Saturday, July 21, 2007


The Washington Post has a graphic looking at past (relevant) military withdrawals, and potential lessons we can learn from them. Personally, I find the Wonkette edit much more succinct.

Cheney's Energy Task Force

One of the longest-running mysteries of the Bush administration-- who was on Vice President Cheney's energy panel in 2001-- has apparently been solved, courtesy of the few remaining journalists at the Washington Post. For the most, everyone's cynical suspicions (Exxon executives! Ken Lay!) have been vindicated.

I know it will come as a shock that the Bush energy policy was crafted by industry insiders.

What is also telling is that on the days when environmental groups came in to speak to the panel, Cheney didn't attend. And by the time of those meetings, "the initial draft of the task force was substantially complete." Gosh!

Of course, there's been so many new, sexier scandals since 2001, this'll go nowhere.

Weekend Odds and Ends

Got last Harry Potter book. Gonna read every chance I get. No spoilerzzz! Here's news...

President Bush has issued an executive order finally banning torture. Ummm, Sort of.

Holy imperial presidency, Batman! From the Washington Post: "Bush administration officials unveiled a bold new assertion of executive authority yesterday in the dispute over the firing of nine U.S. attorneys, saying that the Justice Department will never be allowed to pursue contempt charges initiated by Congress against White House officials once the president has invoked executive privilege."

Is there anyone out there who can defend this? Hello? Hello?

Valerie Plame's civil lawsuit against her neocon foes has been dismissed by a federal judge.

Sneaking through ethics reform... from Roll Call (via TPMmuckraker): "Instead of waiting for the traditional conference committee to create a compromise version of the [ethics] bill, the Democrat leadership is expected to use parliamentary tactics to both block amendments and speed the bill to the Senate, where Reid is hoping that popular sentiment will sway enough lawmakers to ensure a filibuster-proof majority." Let's hope this amounts to more than Reid's usual hopes do.

And Mr. President, fire up that pen, here's that bill you've been waiting to veto: "[A] Senate committee on Thursday overwhelmingly approved a five-year, $35 billion expansion of a children's health insurance program that would be financed through higher tobacco taxes." Tobacco taxes? How Bloomberg of them!

Finally, a Manhattan steam pipe explosions makes people realize.. old cities need work!

Friday, July 20, 2007

Pres. Bush to Dems: Pass This Bill ASAP, So I Can Veto It!

Hypocrisy and jingoistic fist-pounding, thy name is George W. Bush...

Think Progress: Bush Threatened To Veto Same Military Pay Raise That He Now Uses To Attack Anti-War Critics

Dangerous Dumbasses

Andrew Sullivan wrote a lengthy retort the other day to a post that the National Review's Andy McCarthy made on the new National Intelligence Estimate report.

Mr. McCarthy replied back, basically restating the same things Sullivan already debunked. But he also said this... that the reason al-Qaeda is so strong "is that it has been aided and abetted by Iran for at least fifteen years."

Really, Andy? Sunni/Saudi-bred al Qaeda has been "aided and abetted" by the Shia-aligned Iranians?! The same Iranians who helped in the war against the Taliban and bin Laden in 2001? Do these people really think we haven't grasped the huge difference and animosity between Shia and Sunni by now?

I'm reminded of King Neocon Bill Kristol's 2003 quote that, "There's a certain amount of pop psychology in America that the Shia can't get along with the Sunni and the Shia in Iraq just want to establish some kind of Islamic fundamentalist regime. There's almost no evidence of that at all." He still believes that, by the way.

Look, it's no surprise why people like McCarthy are trying to link Iran and al Qaeda. After all, they did it (and are still doing it) with Saddam. It's great propaganda... Americans know al Qaeda are the bad guys, so try and link as many other baddies with them as possible to create the image of The Ultimate Evil. It's the same reason they're repeating the pre-Iraq war visage of mushroom clouds in regards to Iran. It's scary stuff.

If that doesn't work, we can always fall back on blaming Iran for losing the Iraq war for us.

In Sullivan's original post, he concluded "And we are being asked to follow the same leadership that did this to us into a new and unpredictable war with Iran. Are they kidding?" No, sadly, they're quite serious.

Michelle Malkin and Fox News vs. Jet Blue

Here's a followup... Jet Blue has caved to the pressure of the crazy people.

Another victory for the Bill O'Reillys of the world in the culture war they made up.

And The GOP Front-Runner Is...

...None of the above.

Of course, all the conservative blogs I read seem to be saying that it's because the candidates aren't conservative enough for them (and I don't mean real conservatism, or they'd be endorsing that Ron Paul dude, but neocon George W. Bush conservatism).

Amazing that after everything, they still don't get that it's been going so far to the right that's landed them in hot water... in fact, they have a crop full of formerly moderate, centrist Republicans (who succeeded in blue states because of their middle-of-the-road governance) who've they now forced to become Cheney-proteges to meet their approval. And short of declaring war (both literal and figurative) on everything that makes conservatives uncomfortable, I don't know how they will win said approval.

Balloon Juice's Tim F. sums up the monster the GOP created, which is now cannibalizing it: "We get crazies because only crazies are acceptable today... The Base demands nominees who will satisfy their view of the world and themselves, but their worldview is a half baked, self-contradictory mishmash of cartoons and caricatures... They feel entitled to leaders who reflect their worldview no matter what the real-world consequences. Like other parties that flirt with irrelevancy (e.g., Greens) they would rather be pure than win."

And the poor left just wants someone sane/smart who knows how to run a government.

I Miss Scott McClellan

Think Progress looks at another day in the life of professional-liar Tony Snow.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

I Get It. I Get Jokes.

New cartoon by Ruben Bolling, one of my favorite political cartoonists-

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Quote of the Day

"I’m right there with you in believing in the greatness and magnanimity of the American people... America rocks.

But believing in people isn’t inconsistent with believing in government, and in particular in government’s role as a protector of last resort. There are things ordinary people aren’t equipped to do. Like model Class 5 hurricane damage. And pluck people off of their rooftops with helicopters. And reinforce levees. And implement evacuation plans. And rebuild a city flattened by weather of mass destruction...

...That’s where the dark metastasis of anti-government ideology that I’ve been talking about came into play. Under Republican leadership, FEMA was downgraded in the federal pecking order, staffed with cronies, and had its budget slashed.

In short: A formerly robust arm of the government with real power to save lives was degraded and gangrene-ized by small government ideologues. The government’s failures during Katrina, to my mind, are not an argument for smaller, more limited government, they’re the horrific side effect of such arguments implemented as policy."

--Rolling Stone's Tim Dickinson on why bad government failures aren't arguments against the idea of government.

No Sleep 'Til War Vote... A Followup

So what happened with that Senate all-night Iraq war debate? Think Progress did some live-blogging, though it looks like they fell asleep around 12:30am (me, I didn't make it past Sen. Lieberman's ramblings). Talking Points Memo has a highlight (?) reel.

In the end, morning came and "Republicans in the US Senate... blocked a Democratic measure which would have required President George W. Bush to pull most combat troops out of Iraq by the end of April 2008... The Senate voted by 52 to 47 to move to a final vote on the measure, well short of the 60-vote supermajority needed for the bill to proceed."

Talking Points Memo's Greg Sargent notes that all of the GOP Senators who've spoken out against the President and his war policy-- Sens. Coleman, Domenici, Lugar, Sununu, and Warner-- all voted against proceeding with a final vote. Profiles in courage all.

In response, Sen. Reid has withdrawn the Defense Authorization bill until this is resolved.

Finally, Stephen Colbert stayed up with the GOP on Tuesday in a show of solidarity-

Odds and Ends

The NYC subway got flooded yesterday. Aren't NY summers great? Here's more news...

Stupid diplomacy, showing possible signs of progress: "The U.N. nuclear watchdog said on Wednesday that North Korea had shut down its nuclear reactor and four related facilities, a major step in efforts to get it to give up its nuclear weapons programs."

Rupert Murdoch's takeover of the Wall Street Journal gets another step closer.

Another day in the Bush administration, another example of using federal agencies for political purposes: "White House officials arranged for top officials at the Office of National Drug Control Policy to help as many as 18 vulnerable Republican congressmen by making appearances and sometimes announcing new federal grants in the lawmakers' districts in the months leading up to the November 2006 elections, a Democratic lawmaker said yesterday."

Meanwhile, Harriet Miers again defies a congressional subpoena. Time to press charges.

President Bush's Middle East conference is getting nowhere. Now Tony Blair will try his luck.

Speaking of the scary place... "President Bush’s top counterterrorism advisers acknowledged Tuesday that the strategy for fighting Osama bin Laden’s leadership of Al Qaeda in Pakistan had failed." Five years of spinning your wheels'll do that.

Speaking of the bad guys, Josh Marshall debunks the al Qaeda in Iraq myths/talking points.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Michelle Malkin and Fox News vs. Jet Blue

These people are fucking crazy. I mean literally insane. I am all out of snark.

An Inconvenient Truth

More articles you won't read on the National Review, Powerline, Blogs for Bush, etc...

LA Times: Saudis' role in Iraq insurgency outlined--
Sunni extremists from Saudi Arabia make up half the foreign fighters in Iraq, many suicide bombers, a U.S. official says.

Although Bush administration officials have frequently lashed out at Syria and Iran, accusing it of helping insurgents and militias here, the largest number of foreign fighters and suicide bombers in Iraq come from a third neighbor, Saudi Arabia, according to a senior U.S. military officer and Iraqi lawmakers.

About 45% of all foreign militants targeting U.S. troops and Iraqi civilians and security forces are from Saudi Arabia; 15% are from Syria and Lebanon; and 10% are from North Africa, according to official U.S. military figures...

...Fighters from Saudi Arabia are thought to have carried out more suicide bombings than those of any other nationality, said the senior U.S. officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the subject's sensitivity...

...The situation has left the U.S. military in the awkward position of battling an enemy whose top source of foreign fighters is a key ally that at best has not been able to prevent its citizens from undertaking bloody attacks in Iraq, and at worst shares complicity in sending extremists to commit attacks against U.S. forces, Iraqi civilians and the Shiite-led government in Baghdad...

Hmmm, when is Sen. Lieberman gonna ask for reports on Saudi involvement in Iraq? Hello?

Andrew Sullivan sums up, "The Saudis, of course, are among the Bush family's closest friends, so we neither mention nor tackle this. The gulf between the reality in the Middle East and the president's account of it grows wider and wider."

Iran War Watch

Kudos to a few bloggers for pointing out a Senate amendment that seems innocuous on the surface, but has chilling implications. It was an amendment requiring the Executive Branch to compile reports detailing Iran's role in Iraq. It passed unanimously.

Senators defending it (including the usually cautious Sen. Feingold), stated "it basically just required a report on Iran’s role in Iraq and any responses by the US government." But do we have requirements for reports of how other countries are interfering in their neighbors.... say, how Pakistan is interfering in Afghanistan (hey, I remember that war!)? No, we don't.

The reason(s) Iran is being singled out here should be made obvious by the Senator who brought the amendment forth... Joe 'Connecticut For' Lieberman. This is the same Joe Lieberman who, as Sen. Webb said succinctly on Sunday, "every day is calling for a war against Iran." But hey, these reports are innocent, no reason to read into it.

Nor should we read into this report from The Guardian paper that "The balance in the internal White House debate over Iran has shifted back in favour of military action before President George Bush leaves office in 18 months... A well-placed source in Washington said: 'Bush is not going to leave office with Iran still in limbo.'"

This White House already has a proven record of using simple, non-binding vagueness from Congress and using it to justify aggressive actions. One such example is the Bush crew using the Senate's confirmation of General Petraeus (what were the Democrats gonna do, wait for Bush to nominate Wesley Clark?) as a reason to demand that they support the surge and not question Petraeus' honesty.

The best example, though, is the 1998 Iraq Liberation Act. The White House/GOP talking point long has been that the passing of this meant that the Clinton administration had the same Iraq policy as the Bushies, and that we all supported the war... despite the fact that, ya know, the actual facts about the bill and its passing debunk that.

Could this simple amendment turn into something like that? If I were cynical, I'd say 'yes'.

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Tuesday, July 17, 2007

No Sleep 'Til War Vote

I've written a few times how Senate Republicans have filibustered/blocked almost every bill the Senate leadership has brought up... for instance, the House passed the minimum wage increase in January but it didn't get passed the Senate until late May, and only then because Democrats snuck it in to the war funding bill.

Over 200 bills passed the House are currently in Senate limbo due to GOP obstructionism.

Senate Republicans have pretty much gotten away with this nonsense, thanks to Democratic timidity and media incuriousity. The goal of all this is, as Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell jovially bragged in March, is to show the Democrats who's boss and keep them from having the legislative accomplishments they promised voters. But now the Democrats are preparing to fight back.

Sen. Majority Leader Reid plans to highlight this tactic by "forc[ing] war supporters to physically remain in the Senate and filibuster Iraq withdrawal legislation... [and] work straight through the night on Tuesday."

Me? I think this should apply to many issues. But Iraq-related votes are a good starting point.

[UPDATE: The debate is being shown live on C-SPAN 2 now and through the night.]

oMg HillAry ClinT0n's a mAn!11!!!

You should check out Drudge's lead right now. Time's Ana Marie Cox did. She rolls her eyes.

With quality yellow journalism like this, no wonder Drudge rules the liberal media's world.

¡Basta de traduccion al español!

'The Daily Show' and 'The Colbert Report' are both back this week and in prime form. Here, John Oliver looks at legislative efforts to make English the official language of America-

Wall Street Journal, Fair and Balanced

AP: 'Wall Street Journal Reports That News Corp. Has Reached Tentative Deal to Buy Dow Jones & Co.'

Monday, July 16, 2007

Odds and Ends

I leave for vacation soon. So it's gonna be a busy week. Here's some random news...

Sen. Obama basically tells Hillary Clinton and John Edwards to get over themselves, refusing to join their calls to wittle down the debate participants to the front-runners. "I don't know how you'd draw the line to say some can participate and some can't," he said.

President Bush hates children. Or, at least, that's my interpretation of this story: "The White House said on Saturday that President Bush would veto a bipartisan plan to expand the Children’s Health Insurance Program, drafted over the last six months by senior members of the Senate Finance Committee."

Meanwhile, Democrats find themselves struggling on what changes to make to the farm bill.

Finally, the President announces a Mideast peace conference to occur this Fall.

Headlines That Make You Go 'Grrrrr'

Here's two Iraq-related headlines that angered me a bit....

The first- 'Pace: Another troop buildup possible'.

And where on earth are the soldiers gonna come from for any kind of buildup, Petey? We know you hate the gays, so you're not getting them in that pool. Anyone who wanted to volunteer already has. Short of making people serve fourth or fifth tours, lengthening stays, and other back-door draft methods as with the current 'surge', you have no one else to send. Oh wait, that's exactly what you'd do. I'm sure morale is through the fucking roof.

The second- 'Rice cancels African nations trip to focus on Iraq, Mideast'.

Of course, this was a problem people foresaw before the war began... that we'd get so bogged down in a war of our own making, that we'd lose sight of all the other problems. I can't think of an administration that had a less well-rounded foreign policy than this one. Sorry Africa, you have to keep waiting, Condi has to try and clean up the neocons' mess.

"You haven’t been to Iraq... you go see the dog and pony shows."

Sen. Webb takes Sen. Graham to task for his dishonest rhetoric on Iraq on 'Meet The Press'-

The Anonymous Liberal dissects the complete conversation here... ' How To Talk About Iraq'.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

President Bush, Renaissance Failure

Blogger Matthew Yglesias looks at a Washington Post article, quoting an aide close to Bush as stating, "Nothing matters except the war." And in the big-picture view of history, that's true.

But, as Yglesias notes (with bold added by me)-
"It's also true that for a two term president who enjoyed GOP congressional control for several years, he really does have remarkably few legislative accomplishments. Where other leaders would have seen an opportunity to push a governing agenda, Bush saw an opportunity to evade congressional oversight as he used the executive branch to commit crimes against the constitution, fill many executive agencies with incompetents, and fill others with people who helped his campaigns' financial backers rob the public. Which leads us to what's probably the most important aspect of Bush's non-Iraq legacy, his decision to provide an elegant demonstration of public choice theory and destroy public faith in the possibility of government action by showing exactly how poorly a government can be run.

Beyond that, we have a failed stab at immigration reform, massive tax cuts that saddled the country with big debts but produced a macroeconomic situation worse than that prevailing under his predecessor's policies, an increase in the level of subsidies for fossil fuel producers, an increase in the level of farm subsidies, a Medicare reform structured as a large subsidy to health insurance and pharmaceutical firms, the institutionalized use of torture and arbitrary detention, and a return of illegal domestic surveillance. Also -- No Child Left Behind, and an invasion of Afghanistan whose goals, though eminently justified, have not been achieved."

'Aside from that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?'

I would add that he also could've/should've added the following: the immoral and inept non-response to the Hurricane Katrina aftermath, both then and now; the squashing of important scientific issues (from climate change denial to stem cell moral pandering to resurrecting creationism); further environmental disgraces; the refusal to heed the advice of anyone who dissents from his closeminded worldview; the massive fearmongering; etc.

I really hope the next President realizes what they're in for. Aside from the difficult predicament of finding an end to the runaway train known as the Iraq War, much of their term will be spent cleaning up the damage George W. Bush and his fellow ideologues have done to the government, and the country.

If they're lucky and smart, they may even have some time left to craft a legacy of their own.

[Not surprisingly, Bush has one of the highest unfavorability ratings of any President ever.]


Glenn Greenwald takes another look at the serious journalists in our Washington press corps.