Friday, September 30, 2005

The pompous one speaks

Pompous, callous idiocy, read all about it, here: Bennett Under Fire for Remark on Crime and Black Abortions.

Will hammer fall for Rove/Libby next week?

This article suggests it could well fall:
One lawyer said it could become clear as early as next week whether Fitzgerald plans to indict anyone or has negotiated a plea bargain.
Plea bargain, hey? Hadn't heard that until now. Wonder who this lawyer is talking about...

Libby & Rove waivers: avoided 2004 election

The NYTimes article which is the subject of my previous post has reinforced a simple point which we all really knew all along. It is very likely that Libby and delayed their cooperation with the investigation into the outing of Valerie Wilson for so long in order to remove it from debate during the 2004 Presidential election.

There is an excerpt in the article that addresses what has been an ongoing tussle over whether Libby's waiver to was actually voluntary. Libby's lawyer, Tate, now claims that Libby's waiver was voluntary and uncoerced from the getgo and that this was made clear to Miller's attorneys over a year ago. That would take us back to approximately September 2004.

Miller's lawyer at that time, Floyd Abrams, disagrees with this characterization of Libby's waiver. He says that Libby's lawyer had initially said the waiver was voluntary but added a qualifier: that any waiver an employee is required to sign by their employer is by its nature coercive.

So you see what is going on here. Libby, through his lawyer, now claims that he freed her to testify all along. It's her and her lawyer's fault(s) that they misunderstood and that Miller ended up in jail. How convenient.

And how convenient that he claims to have provided that "voluntary" waiver before the 2004 election took place. What has happened, despite their protestations that everyone was free to talk in advance of the election - is that the outing of the CIA operative was virtually removed from the table as a legitimate issue during that election due to a dearth of facts. Had Miller actually testified at that time, it is possible that the Vice President's Chief of Staff would have become the focus of great media and public interest for his role in this serious national security matter.

The same goes for Rove. Rove finally provided a full voluntary waiver for Matthew Cooper of Time only on the eve of Cooper possibly going to jail this past summer.

Both Libby and Rove took full advantage of the length of time it would take these court challenges to wind their way through the judicial system. Neither obeyed the President's own directive to fully cooperate.

And as a result, this ugly outing of a CIA operative, which took place in July of 2003 was taken off the table for the 2004 election. Well done cronies, well done.

Is it Libby who is Fitzgerald's prey, not Rove?

This is quite the development, Times Reporter Free From Jail; She Will Testify, not unexpected given at least one report from this past month indicating that lawyers were in discussions with prosecutors that might lead to her release.

While others have previously deduced that Lewis Libby, Cheney's chief of staff, was the source Miller sought to protect, this Times article provides further public confirmation of that fact. Murray Waas had reported on Miller's meeting with Libby on July 8, 2003, six days before Novak outed Valerie Wilson as a CIA operative. The NYTimes had not confirmed the Libby/Miller meeting until now.

Interestingly, the deal reached for her testimony appears to focus only upon information obtained from Libby:
As part of the agreement, Mr. Bennett gave Mr. Fitzgerald edited versions of notes taken by Ms. Miller about her conversations with Mr. Libby.

In statements on Thursday, Ms. Miller and executives of The Times did not identify the source who had urged Ms. Miller to testify. Bill Keller, executive editor, said Mr. Fitzgerald had assured Ms. Miller's lawyer that "he intended to limit his grand jury interrogation so that it would not implicate other sources of hers."

Ms. Miller's lawyers had sought such an assurance as a condition of her testimony.
(emphasis added)
There is no way to know who the other sources are that are being alluded to here. This deal does suggest that she was concerned enough to seek this condition and so she likely had other sources with whom she discussed this matter or issues close to it...does this deal therefore mean that could have been a source of Miller's yet is off the hook? If so, why? Is it possible that there is not enough evidence to pursue Rove?

And does it then mean that it is Libby, not Rove, who is likely to be Fitzgerald's ultimate target?

We just don't know what the content of the conversation between Miller and Libby was, so it is all speculation at this point.

The coming days should be quite interesting to watch as it certainly seems as though Miller is a final piece of Fitzgerald's puzzle.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Rant of the year

Powerfully written, you have to admire this: Daily Kos: Bush Supporters of the Far Right: Cries from the Lake of Fire.

Evidence steroids in baseball out of control

Congress, namely John McCain's committee, doing its pressing business, here.

Live by the sword, die by the sword

Let's review some choice excerpts from Remarks upon being indicted:
This morning, in an act of blatant political partisanship, a rogue district attorney in Travis County, Texas, named Ronnie Earle charged me with one count of criminal conspiracy: a reckless charge wholly unsupported by the facts.
Imagine, a lawmaker, in the leadership of his party, who is supposed to have respect for the rule of law uttering this phrase, a "rogue" district attorney. The incivility of such remarks is surely not unnoticed by the voting public. For all those out there who must adhere to the rule of law on a daily basis, I'm sure there's lots of sympathy for DeLay's ranting about how unfair his prosecution is. Yet he went on:
This act is the product of a coordinated, premeditated campaign of political retribution; the all-too-predictable result of a vengeful investigation led by a partisan fanatic.
The most obvious response to such a characterization really just writes itself: it takes one to know one.

You know, a fair minded person might normally take a second look at such strong comments and feel some empathy for a person who says things like this. But this comes from one of the most egregiously partisan politicians ever to have graced the halls of Congress. So instead of soliciting empathy, his vitriolic grandstanding warrants only a shrug and a flick of the channel. Click, as David Brooks will tell you today, the DeLay era is over.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Dowd today

From Dancing in the Dark:
W. doesn't really need to worry about turning down the lights in the White House. The place is already totally in the dark.
And by the way, the "I-man" should consider knocking off the gratuitous mockery of Dowd for the way she looks...I mean, it is 2005, isn't it guy?

Rudy Giuliani:American Idol

This excerpt from Rep. Christopher Shays' (R) questioning of during a hearing yesterday clearly crystallized for me the ongoing and unquestioning idolization of Rudy Giuliani:
SHAYS: I can't help but wonder how different the answers would be -- excuse me; you're blocking me -- if someone like Rudy Giuliani had been in your position instead of you, I think he would have done things differently and I think his answers to us would have been very different.
I can't help but thinking about the number of times I've heard, in the wake of the disaster, how this entire episode has boosted chances of being the Republican nominee in '08 or even the next President. I've heard it countless times. So many people are galvanizing behind this notion.

I agree that Giuliani was a strong presence, a comforting leader on the scene after 9/11 and that he distinguished himself at the time. Leading up to that attack, however, I don't recall people being so enamored with him. In fact, his high-profile divorce and illness had made him somewhat of a politico whose time was almost up. Then 9/11 happened, and his political fortune (not to mention his subsequent personal fortune) skyrocketed in everyone's estimation.

But recall how he quickly fell back into his "foot in mouth" mode when during the Fall of 2001 he tried to get himself reappointed as Mayor, extra-legally, despite his term being up and while the haze of glory still enveloped him. As I recall, his feeble attempt was quickly rebuffed and chalked up to an emblematic Rudy episode...making the mistake of reaching a step too far.

But back to this idolatry we are nevertheless witnessing and the storyline of the great leader riding back onto the scene to save an America in disarray. I recall a certain other federal leader by the name of who also basked in the glow of 9/11, who had a legendary bullhorn moment in the midst of the rubble of the World Trade Center, surrounded by firemen, and who milked that moment for all it was worth. The majority of Americans re-elected him largely based upon the myth of the strong leadership he demonstrated. The same 9/11 leadership halo that George W. Bush laid claim to is the same that has been accorded Giuliani all this time.

And yet we all know what has happened to George W. Bush in the wake of the Katrina disaster. The strong leader that many thought they had in their President was exposed as a myth. That myth was a product of projection and careful stage management.

So my point is simply that people might want to be a little more suspicious of the unquestioning lionization of Rudy Giuliani. As we have witnessed on a grand scale, such reverence can lead to great disappointment.

Rove among the pidgeons

Time off from Gulf recovery plans once again: Bush adviser Karl Rove raises funds in Lexington. Not bad for about a half hour's work, raises $300,000. Wonder if could raise that much for himself, in a pinch, if say he had some unexpected legal bills on the horizon?

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Sure, these hearings were a great idea

More evidence that the GOP is off its game:Ex-FEMA Director Says He Issued Early Warnings - New York Times.

Brownie appears before Congress and points the finger of blame at Governor Blanco and the Mayor of for "infighting"...just what Americans want to see, I'm sure, this Bush political hack, with his suspect qualifications to run , pointing at state and local officials. That dog didn't hunt a few weeks ago, Brownie, why are you recycling it now?

All today's hearing served to do was to remind people of everything that's wrong with the GOP's current control of the government.

It reminded people that should never have been appointed to run FEMA. And it reminded them that he's still,obscenely, on FEMA's payroll as a consultant. And it provided more evidence, live on television, of why he was clearly not up to that job. On full display were his ill-suited temperament while on the hotseat, lack of integrity in his unwillingness to accept responsibility, undiplomatic and rather blunt demeanour...you name it, these are some of this viewer's perceptions of Brownie in action. And all of this reflects poorly, as it has from the start, on , who brought Brownie forth to wreak havoc in a position that should never have been treated as political patronage. And so people were once again reminded of the "crony" storyline that is circling Washington right now, spurred on by Krugman's "Find the Brownie" column.

And finally, the Brownie hearing further reminded people of the misdirected energies of the Congress. With all of the issues you would think they would need to be spending time on, like, say, coming up with funds to pay for reconstruction, the Congressional Republicans have jumped right in to start hearings on a disaster that is barely weeks old.

All in all, a grand old day for the GOP.

A Brownie at the Corp for Public Broadcasting

Here, there, everywhere a brownie...

This should be interesting

New investigation underway...apparently a veteran prosecutor was demoted in 2002 on the eve of his launching an investigation into possible wrongdoing by Jack Abramoff, the Republican lobbyist. The demotion effectively put an end to his investigation. Wonder who was responsible for the demotion? Sounds liks it could be a big sleeper issue.

Looks like all guns are blazing at the Bush administration right now and the second term investigation extravaganza is underway. Is it possible these rogues are actually not going to get away with their abuses of power after all...

High times for Bush cronies

But the media spotlight is not going away:Cronies at the Till - New York Times. Even Chris Matthews seemed to have a bee in his bonnet yesterday, holding up the Times and wailing away at Congressman Peter King. The worm has certainly turned for , big time.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Brownie goes to Egypt

That's "Brownie" in a metaphorical sense, of course. It's actually Karen Hughes who made her first P.R. foray into the Middle East today. And in the vein of similar FEMA and Homeland Security appointments, which Frank Rich so neatly excoriates today, Hughes' qualifications as Bush's "public diplomacy" envoy to the Middle East are also suspect:
Ms. Hughes said on the plane that this was her first trip to the region and that she was was eager to learn as much as she could in her new capacity, in which she oversees the entire State Department public affairs apparatus as well as its cultural and exchange programs.
Like many Bush appointees, Hughes earned her stripes in Bush's P.R. team:
Ms. Hughes, who served for years as Mr. Bush's campaign and White House communications specialist, has said she will try to use her skills to present an upbeat and positive vision of American policies and to answer criticisms.
The audacity of appointing Hughes to such a position is astounding and perhaps will get greater scrutiny in the post- era. Hughes' claim to fame is elevating herself from Texas television reporter to White House communications guru by jumping on board the Bush express in the early days. No Middle East experience or qualifications, such as speaking Arabic, but she is a loyal confidante of Bush. One more whistle blast of the Bush crony express.

Stinging editorial

Scathing editorial, Hard Bigotry of No Expectations - New York Times, on the low expectations that have always been placed on and how this has damaged the U.S. government. It is so heartening to see major media scrutiny of Bush as a leader and the policies of his administration to an extent not seen since before 9/11.

Best line from the editorial describes Bush's recent photo-op epic journey:
The president's recent schedule of nonstop disaster-scene photo-ops is reminiscent of the principal of a failing school who believes he's doing a great job because he makes it a point to drop in on every class play and teacher retirement party.

Protesters greet Rove in N.D.

More coverage of politicking in the wake of two major hurricanes here:
Many Democrats say Rove's visit to the state today was inappropriate considering the devastation plaguing the gulf coast. In fact, there were protesters in Fargo saying Rove has his priorities all mixed up.

Rick Gion of the ND Democratic party says, "We believe Rove should be helping his fellow Texans with this strong hurricane that's hitting Texas rather than politicking in North Dakota."

W still looking for a bullhorn moment

But it ain't happening :
Texas officials appeared well prepared for Rita, despite problems that plagued the evacuation of the Houston area on Thursday, and federal emergency officials showed they, too, had learned the lessons of Katrina. ...

Paul C. Light, a government professor at New York University, noted the improved performance by FEMA and the readiness of state and local officials in the areas affected by Rita, but said that, because Rita appeared to be less devastating than Katrina, Bush might gain little no matter how effective the response.

"Without being at all insensitive to the damage, this is not the hurricane that would redeem George Bush's standing as a bold leader," he said. "From a political standpoint, I don't think that it helps him very much," he said.
But as McLellan points out, it's silly to think there was anything political going on here, right? According to Scott, was on the scene to do his fact finding on the issue of "...whether Congress should increase the federal role in responding to catastrophes. A decision has not been made, but aides said Bush is moving in that direction."

Are they really getting away with this spin on Bush's "haunting" of Texas and the Northern Command as hit? That he was really investigating a policy choice? He was seeking to fix his flailing image, plain as day to all who have been watching.

Isn't it obvious they should be increasing the federal role in responding to disasters? Katrina made that abundantly clear to most people...good to know Bush is "moving in that direction."

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Rove does North Dakota

AP story here:
Rove outlined Republican gains throughout the country in the last several years. He also said state party members are doing a good job.

"I know it means commitment and time away from family and work and community," Rove said. "But you're serving a great cause."
Great cause? What's that? Building his vaunted Republican majority I take it. Which means tax cuts for the wealthy, destroying American prestige abroad, making a mockery of homeland security, to name but a few offshoots of Karl's political engineering. agenda for Sunday, focusing on oil of course:
Rove said he wanted to stay in North Dakota longer, but that he had meetings scheduled on Sunday to discuss the nation's energy situation in the wake of two hurricanes.

"Clinton, Carville Press Congress on Illegal-Worker Proposal"

My point: this article's headline from the LA Times on Friday probably doesn't warrant a second glance for most, Bush, Rove Press Congress on Illegal-Worker Proposal - Los Angeles Times, but can you imagine the uproar that would have occurred during the years if Carville had been elevated to such a primary role on a major initiative (let alone within the administration)...a measure of how times have changed...

Gov. Perry: photo contrast to Bush



Look at these two photos from today of Perry monitoring , then check out any photos of Bush from the last few days. Perry seems actively engaged, thinking, not self-conscious...but hey, I'm not a psychiatrist, so judge for yourself.

Bush scrambling for relevance

The pathetic desperation evident in the White House's mission to make appear relevant to the disaster response is on display all day today for those following the scene, Under fire, Bush says feds well prepared for Rita.

How exactly was anyone helped by Bush observing the military at the "Northern Command?" Listen to what he was doing, according to Bush and his press secretary, who must be present to finalize thoughts uttered by Bush:
On plasma screens in a conference room at the base, Bush received a briefing on Rita's path and impact, and on how troops were being used to aid in the recovery effort. He said he wanted to see "first hand" the military's disaster planning.

White House spokesman Scott McClellan said Bush believes that coordination "is going well between all levels of government," but that the president was concerned about the risk of more severe flooding.

"It's important to continue that coordination and make sure we're doing all we can to assist. So in that sense, he's received good reports from all our officials," McClellan told reporters.
So how exactly does this help? Sounds like he's once again the passive observer, the briefee-in-chief - on the scene, but just listening, taking it all in. Watching the coverage on plasma in a conference room...and since apparently, the coordination among levels of government is A-OK, the military were all in place then what exactly does Bush bring to the table? Other than being present for photo ops?

Just one of many, sitting in a room...


And here is some new spin. "Fact-finding" is the new spin on Bush being briefed. Makes it sound like his passivity is actually activity. Just listen to his press secretary set it up:
The Northern Command was created in 2002 to head the military's land, sea and air defense of the United States. Bush has proposed that the military have broader responsibility to respond to domestic crises like hurricanes.

McClellan said Bush was doing fact-finding on the issue of lines of authority in disasters and plans to talk to members of Congress about some possible changes.
Speaks for itself, don't you think?

Friday, September 23, 2005

That's a shame

Whoever might have thought the good Dr. was a saint may be sorely disappointed: S.E.C. Investigating Frist's Stock Sale - New York Times.

Go to the Gulf region Karl, you're in charge

Senator Lautenberg is turning up the heat on about his trip to North Dakota this weekend, in the midst of Hurricane Rita. Good for him, this is really an inappropriate set of events for Rove to be involved in this weekend. Do they want to get out of Washington that badly? Why don't you go down to the Gulf, Karl?

Novak: heroic defender of the President

Really, just read his column: Bashing Bush in Aspen. Alas, the critics outweighed the defenders, making Novak's efforts all the more difficult...

And once again, this column demonstrates Novak's willingness to violate confidences. With a similar gusto to that displayed in his outing of Valerie Plame, Novak writes: "Even if I am violating the spirit of secrecy rules, revealing criticism of Bush by this elite group, and the paucity of defense for him, is valuable in reflecting the president's parlous political condition." The sessions were off the record, you see, so Novak must do a neat little end-run here...

Rove politicking in N.D. Saturday as Rita hits

Apparently our man is heading to North Dakota on Saturday for a GOP fundraiser and to "...meet with Gov. John Hoeven, whom Republicans hope to coax into running against Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D."

Shouldn't the reconstruction of the Gulf Coast be the priority right now? He is running that operation right? So why does he have time for such political concerns? Doesn't this detract from his focus on the disaster zone? And shouldn't Bush be ensuring that focus is properly on the people in need right now rather than the GOP's political fortunes?

Interesting that such items get national coverage now. Good on him. Should be a good juxtaposition between Rove's Saturday politicking in North Dakota and people fighting as it hits on Saturday.

Froomkin poses an interesting question

In Fool Me Once, Froomkin dares to suggest the following:
Will any member of the White House press corps risk scorn from McClellan -- and maybe even mockery from colleagues -- by asking the press secretary to set the record straight about what appears to be an utterly scurrilous report in the National Enquirer that Bush is hitting the booze again? Some brave soul should.
The press certainly didn't hesitate to ask Clinton about reports of womanizing that appeared in such tabloids, so why shouldn't this be raised? All in the interest of putting the story to rest, of course. So why is this story circulating in the first place?

I'm sure Bush will help solve this problem

Remember, he told us recently that he's a "problem solver" so have at it W. Let's see what Presidential leadership can do when it arrives on the scene of this massive evacuation clusterf*@#: Thousands Fleeing Rita Jam Roads From Coast. Really, this should be interesting to see what they have him do on Friday in Texas as approaches and hundreds of thousands of people are parked on the interstates.

Bush: now a "hands on" Hurricane President

Who are you and what have you done with W?

This article, After Katrina's Lesson, Bush Is Heading to Texas, details Bush's, shall we say, overcompensation for previous very public shortcomings:
Mr. Bush planned a Texas stop to look at preparations before the forecast arrival of the hurricane early Saturday.

He then intends to fly to Colorado Springs, the White House said, to ride out the storm at the headquarters of the Northern Command.

Mr. Bush can monitor the hurricane from the Northern Command's operations center, where oversight of the military response to crises in the United States is managed.
It is at an airfield just across town from Cheyenne Mountain, where the military once monitored the Soviet Union for nuclear missile launching.
Bush is going to be in the Northern Command? Could someone please keep him away from anything important while he is there? Attending at the Northern Command - if that's not overkill, I wouldn't know it if it slapped me in the face...

Problem for Bush, as the article suggests, is that his actions to address raise the obvious question, i.e., why wasn't he doing this before for ? Oh, that's right, his political skin wasn't on the line...

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Karl Rove Thursday watch

The bright light continues to shine on the latest tactics: Meyerson column from Wednesday...
Could the suspension of Davis-Bacon pass Congress as a stand-alone piece of legislation? Not likely. But the Rove model is to embed such lulus in the overall appropriation bill, forbid any amendments and attack any Democrats who cry foul. It will probably be harder to pull off this ploy the second time around, but give credit where credit is due: The Bush White House may not be remembered for promoting the general welfare or ensuring domestic tranquility, but when it comes to attacking the Democrats, its page in history is secure.
This suspension of the minimum wage by Bush with the "Davis-Bacon" executive action is indefensible... What say you, Democrats? Up to having at this like a pinata?

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Clinton speaks out - get over it

To all those carping about speaking out over the past week, in the course of promoting the Clinton Global Initiative, and in particular, on the Sunday talk shows, under the guise of protecting some unwritten protocol of former Presidents and what they should or should not do...a few thoughts:
  • To be frank, there is a leadership vacuum in the Bush administration that becomes more evident each day. People are not getting it from W. Listen to what George Voinovich, the Republican Senator from Ohio, had to say on the issue of paying for Katrina:
    "Many of us think that we need to step back and look at what we're doing and reevaluate it," Voinovich said. But he added that "someone has to look at the big picture" -- and that someone should be the president. "The vision is missing," Voinovich said.
    Clinton is a reassuring voice to many Americans and as well, to the rest of the world that has watched the aftermath of the disaster unfold. A national leader who gets it, albeit a former office holder. Clinton likely senses the leadership vacuum in the present administration and he made a judgment to speak his mind. This article is further evidence of this latent sentiment about Clinton in the wake of Katrina.

  • There is not only a confused White House, there is also a leadership vacuum in the Democratic party. Who is their leader? Where is the unity? Why aren't they articulating a coherent plan as the "loyal opposition" as Clinton started to do on Sunday? He clearly recognizes that the hurricane disaster(s) have crystallized the issues and differences between the two parties. Simply put, you can't do it all without sacrifices - the Bush tax cuts look ridiculous at this stage. So stand up Democrats and say it. This was likely part of his message, a challenge to Democrats as much as any criticism of the President.

  • In the wake of Katrina, with the war in Iraq continuing and the deficit ballooning, surely one could say that it is an extraordinary set of circumstances. Ordinarily, over Bush's first years, Clinton did not speak out about political matters or issues and declined to do so regularly. He has been a "good soldier" in the former President's club and has been used by W as a political asset from time to time - with the tsunami relief effort and of late, the Katrina fund. But maybe in light of the extraordinary circumstances, and out of concern for perceptions of U.S. leadership from both abroad and domestically, the imperative to speak up on what should be done to right the ship of state outweighs the political niceties of the former President's club.

  • Clinton's speaking out is simply a reflection of the changed state of affairs with W's Presidency - and those who criticized him for doing so still don't get the seachange that is taking place...the pressure not to speak (Ari Fleischer) and the manipulation of the press (via tidbits) have reached the water's edge. For the first time, really, in five years, people are free to speak their minds about W without being excoriated as unpatriotic. Why there is something wrong with that is beyond me...
Message: get over it, there are bigger issues and challenges to deal with in the world today...

Bill Maher rules

Maher appeared on Tucker Carlson's show last night, transcript here. A gem of an excerpt:
CARLSON: Almost aesthetic level, aren't you repulsed by Clinton's never ending self-righteousness? The other day, over the weekend, he says essentially, I would have done a better job responding to Katrina because I am a better person, great guy, look at me, great administration. Doesn't the constant bragging make you want to throw up?

MAHER: You know what makes me want to throw up, seeing dead bodies floating in New Orleans, that makes me want to throw up.

CARLSON: Yes.

MAHER: That kind of stuff—that would not have happened under Bill Clinton. You can't tell me that you think that FEMA would have not been a completely different agency and that Clinton would have been all over this situation from minute one like white on rice.

You don't think that's who Bill Clinton is? He would not have slept from the moment this hurricane started to hit until we could do the best we could with the situation.


You're angry at his self-righteousness at a time when there are hundreds and hundreds of dead bodies that are on the tab of George Bush? Why don't you focus your anger on the guy who really deserves it?
As I said, Bill Maher rules...

Ouch

Another party official questioning your leadership just as you have all these nice new ads out...I particularly enjoy the one with Jim Prentice, where Stephen Harper barks over to him, "How many years have the Liberals been in power, Jim?" And Jim comes up with the correct answer, being the intelligent MP he is, "12." It's quite the "warroom" portrayed in these ads...doesn't do anything for me on Harper's image though...they seem antiseptic, manufactured and largely constructed to focus on his team, in order to deflect the focus on him, which doesn't seem to be a good thing. But hey, maybe that's just me...

Best photo out of the Convention Center nightmare

In case you can't read the caption: "Tanisha Blevin, 5, holds the hand of fellow Hurricane victim Nita LaGarde, 105, as they are evacuated from the New Orleans Convention Center on Saturday. The two are among thousands of residents who have waited days to leave the beleaguered city." (click on photo for larger view)

A great picture sent to me by disco, with the keen eye...who wrote: "i think this is an amazing picture and too bad it's not like this all the
time. these two, a century spanning them, - one at the beginning of her
life, and the other at the end of her life - have found some common ground
and are giving comfort to each other. when i see things like this, i forget
about the politics and the politicians, and remember that it's the people
who count and people who make the difference..." Yeah, that pretty much sums it up...

Kerry-Edwards watch

Got to wondering after reading Dan Froomkin's column from Tuesday, Scandal Visits the White House, about this item:
Dan Balz writes in The Washington Post: "President Bush came under withering criticism for his handling of Hurricane Katrina yesterday, with Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) charging that the storm exposed the administration's incompetence and ideological blinders and former senator John Edwards (D-N.C.) asserting that even in its response, the administration backs policies that support the privileged over the working poor.
Is it just a coincidence that and give highly critical speeches of Bush and the administration's handling of on the same day or is there some backroom coordination going on? I highly doubt it, unless there's some unknown agreement between the two. But still, an interesting public concurrence to note...

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Bush crony to investigate

So Bush has decided to appoint his domestic security adviser, Frances Townsend, to lead an "internal' White House inquiry into the administration's performance...

This should be good. I'm sure she will thoroughly assess Bush's personal response in the days following the disaster and will have the authority to criticize at will...

Meanwhile, the Democrat leaders in the Congress are holding out for an independent inquiry into the failed government response to the hurricane. Well they should, that's what the polls suggest the American people strongly support and there is no good reason at this time for their capitulation to Bill Frist's anemic appeals for unity.

A sidebar in the NYT article and a must highlight, Kerry's quote that pretty much sums it up:
In a speech at Brown University, Mr. Kerry referred to the White House as the "Katrina administration." Asserting that the storm "stripped away any image of competence and exposed to all the true heart and nature of this administration," he said, "The truth is that for four and a half years, real life choices have been replaced by ideological agenda, substance replaced by spin, governance second place always to politics."

Pirro climbs out from under her rock

I see Jeanine Pirro is back on the scene . Must be difficult to get people to hear you, what with all the wall-to-wall Clinton coverage...the "Clinton Global Initiative" press for Bill Clinton...CNN specials, appearances on Meet the Press, This Week and not to mention, own appearance at the CGI...

Way to wave that flag though, remind them you're still out there...and that "pledge" issue - well, it must be tough running in N.Y. against a highly competent and respected Senator. Looks like someone has some work to do on campaign issues. Just read Bill's brush-off to that one on Meet the Press:
"for figures that are large figures in their parties, who honestly don't know and can't know this early whether they're going to run _ we have no idea what facts will unfold _ I don't think they should make commitments. President Bush didn't make a commitment when he ran for re-election as governor of Texas and he was remarkably candid."
So there you have it, right out of W's own playbook...if it was good enough for W, why won't it be good enough for Hillary?

Monday, September 19, 2005

Clinton-Clark 2008?


Looks like a pretty good to me...they appeared at the Clinton Global Initiative this past week...

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Bush video: an oldie but a goodie

A gem from the 2004 election campaign...back in those innocent days when public displays of the incompetence were viewed as charming and harmless...

hat tip to disco, as always...

Rove's Off the Record spin

This blog post is getting a lot of play today. I am posting it to suggest that off the record opinions at this event were leaked by someone at this moment perhaps to send a message to the White House...your backroom, off the record spin, whether it be to the nation's elite, as was the case here, or perhaps elsewhere, just isn't going to play anymore if what you are saying is truly outrageous... this could portend a greater difficulty for the White House to get its backroom spin into wider circulation anonymously and thereby deprive them of a key weapon they've utilized to prop up all of the myths about Bush...
Karl Rove, President Bush's top political advisor and deputy White House chief of staff, spoke at businessman Teddy Forstmann's annual off the record gathering in Aspen, Colorado this weekend. Here is what Rove had to say that the press wasn't allowed to report on.

On Katrina: The only mistake we made with Katrina was not overriding the local government...

On The Anti-War Movement: Cindy Sheehan is a clown. There is no real anti-war movement. No serious politician, with anything to do with anything, would show his face at an anti-war rally...

On Bush's Low Poll Numbers: We have not been good at explaining the success in Iraq. Polls go up and down and don't mean anything...

On Iraq: There has been a big difference in the region. Iraq will transform the Middle East...

On Judy Miller And Plamegate: Judy Miller is in jail for reasons I don't really understand...

On Joe Wilson: Joe Wilson and I attend the same church but Joe goes to the wacky mass...

In attendance at the conference, among others were: Harvey Weinstein, Brad Grey, Michael Eisner, Les Moonves, Tom Freston, Tom Friedman, Bob Novak, Barry Diller, Martha Stewart, Margaret Carlson, Alan Greenspan, Andrea Mitchell, Norman Pearlstein and Walter Isaacson.

It's about time

ABC News: Clinton Rips Bush Fiscal, Tax Policies

"...a thin White House"

More evidence, as if anyone really needs it at this point, of indispensable presence for this President, Bush’s key aide ‘missed’ Katrina - Sunday Times - Times Online:
Bill Kristol, editor of the neo-conservative Weekly Standard, said Rove’s absence had made a significant difference after the hurricane hit. “He was out of commission for 24-36 hours and he’s indispensable. It’s a thin White House and it’s not a good thing that the government could become paralysed for a day,” Kristol said.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

W's "Oedipal loop-de-loop"

Dowd today :
With Karl Rove's help, Junior designed his presidency as a reverse of his father's. W. would succeed by studying Dad's failures and doing the opposite. But in a bizarre twist of filial fate, the son has stumbled so badly in areas where he tried to one-up Dad that he has ended up giving Dad a leg up in the history books.

As Mark Twain said: "When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years."

Of course, it's taken Junior only five years to learn how smart his old man was.

A lawsuit in the works?

This is news that is circulating around, that Elizabeth Reyes, the staff lawyer who worked in the Texas Secretary of State's office was fired subsequent to the Secretary of State receiving a call from Rove.

(Recall that "Elizabeth Reyes, 30, was terminated Sept. 6 after being quoted in The Washington Post three days earlier saying it was potential vote fraud to register in a place where you don't actually live." Further recall that name never came up during the phone calls from the Washington Post to her. And further recall that the Washington Post burned her by not including her qualification on Texas state law that if a person intended to return to the state, that could also indicate residency...)

Here's what the Texas Secretary of State, Roger Williams has to say about his phone call with Rove:
"Karl called me. He had read the article and wanted to know if it was our stance" that his voter registration status in Texas might be in jeopardy, he said. "I told him it wasn't and that the person who gave that opinion was not authorized to do so."

The call to Williams came at the height of the Hurricane Katrina catastrophe, the weekend after the storm struck. Rove was involved in the early White House response and subsequently has been a leader in the federal government's reconstruction effort.
Maybe Karl's had a little too much on his plate lately? and its aftermath, Patrick Fitzgerald, potentially violating Texas voting law, kidney stones....

And on the legal end of things:
Reyes said she was told she was being terminated for violating an agency policy against talking to the media.

Scott Haywood, a spokesman for the secretary of state, said employees may take "routine press calls" but must refer media inquires to the communications director if they involve "controversial matters" or an opinion or interpretation of agency policy.

Williams, asked about the reasons for Reyes' dismissal, said: "That's a personnel matter. I don't really want to discuss it."

In Texas, state employees can be terminated at will.
...Unsure of Texas employment law and what this note about "state employees" being subject to termination "at will" means... Is it possible she could still sue her employer? It appears as though they are firing her for cause, i.e., for a specific violation of agency policy. But if she can argue she did not violate that policy, as the inquiry from the press was not a "controversial matter" nor was it an "opinion" or "interpretation of agency policy," she was elaborating upon Texas state law as a staff lawyer for the Texas Secretary of State...then is it possible she could sue for wrongful dismissal and summon Williams and Rove as witnesses...?

Part of Karl's disaster storyline?

Congressman John Conyers spotlights a new scapegoat - environmentalists - that may be seeking to place blame upon in order to mitigate the Bush administration's own disaster fallout: Fighting Bush's Katrina Smear Campaign:
I'm saddened, but not surprised, that the Bush Administration would politicize the Hurricane response. But they may have reached another new low when they enlisted the beleaguered U.S. Attorneys offices in the Gulf Region to find a scapegoat - this time in the form of the environmentalists. As Kos noted yesterday, the Clarion Ledger reports that the Justice Department put out an APB for dirt on environmentalists relating concerning the levees. I don't think this Rovian tactic will fly, but its important that we hold them accountable for this smear campaign. Below is my letter to Gonzales asking him to justify this misuse of law enforcement resources in the aftermath of a natural disaster. I'll let you know when - and if - they respond.

Karl Rove: "the full story of the disaster" will be told

An overlooked item from Dan Froomkin's Friday column on visit to a North Carolina fundraiser this past week bears scrutiny:
Karl Rove managed to tear himself away from his reconstruction duties yesterday for a fundraising visit to Greensboro, N.C.

The Greensboro News and Record reports that he attended a Republican National Committee fundraiser at a private home.

"Guilford County Republican Party Chairman Marcus Kindley said Rove answered questions from guests around the state.

"The Bush administration has been criticized for being slow to respond to the damage spawned by Hurricane .

"Kindley said Rove reassured the crowd that the full story of the disaster would be told.

" 'He told us to hang in there,' Kindley said."(emphasis added)
I can just see him, reassuring the "have-mores" that the White House has yet to unload its guns on this just yet...so just you all be patient and the "full story" will soon be told...

I think he may have a challenge re-writing this piece of history given what the world has seen, if that's what he's planning. And from the sounds of things, he's having to shore up the base already.

So let's wait and see whether Karl starts telling the "full story"...

Friday, September 16, 2005

Graft Cheney 2008

CNN.com - Cheney to undergo surgery . Tell me again who thinks that the VP will be the subject of a "Draft 2008" movement? Maybe a "Graft" Cheney 2008 instead...What do you think now, Bob Woodward?

9 pm ET - See what a real leader looks like

Here. , speaking on relief efforts and likely much more...

Karl Rove in charge?

I agree with Josh Marshall and Arianna Huffington: Karl Rove's Big Easy that being placed in charge of the rebuilding efforts in the Gulf and , as reported in the New York Times yesterday (link is found in Huffington's post) is a scandal and is worthy of much more attention. So I second the motion that much more focus be devoted to this news:
And speaking of playing politics, I love how the news that Karl Rove has been placed in charge of the reconstruction effort was buried in the ninth paragraph of a twelve paragraph New York Times story on Bush’s big speech.

This assignment proves that despite the president’s lofty rhetoric about “building a better New Orleans”, his main concern is stanching his political bleeding. Let’s be honest, when it comes to large-scale efforts like this, Ol’ Turd Blossom isn’t exactly Gen. George Marshall, who, before devising the Marshall Plan, had, among other things, been responsible for deploying over eight million soldiers in WW II.

Rove’s genius (aside from a Mensa-level mastery of dirty trickery) is for using imagery, spin, and atmospherics to turn political liabilities into political opportunities.
George doesn't learn his lessons very well, does he? Appointed Brownie, a partisan hack to lead FEMA, that blows up - yet here he is again, letting his primary partisan operative lead the reconstruction effort...people really should be outraged and questioning how Rove can possibly be considered qualified to do this.

Kerry takes lead on relief for Gulf Coast small businesses

U.S. Newswire : Releases : "John Kerry's Relief Package for Small Businesses Devastated by Hurricane Katrina Passes Senate..."...with bipartisan support. Remember those innocent days when was so easily mocked as a flip-flopper and not to be trusted with national security? Wonder how he would have done with the more serious media coverage we've seen after ? Bet there are lots out there who'd like to have a do-over on that election...

Quote of the day

Iran's Leader Critical In First U.S. Visit:
"We believe that atomic energy is a blessing given by God; it is an opportunity given to all nations," he said, adding that "any improper use of production for nuclear arms should be prevented."
Hands up anyone who doesn't want to hear "atomic energy" and "blessing given by God" in the same sentence...

Roberts will uphold Roe: Krauthammer

Leading conservative columnist comes to this conclusion on in his column in the Washington Post today:
Circumspect and clever Roberts has been. No one really knows. But I predict two things: (a) Chief Justice Roberts will vote to uphold Roe v. Wade , and (b) his replacing his former boss, Chief Justice William Rehnquist, will move the court only mildly, but most assuredly, to the left -- as measured by the only available yardstick, the percentage of concurrences with the opinions of those conservative touchstones, Scalia and Thomas.

I infer this not just by what Roberts has said in his hearings -- that he supports Griswold v. Connecticut , that he deeply respects precedent and that he finds Roe itself worthy of respect. That is little beyond boilerplate. I infer it from his temperament, career and life history as an establishment conservative who prizes judicial modesty above all. Which means that while he will never repeat Roe , he will never repeal it and be the cause of the social upheaval that repeal would inevitably bring.
A reasonable conclusion based upon the hearings and all indications and it is the one I tend to agree with.

Yet there is this quote found in Dana Milbank's Washington Post column, also of today, that gives one pause:
The thing that seemed to alarm Democrats was not Roberts himself or his writings but the fact that ideologues on the right love him so much. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (Mass.) held a news conference during the afternoon hearing and waved "publications from conservative journals" assuring conservatives that they should be "secure in knowing they have a true soul spirit with this nominee."
So the question is, why do conservative ideologues favour him so heavily if he will not repeal Roe, as Krauthammer suggest? Maybe they're content not to have Roe "repeated" as Krauthammer foresees with a Roberts court. All a matter of speculation, but it is interesting how both sides appear to be willing to hope for the best with this nominee.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Bush's speech: the combination of Church and State

Is it just me or was there an over-abundance of religious references in speech?

I will leave it to others to assess whether the significance of this fact. But usually there is a "God bless America" at the end or possibly one "touched the face of God" metaphorical reference, but not this degree of integration of government action with religious organizations...haven't heard anyone commenting on this yet...

(These quotes are taken from the speech, but were not stated concurrently...with emphasis added)
Religious congregations and families have welcomed strangers as brothers and sisters and neighbors.
...Across the Gulf Coast, among people who have lost much and suffered much and given to the limit of their power, we are seeing that same spirit: a core of strength that survives all hurt, a faith in God no storm can take away, and a powerful American determination to clear the ruins and build better than before.
...It is the armies of compassion -- charities and houses of worship and idealistic men and women -- that give our reconstruction effort its humanity. They offer to those who hurt a friendly face, an arm around the shoulder and the reassurance that, in hard times, they can count on someone who cares.
...The cash needed to support the armies of compassion is great, and Americans have given generously.

For example, the private fundraising effort led by former Presidents Bush and Clinton has already received pledges of more than $100 million.

Some of that money is going to the governors, to be used for immediate needs within their states. A portion will also be sent to local houses of worship, to help reimburse them for the expense of helping others.
...This evening, the need is still urgent, and I ask the American people to continue donating to the Salvation Army, the Red Cross, other good charities and religious congregations in the region.
...And I challenge existing organizations -- churches and Scout troops or labor union locals -- to get in touch with their counterparts in Mississippi, Louisiana or Alabama and learn what they can do to help.
...These trials have also reminded us that we are often stronger than we know -- with the help of grace and one another. They remind us of a hope beyond all pain and death -- a God who welcomes the lost to a house not made with hands. And they remind us that we are tied together in this life, in this nation, and that the despair of any touches us all.
...The churches of Alabama will have their broken steeples mended and their congregations whole.
Again, not certain what to make of this stepped up religiosity and whether it is appropriate for a President - or whether given the circumstances it is justified.

The fly-by President

gives his speech in starting at 9:00 p.m. Speech finishes just before 9:30 p.m. At 10:12 p.m., MSNBC shows Air Force One taking off to return to Washington. Just wondering about the optics of this...they must have gone immediately to the airport as soon as he finished speaking. Doesn't this look kind of bad? Dropped in for the speech and immediately flew out the moment he finished...

The post-Brownie President

Excerpt from Bush speech tonight:
"I consider detailed emergency planning to be a national security priority," he says.
Oh, now you do...

Dan Rather took the picture

Embarrassing Bush Photograph Exposes Reuters Contradiction -- 09/15/2005:
PDN Newswire spoke with one of Reuters' picture editors - Gary Hershorn, who explained that sections of the photo were overexposed so a Reuters processor used the Photoshop technique to "burn down the note." Hershorn told PDN Newswire that the photo was not manipulated in any way, but that it was standard practice for such news photos to be enhanced.
So the photo was "enhanced" but it is still accurate...the conversation will now morph into "doctored" photos as helped along by Republican talking points...

Spin this

As Bush speaks this evening and his political guru Karl Rove takes charge over the rebuilding effort, Bob Herbert reminds the world of the horrors that took place in New Orleans last week, here.
It was the stuff of nightmares. Poisonous water moccasins were swimming in the filthy water of the flooded first floor, and snipers, rats and even a 12-foot alligator were roaming the treacherous area just outside the hospital's doors.

"To me, it was like being in hell," said Carl Warner, the chief engineer for Methodist Hospital in the hard-hit eastern part of New Orleans. "There were bodies floating in the water outside the building, and our staffers had to swim through that water to get fuel for the generator."
And FEMA interfered with this hospital's efforts to survive the aftermath:
Everybody's suffering would have been eased if the emergency relief effort mounted by the hospital's owner, Universal Health Services in King of Prussia, Pa., had not been interfered with by FEMA. Company officials sent desperately needed water, food, diesel fuel to power the hospital's generators and helicopters to ferry in the supplies and evacuate the most vulnerable individuals.

Bruce Gilbert, Universal's general counsel, told me yesterday, "Those supplies were in fact taken from us by FEMA, and we were unable to get them to the hospital. We then determined that it would be better to send our supplies, food and water to Lafayette [130 miles from New Orleans] and have our helicopters fly them from Lafayette to the hospital."
Final excerpt:
When you consider that the Methodist Hospital experience was just one small part of the catastrophe, you get a sense of the size of the societal failure that we allowed to happen.

Welcome to the United States in 2005.

Brownie: the "exit interview"

A very revealing piece in the NYTimes, also excerpted in Froomkin, in which pretty much dumps on everyone involved in the immediate response to ...he seems forthright, but can't help himself in trying to protect the White House to the end, partisan hack that he is/was. For instance, at one point he says, "I truly believed the White House was not at fault here." Yet later in the story, he tells of phoning the White House and Chertoff a number of times during the crucial days after the hurricane. His story - try as he might to place blame elsewhere - shows they clearly didn't get the severity of the situation and so bear their share of responsibility. Here are a few of his insights:
By Saturday afternoon, many residents were leaving. But as the hurricane approached early on Sunday, Mr. Brown said he grew so frustrated with the failure of local authorities to make the evacuation mandatory that he asked Mr. Bush for help.

"Would you please call the mayor and tell him to ask people to evacuate?" Mr. Brown said he asked Mr. Bush in a phone call.

"Mike, you want me to call the mayor?" the president responded in surprise, Mr. Brown said.
How dare he ask the President to call the Mayor in the midst of a natural disaster the likes of which the U.S. rarely sees?

On the Monday night, there was this:
On Monday night, Mr. Brown said, he reported his growing worries to Mr. Chertoff and the White House. He said he did not ask for federal active-duty troops to be deployed because he assumed his superiors in Washington were doing all they could. Instead, he said, he repeated a dozen times, "I cannot get a unified command established."
Brownie, who did you think you were talking to? Experienced military guys?

And on the Tuesday night:
That night, Mr. Brown said, he called Mr. Chertoff and the White House again in desperation. "Guys, this is bigger than what we can handle," he told them, he said. "This is bigger than what FEMA can do. I am asking for help."

"Maybe I should have screamed 12 hours earlier," Mr. Brown said in the interview. "But that is hindsight. We were still trying to make things work."
So clearly, by Brownie the crony's own account, the White House and Homeland Security were slow in getting it...

And one last shot to bring Blanco down:
He focused much of his criticism on Governor Blanco, contrasting what he described as her confused response with far more agile mobilizations in Mississippi and Alabama, as well as in Florida during last year's hurricanes.
But again, this seems a bit unfair, while Mississippi and Alabama were hit hard, they did not have a major city like underwater with the particular challenges that situation brought. And the comparison with Florida is just not on. We all know Florida was very well organized in the Fall of 2004 as a federal election was looming on the horizon. The brothers Bush saw to that. Blanco's staff rebuts Brownie's criticism pretty effectively:
Governor Blanco's communications director, Mr. Mann, said that she was frustrated that Mr. Brown and others at FEMA wanted itemized requests before acting. "It was like walking into an emergency room bleeding profusely and being expected to instruct the doctors how to treat you," he said.
Farewell Brownie, please come back from time to time to enlighten us with tales of incompetence from inside the White House...

Specter halts Roberts' intellectual moonwalk

Interesting line of questioning pursued by Senator Specter here on a judicial test the appears to have adoped of late in a few cases. Apparently Justice Scalia objects to the test, as does Specter:
Justice Scalia objected to the requirement the court has placed on Congress to show that its legislative approaches are "congruent" with, and "proportionate" to, the problem it is seeking to address.
This sounds familiar to Canadians...our Supreme Court adopted a legal test early on in our developing Charter of Rights and Freedoms jurisprudence (in the 1980's) to determine whether government measures were constitutional and it sounds akin to the "congruent" and "proportionate" test mentioned here. Unfortunately, would not give his views:
Mr. Specter asked Judge Roberts if he agreed with Justice Scalia's critique of the "congruence and proportionality test." The nominee declined to say, noting that another such case is on the docket for the coming term.
A shame, this would provide a real window into how he would decide cases...an area you'd think was general enough, without reference to any case law, to elicit some information, as Specter seems to suggest in his final quote in the story.

It wasn't a hoax

Reuters Photog Appears to Capture Bush at U.N. With 'Bathroom Break' Note.

Blanco: the buck stops here

Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco follows Bush in taking responsibility for her state's role in the response to , here :
"At the state level, we must take a careful look at what went wrong and make sure it never happens again," Blanco said. "The buck stops here, and as your governor, I take full responsibility."
Her speech appears to have been well-received with a few standing ovations. The speech might help to put an end to the finger-pointing, at least emanating from the state level, while the rebuilding and recovery effort become the focus. She appears to have extended an olive branch:
But in her speech, Blanco praised Bush, saying "I want the people of Louisiana to know that we have a friend and partner in President George W. Bush."
Now, let's see if the White House operatives are able to restrain themselves.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Bush: Weighty thoughts at the U.N.


OK, so is human after all: Bush: "I think I may need a bathroom break?"

Mitt Romney blames Blanco

A Governor attacks a fellow Governor, here:
Without naming names, Romney criticized the response to Hurricane . While not exonerating anyone, he noted the "apparent absence of someone who was calling the shots" at the local level. "The governor of a state is responsible for homeland security and emergency response" in that state, Romney said: When the state can't meet the need, you get help from your neighboring state or the federal government. What's needed most, though, is "leadership."
In Manhattan, at the Harvard Club, trying to get attention for a potential 2008 bid by slamming a Governor when they're down...

Laura Bush: Media Ignoring Positive Side of Hurricane Affermath

Yeah, aren't so bad according to . Details on her speech to the Heritage Foundation, here. And in other news just in from the First Lady, "My mother-in-law is really a swell lady."

Karl Rove watch continues

The DNC continues to shout out on involvement in the outing of CIA agent Valerie Plame: here . As suggested in past entries, this controversy could be affecting Rove, the White House operatives have been off their game for weeks...if the investigation indeed does come to an end in the next few weeks, the loss of his key adviser would come at a terrible moment...

Party may be over

Someone appears to be acting on the allegations of cronyism in the quick awards of contracts to firms with connections to the Bush administration:Official Vows Investigation of No-Bid Relief Contracts - New York Times.
The inspector general of the Department of Homeland Security said Tuesday that his office had received accusations of fraud and waste in the multibillion-dollar relief programs linked to Hurricane and would investigate how no-bid contracts were awarded to several large, politically well-connected companies.
Specifically singled out are the following:
He said that his investigators would focus on several no-bid contracts awarded over the last two weeks to large, politically influential companies, including the Fluor Corporation of California, a major donor to the Republican Party, and the Shaw Group of Baton Rouge, La. Shaw is a client of Joe M. Allbaugh, a consultant who is the former head of FEMA and was President Bush's campaign manager in 2000.

Another of Mr. Allbaugh's clients - Kellogg Brown & Root, a subsidiary of Halliburton, the giant defense contractor once led by Vice President Dick Cheney - is doing major repairs at Navy facilities along the Gulf Coast that were damaged by the hurricane. That work is being done under a $500 million contract with the Defense Department.

Mr. Skinner said he had no reason to believe there was anything wrong with the no-bid contracts, "but we're going to be looking at all of the contracting, the decision-making that was used to determine a sole-source contract."

"We want validation and we want documentation to show that it was rational to go one way or the other" in offering a no-bid contract, he said.
Seems to be a pretty quick uptake on this issue. The inspector general is described here as the Homeland Security Department's "internal watchdog." Will wait to see if this is a rigorous review ....

Dowd today

Best characterization of the effort currently going on in the White House to rescue this President, from A Fatal Incuriosity :
President Bush continued to try to spin his own inaction yesterday, but he may finally have reached a patch of reality beyond spin. Now he's the one drowning, unable to rescue himself by patting small black children on the head during photo-ops and making scripted attempts to appear engaged. He can keep going back down there, as he will again on Thursday when he gives a televised speech to the nation, but he can never compensate for his tragic inattention during days when so many lives could have been saved.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Bush takes responsibility - well, kind of

As I have been harping for over a week on this topic, I am obliged to say something in the face of Bush's statements today, found here :
"Katrina exposed serious problems in our response capability at all levels of government, and to the extent that the federal government didn't fully do its job right, I take responsibility," Mr. Bush said in an appearance in the East Room with President Jalal Talabani of Iraq. "I want to know what went right and what went wrong."
So is he taking responsibility for his own actions? Unclear. He's taking responsibility for FEMA's response, or lack thereof, clearly. But it seems a little strange to hear him avoid addressing his own role, the humongous elephant in the room. People are also highlighting this quote from Bush:
In response to a reporter who asked if Americans, in the wake of the hurricane, should be concerned about the government's ability to respond to another disaster or a terrorist attack, Mr. Bush said: "I want to know how to better cooperate with state and local government, to be able to answer that very question that you asked: Are we capable of dealing with a severe attack or another severe storm? And that's a very important question."
A non-answer that you can read a lot into...he never really answers a question directly, so this is not surprising. But he clearly doesn't say they are prepared and you'd think a President would know that his job is to reassure people that despite the disaster, they are working 24/7 to right what's gone wrong, etc., or some other competent response. Bush just doesn't seem have it in him to think on his feet, to step up lately and this is just another example. Maybe he knows there's nothing he can say in response that would satisfy anyone, as their preparedness was laid bare for all the world to see....

His moment of responsibility will likely be continued on Thursday evening...

Is it really the "End of the Bush Era?"

E.J. Dionne's opinion is that it is, essentially for this reason:
The source of Bush's political success was his claim that he could protect Americans. Leadership, strength and security were Bush's calling cards. Over the past two weeks, they were lost in the surging waters of New Orleans.
I agree with this assessment yet have been amazed at the short memory span present in our society where what seem like incredibly momentous issues on one day shortly become just one more matter to be updated on cable news shows, one more topic to endlessly dissect. So I don't know if his analysis will hold over the coming months...

What if Bush, beginning with Thursday night's speech, outlines a grand plan to rebuild the Gulf that really resonates with Americans. Or makes some sweeping gesture or sets what some might see as visionary goals in relation to the rebuilding. If he accomplishes that, his image will benefit and the "Bush Era" may yet be unfinished. The new storylines will be laid out for the media to run with and his operatives will have a whole new framework within which to spin his image. I highly doubt that the image of Bush as a passive, reactive dawdler in the face of the disaster is the one that he or his handlers will be willing to let crystallize. It will be very difficult for them to overcome Bush's self-inflicted wounds, yet I suspect they will devote the rest of their term to it.

Jeanne Meserve's memorable report

A Daily Kos blogger transcribed Jeanne Meserve's report from Monday August 29th on CNN's Aaron Brown:read it here . It's devastating...worth remembering and why I'm linking to it.

The new Bush talking point

Bush's Approval Rating Drops To New Low in Wake of Storm:
Speaking to reporters after touring yesterday, Bush sought to dispel the view that race played a role in the government's response to the disaster. "When those Coast Guard choppers, many of who were first on the scene, were pulling people off roofs, they didn't check the color of a person's skin," Bush said. "They wanted to save lives."

Bush vowed that the massive federal response, which already has received funding of more than $62 billion and involves more than 71,000 federal personnel on the ground, would be managed fairly. "The storm didn't discriminate, and neither did the recovery effort," he said, adding: "The rescue efforts were comprehensive, and the recovery will be comprehensive."
Wonder how many times we'll hear, "the storm didn't discriminate" in the coming days? Already heard it once tonight, the guest who appeared opposite Al Sharpton on Scarborough's show repeated it. Is that just a coincidence? How many minutes into tomorrow's WH Press briefing will it be until Scott McLellan utters it?

What does that mean, anyway? The storm didn't discriminate? No, it didn't, storms aren't racist. And why is he injecting the Coast Guard rescuers into his defence here? I can just see them shuddering... The point is that the people affected by the storm needed help, the majority of whom were largely poor and African American, and it took himself almost four days to figure out the urgency of the need for help. It doesn't mean necessarily that he's racist, the issue is that he's incompetent and still - still hasn't apologized for or addressed his lapse in judgment. Crisis Management 101, you need to take it again George.

Are grand jurors the target market for this story?

Just wondering, after I read this story in the Washington Post today, why it was written. Just a human interest piece or more?

I recall reading something recently on the workings of grand juries and how there are no limitations on jurors reading news stories...the point may even have been made that they are indeed encouraged to read and investigate the matter before them. And so I thought that this piece would fall into that category.

It serves as a reminder to the grand jurors that the "little people" working in the White House, now and in the past, are subjected to tremendous financial burdens when called to appear before a grand jury. The figures presented here estimate the cost to be between $10,000 and $100,000 for legal advice. An incredible debt to take on for anyone.
The latest White House staffer to face the grand jury is Susan B. Ralston, assistant to White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove, who gave testimony to the committee investigating the leak of the identity of CIA operative Valerie Plame.
Wonder if the burden that she is taking on, financially and emotionally, for her boss, , is being spotlighted to remind the grand jury of the serious impact their deliberations have taken on such staffers. And that Rove's actions, whatever they were, took a serious toll on her as well. Perhaps as they are "winding up" their deliberations, as reported, it is appropriate to have such a reminder.

Bush: Gone Fishin'


This "photo" of Bushes 41 & is up on Crooks and Liars as well, I had to post it, saw it on Imus and couldn't stop laughing...the biting satire that Photoshop can produce...so that's where he was...

Sky News captions the President

...hmmm, they were referring to , weren't they?

Google knows all

Searching for failure? Try George W. Bush. Google "failure" and biography magically appears as the first search result...

Monday, September 12, 2005

Brownie was a shameful appointment

Three Days After Losing Katrina Duties, FEMA Chief Resigns Post .

How quickly an incompetent Bush appointee can be exposed when tested.

Make no mistake about it, has brought into full view Bush's incompetence and cronyism, as has been heavily discussed around the blogs and in the MSM...let's not forget who is responsible for the appointment in the first place.

Understatement of the year

When questioned on Michael Brown's resignation as FEMA Director, Bush says to Dana Bash on CNN, "Maybe you know something I don't...":CNN.com - FEMA Director Brown resigns - Sep 12, 2005.

White House lies, WaPo apologizes

What the White House get away with:
The Washington Post, like many news organizations, says it is trying to crack down on the use of anonymous sources. But the paper allowed a "senior administration official" to spin the story of the slow response to Katrina -- with a claim that turned out to be false.

On Sept. 4, the paper cited the "senior Bush official" as saying that as of the day before, Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco "still had not declared a state of emergency." As The Post noted in a correction, Blanco, a Democrat, had declared a state of emergency on Aug. 26.

Liberal bloggers have unloaded on The Post. Wrote Arianna Huffington: "Why were the Post reporters so willing to blindly accept the words of an administration official who obviously had a partisan agenda -- and to grant the official anonymity?"

Post National Editor Michael Abramowitz calls the incident "a bad mistake" that happened right on deadline. "We all feel bad about that," he says. "We should not have printed the information as background information, and it should have been checked. We fell down on the desk."

Spencer Hsu, the article's co-author, says he "tried to make clear that the source came from the administration, and that he was blaming the locals, which I believe our story made clear and broke ground in explaining by uncovering the National Guard dispute."

Should the paper identify the source who provided bad information? "We don't blow sources, period, especially if we don't have reason to believe the source in this case actually lied deliberately," Hsu says.
Maybe next time they'll think twice on the anonymity and the truthfulness of any spin emanating from the White House pack.

Poor Rove, his political strategy takes a hit

Bush and his operatives can set up all the photo ops they want with black preachers and stage event after event but they will be hard pressed to make up for the pictures driven into the world's psyche last week and the impression Bush created by not acting when the situation demanded it: Gulf Coast Isn't the Only Thing Left in Tatters; Bush's Status With Blacks Takes Hit - New York Times.

On video, an angry resident who won't leave

For a comical video excerpt, click on the link entitled "CTV News: Joy Malbon in New Orleans"on this page: CTV.ca ....takes about 30 seconds to cue up. Individual to watch for is about halfway along the news report and is resident, Ashton O'Dwyer, a lawyer, who warns that if anyone comes to evict him, "I will kill them...if they come on my property." By listening to the intensity of the man, you know he just might. Also a great shot of him pointing and screaming at his TV as the reporter states that he is angry and upset with politicians....

Operation Blame Democrats

A modification is required to my "Operation Blame" watch, given the information we learn in TIME.com: Living Too Much in the Bubble?
By late last week, Administration aides were describing a three-part comeback plan. The first: Spend freely, and worry about the tab and the consequences later. ...
The second tactic could be summed up as, Don't look back. The White House has sent delegates to meetings in Washington of outside Republican groups who have plans to blame the Democrats and state and local officials.
Glad to see that the "blame" strategy is out there for the world to see! Will have to keep our eyes peeled for evidence of the outside groups who are getting in on the act.

And this is the first I've heard about woes:
And as if the West Wing were suddenly snakebit, his franchise player, senior adviser and deputy chief of staff, Karl Rove, was on the disabled list for part of last week, working from home after being briefly hospitalized with painful kidney stones.
Your key adviser goes down and the whole White House strategy apparently falls apart. Goes to show how fragile the operation is when he's not around, Bush looks lost in the headlights and unsure of what to say. We can only imagine what might occur if Rove actually ends up indicted by U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald.

One other intriguing part of this article, where the issue of too many loyalists surrounding Bush and providing only positive information to him is discussed as a problem:
The result is a kind of echo chamber in which good news can prevail over bad--even when there is a surfeit of evidence to the contrary. For example, a source tells TIME that four days after Katrina struck, Bush himself briefed his father and former President Clinton in a way that left too rosy an impression of the progress made. "It bore no resemblance to what was actually happening," said someone familiar with the presentation.
Hmmm...So Bush briefed his father and Clinton on the situation, and one person who was "familiar with the presentation" said it bore no resemblance to what was happening...who could it be now...

Sunday, September 11, 2005


Bush surveys damage...the photo that turned a presidency upside down...?

Republican moderates feeling emboldened?

Senator Arlen Specter, the Republican Judiciary Committee Chairman and a moderate Republican, sets down his marker on the potential Supreme Court appointment of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, Bush's longtime friend and confidant:
``I believe it's a little too soon for Attorney General Gonzales to move up,'' Specter, a Pennsylvania Republican, said on NBC's ``Meet the Press'' program. ``He's an able fellow, but we just went through a tough confirmation hearing, and my sense is that the national interest would be best served if he stayed in that job right now.''
Pretty bold words from a Republican who was recently targeted by Bush conservative supporters, after Bush's re-election. Conservatives wanted Specter to be stripped of the Judiciary Committee's Chairmanship due to his moderate views. Ironically, Specter speaking out against Gonzales as a nominee actually pleases conservatives as they are unsure of Gonzales' views. But still, this is quite a seachange for Specter and a sign that Republican moderates may no longer be so cowed by the Bush team...

"Blame game" lights a fire under Landrieu

Landrieu puts her finger on exactly the right issue in the politics of "blame gaming," here:
Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., said officials at all levels eventually would share blame for an inadequate response, but she cited only the administration for the finger-pointing that followed the killer storm.

"While the president is saying that he wants to work together as a team, I think the White House operatives have a full court press on to blame state and local officials whether they're Republicans or Democrats. It's very unfortunate," she told CBS'"Face the Nation."

She said Washington was obligated to support local and state officials, "particularly in times of tragedy and stress, not to pile on them, not to make their suffering worse."
Landrieu is shining a bright light on the White House's modus operandi, its typically ruthless political tactics where they decry the "blame game" in public, yet in private mobilize surrogates with talking points that attack and blame. We saw this earlier this week when Bob Williams, a Republican hack based in Washington state, was apparently dispensed to the editorial pages of the WSJ to explicitly put the blame on Governor Blanco.

This continues to be a problem for the White House - its backroom operations are being spotlighted in the media coverage and it looks petty. The big guy attacking the little guys, plain and simple, at a time of disaster in and the gulf region.