Saturday, April 15, 2006

Republican Reelection Focus: Gays, Abortion, Terri Schiavo, Flags

Came across this AP article, feeling a little ill...

AP: Social Issues Top GOP Pre-Election Agenda
Protection of marriage amendment? Check. Anti-flag burning legislation? Check. New abortion limits? Check.

Between now and the November elections, Republicans are penciling in plans to take action on social issues important to religious conservatives, the foundation of the GOP base, as they defend their congressional majority...

Ohh, so all the same old shit that they prop up every election cycle to bamboozle their base? Okay. Sounds likes a fresh, exciting agenda that is sure to bring hope back to America.

The article continues-
In a year where an unpopular war in Iraq has helped drive President Bush's approval ratings below 40 percent, core conservatives whose turnout in November is vital to the party want assurances that they are not being taken for granted.

"It seems like for only six months, every two years — right around election time — that we're even noticed," said Tom McClusky of the Family Research Council.

Yes, Tom, because Lord knows the Republicans don't pay enough attention to religious fundamentalists like you.

The next line is key-
"Some of these better pass," he added. "You notice when it's just lip service being paid."

Do you? Ignoring the obvious insanity of the people who actually find these issues to be of great concern to the nation, I have this question for the right- Why do Republican voters keep getting fooled by this shit? I had hoped that eye-opening events like Katrina had changed all of this, but apparently not.

In his excellent book, "What's The Matter With Kansas?: How Conservatives Won The Heart of America", Thomas Frank notes how the Republicans bring up these tired 'culture war' issues at every election and yet they never do anything about it... because if they did, they wouldn't have the issue to use a boogeyman in the next election cycle. And they keep doing it because the base falls for it every time.

Conservatives in the heartland- Don't like watching your jobs get shipped off to Asia or destroyed by the Walmart corporate culture? Want better access to affordable healthcare? Want cleaner air and drinking water? Want the government's focus to be on rebuilding this country rather than MidEast nation building? Apparently not, because many of you are too busy worrying about queers, flags, and abortion to notice that your elected officials are destroying the American way of life.

We need your help here people. Trust me, your votes are better spent elsewhere.

As Frank notes in his introduction-
In fact, backlash leaders systematically downplay the politics of economics. The movement's basic premise is that culture outweighs economics as a matter of public concern- that Values Matter Most, as one backlash title has it. On these grounds it rallies citizens who would once have been reliable partisans of the New Deal to the standard of conservatism. Old-fashioned values may count when conservatives appear on the stump, but once conservatives are in office the only old-fashioned situation they care to revive is an economic regimen of low wages and lax regulations. Over the last three decades they have smashed the welfare state, reduced the tax burden on corporations and the wealthy, and generally facilitated the country's return to a nineteenth-century pattern of wealth distribution. Thus the primary contradiction of the backlash: it is a working-class movement that has done incalculable, historic harm to working-class people.

The leaders of the backlash may talk Christ, but they walk corporate. Values may 'matter most' to voters, but they always take a backseat to the needs of money once the elections are won....


Bottom line- Liberals and queers don't seem that important when you're collecting unemployment at age 37.

Moving In

Guess what is being described here-
It’s a U.S. complex consisting of 21 buildings and 104 acres, according to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. You know how big that is? Try Rome’s Vatican City, baby. We’re talking huge...

...The Senate report talks about it being a "hardened" structure, meaning that it stands alone, without any help from any outside company, electricity, or anything else, because it’s 100% independent, for obvious reasons. It’s "six times larger than the United Nations compound in New York, and two-thirds the acreage of Washington’s National Mall."

Give up? It's... the new U.S. Embassy fortress building in Iraq!

Yea, that's going to go over well in the Middle East.

Meanwhile, back here in our own country, New Orleans still waits for "one of the largest reconstruction efforts the world has ever seen" which was promised to them by the President in a speech that's been almost entirely forgotten.

When you file your taxes this weekend, remember where the money is- and isn't- going.

Rummy, You're Still Doing A Heck Of A Job

The title of this news item says it all...

AP: Bush Says Rumsfeld Crucial to Terror War

He's crucial to terror, all right. I know he scares the crap out of me. Oh wait, you said 'war'?

Stick with Rummy, Mr. President, but don't be surprised to learn that Americans no longer trust you.

"I'm squishing you with my hands..."

[PS- Do you want this guy leading us into another war??]

Cheney In The Spotlight

Coming on the heels of last week's revelations about the President's involvement in the campaign to discredit Joseph Wilson, new Libby testimony revelations confirm previous reports of Vice President Cheney's key role in this saga.

Murray Waas (who is to this story what Bob Woodward was to Watergate) has the goods...

National Journal: Cheney Authorized Leak Of CIA Report, Libby Says
Vice President Dick Cheney directed his then-chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, on July 12, 2003 to leak to the media portions of a then-highly classified CIA report that Cheney hoped would undermine the credibility of former Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson, a critic of the Bush administration's Iraq policy, according to Libby's grand jury testimony in the CIA leak case and sources who have read the classified report...

...The previously unreported grand jury testimony is significant because only hours after Cheney reportedly instructed Libby to disclose information from the CIA report, Libby divulged to then-New York Times reporter Judith Miller and Time magazine correspondent Matthew Cooper that Plame was a CIA officer, and that she been involved in selecting her husband for the Niger mission...

(bold added for emphasis in light of last week's controversy)

And let's not forget- for the 'Wilson Lied' crowd on the right- that Colin Powell has now come out to verify Wilson's findings. He stated this week that "I didn’t need Wilson to tell me that there wasn’t a Niger connection. He didn’t tell us anything we didn’t already know." Yes but we did, Colin, because you and your bosses stayed silent.

And, as I've asked in my previous posts, why spread secret, anonymous, and selective leaks if you believe you are right, rather than go public with all the facts? Answer- you wouldn't. The President's defenders (yes, he still has some) insist he just wanted to get the 'truth' out, but their actions betray them there.

Back to the main crux of this story, while Libby's discussion about Plame with reporters occurred on the same day that Cheney authorized those other leaks, Libby insists the two events are unrelated. Well that settles that then. [*cough*]

And while the testimony doesn't insinuate Cheney ordered the Plame leak, Waas notes-
Regarding the release of Plame's name and CIA employment, a senior administration official said that even if Cheney did not directly authorize Libby to leak the information to the press, the vice president might have set a climate in which his aides viewed it as routine to release classified information whenever it served their purposes.

A key point. And as Waas also notes-
It has long been known that Cheney was among the first people in the government to tell Libby that Plame worked for the CIA. The federal indictment of Libby -- who has been charged with five counts of obstruction of justice, perjury, and making false statements to federal investigators in the CIA leak case -- states: "On or about June 12, 2003, Libby was advised by the Vice President of the United States that Wilson's wife worked at the Central Intelligence Agency in the Counterproliferation Division. Libby understood that the Vice President had learned this information from the CIA."

So the $64,000 question is- Did Cheney tell Libby to push the Plame angle or was Libby's decision to do so completely independent and spontaneous? The fact that he mentioned it to multiple reporters, and also that the Plame angle was pushed to even more reporters by other staffers like Karl Rove and the mysterious third man (Stephen Hadley, Dan Bartlett, Orson Welles?) who Robert Novak spoke to, indicates to me that's a major stretch. This was clearly a coordinated effort, not the misguided decision(s) of some White House staffer.

I'm no expert on this story, but it's not hard to connect the dots here. When the leak first occurred in 2003, the White House tried to paint it as random crime- the origins of which they did not know and the involved party/parties responsible they could not figure out. It is becoming increasingly clear that couldn't be farther from the truth.

The President and Vice President knew who was involved and now their lies are catching up to them.

As they say in Washington, it's never the crime... it's always the cover-up.

For more in-depth analysis, check out Firedoglake- here and here.

[PS- Where are the Democrats? Will they stand up and denounce this?]

Big Brother Is Watching (Brought To You By AT&T)- A Followup

In my last post on the story about how AT&T is cooperating with the National Security Agency in their warrantless domestic eavesdropping, I complained that this story wasn't getting more press. That appears to be changing, hopefully not just for the moment.

The following AP story was on the front page of Yahoo earlier-
AT&T, Group Challenge U.S. Spy Program
AT&T Inc. and an Internet advocacy group are waging in federal court a privacy battle that could expose the reach of the Bush administration's secretive domestic wiretapping program...

...In congressional hearings last week, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales suggested the president could order the NSA to listen in on purely domestic calls without first obtaining a warrant from a secret court established nearly 30 years ago to consider such issues.

Now that's good reporting.

The NSA has refused to comment. Probably too busy tracking down all the terrorist AT&T customers.

This story- not just the AT&T one specifically, but the whole Bush-authorized spying program- cannot be allowed to disappear like it's just another news story. This really is one the greatest scandals of this Presidency and something that, if people stopped to really give it some thought, would be causing great anger all over the country. Still, with the issue just floating around in recent months, a majority of Americans do currently support the Feingold censure move. Given how much civil liberties have been trashed by this administration, a "formal expression of disapproval" (as the poll correctly notes it) is the least we can do to push back.

This war isn't ending and neither will the abuses associated with it.

Republicans Voted For Criminalizing Immigrants Before They Voted Against It

Smell that? No, it's not pollen. It's desperation... and the Republicans reek of it.

We've all seen in the past few weeks how the Republican-authored immigration bill from the House of Representatives has caused great controversy. The bill would've made illegal immigrants felons and even criminalized anyone (ie. strangers on the street, soup kitchens) who provided aid to an illegal immigrant. Anger over these draconian proposals sparked massive demonstrations in protest all over the country, including some with over half a million people in attendance. Moderate voices on the issue in the Senate (including Ted Kennedy on the left, and John McCain and Arlen Specter on the right) tried to forge a compromise, but Republican hardliners (ie. Bill Frist) balked. And so the demonstrations continue and the backlash is growing. What was meant to be an election year wedge issue to rally the conservative base has turned into a major problem for the Republican Party.

So what's a battered GOP to do? How about running Spanish-language ads againt Senate minority leader Harry Reid, insinuating the Senate failure was his fault and arguing more broadly that Democrats were responsible for the House bill that sought to make the immigrants felons? Yes, that is what Ken Melhman and the GOP attack machine are trying. As stated in the Las Vegas Sun-
The 60-second spot says in Spanish that Reid "blocked our leaders from working together" and blames Democrats for legislation that passed the Republican-controlled House that would make illegal immigrants subject to felony charges.

"Reid's Democrat allies voted to treat millions of hardworking immigrants as felons," the ad says, "while President Bush and Republican leaders work for legislation that will protect our borders and honor our immigrants."

Yes, if there's one thing the Republicans are known for, it's honoring our immigrants.

Can you believe how pathetically transparent and false this? The immigration demagougery was to be the Republicans' signature issue for '06. It was the brainchild of people like Rep. Sensenbrenner and Rep. Tancredo. Passing the buck to the Democrats would be like blaming them for Jack Abramoff... oh wait, they tried that too. That didn't stick and I have to hope (for the sake of my sanity) that this won't either.

Luckily, the claims are being rebutted. From the above-linked Sun article-
The reference [about Democrats supporting a felony charge for immigrants] is to a House vote on an amendment that would have reduced the proposed penalty to a misdemeanor. Many Democrats, including members of the Hispanic Congressional Caucus, voted against the amendment, arguing they did not support criminal penalties. Nevada Republicans Jon Porter and Jim Gibbons also voted against the amendment, which failed. The felony provision remained in the bill, H.R. 4437, and it passed the House on a largely party line vote.

And Sen. Reid and Rep. Pelosi have issued a statement about this attack campaign. Key points-
"Speaker Hastert and Leader Frist's statement on immigration this week is a clear reflection that Republicans now feel the heat from the American people on the mean-spirited approach of the House Republican immigration bill, H.R. 4437, authored by Congressman James Sensenbrenner...

..."No amount of spin by the Republican leadership can change the fact that the Sensenbrenner bill -- including the felony provision -- was authored by Republicans and ultimately passed by Republicans.

"The fact is that Congressman Sensenbrenner's amendment, if adopted, would have still criminalized an entire population for the first time in our history, rather than charging presence violations as civil offenses as provided under current law. 11 million men, women, and children, with no exceptions, would still go to jail for up to six months under the revised Sensenbrenner amendment. That is why many Democrats voted against the Sensenbrenner amendment."

Let's hope the Democrats continue to push back... this is the Republicans' mess; they deserve it.

You see, they know now that they messed up. Karl Rove spent years suckering in the Latino vote with promises of faith and family and in a few weeks of wondrously xenophobic hysteria, the Republican Congress may have thrown it all away. With demonstrators vowing to keep marching through the election, Republicans realized their best strategy to recover was... to cut and run from their own bill (at least until they try to push through another one). And now they want to blame the party that was actually working hard to find some compromise on this sensitive issue. This issue should tell the hispanic community that not only does the Republican party base barely see them as human, they also think they're stupid.

It's no wonder polls show Americans trust Democrats more on the immigration issue than Republicans by a very wide margin. The Democrats' proposals on this issue, while maintaining the obvious need for secure borders and sensible laws to govern all of this, included something which the Republicans' version lacked... basic humanity. While Republican pundits moaned about the Mexican 'invasion' of our country and about immigrants 'dropping babies' on our soil like beasts and about how the purity of America is being compromised, the Democrats spoke of making citizenship available to those who seek it the and the importance of family. The Democrats sought a multi-layered approach to illegals depending on how long they'd been here (and wanted to junk the border 'wall' idea in favor of technological monitoring systems). To get citizenship, they'd have to- pay a fine, pay all back-taxes owed if any, learn English, and go to the back of the waiting list for citizenship. Other proposals existed as well. The Republicans blew this all off as 'amnesty' and walked away from the table.

These are the facts. A few ads aren't likely to make the angry Latino population forget that.

And so to the Republicans, I say- "Mejor suerte el próximo tiempo."

[PS- Perhaps Ken Melhman has bigger things to worry about- 2002 N.H. Scandal Shadows GOP Anew]

Saturday Morning Funnies: Week In Review

Another week has passed.

In what may become a new feature, here's some of the week's best cartoons-






Friday, April 14, 2006

Ohhh, I Think We've Got A Live One Here....

Harry Shearer found a good catch.

On today's "Hardball", Gen. Tommy Franks said this defending Sec. Rumsfeld-
"Ask him about the 14 months we spent planning this thing."

As Harry notes-
That would put the operational, as opposed to contingency, planning as having started in roughly January of 2002, about eight months later than what was implied in Joint Chiefs head Peter Pace's statement at the Pentagon briefing earlier this week.


If You Liked the Iraq War, You'll Love the Iran War!

Cenk Uygur has a great blog post with the above title on the Huffington Post.

He starts off-
If you liked gas at three dollars a gallon, you'll love it at five dollars or more. If you liked fighting 26 million people in Iraq, you'll love fighting 68 million in Iran. If you liked turning Sunni Muslims against us, you'll love turning Sunni and Shiite Muslims against us. If you liked war in the Persian Gulf, you'll love war all over the Middle East.

If you thought things were bad now, wait till Iran retaliates against our air strikes by bombing Israel. When Israel strikes back, the whole Middle East will have to get sucked into the war. And then the fun really starts.

And the money quote-
The man who lost New Orleans and accidentally started a civil war in Iraq is going to have a sound strategy for Iran?

Bingo. And that's what's truly scary about all this.

And speaking of Iraq, the President's PR speeches have not helped support. Surprise, surprise.

[PS- Meanwhile, the rhetoric flies back and forth- Iran issues stark military warning to United States ]

Links of the Day

Just finished my taxes. Nothing like the last minute, no?

Here's some light linking as the holiday weekend begins...

-Speaking of taxes, many are protesting the war by holding back their tax payments:
'War on tax' waged against costs of war

-Neil Young prepares his new album 'Living With War'. Sean Hannity probably won't like it:
Neil Young to Announces New Album...And It's Already Finished

-Finally, it's the end of an era... Tucker Carlson loses the bowtie:
Tucker Dumps Trademark Tie

Rummy, You're Doing A Heck Of A Job

As the week ends, six generals have now called for the resignation of Donald Rumsfeld.

Sec. Rumsfeld is not one to go down without a fight.

And the White House vouches for Rumsfeld, stating he is doing "a very fine job".

Personally, I would like to say thank you Mr. Rumsfeld, for making torture and incompetence the new legacy of the American military. I'm sure all our troops and allies appreciate your dedication and brilliance to the neoconservative cause and to that fine record of achievement. I'm sure it won't take too many years to erase the damage. And I know some people might give you slack for the tens of thousands of civilians and thousands of soldiers who died on your watch, but we all know they're just collateral damage anyway. Hey, stuff happens. Looking forward to get what you planned for Iran. See ya then, buddy!

[PS- More great work from Rummy, having an Iraq terror group create strife in Iran.]

Creationism Has A Bad Week (Pt. II)

Scientists discover the missing link between 'Lucy' and an even older human ancestor-

Fossil Find Is Missing Link in Human Evolution, Scientists Say

What does God insist on testing our faith with all these planted fossils?

Thursday, April 13, 2006

What's Everybody Saying?

I've given my fair share of thoughts on the big issues that have come up in the past week or so (Bush's leaks, the WMD trailers lie, and the expected war with Iran), but wanted to highlight some great blogging on those subjects by the big boys of the blogosphere.

First, amid news that Scooter Libby's defense crew has released a statement clarifying his testimony on leaks, specifically insisting that Bush and Cheney didn't authorize the Plame leak (well they also said they didn't know anything about leaks and you are already on trial for lying, so grain of salt and all that), the gang at Firedoglake give this new report a thorough going-over. And they provided further analysis, because that's how they roll.

Moving onto the Trailers of Mass Destruction lie, Digby has an excellent post up chronicling how quickly the White House's story about the trailers began to unravel. And, in the highlight of the post, he calls the media to task for their failures in handling this and so many other stories relating to the Bush administration's shady behavior. He also ties those failures into the media's marginalizing of the importance of the story that the President is planning a preemptive nuclear strike on Iran.

Meanwhile Think Progress notes how the White House, specifically the Vice President, continued to push the lie about the trailers for several months after it had been debunked. On a similar note, Josh Marshall asks a lot of good questions about when Congress became aware of all these facts and what facts were held back from them by the White House and the CIA. And Scott McClellan still refuses to state when the White House became aware of the Pentagon report on the issue.

Finally, getting back to the Iran issue, while the media may be ignoring this HUGE story (hello, crazy President planning another war over here!), the blogs are on it like Rumsfeld on a bad idea. Greg Saunders posts at Tom Tomorrow's blog about how all of this is "echoes of 2002". He wonders what it will take for the Democrats in Congress to put aside their fears of being painted as 'weak' on security and to do the right thing here.

Elsewhere, Glenn Greenwald explores a point I mentioned in my earlier Iran post- namely whether the President believes his much-touted imperial inherent constitutional powers place him above having to bother with congressional approval for any military action with Iran. The scary conclusion is, of course, yes. Finally, Anonymous Liberal wonders if we can get some new chickenhawk pundits since all of the old ones have been thoroughly discredited and embarrased by now.

[PS- And on the right, they're still mad about 'South Park' and immigrants.]

Big Brother Is Watching (Brought To You By AT&T)

As an update to last week's post about how "AT&T provided National Security Agency eavesdroppers with full access to its customers' phone calls, and shunted its customers' internet traffic to data-mining equipment installed in a secret room in its San Francisco switching center", I present the following NY Times story which further probes the story-

Documents Show Link Between AT&T and Agency in Eavesdropping Case

As expected, mainstream coverage is... virtually nonexistent.

The 'Real World' v. The '9/11 World'

With the transcripts of the Flight 93 calls released, more discussion/debate of that aspect of 9/11 resumes. The Philadelphia Daily News' Will Bunch explores the subject in an excellent piece-

Twenty-three minutes, 58 seconds over America

Links of the Day

Busy day... here's some light afternoon linking...

-Tom Delay to get a new job... at the White House's Office of Management and Budget?
Incumbent Bolten may pick an outsider for OMB

-President Bush to get a special treat this Easter- Gay families. Oh no!:
Gay, lesbian parents to line up for Easter Egg Roll tickets

-Thanks for serving your country, please let this Homeland Security pedophile inspect your 'bag':
Watch List Delays Reservist's Homecoming

Iran Scary! BOO! We Go War Now!

Did you know that Iran could produce a nuclear bomb within 16 days?

It's true!

And did you know that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa, could launch a WMD attack on America in 45 minutes, and has extensive ties to the Al Qaeda network?

Ohh, right, nevermind.

Amid all this saber rattling and war planning, the NY Post's Ralph Peters (recently returned from his lovely vacation in the tropical hotspot known as Baghdad's Green Zone) wrote an article asking if Iran wants war, when the better question is why we want war. And badly, apparently. The Post received some letters in response. They printed three of them. The first is hard to decipher. It seems to be saying that anything less than full support for the President and his war(s) is tanamount to killing our troops. Or something. You can read it for yourself. The second two get the idea a little better-
When will enough be enough?

First, Bush misleads the American people into believing that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and then leads our country into a war that clearly has no visible end in sight.

Now it is becoming obvious that he is laying the groundwork for a confrontation with Iran.

A pre-emptive strike against another small country could be devastating to our economy and cripple our foreign policy.

There is no doubt that Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his strong words against the United States should be taken seriously, but we must remember that no one really wins a war and that we should only go to war as a last resort.

Diplomacy is the key to the world's future.

Brenden Hammerle
Springfield, Mass.

Peters' article makes an interesting conclusion: "We should make the conflict so devastating and painful that even our allies are stunned."

When people are unable to think and act rationally about a problem, it is tempting to lash out at the bad guys, but that's a road to destruction.

The Bush administration already has led us down this path with the conflict in Iraq, but when you engage in a pre-emptive strike, no matter the collateral damage, then you create enemies forever and disrupt the polity with unknown consequences.

If we want to start Armageddon to protect our national-security interests and our addiction to crude oil, then Peters is right.

If we want to solve problems without starting another conflict, his ideas better be put in the trash.

Mitch Pezdek

If even if the readers of the far-right NY Post aren't fooled, maybe there is hope.

Still, while many on the internet are organizing to try and stop this, I wonder whether resistance is futile here (not that I mean we shouldn't try). Here's a scenario for example... The President pushes forward with war plans; he doesn't bother to ask for congressional approval. Congress, a significant enough of a majority having learned their lessons from Iraq, proactively pass a resolution expressively forbidding preemptive military action against Iran. The President, having already established a precedent for it on warrantless spying and torture and oversight requirements of the Patriot Act, insists that his inherent Article II powers as Commander-In-Chief cannot be trumped by a congressional law. He continues on to wage war in defiance of Congress and public disapproval.

That's a worst-case scenario, but Republicans have accepted that idea of unstoppable constitutional power. Perhaps this (and the thought of what a future President might do) should cause them to reconsider their support of such an extreme view of executive power.

Meanwhile, some Republicans try to paint Seymour Hersh's reporting as the problem here. And yet- the White House has still not actually denied his allegations. They've just settled for vague warnings about 'wild speculation' and assured us of their committment to 'diplomacy'. Again- they have not denied the substance of his report.

Nuclear war, here we come. This is why you don't elect an end-of-days Christian for President...

[PS- Don't believe the hype- Experts: Iran's Boast May Mean Little]

McClellan: 'The President Isn't A Liar, He's... Umm, An Idiot!'

Yesterday, Scott McClellan demanded an apology from the media for not calling him on his bullshit more often pointing out their lies on Iraq. This was in response to the Washington Post story about how the Pentagon field report transmitted to Washington stating the infamous trailers had nothing to do with biological weapons was received two days before the President publicly declared "We found the weapons of mass destruction".

McClellan's beef was that some reports (such as one on ABC News) seemed to insinuate that President Bush was aware of that Pentagon report before he made his statement two days later. This was preposterous, McClellan insisted, and called the reporting an "embarrassment for the media". Of course, when asked when exactly the White House did become aware of the report, McClellan said that he didn't know and would 'look into the matter'. So was he just assuming before or lying or... what?

Still, for the sake of argument, let's believe McClellan (tee hee) when he says that the President wasn't aware of the Pentagon report when he proudly told the nation we found the trailers weapons of mass destruction. This would mean that the President of the United States went public and made a major announcement without having obtained all the relevant information. He was so out of the loop, he didn't know his own White House had received a report debunking the very information he was about to present or simply hadn't bothered to read it. Wow. Yea, that's sooo much better than the President just having straight up lied about the findings. Is this the best spin they can do at this point?

As usual, if the White House has to paint Bush as an idiot or a liar... they go with idiot every time.

Either way it says the same thing about President Bush- he is untrustworthy.

And Josh Marshall looks at another McClellan nugget from yesterday-
"I think the CIA will tell you -- and I spoke to them earlier today -- that a finished product like this, a white paper like this, takes coordination, it takes debating, it takes vetting, and it's not something that they will tell you turns on a dime. It's a complex intelligence white paper and it's ... one derived from highly classified information takes a substantial amount of time to coordinate and to run through a declassification process."

I see. So declassification is such a lengthy and complicated process, that the President himself couldn't himself be aware of its findings (or couldn't bother to tell us he was lying about it- whatever they're trying to say here)... but when he wants to punish a White House critic, he can instantaneously 'declassify' a document (or rather- just random parts of it which appear in isolation to help his case) and secretly have it anonymously leaked to willing reporters? Okay then!

And yet, again, the President rushed out to make an announcement when he didn't know/care about the facts. In my book, that's still a lie. And we're just assuming the President didn't specifically know his statement was false when he made it. And if you believe that, I have some yellowcake from Africa I'd like to sell you...

Bush And Rumsfeld v. The Constitution: The Supreme Court Plays Referee

Nat Hentoff, one of the few great writers the Village has left after a purge by its new corporate owners, continues his Liberty Beat series with a good overview of the issues at stake in the high-profile Hamdam case-

Supreme Court Judges Bush-
At last, Bush's assumption of supremacy over Congress and the courts is in peril

The Supreme Court is now deliberating on the most important case in the Bush presidency, a case that can set precedents for future presidents during what the defendant, Donald Rumsfeld, admits will be a decades-long war against terrorism. It is so important that Chief Justice John Roberts made available audiotapes of the oral arguments on the same day. The last time I remember that happening was in the case of Bush v.Gore, which resulted in the Bush presidency.

On the surface, Hamdan v.Rumsfeld would appear to be primarily about the 10 prisoners at Guantánamo set to appear before military commissions established by the sole order of the president in Military Order No. 1 of November 13, 2001 ... But the much deeper significance of the case is emphasized in Hamdan's brief to the high court, calling on the justices to stop George W. Bush's "unprecedented arrogation of power."

Really good article. Recommended read of the day.

Creationism Has A Bad Week

Really good Wall Street Journal article on how the intelligent design crowd continues to be proved wrong...

And I ask again- Why are we still debating evolution in 2006?

WSJ: Two New Discoveries Answer Big Questions In Evolution Theory
Even as the evolution wars rage, on school boards and in courtrooms, biologists continue to accumulate empirical data supporting Darwinian theory. Two extraordinary discoveries announced this week should go a long way to providing even more of the evidence that critics of evolution say is lacking...

...But refutation is in the eye of the beholder. No scientific discovery will end the evolution wars. For one thing, adherents of ID call the fact that scientists are studying reducible-complexity at all a victory for their side. "We're delighted they're engaging in a debate that they say doesn't exist," says Stephen Meyer of the Discovery Institute in Seattle, which pushes ID. Moreover, he says, the hormone-receptor system is not really irreducibly complex.

The trouble for ID is that this isn't the first study to show, step by step, how complex structures could have evolved. Recent experiments have shown how irreducibly complex structures such as bacterial flagella and the lens of an eye could have evolved by co-opting existing structures just as the hormone did. More such research is in the pipeline.

And so is much more huffin' and puffin' by the Earth-is-6,000-years-old crowd.

[PS- A study on catfish shows evolution doing its mysterious work.]

The War On Easter!

Bill O'Reilly and Fox News expand their 'War On...' franchise to Easter.

Think Progress: O’Reilly: Easter Bunny Under Attack!

Ummm, Bill'O, Stephen Colbert already beat you to this by a few weeks... only his segments were meant to be a joke. Have a Cadbury cream egg on me, Bill'O; you need to calm down. You and all the other money lenders in the Fox News temple surely have more productive things to this week, no? With Spring Break happening, I will pray that a white girl goes missing. That should provide you and Greta hours of great coverage every night.

Another Dubai Deal?

Seems everyone's too worried about the Mexicans to notice this one...

Boston Globe: Lawmaker upset by silence on another Dubai deal

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Plamegate: A Timeline

For those needing a refresher course-

An Updated Plamegate Timeline

Lies Of Mass Destruction

That's what I call lies that lead to war and tens of thousands of deaths and countless more destruction.

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

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

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


Let's add this to the pile of smoking guns the mass media will ignore, okay?

This Huffington Post graphic summarizes the story for those who don't wanna read the whole thing-

Tom Tomorrow did an amazing cartoon on the whole trailer story back in 2003.

I am too tired to voice my frustration on all this... AmericaBlog, can you take this one?-
Our president lied to us in order to justify a war.

Is there a single Republican left in this country with the courage to finally say enough is enough? You people thought Bill Clinton debased the presidency? What is the presidency NOW? The man doesn't even obey the law. He's spying on American citizens illegally. He's run our military into the ground, our country into a massive deficit, and now wants to start yet another war, this time nuclear.

Is no Republican willing to stand up and challenge this incredibly incompetent, dangerous man?


It's amazing... every day it's something new with this administration. Just when you're trying to focus on one scandal, another slimes out beneath it. Should I be mad about this? Or the other lies they've told us about Iraq? Or the impending war with Iran? Or the President's involvement in the campaign that led to the Plame outing? Or the immigration 'debate'? Or their attacks on the media? Or their failures in the Gulf Coast? Or their arrogant detachment from what is going on around them? Or their attacks on science, education, the environment, sexuality, etc etc. Most people can't decide what to be mad, so they just give up and stop paying attention.

Worst President Ever? Yea, baby, you ain't kidding.

And in the background, more people continue to be killed for all of this...

[PS- Colin Powell blames Cheney for playing up the nuclear angle. Yes, and you went along it, Colin.]

[PPS- Are they lying to us about Zarqawi too? Who even knows anymore.]

"You say we're headed to war. I don't know why you say that." (Pt. III)

Amid news of uranium enrichment, Matt Drudge resumes the drumbeating for war...

Drudge has been posting these sensational Iran headlines since last year on a regular basis (just like he carried the water for the Republicans on Lewinsky, Iraq, etc.)... I guess he and Fox News get the same faxes from the White House.

But we're not going to war, nope, just 'wild speculation', yessiree.

Ignore those reports of land warfare being planned; the Bush administration's integrity is unimpeachable.

Meanwhile, Digby looks at yesterday's press conference with Bush and Rumsfeld-

Q Sir, after you've studied today the military capabilities of the United States and looking ahead to future threats, one thing that has to factor in is the growing number of U.S. allies, Russia, Germany, Bahrain, now Canada, who say that if you go to war with Iran, you're going to go alone. Does the American military have the capability to prosecute this war alone?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, look, if you're asking -- are you asking about Iran? The subject didn't come up in this meeting. But, having said that, we take all threats seriously and we will continue to consult with our friends and allies. I know there is this kind of intense speculation that seems to be going on, a kind of a -- I don't know how you would describe it. It's kind of a churning --


THE PRESIDENT: Frenzy is how the Secretary would describe it. But the subject didn't come up. We will obviously continue to consult with our friends and allies. Your question makes certain assumptions that may or may not be true. But we will continue to talk with our -- with the people concerned about peace and how to secure the peace, and those are needed consultations. Not only will we consult with friends and allies, we'll consult with members of Congress. Yes, Terry.


Q He has said that he is drawing up war plans to provide you with credible options. Now, should the American people conclude from that that you're reaching some critical point, that a decision is imminent?

THE PRESIDENT: ... one of the jobs that the Secretary of Defense has tasked to members of his general staff is to prepare for all contingencies, whether it be in the particular country that you seem to be riveted on, or any other country, for that matter. We face a -- the world is not stable. The world changes. There are -- this terrorist network is global in nature and they may strike anywhere. And, therefore, we've got to be prepared to use our military and all the other assets at our disposal in a way to keep the peace.

Would you like to comment on that?

SECRETARY RUMSFELD: I would. As the President indicated, one of the things we discussed here today was the contingency planning guidance that he signed. I then meet with all of the combatant commanders for every area of responsibility across the globe. I do it on a regular basis. We go over all the conceivable contingencies that could occur. ... That's my job. That's their job, is to see that we have the ability to protect the American people and deal effectively on behalf of our friends and our allies and our deployed forces. So it is their task to work with me and ultimately with the President as the chain of command goes from the Commander-in-Chief, the President of the United States, to me, to the combatant commanders. And they're doing exactly what I've asked them to do and what the President has asked me to do.

Whoops, Digby pulled a fast one- that was from 2002 and they were talking about Iraq.

I'm sure we can trust them this time, though. {*cough*}

And Billmon wonders why the media is ignoring this-
Maybe it's just me, but I've been at least a little bit surprised by the relatively muted reaction to the news that the Cheney Administration and its Pentagon underlings are racing to put the finishing touches on plans for attacking Iran – plans which may include the first wartime use of nuclear weapons since Nagasaki.

I mean, what exactly does it take to get a rise out of the media industrial complex these days? A nuclear first strike against a major Middle Eastern oil producer doesn't ring the bell? Must every story have a missing white woman in it before the cable news guys will start taking it seriously?

I suppose I could understand it if all we had was Sy Hersh's word that the administration is planning another "pre-emptive" war in the Middle East. After all, we're talking about the same reporter who peddled all those crazy, unsubstantiated allegations about torture at Abu Ghraib prison. You can't be too careful with a journalistic loose cannon like that...

Josh Marshall also wonders what it will take to stop these fools.

And me? I'm just scared. There are insane men running the country and no one wants to talk about it. Hold me.

The Onion Ain't Got Nothing On The Pentagon

This is the actual opening paragraph of a Washington Post article-
The Pentagon is toughening up its policy of awarding bonuses to defense contractors. From now on, they will have to do at least a satisfactory job to qualify for the extra money.

American politics has become a satire of itself; Masters Stewart and Colbert, your services are no longer required.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

President Bush Says He Doesn't Know Anything, The Public Concurs

President Bush says he doesn't like to read newspapers govern by the polls. And it's a good thing for him that he doesn't. Because it turns out those pesky American people (darn them!)... well, they just don't like him very much.

A new Washington Post/ABC News Poll has the President at an overall 38% approval (where he's been, give or take a few points, since the late summer of '05). But the interesting number is the % who strongly disapprove (as opposed to somewhat disapprove)- 47%. That's high. This isn't temporary frustration or disatisfaction. They're finally done with the guy. A number of factors - the Katrina aftermath, the growing debacle in Iraq, numerous other scandals- have pulled away the curtain that this White House had managed to keep over the President for so long.

See also this article on the poll: Poll Finds Bush Job Rating at New Low

Yes, it's too late to vote him out, but his party (no saints themselves) will likely pay the price.

And so the article has the good news for Democrats-
A majority of registered voters, 55 percent, say they plan to vote for the Democratic candidate in their House district, while 40 percent support the Republican candidate. That is the largest share of the electorate favoring Democrats in Post-ABC polls since the mid-1980s.

And this chart shows they are favored now on every issue:

Of course, November's a long way away and the Republicans likely have all sorts of military strikes tricks planned to retain their control. And never underestimate the Democrats' ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

Meanwhile, the President continues his 'average Joe' PR blitz...

Gone is the the President who mispronounces words and scratches his head in confusion... here is the President who jokes around like a fratboy and laughs at his own stupidity. 'Yea, I'm a bad President, look I'm laughing about it, next question, let's have fun with this!'. Yes, there is nothing the United States of America needs more in a time of war than a moron who makes inappropriate jokes, talks down to his citizens, and admits he's completely unaware of how his government operates.

That last point was solidified yesterday at an appearance the President made at Johns Hopkins University (next stop- Letterman!). A student, who would no doubt run the government better, asked the President an excellent question about what the laws are that govern private military contractors in Iraq. The President, clearly unaware of the answer to the question, starts giggling and stammering and panting. He's clearly on the spot and flying without a script. He says he'll ask Rumsfeld for the answer (really he will, he swears!) and makes a 'joke' about how he's dodging the question. He reiterates he will just defer to Sec. Rumsfeld on this one (Rummy's doing a heck of a job!) and notes that "That's how I work". I hope Jon Stewart's paying George for all the free material.

Wonkette has that video and commentary on the 'Vegas stage' chapter of Bush's political career:
Bush Urges Nation: Tip Your Waitress

Gee, I can't imagine why he's not popular anymore. I guess some people are just scared of clowns.

[PS- Bush administration as Greek tragedy? Andrew Sullivan gets a great email: Revenger's Tragedy?]

The President And The Leak: The Spin Begins

We've officially entered the full-on spin mode of this scandal...

AP: Bush Says He Declassified Pre-War Intel
President Bush said Monday that he declassified sensitive prewar intelligence on Iraq back in 2003 to counter critics who claimed the administration had exaggerated the nuclear threat posed by Saddam Hussein.

"I wanted people to see the truth and thought it made sense for people to see the truth," Bush said during an appearance at Johns Hopkins University's Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies...

So you wanted people to see the truth, sir?

Is that why, in the incident in question, you had leaked only the specific portions of that document which seemed to bolster the case you made for war? And why you kept secret for as little while longer the rest of the document which said just the opposite? And is that why, instead of a major public release or press conference, you worked in secret (with only a few key Executive branch figures in the know) to declassify those portions (assuming they were even declassified at that point, there's some dispute there on the dates)? And why you then had Scooter Libby and others leak (anonymously- as a 'former Hill staffer') that selected info reporters you knew would be cooperative? And why you then denied any connection to or knowledge of this extensive campaign?

Or how about the fact the leaked information had already been disproved?

Sir? Hello?

The President's BS response doesn't answer any of the real questions in the NIE matter...

...Nor does it address the larger conspiracy that Fitzgerald means to expose in his investigation.

So keep spinning, Mr. President. You may throw the press off the scent, but Fitzgerald means business.

[See also- With One Filing, Prosecutor Puts Bush in Spotlight (NY Times)]

The Bush Administration Assist In Electoral Fraud Or Sabotage?

Wherever would you get that idea?

AP: Phone-Jamming Records Point to White House

Who Would Jesus Expel?

More lessons in love and compassion from our nation's Christian leaders...

PlanetOut (via Yahoo): Baptist college expels gay student
The University of the Cumberlands in Williamsburg, Ky., has kicked out a sophomore because he revealed he was gay on his page, the Lexington Herald-Leader reported...

Luckily, it seems the younger generation of Christians are beginning to reject this nonsense. A friend of the expelled student says, "I would consider Jason a Christian because so many of his values are Christian. He embodies everything a friend should be. A lot of people are suffering because he is not here." However, this is not universal... One Georgia-based college student is suing for her right to be intolerant toward gays at her school in the face of rules preventing harassment toward those of different orientations. In that article, Rev. Rick Scarborough (a well-known) evangelical) speaks of a Christian 'civil rights' movement, stating "Christians are going to have to take a stand for the right to be Christian."

Reverend, have you met Tom Delay? You two would get along nicely.

I hope when Jesus rises this Sunday, he decides to kick some persecuted Christian ass.

[PS- Pat Robertson's power wanes- Christian Coalition Shrinks as Debt Grows - Thank God.]

Links of the Day

Another day, more crap...

-Planning on going anywhere this summer? You're not? Okay, you're good then:
Government Expects Soaring Summer Gas Prices

-The entrepreneurial spirit comes to the liberated Afghanistan:
U.S. Military Secrets for Sale at Afghan Bazaar

-Finally, Israel enters a new era as ol' Ariel is officially removed from power:
Sharon Declared Permanently Incapacitated

Monday, April 10, 2006

Quote of the Day

"I knew exactly what was going to happen when I committed these troops into harm's way."
-President George W. Bush, today

You could've fooled me, sir.

And yet he's preparing to do it again... oops, there I go with more 'wild speculation'.

"You say we're headed to war. I don't know why you say that." (Pt. II)

(See Pt. I for details on our exciting, pending megawar with Iran)

More deja vu... the White House says all the rumors of impending war are unfounded-

AP: U.S. Seeks to Dampen Talk of Iran Strike
The White House on Sunday sought to dampen the idea of a U.S. military strike on Iran, saying the United States is conducting "normal defense and intelligence planning" as President Bush seeks a diplomatic solution to Tehran's suspected nuclear weapons program...

[*rolls eyes*] Yea, right, whatever you say Dan. That's the same "We do not want war; we're looking for a diplomatic solution; these rumors of war are out of line" talking point we got in late 2002/early 2003. Here's two examples I remembered off the top of my head-

"I hope this Iraq situation will be resolved peacefully... I want to remind people that, Saddam Hussein, the choice is his to make as to whether or not the Iraqi situation is resolved peacefully. 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 Bush- December 31, 2002)

"This is a chance for Congress to indicate support. It's a chance for Congress to say 'We support the administration's ability to keep the peace.' That's what this is all about."
(President Bush- September 19, 2002)

And in this morning's White House press gaggle, Helen Thomas confronted McClellan on Iran-
QUESTION: Is the U.S. going to attack Iran?

SCOTT McCLELLAN: Helen, we're pursing a diplomatic solution by working with the international community. I assume you're referring to some of the media reports. Some of the media reports I've seen, which are based on anonymous outside advisors and former officials, appear to me to be based on people that do not know the administration's thinking. I think it is a lot of wild speculation. We are working with the international community, particularly the EU-3, to pursue a diplomatic solution to a serious and growing concern.

QUESTION: Does the President think that the American people would accept any kind of an attack on Iran?

SCOTT McCLELLAN: Now you're engaging in the wild speculation I just talked about. Look, those who are seeking to draw broad conclusions based on normal military contingency planning are misinformed or not knowledgeable about the administration's thinking. The international community is united in its concern about the regime obtaining a nuclear weapons capability, and that's why we are working with the international community to prevent that from happening. And we are seeking to resolve this in a diplomatic way.

QUESTION: Would the President consult with Congress before --

SCOTT McCLELLAN: Helen, I'm not going to engage in all this wild speculation. No President takes options off the table, but our focus is on working with the international community to find a diplomatic solution.

McClellan then dismisses all the reports as 'hype' and 'wild speculation'.

Yea, we've heard that before too, Scott.

I hope most people realize by now these people are pathological liars and warmongers. They insisted they wanted peace and diplomacy with Iraq and that war was the last thing on the President's mind. They said the resolution for force wasn't a declaration of war, but merely a tool to strengthen our ability to pressure Iraq (similar to the 'agressive negotiations' spin on the new Iran reports). But as we've been learning, the White House only wanted war all along... any hint of diplomacy was all just a big show for the media and the world. They wanted war and even as their case for it fell apart behind-the-scenes, they had backup plans to force it. There should be no doubt that the same is true with Iran.

See this Tom Tomorrow cartoon from 2003 in which he predicts what is happening now.

I have to wonder- Where's his base of support on this? Most of the fair-weather neocons have been disowning him publicly to save their shattered reputations. The center of the country have abandoned him; all he has left is the around 30-36% base every party has. Electorally embattled Republicans in Congress are distancing themselves from him. Yet why do I have the feeling that all of them will be right back by his side once he begins to rattle the sabers?

Because, politically, this will help a lot of people.

The President needs a legacy. The Republicans need an October surprise. And nothing gets the base rallied and the flags waving like a good battle and a media display of American military supremacy against a hated foe. And while common sense would say the President couldn't sell this again, I've learned never to underestimate the willingness of the American people to go along with his madness when they get frightened.

It's like deja vu all over again.

I really don't know much more of this insanity my brain can take... Where are the heroes will stand up to our President? They are in short supply and we need them now more than ever.

[PS- More news from Seymour Hersh that the military might not go for his latest crazy adventure- Hersh: Our Military Is ‘Very Loyal to the President, But They’re Getting to the Edge’]

President Leaky-Pants

The White House responds to a scandal that they authorized secret, politically-motivated leaks to the NY Times and other reporters... authorizing a secret, politically-motivated leak to the NY Times.

Okay then.

NY Times: Bush Ordered Declassification, Official Says
A senior administration officialconfirmed for the first time on Sunday that President Bush had ordered the declassification of parts of a prewar intelligence report on Iraq in an effort to rebut critics who said the administration had exaggerated the nuclear threat posed by Saddam Hussein.

But the official said that Mr. Bush did not designate Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, I. Lewis Libby Jr., or anyone else, to release the information to reporters.

The statement by the official came after the White House had declined to confirm, for three days, Mr. Libby's grand jury testimony that he had been told by Mr. Cheney that Mr. Bush had authorized the disclosure. The official declined to be named, because of an administration policy of not commenting on issues now in court...

'Senior administration official'? 'Declined to be named'? Gee, this all looks familiar. Don't they realize that all this secrecy is what's getting them in trouble in the first place? And I'm totally sure that this new spin is waaayy truer than the last spin.

This new leak by the White House is intended to downplay Bush's role in this saga-
Moreover, the disclosure seemed intended to suggest that Mr. Bush might have played only a peripheral role in the release of the classified material and was uninformed about the specifics — like the effort to dispatch Mr. Libby to discuss the estimate with reporters.

The explanation offered Sunday left open several questions, including when Mr. Bush acted and whether he did so on the advice or at the request of Mr. Cheney. Still unclear is the nature of the communication between Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney. Also unknown is whether Mr. Bush fully realized what information Mr. Cheney planned to disclose through Mr. Libby or was aware of the precise use that Mr. Cheney intended to make of the material.

Also unknown is what makes the White House believe we will swallow any of this.

And then there's this: Bush and Cheney Discussed Plame Prior to Leak (TruthOut)
In early June 2003, Vice President Dick Cheney met with President Bush and told him that CIA officer Valerie Plame Wilson was the wife of Iraq war critic Joseph Wilson and that she was responsible for sending him on a fact-finding mission to Niger to check out reports about Iraq's attempt to purchase uranium from the African country, according to current and former White House officials and attorneys close to the investigation to determine who revealed Plame-Wilson's undercover status to the media...

...The revelation puts a new wrinkle into Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald's two-year-old criminal probe into the leak and suggests for the first time that President Bush knew from early on that the vice president and senior officials on his staff were involved in a coordinated effort to attack Wilson's credibility by leaking his wife's classified CIA status...

And so the plot thickens.

It's clear Fitzgerald has uncovered a far-reaching conspiracy and coverup and the White House is frantic to make this go away (by either spinning what happened behind-the-scenes or by sending their media operatives to smear the prosecutor himself). As I said in my last entry, it is becoming increasingly difficult for them to downplay what was initially believed in 2003 to be the random link of Plame's name by some random administration insider. The President and Vice President have been implicated as ringmasters in a massive effort to discredit Wilson, particularly by selective (and anonymous) leaks of key information to friendly reporters. Knowing that, it becomes naive to believe that this was all random and unorganized. This may be one mess that King George can't spin away.

Other blogs look at the latest developments...

Firedoglake: And The Reason Was….???

Wonkette: Senior Administration Official Guessing Game: The Case of the Meta-Leak

AmericaBlog: Bush official leaking (or lying) to spin the Bush leak

Media Matters: Media left unanswered questions about NIE disclosure

[See also previous entry- The President, The Leak, And The War- for more thoughts.]

Why Does Lt. General Gregory Newbold Hate America?

Lt. General Gregory Newbold, retired director of operations at the Pentagon's military joint staff, sounds off on the Iraq war, the President's misguided foreign policy, and the failures of people (in the military and elsewhere) to speak out about this. Highly recommended read-

Time Magazine- Why Iraq Was a Mistake

A military insider sounds off against the war and the "zealots" who pushed it

From 2000 until October 2002, I was a Marine Corps lieutenant general and director of operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff. After 9/11, I was a witness and therefore a party to the actions that led us to the invasion of Iraq--an unnecessary war. Inside the military family, I made no secret of my view that the zealots' rationale for war made no sense. And I think I was outspoken enough to make those senior to me uncomfortable. But I now regret that I did not more openly challenge those who were determined to invade a country whose actions were peripheral to the real threat--al-Qaeda. I retired from the military four months before the invasion, in part because of my opposition to those who had used 9/11's tragedy to hijack our security policy. Until now, I have resisted speaking out in public. I've been silent long enough...

Back in the explosively jingoistic atmosphere of 2002/2003 (when the Dixie Chicks were boycotted, French fries were renamed, and liberals branded as traitors), Newbold would've been crucified by the right for saying these things. Just look at what happened to Paul O'Neill or Richard Clarke. Now, however, the right simply ignores these men instead of taking them on. The right knows the public is not buying their rhetoric and their particular brand of ideological snake oil any more. So some ignore the critics (anyone on Powerline or National Review mention Newbold's commentary... no?), some pretend they never really supported any of this (the "Whoa, have I told that I don't think Bush is really a conservative?!" crowd), and others create new boogeymen to distract us (Mexicans! Gays! Oh my!). But while they've been spinning like crazy lately, the right can't escape that they have been running this country for the last 5 years, starting these wars, and generally making a mess out of everything.

Kudos to Lt. General Newbold for finally speaking up ... if only he had done so in 2003.

Not that anyone in power would have listened listened to him anyway.

[PS- Democracy in the Arab World, a U.S. Goal, Falters]

Taking It To The Streets

The weeks starts off again with tens of thousands more immigrants (and supporters of immigrant rights, families and friends of immigrants, etc) taking to the streets in mass protests.

This comes after the the planned compromise immigration bill in the Senate fall apart due to partisan bickering. The moderates and the left wanted to help immigrants on a path to citizenship... the right decried anything that would do that as 'amnesty'. Forget all the hurdles the illegals would have to go through to get on that path (fines, back taxes, years of waiting, learn English, put on the back of the line), the right was insistent: No citizenship, only criminalization. There can be no compromise with those people and thus the whole thing is on hold. It is expected that this setback is a major one and that no reform bill will be passed before the end of the year.

Who knows if the GOP operatives ever expected anything to pass anyway.

AP: Immigration Advocates Rally Around U.S.

The protestors say that they will continue to organize marches all the way until the elections. This is both good and bad for the GOP. Good that it will allow them to use the immigrants as a boogeyman to scare their base to the polls (having realized that, for the right, fear is the best motivating tool); Bad because it will push away the hispanic faction of said base (the hispanics now realizing the conservatives view them as votes and cheap labor, not as human beings).

The Republicans picked the wrong wedge issue... perhaps they should settle for picking on gays again.

[PS- And, again, why can't get we get this kind of protest going over the war or other big issues like the Patriot Act? Ohhh, that's right, because Americans are lazy and complacent. Say all you want about legal/illegal immigration- these people appreciate this country, they will stand up for themselves, and they don't take anything for granted. We could do well to learn from them on this.]


The embattled Silvio Berlusconi, once one of Bush's greatest allies, is set to lose his reelection bid.

President Bush's 'coalition of the willing' is crumbling in the face of reality. Who will invade Iran with us now?

AP: 2 Exit Polls Show Berlusconi Losing

[Update: Now it's too close to call. A cliffhanger!]

Sunday, April 09, 2006

The President, The Leak, And The War

Well it's Sunday and the big talk is still about the leak revelations.

There's also news about the forged Iraq-Niger documents that led us to war and this scandal.

Here's to me a point that is getting lost in all of this... When the Plame name was first leaked, the White House was indignant. "This is a national disgrace! I'll fire the leaker!", the President proclaimed. The Plame leak was painted to be the random act of some mysterious administration official; the President and his staff had no clue how this could've happened. Yet what all these new revelations show, besides the President's hypocrisy on leaking (as emphasized by McClellan's insulting good leak v. bad leak lecture), is that the conspiracy to discredit Joseph Wilson was far bigger than we first realized and went all the way up to the President himself. Whether he ordered Cheney to have specific material leaked to reporters or simply told him to 'get it out', the point remains that he was highly involved in this effort. The leaking of Plame's name to the press was simply another part of this campaign. So considering the President was on top of all of this and knew who was working the anti-Wilson front (people like Cheney, Libby, Rove, and others), it becomes ridiculous to believe that a) Bush was surprised by the Plame leak, and b) he had no clue at all who could be responsible. Assuming we believe (naively) that the President didn't know who the leaker(s) were, he would have just called into his office the involved staffers (Libby, Rove, etc.) and say "Raise your hand, who did it?". But he didn't do that... because the leak was not a surprise nor did he care about it other than how the backlash would affect him politically.

As the revelations in this case continue to come in, they merely reveal what was suspected all along... This was a politically-motived breach of national security by the White House to silence its top critic at the time. As usual, they didn't bother to think about the consequences of their actions (as we've seen with the war itself), all they cared about was getting what they wanted for the moment. And their defense is predicated on the same theory as their warrantless wiretapping and torture policy- that as the President/Commander In Chief, anything that is done is perfectly okay as long as the President insists it's in the 'national interest'.

The defense is also basically 'He didn't leak, he declassified'. But even that is highly questionable. As the questions asked at the McClellan press briefing on Friday showed, the NIE was stated previously to have been declassified on July 18, 2003. Yet the information was given to Judy Miller on July 8. So technically, wasn't it still classified? McClellan tried to play fast and loose with the previous statement, insisting that what he meant at the time was that July 18 was the date it was made public. The Press Corps rolled their collective eyes at that one and refused to buy it. What was the official date of declassification on the document then, they asked. McClellan refused to answer, playing the "ongoing investigation" card. I think it's therefore safe to say it was after the July 8 Libby/Miller meeting.

So their defense then becomes 'Well, if the President speaks about it or asks others to do so, then it's technically declassified'... even if it really isn't. A declassification is something public that everyone in the government knows about. This leak to the willing-and-able Judy Miller was something only a select (Bush, Cheney, Libby) knew about. The White House, still refusing to deny the main leak charges, insists the President just wanted the information out because it was in the national interest to know it. Yet the circumstances betray that revisionist history. If that was the case, it would've been officially declassified and they would've made a public statement. They didn't; they engaged in a behind-the-scenes anonymous leak (no name of the source was revealed in Miller's article). The sneaky, secret way this was done was in no one's interest but the White House's... Furthermore, they only revealed bits and pieces of the NIE- the parts that helped their case for war. The other parts of that same document- that would appear to discredit them- remained secret until the official declassification.

As for how this relates to the perjury/obstruction charges against Mr. Libby, that all goes back to his defense that as a busy man, he merely forgot things and therefore didn't lie intentionally. What these revelations reveal, though, is that his lunch with 'Run Amok' Judy Miller was no random meeting (nor were other conversations with other reporters like Tim Russert), the details surrounding which he might not fully recall. This was part of a campaign ordered on him by the President and Vice President, an extraordinary set of circumstances, the details of which he was likely to remember.

It is clear that these people are sneaks and liars. They knew their case for war was bogus before the war even began and they were even more desperate to conceal that information after the war began. This whole Wilson/Plame/Libby/Rove saga exposes a lot about how this White House operates and what they will do to protect themselves and keep their secrets. If the President is ever held accountable for this war, the findings in this case will be a big part in that.

Here are some relevant links to this saga...

Washington Post: A 'Concerted Effort' to Discredit Bush Critic

Newsweek: The Leaker in Chief?

Is he a CEO who stays above the fray? Or did he give the go-ahead to strike back at critics over prewar intel? A presidential mystery.

AP: Lawyer: Bush Left Leak Details to Cheney

David Fiderer (HuffPo Blog): Leaks Against Joe Wilson Never "Rebutted" Anything

NY Times: Iraq Findings Leaked by Cheney's Aide Were Disputed

Sunday Times (Britain): 'Forgers' of key Iraq war contract named

[PS- Digby has a great analysis of this whole saga up.]