Friday, January 19, 2007

Weekend YouTube Theatre: Satire Meets Reality

The weekend means light blogging for me. In the meantime, here are some links to recommended YouTube viewing-- the already-infamous O'Reilly/Colbert meeting. Enjoy!

Stephen Colbert stops by the O'Reilly Factor...

...And then Bill'O returns the favor on The Colbert Report.


The theme of President Bush's new Iraq plan, we were told, is 'sacrifice'. And gosh, us Americans sure do understand sacrifice! After 9/11, as the country went to war, the President asked a great sacrifice of Americans... go shopping some more and don't ask too many questions. It was a lot to ask, but most Americans did their part.

Since that time, and especially after the President elected to start a new war that made little sense, some Americans (who clearly weren't sufficiently patriotic) began to ask questions about why the President wasn't asking for greater sacrifices (ie. rescinding his dubious tax cuts, demanding those who support the war enlist, etc) for a cause he called the most important in U.S. history? The other night, on PBS Newshour, the President explained that Americans are already making a great sacrifice-
LEHRER: Let me ask you a bottom-line question, Mr. President. If it is as important as you’ve just said - and you’ve said it many times - as all of this is, particularly the struggle in Iraq, if it’s that important to all of us and to the future of our country, if not the world, why have you not, as president of the United States, asked more Americans and more American interests to sacrifice something? The people who are now sacrificing are, you know, the volunteer military - the Army and the U.S. Marines and their families. They’re the only people who are actually sacrificing anything at this point.

BUSH: Well, you know, I think a lot of people are in this fight. I mean, they sacrifice peace of mind when they see the terrible images of violence on TV every night. I mean, we’ve got a fantastic economy here in the United States, but yet, when you think about the psychology of the country, it is somewhat down because of this war.

Thanks for continuing to do your part by not changing the channel, Americans!

Meanwhile, big talk is being made out of the news that Democratic senators have introduced "a resolution opposing President George W. Bush's plan to send 21,000 additional US troops to Iraq as 'not in the national interest of the United States'." This bill is already gaining support from some Republicans; a similar resolution is expected in the House. Of course, as Stephen Colbert mocked on Tuesday night, this is a non-binding resolution. I understand the political realities they are working in, but political timidy got us into this mess... we need something more than symbols to get us out.

By the way, the cost of this debacle? $1.2 trillion. Oh, and thousands of lives.

[PS- Prime Minister al-Maliki to Bush: Give us all your guns and then you can go.]

Thursday, January 18, 2007

More Odds and Ends

Just some quick follow-ups on stories before I head home...

Glenn Greenwald, who's written about the warrantless wiretapping story more than most in the country outside of the NY Times (he even wrote a best-selling book on the President's theories of power), has written an article for Salon today on this. He tries to sift through the headlines of the administration's announcement and find out what's really going on.

He also live-blogged Gonzales' Senate Judiciary Committee appearance today; a must-read.

You know that whole accusing Democrats of coddling terrorists thing? Big misunderstanding.

Justin Rood at TPMmuckraker looks at part of that hearing devoted to the Bush administration's replacement of numerous U.S. Attorneys without Senate approval, as justified by a provision of the Patriot Act. Gonzales was, obviously, less than forthcoming with answers.

Meanwhile, Federal Reserve chair Ben Bernanke warns America of its impending fiscal doom.

With the initial '100 Hours' legislative agenda complete, Speaker Pelosi seeks to create a select committee on global warming; sets a July 4 deadline for a bill that would "truly declare our energy independence." Consider me skeptically optimistic.

And Rep. Kucinich (D-OH) wants to bring back the media fairness doctrine.

Time magazine bloggers are shocked- shocked!- that Republican Senators would sabotage the ethics reform bill.

(UPDATE: The Senate just passed the ethics bill on the second try, with two Republicans voting no. Unfortunately, the 'compromise' Sen. Reid made with the GOP was to allow them to re-offer their line-item demand as part of the next bill-- the minimum wage increase. That won't end well.)

Finally, tonight Stephen Colbert and Bill O'Reilly appear on each other's shows. Must-TIVO.

President Bush Caves On Warrantless Wiretapping??

A big twist in one of the most underreported scandals of the Bush administration-
President Bush has decided not to renew a program of domestic spying on terrorism suspects, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said on Wednesday, ending a tactic criticized for infringing on civil liberties.

Gonzales said electronic surveillance will be subject to approval from a secret but independent court, which Democrats in Congress and other critics have demanded during more than a year of fierce debate.

"The president has determined not to reauthorize the Terrorist Surveillance Program when the current authorization expires," Gonzales wrote in a letter to congressional leaders that disclosed the administration's shift in approach...

Sad day in America when it's newsworthy that the President has decided to follow the law.

Let's review... In late 2005, the NY Times revealed that the administration had been carrying out its eavesdropping without court-orders/warrants, as required by the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) and the Fourth Amendment. This was in spite of numerous statements by the President in years past that all surveillance was done with court approval. The White House proceeded to argue that the warrantless spying was legal and constitutional, and that security concerns were so urgent they couldn't bother with the warrants (ignoring that existing law allowed for retroactive warrants to be granted in emergencies/war-time). How violating FISA made any operational difference was never addressed, and many reports indicated the spying was very widespread and collected information from innocent Americans.

Those arguments are moot, as they've conceded FISA has legal control over wiretapping.

That this comes right after the Democrats gain control of Congress is no coincidence. The White House knew their actual case on this issue was weak, and with their Republican Rubberstampers no longer in power, they were merely accepting the inevitable (my non-existent kingdom for political reality to catch up to the war like this!).

To me the big headline here is this... After one year of legal/constitutional battles, President Bush has been revealed to be a liar. This decision goes contrary to every argument they made-- that FISA was irrelevant and/or unconstitutional, that the warrantless program was all-important to our security, that even discussing it aids the terrorists, etc. I wonder how betrayed the Bush cultists feel now?

The White House, of course, is spinning this to avoid the image of them caving. Attorney General Gonzales is saying that these changes have been planned since early 2005 and have simply been finalized now. This is a complete lie. If it were true, there is no way that the White House wouldn't have told Congress and the courts of a planned compromise when the controversy (and talk of impeachment) arose last year.

Happy at the outcome; angry at how we got here. Glenn Greenwald has similar sentiments-
There is no repentance here, nor (more importantly) is there any rescission of their claimed powers of lawbreaking. Quite the contrary...

This "reversal" merely proves what we already knew -- that there was never any legitimate reason to violate FISA in the first place, and that all of the claims about how they had to in order to stop The Terrorists were complete fiction.

There is also concern that this concession may not be complete. As Greenwald notes, the White House still doesn't concede the actual legal/constitutional issues surrounding this scandal. So one shouldn't be too surprised to learn in the future that we're not getting the full story.

Josh Marshall looks at a NY Times piece which indicates that the White House may be simply planning to have the court rubberstamp whole programs of spying, as opposed to the individualized warrants required by law. Shayana Kadidal, of the Center for Constitutional Rights, has more detailed thoughts on that front.

Clearly, this story isn't over yet. And, of course, this could be a... you know... lie.

An upside? It shows that the administration is really, really scared at what congressional oversight will reveal. All the more reason for Chairman Leahy and others to heat up their investigations and get the answers the White House is so determined to hide. As Sen. Schumer said yesterday, "[W]hile I welcome the decision to stop conducting surveillance without judicial approval, the President now needs to respond fully to legitimate congressional questions about the complete history of this now-terminated illegal program."

FYI, Alberto Gonzales will be appearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee today.

Iran Offered Concessions In 2003; Cheney Said No

In 2003, Iran offered to officially renounce its ties to terrorist groups and make its nuclear program more transparent. The State Department was ready to deal, but Cheney nixed the deal. The reason? Cheney believed that we shouldn't 'talk to evil'.

Yet more evidence of what this administration's hatred of diplomacy and compromise has brought us. And now they are threatening Iran with war, having helped create the conditions that they are using to justify this saber-rattling. Has there ever been an administration with this backwards a foreign policy?

BBC News: Washington 'snubbed Iran offer'--
Iran offered the US a package of concessions in 2003, but it was rejected, a senior former US official has told the BBC's Newsnight programme

[UPDATE: US military buildup in the Persian Gulf grows. KCRW's 'To The Point' has analysis.

UPDATE #2: Iranian president Ahmadinejad is losing internal support on the nuclear issue.]

Hot Air

Like clockwork, the impending State of the Union address means it's time once again for the Bush administration to pretend it cares about the environment. Here's the latest-
President Bush will outline a policy on global warming next week in his State of the Union speech but has not dropped his opposition to mandatory limits on greenhouse-gas emissions, the White House said on Tuesday...

..."We'll have a State of the Union address in a week and we'll lay out our policy on global warming," Snow said when asked whether British Prime Minister Tony Blair had persuaded Bush to agree to tougher action to combat global warming...

Pardon me for my incredible skepticism, but I have something known as a memory.

Last year, at this time, the administration leaked that one big aspect of the State of the Union address was going to be alternative energy sources. Not a surprise, because in the wake of Katrina's near-destruction of the Gulf Coast (remember that?), environmental concerns were high on Americans' minds. Reread my post from then... what the administration was proposing was big stuff: hydrogen fuel stations, corn-based ethanol production, solar-powered homes, etc. Sure enough, in the speech, the President discussed these issues, telling us that-- wait for it-- we are addicted to oil. Oh my gosh!

But a few days later, we got this news: "One day after President Bush vowed to reduce America's dependence on Middle East oil by cutting imports from there 75 percent by 2025, his energy secretary and national economic adviser said Wednesday that the president didn't mean it literally." Bold added by me because... well, wow.

It wasn't just the 2006 speech either. As Think Progress documented last year, lofty environmental promises are an annual feature of George W. Bush's State of the Union addresses. And his failure to follow up on those promises-- and his expectation that we will forget all of this-- are also an annual tradition.

So when the President speaks about global warming next week, and when the press reports this as if it's all new, remember to ignore it. The congress is planning a number of anti-climate change bills soon, but I don't expect the President to sign any bills that really dig deep into the issue. I don't think anybody really believes that anything substantive will be done about this until sometime in 2009 at the earliest.

Is There Any Democratic Proposal The President Will Support?

Here's the latest from the House of Representatives-
The Democratic-controlled House voted overwhelmingly to cut interest rates on need-based student loans Wednesday, steadily whittling its list of early legislative priorities...

...The House legislation, passed 356-71, would slice rates on the subsidized loans from 6.8 percent to 3.4 percent in stages over five years at a cost to taxpayers of $6 billion. About 5.5 million students get the loans each year...

...The House bill aims to reduce the $6 billion cost by reducing the government's guaranteed return to lenders that make student loans, cutting back the amount the government pays for defaulted loans and requiring banks to pay more in fees. Lending institutions opposed the bill...

They're not the only ones who oppose it. From National Journal (via Think Progress), we learn that the Bush administration last night "declared its opposition to the House Democrats’ proposed cutting of student loan interest rates." I couldn't find the reason why, and I probably don't want to know.

So let's review... the administration said they oppose raising the minimum wage, unless Congress includes tax cuts for small businesses too (but will obviously will sign the bill regardless as political reality). They also have stated opposition to a bill requiring the government to negotiate with drug companies over the price of medicines. They obviously oppose federal funding for stem-cell research, since it is the only thing Bush has vetoed in his entire presidency (that's gonna change big time now). And the next bill on the House agenda-- ending subsidies for Big Oil and investing In renewable energy-- is guaranteed to be a no-no for the President.

So I am back to my original question: Is there any Democratic proposal the President will support (or, at least, not put up a fight on)? A poll last month showed that "By 59% to 21%, Americans say Congress rather than Mr. Bush should take the lead in setting policy for the nation." That's a landslide. And yet, by instinct, this President refuses to say 'yes' to anything this Congress wants.

President Clinton, by contrast, compromised often with the then-GOP Congress. Often his compromises even went too far to the right-- banning gays from the military, welfare 'reform'. But the relationship between the two branches, for the most part, worked as it should (let's ignore the impeachment debacle for now). President Bush, on the other hand, only recognizes one branch of government... his.

Tim F. at Balloon Juice has a good post noting that the President's days of influencing the legislative process are over and that Democrats should ignore him. Alas, the Democrats can pass the bills, but they need the President to sign them. He still has his role to play. On this note, Tim states "If Bush wants to veto bill after bill that would bring the federal house in order then so be it, his party can pay the price for failing to override." I agree with that, but ideally this wouldn't even be an issue. Is it 2009 yet?

[PS- Over in the Senate, Republicans have scuttled an ethics reform deal.]

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

THIS Is Why The Patriot Act Is Bad

I'm behind on this story, but I will try to get the gist of it.

When the Patriot Act was passed in 2001 (and re-passed a year ago), we were told it was all about national security and protecting Americans. Those, like myself, who feared that it was just an excuse to consolidate executive power were told we were silly.

Now we learn that the Bush administration is firing U.S. attorneys across the country-- all involved in high-profile investigations of Bush administration officials and key Republican lawmakers, natch-- and replacing them with Republican cronies. This has happened to seven federal prosecutors so far, at last count. And the replacements are being appointed without Senate approval, as is normally required. And how is this decidely Nixonian act legal? Because of a provision of the Patriot Act, that's how.

Talking Points Memo has been thoroughly following this story.

No one seemed to even know this provision was in the Patriot Act until this story broke (Sen. Feinstein, who twice voted for the bill, sure was unpleasantly surprised). My obvious follow-up to this story is... what else is in this 'Patriot Act' that we don't know about? Methinks a certain Democratic congress might want to start finding out.

Odds and Ends

Anyone still reading this blog? Either way, I'm back. Here's what I missed...

Scooter Libby's trial enters its second day, with a spotlight on Cheney.

Freshmen Senator Jim Webb will deliver the Democratic rebuttal to the State of the Union.

Democrats are seeking to correct their reputation as extreme on many issues, such as abortion: "In their first days in session, Senate Democratic leaders reintroduced a bill that they said was indicative of their new approach: the Prevention First Act, which seeks to reduce the number of abortions by expanding access to birth control, family planning and sex education." They are also reaching out on economic issues and other issues like stem-cell research. Of course, such common-sense policies are only newsworthy because they've been wholly absent from our politics for the past six years.

Congress is keeping an eye on White House's moves toward Iran and won't be fooled again.

The new It-Senator, Barack Obama, is one step closer to announcing a presidential run.

On the GOP side, anti-immigration congressman Tom Tancredo is also thinking about it.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

'Incomplete, Oversimplified and Possibly Untrue'

McClatchy Newspapers has a must-read article on the administration's misleading statements on Iraq.

In related news, the President was on '60 Minutes' last night. Apparently, the interview was quite a doozy (but what's new there?). I didn't see it, but those who did examined the high(?)lights.

Americablog shows how Bush acknowledged as correct a line of inquiry on how his pre-war assertions were all false, but then insists that he has been straight with the American people (an assertion that is, in itself, false). Talking Points Memo looks at Bush using the nuclear canard in regards to Iran and Iraq (imagine if they did have nukes-- scary!!). Finally, a blog at The American Prospect notes that Bush said that what really bothers Americans is that the 'gratitude level' from the Iraqis is not 'significant enough'.

I'm really glad I didn't see that, my poor brain cells have suffered enough.

I posted about the politics of this on Sunday, but let's not forget there are lives at stake too.

Meanwhile, In Afghanistan...

Sec. of Defense Gates travels to Afghanistan to find out what the hell is going on.

'Yikes', he probably thought, 'I didn't realize I was hired to clean up two wars!' (and maybe even start one or two more, hey why not, right?). Gates discussed the possibilities of maybe trying to do something about the Taliban, and maybe trying to make the government we created relevant beyond the capitol. "Success in Afghanistan is our top priority," he said.

Ahhh, if wishes were ponies, truly our foreign policy would be in need of many stables.

[PS- Speaking of wishes and ponies, Sec. Rice said today she plans a three-way summit to "bring Israeli and Palestinian leaders together soon for what she called informal talks on how to set up a Palestinian state". This meeting, they insist, will be different than others that have failed in recent years. Let's keep our fingers crossed and our skepticism high.]

Big Brother Keeps Getting More Big Brother-y

Remember, these aren't isolated stories, just more pieces in the larger puzzle...

NY Times: Military Expands Intelligence Role in U.S.

MSNBC: Pentagon admits errors in spying on protesters

Monday, January 15, 2007

Another Botched Hanging, Victory Around The Corner For Sure

I know there's freshly-painted schools somewhere in Iraq, but all the news looks bad to me-
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's attempt to close a chapter in Saddam Hussein's repressive quarter-century in power, by hanging two of his henchmen Monday, further enraged Sunnis when the former leader's half brother was decapitated on the gallows.

Barzan Ibrahim's stout body plunged through the trap door and its head was snapped off by the jerk of the thick beige rope at the end of his fall toward the execution chamber floor six metres below...

The first report I read on this noted that the man was 'accidently beheaded'. Don't you just hate when that happens? You know a war is a complete and total fuckup when you can't even execute people without tons of stuff going wrong. That these people running this debacle can even tie their shoes in the morning is very amazing to me.

Of course, if this one doesn't end up on YouTube, that's progress.

Quote of the Day

"America, the richest and most powerful nation in the world, can well lead the way in this revolution of values. There is nothing, except a tragic death wish, to prevent us from reordering our priorities, so that the pursuit of peace will take precedence over the pursuit of war. There is nothing to keep us from molding a recalcitrant status quo with bruised hands until we have fashioned it into a brotherhood.

This kind of positive revolution of values is our best defense against communism. War is not the answer. Communism will never be defeated by the use of atomic bombs or nuclear weapons. Let us not join those who shout war and through their misguided passions urge the United States to relinquish its participation in the United Nations. These are days which demand wise restraint and calm reasonableness. We must not call everyone a Communist or an appeaser who advocates the seating of Red China in the United Nations and who recognizes that hate and hysteria are not the final answers to the problem of these turbulent days. We must not engage in a negative anti-communism, but rather in a positive thrust for democracy, realizing that our greatest defense against communism is to take offensive action in behalf of justice. We must with positive action seek to remove thosse conditions of poverty, insecurity and injustice which are the fertile soil in which the seed of communism grows and develops."
--Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (in his famous 'Beyond Vietnam' speech-- April 4, 1967)

He said at that time that he felt obligated to break his silence on the war of that era. He said he understand it would hurt his reputation, confuse some who saw him solely as a civil rights activist, but he believed it the right thing to do. History has shown him to be correct, though he was labeled a subversive and radical by most for his words when he spoke them.

It's time for those in Congress who know our current path is wrong to break their silence.

5 Years Later

This past weekend was the fifth anniversary of the opening of the U.S. military prison in Guantanamo Bay. In these past 5 years, not one single detainee in the prison has been prosecuted, or defended, in court. No trials are currently ongoing either, despite a bill the President rammed through Congress in October stripping detainees of their rights under the guise of wanting speedy trials/tribunals for them. Many detainees have been quietly released over the years, though, without apology, but likely many more innocent people remain mixed in this symbol of post-9/11 American overreach, waiting for the day they may escape from legal limbo.

Now we get this news too-
The senior Pentagon official in charge of military detainees suspected of terrorism said in an interview this week that he was dismayed that lawyers at many of the nation’s top firms were representing prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and that the firms’ corporate clients should consider ending their business ties.

The comments by Charles D. Stimson, the deputy assistant secretary of defense for detainee affairs, produced an instant torrent of anger from lawyers, legal ethics specialists and bar association officials, who said Friday that his comments were repellent and displayed an ignorance of the duties of lawyers to represent people in legal trouble...

...The same point appeared Friday on the editorial page of The Wall Street Journal, where Robert L. Pollock, a member of the newspaper’s editorial board, cited the list of law firms and quoted an unnamed “senior U.S. official” as saying, “Corporate C.E.O.’s seeing this should ask firms to choose between lucrative retainers and representing terrorists.”.

In his radio interview, Mr. Stimson said: “I think the news story that you’re really going to start seeing in the next couple of weeks is this: As a result of a FOIA request through a major news organization, somebody asked, ‘Who are the lawyers around this country representing detainees down there?’ and you know what, it’s shocking.” The F.O.I.A. reference was to a Freedom of Information Act request submitted by Monica Crowley, a conservative syndicated talk show host, asking for the names of all the lawyers and law firms representing Guantánamo detainees in federal court cases.

Mr. Stimson, who is himself a lawyer, then went on to name more than a dozen of the firms listed on the 14-page report provided to Ms. Crowley, describing them as “the major law firms in this country.” He said, “I think, quite honestly, when corporate C.E.O.’s see that those firms are representing the very terrorists who hit their bottom line back in 2001, those C.E.O.’s are going to make those law firms choose between representing terrorists or representing reputable firms, and I think that is going to have major play in the next few weeks. And we want to watch that play out.”...

....Neither the White House nor the Pentagon had any official comment, but officials sought to distance themselves from Mr. Stimson’s view. His comments “do not represent the views of the Defense Department or the thinking of its leadership,” a senior Pentagon official said. He would not allow his name to be used, seemingly to lessen the force of his rebuke. Mr. Stimson did not return a call on Friday seeking comment...

This man should be immediately fired. If he isn't, Congress should demand it.

UPDATE (1/17): He apologizes; says his statements "do not reflect my core beliefs". Que?

I'll Never Understand Conservatism / What's The House Up To Now?

I try to be as politically open-minded as possible, but as I've said before, I will never agree with what passes today for a conservative governing philosophy. I am still scratching my head at the conservative anger at the impending minimum wage increase ('Don't those uppity employees realize their $7.25/hr demands will destroy our economy-- just like it did the previous times wages were raised?!')... now this-
The House approved legislation Friday requiring the government to negotiate with drug companies over the price of medicines for Medicare participants.

Despite a veto threat from the president, Democrats used their majority status to push through another of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's priorities for the first 100 hours of the new Congress. The vote was 255-170, mostly along party lines.

The idea behind the bill is using the sheer size of the Medicare program to generate steeper discounts than private insurance plans can muster...

Veto? Why? What on earth is wrong with this bill? Ohh, I see it may cost the drug companies a few bucks and therefore is politically unacceptable for the President. Officially, though, the White House's argument is that market forces (ahh, the almighty power of the market) can generate lower prices and thus the bill is pointless. Seems pretty extreme then to veto a 'pointless' bill, Mr. President, considering all the misguided bills of the GOP congress you signed, no? Who does it harm?... Oh, I appear to be right back where I started from, aren't I?

Anyway, the Democrats appearing to be milking the 100 Hour agenda pretty good. Here's what they've done-

-CBS News: House Passes Minimum Wage Boost
-The Guardian: House Passes Anti-Terror Legislation
-NY Times: House Passes Bill for Stem Cell Research

Over in the Senate, they're taking a more leisurely pace (all the Iraq hearings are understandably keeping them pretty busy). Sen. Webb did introduce a bill called the Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2007, though, "legislation that will provide the newest Veterans with educational benefits like those received by men and women who served in the three decades following World War II".

A bill shifting oil industry subsidies toward renewable energy and energy efficiency is next on the House agenda.

Scootie Goes On Trial

Scooter Libby's trial begins tomorrow.

National Journal's Murray Waas has a preview on what revelations and issues it may bring up.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Oceania Has Always Been At War With Eastasia

I think it is naive to believe that Congress can stop the President's plans for escalation, given that a) it's already in motion, and b) he's made it very clear over the years he does not believe in checks and balances (ie. warrantless wiretapping, etc). The latter point is a larger issue that still needs to be resolved-- and soon.

Still, they have options for now and they must try. They need to play this wisely, thoug. It looks like they will-
Rather than try to restrict funds for the troops (which he sees as a political blunder that would delight Republicans), [Rep.] Emanuel instead favors a proposal by Rep. John Murtha to set strict standards for readiness — which would make it hard to finance the troop surge in Iraq without beefing up the military as a whole. The idea is to position the Democrats as friends of the military, even as they denounce Bush's Iraq policy.

My hat is off to them; they've come a long way over the past few years.

The President and Vice President have, of course, responded with a sneer. "That fucking Congress thinks they can stop us?! Adorable!" They're making it clear that it's full steam ahead with Operation: Dig Ourselves Into A Deeper Hole... and also continued the subliminal marketing campaign for their desired war with Iran-
President Bush, facing opposition from both parties over his plan to send more troops to Iraq, said he has the authority to act no matter what Congress wants.

"I fully understand they could try to stop me from doing it. But I've made my decision. And we're going forward," Bush told CBS' "60 Minutes" in an interview to air Sunday night...

...Any attempts to block Bush's efforts would undermine the troops, [Vice President] Cheney said. He took particular aim at Democratic lawmakers who have blasted the president for increasing troops despite opposition from Congress, military advisers and a disgruntled electorate that in November ousted the GOP as the majority party on Capitol Hill.

"They have absolutely nothing to offer in its place," Cheney said of Democratic leaders. "I have yet to hear a coherent policy from the Democratic side."...

That's because you haven't been listening... Dick. Governing from a bunker must be fun.

...The White House also said Sunday that Iranians are aiding the insurgency in Iraq and the U.S. has the authority to pursue them because they "put our people at risk."

"We are going to need to deal with what Iran is doing inside Iraq," national security adviser Stephen Hadley said.

Added Cheney: "Iran is fishing in troubled waters inside Iraq."...

....Hadley sidestepped a question about whether U.S. forces would move across the border to pursue Iranians who are helping Iraqi insurgents.

He said the priority "is what's going on inside Iraq. ... That's where we're going to deal with this problem."

Unspoken followup: 'For now'... The gang that cried wolf is, like, way serious now, though.

Finally, in related news, Iraqi Prime Minister al-Maliki has been silent on all of this. Probably because he doesn't want to upset his political backers... and because he realizes at some level he is being set up as the fall-guy for the inevitable failure of this 'new' 'plan' (such as it is). Meanwhile, here at home, the President's approval ratings are going further down, as those of Congress are moving up. Can't imagine why.


Some conservatives really need a better grasp on the difference between fact and fiction.

Sorry, Tom Tomorrow, you're out of work, some people parody themselves.