Votes that Define Careers

Every person that votes for this funding bill is saying, in a clear, strong voice, that they support President Bush's war, the way it has been executed, the continuation of the current "strategy" and are declaring their support for this President's ability to wage war without oversight, transparency, or accountability.

It's that simple.

Many Democrats will take the 'high ground' and not vote for this bill. Enough of them will, though, to allow the Republican 'dead enders' to give George W. Bush a blank check to continue to destroy our military in a war that is making us more hated and less safe. And the only explanation for the Democrats allowing this bill to come to a vote is cowardice.

The majority of voters agree with the Democratic position, but they allowed themselves to be bullied by a President who's approval rating is so low that it's plumbing depths Richard Nixon didn't see.

Steny Hoyer, Democrat from here in Maryland, said, "The president has made it very clear that he is not going to sign timelines. We can’t pass timelines over his veto."

Fine. That's not your problem. If Bush wants to keep getting funding for his war, he'll eventually have to sign an appropriations bill with timelines if the only ones that you will pass is ones with timelines.

But you caved. You buckled. You reinforced the Republican meme of Democrats being weak. You doomed more American men and women to death and grievous injury. More people will hate America and embrace violent Islamic Fundamentalism.

This vote counts. You can vote against the bill and pretend that you stood up to Big Bad Bush, but you let it come to the floor. It's results are on your hands.


Escalating Our Way Out of Safety

The San Francisco Chronicle:

(05-22) 04:00 PDT Washington -- The Bush administration is quietly on track to nearly double the number of combat troops in Iraq this year, an analysis of Pentagon deployment orders showed Monday.

The little-noticed second surge, designed to reinforce U.S. troops in Iraq, is being executed by sending more combat brigades and extending tours of duty for troops already there.

The actions could boost the number of combat soldiers from 52,500 in early January to as many as 98,000 by the end of this year if the Pentagon overlaps arriving and departing combat brigades.

Separately, when additional support troops are included in this second troop increase, the total number of U.S. troops in Iraq could increase from 162,000 now to more than 200,000 -- a record-high number -- by the end of the year.
I'm no military expert, but it seems to me that expecting our already stressed (broken) military to come up with an additional 40,000 troops to send to Iraq might be a bit of a problem. More stop-loss, more extended tours, more quick turn around. These things are strategically devastating to our national security.

Think about it.

If every single unit that the United States can muster is either in Iraq or on a quick rotation back to Iraq, we have no reserve. There is, literally, no slack in the system to address any unexpected disaster/emergency around the world where our military would be need to protect our interests or our security.

And there are no shortage of flash points that could erupt. If President Musharraf in Pakistan is over thrown, what would happen to our troops in Afghanistan? And there's the possibility of a humanitarian mission a la Bosnia that could require American forces.

And don't think that nations around the world have missed the fact that every ounce of American military might is busy trying to dig George W. Bush out of a hole in the Middle East. Everybody knows that America is weak right now. We are literally unable to respond to crises that would legitimately require our military. Think Taiwan or North Korea.

America is losing it's ability to control situations by threat of force. Big-time strategic problems arise when 'deterrence' is the primary strategy for managing a problem and the force behind that deterrence suddenly disappears.

Nobody steals the lunch money from the toughest kid on the playground, but when he's got both of his hands firmly stuck in a briar patch, it's a lot easier to pick his pocket...

News to Nobody

Gas is expensive. In fact, when adjusted for inflation, it's as expensive as it's ever been.

VIENNA (Reuters) — U.S. retail gasoline prices set another record and matched the inflation-adjusted peak reached in 1981, the government said Monday, as concern about low supplies pushed up pump prices.

The average price for regular unleaded gasoline soared 11.5 cents the past week to a fresh record of $3.22 a gallon, according to the federal Energy Information Administration's nationwide survey of 800 service stations.

The much larger AAA Fuel Gauge survey of up to 85,000 self-serve stations said the national average for regular gasoline stood at $3.196 a gallon Sunday.

The latest EIA pump price equals the all-time high gasoline price in March 1981, when a gallon cost the equivalent of $3.22 in today's dollars. Prices then were pushed up as war broke out between Iran and Iraq.
What's old is new again. Only this time, we're at war with Iraq and Iran instead of the two fighting each other.

Check your tire pressure (manufacturer's recommendations are usually on the inside of one of the door frames but 30psi is a good rule of thumb) Put in a new air filter if yours is old, take the bike rack off, get the crap out of your trunk and get your car tuned up if it's been a while. Or better yet, don't drive. Car-pool, bike to work, ride the bus or, if you can, walk.

Don't forget to make fun of your neighbor with the Chevy Suburban and 'W' sticker.



WASHINGTON - In grudging concessions to
President Bush, Democrats intend to draft an
Iraq war-funding bill without a timeline for the withdrawal of U.S. troops and shorn of billions of dollars in spending on domestic programs, officials said Monday.

The legislation would include the first federal minimum wage increase in more than a decade, a top priority for the Democrats who took control of Congress in January, the officials added.

While details remain subject to change, the measure is designed to close the books by Friday on a bruising veto fight between Bush and the Democratic-controlled Congress over the war. It would provide funds for military operations in Iraq through Sept. 30, the end of the fiscal year.
That's fucking ducky. Democrats have staked out a (relatively) strong position supported by the majority of Americans, slugged it for a few months with the President and his 'dead-ender' allies, and what do they do in the end? Cave. That's a great. Thanks. And it's not just your base that you're pissing on - its the moderates, swing voters, and independents that voted you into power specifically because they wanted the Madness of King George brought to an end.

The Carpetbagger Report seems to think that this isn't set in stone, but my guess is that our party is about to sell us out for... nothing.

The Democrats get a minimum wage increase that they could have gotten anyway. Big Deal. In the end, the Democrats end up looking scared of a President with an approval rating that can barely boot-strap itself out of the 20s. Great way to show confidence. The Republicans are like dogs. As soon as they detect fear, they'll tear you apart.

Our leadership has made great strides, but they've got a long way to go.


Friday Link-Dump

Paul Wolfowitz will 'resign' as head of the World Bank at the end of June. Turns out at least one person wasn't surprised. A "former colleague who served with Wolfowitz in four administrations said that 'the kinds of problems he got into were predictable for anybody who really knew Paul.'" The ex-colleague also "voiced admiration for his intellect but said Wolfowitz 'couldn't run a two-car funeral.'". A current colleague at the World Bank reports that upon learning of his departure, "[e]veryone ran into the hallways and were clapping and hugging each other." Needless to say, the source wanted to remain anonymous.

John McCain "missed another vote today on a resolution related to the Iraq war, skipping a procedural move on a war funding measure in favor of hitting the campaign trail in New York." It was his 42nd missed roll call in a row. If he misses three more, he will have missed half of the roll call votes so far in the 110th Congress.

Alberto Gonzales looks like he'll be facing a no-confidence vote soon. And the number of U.S. Attorneys that were slated for firing has risen to thirty - a full third of all U.S. Attorneys.

Illinois, according to census analysis by the AP, is the "Most American State" as defined by "21 demographic factors, including race, age, income, education, industrial mix, immigration and the share of people living in urban and rural areas." That must scare the shit out of the GOP since Illinois elected that Obama guy...

Iowa, (in the bottom ten of the "Most American States") sees "Sen. Hillary Clinton and John Edwards locked in a tight race for the Democratic presidential nomination, 28% to 26%, with Sen. Barack Obama at 22% and Gov. Bill Richardson at 7%."

George W. Bush may need his veto pen again soon. "Shrugging off a possible veto from President Bush, the House demanded that the administration develop a plan to transfer detainees from the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The 220 to 208 vote came on an amendment to a bill authorizing defense programs that the Democratic-led House passed overwhelmingly."

Dick Cheney, or rather his lawyers, argue in court "that Cheney is legally akin to the president because of his unique government role, and has absolute immunity from any lawsuit." The judge asked, "so you're arguing there is nothing -- absolutely nothing - these officials could have said to reporters that would have been beyond the scope of their employment [whether it was] true or false?" Answer: "That's true, your honor."

And finally...

The White House squaks endlessly about how it 'supports' the troops but says nothing about not supporting a pay raise for them.


Gore '08?

I hope this prediction turns out to be more accurate than the one I made yesterday about Paul Wolfowitz...

From the New York Times (subscription required):

When I asked Gore why he hasn't dismissed all the speculation by issuing a Shermanesque refusal to stand, as he did in 2002, Gore said, "Having spent 30 years as part of the political dialogue, I don't know why a 600-day campaign is taken as a given, and why people who aren't in it 600 days out for the convenience of whatever brokers want to close the door and narrow the field and say, 'This is it, now let's place your bets' — If they want to do that, fine. I don't have to play that game."
It's a good strategy. We're so far out from the election that voters are bound to get tired of candidates. Even candidates that they like. If Gore (the post '00 election Gore) can come on the scene as a breath of fresh air, a known quantity, especially if there's been some excitement around the whole 'will he / won't he' question, he could be a player. And did I mention that he's got another book coming out?

I'm not ready to pick a 'horse' for '08 yet, but Gore would definitely be on my list.

Last Thoughts on Jerry Falwell

Alen Wolfe at Salon sums up my thoughts on Rev. Falwell.

One never wants to speak ill of the dead, but in the case of Jerry Falwell, how can one not? Falwell will always be remembered for his "700 Club" comment in the wake of Sept. 11: "I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People for the American Way, all of them who have tried to secularize America, I point the finger in their face and say 'you helped this happen.'" Even though Falwell later apologized, the damage had been done: A sacred moment had been used for profane purpose.

And that, really, is Falwell's legacy. To the religious life of the United States he made no significant contribution. But to the political life of the country, he made one: He founded the Moral Majority. In so doing, Falwell managed to take something holy — one does not have to be a Christian to admire the life and teachings of Jesus Christ — and turned it into something partisan and divisive. Falwell, the quintessential conservative Christian, was always more conservative than Christian. To the extent that history will remember him, it will be as a politician, not as a preacher.


Instead of pondering Jerry Falwell's legacy, we would be better off asking how this man ever become a public figure in the first place. America has had more than its share of religiously inspired demagogues — Dr. Fred Swartz, Billy James Hargis, Carl McIntyre come to mind — but they are forgotten figures, marginal even to the times in which lived. One would like to believe that the United States has become a bigger and better country since the days when men like them preached about captive nations and denounced the pernicious influence of rock 'n' roll. But then there is Jerry Falwell. In death, as he did in life, he reminds us that demagoguery never dies; it just changes its form. Jerry Falwell expressed great hate for a lot of his fellow Americans. It is no wonder that so many of them will greet his death with something less than love.
What he said.

Oh, and a little bit of what Christopher Hitchens has to say too...


Ron Paul Attracts Attention

When nobody takes your campaign seriously, nobody does background research. When Paul called out Rudi he inadvertently brought on a bit of scrutiny he might not have wanted.

From the Houston Chronicle:

Texas congressional candidate Ron Paul's 1992 political newsletter highlighted portrayals of blacks as inclined toward crime and lacking sense about top political issues.

Under the headline of "Terrorist Update," for instance, Paul reported on gang crime in Los Angeles and commented, "If you have ever been robbed by a black teen-aged male, you know how unbelievably fleet-footed they can be."


"Opinion polls consistently show that only about 5 percent of blacks have sensible political opinions, i.e. support the free market, individual liberty and the end of welfare and affirmative action,"Paul wrote.

"Given the inefficiencies of what D.C. laughingly calls the `criminal justice system,' I think we can safely assume that 95 percent of the black males in that city are semi-criminal or entirely criminal," Paul said.

Paul also wrote that although "we are constantly told that it is evil to be afraid of black men, it is hardly irrational. Black men commit murders, rapes, robberies, muggings and burglaries all out of proportion to their numbers."
One would think that being on record expressing views like this would be a liability but then you remember he's running as a Republican. Being a racist will probably get you a sizable portion of the Republican vote.

Wolfowitz Out?

ABC's The Blotter:

World Bank officials say the bank's board is completing an "exit strategy" that will allow World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz to resign this afternoon and "still save some face" over the issue of his efforts to seek a promotion and pay raise for his girlfriend at the bank.

The officials say the bank's board will accept Wolfowitz's resignation but will also acknowledge that the World Bank's Ethics Committee bears "some responsibility" for giving him bad advice on the issue of his girlfriend.

The decision is likely today, officials say, because Wolfowitz had been scheduled to leave tonight for a European trip.
The World Bank decides to leave him a shred of dignity in return for getting rid of him.

If he does get fired (and even if he doesn't go today, he will soon) the kicker of this whole thing is that one of the principal planners of the worst military disaster in modern U.S. history was never fired for the debacle that is the War in Iraq - just kicked out as head of the World Bank for getting his girlfriend an undeserved raise.

It hardly seems fair.

The Great Unraveling

The Washington Post's editorial page isn't exactly a hotbed when it comes to calling for thorough investigation of the various (and numerous) scandals that have unfolded in the Bush White House. The Post goes so far as to remind us that this is an "account of Bush administration lawlessness so shocking it would have been unbelievable coming from a less reputable source" right in the opening sentence. Here's the meat of the editorial:

The dramatic details should not obscure the bottom line: the administration’s alarming willingness, championed by, among others, Vice President Cheney and his counsel, David Addington, to ignore its own lawyers. Remember, this was a Justice Department that had embraced an expansive view of the president’s inherent constitutional powers, allowing the administration to dispense with following the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Justice’s conclusions are supposed to be the final word in the executive branch about what is lawful or not, and the administration has emphasized since the warrantless wiretapping story broke that it was being done under the department’s supervision.

Now, it emerges, they were willing to override Justice if need be. That Mr. Gonzales is now in charge of the department he tried to steamroll may be most disturbing of all.
The Post is, of course, reacting to the testimony of James B. Comey, "the straight-as-an-arrow" Deputy Attorney General under Alberto Gonzales.

Think Progress has compiled these high-lights of Comey's testimony:
– The high-speed pursuit that took place when Comey learned that Card and Gonzales were on their way to see Ashcroft at the hospital;

– The hospital meeting, in which the seriously ill Ashcroft “stunned” Comey by lifting “his head off the pillow and in very strong terms” rejecting Card and Gonzales’ effort to have him reauthorize the spying program;

– Comey’s admission that he believed he had “witnessed an effort to take advantage of a very sick man, who did not have the powers of the attorney general because they had been transferred to me”;

– Andrew Card’s subsequent “very upset” call to Comey, in which Card claimed that he and Gonzales had visited Ashcroft “just…to wish him well”;

– The White House’s eventual agreement to suspend the warrantless spying in the face of a threat of mass resignations, including from FBI Director Robert Mueller and Attorney General Ashcroft
The New York Times has a full account.

This scandal is setting up to be a long, drawn out unraveling of the Bush Administration. The fact that Alberto Gonzales was deeply involved in 'unsavory' activity at the White House before being put in charge of the Justice Department means that the subject of his constant testimony before congress will become more far ranging - and more damaging - as time goes on.

One would assume that the Bush White House would 'encourage' Gonzales to resign simply to stop the bleeding. They haven't. It doesn't appear likely that they're going to any time soon.


If there's one thing (only thing?) that the Bush Administration is good at, it's at playing the political 'game.' You could argue that Bush doesn't want go through the confirmation process for a new Attorney General right now. It's a legitimate reason to hold onto Gonzales but I think the real reason Gonzales is still in the Administration is to protect Rove.

As long as Gonzales is in between Congress and Karl Rove, 'Bush's Brain' feels safe.

The Bush White House has decided that damage of the slow bleed resulting from keeping Gonzales around for the next 18 months is better than what can only be assumed to be catastrophic damage that would result from any sort of investigation getting near Karl Rove.

This tells us a couple of things. First, it tells us that Bush has given up on regaining any kind of positive standing in the polls. There will be no attempt to 'dump' the scandal and move on. That means that the Republicans will go into the 2008 elections burdened with a President whose approval ratings are struggling to stay out of the twenties. If congressional GOPers don't feel like they're going to be getting any help from the White House, they're unlikely to feel any great loyalty to the person that may cost them their seats. As long as Bush's numbers continue to slip away, expect Republican support for his agenda in the congress to slip away as well. Lastly, the fact that Gonzales is still running the Justice Department tells us that things within the Bush Administration must be bad. BAD. The Nixon kind of Bad. No administration would make these kinds of political sacrifices to keep people from seeing inside a clean, even clean-ish, administration.

GOP Debate: These Guys are Scary - UPDATED

Last night the GOP had their debate on - you guessed it - FoxNews. A couple of downright frightening quotes:

MITT ROMNEY: I am glad [detainees] are at Guantanamo. I don’t want them on our soil. I want them on Guantanamo, where they don’t get the access to lawyers they get when they’re on our soil. I don’t want them in our prisons, I want them there. Some people have said we ought to close Guantanamo. My view is we ought to double Guantanamo.

Candidates were asked whether they would support the use of waterboarding — a technique, defined as torture by the Justice Department. Two said they would.

Rudy Giuliani: "every method [interrogators] could think of and I would support them in doing it."

Tom Tancredo: "I'm looking for Jack Bauer"

ThinkProgress has video of the applause those comments drew.
And these guys want to run our country.

UPDATE: Youtube Video

The Washington Post has a pretty decent run-down of the inter-candidate goings on at the debate.

Thoughts on Jerry Falwell's Death

My post yesterday on Jerry Falwell's death was more of an announcement of fact that an examination of either Jerry Falwell or my thoughts and feelings on his passing. This was due to the fact that I was having a great deal of trouble figuring out what, exactly, my thoughts and feelings were on his passing.

Just a few hours after I learned that Rev. Falwell was dead, I learned that two very good friends of my in-laws were involved in a terrible car crash just three miles from their son's graduation ceremony in Connecticut. The mother was killed and the father will never walk again.

When death comes after a long illness or at great age, it doesn't decrease our sorrow even if it does decrease the shock. Just like my all those who knew my family friends traveling to Connecticut, the friends and family of Rev. Falwell were undoubtedly shocked and profoundly saddened to learn that Rev. Falwell was gone.

Many people around the Liberal Blogosphere rejoiced upon hearing that Jerry Falwell was dead. Many illusions to the movie "The Wizard of Oz" were made. I get that. This man harbored great hatred for people like me and people I love. He was a hateful bigot. People had no problem calling him out on that and noting that the world was a better place without him. I get that too.

Other people were quick to mumble things about sympathy for the family and left it at that. Some people took a middle ground, noting that the world was a better place without Jerry Falwell but they expressed sympathy for the family.

I don't know which approach is the correct one - let alone the right one.

It is a disservice to history to gloss over the hatred and bigotry that this man brought into politics, society, and religion. At the same time, it is unseemly to be gleeful about this - or any - person's death. Our counterparts on the Right have no problem wishing death on those who they disagree with. They have no problems taking great pleasure in the deaths of their opponents, gleefully telling us how sure they are that all dead liberals go to hell. We should not be like them.

* * * * *

I've had a hard time feeling anything about Jerry Falwell's death. I feel no sadness. I feel no sense of loss. No sorrow, no regret. Nothing. On an intellectual level, I realize that his being gone is a 'good' thing.

In the end, I'm simply going to say this: Jerry Falwell's passing provides us an opportunity to remind people how much of a bad man that he was and how his movement and his allies have poisoned our country.

I'll leave it at that...


Who's Scared of Smart Women?

One News Now reports on The World Family Conference IV in Warsaw:

Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary president Paige Patterson says families need to be concerned that in America, 60% of college students are female. He predicts that in a few years, men will be increasingly underrepresented among "the intelligentsia" and will gradually cede leadership in many areas to women.

Patterson laments that most of the women ascending to these new roles will maintain a major focus on a career, not on the family and on children.

"Instead of encouraging adolescents to cut the apron strings of mother and venture out into society, we are begging mothers not to cut the apron strings [to] their babies and catapult them prematurely into a menacing world," said the two-time president of the Southern Baptist Convention. "Mom and hot apple pie have been replaced by institutional daycare centers and cold apple turnovers at McDonald's."
Maybe I'm crazy, but if women make up (roughly) 50% of the population, shouldn't they hold (roughly) 50% of the leadership positions? And if having women accurately represented in 'the intelligentsia' is ceding "leadership in many areas to women," let me tell you that your priorities are pretty screwed up.

It amazes me that in 2007 some people still think women are somehow inferior.

Jerry Falwell: 1933-2007

The AP:

LYNCHBURG, Va. (AP) -- The Rev. Jerry Falwell, the television evangelist who founded the Moral Majority and used it to mold the religious right into a political force, died Tuesday shortly after being found unconscious in his office at Liberty University. He was 73.

Ron Godwin, the university's executive vice president, said Falwell was found unresponsive late Tuesday morning and taken to Lynchburg General Hospital, where he was pronounced dead about an hour later.

"I had breakfast with him, and he was fine at breakfast," Godwin said. "He went to his office, I went to mine, and they found him unresponsive."

Dr. Carl Moore, Falwell's physician, said the evangelist had a heart rhythm abnormality. He said Falwell was found without a pulse and never regained consciousness.
This blog has a long history of opposing Rev. Falwell, his organizations, his goals, and his causes. That said, the man had a wife, children, and other loved ones that will miss him. For them, I express my sympathy. For the Reverend, I hope that his God shows more compassion than he showed others.

Steve Benen at The Carpetbagger Report has a great retrospective of his career.

More thoughts on Rev. Falwell's passing tomorrow.

Citation du Jour

"If they fuck with me or Shaha, I have enough on them to fuck them too."
Paul Wolfowitz, according to Xavier Coll, head of human resources at the World Bank.

It seems Mr. Wolfowitz was using all of the legendary Neoconservative tact, diplomacy, and subtlety to try to convince World Bank staff to not reveal the 'sweet heart' deal he gave to Shaha Riza.

The report by the World Bank panel to which Mr. Coll repeated the quote in testimony, states that "Mr Wolfowitz saw himself as the outsider to whom the established rules and standards did not apply," "had a dramatic negative effect on the reputation and credibility" of the bank, and displayed "questionable judgment and a preoccupation with self-interest."

Wolfowitz, who still enjoys Dick Cheney's support, faces a number of possibilities ranging from a reprimand to a vote of no confidence to an outright firing.

As a side note, the Guardian reported the quote exactly as you see it. No examples yet of how the word "fuck" would be quoted by U.S. media (F*ck, F-, @#(&, ?) but I'd imagine that it won't be as 'uncensored' as the Guardian's quote.

Hagel / Bloomber Ticket?

Two Republicans running together doesn't exactly sound like a 'third party ticket' to me, but...

Via CNN:

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Expressing dismay over the Republican Party's trajectory, Sen. Chuck Hagel said Sunday that an independent presidential bid would be good for the nation.

And Hagel, R-Nebraska, did not rule out the possibility that he might be the one to do it, perhaps in alliance with New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg.

"I am not happy with the Republican Party today," the self-described lifelong Republican from Nebraska told CBS' "Face the Nation." "It's been hijacked by a group of single-minded, almost isolationist insulationists, power-projectors," he said.

Hagel said he would decide by late summer whether to run for president.

"I think a credible third party would be good for the system," he said.
In reality, a Hagel / Bloomberg ticket would be less a 'third party run' and more a sign of the final schism between the two wings of the Republican Party.

While I applaud Hagel for his courage to speak out about the direction of the Republican Party, but his critique is a bit off. "It's been hijacked by a group of single-minded, almost isolationist insulationists, power-projectors."

Power-projectors are unlikely to be isolationists. Isolationists are unlikely to get American bogged down in intractable wars of choice. Insulationists are unlikely to be Republicans for the simple fact that keeping American wages high will cut into profits.

I think that if Hagel had said that the Republican Party had been hijacked by fiscally irresponsible religious interventionists, he'd have been more accurate. And incidentally, a platform of disentangling American from Iraq, fiscal responsibility, and movement away from legislating religion would probably be a pretty fertile platform for a third party - except that the Democratic Party has that pretty well staked out.

Sorry Chuck.

Deputy Attorney General "Quits"

From the New York Times:

Paul J.McNulty, the deputy attorney general whose Congressional testimony in February provided a spark that turned a smoldering issue over the firings of federal prosecutors into a raging inferno, announced his resignation on Monday.
McNulty, Alberto Gonzales' second in command, appears to have been "[telling] friends for weeks that he was planning to step aside." Uh-huh. Sure. The fact that this guy got in front of congress and SHOCK! told the truth and made Gonzales and the Bush Administration look like the dirty political hacks that they are had nothing to do with it. I'd imagine that the atmosphere for him at the office was probably pretty noxious.
McNulty blamed himself for failing to resist the dismissal plan when Mr. Sampson brought it to him in October 2006, according to associates. He took one prosecutor off the removal list but acquiesced to the removal of seven others, according to Congressional aides’ accounts of his private testimony to Congress on April 27. […]

Friends of Mr. McNulty said he had tried to be candid about what he knew of the removals. In his private Congressional testimony, Mr. McNulty said he did not realize until later the extensive White House involvement in Mr. Griffin’s appointment or Mr. Sampson’s nearly year-long effort to compile a list.

White House aides complained privately that Mr. McNulty’s testimony gave Democrats a significant opening to demand more testimony from the Justice Department and presidential aides. Several aides said he should have been combative in defending the dismissals.
I thought so. Republicans are pissed because this guy told the truth about the politicization of the Justice Department instead of putting party above country. How dare he take a principled (if belated) stand that would be politically costly for the GOP and the President! Didn't he get Rove's memo that every action that this Administration takes will be with the sole purpose of creating a permanent Republican majority?

We'll probably never know. All of Karl's emails were mysteriously "lost."

* * * * *

While it's nice to see a high level Bush Administration official canned as a result of poor performance, the McNulty saga leaves me feeling empty because it is so typical for BushCo.

First, McNulty wasn't canned because he allowed U.S. Attorneys to be fired for political reasons, he was 'resigned' because he gave the Democrats the in that they needed to expose the fact that U.S. Attorneys were fired for political reasons.

Second, McNulty takes the fall for Gonzales. There are very few things I would work hard to avoid as being a deputy anything in the Bush Administration. I swear, those guys are there specifically to take the fall for their bosses. (Of course Alberto Gonzales is still Attorney General only because it allows Karl Rove to stay out of the cross-hairs for a little while longer.)

Finally, once again we see someone leave the Bush Administration because of a scandal and don't see a single iota of compunction, shame, or remorse.


Manufacturing "Progress" in Iraq

The AFP:

Iraq's interior ministry has decided to bar news photographers and camera operators from the scenes of bomb attacks, operations director Brigadier General Abdel Karim Khalaf said on Sunday (local time).

His announcement was the latest in a series of attempts to curtail press coverage of the ongoing conflict, which has already attracted criticism from international human rights bodies.

"There are many reasons for this prohibition," he said.

"We do not want evidence to be disturbed before the arrival of detectives, the ministry must respect human rights and does not want to expose victims and does not want to give terrorists information that they achieved their goals.

"This decision does not imply a curtailment of press freedom, it is a measure followed all over the world."
I'm sure that the Bush Administration was completely uninvolved in the nefarious and underhanded attempt to keep scenes of horrific destruction off of American TVs and out of American newspapers.

Between this new ban, the decision to no longer release civilian casualty counts, and removing bomb attack deaths from lists of deaths caused by sectarian violence
, progress in Iraq should be just around the corner.

Oh, and since death squad killings are sky-rocketing, we better find a way to get a lid on that problem too...


Torture Memo Authors Feel Bad

Tara McKelvey, an editor at The American Prospect, discussing the authors of the torture memo in an interview by Ken Silverstein in Harper's:

Guys like [John] Yoo and Timothy Flanagan, who was deputy White House counsel under Alberto R. Gonzales, discussed techniques like stress positions and sleep deprivation that were approved for high-level Al Qaeda suspects—and those techniques were used on Iraqi civilians. I had a heartfelt conversation with Flanagan and told him what I had heard from Iraqis: that these techniques had been used on men, women and children in Iraq. He feels bad about it; I know he does.
Good, I hope that his future is as 'sleep deprived' as the Iraqi civilians that experienced the fruits of his labors.

Tara McKelvey continues:
But the fact is that he and Yoo and some of these other people from the best law schools and universities in this country were the ones who came up with the legal definitions that allowed for the abuse to happen.


Thousands of detainees have gone through U.S.-run facilities in Iraq, but thousands more—anyone held for less than fourteen days—were never registered or tracked. Human-rights reports and interviews I conducted show that some of the worst abuses took place at short-term facilities—a police station in Samarra, a school gymnasium, a trailer, and places like that, where individuals were held for up to two weeks.
Read the whole thing for Rumsfeld's role, the lack of consequences and the unexamined roll of contractors in all of this.

Bonus Citation du Jour

Dick Cheney on FoxNews this morning:

"We didn't get elected to be popular."
Mission Accomplished, Mr. Vice President, mission accomplished.

Thanks to Mustang Bobby at Shakesville for pointing that one out.

Citation du Jour

From Glenn Greenwald we get this gem from John Yoo (who worked in the Bush Administration's Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel) at an April 18 Civil Liberties debate:

[Since 9/11] we have had outpourings of new political speech through new methods and means, for example, uh, people I wish never existed -- bloggers.
'God damned well informed citizens reading and thinking and writing and having opinions. Don't they know their place?'

Just so you know, John, the feeling is mutual.

Happy Friday

Assembled, from data between January and April 2007 by dreaminonempty.

The Ad That Got Gen. Batiste Fired

That ad for Vote Vets got Batiste fired from his consultant job at CBS.

As Shakespeare's Sister notes, it took a national furor and loss of advertisers to get CBS to fire Don Imus after he called the Rutger's Women's basket ball team "nappy headed hos" on a CBS broadcast. I guess Batiste's sin must have been much greater...


Bill O'Reilly vs. Wesley Clark

Clark said "That's character assassination", and O'Reilly, wide-eyed now, replied "You bet it is!" Realizing what he just said, he started shouting, "No! It's facts!"

Which is it, Bill?

Nine is the new Eight

To every body's absolute SHOCK, the list of fired U.S. Attorneys is growing. The New York Times:

WASHINGTON, May 9 — The former United States attorney in Kansas City, Mo., said Wednesday that he was pushed to resign last year after disagreements with the Justice Department over politically sensitive cases. That would make him the ninth federal prosecutor forced out by department officials in Washington.

The prosecutor, Todd P. Graves, who held the office in Kansas City from 2001 until March 2006, was the subject of a complaint in 2005 from a staff member for Senator Christopher S. Bond, Republican of Missouri, a spokesman for Mr. Bond confirmed.
Failure to sue to purge voter rolls, failure to prosecute 'voter fraud.' Blah, blah, blah... Giving Claire McCaskill (D) a letter before her attempt to unseat Jim Talent (R) "saying there had been insufficient evidence to file charges in a case from the 1990s that involved her office manager." Move along. Nothing to see here. Move along, move along...

Bush Must Be Feeling Lonely

From the BBC:

Tony Blair has announced he will stand down as prime minister on 27 June.

He made the announcement in a speech to party activists in his Sedgefield constituency, after earlier briefing the Cabinet on his plans.

He acknowledged his government had not always lived up to high expectations but said he had been very lucky to lead "the greatest nation on earth".

He will stay on in Downing Street until the Labour Party elects a new leader - widely expected to be Gordon Brown.
Blair's approval rating, much like George W. Bush's, is hovering around 30%. How Blair is regarded, beginning in the next two years, might be an indicator of the way that President Bush may be viewed by history. Unlike Bush, however, Blair is lucky enough to have a number of domestic achievements to augment Iraq as the center piece of his legacy. Even in his speech announcing his stepping down, Blair acknowledged that his decision to involve British troops in Iraq is deeply unpopular:
"And so Afghanistan, and then Iraq - the latter bitterly controversial," ... "And removing Saddam and his sons from power, as with removing the Taliban, was over with relative ease.

"But the blowback since, with global terrorism and those elements that support it, has been fierce and unrelenting and costly and for many it simply isn't and can't be worth it. For me, I think we must see it through."

"I may have been wrong. That's your call. But believe one thing if nothing else, I did what I thought was right for my country."
Can you imagine those words coming out of George W. Bush's mouth?

One imagines that with a change in leadership, there will also be a change in the manner in which the British are involved in Iraq.

As leaders of the 'Coalition of the Willing' fall out of political favor, Bush must be feeling rather lonely.

Photo: G8Russia

This Really Bothers Me

The headline from Shailagh Murray and Jonathan Weisman's Washington Post story today:

Bush Told War Is Harming The GOP
Before we delve into the contents of the article, let's examine what's going on here. A bunch of GOP Representatives went to the White House and told the President that he might want to rethink the way he's handing Iraq because the way he's handling it right now may lead to political losses in the 2008 election.

Bush needs to change the way that he's handling Iraq BECAUSE IT'S DAMAGING THE FUCKING COUNTRY!

Apparently the fact that there are American men and women fighting and dying in Iraq to referee a civil war isn't a good reason to change course. Devastating and lasting damage to the readiness of our military isn't a good reason to change course. The damage to America's standing in the world isn't a good enough reason. The fact that the Iraqis want us gone isn't a good enough reason.

But Republicans loosing elections just might work.

The contents of the Washington Post story:
House Republican moderates, in a remarkably blunt White House meeting, warned President Bush this week that his pursuit of the war in Iraq is risking the future of the Republican Party and that he cannot count on GOP support for many more months.

The meeting, which ran for an hour and a half Tuesday afternoon, was disclosed by participants yesterday as the House prepared to vote this evening on a spending bill that could cut funding for the Iraq war as early as July. GOP moderates told Bush they would stay united against the latest effort by House Democrats to end U.S. involvement in the war. Even Senate Democrats called the House measure unrealistic.

But the meeting between 11 House Republicans, Bush, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, White House political adviser Karl Rove and presidential press secretary Tony Snow was perhaps the clearest sign yet that patience in the party is running out. The meeting, organized by Rep. Charlie Dent (Pa.), one of the co-chairs of the moderate "Tuesday Group," included Reps. Thomas M. Davis III (Va.), Michael N. Castle (Del.), Todd R. Platts (Pa.), Jim Ramstad (Minn.) and Jo Ann Emerson (Mo.).

"It was a very remarkable, candid conversation," Davis said. "People are always saying President Bush is in a bubble. Well, this was our chance, and we took it."
You cannot imagine how much this disgusts me. It is one more example of this Administration putting party before country.

THAT'S being un-American.


I Do Not Want To Hear It

The next Republican (or Democrat) that starts spouting crap about how we're 'making progress' in Iraq or how things are 'getting better' or that we're 'turning a corner' I (preemptively) call bullshit.

From the USAToday:

U.S. Embassy: Wear flak jackets, helmets

BAGHDAD (AP) — The U.S. Embassy has ordered its staff to wear flak jackets and helmets while outdoors or in unprotected buildings following an increase in mortar and rocket attacks against the heavily protected Green Zone.

The order, obtained Wednesday by The Associated Press, was issued last week after four Asian contract workers were killed during a barrage into the Green Zone, a 3.5-square mile area along the west bank of the Tigris River in the center of Baghdad. The area contains the U.S. and British embassies and many key Iraqi government offices.

U.S. government employees who work outside of a "hardened structure" such as the current embassy building or travel "a substantial distance outdoors" must wear "personal protective equipment," meaning flak jackets and helmets, the order said.
That's right. Things have gotten so good that our embassy employees now need to wear a flack jacket and a helmet to go outside and smoke the cigarette that their bomb and mortar frayed nerves must so desperately need.

NRA: Picking & Chosing from the Bill of Rights

From the AP:

The National Rifle Association is urging the Bush administration to withdraw its support of a bill that would prohibit suspected terrorists from buying firearms.

Backed by the Justice Department, the measure would give the attorney general the discretion to block gun sales, licenses or permits to terror suspects.

In a letter this week to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, NRA executive director Chris Cox said the bill, offered last week by Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., "would allow arbitrary denial of Second Amendment rights based on mere 'suspicions' of a terrorist threat."

"As many of our friends in law enforcement have rightly pointed out, the word 'suspect' has no legal meaning, particularly when it comes to denying constitutional liberties," Cox wrote.
The NRA doesn't seem to care that arbitrary denial of constitutional liberties based on suspicions already includes your ability to fly on a plane, do business with financial institutions, expect privacy in your library habits or your phone conversations. 'Suspicion' is all that's needed for Bush's government to pick you up, take you to Gitmo, hold you indefinitely without charges, access to a lawyer, or due process to challenge your imprisonment.

But I guess those 'civil rights' aren't really all that important to the NRA.

Pro-Life My Ass...

From the AP:

The chance that an Iraqi child will live beyond age 5 has plummeted faster than anywhere else in the world since 1990, according to a report released Tuesday, which placed the country last in its child survival rankings.

One in eight Iraqi children died of disease or violence before reaching their fifth birthday in 2005.
Sanctimonious 'Pro-Life' politicians spout off about Abortion being murder, stem cell research as murder. I want to know how these hypocritical bastards square 'saving the (unborn) children' with the fact that their war is killing real live children in Iraq right now. RIGHT NOW.

That any party that has the words 'Pro-Life' tattooed onto their party platform could start a war of opportunity and obviously not care about the implications disgusts me.

Desperate Bleatings of a Fallen 'Star'

Ann Coulter's latest prattle about Obama is so weak that even Ann must be unimpressed.

After Newsweek released a poll that had Barack Obama leading top Republicans, Ms. Coulter had this to say on Fox News' "At Large:"

"I think this is Newsweek doing more push polling for al-Qaida"
When Geraldo Rivera asked if she thought that Newsweek would falsify the poll results, Ann replied:
"Yes, I do ... In polls where people are actually allowed to vote, Republicans do a lot better.
Just like Florida, right Ann?

Ann is slipping. Sure, she's still saying outrageous things, but they no longer have the (deceptive) appearance of being connected to reality. Attacking Newsweek for push polling for al Qaida? Please. The game has changed. Intimating that Liberals are terrorists isn't working any more. She never bother to explain how Obama's lead in the polls would help al Qaida.

I guess explanations aren't really all that popular on the right...

I Wondery Why...

From the Financial Times:

The Bush administration is facing growing difficulties in filling a rising number of high-level vacancies following a recent spate of senior departures.

In the last 10 days alone Mr Bush has lost four senior officials and more resignations are expected to follow. "I wouldn't describe this as disintegration," said one senior official. "But there are worrying large gaps opening up and it is very hard to recruit high-quality people from outside."
One doesn't need to be a genius to figure out why people might be a little leery of joining the most unpopular administration in a generation.

Ignoring the fact that Bush is staggeringly unpopular, why would you decide to take some job for the Bush Administration? Dick Cheney is going to make all the decisions anyway...


We're in Iraq to Protect (Certain) Americans

Via Think Progress, the transcript of 'winger Dick Morris on Hannity & Colmes:

MORRIS: I think that withdrawal from Iraq — it obviously gives al Qaeda a huge victory. Huge victory. On the other hand, if we stay in Iraq, it gives them the opportunity to kill more Americans, which they really like.

One of the things, though, that I think the antiwar crowd has not considered is that, if we’re putting the Americans right within their arms’ reach, they don’t have to come to Wall Street to kill Americans.
So let me make sure I understand what Dick just said: We should put certain Americans - young men and women that don't make huge profits and large campaign contributions - in Iraq so that the terrorists can kill and maim them more easily so that certain other Americans - rich ones that rake in huge profits and write fat checks to the GOP to ensure those profits - can go about their lives in safety.

I think I get it, but let's review: Make it easy for terrorists to kill unimportant Americans so that the rich, important ones can keep the gravy train running.

And all this is ignoring the fact that the 'fly paper' strategy has no basis in fact.

Former White House counterterrorism director Richard Clarke:
Of course, nothing about our being "over there" in any way prevents terrorists from coming here. Quite the opposite, the evidence is overwhelming that our presence provides motivation for people throughout the Arab world to become anti-American terrorists.
Even the slightest amount of critical thinking shows the flaws in the 'over there, not over here' argument. The vast majority of the insurgents in Iraq are Iraqis that just want foreign troops out of their country. As soon as we leave, they'll have their hands full as the already present civil war escalates. The longer we stay in Iraq, however, the more angry 'foreign fighters' - the ones that already wanted to fight us over here - we create.

But I guess it's all okay as long as you say that you support the troops...


On "Believeing" in Evolution

Who Doesn't Believe in Evolution? According to Crooks and Liars, three presidential candidates: Sen. Sam Brownback, Rep. Tom Tancredo, and Gov. Mike Huckabee..

But I'm not here to make fun of their willful ignorance and arrogant anti-intellectualism. I'm here to critique the way that Democrats, Progressives, Liberals, Scientists, and thinking people in general think and talk about evolution

First, I don't believe in evolution and you shouldn't either. At least not any more than you believe in gravity.

It is not a question of belief. I accept evolution as a scientific fact. For over one hundred years, the scientific community has modified and refined the idea that organisms evolve over time. Every piece of evidence, every experiment or observation has reinforced the basic idea that 'survival of the fittest' is the mechanism by which new species come into being.

Every time we say that we believe in evolution, we put a scientifically demonstrable phenomenon in the same category as religion. This is dangerous. The forces of deliberate ignorance are already trying to have the 'religion' of secular humanism removed from schools.

Fundamentally, while 'belief' may be dictated by authority, knowledge can only be discovered by inquiry. In the pre-rational era, religious institutions could dictate scientific fact through theology and dogma. Ask Galileo. Evolution is not a mystical, un-provable process (like transubstantiation) that must be taken on faith. We shouldn't treat it or talk about it as if it were.

The Picture of 'Establishment' Authority

I cannot imagine a group of men more unsuited to be the pool from which the leader of this nation will be chosen.

And their biggest problem is that these candidates and their party members think that a rich, old, white male is the only image of authority.


I'm Not Generally Disposed to Glee...

Especially given the state of the world of late, but today I just could help myself.

From the AP:

President Not Among Time's 100 Most Influential

(AP) Heartthrob Leonardo DiCaprio, talk show host Rosie O'Donnell and comedian Sacha Baron Cohen are among the newsmakers on Time magazine's list of 100 people who shape the world.

The list of 100 most influential, on newsstands Friday, also includes the Queen, presidential hopefuls Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, YouTube founders Steve Chen and Chad Hurley, director Martin Scorsese and model Kate Moss.

It does not include President George W. Bush, but it does include Canada's Mahar Arar, who became a cause celebre after being deported by U.S. authorities as a possible terrorist to Syria where he was imprisoned and tortured.
The whole list is here. (In the 'Reader's Poll' George W. Bush was rated less influential than Rachael Ray...)

And this from the Houston Chronicle:
Two years after writing a law requiring highway "Welcome to Texas" signs to tout the state as the home of President Bush, state Rep. Ken Paxton today passed a bill that will remove the designation once the 43rd president leaves office.

Paxton, R-McKinney, says after Bush is out of office he "didn't see any reason to leave his name" on the signs.
Sometimes the world manages to make Thursdays feel like Fridays.


More in the 'I Hope Nobody Will Notice' File

Today's Citation du Jour comes from the distant past our President has chosen to forget because it makes him look bad.

"Victory means exit strategy, and it's important for the president to explain to us what the exit strategy is."
- George W. Bush, 4/9/99, criticizing President Clinton for not setting a timetable for exiting Kosovo.
"I think it's also important for the president to lay out a timetable as to how long they will be involved and when they will be withdrawn."
- George W. Bush, 6/5/99

Nothing like intellectual honesty from the man who restored dignity to the Office of the President...

Does He Think We Won't Notice?

Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) on Friday:

Inhofe, speaking to the press before Cheney’s arrival, lambasted Democrats for Thursday’s Senate vote to begin withdrawal from Iraq by Oct. 1 and the press for "mischaracterizing" the reasons for U.S. involvement.

"The whole idea of weapons of mass destruction was never the issue, yet they keep trying to bring this up," Inhofe said. […]

Pressed for an explanation, Inhofe said weapons of mass destruction were "incidental" to the decision to invade Iraq.

"The media made that the issue because they knew Saddam Hussein had used weapons of mass destruction."
Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) in August 2002:
"Our intelligence system has said that we know that Saddam Hussein has weapons of mass destruction — I believe including nuclear. There's not one person on this panel who would tell you unequivocally that he doesn’t have the missile means now, or is nearly getting the missile means to deliver a weapon of mass destruction. And I for one am not willing to wait for that to happen."
Senator Inhofe is 73 years old so maybe he isn't too familiar with the fact that 'the tubes' allow us to fact check his current dishonest, self-serving drivel against the factless, partisan drivel that fell out of his mouth five years ago.

That said, weapons of mass destruction were "incidental" to the reasons for going into Iraq? "Smoking gun in the form of a mushroom cloud" anybody? Is he that contemptuous towards the intelligence of the American People? Did he really think we're so stupid to forget the Bush Administration's arguments about mobile weapons labs, anthrax, and YELLOW CAKE FROM NIGER?

In the end, what shocks me most is that he has the audacity to go on record spouting such obvious lies for self-serving reasons.