, I'm sure those two kids will work it out.

Both share the goal of strengthening Executive power at all costs, both share of a disdain of the press, a disdain of the process of governing in general (as Katrina made clear), and an unwillingness to acknowledge the harsh realities caused by their failed policies. In the end, I think they have more in common than the press portrays. Unfortunately for us.

Newsweek's Jonathan Alter has a column describing the shooting as a metaphor for Cheney:
The Imperial (Vice) Presidency-
Since Cheney doesn't have a real chance of moving up, he felt he could change the rules.

Finally, Time magazine also has a cover story with a similar theme...
One Thousand and Sixty-five Days to Go-

Bush had to lean on Cheney to talk publicly about the gun accident, but the real challenge for the two is how to get the Administration back on track

One thousand and sixty-five days? My god, now that is depressing.

I'm gonna go lay down now...

Lost In Translation

Ever listen to Republicans speak, but can't understand a word they say?

Then you need the Republican-To-English Dictionary! Some sample entries...

*class warfare/ n./* Any attempt to raise the minimum wage.
*faith/ n./* The belief that the Beatitudes include "Blessed are the rich" and "Blessed are the warmakers."
*voter fraud/ n./* A significant minority turnout
*staying the course interj./ Slang/.* Continuing to perform the same actions and expecting different results. (See: insanity.)
*pro-life/ adj./* Valuing human life up until birth
*laziness/ n./* When the poor are not working
*leisure time/ n./* When the wealthy are not working

See the guide for more helpful translations! Keep this dictionary handy if traveling abroad to Washington DC.

Who Does President Bush Turn To For Environmental Advice...

....Science-fiction novelists.

No, I don't believe I am surprised here.

NY Times: Bush's Chat With Novelist Alarms Environmentalists
In his new book about Mr. Bush, "Rebel in Chief: Inside the Bold and Controversial Presidency of George W. Bush," Fred Barnes recalls a visit to the White House last year by Michael Crichton, whose 2004 best-selling novel, "State of Fear," suggests that global warming is an unproven theory and an overstated threat.

Mr. Barnes, who describes Mr. Bush as "a dissenter on the theory of global warming," writes that the president "avidly read" the novel and met the author after Karl Rove, his chief political adviser, arranged it. He says Mr. Bush and his guest "talked for an hour and were in near-total agreement."...

...."This shows the president is more interested in science fiction than science," Frank O'Donnell, president of Clean Air Watch, said after learning of the White House meeting. Mr. O'Donnell's group monitors environmental policy.

Mr. Bush was also very interested to learn the location of the secret island where all the dinosaurs live now.