Saturday, April 22, 2006

Links of the Day: Late-Night Edition

[*yawn*] It's cold and wet out. Here's some links to keep you warm...

-Has Iraq turned the corner... again?:
Iraq gets PM after four months of deadlock

-The people of New Orleans go to the polls to choose a new Mayor. At stake? The city's future:
New Orleans Faces 'Hugely Important' Vote

-Releasing all these 'dangerous' 'terrorists'? Oh no, hide the kids! Call Sean Hannity!:
Nearly 30 percent at Guantanamo jail cleared to go

CIA Agent Who Helped Expose Secret Torture Prisons Fired

The Washington Post just won a Pulitzer for their stories exposing the CIA's secret prison system in Europe (including reconstituting some former Soviet gulags for this purpose) in which prisoners of the U.S. are sent there- in a process known as 'rendition'- to be tortured and interrogated. These revelations helped show how widespread the use of torture has been under the Bush administration... and that it went far beyond Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay. This news made uncomfortable a diplomatic trip across Europe that Condoleeza Rice embarked on last December. The revelations coincided with renewed debates on torture and the growing power of executive authority in wartime.

Now, the CIA agent who blew the whistle on this has been fired from the agency-

AP: CIA Fires Employee for Alleged Leak
In a highly unusual move, the CIA has fired an employee for leaking classified information to the news media, including details about secret CIA prisons in Eastern Europe that resulted in a Pulitzer Prize-winning story, officials said Friday...

...Justice Department officials declined to comment publicly on the firing and whether the matter had been referred to federal prosecutors for possible criminal charges. One law enforcement official said there were dozens of leak investigations under way. Another said there had been no referral from the CIA involving the fired employee, normally a precursor to a criminal investigation...

Now, of course, the CIA has the right to fire one of their employees if they believe he or she has behaved inappropriately. That is their right and was the risk that the agent took in leaking the information. That much is not the issue.

For now, let's even ignore the hypocrisy of the Plame leakers inside the White House remaining free...

What makes this significant to me is that it seems to be the first shot fired in the Bush administration's war against leakers. After the NY Times exposed the administration's secret program of warrantless wiretapping (a revelation that many feel could lead to impeachment down the line), the Bush administration fired back at whistleblowers and the media outlets that publish their information. This campaign involved, according to the Washington Post in March, "initiatives targeting journalists and their possible government sources. The efforts include several FBI probes, a polygraph investigation inside the CIA and a warning from the Justice Department that reporters could be prosecuted under espionage laws." The AP article about the fired agent states that she failed a polygraph test, indicating that this is all connected. In addition, the administration's surrogates in the Senate are exploring ways to legislate this criminalization of whistleblowing. The Bush administration has fired the first shot in that war. Expect more to follow.

The dirty little secret that the White House and the CIA would rather us not remember is that this is a nation whose values embrace whistleblowers. We have laws set up specifically to protect people who reveal information that they're not supposed to when they are doing the right thing. This story certainly seems to qualify. Torture violates international law and Congress- overwhelmingly- passed legislation prohibiting its continuation, although the President made clear he doesn't believe himself bound by such things. I definitely think that exposing the existence of these prisons was the right thing to do (we certainly would never have found out through official channels) and I believe polls would show that to be a majority viewpoint. Don't the American people have a right to know about about the criminal and immoral things that are being in our names?

Despite that, the leaker and the media are the ones being made the villain here.

It's not surprising; that's always been the way the government has done it as long as they can get away with it.

Remember that, last year, when elderly former FBI second-in-command Mark Felt revealed himself as 'Deep Throat', there were some people on the hard right who questioned whether it was not too late to take legal action against him for his leaks (or, in the case of Watergate criminals G. Gordon Liddy and Chuck Colson, go on cable news and bitch about how unfair what Felt did was). Yet Felt is almost universally heralded as an American hero who helped expose government wrongdoing. And how many people today would openly defend the actions of Richard Nixon? It's unlikely you would find many who would, but Nixon did have around a 25% approval the week he resigned, at which point it was proven fact he had committed crimes and basically trampled on the Constitution. Some people will defend anything and some people are loyalists 'til the end. Richard Nixon was a very popular leader until his own hubris destroyed him.

We accept now that it was Nixon who behaved wrongly and Felt who behaved rightly.

And President Nixon- like Bush- did launch campaigns to try and stop leaks that were politically damaging to him (the infamous 'plumbers'). Of course, these efforts ultimately caused Nixon more harm than good, especially the Watergate affair that ended up bringing his other related crimes to light. Will Bush's efforts also come back to harm him? That remains to be seen. What Nixon had that Bush doesn't, though, was a Congress that actually took its job seriously and a media that did as well. With Nixon, hearings were held (for months) and questions were asked. With Bush, hearings have been scarce and excuses have been made. Low approval ratings aside, President Bush has been allowed to get away with things that no other President in recent history could have due to a Congress and a media that is, with a few exceptions, willing to look the other way for fear of rocking the boat.

That may seem like a tangent, but I felt that the comparison was apt.

President Nixon justified his actions with national security and executive imperatives too.

[PS- In semi-related news, a former high-ranking CIA official is set to reveal this Sunday on '60 Minutes' even more information on how the White House cherry-picked the intelligence they wanted to sell the Iraq war. He states, "The policy was set. The war in Iraq was coming and they were looking for intelligence to fit into the policy." Sounds like that damning Downing Street Memo that the media ignored. Too bad he's retired, I'm sure the White House would've enjoyed having this agent fired or smeared.]

Worst. President. Ever.

This article is sure to win over the heavily conservative readers of Rolling Stone magazine.

Rolling Stone: The Worst President in History?-
One of America's leading historians assesses George W. Bush

All kidding aside, the article is a great read. It really covers all the important aspects of Bush's presidency (through a historical lens) while addressing the open-ended aspect of history which we can't know yet. However, as I said, this article won't convert any Bush Believers, as his core base would rather sneak the Koran into Sunday mass for a secret read than take a critical second look at their leader and protector.

Money quote for me-
Calamitous presidents, faced with enormous difficulties -- Buchanan, Andrew Johnson, Hoover and now Bush -- have divided the nation, governed erratically and left the nation worse off. In each case, different factors contributed to the failure: disastrous domestic policies, foreign-policy blunders and military setbacks, executive misconduct, crises of credibility and public trust. Bush, however, is one of the rarities in presidential history: He has not only stumbled badly in every one of these key areas, he has also displayed a weakness common among the greatest presidential failures -- an unswerving adherence to a simplistic ideology that abjures deviation from dogma as heresy, thus preventing any pragmatic adjustment to changing realities. Repeatedly, Bush has undone himself, a failing revealed in each major area of presidential performance.


[PS- The cover? An insult to well-meaning dunces everywhere.]

Diplomacy's Boring, Can We Blow Stuff Up Yet?

Kevin Drum looks at an old report from 2003 that we could've begun helpful talks with Iran...

Flynt Leverett, who'd worked with Condoleezza Rice on the National Security Council then, stated this January that-
In the spring of 2003, shortly before I left government, the Iranian Foreign Ministry sent Washington a detailed proposal for comprehensive negotiations to resolve bilateral differences. The document acknowledged that Iran would have to address concerns about its weapons programs and support for anti-Israeli terrorist organizations. It was presented as having support from all major players in Iran's power structure, including the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. A conversation I had shortly after leaving the government with a senior conservative Iranian official strongly suggested that this was the case. Unfortunately, the administration's response was to complain that the Swiss diplomats who passed the document from Tehran to Washington were out of line.

Drum looks at this and other information and concludes-
With that as background, here's my suggestion: quit letting Cheney's crackpots run foreign policy and talk to Iran. After all, the administration's ideologues killed an opportunity to ratchet down tensions three years ago, and since then things have only gotten worse: Iran has elected a wingnut president, they've made progress on nuclear enrichment, gained considerable influence in Iraq, and increased their global economic leverage as oil supplies have gotten tighter. So why blow another chance? If the talks fail, then they fail. But what possible reason can there be to refuse to even discuss things with Iran — unless you're trying to leave no alternative to war?

That may well be the Bush administration's strategy, but ordinary horse sense suggests it shouldn't be anyone else's.

Make no mistake, they have already made the decision for war. Bush's the decider, not you.

Hopefully there's still some people inside the government with the courage to stop him.

Saturday Morning Funnies: Week In Review

Another week gone by... Here's a look at where we stand through the eyes of political cartooning.






Friday, April 21, 2006

Quote of the Day

"This talk about a 9/11 mentality. No one, George Bush or anyone else, owns the 9/11 mentality. It belongs to the United States of America. It belongs to everyone who was sitting there with their family, watching those buildings get hit by those jets. It belongs to George Bush and his family, it belongs to John Kerry and his family, it belongs to me and my family, my American family. I have a post 9/11 mentality. It’s just not the same as George Bush’s."
-Neil Young


Video of the full interview- here

[PS- If interested, there's also a blog set up to promote his new album- 'Living With War']

All Tuckered Out

A hard day of lyin' and schemin' will tire out even the strongest of fighters...

Aren't they so cute? You just want to hug them and impeach them for hours!

[PS- The White House denied that Cheney was sleeping during the Chinese President's visit; they said he was merely reading his notes. Apparently through his eyelids. These people even lie about sleeping!]

No More Money For Oil

With gas prices getting people mad, I wonder if they will begin to make the mental connections from our dependency on this increasingly expensive substance to our misguided foreign policy choices as well as the growing problem of climate change. Nahhhh.

Meanwhile, the Democrats hope the outrage will work to their advantage-
Democrats Eager to Exploit Anger Over Gas Prices (NYT)

By the way, have I plugged Al Gore's new global warming documentary? I have? Okay, great!

[PS- Somewhere in Venezuala, Hugo Chavez is sitting on a pile of oil and he's not being as friendly with it as our Saudi 'allies'. No wonder President Bush hates him so much. C'mon Hugo, don't be a dick, if you give our oil companies some love, Georgie will hold hands with you too.]

Oh No, Monsters! Save Me, George!

Ruben Bolling rocks.

The Monarchy Of These United States

Jonathan Schwarz, posting at Tom Tomorrow's blog, takes a look at "The Powers of War and Peace", the new book by John Yoo. If you haven't heard of Yoo, consider yourself lucky. Yoo is one of the architects of the unitary executive theory of presidential power that the Bush administration has made their own. Until 2003, he worked in Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel (current Attorney General Gonzales continues his legacy over there). Yoo contributed to the Patriot Act and authored many of the legal opinions of help to the administration, most notably arguing for the President's legal right to authorize (and get away with) all kinds of torture (ie. the hypothetical crushing the testicles of a child) forbidden under the Geneva Convention and international law. He is also believed to have provided the legal reasoning behind the President's warrantless wiretapping program(s). In general, he believes that the President has unlimited power- which cannot be hampered by statute- particularly in wartime.

Schwarz summarizes a Nation review of the book-
...You may remember from 10th grade the argument in 1787 between the federalists and anti-federalists over the ratification of the Constitution. The anti-federalists’ main worry was the Constitution as written would centralize too much power in the national government, particularly the executive branch. In fact, they said, we’d end up with a tyranny again, just after we’d fought a revolution to escape a king. Meanwhile, the federalists argued the Constitution had checks and balances that would prevent this.

Of course, the Constitution was ratified, leading to much rejoicing and eventually several segments of Schoolhouse Rock. But in history class they always tell you the anti-federalists were wrong: we didn’t end up with a tyranny. The Constitution prevents the executive branch from doing anything it wants. For instance, only Congress has the power to declare war.

But John Yoo has some surprising news: the anti-federalists were right! The Constitution does give the president, particularly in matters of war and peace, exactly the same powers of the British king circa 1787! The only difference is, Yoo thinks this is a good thing...

And the review itself summarizes the dangers of this theory, which is currently running the country-
...By dismantling checks and balances, along the lines idealized and celebrated by Yoo, the Administration has certainly gained flexibility in the "war in terror." It has gained the flexibility, in particular, to shoot first and aim afterward. It has acted on disinformation and crackpot theories and utopian expectations that could perhaps have been corrected or moderated if traditional decision-making protocols had been respected and key policy-makers had not silenced dissident voices and sequestered themselves in an echo chamber. Yoo sees no danger in allowing a poorly educated and sketchily briefed President, perhaps surrounded by yes men and fed picked-over intelligence, to define unilaterally the principal threats facing the country. He does not worry about irreversible decisions taken impetuously and without eliciting a second opinion. But if the misbegotten Iraq War proves anything, it is the foolhardiness of allowing an autistic clique that reads its own newspapers and watches its own TV shows to decide, without outsider input, where to expend American blood and treasure--that is, to decide which looming threats to stress and which to downplay or ignore...

Foolhardiness? Screw that- we're at war! All hail his majesty, King George!

[PS- Do the terrorists still hate us for our freedoms?]

Hiding History / Robbing The Grave

I've written a few times on the government's obsession in recent years with reclassifying previously released documents- taking them away from the public eye all in the name of secrecy. Apparently simply for for secrecy's sake, too. It's a trend that should be disturbing to any American...

This NY Times editorial addresses the issue-
[A]t the National Archives, documents have been disappearing since 1999 because intelligence officials have wanted them to. And under the terms of two disturbing agreements — with the C.I.A. and the Air Force — the National Archives has been allowing officials to reclassify declassified documents, which means removing them from the public eye. So far 55,000 pages, some of them from the 1950's, have vanished. This not only violates the mission of the National Archives; it is also antithetical to the natural flow of information in an open society...

...It's hard for us to imagine why a declassified document from the 1950's — one that has perhaps been read and referenced by many scholars — should suddenly be deemed too sensitive for public access. Unfortunately, given the Bush administration's obsession with secrecy, it's all too easy for us to imagine why that may be true of more recent documents. It's worth remembering, after all, that the contents of the National Archives represent the raw materials of history.

Along these lines are efforts by government officials to take back materials given to deceased journalist Jack Anderson-
The F.B.I. is seeking to go through the files of the late newspaper columnist Jack Anderson to remove classified material he may have accumulated in four decades of muckraking Washington journalism.

Mr. Anderson's family has refused to allow a search of 188 boxes, the files of a well-known reporter who had long feuded with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and had exposed plans by the Central Intelligence Agency to kill Fidel Castro, the machinations of the Iran-contra affair and the misdemeanors of generations of congressmen...

Why is the government so afraid of the past? What are you trying to hide, Mr. Government?
[*looks around suspiciously*]

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Mission Accomplished... Eventually. Maybe.

Condi says Americans must be ready to accept more violence in Iraq, but that just means peace is around the corner...

AP: Rice Says No 'V-E Day' on Horizon in Iraq
Even assuming Iraq forms a national government, there will be no immediate end to the violence, nothing like V-E Day marking World War II's end in Europe, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Wednesday.

Peace will come gradually to Iraq, more than three years after the U.S.-led invasion in March 2003, she said at the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations.

"Americans must be prepared for violence to continue in Iraq, even after a government is formed. There will be no Iraqi equivalent of V-E Day or V-J Day," Rice said...

We're turning the corner. Freedom is on the march. Stay the course. The insurgency's in its last throes. Bring 'em on. I really do believe that we will be greeted as liberators. To assume we're going to pay for it all is just wrong. It could last six days, six weeks; I doubt six months. I think, reasonably certain is the idea that it would take several hundred thousand U.S. forces is far from the mark. In the battle for Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed. Mission accomplished.

I feel ill.

Why does anyone take these people seriously anymore? Who are these wistfully naive 33% (and that's a Fox News poll) who still support these people and/or give them the benefit of the doubt? Everything they used to sell or justify the war has turned to be a lie at worst and an exaggeration at best (most recently, the revelations about what they knew on the infamous 'WMD trailers'). In addition, everything they've told us since the war has been a lie- insisting that any 'problems' you might hear are either lies of the media or somehow signs that victory is just around the next corner and the one after that until you're back at square one with nothing to show for it except a few thousand caskets.

I guess the decision as to when 'victory' will be achieved or when we can move on there is up to future Presidents to decide... The Decider doesn't want to be burdened with those hard choices.

And still Sec. Rumsfeld will not concede a single mistake. The hubris borders on pathological.

Meanwhile, the Iraqi parliament session is delayed again after the Prime Minister signaled he will step down.

All this as the financial burden of the war continues to grow-
With the expected passage this spring of the largest emergency spending bill in history, annual war expenditures in Iraq will have nearly doubled since the U.S. invasion, as the military confronts the rapidly escalating cost of repairing, rebuilding and replacing equipment chewed up by three years of combat.

The cost of the war in U.S. fatalities has declined this year, but the cost in treasure continues to rise, from $48 billion in 2003 to $59 billion in 2004 to $81 billion in 2005 to an anticipated $94 billion in 2006, according to the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments. The U.S. government is now spending nearly $10 billion a month in Iraq and Afghanistan, up from $8.2 billion a year ago, a new Congressional Research Service report found...

Good thing we don't have any deficits or domestic programs or destroyed Gulf Coasts at home to worry about.

But hey, Scott McClellan's gone, so everything should be turning around soon.

[PS- Don't worry... I'm sure the Iran invasion will be a total cakewalk.]

Told Ya So

Last month, Zacarias Moussaoui made a 'major revelation' in court by announcing two things... First, that he was to hijack a fifth plane on 9/11 to attack the White House. Secondly, that failed shoe bomber Richard Reid was part of the plot. Neither of these things made any sense to me given what we know about 9/11 and I was convinced this wannabe-martyr was just talking shit to hype up his role in Al Qaeda and the attacks.

It would appear that my cynicism was well-founded, particularly on the second part...

AP: Gov't Concedes No Moussaoui-Reid Evidence

More To The Rove Move Than Meets The Eye?

Could this also be one of the reasons for Rove giving up some miscellaneous duties?...

TruthOut: Grand Jury Hears Evidence Against Rove
Just as the news broke Wednesday about Scott McClellan resigning as White House press secretary and Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove shedding some of his policy duties, Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald met with the grand jury hearing evidence in the CIA leak case and introduced additional evidence against Rove, attorneys and other US officials close to the investigation said.

The grand jury session in federal court in Washington, DC, sources close to the case said, was the first time this year that Fitzgerald told the jurors that he would soon present them with a list of criminal charges he intends to file against Rove in hopes of having the grand jury return a multi-count indictment against Rove...


Nothing definitive yet, but one must wonder if the White House is preparing for the worst in preemptively giving up the policy line of work to someone else. Worst case scenario (indictment), someone's already doing it in case Rove has to fully step down. Best case scenario (no indictment), well now Rove's time is freed up to convince middle America that the Democrats are all gay-loving, abortion-performing, terrorist sympathizers.

If it's the former, I know Karl won't be a tattle tale like mean ol' Scooter!

And since Scott McClellan is leaving, let's revisit this classic moment from the October 10, 2003 briefing-
Q: Scott, earlier this week you told us that neither Karl Rove, Elliot Abrams nor Lewis Libby disclosed any classified information with regard to the leak. I wondered if you could tell us more specifically whether any of them told any reporter that Valerie Plame worked for the CIA?

MR. McCLELLAN: Those individuals -- I talked -- I spoke with those individuals, as I pointed out, and those individuals assured me they were not involved in this. And that's where it stands.

Q: So none of them told any reporter that Valerie Plame worked for the CIA?

MR. McCLELLAN: They assured me that they were not involved in this.

Ahhh, poor Scottie. Paid to tell lies that were not his. Enjoy your rest; you earned it.

White House Shake and Bake

From a Washington Post article about the White House 'shake-ups'-
White House Chief of Staff Joshua B. Bolten seeks to rescue the remainder of Bush's presidency. Coupled with other changes already announced and still in the works, Bolten hopes to demonstrate to the public and the Republican-led Congress that it will no longer be business as usual in a White House afflicted by political defeats, an overseas war and shrinking public support.

Huh? I would hope that the Congress and public are not so easily swayed to buy this.

This is business as usual; they're moving people into different offices. The White House has yet to bring in a single new face or change a single position of consequence. The new Chief of Staff was bumped up from the Budget office (where he did great job twiddling his fingers as the deficit grew). His replacement in that office was bumped up from another job inside the White House as well. Scott McClellan was just the spokesman and his rumored replacements are all current, and former, Bush folk. And Karl Rove being 'demoted' to work his political hitman magic full-time? That's not a sign of change; it's the White House quietly acknowledging the Republicans are in worse trouble than they've let on. And his replacement on the policy beat? As I noted yesterday, another current administration member.

Why is the President so afraid of bringing in someone new, that he doesn't know?

Could it be because the White House doesn't really want change, but merely wants the impression of it? It's all about PR, bay-bee! Or could it be because the White House has so many secrets to keep, it can't risk bringing in some outsider they can't trust. I say who knows, who cares. As long as the White House focuses on meaningless changes like those mentioned above, they will continue to implode.

As Matt Stoller notes-
[The President] likes feeling like he makes big decisions and has 'the vision thing' (as another Bush once put it), so power rests with infighting advisors who tell him what to do in the guise of 'taking care of the details'. All problems are ascribed to as ones of 'communications' as the AM talk radio circuit has been spewing for months, which allows blame to go to the communications staff instead of those with the real power. That's why Scott and Card don't matter; Scott is a press release shaped like a human (nothing really changed when Ari Fleischer left), while Card was a glorified office manager. The Rove 'demotion' is in all likelihood a sham, since he's kept his security clearance and is gearing up for the midterms. The only serious member of the White House to leave is actually Scooter Libby, and that wasn't Bush's doing.

This is an awful situation. We have a man frightened to be President clinging desperately to the comforting adults who tell him what to do. These 'adults' happen to be vicious ideologues bent showing the world their manliness no matter how weak they transparently are. In other words, this isn't a real shake-up, because at this point Bush can't shake up the White House staff.

He can, he just doesn't want to.

And yet, through all this chatter since yesterday, one thing is getting buried...

Donald Rumsfeld still has a job and the number of generals who want him out increases. And silly cynical me can't help but wonder if Mr. Bolten didn't purposely schedule this week's "changes" to interrupt the news cycle's coverage of the Rumsfeld imbroglio. Firing McClellan (oops, I'm sorry, he 'resigned') or someone like that has no effect on this presidency or the country. It will not reverse the trend of incompetence and failure that is plaguing this administration. Firing Rumsfeld, however, would. It would send a powerful signal that the President is acknowledging how disastrous the war has gone thus far and is proactively seeking new ideas and solutions to that situation. But it will never happen. Because they won't admit failures. And Donald Rumsfeld's in too deep to go now. As Tim Russert said, the President "won’t fire Rumsfeld because it would be the equivalent of firing himself."

Bingo. And so nothing will change.

But Josh Bolten hopes you're not thinking about it all that hard.

[PS- Watch video of Colbert's take on the Rumsfeld controvery- 'Sir, Yes Sir'.]

China To U.S.: Who's Your Daddy?

The President puts his best diplomatic foot forward as Chinese President Hu Jintao visits-

AP: Trade Gap and Currency Top Bush, Hu Agenda

But is this visit really something to celebrate? My vote leans between 'no' and 'yawn'.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Links of the Day

There's more going on today than just the reshuffling of the deck chairs on the Titanic...

Here's a sampling:

-Several years later, we're just beginning to get answers from Guantanamo:
Pentagon Releases Extensive Gitmo List

-Remember how President Clinton used this attack to justify all kinds of wars, civil liberties violations, the rounding up of anyone suspected of connections to militias with no legal protections, and declarations of unlimited executive power?... Oh wait:
Oklahoma Marks Bombing's 11th Anniversary

-Do you like walking? If not, you'd do well to start:
Gulp! Try $4.50!- Brooklyn gas station floors it

Wednesday Morning Massacre: McClellan 'Resigns', Rove 'Demoted'

The White House's idea of a staff shakeup- focusing on some of the least consequential positions and amounting to little more than a game of musical chairs between existing staffers- continues this week, a sure sign that the President's tanking poll numbers are being heeded at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. And you thought he didn't listen to the polls. Well, the President is the decider and he decided he's in big trouble.

From the AP: White House Staff Shake-Up Continues
White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove gave up some of his responsibilities and White House press secretary Scott McClellan announced his resignation Wednesday, continuing a shake-up in President Bush's administration that has already yielded a new chief of staff...

The McClellan exit seems to be getting the bigger press. As I noted in my last entry, the White House's main concern is PR, hence Scotty has to go. It sucks for him; he was only doing his job, it wasn't his fault the lies are becoming increasingly harder to sell. How much talent does it take to tell reporters you can't comment on an "ongoing investigation", anyway?

Scott McClellan will rename in the positition until a replacement is chosen. My personal choices for the new Press Secretary include Sean Hannity, Jeff Gannon, Powerline's John Hinderaker, or Baghdad Bob. Among the actual possible replacements is Fox News' Tony Snow, a job he and his colleagues have been doing for five years already. Also up for the job are Dan Bartlett (counselor to the President) and Dan Senor (former coalition spokesman after the invasion of Iraq).

None, unfortunately, will have that scared, cold-sweat look Scott made so endearing every day.

President Bush on McClellan: “One of these days, he and I will be rocking in chairs in Texas talking about the good old days of his time as the Press Secretary, and I can assure you, I will feel the same way then that I feel now that I can say to Scott: job well done.”

Why Texas? Why not on Trent Lott's new porch when you fulfill your promise to rebuild New Orleans and the Gulf Coast bigger and better than even before? Ohhh, I'm sorry, I forgot we're supposed to have forgotten all those lofty promises. My bad.

The bigger news, of course, is the change of status for Karl Rove.

Karl Rove's position hasn't changed. He is still Deputy Chief of Staff, he is just giving up his duties on policy development to Joel Kaplan (who had a hand in disrupting the 2000 recount) from the Office of Management and Budget (question- does Mr. Leaky still have his security clearance? Answer: Yes.). At first, this sounds like Rove is in bigger trouble than they have been letting on. Either that or the White House wants him off the policy beat (where he did what exactly?) so he can concentrate his evil energies full-time on what he does best... helping to smear and scheme the Republicans to electoral victory. Any Democrats have adopted dark-skinned babies or made enemies out of people who served in a war at the same time as you? Be forewarned.

The congressional elections, as I noted the other day, are important to the White House. They need to make sure the President's rubberstamp Republican accomplices stay in control. Or else they might face their greatest nightmare- accountability. The permanent Republican majority has been one of Rove's main goals. Now that their hubris is causing it to implode, it's not surprising they want him on 24-7 damage control.

Will it be enough to stop the implosion? We'll find out in November. But one thing is clear, these are desperate times at the White House. As Josh Marshall notes, "the real story here continues to be that things are so bad at the White House, the level of denial and secrets to be kept, the self-bamboozlement and bad-faith so profound, that they just can't manage to bring in any new blood." Yup. They're scared. They should be.

And that's all for today's cosmetic White House "shake ups".

Stay tuned tomorrow for the resignation of Barney the dog.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

President Bush: "I Listen To The Voices"

OMG, he's crazy, we gotta stop him!!

Oh wait, he didn't mean those kind of voices...

Here is a quote from the President this afternoon, answering a question on whether he is concerned about the impression that he doesn't take into consideration the advice of retired generals-
"I say I listen to all voices, but mine's the final decision and Don Rumsfeld is doing a fine job. He's not only transforming the military, he's fighting a war on terror. He's helping us fight a war on terror. I have strong confidence in Don Rumsfeld. I hear the voices and I read the front page and I know the speculation, but I'm the decider and I decide what is best and what's best is for Don Rumsfeld to remain as the secretary of defense. I want to thank you all very much."

And that was the end of that press conference. See video- here (Alternate- C&L). Bush: 'I'm the decider' on Rumsfeld
-Wonkette: President Bush: “I’m the Decider — and Nancy Pelosi is the Cootie Girl.”
-Arianna Huffington: Fresh Faces of '06: Bolten, Portman...and Rummy?

And I know I love to pick on neoconservative manchild John Podhoretz alot (see past examples of his stupidity- here or here), but c'mon folks, he makes it soooo easy. In a column today in the NY Post, he writes-
WHAT'S the dumbest thing George W. Bush could possibly do right at this moment - the action that would, more than any other, suggest his presidency was and is all but finished?

The answer: Fire Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. Either a forced resignation or a dismissal would effectively bring the Bush presidency to an end...

Good lord! The Bush presidency must be in shittier shape than I thought if its very survival depends on Donny "Stuff Happens" Rumsfeld remaining in charge of the Pentagon. Podhoretz says that we need him. Bad. I always thought America was a strong nation, which has withstood many threats, but I appreciate the White House and their surrogates letting me know that we are, in fact, a weak nation so fragile that a strong gust of wind might knock us over. Thank you, Mr. President, for your strength in telling us the truth.

After all, no mere mortal can do what Donny Don't does. Or so the editorial suggests. I can understand Mr. Podhoretz standing up for his fellow Project For A New American Century member, but this is insane... even by Podhoretz standards. Ohh, and the subtitle for the editorial? "Firing Him Loses Iraq". Funny, I was going to argue just the opposite. His reasoning has nothing to do with any military strategy issues at all. Rather, Podhoretz bases that strong conclusion on the notion that the ensuing political process of finding a proper replacement would be a circus and demoralize the nation. No surprise there, as the President and his supporters believe the really important war they're fighting is one here at home to regain popularity.

And so politics triumphs over progress. It is the Republican way, you know.

[PS- War critics- aka the majority of Americans- are merely pawns in the media manipulation orchestrated by Zarqawi and bin Laden. They don't want us to know how great the war is going. This we also now know due to the collective wisdoms of Masters Donald Rumsfeld and Rush Limbaugh. God bless them and America. We will need his blessings in our weakened, manipulated state.]

Two Sides Of The Same Coin?

The hotheaded leaders of the U.S. and Iran continue their war of words.

President Bush today (in addition to pledging- tee hee- 'diplomacy'):
"All options are on the table."

Translation: "Yes, I'm planning to nuke Iran. Suck on it, America. I'm the King."

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad today:
"Iran's enemies know your courage, faith and commitment to Islam and the land of Iran has created a powerful army that can powerfully defend the political borders and the integrity of the Iranian nation — and cut off the hand of any aggressor and place the sign of disgrace on their forehead."

Translation: "I'm crazy. I want to make America too scared to touch me. Are they buying it?"

This is amidst growing clues about U.S. covert actions already underway in Iran.

And as the November elections approach, so too the rhetoric will grow. And we should keep paying attention and calling our leaders on their obvious insanity. After all, we don't want the smoking gun to come in the form of a mushroom cloud, now do we?

[PS- This was the photo that originally ran with the Bush article. Way to be obvious, guys.]

Gore In '08?

There's some buzz indicating he may be considering a run.

I welcome it. He's head and shoulders above any of the rumored Democratic hopefuls so far (with the exception of Sen. Feingold- whom the Democrats will never give the nomination- who may be better suited for a VP role). I voted for Gore once, I wouldn't hesitate to do it again. He already won the popular vote in a tight race after a lackluster campaign; imagine what he can do now that he's got some fire in his belly and eight years of time to rebound.

In the meantime, check out the trailer for his global warming documentary (a must-see):
Apple- Trailer- An Inconvenient Truth

Bernstein: Senate Hearings on Bush, Now

Carl Bernstein pens a lengthy article in the new Vanity Fair on the immediate need for "bipartisan hearings investigating the Bush presidency". This, along with Ron Reagan's Esquire article before the '04 election and the recent Harpers article, ranks as one of the must-read articles on this presidency...

Key excerpts-
...In terms of imminent, meaningful action by the Congress, however, the question of whether the president should be impeached (or, less severely, censured) remains premature. More important, it is essential that the Senate vote—hopefully before the November elections, and with overwhelming support from both parties—to undertake a full investigation of the conduct of the presidency of George W. Bush, along the lines of the Senate Watergate Committee's investigation during the presidency of Richard M. Nixon...

...After Nixon's resignation, it was often said that the system had worked. Confronted by an aberrant president, the checks and balances on the executive by the legislative and judicial branches of government, and by a free press, had functioned as the founders had envisioned.

The system has thus far failed during the presidency of George W. Bush—at incalculable cost in human lives, to the American political system, to undertaking an intelligent and effective war against terror, and to the standing of the United States in parts of the world where it previously had been held in the highest regard...

He's right.

But the elephant in the room, pun intended, is that the system is failing because George Bush controls all aspects of our country's government- the Executive branch (with even traditionally nonpartisan outlets as the Justice Department mere outlets of his office), the Congress, a majority of the Supreme Court- and has a complicit media too scared of bias accusations to ask the right questions. Even with record low approval ratings, this President has maintained his airtight grip on our government, choking off the constitutional checks and balances that could see him held to account for his actions. Until one of those things shifts (as the House and/or Senate may this Fall), there will be no check on this Presidency and the system will continue to fail us.

This is why the Fall election is so important and why the White House is so active in trying to influence its outcome.

Expect a lot of desperate tactics (and maybe an October surprise or two) as it approaches...

President Bush Cuts And Runs From Gay Families

On Thursday, I quickly posted about how gay parents were planning to line up far in advance to be among the first to receive tickets to the annual White House easter egg roll. They believed that gay families should be represented at the event. Well they did line up and they did get tickets. However...

Pandagon Via Wonkette-
...This year, at the last minute, for the first time, the policy for distributing tickets to the White House Easter Egg Roll has changed, with the families waiting outside all night to get opening time tickets receiving tickets with an entrance time of 11AM or later — after the cameras have rolled for the opening ceremonies of the event, because the egg roll is slated for 8 a.m. to 2 p.m, according to the White House press release.

So, the bob and weave is complete — they cannot bar the gay families, but they can try to ensure invisibility to avoid a PR nightmare for the Bushies and their religious right masters...

Other sources confirm the idea that the gay families were purposely screwed.

Smart move. If the Bushes' evangelical base saw them interact with an actual living homosexual, they might just explode. Their entire world would literally collapse around them. And with the President's approval ratings pretty much resting with them and the pro-war loyalists, he can't afford to give them the vapors like that.

And the AP covered the story, but left out the details of how the White House changed the ticket policy...

Gay parents quietly crash White House Easter party
US President George W. Bush and his wife Laura launched the annual White House Easter egg party while managing to avoid any awkward moments with dozens of gay couples and their children who attended the outdoor event...

Yes, how awkward it would've been to... talk to gay people?

The article also states-
Despite the opposition of conservative religious groups, Bush and his wife Laura chose not to prevent the gay parents from attending.

You mean he didn't have them banned or arrested? What an amazing champion of tolerance!

Isn't this just amazing- our scared wittle Pwesident. The guy so tough, he's ready to nuke Iran. The guy so resolute and strong, his supporters believe he's the only capable of standing up to terrorists. And yet a few gay parents announce they're coming to the White House to roll eggs with their kids and he craps his underoos and hides in fear. What a big, strong man. What an inspiring leader....

What a pathetic, sad little man.

[PS- Laura had no trouble meeting with the singing 'Katrina Kids'.]

"It leads everywhere. Get out your notebook. There's more..."

Is the NH Republican phone-jamming scandal another Watergate?

The NY Times looks at the similar questions that arose in both situations-

A Small-Time Crime With Hints of Big-Time Connections Lights Up the Net

Blueduck On Rumsfeld's Position As Secretary Of Defense...

..."Well, you know, this, too, will pass."

Washington Post: Rumsfeld Is Unruffled by Calls for Resignation

Monday, April 17, 2006

Are Bush Supporters Still Debating Plame's Covert Status?...

...Next thing you know they'll still be insisting the President didn't mislead us about Iraq.

From TPMmuckraker-
The newly-enterprising New York Sun got its hands on a key State Department memo from 2003 that identifies Valerie (Plame) Wilson as the wife of Joe Wilson. It's an informative new piece of the Plame puzzle -- only the Sun uses it to prove pretty much the exact opposite of what it shows. At least that's what an high-ranking intel source familiar with the memo tells us.

Here are the basic details.

Every graf of the three-page doc was marked "Secret," including the one that mentions Valerie Plame. The Sun comes to the up-is-down conclusion that her identity, therefore, wasn't a secret...

But, but... Joe Wilson! Bush declassified! Is this Clinton's fault? Libs, moonbats... Iraq did have WMDs... I... I [*explodes*]

I must admit- Their willingness to embrace every scandal against Clinton but to mentally exonerate Bush/Cheney for everything is mighty impressive. It takes special cognitive skills that us mere mortals do not possess. Me? I know a conspiracy when I see it, especially one executed by a group as incompetent as this one.

[Previous entries:
-Valerie Plame *WAS* Covert...
-Libby knew Plame was covert?]

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

The AT&T/NSA story continues to get press with an editorial in today's NY Times-
A former AT&T employee has come forward with documents suggesting that there may be a lot more domestic spying going on than President Bush has admitted. The AT&T documents suggest that telephone companies may be helping the government engage in wholesale interception of telephone calls, e-mail messages and Web surfing. If AT&T is violating its customers' privacy rights, it should come clean, and stop immediately...

Now if only we could convince people to be concerned about this...

[PS- Congrats to James Risen and Eric Lichtblau at the Times on their Pulitzer for the NSA story!]

Links of the Day: Random GOP Insanity

I came across a lot of crap today... Here's the highlights.

#1- If you want a definitive example of how completely deluded and out of touch with reality the Republican Congress is, look no further than Sen. George Allen (R-VA)'s interview on yesterday's 'Face The Nation'. Sen. Allen spews talking point after tired talking point and is just a huge tool. He refuses to state what he thinks should be done with Sec. Rumsfeld, falling back on, as Schieffer notes, "the default position that people fall back on when they don't want to comment on somebody in the government. They say, well, that's up to the President." Allen's a good lil' soldier and Schieffer saw through it. On Iraq, he refuses to acknowledge the serious setbacks preventing progress and, when pressed for an idea on when to exit, parrots back the President's 'when they stand up, we'll stand down' line. Finally, on immigration, he tries to play nice by mentioning that he's a parent of immigrants (awww), but that he can't support amnesty proposals (ignoring that no such proposal was made; the Republicans called the proposals- those with numerous punishments and hurdles- which led to citizenship 'amnesty'). He then refused to say whether he was running for President. I hope he does, of course, I really want a Democrat to win. You can listen to an audio podcast at iTunes. A transcript is available- here. Money quote-
"I think the Republicans need to stand up for the rule of law."

I... I don't even know where to begin with that one.

#2- Michelle Malkin, when she's not busy causing protestors to get death threats, has a new idea on how to get Congress to keep all brown people away from her Republican eyes get tough on illegal immigration... assisting a movement to "send bricks to Washington encouraging our Congressmen to stand tough on border security". Yes, actual bricks. She then features images of sample bricks and instructions on how to mail them (Priority Mail preferred; time is of the essence here). Yea, friggin' great idea, you racist moron... have all your unhinged readers mail a weapon to members of the United States Congress.

Good luck with that; I hope you weren't planning to fly anywhere this summer.

#3- From the party that magically made ketchup a vegetable and classified fast-food work as 'manufacturing' jobs, comes the next cool way to hide their plundering of our nation. Before resigning to escape the Abramoff scandal spend more time with her family, Interior Secretary Gale Norton held a press conference to proudly announce that wetland loss had reversed in the past few years. Great news, right?! Well, not so fast there.

As Field and Stream notes, "The Bush Administration announced that the nation is no longer losing wetlands--as long as you consider golf course water hazards to be wetlands." Yup. By reclassifying golf course water traps/ponds (which Republicans no doubt see a lot of) as 'wetlands', they were able to make the numbers appear to say the losses had been reversed. As the article further notes, "The boldness of Norton's claim was particularly galling given the Bush Administration's record on wetlands. President Bush, like other presidents before him, promised a policy of 'no net loss' of wetlands, but his administration has consistently supported rollbacks of the Clean Water Act to satisfy industry and development." President Bush? Lie? Fail to keep a promise? Nah. I'll say this- when you have Field and Stream magazine pissed at you, you've got a lot of problems.

What fun can we expect from the GOP tomorrow? Stay tuned!

More Iran

In response to a new article pushing for war by Weekly Standard editor, and grandfather of neoconservatism, William Kristol, blogger Glenn Greenwald responds to their fearmongering and false analogies by looking at the framework the Iran rhetoric is placed in by the neocons-
As Bush followers gear up for another election year campaign to start a war, they are using exactly the same rhetorical tactics and are revealing precisely the same mindset to which we were subjected during the 2002 campaign for the Iraq War. What is starkly apparent from this repetition is that their awareness of history and knowledge of the world is sadly confined to one singular event, which is all they know and which, rather bizarrely, they have a need to live over and over and over again.

To pro-Bush war supporters, the world is forever stuck in the 1930s. Every leader we don't like is Adolph Hitler, a crazed and irrational lunatic who wants to dominate the world. Every country opposed to our interests is Nazi Germany.

From this it follows that every warmonger is the glorious reincarnation of the brave and resolute Winston Churchill. And one who opposes or even questions any proposed war becomes the lowly and cowardly appeaser, Neville Chamberlain. For any and every conflict that arises, the U.S. is in the identical position of France and England in 1937 – faced with an aggressive and militaristic Nazi Germany, will we shrink from our grand fighting duties in appeasement and fear, or will we stand tall and strong and wage glorious war?

With that cartoonish framework in place, war is always the best option. It is the only option for those who are noble, strong, and fearless. Conversely, the sole reason for opposing a war is that one is a weak-minded and weak-willed appeaser who harbors dangerous fantasies of negotiating with madmen. Diplomacy and containment are simply elevated, PC terms for “appeasement.” War is the only option that works.

Bill Kristol, the pundit and Weekly Standard editor who likely exerted the greatest influence in persuading Americans to support an invasion of Iraq, is not the slightest bit deterred, or ashamed, by the fact that virtually every bit of pre-war wisdom he offered led to disaster and every prognostication he made was dead wrong. To the contrary, he is once again parading around with pretenses of great warrior nobility and military wisdom, this time leading the war dance against all of the new Hitlers in Iran...

As Glenn notes, this is a very old trick and they've used it before.

The question is, of course, how much gas is left in that beat-up old tank. Neoconservatism has been running on fumes in light of the Iraq debacle (with key players like Francis Fukuyama 'repenting' or facing trial like Scooter Libby), but my gut tells me that have enough left to squeeze out one more war... if it hasn't already begun. This is especially likely since they've spent years laying the groundwork painting Iran as the greatest to the world- EVER. This time we mean it, they insist. This time will be different, they plead. Ignore how every aspect of their policy has failed, ignore how they have helped spread theocratic authority in the MidEast and inflamed terrorism, ignore that they have no plan or exit strategy for the two wars they're already running into the ground, ignore that even their own military leaders and key allies like Blair are running away from all this. That's unimportant- they don't see the BIG PICTURE (©2001- Bush/Cheney, Inc.) that only the President, in his divinely-gifted wisdom, can. History will vindicate them, they say... if we survive it and if it forgives them.

It was only a little over 3 years ago that we went down this same road. The rhetoric, the fearmongering, the attacks of patriotism and strength of any who questioned the path, and the soft questioning and behavior on the part of the media and the Congress. People are beginning to notice- thanks to Seymour Hersh and some angry generals- but it might too late. People didn't listen to us the last time; ignore that we were right about Iraq. Out of their continued arrogance (after all, we're just concerned Americans, we're not big-time beltway insiders and pundits who get paid to be righteous about their convential wisdom reality), I doubt they'll listen to us this time either.

But hey, maybe I'm wrong. Maybe somebody can/will stop this madness. No doubt we'll find out soon before the elections.

Are We Already At War In Iran?...

...That is a question many bloggers are trying to figure out.

Digby looks for clues... He posts an excerpt from a CNN interview last week with the retired Colonel Sam Gardiner in which he indicates from what he's heard that secret, pre-war military actions are already quietly underway in Iran. This wouldn't, of course, be surprising. There have been numerous stories to indicate that the U.S. began similar actions in Iraq in 2002, months before war was officially declared. Here's the key section from that interview-
CLANCY: Well, Colonel Gardiner, from what you're saying, it would seem like military men, then, might be cautioning, don't go ahead with this. But what are the signs that are out there right now? Is there any evidence of any movement in that direction?

GARDINER: Sure. Actually, Jim, I would say -- and this may shock some -- I think the decision has been made and military operations are under way.



GARDINER: The secondary point is, the Iranians have been saying American military troops are in there, have been saying it for almost a year. I was in Berlin two weeks ago, sat next to the ambassador, the Iranian ambassador to the IAEA. And I said, "Hey, I hear you're accusing Americans of being in there operating with some of the units that have shot up revolution guard units."

He said, quite frankly, "Yes, we know they are. We've captured some of the units, and they've confessed to working with the Americans."

The evidence is mounting that that decision has already been made, and I don't know that the other part of that has been completed, that there has been any congressional approval to do this.

My view of the plan is, there is this period in which some kinds of ground troops will operate inside Iran, and then what we're talking about is the second part, which is this air strike.

Digby concludes-
I really think it's possible that Bush and Rummy have already got a secret war going on, one that has not been revealed to congress in any form. It's designed that way. Bush is not going to fire Rummy --- he can't. He's already committed himself to this thing. This could be the ultimate action of the unitary executive.

That last point is one that has been mentioned a few times... the idea that the President's belief in the unitary executive means that he can take on any military adventure he chooses, no matter the Congress or the public says otherwise. He would not be in the wrong to do so, under this theory of power. Ignore that one of the reasons Richard Nixon almost got impeached was because of the secret war he started in Cambodia. President Bush and his advisors (Yoo, Gonzales, etc.) have spent years laying the 'inherent authority' groundwork to give him unlimited powers as 'Commander-In-Chief'. Laws requiring warrants and court oversight of surveillance and spying? Not for this President. The new congressional ban on torture? Not for this President. Oversight requirements in the Patriot Act renewal? Not for this President. And so on and so on. And every time, Congress got steamed at first and then- like the rubberstamp pansies they are- gave up and resigned themselves to their fate. And so if they are waiting for the President to come to them for congressional authorization for whatever he's doing or planning for Iran, they are very naive. He doesn't believe he needs their authorization; he has his own already which he believe trumps all else. The President's belief is that wartime (a very vague term, since a war on terror is by definition vast and continuous) gives him unlimited power, as long as he can somehow justify what he does in the name of 'protecting' us.

We've seen reports that the White House was prepared to go into Iraq without seeking a congressional resolution. They believed they didn't need it- after all, Congress had already authorized him to fight the war on terror and Iraq, Iran, and any country Bush decides can be squeezed into those parameters as he sees fit. When he realized he had the votes without doubt, he opted for the resolution for the sake of appearance. If he has doubts, and he should, that a resolution for force in Iran could pass, he will simply proceed without Congress and maybe- if they're lucky- keep them in the loop as he goes. That's the benefit of being a military dictator the unitary executive.

Digby also has a follow-up, with even more evidence from numerous sources painting the picture that there is more happening here with Iran that meets the eye. As Richard Clarke and Steven Simon said in the NY Times op-ed I linked to yesterday, "the current level of activity in the Pentagon suggests more than just standard contingency planning or tactical saber-rattling."

Firedoglake also analyzes the latest news findings.

It is also my belief that all of this is what is prompting all these generals to speak out against Rumsfeld now. Why now? Why not after Abu Ghraib? Why not before the '04 election? Why not right after Iraq began descending into civil war? The only new situation that could have prompted all of this is the firing up of action and planning toward Iran. Seymour Hersh's New Yorker article featured plenty of anonymous quotes from military figures expressing great concern and panic over what the White House and Pentagon are planning. Most likely, these generals (already disgusted at seeing Rumsfeld having disgraced the U.S. military for a generation) are frightened at the prospect of Rummy leading this country into a preemptive nuclear nightmare that could cause war to break out all over the Middle East... if not even beyond the region.

While this is not something most Americans would be quick to admit or accept, the people currently running this country are madmen. They are delusional, they believe they have unlimited power, and they won't accept or acknowledge their countless failures when it comes to fulfilling the military agenda they came into office with. Iran is a genuine concern (I wrote about my concerns with this situation back in January), but they are not the imminent threat, like they also said Iraq was, that the White House wants us to fear. In dealing with this, there is a right path, a wrong path, and an insane path. Not surprising the Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld group wants the latter. While it is comforting that it seems most Americans see how insane the idea is- shouldn't the President win one of his two wars before starting a third?- the President has never cared what anyone thinks. He doesn't govern by the Constitution polls. He listens to God and/or his gut. Whether this war does or doesn't happen is solely to his discretion.

Jeebus help us all.

[PS- Think this is some kind of liberal paranoia? That's how they blew us off about Iraq in 2002/2003 too (and like then, liberals/critics are being accused now by the Bush cultists of 'undermining' the President in wartime). How'd the facts turn out on that? You're welcome.]

[PS- Watch National Review's Jonah Goldberg and AmericaBlog's John Aravosis debate Iran and leaks.]

Coming In The Charts This Week At #1....

The Perrspectives blog once again takes a look at the week's Top GOP hits, now streaming 24-7 at the Washington Times' editorial board and a Fox News pundit near you...

The tumultuous events of the past week have led to a complete shake-up of the Top 10 GOP Sound Bites. Rumored plans for military strikes against Iran, revelations regarding President Bush's authorization to leak classified national security information to target political foes and the resignation of Tom Delay have combined to send some newcomers up the rankings and drop some old favorites off the charts.

Rocketing to number one is the thrash metal "Wild Speculation (Fantasy Land)" by George Bush and Donald Rumsfeld. Coming in a close second is the poetic and heartfelt ballad by Scott McClellan and President Bush, "(Leaking Is In) The Public Interest." Holding its ground at #3 is "Ongoing Investigation" from the White House platinum release, "PlameGame", while the previous #1, "Terrorist Surveillance Program" dropped to fourth.

Falling off the charts this week are some Republican oldie but goodies. After 200 weeks on the Bushboard Top 10, Condi Rice's 2002 chart-topper "Smoking Gun, Mushroom Cloud" fell out of the rankings. And for the first time since 2000, George Bush's poignant NCLB ballad, "Soft Bigotry of Low Expectations" didn't crack the Top 10.

I'm personally getting really sick of these songs. Let's change the station, okay?

A Bad Leak

The NY Times sets the record straight on the President and his leaking ways...
President Bush says he declassified portions of the prewar intelligence assessment on Iraq because he "wanted people to see the truth" about Iraq's weapons programs and to understand why he kept accusing Saddam Hussein of stockpiling weapons that turned out not to exist. This would be a noble sentiment if it actually bore any relationship to Mr. Bush's actions in this case, or his overall record...

Daaaaamnnnn, them's fightin' words! Me likes.

The key section-
Since Mr. Bush regularly denounces leakers, the White House has made much of the notion that he did not leak classified information, he declassified it. This explanation strains credulity. Even a president cannot wave a wand and announce that an intelligence report is declassified.

To declassify an intelligence document, officials have to decide whether disclosing the information would jeopardize the sources that provided it or the methods used to gather it. To answer that question, they closely study the origins of the intelligence to be disclosed. Had Mr. Bush done that, he should have seen that the most credible information made it clear that the Niger story was wrong. (In any case, Iraq's supposed attempt to buy uranium from Niger happened four years before the invasion, and failed. The idea that this amounted to a current, aggressive and continuing campaign to build nuclear weapons in 2002 — as Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney called it — is laughable.)


The editorial also discusses the President and Vice President's false statements about the Iraq 'weapons' trailers.

Take that, Washington Post.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Happy Easter!

AP: Political Impasse Delays Iraq Parliament

[PS- Listen to the President's Weekly Radio Address on Easter.]

Tony Blair, Balls Reunited

Another sign of the shifting tide- Blair refuses to back Iran strike
TONY Blair has told George Bush that Britain cannot offer military support to any strike on Iran, regardless of whether the move wins the backing of the international community, government sources claimed yesterday...

Ouch, George. That's gotta hurt.

Berlusconi's out of power, Blair's putting his foot down... is the Bush/Cheney/Rummy cabal ready to really go it alone?

Elsewhere, the pushback against the idea of another disastrous, preemptive war continues to spread. In a new NY Times op-ed piece, former National Security Council counterterrorism gurus Richard Clarke and Steven Simon warn against the dangers of what the Bush administration is planning- noting in detail the ripple effects our actions could have. A recommended read. The money quote from their conclusion:
The parallels to the run-up to to war with Iraq are all too striking: remember that in May 2002 President Bush declared that there was "no war plan on my desk" despite having actually spent months working on detailed plans for the Iraq invasion. Congress did not ask the hard questions then. It must not permit the administration to launch another war whose outcome cannot be known, or worse, known all too well.

More of this, please. It's what we didn't get in 2002 and what we sorely need now.

[PS- Democrats, feel free to step in on this anytime now. Thanks.]