Saturday, April 21, 2007

See Anything Wrong With This Picture?...

...Because many of our political leaders don't.

Via Daily Kos, a chart comparing average worker pay with that of CEOs-

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The American Dream realized at last!

The issue, of course, isn't that CEOs or managers make more than the average worker-- that's expected and the nature of our economy-- it's the huge increase in CEO pay over the last dozen or so years, while worker pay has remained exactly at the same level. It's, umm, created quite a noticeable gap, no?

As the link on Daily Kos notes, if the minimum wage had risen comparably to the CEO wages, it would be around $25/hr. or so today. As it is, it still remains the same $5.15/hr. passed 10 years ago, with the increase to $7.25/hr. passed by Congress in January languishing in legislative limbo thanks to Republican meddling.

Looking at the above chart, you'll notice a temporary drop there in the 2001-2002 period. The source doesn't cite a reason for this, but I'll assume that in the immediate wake of Enron, most companies were forced for PR reasons to behave a little more sanely. Come 2003, Americans had moved on (to new wars and sexier stories) and it was okay again for CEOs to approve huge pay raises for themselves and the like.

But hey, don't you whiny pussies come looking to your government for help or a handout... you are merely a commodity and we must let the free market decide your worth. It's time you pulled yourself up by your boostraps and stopped ragging on those better skilled at scamming the system than you are.

And if you don't like it, you can move to Cuba, comrade.

[Related reading: The New Suburban Poverty (The Nation)]

Recommended Reading

Some recommended reads...

Village Voice: In New Orleans, the Saints Are Marching In Again-
Just as Hitler and Stalin couldn't ban jazz, Hurricane Katrina can't keep it and New Orleans down

The Cunning Realist: Let Them Drink (Filtered) Tap Water!

NY Times editorial: No More Delay on Darfur

Democrats And Gun Control


...Or Nay?

I expect that the 'debate' over this-- inevitable now-- will be as ridiculous as expected. But it's one of this issues that I never understand what the hell was so controversial about it. It's like industry/corporations... the very idea that they should be regulated is considered a full-on assault on capitalism by the far-right. Same with this issue. Suggest similar regulation on guns-- registration, background checks, etc-- and you're accused of attempting to subvert the second amendment (apparently the only amendment the right still believes is sacrosanct). It's the kind of overly-emotional, brain-free argumentation that makes you wonder how we ever became the world's most powerful nation.

I have friends who own guns and I can't imagine them disagreeing. It's just an insane minority who controls the debate because a) they're very loud, and b) they pour a lot of money into fighting this issue politically. It's a helluva juggernaut to take down.

I think commenter 'Aris' at the second link sums up my feelings on this matter: "The power the NRA has is a great mystery to me. I can understand people liking guns, liking target shooting, hunting, etc. but what I cannot understand is the absolutely fanatical, totally lunatic reaction to any sensible laws that can control gun accessibility. Even something as mild and eminently reasonable as treating guns like cars and gun owners like drivers makes NRA members go nuclear. Sometimes I wonder whether when conservatives talk about 'freedom' they merely mean the freedom to own guns and the freedom to sell junk."

Majority or not, don't expect Democrats to have the balls to take this on anytime soon.

[PS- Salon's Joan Walsh has more on the disgusting right-wingers blaming the victims.

Credit where it's due... John Podhoretz takes his cohorts to task for this rhetoric.]

Friday, April 20, 2007

Odds and Ends

Thank god it's Friday actually fucking warm out. Here's the news...

The Bush administration policy toward Iraq is 'As they stand up, we stand down' ummm, your guess is as good as mine. From McClatchy: "Military planners have abandoned the idea that standing up Iraqi troops will enable American soldiers to start coming home soon and now believe that U.S. troops will have to defeat the insurgents and secure control of troubled provinces."

The article continues: "Training Iraqi troops, which had been the cornerstone of the Bush administration's Iraq policy since 2005, has dropped in priority, officials in Baghdad and Washington said." Victory's imminent now.

Oh wait, here's a plan! Wall off Sunni neighborhoods! It worked in Berlin, right??

And Sec. Gates turns into moonbat... warns Iraqi leaders that U.S. patience is wearing thin.

Remember a couple of weeks ago when Speaker Pelosi went to Syria and the White House lead the way for a right-wing attack on her? Turns out that the President pulled Pelosi aside this week and says basically 'hey, don't blame me, big understanding, the State Department was the one who did it'. {*thud*}

Meanwhile, the FBI raids the business of another Republican congressman.

Finally, the House yesterday passed a bill "giving the District [of Columbia] its first full seat in Congress". The bill is expected to die a slow death in the Senate or will be vetoed if manages to pass there.

More Of This, Please

I've been lamenting how Democrats have failed to stand up to GOP rhetoric about how Democratic efforts to wind down the war 'endanger the troops'. It's a relatively easy strawman to knock down, but most Democrats choose to ignore it. As usual, where most Democrats are afraid to go, Senator Feingold steps in and shows them what having some balls looks like.

He wrote a letter to CNN's John Roberts who used this GOP talking point.

Money quote-
I write to express my concern about your comments during CNN's Late Edition on April 15th. During the broadcast, you falsely implied that the Feingold-Reid Iraq redeployment bill would "cut off the funds in the middle of a war" for "troops in the field." While I certainly respect differences of opinion in the debate about the war, I strongly object to this mischaracterization of our effort. Our legislation forces the safe redeployment of troops by March 31, 2008, by prohibiting funds for continued military operations after that date, with a few narrow exceptions. Troops in the field would continue to get their salaries, food, ammunition, weapons, and other supplies as they currently do. You went on to suggest that such an approach has "never happened before." In fact, this is precisely the step Congress took in 1993 to end military operations in Somalia.

Thank you, Senator.

After noting that public support is with Democrats on this issue, Feingold concludes-
As Americans continue to closely follow the debate about the war in Iraq, I think we can agree it is critical to ensure they are receiving accurate and comprehensive analysis.

Now see Democrats, was that so hard?

Recommended Viewing

So many interesting political videos on the internet. Here's three of them...

1- President Bush, yesterday, stumbles through a speech on the Iraq legislation debate.

2- 'The Bank', a parody of 'The Office' based on the Wolfowitz/World Bank scandal.

3- On a more serious note, former Iraqi cabinet member Ali Allawi speaks to Jon Stewart.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Alberto Gonzales: Worst Attorney General Ever?

Shorter Senate hearing: Alberto Gonzales is a moron; will remain Attorney General anyway.

Okay, so now here's the longer account (I watched most of it via C-SPAN online)...

The day started out ominously enough for ol' Abu Gonzo when Sen. Specter referred to today's testimony as Gonzales' "reconfirmation" hearing. Amazingly enough-- just to show how alone he is on this issue-- the most succint summary of his pathetic showing comes from National Review's Byron York-
"It has been a disastrous morning for Attorney General Alberto Gonzales at the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing. The major problem with his testimony is that Gonzales maintains, in essence, that he doesn’t know why he fired at least some of the eight dismissed U.S. attorneys. When, under questioning by Republican Sen. Sam Brownback, Gonzales listed the reasons for each firing, it was clear that in a number of cases, he had reconstructed the reason for the dismissal after the fact. He didn’t know why he fired them at the time, other than the action was recommended by senior Justice Department staff.

Later, Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham returned to the subject. 'Mr. Attorney General, most of this is a stretch,' Graham told Gonzales. 'I think most of them [the U.S. attorneys] had personality disagreements with the White House, and you made up reasons to fire them.' Gonzales disagreed but had nothing to support his position. Throughout the morning, Gonzales insisted that he is the man in charge of the Justice Department, and accepted responsibility for the firings, but his testimony suggests he had little idea what was going on."

What a great Attorney General! It's like a braindead mix of John Mitchell and John Ashcroft.

As expected, the best internet coverage of the hearing is from the gang at Talking Points Memo. Via their TPM Muckraker site, you can see these highlights... AG Gonzales admitting to Sen. Feinstein that their previous performance-based excuses for the firings was pretty much bull; Sen. Feingold catches the AG in a contradiction when he stated he was sure the firings weren't for inappropriate reasons after he had stated he didn't know the reasons for the firings; Sen. Schumer rips into Gonzales about why San Diego attorney Carol Lam was fired and who exactly is running the DoJ; Sen. Whitehouse confronts Gonzales about the 'low bar' he set in defending the firings; and finally Sen. Coburn tells him that "the best way to put this behind us is your resignation".

Still unclear if Gonzales can survive this, but his masters in the White House certainly will.

Finally, on the substance that fueled this story, McClatchy Newspapers has a must-read story on the Bush administration's efforts to use claims of 'voter fraud' in key battleground states to push for investigations and laws that would have the unintended consequence of restricting low-income and minority voters. This is to the U.S. Attorney purge what Nixon's post-Pentagon Papers spying/political sabotage obsession was to Watergate.

Sen. Cardin, though, explained to Gonzales today what voter fraud really looks like.

[UPDATE: Video of an MSNBC summary report on today's events.]

Sutton's Impact

I was very sad to learn this week that Ward Sutton, author of the 'Sutton Impact' political strip that runs in the Village Voice and other publications has decided to wind down the strip and move on to other projects. I have been reading his cartoons since I was in high school and have always loved his biting take on political/cultural events.

I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Sutton at the 2005 San Diego Comic Con and he was very friendly (even drew a personalized Bush caricature for me). And after I sent him an email later that year critiquing a cartoon he did mocking liberal supporters of NY's Republican mayor Mike Bloomberg, he assuaged my ego with a reply calling it the best letter he'd ever received. Not that the Voice has been very good since its corporate takeover last year anyway, but it won't be the same without his cartoons.

A collected book of his post-2000 election cartoons is available- here.

History Will Not Judge These Men Kindly

Karl Rove, today, after he was asked whose idea it was to start a preemptive war in Iraq:
"I think it was Osama bin Laden’s."

I am incapable of describing the level of anger I felt when I read this.

Bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb Iran!

Ladies and gentlemen, the warmongering comedic stylings of Senator John McCain.

What a maverick!!!

We Got The Bronze

Michael Moore is back in the news-- and the right-wing's sights-- for taking sick Ground Zero responders to Cuba to get treated, as part of his new documentary ('Sicko') exposing the U.S. healthcare system. Wanna bet that this movie will be controversial?

Time's Joe Klein remarks that Moore's faux-pas was bringing them to our old boogeyman Cuba rather than the more politically-okay Canada for treatment. Fair enough, but that doesn't make a difference in terms of the main message he's making about the American system... and perhaps this was the point? One could look at it as Moore purposely saying 'These guy got a better deal in stinky ol' Castroland than they did in these United States!' A stylistic quibble.

Michael Moore did something similar for his much-missed '90s television show "TV Nation" (which aired, believe it or not, on Fox). He did a segment called the 'Healthcare Olympics', doing a comparison of the U.S., Cuban, and Canadian healthcare systems as a competitive sporting event.

I thought it was worth watching again, given all this-

"We believe he must search his soul, his conscience and find out what is the right thing for the American people."

The President met with congressional leaders today on the Iraq legislation debate. Nothing newsworthy came out of the meeting-- both sides are standing their ground-- but if anyone is interested in the particulars of the meeting, the AP has a report... here.

[Meanwhile, over 183 people were killed today in Iraq after a series of car bomb attacks.]

More Odds and Ends

Some more miscellaneous news of note...

From the AP: "Senate [Republicans] blocked legislation on Wednesday that would let the government negotiate Medicare drug prices. Democrats couldn't muster the 60 votes needed to bring the bill up for a vote."

Senate Republicans have pretty shit on everything the House has passed since January.

Bipartisan effort for 'earmark' transparency, however, is yielding more positive results.

Speaking of Congress... the FBI has raided the home Rep. John Doolittle (R-CA). He and his wife are under investigation for their ties to Jack Abramoff. Ol' Abramoff is the gift that keeps on giving, ain't he?

World Bank to Paul Wolfowitz: Please resign, 'k, thanks.

Finally, Rep. Kucinich announces plans to files articles of impeachment against VP Cheney.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Supreme Court: No More Partial-Birth Abortion

Pro-life crowd = stoked.

Bloomberg News (via Yahoo): 'Partial Birth' Abortion Ban Upheld by Top U.S. Court
A divided U.S. Supreme Court upheld a nationwide ban on "partial birth" abortion, marking a shift on the issue and underscoring the impact of President George W. Bush's two high court appointments.

The justices, voting 5-4, said the 2003 law is constitutional even though there is no exception for cases posing a risk to the mother's health. The court also rejected claims that the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act is so vaguely worded it would force doctors to forgo a commonly used, constitutionally protected abortion technique for fear of prosecution.

"The government has a legitimate and substantial interest in preserving and promoting fetal life,'' Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote for the majority....

....The majority also left open the possibility that doctors could ask a judge for permission to use the disputed procedure for particular medical conditions that pose a health risk to the mother...

Thoughts? Opinions? Frustration?

Analysis on the implications of this: Think Progress, Washington Monthly, and Rolling Stone.

Tomorrow, On The Alberto Gonzales Show...

Headline of the week: 'Gonzales says memory of firings hazy '

Yikes! Sounds like Gonzales has a case of the ever-chronic Republican amnesia.

Our upstanding Attorney General wrote an op-ed in this past Sunday's Washington Post, preemptively defending himself before his testimony to the Senate, which will occur tomorrow (it was postponed due to the Virginia Tech shootings).

He laments that the administration's efforts to politicize the Justice Department, use 'voter fraud' charges as a means to disenfranchise minorities, launch a massive cover-up "to identify where, among the 93 U.S. attorneys, changes in leadership might benefit the department" has "become an unintended public controversy". He's the real victim here.

The Attorney General has, of course, been holed up for weeks rehearsing his testimony (badly too, it seems), which shouldn't arouse any suspicion at all.

All this as new reports confirm the substance of the scandal that his critics have suspected from the beginning. The Albuquerque Journal reported on Sunday that-
Former U.S. Attorney David Iglesias was fired after Sen. Pete Domenici, who had been unhappy with Iglesias for some time, made a personal appeal to the White House, the Journal has learned...

...In the spring of 2006, Domenici told Gonzales he wanted Iglesias out...

...At some point after the election last Nov. 6, Domenici called Bush's senior political adviser, Karl Rove, and told him he wanted Iglesias out and asked Rove to take his request directly to the president...

...Iglesias' name first showed up on a Nov. 15 list of federal prosecutors who would be asked to resign. It was not on a similar list prepared in October...

There is also now evidence that Milwaukee U.S. Attorney Steven Biskupic, who also at one point refused to pursue bogus voter fraud cases, was originally on the list to be fired. He was ultimately spared, though. Could this be because he did eventually pursue a corruption case against a Democratic state administration (which was later reversed because the evidence was 'beyond thin')? There's a pattern here.

Sen. Specter said he intends to ask Gonzales to explain the firings case-by-case.

And now ABC News reports that revealed emails contradict Gonzales' testimony. OOP.

Will Gonzales survive the week? Common sense says no, but since has this administration operated with common sense? After all, if the President dumps him, where on earth will he find another loyalist at this stage (see the war czar debacle) willing to ignore all the other scandals in the shadows and also pursue his Decider-y constitutional interpretations?? With no obvious fallback AG around, Bush and Gonzales must hang on for dear life. Still not sure how this one turns out.

Quote of the Day

"Watch out for the 'lessons' coming this week. Make sure you don’t learn them."
--John Cole, on the farce that will be the post-Virginia Tech media 'debate'.

What he said. Just avoid the 24-hour news channels all together. As with Columbine and 9/11 and other large tragedies, we are told we must learn 'lessons', which would be good in theory if the people attempting to impart said lessons were not all stupid.

As Cole notes, the 'lessons' we learned from 9/11 have us stuck in Iraq (and, I'll add, have had our constitution and political system in crises). The mainstream 'lessons' we were told to take from Columbine were not those of Michael Moore, but rather the ones that were so hilariously lampooned in the 1999 'South Park' movie-- ie. the ridiculous scapegoating of Marilyn Manson. Etc.

I don't think people will go in that direction, but other silliness has already ensued.

I don't want to add too much more to this masturbatory frenzy of media/political vultures, but I will quickly plug two related blog posts I liked. The first is by Andrew Sullivan, who reminds us that the horrors of Monday afternoon is everyday life in Iraq. He further asks us to ponder who must be held responsible for that living massacre. Secondly, 'Atrios' laments the impulse of the "security" crowd to think that the appropriate response is to turn college campuses into a police state. As he notes, tragedy by nature cannot be prevented, we can only work to (sanely) divert it.

Now let's all please get on with our lives and let these families mourn in peace.

Emboldening The Enemy

Since the Democrats began standing up to the President on the war issue-- both before and after their return to power-- the President's defenders have been hiding behind the troops and also stating the Democrats' efforts 'embolden' our enemies.

But, privately, the Republicans have actually been using the Democrats' action to press for substantial change in the region. For instance, on his visit to Pakistan recently, Vice President Cheney warned President Musharraf that his government needed to crack down more on the Taliban and al-Qaeda forces in his country. The new Democratic congress was putting its foot down, Cheney warned, and might cut foreign aid to Pakistan if Musharraf didn't do more. And on visits to Iraq recently, Secretary Rice and other administration officials have made similar warnings to the Maliki government, informing them that Democratic action means our presence there is not unconditional and unlimited. Translation? After years of 'stay the course' stupidity and empty 'benchmark' requests by the administration, we finally have serious people in a position of power demanding action and change.

But in public, of course, the Republicans toe the 'Dems embolden terrorists' line.

This craven and cowardly approach is par for the course for this crew.

Sen. Levin (D-MI) called out Sen. Graham (R-SC) on this hypocrisy on Fox News Sunday. Sen. Graham had said, "The day you set timelines and deadlines, you undo the ability to reconcile, you empower our enemy and give them a road map to defeat us." So Sen. Levin confronted him about a NY Times piece noting that '[McCain] and Mr. Graham had warned Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki that the patience of the American public was running out' and that 'votes in both houses of Congress ... portend, unless the American people see measurable success, that we’re going to be out of here.'

Sen. Graham's timid response? "We — we have been putting pressure on the Maliki government every time I've been there. I've been there for six trips." Not exactly a denial.

Don't expect them to be shamed into quitting this rhetoric anytime soon, though. They can't win real wars, so they they'll try to win the one against Democrats instead. It's all they have left.

[UPDATE: Even Sec. Gates agrees... Democrats' push for withdrawal is helping us in Iraq.]

Odds and Ends

As usual, a random round-up of news that almost fell through the cracks...

U.N. to Darfur/Chad... we haven't forgotten you: "Sudan on Monday approved the deployment of attack helicopters and more than 3,000 U.N. troops, police, and other personnel in Darfur to beef up the 7,000-strong African Union force in the troubled region."

This while the United Nations and African Union work toward a political settlement.

Meanwhile, our deal with North Korea isn't exactly going as planned.

Former U.S. military leaders have called upon the Bush administration to act on climate change and cutting greenhouse gas emissions. They appealed to the administration on the one front they pretend to care about-- security-- noting that "global warming poses a serious threat to national security, as the US could be drawn into wars over water and other conflicts."

Vice President Cheney says he hasn't called Scooter Libby since his trial. That's cold, Dick.

Finally, Rudy Guiliani to conservatives on abortion: Get over it already.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Recommended Viewing

The Sundance Channel-- as part of its new 'The Green' block of environmental programming-- is launching a new series tonight called "Big Ideas For A Small Planet". It's a great new show exploring how innovation and invention is taking on climate change.

You can download the first episode for free on iTunes. This first episode focuses on fuel. Later episodes will focus on 'green' architecture, food, cities, and more. Definitely worth watching.

'[B]y letting them feel part of something big, we give them strength.'

Taking on the President's construction of the 'war on terror' is a pet issue of mine, so I'm always glad when someone of authority joins in. It used to be political suicide to question this, but since the one-two-punch of the Iraq debacle and the Katrina aftermath destroyed the administration's security credibility, it's been much easier.

The latest to do so is Hilary Benn, a high-ranking member of Britain's Labour Party. Benn says the U.K. government intends to stop using the 'war on terror' terminology and construct. Says Benn-
Mr Benn said: "In the UK, we do not use the phrase 'war on terror' because we can't win by military means alone.

"And because this isn't us against one organised enemy with a clear identity and a coherent set of objectives."

It is "the vast majority of the people in the world" against "a small number of loose, shifting and disparate groups who have relatively little in common", he said.

"What these groups want is to force their individual and narrow values on others, without dialogue, without debate, through violence.

"And by letting them feel part of something bigger, we give them strength."

He added that-- like the Cold War-- it really should be seen as "a battle of values and ideas".

I hope his opinions do match those of the U.K. government as a whole. They have been the administration's most vocal ally, and a redirection on their part would be huge on the world stage. Either way, I imagine their political sanity will be restored quicker than our own.

Don't Tell Bill O'Reilly...

...But those 'stoners' who watch Stewart/Colbert are still smarter than his audience-
...Pew judged the levels of knowledgeability (correct answers) [of current events/politics] among those surveyed and found that those who scored the highest were regular watchers of Comedy Central's The Daily Show and Colbert Report. They tied with regular readers of major newspapers in the top spot -- with 54% of them getting 2 out of 3 questions correct. Watchers of the Lehrer News Hour on PBS followed just behind.

Virtually bringing up the rear were regular watchers of Fox News. Only 1 in 3 could answer 2 out of 3 questions correctly. Fox topped only network morning show viewers...

Yes, I know it's hard to believe that the shows that do intelligent and obscure political satire would have more informed viewers than the network where the 'anchors' yell at the camera, but it's apparently true.

[PS- NPR listeners not as informed as expected? Too much 'This American Life' perhaps, not enough news.]

Quote of the Day

"There's a visceral need that right-wing honchos--like Rush, O'Reilly and Sean Hannity--have for Hillary inevitability. I think it has to do with a certain nostalgia for the Clinton presidency, when they could sit back, make outrageous claims (Vince Foster assassinated), foment non-scandals (Whitewater), wreak havoc with the Constitution (impeachment) and generally yuk it up (Lewinsky). Isn't as much fun having to defend the worst president in American history, is it, El Rushbo?"
--Time magazine's Joe Klein on why the GOP base wants a Clinton candidacy so bad.

As I wrote in my post about all the masturbatory 2008 talk in December, "Right now the Republican party is dispirited and fractured. This is for the best. But nothing would unite and galvanize them more than another opportunity to take down the Clintons. There's a reason partisan shills like the NY Post's John Podhoretz regularly tout the inevitability of President Hillary... because the 'threat' of that is the best hope for a united GOP front in 2008." And I know she's a juggernaut with millions of people who support her because... well, I'm not even sure they know why, but she's hardly inevitable.

I remain hopeful Democratic primary voters-- and I am strongly considering changing my registration, if only for 2008, from independent to Democrat to join them-- will elect a less wishy-washy candidate, thus denying the far-right their chew toy.

And while the Clinton years were good to many, it's time to look to the future, not the past.

Happy Tax Day!

Did you figure out the 1040 form file your taxes yet?

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[PS- For those who have to pay, a look at one place your money is going...

UPDATE: Hilarious NY Post rant on how poor people get too many breaks as the rich suffer.]

Monday, April 16, 2007

Not Cool

Dozens dead and/or wounded in the deadliest school shooting in U.S. history today at Virginia Tech.

Due yourself a favor, avoid the assuredly hysterical cable news coverage of this tragedy.

[UPDATE: Thanks to my friend Anthony, who suffered through CNN coverage, to tell me their headlines went from 'Massive Tragedy' to 'Monumental Tragedy' to 'Tragedy in Progress' to 'Bloodbath in Class' to finally 'Classroom Carnage'. Serious journalism in progress. Matt Drudge is using red font, cause red = blood, I assume.

Elsewhere, Michelle Malkin and a few other bloggers are on a second amendment/anti-gun control rant, insisting that the lesson here is that more of the students should've been armed (?!!?) so that way it could've ended in a fair shoot-out. And I'm waiting for Joe Lieberman to show up and blame Marilyn Manson.

Ugh, people. Families are mourning. Just... calm the fuck down, okay?]

A Small But Powerful Group

There was big news last week about the White House's failed search (thus far) for a fall guy war czar for the missions in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Washington Post spoke with several people who turned down the position, including retired Marine Gen. John Sheehan (who said that the "very fundamental issue is, they don't know where the hell they're going").

Gen. Sheehan has an op-ed in the Post now explaining his decision.

Money quote from the end: "I concluded that the current Washington decision-making process lacks a linkage to a broader view of the region and how the parts fit together strategically. We got it right during the early days of Afghanistan -- and then lost focus. We have never gotten it right in Iraq. For these reasons, I asked not to be considered for this important White House position. These huge shortcomings are not going to be resolved by the assignment of an additional individual to the White House staff. They need to be addressed before an implementation manager is brought on board."

And there are a lot of foolish pundits still expecting that to happen. It won't. Is it 2009 yet?

Meanwhile, In Iraq...

It's gonna be a big news week in Washington DC. But it's already a big news week in Iraq-
Cabinet ministers loyal to the radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr resigned on Monday to protest the prime minister's refusal to set a timetable for an American withdrawal, raising the prospect that the Mahdi Army militia could return to the streets of Baghdad.

The number of bodies found dumped in Baghdad increased sharply on Sunday to 30 — from as low as five in recent days — in a possible sign of the militia's resurgence, even ahead of the six resignations...

...The departure of the six ministers, while unlikely to topple Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's government, deals a significant blow to the U.S.-backed leader, who relied on support from the Sadrists to gain office...

...Al-Sadr's followers hold six positions in the 37-member Cabinet, and 30 seats in the 275-member parliament. Monday's order would affect only the Cabinet members...

Sounds like things continue to go smoothly. Victory is imminent now.

"[Their] inexperience in the processes of government was surpassed only by their evident disdain for it."

Via Digby, I read this illuminating interview with Daniel Metcalfe, a senior attorney at the Justice Department who retired in January. Metcalfe provides a window into how AG Gonzales-- toeing the Bush line closer than most-- has destroyed the independence and credibility of the department.

We've seen these tidbits coming up here and throughout the attorney saga... loyality to Bush being the sole criteria used to judge ones competence, religious right fundamentalists infecting almost every aspect of the federal government, disregard for basic policy and procedure, etc.

I'll have more on this scandal later, but just wanted to put in a larger context for now.

Paul Wolfowitz To Be The Latest Bushie On The Unemployment Line?

Lost in the media's obsession with Iraq, the U.S. Attorney purge, the wiretapping story, climate change Don Imus was the unfolding saga of Paul Wolfowitz's fall from grace at the Pentagon World Bank.

Mr. Wolfowitz got himself into trouble by not only scoring his girlfriend a promotion, but also arranged her salary when she was reassigned to the State Department, $10,000 more than even Secretary Rice makes. World Bank leaders are upset and calls for his resignation are growing. Wolfowitz, of course, says he intends to stay put.

Paul Wolfowitz became the President of the World Bank after President Bush's first term, where he had been a key architect of the Iraq war at the Pentagon. Mr. Wolfowitz said he intended to target corruption at the Bank. Yea right, Paul, and O.J. will find the real killer any day now.

Time to take bets whether he or Gonzales resign their positions first. Or whether they nail themselves down.

Spy Games (Pt. 2)

Last Friday, I did a post noting how the Bush administration is seeking to 'liberalize' the country's spying laws (read: they want to make their existing illegal actions legal).

The Washington Post has more details on the proposed changes, including a provision stating that the new protections for them would be retroactive back to 9/11.

Let's hope Congress is not so distracted that they overlook this.

Bill Maher's New Rules: Bring Back The Elites, Please

Lots of news to report; will be back to blogging later. In the meantime, a video from this past weekend's "Real Time", in which Bill Maher rants about how the Bush administration filled the government with incompetent loyalists and hopes for some intelligent people to return to running our country.