Saturday, April 01, 2006

President Bush Today: "I Have Failed My Country, And I Apologize."

President Bush just apologized for all the failures of his administration!!!


This is, of course, an April Fool's joke. I believe the real President Bush is still down in Mexico talking to that nation's leaders and assuring them that, as long as his corporate sponsors have their way, Mexican immigrants will have plenty of thankless jobs waiting for them here. But uhhh, sorry, no citizenship. That might make some people here uncomfortable.

I guess the real April Fool's joke is on all of us.

'Who Do You Stand With?'

Check the mind-bogglingly Orwellian ad the RNC created in response to the censure issue-

Crooks and Liars has video- here.

I'll sum it up for you... 9/11, 9/11, be really scared, 9/11, 9/11, are you scared yet, 9/11.

The War On... Christians?

Bill Maher had an amazing rant on the paranoid christianist Republican majority.

You can see video here- Bill Maher On Oppressed Christians

Money quote from it:
"And the worst part is that the people bitching loudest about being persecuted for their Christianity aren't Christians at all. They're demagogues and con-men and scolds, and the only thing they worship is power. If you believe Jesus ever had a good word for war or torture or tax cuts for the rich or raping the Earth or refusing water to dying migrants, then you might as well believe bunnies lay painted eggs."

Censure King George, Pt. II

A roundup on the censure hearings. Nothing was settled, the point was just to debate the resolution.

Also, it looked like all the Democrats but Leahy and Feingold ditched. Shameful.

Firedoglake has a detailed summary...
-Censure Hearings, Part I
-Censure Hearings, Part II
-Censure Hearing, Part III
-Thoughts on the Censure Hearing

Read those links for the full details (FDL's Christy Hardin Smith really did a great job in her coverage).

Here, in short (relatively), are what I think are the important things that came out of it... In his opening statement, Sen. Specter did lament how the media is virtually ignoring these hearings. It's a good point, but the media is too busy covering how Specter's party is debating what to do with all the Mexicans. Sen. Leahy was fiery in his statements against what the administration is doing and said he believes censure is an appropriate response. He immediately blows off the AUMF legal rationale, noting rightly that the President's behavior is not what Congress authorized and the President knows it. He notes the main purpose of that authorization was for the President to go after Osama bin Laden, which the President seems to have given up on anyway. Zing! He said what the administration has been doing "is 'Alice In Wonderland' gone amok".

Sen. Feingold opened first by reacting with confusion to Republican efforts to enact legislation to, in effect, legalize the President's behavior (more on this later). He said not only does this undermine their 'inherent authority' defense for the President, it is pointless since the issue here is the President violates the laws he does not like. Feingold notes that the system of three co-equal branches is in danger and unless Congress stands up against this, they are complicit in this behavior.

On the more apologist Republican side, Orrin Hatch was particularly odious in his defenses, with Jeff Sessions and Lindsey Graham close behind, and with the latter at least pretending to be agreeable to dissenting arguments. Sen. Hatch made no real effort to debate the resolution on its merits, simply being content with playing the wartime card. He said in such times we should not "weaken the Commander-in-Chief". Hatch also used the false argument that is about punishing the President for fighting the war on terror. Sen. Sessions basically made the same argument, stating that the national uproar over this has died down anyway, that we need to spy on Al Qaeda (as if anyone questioned that), and how censure would endanger our troops. He also managed to say with a straight face, "Our President is an honest man. He is a candid man.", something I'm sure most Americans would disagree with. Sen. Graham said he understands why this debate is important, but that censure isn't constructive and that Congress would be better served trying to work with President on this matter. He ignores the unpleasant fact that the President is wholly uninterested in cooperating with them on this.

The witnesses who did not support censure (Prof. Robert Turner, Lee Casey, John Schmidt) basically all made the same argument- inherent constitutional authority- with different examples. Turner was the most extreme, stating the President needs to regain the powers taken away in the post-Nixon, post-Vietnam era (and gee, I wonder why presidential power become an issue then?). He even said at one point that who needed to be censured was the Congress that originally passed the FISA law for attempting to undermine the President. Ignore that that was 30 years ago and the law has worked fine since then (Leahy noted at one point that the Justice Department even bragged in 2002 about how well FISA works). The others just talked about inherent authority and foreign surveillance, ignoring the domestic aspect of the wiretapping that has sparked this debate.

Sen. Leahy had a fantastic comeback on the inherent authority argument, which I must highlight here. He noted that while the President may have the authority to gather intelligence, Congress has the power to regulate the means. That's a key point.

The witnesses in favor of censure were former Nixon counsel John Dean and constitutional scholar Bruce Fein. Dean used his firsthand experience with executive overreach and presidential wrongdoing to speak about the dangers of what can happen when a President pushes his power to the limits. A transcript of some of his statements can be found- here.

Fein provided the best testimony of the bunch, noting similar concerns to Dean's on what happens to a republic when we slowly make compromises on its basic tenets. He said that because a war on terror is by definition endless, we need to be careful to not give up our system of checks and balances in its name. Protecting these rights now is important, before the aftermath of a second attack down the line sees them ripped apart even further. He argued that the White House has barely notified Congress about this and that he has been holding information back (some have criticized the leak by the NY Times, but without that reporting, we would nothing about this). The full Congress must be notified about these things. He also noted at one point that the Bush administration is purposely distorting this debate to scare the public. He also stated that if the President truly believed the law were inadequate, he had an opportunity after 9/11 (when Congress was pretty much receptive to anything) to get major legislative changes. And after Schmidt blew off comparisons of this to the administration's behavior on the torture issue, Fein asserted that both are pieces of a large puzzle- the theory that the President has unlimited power in wartime.

During the hearing, there was a lot of talk about "good faith" versus "bad faith"- ie. if the President break the law, but did so in good faith, than the situation is less severe. I can buy that idea to an extent, but considering all that we've seen this administration do, it seems naive to make an assumption of good faith. The numerous misleading statements alone show a deceitful nature to their actions.

Also, a lot of the back-and-forth Specter and Graham conducted with the witnesses revolved around their respective plans for passing legislation to bring the program under the law and within oversight. These efforts miss the entire larger point of this debate... the fact that the President believes he is above the law. That's how this whole thing started. See this cartoon for a humorous take on this mindset of these Senators. After all, who's to say the President will ever agree to any new legislation? And even if he does agree, he would only throw on a signing statement (like with the torture ban and the Patriot Act reauthorization) effectively neutering it anyway. These Senators want to play nicey-nice with the White House, blissfully ignoring the fact that its inhabitants hold them in very low regard. Until the Congress addresses this root problem, everything they do and every bill they pass is window dressing. As John Dean noted, censure makes a powerful statement that the Congress will stand up on these issues.

And that's why it's important.

Crooks and Liars has a video clip of Sen. Feingold plugging Glenn Greenwald's fantastic work on this.

And here is the AP report:
Nixon aide testifies at Bush censure hearing-

Focus is president’s controversial domestic surveillance program

And the NY Times covers it too: Senate Debates Resolution to Censure the President

[PS- Anonymous Liberal dissects the problems with the 'good faith' defense.]

Republicans Are In Electoral Trouble!

You know what that means!!!


Bring on the 'values' voters! After all, there's nothing else important happening these days!

Columbus Dispatch: DeWine wants to ban gay unions-
Republican now backs amending Constitution

Ohio Sen. Mike DeWine said yesterday that he will take a lead role in pushing for a U.S. constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage, at least in part to regain support from unhappy conservatives in his state...

...Although DeWine is expected to easily win the May Republican primary, he faces a stern challenge in November from Rep. Sherrod Brown, of Avon, the likely Democratic nominee for the Senate race. To prevail, DeWine will need a heavy turnout from conservatives, many of whom are unhappy with him on issues of same-sex marriage and curbing immigration...

As the wise philosopher 'Dubya' once said, "Fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can't get fooled again." I wonder how many times Republican voters will let themselves be fooled with these tricks. I suppose we'll find out in November, won't we?

[PS- The Wall Street Journal's website has a great flash-based map of how key contests are shaping up-
Battleground States Poll]

Cameras in the Supreme Court?

The Senate says yes...

...Supreme Court Justices strongly say no.

I am open to the idea, but in the end I would say no. Cameras should be discouraged from most courtrooms; the media circus atmosphere is very contagious. Certainly I agree that as one of the three branches of government, we might want more openness from the Court, but the reporting we get from there now seems perfectly adequate. Letting the media in full throttle would likely create unnecessary drama.

Friday, March 31, 2006

Those Sixteen Words

"The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa. Our intelligence sources tell us that he has attempted to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes suitable for nuclear weapons production."
-President George W. Bush in his State of the Union address (January 28, 2003)

Those are the words that will continue to haunt President Bush for the remainder of his time of his time in office. Those are the words that launched a war... Of course, those words were not true and evidence has been trickling out in the past couple years shows that the President was more aware than he claims of that pesky fact. Joseph Wilson was the first to expose this, leading his opponents in the White House to leak his wife's secret CIA status. See how all these scandals connect?

The National Journal's Murray Waas has been covering this story extensively (see past entries). Now he has a new article up focusing specifically on what the President knew about the Saddam claim before he made the speech and the lengths to which Karl Rove went to cover that up before the 2004 election.

As always, a recommended read-

Karl Rove, President Bush's chief political adviser, cautioned other White House aides in the summer of 2003 that Bush's 2004 re-election prospects would be severely damaged if it was publicly disclosed that he had been personally warned that a key rationale for going to war had been challenged within the administration. Rove expressed his concerns shortly after an informal review of classified government records by then-Deputy National Security Adviser Stephen J. Hadley determined that Bush had been specifically advised that claims he later made in his 2003 State of the Union address -- that Iraq was procuring high-strength aluminum tubes to build a nuclear weapon -- might not be true, according to government records and interviews...

On insulating the President from the ensuing scandal he notes-
"Presidential knowledge was the ball game," says a former senior government official outside the White House who was personally familiar with the damage-control effort. "The mission was to insulate the president. It was about making it appear that he wasn't in the know. You could do that on Niger. You couldn't do that with the tubes." A Republican political appointee involved in the process, who thought the Bush administration had a constitutional obligation to be more open with Congress, said: "This was about getting past the election."

That's all that mattered to them. Winning the election. Holding onto power.

And what did the President know? Quite a lot; many concerns were aired to him-
In mid-September 2002, two weeks before Bush received the October 2002 President's Summary, Tenet informed him that both State and Energy had doubts about the aluminum tubes and that even some within the CIA weren't certain that the tubes were meant for nuclear weapons, according to government records and interviews with two former senior officials.

Official records and interviews with current and former officials also reveal that the president was told that even then-Secretary of State Colin Powell had doubts that the tubes might be used for nuclear weapons.

The President made the claim publically anyway (not just at the State in the Union), likely believing that the war would go well and no one would therefore care enough to dig into all of this. His mistake.

Booman Tribune has an excellent, detailed breakdown of the article.

The more we learn about this war, the more it stinks. But we knew that already. As Josh Marshall notes in his analysis, "The cover-up on this one is deep. Really deep. And much of it has yet to be uncovered. "

[PS- Rep. John Conyers wants the Hadley memo made public:
Release the Hadley Memo]

Censure King George

The Senate Judiciary Committee has hearings on the censure resolution this morning.

Details and a witness list- here.

I'm not sure I expect the Committee to take this seriously, but kudos to Sen. Feingold for continuing this debate.

Some relevants links of interest...

-Feingold asks Watergate figure to testify on censure resolution

-Specter: Censure Could Reach Floor

-Bill Would Speed Challenge to Surveillance

C-SPAN junkies = stoked.

'Mr. President, Tear Down Build Up That Wall!'

Wow, this whole immigration debate sure is a hot topic. It's all the kids talk about these days.

Digby has a great post up on the debate, particularly how it's being spun by the punditocracy. I particularly wanted to highlight the following part where he looks at the larger issues looming over this debate-
[A]ccording to the latest Democracy Corps poll, the single most important foreign policy issue is globalization and outsourcing. It's more important than terrorism and Iraq. I found that surprising. It explains why there is so much anxiety over immigration right now. The threat of cheap foreign labor is very real to people, they feel powerless to stop it, and the most immediate face of it is low wage Latino migration to the US.

The forces shaping this are massive and it cannot be finessed by crude nativist rhetoric no matter how much people want to run populist campaigns and are tempted to pull out that well-worn playbook. The sharp feelings about immigration right now are a symptom of something much bigger and dislocating than latino day laborers --- and it seems that on some level, the public knows it. It's possible that politicians can cynically divert voters' angst over globalization by stoking anti-immigrant fervor, but it appears to me that it would be a short term solution at best. Deporting every illegal immigrant and putting up a 25 foot wall won't solve this problem. Globalization will continue apace, people will still want to buy massive quantities of cheap disposable stuff and working people are going to be squeezed.

I think this nails it. The global economy built on the backs of cheap, disposable labor that these politicians worship is what fuels the demand from within our borders of illegal immigrant workers. Until these politicians make efforts to address that issue, they are just paying lip issue to the problem while feeding it behind their backs.

It is their fault, and not the immigrants, that Americans are losing more and more jobs.

The blame lies with the politicians and corporations for that. They're the ones who love to close down plants and outsource American jobs to Asian countries because it helps their bottom line. They're the ones who don't want to pay American workers a living wage, so they bring in immigrants who will do the work cheap, often off-the-books for less than minimum wage and in unhealthy working environments. They're the ones who cave to the interests of big-box retailers like Walmart who push small businesses out of business (and are also a big abuser of undocumented foreign workers). They're the ones who are quite happy to have illegals raise their kids and mow their lawns, but who are condemning them in public. And they're the ones who have been screwing over actual Republican working and middle classes year after year under the knowledge that they can use hot-button issues like this to distract come election time.

While enforcing the laws and borders is important, we shouldn't focus the debate on demonizing the people who just want to provide for their families and become a part of our country. Unless your great great grandfather was in the Nez Perce tribe, we all are here because of that desire. As I said in my last post on this issue, if the politicians want to see the root of this problem, all they need to do is look in the mirror and look who finances their campaigns.

Meanwhile, the President tries to play the figure of compromise on the issue...

...while his xenophobic base feels betrayed.

And slowly but surely, they all drive away the immigrant community from the Republican party.

Long Road Back For The Big Easy

Just some general updates on New Orleans. First on the rebuilding-

AP: New Orleans Recovery Could Take 25 Years
A full recovery in New Orleans could take 25 years as homeowners, businesses and tourists are coaxed back to the city devastated by Hurricane Katrina, the Bush administration's Gulf Coast recovery coordinator said Thursday...

Then on the preparation for the upcoming hurricane season-

Reuters: New Orleans to be emptied for next storm: officials
Everyone in New Orleans must evacuate the low-lying city the next time a hurricane threatens and no shelters will be offered for those who stay, officials said on Tuesday.

Hoping to avoid a repeat of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina when thousands struggled to survive after ignoring evacuation orders, they said planes, trains and buses would be used to move people out and the Superdome football stadium would not be open for refuge...

Plus Harry Shearer continues to do great blogging on the story...

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Jill Carroll Is Free

Kidnapped journalist Jill Carroll has been freed.

It's great news... And I can only imagine how her family is feeling today. 'Wonderful day': Journalist Carroll freed in Iraq

Scalia To America: 'Fuck You'

From the Boston Herald-
Amid a growing national controversy about the gesture U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia made Sunday at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross, the freelance photographer who captured the moment has come forward with the picture...

...Smith was working as a freelance photographer for the Boston archdiocese’s weekly newspaper at a special Mass for lawyers Sunday when a Herald reporter asked the justice how he responds to critics who might question his impartiality as a judge given his public worship.

“The judge paused for a second, then looked directly into my lens and said, ‘To my critics, I say, ‘Vaffanculo,’ ” punctuating the comment by flicking his right hand out from under his chin, Smith said.

The Italian phrase means “(expletive) you.”...

Looks like he has a potty mouth just like his hunting buddy Dick Cheney.

Keep in mind this is who the right-wing wanted to be Chief Justice.

This is an addition to unsuccessful calls for Scalia to recuse him from a case debating the rights of enemy combatants after making strong public comments indicating he has already made up his mind on the matter. Details of the saga via the links below...

Newsweek: Supreme Court: Detainees' Rights—Scalia Speaks His Mind

ThinkProgress: Scalia apparently rejects calls for recusal

NY Observer: So Who Put the Temper In Judicial Temperament?

SCOTUSblog: Analysis: Hard day for government in Hamdan case

I wonder if the same conservatives who ranted about Ginsburg's little nap will be equally outraged (and more so, I would hope) at the behavior (in church no less, tsk tsk!) of a Supreme Court Justice with a long history of controversy. Hmmmmm. No, I doubt they will be.

'The President Ignores The Law At The President’s Peril.'

Cenk Uygur has an excellent post on dealing with the illegal spying program and the President's belief that the Constitution places him above the law and other branches, the censure resolution, and the quandary of putting ones hope in Arlen Specter...

Recommended read.

It starts-
We are told that censuring the president for breaking the FISA law is a political maneuver. If that is true, then I have a serious question: How do we get the president to act within the law in a non-political way?

It seems to me that Senator Feingold moved for a censure resolution because he believed he had no alternative.

I believe he is right. The Intelligence Committee absolutely refuses to investigate this matter any further. It looked like the Judiciary Committee had deadlocked and was not going anywhere -- so what alternative did a conscientious senator have but to push for some sort of action to get the president to obey the law?...

And this was my favorite part-
By the way, I love the irony of that -- I don't know if anyone noticed this, but the president didn't stop 9/11. Taking credit for that is a little more than bizarre. Could you imagine if FDR went around thumping his chest saying proudly, "Pearl Harbor happened on my watch!"?

The president hides behind the troops every time someone criticizes his policies. He shamelessly equates being against his incoherent and incompetent decisions with being against the troops. Then he has the nerve to turn around and say that his opponents are playing politics. If hypocrisy were a girl, I'd tell the president to stop teasing her. They've been together for so long, any decent man would have proposed already.

And he has this to say on Specter and the political punches he pulls-
All those compromises. Were they just to retain his own silly, meaningless power and stature? Or did he have some grand goal he wanted to work toward? He is now near the end of his career. There is an out of control president. The minority party is powerless to stop him. There needs to be one man who stands up for principle and constrains the president’s un-American power grab.

Personally, I admire Sen. Specter for pushing the hearings where his other colleagues have caved, but as we've seen (with Alito, etc.) in the end he always toes the line. And in an election year, I don't believe he'll take the risk of standing against his own party on this issue, no matter how right he knows he is. So I definitely support censure... and that's just for starters. This President has taken balance of governmental power to the extremes and thumbed his nose at the other branches and if you can't even exercise a parliamentary rebuke like censure against him.... boy, we are in trouble.

I believe the President has proven himself unfit for office and deserves to be removed, but very few want to go that far because some political hacks and the GOP spinners have poo-pooed the very notion as crazy or treasonous. But then I remember that in 2003 the Dixie Chicks created a national outrage simply by stating they were ashamed the President was their home state and how now no one can remember why that was a big deal. While we've come a long way from the irrational jingoism that dominated the political climate in 2002 and 2003, the President's supporters have still done a remarkable job in politically attacking anyone who questions his power. Republicans, and even most Democrats, are afraid to take action against this man (be it censure/impeachment or heck, even offering more than mild critiques), who now has only a fraction of the American people behind him. The logic behind this conventional wisdom is based more on fear than actual logic.

Tomorrow's the big day for censure. Let's see where everyone really stands.

[PS- A great analysis on this past Tuesday's hearings on the NSA program:
What the FISA judges really said]

Democrats Go On The Offensive With National Security Plan

Now that's more like it...

AP: Democrats Offer National Security Strategy
Democrats on Wednesday proposed a wide-ranging strategy for protecting Americans at home and abroad, an election-year effort aimed at changing public perception that Republicans are stronger on national security. Republicans, for their part, criticized the national security policy statement as a stunt...

...In the strategy, Democrats vowed to provide U.S. agents with the resources to "eliminate" Osama bin Laden and ensure a "responsible redeployment of U.S. forces" from Iraq in 2006. They promised to rebuild the military, eliminate the United States' dependence on foreign oil by 2020 and implement the recommendations of the Sept. 11 commission. Those are many of the same proposals Democrats have offered before...

It's certainly a start and hopefully they won't applaud themselves too hard and stop spreading their message out there. I don't want them to be 24-7 cheerleaders like the President (contrary to what he thinks, they're supposed to be governing... or something), but certainly making sure the message stays out there is important. The Republicans have a well-organized media noise machine ready to drown/kill it.

The plan is certainly not all I would want, but I understand they have certain political obligations. I hope they are serious about the foreign oil thing and don't just use it as a catchphrase the way the President did in his State of the Union. I also hope they remember that there are many other issues- fiscal discipline, corruption, job creation, and a return to checks and balances- that they need to be hammering on. Those are major failures on the Republicans' part.

Also, in response to their proposal for reducing troops levels in Iraq, Vice President Cheney said-
"It makes no sense at all to turn Iraq over to the terrorists," Cheney said.

And yet, sir, that is basically what you have done, no?

The gang at Firedoglake have a breakdown on the pros and cons of the Democrats' proposals:
Progressives and the Democratic Security Plan

[PS- More good news for Dems- Gallup: In Shift, More Americans Now Call Themselves Democrats ]

He Was Against The Religious Right Before He Was For Them

In addition to recent flips on intelligent design and other issues, John 'Straight Talk Pandermania' McCain is going full throttle in efforts to get the religious right on his side. This is despite numerous statements against them in the past, including referring to top agents Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell as "agents of intolerance". In addition to a planned speech at Jerry Falwell's Liberty University, the not-so-maverick Senator has changed on mind on a federal constitutional amendment against gay marriage.

Are any of your principles not for sale, sir?

Think Progress has details-
Straight Talkin’ McCain Takes Both Sides of Gay Marriage Amendment Debate

We need really need someone to stop this guy in '08. He'll be George W. Bush, with better diction.

(Not Hillary, someone who can win)

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Freedom And Democracy

"One of the keys is going to be to get a unity government up and running, a government that reflects the diversity of the country. … We want the Iraqis to make that selection, of course. They are the ones who got elected by the people. They’re the ones who must form the government."
-President George W. Bush (March 10, 2006)

Just be sure to form the government President Bush wants you to, Iraqis...

NY Times: Bush Opposes Iraq's Premier, Shiites Report
The American ambassador has told Shiite officials that President Bush does not want the Iraqi prime minister to remain the country's leader in the next government, senior Shiite politicians said Tuesday...

...Mr. Khalilzad said Mr. Bush "doesn't want, doesn't support, doesn't accept" Mr. Jaafari as the next prime minister, according to Mr. Taki, a senior aide to Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim, the head of the Shiite bloc. It was the first "clear and direct message" from the Americans on a specific candidate for prime minister, Mr. Taki said...

Mr. President, sir, don't you realize every time you open your mouth, you make things worse?

Maybe we should ITMFA?

[PS- President 'Accounta-what-ity?' Bush continues to pass the buck-
Bush Blames Saddam for Iraq Instability]

Republicans Have No Shame

Here's the backstory... Howard Kaloogian, a Republican candidate for the Congressional seat vacated by criminal Duke Cunningham, posted the following picture on his website with the note that "We took this photo of dowtown Baghdad while we were in Iraq. Iraq (including Baghdad) is much more calm and stable than what many people believe it to be. But, each day the news media finds any violence occurring in the country and screams and shouts about it - in part because many journalists are opposed to the U.S. effort to fight terrorism."

Wow. OMG! Why won't the America-hating lih-buh-ral media show us that?

Bloggers, most notably Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo and the crew at Daily Kos smelled something fishy, so they began investigating. And so less than a day later, a few bloggers examined the picture and realized the truth... it's not a picture of Baghdad. It's actually the Istanbul suburb of Bakirkoy. In TURKEY. Who knew Turkey was in downtown Baghdad?

Kaloogian admitted the error, but in the true Republican spirit, passed the buck- He blamed his webmaster.

He has a history of questionable behavior on the Iraq issue.

I post this not as a 'gotcha!' moment, but because I believe this is emblematic of the way the GOP is trying to deceive the American people about what is really happening in Iraq. These are typical and common Republican shenanigans. Hopefully people will keep that in mind this November.

[PS- UPDATE- He posted a real picture of Baghdad... and it's pretty pathetic.]

[PPS- It appears he's an even bigger liar- the picture is likely from last year.]

[PPPS- More utter lack of shame and intelligence from Republicans: Right-wing radio host Hugh Hewitt blasted Time reporter Michael Ware (the magazine's Baghdad correspondent) in an interview while looking for sympathy for himself for being on the war on terror front lines... in his Empire State Building studio. Such bravery! That Mr. Hewitt makes it up the elevator to his studio without being blownup by an IED is a testament to his skills. Kudos to all the brave right-wing pundits putting themselves on the line by defending our country in battle an unpopular President and his disastrous war. ]

"The [expletive] troglodytes didn't vote on you today."

The GOP's former ATM machine and all-around criminal scumbag is headed to the slammer...

AP: Abramoff Gets Almost 6 Years in Prison
Disgraced former lobbyist Jack Abramoff was sentenced to five years and 10 months in prison in a Florida fraud case, the minimum sentence allowed.

Abramoff and former partner Adam Kidan pleaded guilty to conspiracy and wire fraud stemming from the ill-fated purchase in 2000 of the SunCruz Casinos gambling fleet...

I wonder if he is going to a white collar resort prison or a federal pound-me-in-the-ass prison.

And he has more sentencing to look forward to-
The same week Abramoff pleaded guilty to the SunCruz fraud, he entered guilty pleas to three federal charges as part of a wide-ranging corruption probe that could involve up to 20 members of Congress and aides, including former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas. No date has been set for his sentencing in that case.

Thanks for the memories, Jack.

Another Iraq War Memo?

This one involves Colin Powell and his concerns about pre-war intelligence.

Think Progress has the details:
Another Iraq Memo Revealed: Colin Powell Opposed War Without Second U.N. Resolution

More details and a video link to the MSNBC report- here.

I miss Monica Lewinsky; things were so much simpler back then. {*sigh*}

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

It's A Dirty Job, But...

[Related article- Legalize the 'Illegals']

Our Continuing Constitutional Crisis

A great snippet from a new piece- The Founders Never Imagined a Bush Administration- by Joyce Appleby and Gary Hart:
George W. Bush and his most trusted advisers, Richard B. Cheney and Donald H. Rumsfeld, entered office determined to restore the authority of the presidency. Five years and many decisions later, they've pushed the expansion of presidential power so far that we now confront a constitutional crisis..

...President Bush has given Commander-in-Chief Bush unlimited wartime authority. But the "war on terror" is more a metaphor than a fact. Terrorism is a method, not an ideology; terrorists are criminals, not warriors. No peace treaty can possibly bring an end to the fight against far-flung terrorists. The emergency powers of the president during this "war" can now extend indefinitely, at the pleasure of the president and at great threat to the liberties and rights guaranteed us under the Constitution...

And that is, again, the real issue here.

By the way, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a third round of hearings earlier today on the NSA program (testimony from judges with FISA or national security experience). I listened to the audio via C-SPAN's website; it was an interesting day of testimony. None of the judges who testified seemed to buy the administration's legal argument. A few also cautiously noted we know little about what the program does or how it works. They also stated explicitly that President is bound by the law, though one in particular (Allan Kornblum) did continue to bring up the issue of the President's 'inherent' constitutional authorities. This I suppose leaves the door open for the White House to try and argue that FISA itself was unconstitutional for attempting to limit the President's powers and, therefore, he wasn't bound by it and it should be reworked.

President Bush smash puny mortal laws of Congress!!

Sen. Specter, by the way, did an excellent job of handling today's hearings.

Money quote came from the last testimony, which was from David Kris (a Time Warner executive who used to work for Bush's Justice Department). He stated, when discussing the extreme views of executive power by this President, that "I see this as a Constitutional moment."

Sen. Durbin agreed with that and had some strong statements on the matter.

The Committee will meet again on Friday to discuss the censure resolution.

[PS- More revelations of the government spying on political activists... it's a complicated, but important, story. And, as always, it's important to remember that these aren't isolated incidents:
FBI Keeps Watch on Activists]

To Pander To Fundamentalist Christians Or Not To Pander?

...That is the question for Republican candidates between now and 2008.

Bloomberg News: Republicans Split Over Religion's Growing Role in Their Party

LA Times: Right Is Might for GOP's Aspirants

I say "NO".

[PS- John McCain says "yes".]

Did The President Sign A Law That Didn't Pass Congress?

That would appear to be the case.

Josh Marshall had the heads up-
It's not the worst breach of the constitution DC Republicans have pulled of late. But it's actually a pretty big deal if you believe in constitutional government. The recent budget actually never passed the Congress, even though the president signed it and it's now being treated as law. Take a look...

The linked-to article states-
...To those unfamiliar with the issue and controversy, the House and Senate passed a major budget bill by the narrowest of margins in both chambers, including a tie-breaking vote in the Senate case by Vice President Cheney, but it turned out that the bill passed the House and Senate in different forms.

This was not simply a transcription error, a misplaced comma or a misspelled word--something that would be plenty serious--but a $2 billion discrepancy that arose over a last-minute compromise between the two chambers over the time allowed for the rental of medical equipment for Medicare patients. After the House had passed its version and the discrepancy became known, Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) unilaterally changed the House bill to match the Senate’s and then sent it on to President Bush, which he signed to great fanfare.

But a seventh-grade civics student who has done his or her homework would immediately know that what the president signed is not a law. Laws, as Article 1, Section 7 of the Constitution makes clear, must pass both chambers of Congress in identical form and then be signed by the president...

This would seem to me to be a fairly big deal, politically.

It would also seems to be the type of thing those in Congress would want to look into, assuming they still care about their constitutional duties and the issue of fiscal recklessness leading this country. But last time I checked, they cared about neither anymore.

I remain hopeful that voters are going to teach them a lesson this November.

[PS- Speaking of poor conservative fiscal leadership...
US debt clock running out of time, space]

Andy, We Hardly Knew Ye

Looks like the President finally caved into the pressure for a shakeup...

White House Chief of Staff Card Resigns

White House chief of staff Andy Card has resigned and will be replaced by budget director Joshua Bolten, President Bush announced Tuesday amid growing calls for a White House shakeup and Republican concern about Bush's tumbling poll ratings...

Not that this makes any difference, of course, but it does show Bush is paying attention and is concerned about the perceptions of a never-changing bubble. But really, he's still in the bubble, the President just exchanged one of his loyalists with another. While he did listen to the calls in conservative circles for some change in his senior staff, he still held his ground by promoting one of his own rather than someone from the outside. All his staff changes just end up being a game of musical chairs.

Until he replaces one of the real power players (Rove, Rummy, etc), it's all just window dressing.

[PS- More desperation... the President has been chatting up the press in private gatherings:
For Bush and Press, Informal Talks]

The Global Warmings

Time magazine has a cover story on global warming that's generating buzz-

Polar Ice Caps Are Melting Faster Than Ever... More And More Land Is Being Devastated By Drought... Rising Waters Are Drowning Low-Lying Communities... By Any Measure, Earth Is At ... The Tipping Point

The climate is crashing, and global warming is to blame. Why the crisis hit so soon--and what we can do about it

Recommended read.

[PS- Will Ferrel does President Bush addressing the global warmings- video]

“We are doing everything we can to avoid war in Iraq.”

Followup to yesterday's post about the British memo on the Bush/Blair planning for war...

MSNBC's 'Countdown' did a report on the memo's revelations. Video- here.

It's certainly good that some in the media are reporting this story (why does it always have to be Keith Olbermann's job to do this, though?), but will they stick with the story? Do daily updates all week? Dig into it? Demand a statement from the President and Mr. Blair? No, they won't. It's an interesting story for the day, but it'll never get that Natalee Holloway 24-7 coverage.

Here we have further proof that the architects of this war lied to the American people and manipulated the foundation upon which the war was built, and yet it's treated with the same tone as every other story they covered today. How far have we come that this is not a super duper big deal? I suppose it's every day that the leader of the nation leads the country into a preemptive war based on a preexisting agenda, sold with lies and spin and marketing savvy, throwing thousands of lives away for a failed crusade.

I know the American people just don't care about this. But it's partly the media's job to make them care.

I'll... I'll stop now before I give myself a migraine.

As an addendum, Think Progress compares the public/private the White House made before the war-
Public statement:

Bush: “I’ve not made up our mind about military action. Hopefully, this can be done peacefully.” [3/6/03]

Private statement

“The start date for the military campaign was now penciled in for 10 March,” Mr. Manning wrote, paraphrasing the president. “This was when the bombing would begin.” [Bush/Blair meeting, 1/31/03]

Public statement:

Bush: “We are doing everything we can to avoid war in Iraq.” [3/8/03]

Private statement:

“The U.S. was thinking of flying U2 reconnaissance aircraft with fighter cover over Iraq, painted in U.N. colours,” the memo says, attributing the idea to Mr. Bush. “If Saddam fired on them, he would be in breach.” [Bush/Blair meeting, 1/31/03]

Public statement:

Bush: “Should Saddam Hussein choose confrontation, the American people can know that every measure has been taken to avoid war, and every measure will be taken to win it.” [3/17/03]

Private statement:

“But [Bush] had to say that if we ultimately failed [to get a second U.N. resolution], military action would follow anyway.” [Bush/Blair meeting, 1/31/03]

Stupid liberals keeping track of the contradictory things they said.

[PS- Arianna Huffington has 20 very good questions the President should answer:
20 Questions for President Bush About Iraq]

Monday, March 27, 2006

Moussaoui: "I Am A Terrorist! There, I Said It!"

Slow news day, but this headline stood out...

AP: Moussaoui Says He Was to Hijack 5th Plane
Al-Qaida conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui testified Monday that he and would-be shoe bomber Richard Reid were supposed to hijack a fifth airplane on Sept. 11, 2001, and fly it into the White House.

Moussaoui's testimony on his own behalf stunned the courtroom. His account was in stark contrast to his previous statements in which he said the White House attack was to come later if the United States refused to release an Egyptian sheik imprisoned on separate terrorist convictions.


Moussaoui denied he was to have been a fifth hijacker on United Airlines Flight 93, which four al-Qaida hijackers flew into a Pennsylvania field on Sept. 11 — the so-called missing 20th hijacker. But he quickly added that he was part of the 9/11 operation, ordered to pilot a fifth jetliner into the White House. He said Reid was the only person he knew for sure would have been on that mission, but others were discussed.

Certainly this is a major revelation, but am I the only one who thinks it, ummm, doesn't make sense?

Several things immediately seemed off to me... First, there is the supposed involvement of failed shoe bomber Richard Reid. When Reid was arrested, it did not seem at all like he was a major Al Qaeda player. Rather, it seemed that he was some two-bit terrorist who wanted to play with the big boys (contrary to what we've been told, not every terrorist is the #2 guy in Al Qaeda). So the idea that he was to be an integral player in the 9/11 attacks seems like way too much of a coincidence (and maybe wishful thinking on the part of some in the government?). Not all the terrorists in the world know each other.

Second, there is the key fact of the supposed planned fifth hijacking to target the White House. The idea that they wanted to hijack a fifth plane, but that it fell apart late in the planning, is easy enough to buy. It's the targeting of the White House that's suspicious. Unless I'm mistaken from what we've previously learned about how the plan was supposed to go down, one of the four planes already was to target the White House. As I understood it, the plan was two planes for the World Trade Center (successful), one plane for the Capitol Building (didn't make it- crashed or was blown up over Pennsylvania, depending on which version of the story you buy), and one plane for the White House (wasn't able to see the target, went for the Pentagon instead last-minute). So were there two planes that were supposed to target the White House? Did plans change? It's a bit contradictory and confusing.

The revelations seemed randomly and hastingly verbalized from what the report says.

I don't want to get into the conspiracy theories, but it seems to me (on first instinct) like either Moussaoui is a) telling the court/government what they want to hear, or b) being told what to say as part of some sort of agreement. As the report itself notes, the revelations are in stark contrast to what we previously knew about these plans. Maybe I'm wrong. Moussaoui has changed his story so many times, and is likely insane, so it's best not to rush to judgement here.

I'm sure this story will be dissected in days to come, but color me skeptical for now.

Fire Up The Tivos...

...Michael Brown will be on 'The Colbert Report' tomorrow night.

Brownie, you're doing a heckuva media blitz.

LA Times: The truly serious appear on 'The Colbert Report'

Ex-FEMA chief is the latest public figure to cross his fingers and face the mock newscaster.

Democrats Support Censure...

...Of Bill Clinton.

I wanted to post on a great find by Digby exposing the hypocrisy of Democrats who won't support the censure of President Bush. Here is what Sen. Joe Lieberman (R D- Connecticut) is saying about Feingold's resolution-
"My own opinion, and it seems to be shared by most Democratic senators, is that it would be an unproductive use of our time. Again, it's looking backward. It would be divisive. The best thing we could do about this program is to bring it under the law and I'd prefer to spend my time and the Senate's time figuring out how we can adopt a law that allows the administration to continue this program but force them to go to court to get a warrant before they do."

More of that "let's make the President's illegal actions legal because it's easier" nonsense.

Now here's some background... There were numerous moves by his fellow Democrats to censure President Clinton for his actions in the Lewinsky case. In fact, the now infamous liberal activist site was founded to encourage this action. Sen. Feinstein proposed a resolution for this which had such co-sponsors as Ted Kennedy, Charles Schumer, Harry Reid, John Kerry, and more. Sen. Lieberman supported censuring President Clinton after he had already been impeached as both further punishment and to heal the wounds (?) from the partisan impeachment battle. Here is a snippet of his lengthy comments on the matter-
"I do believe the Constitution allows for one recourse that would provide a means for us as the people's representatives to register our and their disapproval, and would, I believe, help us to bring appropriate closure to this terrible chapter in our nation's history. It is well within the Senate's constitutional prerogatives to adopt a resolution of censure expressing our contempt for the President's misconduct, both that which is charged in the articles and that which is not. Such a censure would not amount to a punishment, nor would it be intended to do so. What it would do, particularly if it united Senators across party lines and positions on removal, is fulfill our responsibility to our children and our posterity to speak to the common values the President has violated, and make clear what our expectations are for future holders of that highest office.

And what it could do, I believe, is to help us to begin healing the wounds the President's misconduct and the impeachment process's partisanship have done to the American body politic, and to the soul of the nation. I have observed that roughly two-thirds of the public consistently expresses its opposition to the President's removal. But I do not think we can leave this proceeding, especially those of us who have voted against the Articles, without also noting that roughly one-third of the American people have consistently expressed their belief that this President is unfit to lead this nation. That is a startlingly large percentage of our people who have totally lost confidence in our nation's leader."

I'll give you a minute to process all of that... [*checks watch*] .... Okay, we're back.

So let's get this straight. When a popular President has already been impeached for fairly (in historical comparison) frivolous crimes, he must still be censured as well to not only teach him a lesson, but also because a small fraction of Americans just don't like him?

However, when a later President has broken laws and otherwise committed numerous misdeeds and betrayed the nation's trust (and has never been held accountable for a single one of these things), he should not even be censured at all... even though it would set an important statement on executive overreaching and even though only 1/3 of Americans still support him?

Any angry conservative talking head who complains about how hard President Bush gets it needs to take a trip down memory lane. Bill Clinton got it worse in many ways (and still gets it to this day from the right) and his approval ratings were never this low. The media was on him since day one jumping on every scandal du jour, the Republicans turned this into a veritable crusade to take him down, and even his own party threw him under the bus. Meanwhile, the current President got a pass from the media for years until it recently became politically safe to criticize him, the Republicans have defended him at almost every turn, and the Democrats are too scared of the Rove/Mehlman noise machine to truly take him on. This is pathetic.

The President is abusing his power and warping our system of government based on his belief of his 'inherent' constitutional powers, which are apparently without limit. He has broken the law and now wants the law either changed (or declared unconstitutional all together) to dismiss this issue. This isn't just a random scandal. It cuts to the heart of what kind of country we are and our committment to the separation of powers. Censuring the President- in the end a mere symbolic gesture- is the least Congress can do (besides nothing, of course) to declare an opposition to all of this.

Can anyone in hindsight seriously say that what President Clinton did was of larger concern? Can anyone in hindsight justify the two year hysteria that surrounded that scandal and subsequent impeachment? How can Democrats lambast the President of their own party, yet limit their actions to vocal sideswipes toward a President who openly accuses them of treasonous behavior and rhetoric? Could somebody ask Joe Lieberman or any of the other Democrats listed above these questions?

Basic accountability really should not be something we have to beg for, yet that's where we are.

[PS- Sen. Feingold stands his ground:
Feingold's Censure Call Gives Him Boost]

Americans Should Be Set On Path To Accountability, Blog By Blueduck Says

"You said we're headed to war in Iraq -I don't know why you say that. I hope we're not headed to war in Iraq. I'm the person who gets to decide, not you."
-President George W. Bush to reporters (December 31, 2002)

"No President wants war. Everything you may have heard is that, but it's just simply not true."
-President George W. Bush (March 21, 2005)

No major new revelations here, but more backup for things we've already known...

NY Times: Bush Was Set on Path to War, Memo by British Adviser Says
In the weeks before the United States-led invasion of Iraq, as the United States and Britain pressed for a second United Nations resolution condemning Iraq, President Bush's public ultimatum to Saddam Hussein was blunt: Disarm or face war.

But behind closed doors, the president was certain that war was inevitable. During a private two-hour meeting in the Oval Office on Jan. 31, 2003, he made clear to Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain that he was determined to invade Iraq without the second resolution, or even if international arms inspectors failed to find unconventional weapons, said a confidential memo about the meeting written by Mr. Blair's top foreign policy adviser and reviewed by The New York Times.

Again, we knew this already, but it's important to take a closer look and bring this into the spotlight as often as possible. The majority of the American people seem disinterested in this aspect of the Iraq war debate (it's the death and chaos that fuels their anger), but the lies and spin campaign that got us into this mess remain an issue of great importance. When the President is claiming he didn't want war and only accepted it reluctantly as a needed policy, we need to remember how desperate they were to sell this disaster to an uneasy (but fear-driven) populace.

Although the United States and Britain aggressively sought a second United Nations resolution against Iraq — which they failed to obtain — the president said repeatedly that he did not believe he needed it for an invasion.

This is not unfamiliar. The President shows the same lack of regard for the laws of Congress.

More still-
The memo indicates the two leaders envisioned a quick victory and a transition to a new Iraqi government that would be complicated, but manageable. Mr. Bush predicted that it was "unlikely there would be internecine warfare between the different religious and ethnic groups." Mr. Blair agreed with that assessment.

Spoiler alert... They got this one completely, and horribly, wrong.

Still more-
The memo also shows that the president and the prime minister acknowledged that no unconventional weapons had been found inside Iraq. Faced with the possibility of not finding any before the planned invasion, Mr. Bush talked about several ways to provoke a confrontation, including a proposal to paint a United States surveillance plane in the colors of the United Nations in hopes of drawing fire, or assassinating Mr. Hussein.

Sounds like Mr. Bush was desperate to instigate avoid war at all costs!

Of course, buried in the NY Times and maybe passed around on the liberal blogs, none of this will ever make its way into the mainstream media debate on the war. Don't wanna ask any questions about the President's motives for war that might be too tough! Why, he might yell at us like he did to Helen Thomas! Gosh, that ol' lih-buh-ral media sure doesn't want to rock the boat.

On that note, I am reminded of this Sutton Impact cartoon from last year on the media and their indifference to the Downing Street memos- link. The ongoing chaos in Iraq is certainly getting the required coverage, but how we got there remains of only marginal concern to most.

Immigration Debate: Republicans Thinks Illegals Are 'Scourge'; Ted Kennedy Agrees With Bush

Rep. Tom Tancredo said illegal immigrants are "a scourge that threatens the very future of our nation".

That should tell you all need to know about the level of the debate on this issue.

Meanwhile, the AP has a story on how the debate is heating up in the Senate-
Founded by immigrants and praised as a haven for the oppressed, the United States now is struggling to decide the fate of as many as 12 million people living in the country illegally.

The Senate takes up the emotional debate on the heels of weekend rallies that drew hundreds of thousands of people protesting attempts to toughen laws against immigrants...

...Democrats have said they will do everything they can to block Frist's bill. Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., said Sunday that legislation creating tougher enforcement does not do enough.

"We have spent $20 billion on chains and fences and border guards and dogs in the southern border over the last 10 years," Kennedy said on "Face the Nation" on CBS. "And it doesn't work. What we need is a comprehensive approach. I think President Bush understands it."


All kidding aside, here's the bottom line for me- While I by no means condone people coming here through illegal means, this current debate is less about the importance of addressing immigration problems and more about politics. Right-wing nasty election-year politics. One issue that the President's base has always disagreed with him on is immigration. The conservative base hates immigration. And not just illegal immigration. They'd prefer not to admit it, but they hate immigration in general. Border's closed. We're full up. Ellis Island is closed. No more foreigners, please, we're building a big fucking wall across the whole damn border... One could say, in fact, that a large chunk of the conservative base is a bit racist and/or xenophobic.

It is to this base that these Republican politicians are playing to now as a way of a) appeasing their (xenophobic) concerns, and b) distancing themselves from an unpopular President of their own party. Of course, Republicans have zero issue with illegal immigrants when they're mowing their lawns or working the night-shift for slave wages at Walmart.

And that's where the President comes in. He's the voice of moderation on the issue. He wants to encourage immigration and even help those who came here illegally to get jobs and eventually become legitimate citizens. Of course, this doesn't mean that ol' Bushie's gone liberal on us. He just knows that his top base- BIG BUSINESS- wants these cheap, illegal workers and the President shall not deny them it.

Both sides of the conservative divide on the issue are pretty nasty to look at.

Of course, the main issue is that we currently have immigration laws in this country. Good, solid laws. The problem is that these laws are simply not enforced. People- just enforce the existing laws and knock this lunacy off. Why pass draconian new laws when we don't enforce the sane laws we have now? Let's stop this "build a wall" BS and have a real, grownup discussion on how to make the existing laws work to keep the level of illegal entries down while respecting the importance of America's rich history of immigration.

Can we please be grownups here? Thank you.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

President Bush Takes On Al Qaeda Reporters (Pt. IV)

President Bush did accomplish something with these attacks... he got the media standing up for themselves.

Isn't it nice to see?

CBS' foreign correspondent Lara Logan (in Baghdad) shared her thoughts on CNN today-
KURTZ: Thank you.

Bush and Cheney essentially seem to be accusing you and your colleagues of carrying the terrorist message by reporting on so many of these attacks. What do you make of that?

LOGAN: Well, I think that's -- that is a very convenient way of looking at it. It doesn't reflect the value judgment that's implicit in that.

As a journalist, if an American soldier or an Iraqi person dies that day, you have to make a decision about how you weigh the value of reporting that news over the value of something that may be happening, say, a water plant that's being turned on that brings fresh water to 200 Iraqi people. I mean, you get accused of valuing human life in a certain way depending on how you report it.

And also, as -- I mean, what I would point out is that you can't travel around this country anymore without military protection. You can't travel without armed guards. You're not free to go every time there's a school opening or there's some reconstruction project that's being done.

We don't have the ability to go out and cover those. If they want to see a fair picture of what's happening in Iraq, then you have to first start with the security issue.

When journalists are free to move around this country, then they will be free to report on everything that's going on. But as long as you're a prisoner of the terrible security situation here, then that's going to be reflected in your coverage.

And not only that, but their own figures show that their reconstruction project was supposed to create 1.5 million Iraqi jobs. To date, 77,000 Iraqi government jobs have been created. That should give you an indication of how far along they are in terms of reconstruction.

We have to put everything in its context. We can't go to one small unit and say, oh, they did a great job in this village and ignore all the other villages that haven't seen any improvement in their conditions.

KURTZ: There is no question that the dangerous conditions for journalists there are making it much harder to report on some of these signs of progress, as you point out. But I look at just the last couple of weeks of your coverage. Besides covering the Saddam trial, you reported on allegations that U.S. troops had killed a group of civilians. Then you reported an attack on a police station, the bombing of a police convoy, you talked about the threat of a civil war. All legitimate stories. But critics would say, well, no wonder people back home think things are falling apart because we get this steady drumbeat of negativity from the correspondents there.

LOGAN: Well, who says things aren't falling apart in Iraq? I mean, what you didn't see on your screens this week was all the unidentified bodies that have been turning up, all the allegations here of militias that are really controlling the security forces.

What about all the American soldiers that died this week that you didn't see on our screens? I mean, we've reported on reconstruction stories over and over again, but the order to (ph) general for Iraqi reconstruction says that only 49 of well over 100 planned electricity projects happened.

So we can't keep doing the same stories over and over again. When a police station's attacked, that's something new that happened this week. If you had any idea of the number of Iraqis that come to us with stories of abuses of U.S. soldiers and you look at our coverage over the last -- my coverage over the last few weeks, or even over the last three years, there's been maybe two or three stories that have related to that.

So, I mean, we have to do the stories that when we've tested them and tested them and checked all our sources, and that they are legitimate stories on that day, that that is the biggest news coming out of Iraq, then that's what we have to do.

KURTZ: So what you're saying...

LOGAN: I mean, I really resent the fact that people say that we're not reflecting the true picture here. That's totally unfair and it's really unfounded.

KURTZ: So what you're saying is that what we see on the "CBS Evening News" or other networks actually is only a snapshot, is only perhaps scratching the surface of the kinds of violence and difficulties that you are witnessing day after day because you can only get so much of this on the air?

LOGAN: Oh, yes. Absolutely. And, I mean, our own -- you know, our own editors back in New York are asking us the same things.

They read the same comments. You know, are there positive stories? Can't you find them?

You don't think that I haven't been to the U.S. military and the State Department and the embassy and asked them over and over again, let's see the good stories, show us some of the good things that are going on? Oh, sorry, we can't take to you that school project, because if you put that on TV, they're going to be attacked about, the teachers are going to be killed, the children might be victims of attack.

Oh, sorry, we can't show this reconstruction project because then that's going to expose it to sabotage. And the last time we had journalists down here, the plant was attacked.

I mean, security dominates every single thing that happens in this country. Reconstruction funds have been diverted to cover away from reconstruction to -- they've been diverted to security.

Soldiers, their lives are occupied most of the time with security issues. Iraqi civilians' lives are taken up most of the time with security issues.

So how it is that security issues should not then dominate the media coverage coming out of here?


KURTZ: What do you make of that [Ingraham] comment about reporting from hotel balconies?

LOGAN: Well, I think it's outrageous. I mean, Laura Ingraham should come to Iraq and not be talking about what journalists are doing from the comfort of her studio in the United States, the comfort and the safety.

I mean, I don't know any journalist that wants to just sit in a hotel room in Iraq. Does anybody understand that for us we used to be able to drive to Ramadi, we used to drive to Falluja, we used to drive to Najaf. We could travel all over this country without having to fly in military helicopters.

That's the only way we can move around here. So, it's when the military can accommodate us, if the military can accommodate us, then we can go out and see.

I have been out with Iraqi security forces over and over again. And you know what? When bob Woodruff was out with Iraqi security forces and he was injured, the first thing that people were asking was, oh, was he being responsible by placing himself in this position with Iraqi forces? And they started to question his responsibility and integrity as a journalist.

I mean, we just can't win. I think it's an outrage to point the finger at journalists and say that this is our fault. I really do. And I think it shows an abject lack of respect for any journalist that's prepared to come to this country and risk their lives.

Video- here.

Expect to see more of this, as the White House continues their scapegoat campaign.

-President Bush Takes On Al Qaeda Reporters
-President Bush Takes On Al Qaeda Reporters (Pt. II)
-President Bush Takes On Al Qaeda Reporters (Pt. III)]

Links of the Day: Late-Night Edition

Busy sunday.

Here's some links to lull you to sleep...

-You're free to go sir, but we can't promise you won't be stoned on your way home:
Afghan Court Drops Case Against Christian

-More fun news from the Delay/Abramoff world of organized (Republican) crime:
Former DeLay Aide Enriched By Nonprofit

-Time magazine reports the Republican majority may be in its last throes:
Republicans On The Run