Friday, June 30, 2006

On the composition of the Supreme Court

Unclaimed Territory - by Glenn Greenwald: The significance of Hamdan v. Rumsfeld:
"This decision illustrates just how critical is the current composition of the Supreme Court. The decision was really 5-4 (because Roberts already ruled in favor of the administration in the lower court). The Justice who wrote the majority opinion, John Paul Stevens, is 86 years old, and as Justice Blackmun once famously warned, he 'cannot remain on this Court forever.' If the Bush administration is permitted to replace Stevens with yet another worshipper of executive power, the next challenge to the Bush administration's theories of unchecked power could very easily result, by a 5-4 vote, in the opposite outcome."

The navy lawyer who led Guantanamo fight

See what can happen when someone stands up to the powerful train that is barrelling down the tracks straight at him? Occasionally, the train goes off the rails.

"Lonely Victory for U.S. Navy Lawyer":
"'I feel like we all won, that the rule of law won, and that is essentially what we are all about,' Swift said of the high court's validation of his three-year campaign on behalf of his 36-year-old client."
Colleagues attributed the high court ruling to what they considered to be Swift's determination to protect the integrity of U.S. jurisprudence against a Pentagon bent on retribution for terrorism attacks on U.S. forces.

"It took exceptional courage. He had to risk himself being alienated from the larger military establishment," said David Scheffer, law professor and director of the Center for International Human Rights at Northwestern University. "He must have known when he took this on that he was risking his career, and sadly he may have done that within the U.S. Navy."

Though Swift's successful challenge of the tribunal's legitimacy will probably open doors in the private sector and academia for the Navy lawyer, Scheffer said, Swift has reportedly been passed over for promotion.

Reaction to the Supreme Court's Guantanamo ruling

New York Times:
"'This is a great triumph for the rule of law and the separation of powers,' said Bruce Ackerman, a professor of law and political science at Yale. 'The administration will have to go back to Congress and talk in a much more discriminating fashion about what we need to do.'"
And hey, a Republican Senator, Lindsey Graham, who seems to get it:
"The Supreme Court has set the rules of the road," Mr. Graham, a former military lawyer, said, "and the Congress and the president can drive to the destination together."

Eugene Robinson in the Washington Post:

It seemed almost too much to hope for, but the Supreme Court finally called George W. Bush onto the carpet yesterday and asked him the obvious question: What part of "rule of law" do you not understand?
And from a report in the Post:
The Supreme Court yesterday struck down the military commissions President Bush established to try suspected members of al-Qaeda, emphatically rejecting a signature Bush anti-terrorism measure and the broad assertion of executive power upon which the president had based it.

Brushing aside administration pleas not to second-guess the commander in chief during wartime, a five-justice majority ruled that the commissions, which were outlined by Bush in a military order on Nov. 13, 2001, were neither authorized by federal law nor required by military necessity, and ran afoul of the Geneva Conventions.
Any way you slice it, this is a remarkable blow in favour of the rule of law and a welcome day after years of living with this administration's disregard for it, in so many respects.

Science, surprisingly, triumphed over ideology here

Panel Unanimously Recommends Cervical Cancer Vaccine for Girls 11 and Up.

Good news! Is the world righting itself? Are the good guys on a roll?

NY Times editorial today

The lawless strongman declared war on the NY Times this week. Yet they're not taking the abuse lying down. And so we see a fiery editorial today on the Guantanamo ruling from the Supreme Court yesterday. Essentially, the Supreme Court has clearly reaffirmed to that he is not above the law. And there is such a thing as the Congress whose laws are to be respected. Now if only there were a house of Congress that would actually do its job and engage in effective ya think Arlen and his crowd on the Senate Judiciary Committee might now wake up? The utter abdication of the legislative branch has just been shameful. If this congress is not turned out for its delinquency, quaint notions of accountability will have become a thing of the past. As long as there's no flag burning or gays getting married, that's all that counts, right?

"A Victory for the Rule of Law":
"The Supreme Court's decision striking down the military tribunals set up to try the detainees being held in Guantánamo Bay is far more than a narrow ruling on the issue of military courts. It is an important and welcome reaffirmation that even in times of war, the law is what the Constitution, the statute books and the Geneva Conventions say it is — not what the president wants it to be."
The Bush administration could go to Congress and ask for a special law that allowed it to create a unique system of justice for Guantánamo detainees. That is an argument for another day. The message of this ruling is that the executive branch cannot continue in its remarkable insistence that because there is a war on terror, it no longer needs to follow established procedures that would subject it to scrutiny by another branch of government. The justices rejected the administration's constant refrain — made in everything from its "enemy combatant" policies to its defense of the National Security Agency's domestic spying — that the authority Congress granted the president to use force after Sept. 11, the exigencies of wartime, or simply the inherent powers of the presidency allow President Bush to trample on existing laws as he sees fit.

The key to the decision was the court's swing justice, Anthony Kennedy. He provided the fifth vote for the majority, and wrote a separate opinion that eloquently distilled the key principles: that "respect for laws" duly passed by Congress and signed into law by the president is particularly necessary in times of crisis, and that "the Constitution is best preserved by reliance on standards tested over time and insulated from the pressures of the moment."
(emphasis added)
In this era of heightened partisanship, the role of the Supreme Court appears to have suddenly taken on an aura of even greater significance. The last few years have witnessed a powerful presidency unfettered by congressional oversight. But for the Court, this trend toward an imbalance toward the executive becomes frighteningly more acute...

Thursday, June 29, 2006

"A" for effort, my friends!

(AP Photo/James A. Finley)

I see had a welcoming committee to meet him as he visited Missouri, yesterday...

It's a full scale onslaught

Bush fanning the flames.
President Bush rallied Republicans with another attack on the media last night, in remarks that highlighted efforts at the White House and on Capitol Hill to gain momentum from recent disclosures about classified programs to fight terrorism.

Senior administration officials say the president was outraged by articles in the New York Times and other newspapers about a surveillance program in which the U.S. government has tapped international banking records for information about terrorist financing. But his comments at a Republican fundraiser in a St. Louis suburb yesterday, combined with new moves by GOP congressional leaders, showed how both are working to fan public anger and reap gains from the controversy during a midterm election year in which polls show they are running against stiff headwinds.

Democrats, for their part, denounced Republicans for trying to divert attention from issues such as the Iraq war and high gasoline prices, and some terrorism experts said the White House is exaggerating the damage.
Attack the NY Times...make it the issue in the election. I'm sure everyone's quite concerned on a day in, day out basis about what the NY Times is printing, right? The desperate nature of these diversionary tactics seems so obvious, it's really striking. Their game is clearly to stoke their partisan base by firing them up beyond recognition. Gay marriage, flag burning, media bashing, cut and run flag waving I missing any of the red meat chum they're lacing the water with for their base?

No matter how hard they try, they have no control over Iraq and how it continues to play out. And the Democrats aren't rolling over this election, as they did in previous Bush campaigns. Despite the criticisms of the Dems, they're not letting such tactics go unaddressed. Two major differences this time around.

Oprah for President?

Worthwhile question.
"So here's a suggestion. Let's reverse the process and put forward a Democratic candidate for president who is already a television star, a movie-maker, a best-selling author, a philanthropist, and, oh yes, a billionaire business woman: Oprah Winfrey for president."
I'm sure the wingnuts and assorted blowhards will laugh quite heartily at this suggestion. But once you get past the "wow" factor, it's not a bad idea. And do I really have to point out the obvious, that she'd do a better job than the numbskull currently occupying the job...? No, didn't think I had to...:)

Today's metaphor for Iraq: a bull in a china shop

The Wreckage in the China Shop:
"After all the sound and fury of the past few years, how is the U.S. doing in its fight against terrorism?

Not too well, according to a recent survey of more than 100 highly respected foreign policy and national security experts. The survey, dubbed the 'Terrorism Index,' was conducted by the Center for American Progress and Foreign Policy magazine. The respondents included Republicans and Democrats, moderates, liberals and conservatives.

The survey's findings were striking. A strong, bipartisan consensus emerged on two crucial points: 84 percent of the respondents said the United States was not winning the war on terror, and 86 percent said the world was becoming more — not less — dangerous for Americans."
The respondents also said it was crucially important for the U.S. to engage in a battle of ideas as part of a sustained effort to bring about a rejection of radical ideologies in the Islamic world. That kind of battle requires more of a reliance on diplomacy and other nonmilitary tools.

If the respondents to this survey are correct, the U.S. needs to be moving in an entirely different direction. The war against terror cannot be won by bombing the enemy into submission. The bull in the china shop may be frightening at first, but after a while it's just enraging. We need a better, smarter way.
A propos of Herbert's bull in the china shop's a timely update of Colin Powell's "Pottery Barn"rule:
Given the disaster that Iraq actually is, some alterations of argument were obviously in order. Put in terms of Colin Powell's infamous "Pottery Barn rule" ("If you break it, you own it"), this particular formulation would go something like: You've barged into Pottery Barn, an invading bull in a China shop and you've been breaking things right and left ever since; management, employees, and other customers are enraged, so what choice do you have but to stay and keep breaking things? Bail out now and all those angry folks will be heading for your house to break your things.
I think these two excerpts make the point, don't you?

Berkeley will vote on impeaching Bush

This fall, in a referendum.

That's a shame...

While the "villagers are lighting their torches"...

Keith Strikes Back Against NYTimes Bashers.

Gotta love the ...:)

Levin kicking ass & taking names

Video of Sen. Levin and Fox Anchor in On-Air Scuffle Over Iraq Plan. And today's name is Faux news "anchor" Brian Kilmeade...

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Yeah, his name is Kenneth Blackwell

A Single Person Could Swing an Election:
"The experts thought about all the ways to do it. And they concluded in a report issued yesterday that it would take only one person, with a sophisticated technical knowledge and timely access to the software that runs the voting machines, to change the outcome."

Yo! Don't be pimpin' in my state, beyotch!

Senator seeks tax on pimps, prostitutes.

Chuck say, the IRS is going to be all over your pimpin' and ho'in a@*es, bitches! Because I'm Chuck Grassley, bitch!

"Disgraceful" photo op

Hmmm....we don't see Bush exercising every day, so what's the deal here?

REUTERS/Larry Downing

Oh, yes, it's a shameless photo op on the south lawn jogging path with a soldier! Silly me...look at all the cameras from the hated news media that were invited along.

REUTERS/Larry Downing

And here I thought Bush was not very enamoured of the news media this week. But I guess he's only mad when they're not doing what he wants them to do.

(By the way, I'm not completely heartless...good for this soldier, but shame on Bush for this staging)

Arlen Specter: blah blah blah blah blah...

Bush's use of "signing statements" riles Senator :
"But Senator Arlen Specter, Republican of Pennsylvania and chairman of the Judiciary Committee, characterized the president's actions as a declaration that he 'will do as he pleases,' without regard to the laws passed by Congress.

'There's a real issue here as to whether the president may, in effect, cherry-pick the provisions he likes and exclude the ones he doesn't like,' Mr. Specter said at a hearing.

'Wouldn't it be better, as a matter of comity,' he said, 'for the president to have come to the Congress and said, 'I'd like to have this in the bill; I'd like to have these exceptions in the bill,' so that we could have considered that?'

Mr. Specter and others are particularly upset that Mr. Bush reserved the right to interpret the torture ban passed overwhelmingly by Congress, as well as Congressional oversight powers in the renewal of the Patriot Act."
Comity? is likely sitting in the White House, having his coffee, and wondering, as he reads the Times (we know he does, he calls it disgraceful, right?)..."comity?" "Why is Specter talking about how funny it would be for me to go to congress on legislation? Heh, heh..."

Seriously, though, or semi-seriously...I'll ask my usual question: So what the f*%# are you going to do about it all, Arlen? Answer: nothing. We really should call you "Much ado about nothing" Specter. Thanks for playing though, guy! You had us going for a minute again!

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Wingnuts think NYTimes editors should be in prison

Hardball Guest Says NYT Editor Is Guilty of ‘Treason,’ Advocates ‘Prison For 20 Years/’

Saw this yesterday. It's making a splash today and it really should be seen to get a sense of the anger that Bush and have stoked. The right wing noise machine is taking the /Cheney diatribe over the NYTimes - on the Times story about them monitoring banking records, which the terrorists know about anyway - a little too far, shall we say. More commentary here:
I never, ever, ever watch prime time cable news because it makes me want to kill extremely large numbers of people. Tragically, I walked through the door yesterday and my roommate already had Hardball on. There were two people debating the issue of . . . whether or not The New York Times should be brought up on charges of treason. Seriously. Treason. For publishing an article in a newspaper. Treason. And there was Chris Matthews happily presiding over the whole thing as if this was a serious conversation that people should be having. This all taking place on a network that, allegedly, does journalism.
The right wing talkies are advocating 20 years in prison for the editors of one of the most prominent media institutions in the U.S. It sounds like some eastern European dictatorship or some crackpot South American country where the media is intimidated and notions of a free press are quaint clauses in a constitution that isn't worth the paper it's written on.

Petulant bully boy throws a fit

How dare the NYTimes print a newsworthy story? So whined the hissy fitting President.

Watch this in response.

Smilin' George Allen may be in trouble after all

National Review Online broadcasts the point:
Democratic candidate James Webb has pulled to within 6 percentage points of incumbent GOP Sen. George Allen, according to a new poll.

"On paper, this is a real race, for logical reasons," said Larry Sabato, a political scientist at the University of Virginia. "I look at a variety of polls, and they tell me that voters are rendering a judgment on George Allen. Voters really don't know Jim Webb yet."
has just started his campaign and he's already close to , supposedly a darling of the right wing and a front runner touted to challenge McCain in '08. Sounds like the voters are not going to make it easy on the son of the famous football coach (just thought I'd throw it in there one more time, it's mentioned repeatedly by the Allenites, as if that somehow dusts him with some kind of magic powder). How sweet it would be to knock off this smilin' good ol' boy...this is a race this blog will be watching through November.

Pesky hearings

Held by the Senate Democratic Policy Committee on Iraq. Interesting stuff they're hearing:
Witnesses who came before the senators included Paul R. Pillar, a longtime CIA analyst and a former national intelligence officer covering Iraq, and Lawrence B. Wilkerson, chief of staff to then-Secretary of State Colin L. Powell.

White and Pillar both discussed the lack of Middle East experience by White House officials, including President Bush and Vice President Cheney, who pushed for the Iraq invasion. White said that "lack was a major impediment to sound policymaking if one already does not have an open mind and is driven by a particular agenda."
And it was disclosed how early on the Bush team were warned about the likelihood of resistance...

That's a shame

Faux News slipping in the ratings:
So far during the second quarter, the No. 1 cable news channel’s primetime schedule has dropped 22% in its core 25-54 demo and 8% in total viewers. The first quarter was even worse.
So sad, so very sad. Could it be that hitching your wagon to one of the most unpopular Presidents of recent memory is not paying off for the GOP's news outlet? Ah, the risks of picking a side and being so closely identified with it, all the while purporting to be an objective news source...

Buffett on Bush trying to kill the estate tax

On the occasion of his giving away billions to the Gates Foundation, found a moment to throw a punch Bush's way:
"Mr. Buffett was scathing yesterday in describing his feelings about estate taxes, which the Bush administration is trying to kill. The ability of rich men to pass on 'dynastic wealth' to their grandchildren is offensive to the American tradition of meritocracy, he said.

He gets particularly upset at his country club, he said, hearing members complain about welfare mothers getting food stamps 'while they are trying to leave their children a more-than-lifetime-supply of food stamps and are substituting a trust officer for a welfare officer.'

To widespread applause, he smiled and asked: "Is there anyone I forgot to insult?"
No, I think that'll do just fine!

Monday, June 26, 2006

Check out this video

Former Admin. Official Needs Only Three Words To Explain Manipulation of Intel: ‘The Vice President’...

I'm sure there's a good explanation

Limbaugh Detained At Airport:
Sources have confirmed to CBS4 News that conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh has been detained at Palm Beach International Airport for the possible possession of illegal prescription drugs Monday evening.

Limbaugh was returning on a flight from the Dominican Republic when officials found the drugs, among them Viagra.

Limbaugh entered a plea deal back in April in a previous case where his charge of fraud to conceal information to obtain prescriptions was dropped under the condition he continue undergoing treatment for addiction.

A bit much

The 360 blog asks whether they've had "Too much Angelina Jolie" of late. Well, seems like Anderson Cooper's got excerpts of that interview on every night! She's raising awareness as UN special ambassador, yes, but give it a rest for a while...

On the Times bashing

Editorial on the banking snooping:
"It would have to be an unusually slow-witted terrorist who was unaware that the United States might be trying to peer into his bank account. After all, as White House press secretary Tony Snow pointed out, the Bush administration said publicly after 9/11 that it was going after the terrorists' finances and sources of funding."
Yet we have a publicly upset White House that this program has been disclosed? Are they dense?

For the Peter Kings out there calling for prosecution of the New York Times, you should check out Ron book where he apparently points out the administration was aware, internally, that terrorists are now carrying funds by courier. Yet all the drama of the Times bashing for printing the story continues:
President George W. Bush on Monday denounced as "disgraceful" the revelation by the media of a secret U.S. program that tracks international financial records in pursuit of terrorists.

Vice President Dick Cheney also singled out The New York Times for criticism of its reporting on both bank-records searches and a separate anti-terror program involving warrantless eavesdropping on phone calls.
Chris Matthews pointed out a passage in Suskind's book on Hardball today that indicates the administration knows terrorists are on to the banking tracking. So all of this posturing is politicking and media bashing 'cause that's what these guys do best. Any opportunity to do so, they're all over it.

I'm not holding my breath, Arlen

Court Review of Wiretaps May Be Near, Specter Says:
"Senator Arlen Specter said Sunday that the White House and Congress were close to reaching a resolution on submitting a National Security Agency wiretap program to judicial review.

'I think there is an inclination to have it submitted to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, and that would be a big step forward for protection of constitutional rights and civil liberties,' Mr. Specter, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said on 'Fox News Sunday.'"
"May be near...", "close to reaching a resolution...", "there is an inclination...". Sorry, doesn't quite convince me, ...

Leave the same-sex marriage law alone

Gay community kicks up its heels:
"Jeff Freitas and Noel Stebnitz, his partner of 11 years, came from California to participate in the festivities. Both have been to a number of gay pride events on the West Coast, but nothing like this, they say.

'Everybody is friendly and more accepting of the gay lifestyle here,' said Freitas, wielding a giant water pistol. 'California is very accepting but you guys are even more accepting. I'd move here if it wasn't so cold.'"
Hear that, Mr. Prime Minister? What do you want to turn back the clock for, Stephen?

Hands off Olbermann

Dan Abrams, new boss of MSNBC the subject of this Times article. It sounds like there's to be a big shake up but that Chris Matthews and Keith will be safe in prime time. Impolitical thinks Matthews is greatly overrated and could take or leave him. But Olbermann, now there's another story. Keith is the reason for the Impolitical household's subscription to MSNBC, frankly. Here's the word from the article:
Two of the channel's hosts, Chris Matthews of "Hardball" and Keith Olbermann of "Countdown," clearly will not be affected, because MSNBC's managers consistently cite those programs as long-sought breakthroughs.

"We've just got to build on those two shows," Mr. Griffin said, sitting beside Mr. Abrams in the conference room at MSNBC. "It's critical. We have to capitalize on their success."
Mr. Olbermann, meanwhile, has picked up both viewers and some strong word-of-mouth for his irreverent style. His show is up 36 percent since January in that 25-54 group. MSNBC points out that during the same period, CNN and Fox have been down that those hours.
Hope this is Olbermann goes, so goes my subscription...

Herbert hammers Bush/Rove politicking on Iraq

"Playing Politics With Iraq" pummels / Iraq have-it-both-ways politicking:
If hell didn't exist, we'd have to invent it. We'd need a place to send the public officials who are playing politics with the lives of the men and women sent off to fight George W. Bush's calamitous war in Iraq.

The administration and its allies have been mercilessly bashing Democrats who argued that the U.S. should begin developing a timetable for the withdrawal of American forces. Republicans stood up on the Senate floor last week, one after another, to chant like cultists from the Karl Rove playbook: We're tough. You're not. Cut-and-run. Nyah-nyah-nyah!
But then on Sunday we learned that the president's own point man in Iraq, Gen. George Casey, had fashioned the very thing that ol' blood-and-guts Frist and his C-Span brigade had ranted against: a withdrawal plan.

Are Karl Rove and his liege lord, the bait-and-switch king, trying to have it both ways? You bet. And that ought to be a crime, because there are real lives at stake.

The first significant cut under General Casey's plan, according to an article by Michael Gordon in yesterday's Times, would occur in September. That, of course, would be perfect timing for Republicans campaigning for re-election in November. How's that for a coincidence?
The one thing you can be sure of is that the administration will milk as much political advantage as it can from this vague and open-ended proposal. If the election is looking ugly for the G.O.P., a certain number of troops will find themselves waking up stateside instead of in the desert in September and October.

I wonder whether Americans will ever become fed up with the loathsome politicking, the fear-mongering, the dissembling and the gruesome incompetence of this crowd. From the Bush-Rove perspective, General Casey's plan is not a serious strategic proposal. It's a straw in the political wind.
It's hard to believe people would fall for this duplicitous strategy now that it's being micro-analyzed in major I've suggested, Rove's genius is usually found only in the rear view mirror when political roadkill has been run over. When you see his strategy out in front, it's a little easier to plow around it...

Sunday, June 25, 2006

A million revellers

Pride parade takes over Toronto:
As many as a million revellers were ready to party in Toronto Sunday afternoon as the 26th annual Pride Parade got underway.

But this year's celebration had a serious message, reminding supporters that homosexuals are still oppressed around the world, said Bill Schiller, the parade's first-ever international grand marshal.
More here, with some interesting stats on same-sex marriage:
While about a million people flood into the city for Pride Week, many same-sex couples also come to Toronto to get married.

Same-sex unions were legalized across the country in 2005, but many provinces, including Ontario, had already legalized the marriages.

Here are some statistics, courtesy of the city of Toronto, on same-sex marriages since the unions became legal in Ontario June 2003 up until June 1 of this year.

* 49526 total licences issued
* 3325 were to same sex couples (approx 6-7 percent)
* of that 1955 were to men (60%), 1370 to females (40 percent)
* of 3325, 1651 were to Canadians, 1267 to Americans and 407 to those who are outside Canada and US

Since Jan 1, 2006 until June 1, 2006:

* 356 licences issued to same sex couples
* 149 to those from outside Canada and US

What a load of hooey

David Brooks today, "Respect Must Be Paid," decides to stamp on a blogger. My oh my how the mighty get peeved when an inconvenient voice becomes a little too strong. Who in the f*%# cares which candidates kos has endorsed? Contrary to the red state blogging troupes, conveniently ignored in Brooks' condescending smear job, there is plenty of disagreement to be seen on the kos site itself about candidates and future '08 contenders. And even if there weren't, so what? People are allowed to have their opinions. And people, like Markos Moulitsas Zuniga, are free to develop their own powerful media voices. Almost as powerful as the platform the NYTimes has. Must be a great deal of envy fomenting up from the right wing ranks to warrant such a column. It's a painful situation for the Brooks' of the world, but get over it.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Clinton connecting

Clinton Says GOP Blindly Follows Bush:
"We're not blindly united like the other side is, where they are like the three monkeys -- 'hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil,' " she told reporters after a speech to the Democratic group NDN. "They're not going to say anything negative about the president, the vice president, the secretary of defense or anybody else. I think that's irresponsible. It's negligent."
But Clinton said she is not disturbed by talk of Democratic divisions. "When people say, 'Gee, the Democrats seemed not to have a unified position,' I can very straightforwardly say I'm proud of the debate that we're having," she said. "We are trying to fulfill our responsibilities, in contrast to our friends on the other side, who have abdicated theirs."
Sounds pretty good to me...if keeps this up, she's going to make a lot of sense to a lot of people...did you catch her on Larry King this week with the other Democratic women senators? She has an ability to cut through to the heart of an issue in a simple way, in a quiet, reasonable the contrast of many of the caricatures of her that are out there. Those negatives we've heard about of late have nowhere to go but down.

General Casey: cutting and running?

U.S. General in Iraq Outlines Troop Cuts - New York Times:
"The top American commander in Iraq has drafted a plan that projects sharp reductions in the United States military presence there by the end of 2007, with the first cuts coming this September, American officials say.

According to a classified briefing at the Pentagon this week by the commander, Gen. George W. Casey Jr., the number of American combat brigades in Iraq is projected to decrease to 5 or 6 from the current level of 14 by December 2007."
When the Dems talk about "redeploying" and gradual withdrawal, it's cut and run, or its ridiculous cut and run "lite" version of "cut and jog" tu, General ? Phasing out troops? Why are you waving the white flag of surrender?
General Casey's briefing has remained a closely held secret, and it was described by American officials who agreed to discuss the details only on condition of anonymity. Word of the briefing comes after a week in which the American troop presence in Iraq was stridently debated in Congress, with Democratic initiatives to force troop withdrawals defeated in the Senate.
Now, after criticizing Democratic lawmakers for trying to legislate a timeline for withdrawing troops, skeptics say, the Bush administration seems to have its own private schedule, albeit one that can be adjusted as events unfold.

If executed, the plan could have considerable political significance. The first reductions would take place before this falls Congressional elections, while even bigger cuts might come before the 2008 presidential election.
See...the first cuts in troop levels to occur in September - note the timing, as people begin to focus closely on congressional election races - and yet Democratic initiatives to achieve a similar approach are mocked as weak and ludicrous. Behind the scenes it's quite another story, isn't it? Very interesting to see this piece in the Times today. Wonder who's leaked Casey's briefing...military types who are tired of the administration playing politics with this issue or Bushites themselves, trying to have it both ways.

The "cut and run" trash talk should be left in the trash at this point.
Al Gore: Leadership Needed To Stop Global Warming

Here's Gore on Letterman from last night. Enjoy watching a leader with a cause and a brain...:)

Dowd today, on Cheney, the "absolute disaster"

Excerpts from Maureen Dowd's column, "We Need Chloe!" today:
You'd think Michael Chertoff would have something more important to do.

The hapless homeland security chief could snatch more money away from American locales most likely to be hit by Al Qaeda. Or let another wonderful city fall into a watery abyss. Or go on TV and help cable news hype the saga of the Miami gang of terrorist wannabes who look like they couldn't find the local Sears, let alone the Sears Tower.

These guys were so lame they asked an informant for boots, radios, binoculars, uniforms and cash, believing he was Al Qaeda — and that jihadists need uniforms.

Instead, the cadaverous Chertoff was gallivanting on stage yesterday morning with some fictional counterterrorism experts from "24."
They couldn't find the local Sears....that's just priceless...:)

And Dowd drops an interesting note on Cheney, after remarking upon one of his performances in the media this week:
As the vice president told CNN's John King this week, when he was asked about his claim that "we would be greeted as liberators" in Iraq: "It does not make any sense for people to think that somehow we can retreat behind our oceans, leave the Middle East, walk away from Iraq, and we'll be safe and secure here at home. 9/11 put the lie to that."

In a macabre metric of improvement, Dr. Death also noted that things were looking up. "There are a lot more Iraqis becoming casualties in this conflict at present because they are now in the fight," he said cheerily.

Some of W.'s closest allies have begun privately calling Vice "an absolute disaster," but when will W. realize how twisted his logic is?

In the new book "The One Percent Doctrine," Ron Suskind writes that C.I.A. officials referred to Mr. Cheney as "Edgar," as in Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy, and that W. had to ask his domineering second to pull back a little at meetings and not offer him advice in crowded rooms so they could continue to pretend that Mr. Cheney was not the puppet-master.
"An absolute disaster." Kind of makes you wonder about Rove and how he extricated himself from Libby's fate. Who knows what we may yet find out?

More of the lawless administration

They're into the banks as well.

The "muscular" response by the Bushies to the revelation of yet another of their secret spying programs is typical. How dare anyone ask any questions? , taking the lead, and no doubt a primary instigator of this action, has assured all that Daddy knows best. Trust us, he says:
"The fact of the matter is that these are good, solid, sound programs," the vice president said at the fund-raiser in Chicago for David McSweeney, a Republican who is running against Representative Melissa Bean, a freshman Democrat.

"They are conducted in accordance with the laws of the land," Mr. Cheney continued, adding, "They're carried out in a manner that is fully consistent with the constitutional authority of the president of the United States. They are absolutely essential in terms of protecting us against attacks."
It's amazing that he expects everyone to just take his word for it. And his empty paternal assurances are patronizing and useless. "Good, solid, sound programs." The master of the bland, reassuring label. When I hear his assurances, it reminds me of seeing mothers or relatives of criminal suspects in news reports vouching for the integrity and harmlessness of their loved one who is accused of a heinous crime. Their opinions are really just irrelevant. Let an objective body determine the truth, and let's leave it at that. Problem is, there is no objective body to investigate the legality or usefulness of this newly public program. Which brings me to my next point.

Meanwhile, Arlen , for one, is making noise again. Piqued that congressional committees are only being briefed in the last few weeks as the administration learned that the NYTimes was about to go public with this story, he has this to say:
"Why does it take a newspaper investigation to get them to comply with the law?" the senator asked. "That's a big, important point."
Why does it take a newspaper investigation, Arlen? Because YOU'RE INEFFECTIVE, MY FRIEND!!! What the f*%# are you going to do about it? What'll it take at this point? Cheney knows if he ignores you at the buffet table, as he did recently, you'll get the message and try to make nice with him. He's not afraid of your bluster. You talk a good game of oversight, but you don't actually do anything when it comes down to it. So that's why these programs go unchecked. That's why it does take a newspaper investigation. And who knows how many more spying programs there are? Let's hope the Times reporting of this program inspires other news organizations to ratchet up their pursuit of the accountability of the Bush administration. There's no one else to do it...

What does all this mean? This is further evidence of the need for effective oversight. For subpoena power. Change the congress. Put the rubber-stamping, Cheney-fearing Republicans in the minority. Or continue to see a parade of secret programs run out of the President's office, unchecked and unknowable...

A Saturday rant for you

From Hunter at dkos, "The National Media: Vapidity as Lifestyle Choice." Hunter had the chance to participate in a conference call with Al and the depth of Gore's responses prompted this post on kos. It's essentially about how the national media mocked Gore's intellect in 2000 and generally did their best to make the man a walking joke. And look where it's gotten the world. Here's some of it, enjoy:
Ah, what might have been. Gore was widely derided by the press for the audacity of the lengthy answer or the wonkish explanation, a man too versed in facts, or God forbid with a speaking style that paused, from time to time, to find the right phrase instead of the next phrase. Not a man you would want to have a beer with, was the conventional wisdom shoved down our gullets like we were geese being prepped for our final hours. Knowledge is wooden, education is wooden, intellectualism is wooden, because facts are like trees: there's too damn many of them, and they're hard to tell apart.

With all due respect to the national media: you sorry, hollow, pretentious jackasses. What I would not give for a President that could speak in complete sentences; that was able to write with clarity, and read from time to time; that could come around the back of an issue and pull the curtain away for a better look, even if only every once in a great while. What would we ever do with some of the giants of our past, figures who, back in the days before speechwriters, could turn conversations on a dime with the power of their own arguments, when now a few turns of phrase churned out from a Peggy Noonan wannabe and presented via teleprompter before a repetitive moron-proof backdrop is considered the only soluble standard of leadership. God help us, our pundits are idiots.

Honestly. Yet another mark of an ongoing era that I will never forgive, and never forget. The elevation by the supposed masters of our discourse of vapid, boozy barroom conversation as the mark of national leadership. Anti-intellectualism embraced now for perhaps twenty five years by pundits that pretend mightily at being erudite, but can only manage it in the confines of their own swelled heads and whose eyes gloss over like those of dolls if a conversation makes it beyond the first few words they can scribble down.

Dear pundit class: bite me, and I mean that sincerely. Dear Al Gore: whether you ever run again or not is up to you. But I'm glad to know you, even if only for a ten minute stretch, and I'd give my eyeteeth to have a beer with you.

And that's about all I have to say, for now, about that.
Yes, a very extended excerpt, but it certainly warrants a read...:)

Well done, Hunter!

Friday, June 23, 2006

Boehner: Bush most put upon Pres since FDR

As promised, here's on Hardball, doing his poor George routine:
"O‘DONNELL: But you acknowledge the opinion of this president has fallen, has plummeted in part because of the Iraq War and it‘s also hurt the Republican Party. Was it by the direction of Karl Rove ...


O‘DONNELL: ... that you take on this issue?

BOEHNER: Oh, absolutely not. And I‘m going to tell you something. It‘s easy to kick somebody when they‘re down. George W. Bush has dealt with more difficult issues than any president since Franklin Roosevelt. And I‘ve told my colleagues it‘s time that we go stand up for the president. He‘s a man of vision, a man of integrity and a man who has the courage of his convictions to lead.

It is—when you start looking at the attacks of 9/11, a war in Afghanistan, a war in Iraq and then the largest natural disaster to have hit our country, he had his hands full and so it‘s easy to pick at him. It‘s easy to say things aren‘t going well so let‘s blame it on him. But he is a good guy and we ought to be glad he is there."
I think two-thirds of your country disagrees with you, mate...


On the arrests of the seven individuals in Miami:
Gonzales stressed that “there was no immediate threat” in either Chicago or Miami because the group didn’t have the materials it was seeking. FBI Deputy Director John Pistole concurred, saying, ``This group was more aspirational than operational.’’ (emphasis added)
Batiste met several times in December 2005 with a person purporting to be an Al Qaeda member and asked for boots, uniforms, machine guns, radios, vehicles and $50,000 in cash to help him build an “’Islamic Army’ to wage jihad’,” the indictment said. It said that Batiste said he would use his “soldiers” to destroy the Sears Tower.

Gonzales said “the individual they thought was a member of Al Qaeda was present at their meetings and in actuality he was working with the South Florida Joint Terrorism Task Force.’’
So good old-fashioned police work nabbed these plotters as they were in their "aspirational" stage. Much like the work done in Toronto to apprehend the alleged plotters here.

And as noted by other bloggers today, isn't it a bit much that Batiste, one of the alleged plotters, asked for boots and uniforms? Like Al Qaeda has standard issue stock on hand to dole out to wannabes?

Rick Santorum: "I know where Jimmy Hoffa is buried"

He's got some kind of sixth sense, apparently. Too bad the DOD doesn't agree with him though.

If Rick found the WMD's, he may as well tell us where Hoffa is too...:)

Why I Love Canada

Read this column today and you'll understand why, by implication.

Joementum can't win

Yesterday met his Scylla and Charybdis. Do I vote with one of the two Democratic resolutions to either redeploy or get out next year? Or do I vote with the Republicans to stay the course? As it turned out, Joementum chose the Republicans.

Tough call. If he'd voted with the Dems, he'd be characterized as a hypocrite, voting for political expediency given his consistent support of the war.

If he voted with the Repubs, he's continuing to turn his back on his party.

So Joe took the lesser of two evils, to him. The Republicans.

Republicans halt renewal of the Voting Rights Act

georgia10 has a great synopsis of the Republicans hijinks on this: "Small Group of Republicans Hijack Renewal of the Voting Rights Act." And see Eugene Robinson in the Post today for his take:
In what was described as a contentious caucus meeting, Southern Republicans complained that their states were being singled out by the act, which was originally intended to do away with the poll taxes, literacy tests and other measures that were used to deprive black voters of their rights during the Jim Crow era. Having grown up in South Carolina during the "last throes" (to quote Dick Cheney in another context) of racial segregation, I can testify that the states in question went far out of their way to earn the enhanced scrutiny the Voting Rights Act forces them to endure.
So there we have it. In one breathtaking moment of clarity, we see that a significant portion of the House Republican caucus is determined to deep-six, or at least fatally weaken, a landmark law designed to make it possible for the nation's largest minority groups to exercise their franchise at the polls -- and designed to make it difficult for anyone with nefarious intent to keep these minority citizens from voting.
The optics on this are terrible, to say nothing of the terribly misguided substantive mistake the Republicans make in failing to bring the renewal of the Voting Rights Act to the House floor.

For every (arguably) clever political tactic the Republicans appear to take, there also seems to be one step back of late.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Take with a grain of salt

Political Wire: Democrats Ahead in Most Senate, Gubernatorial Races. So says latest Zogby numbers...but way too early.

More on Red Kentucky

Political blogs off-limits for state workers!

Boehner on Hardball today

Don't have the transcript, but caught a bit of it as I got home this evening...essentially once again trotted out a line of thinking that Dan Bartlett has espoused before. That is, the "poor George " line. 9/11, a war in Afghanistan, a war in Iraq, the largest natural disaster in American history...let's not give the guy too tough of a time, let's not be too hard on him.

Seriously, that's what he said. Hoping to find the transcript a little later tonight or perhaps video.

Poor put-upon W. Let's all feel sorry for him, shall we?

Why not have an "orange" alert?

Yep, numbers are low. Terrible goings on in Iraq.

Oh, and what's this I hear? FBI Conducting Terrorism Probe in Miami.


More Murtha

"Knowing Your Enemy."

As I have said, he is the best the Dems have to be out in front, looks like he's keeping it up. One measure of his success, and the gang are doing their best to take him down. Did you catch Kenny boy on the Situation Room trashing John Murtha's views? So keep doing what you're doing, John , you've hit a nerve...

A quiz for the Ann Coulter fans

Take it here.

I missed by 1.
Ron Suskind on CNN

Referred to in previous for yourself. Interesting stuff.

Ambrose watch

Environment Minister Ambrose too busy to attend environment committee meetings. So say the NDP, who tabled a motion asking for her resignation. Ambrose's line: she's still cleaning up after those awful Liberals and their unfortunate commitment to Kyoto, you see. Got to get herself some new policy! And parting ways with her chief of staff. So let her get her house in order, she's new to the portfolio, already!

Something doesn't sound quite right here...and, it seems the politicos in Ottawa sense blood in the water.

But wait, developments move fast in our nation's capital. The Liberals seem to like the idea of keeping her around. Lots to be gained from her continued tenure as Minister of Environment, they say. More here and here:
Liberal environment critic John Godfrey said a Commons committee is not the right forum to determine who should serve in cabinet.

"We would rather leave Ms. Ambrose in place because she represents the total incompetence of the government," said Godfrey. "We would rather let that fruit ripen, if I may put it that way."
Yeah, I've got to agree with this approach...


Froomkin highlighted a CNN exchange of note in his column yesterday:
"Ron Suskind, author of a new book full of front-page-worthy stories about the Bush White House (see my Monday and Tuesday columns ) was on CNN talking to Wolf Blitzer yesterday.

'BLITZER: The relationship that you describe between the president and the vice president is pretty dramatic. And going back to the early days when Cheney clearly had a lot more experience in national security matters. But you write this: 'In the spring of 2002 Bush asked Cheney to pull back a little at big meetings to give the president more room to move, to take charge. Bush asked -- Bush asked Cheney not to offer him advice in crowded rooms. Do that privately.' '

'Talk about that.

'SUSKIND: Well, you know what, the fact is I'm sympathetic to both parties here. Bush is one of the least experienced presidents to come into office. Cheney, the most experienced vice president. They had to work out how they're going to work together.

'Fascinating, what happens after 9/11. There's a change. Because what you see there is Cheney really is embracing the broad, sweeping doctrinaire thinking. What are the big strategies? He essentially creates an architecture, a platform, where Bush can be Bush, a man of action and still be effective as president. That's the relationship. Cheney essentially sets the framework, Bush acts within it.

'BLITZER: But you suggest, though, that Bush didn't want Cheney to upstage him. . . .

'SUSKIND: Absolutely.'"
Anyone else have the feeling that the /Cheney relationship will be the subject of countless writings in the years after this presidency is done?

I've been wondering that too

The Immigration Road Show - New York Times:
"Given the topics that have preoccupied Congress lately, one wonders why the Republicans don't simply propose a catchall bill aimed at illegal gay liberal Mexican flag burners and be done with it. "

Hey, media! Republicans are divided too!

Anyone listening? Specter having immigration hearings this summer to counter the House GOP's opposition to a guest worker program.

Oooohhhh, if this were the Democrats, it'd spell electoral disaster, right?

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Specter's weekly bombast

Raising the alarm about his hearings next week on the signing statements Bush has executed at record numbers. You know, the ones that give the right to ignore laws passed by congress, to the tune of about 750 of them.

Here's Arlen, staking out his preliminary strong arming:
Specter said the heavy use of signing statements fits in with a larger pattern of overreaching by the Bush administration, from the NSA's surveillance program to a first-ever raid on a congressman's office as part of a bribery probe.

Trying to legislate against signing statements probably would not work, Specter said, but there might be other ways to force the administration to curb their use.

"Maybe we can find some pressure point on the budget or appropriations or confirmations or something of that sort," he said. "I'm thinking about all the alternatives."
Next week after the hearings, look for to draft some legislation permitting the President to keep doing what he's doing...we all know the drill by now...the oh-so-predictable Specter will cave once he's had his hearings.

Arlen Specter, diluting democracy one issue at a time.

Senate debate today

G.O.P. Senators Attack Iraq Proposal by Democrats - New York Times...I continue to think that the Democrats are highlighting Republican intransigence on Iraq while showing Americans that they are attempting to address a disastrous situation. The only strategy emanating from Republicans is to mock the Democrats. That's it.

Cut and run watch

After reading Dana Milbank's column today,It's Time to Cut and Run From 'Cut and Run', you just might be struck by how excessively the taunting phrase "cut and run" is being used. Almost enough to make one think that this simplistic label could actually backfire. Like a song overplayed on the radio, at some point people get sick of it and cringe at the mentioning.

Kentucky GOP following Chinese lead on free speech

Kentucky Office of Technology blocks state access to a "lefty" blog critical of the Republican Governor.

It's Bluegrass Report that's being's an excerpt from MyDD:
This morning, Mark Nickolas of the Kentucky lefty blog Bluegrass Report started getting emails from employees of the State of Kentucky, telling him that they could no longer access the blog. It turns out that Kentucky's Commonwealth Office of Technology had blocked access. Coincidentally, BluegrassReport has been very critical of Kentucky's Republican Governor, Ernie Fletcher.

The COT may have thought this would blow over quietly. But when people discovered that access to a number of other blogs and party web sites were not blocked, and Bluegrass Report was being specifically targeted, other blogs began covering the story: Talking Points Memo and TPM Muckraker, Daily Kos, Atrios... and Kentucky soon started blocking some of them too.
Blocking access to the entire blog...Nick Kristof of the NYTimes coincidentally wrote about Chinese censorship of blogs this past week in an effort to entice censorship (it took a while it turned out)..., it turns out, is following the Chinese model!

The State of Kentucky computers now GOP friendly...

What a difference a week makes

Last week, Zarqawi killed, takes victory lap to Baghdad, swaggers his way through press conference on return, word of Bush in cockpit of Air Force One before landing in Baghdad makes its way into reports...did their best to stage manage Iraq last week.

This week, falls off the rails. Troops kidnapped, murdered and there's this news: Lawyer for Saddam Hussein found slain.

But stay the course, stay the course...

Pesky cable from the American Embassy in Iraq

The truth has a way of getting out, doesn't it?

The mission continues

4 Canadians wounded in Afghan blast.

Does this matter?

Congressional Democrats pass GOP in funds. Hopefully...yet we're awash in story lines of how the Democrats can't get their act together. When I see headlines like this, I wonder if they just might take back one or both of the Houses, in spite of themselves...

Here's a shock : Tories backtracking on accountability bill:
The Conservative government has climbed down from its hard line toward senior Tories who worked on its transition team, bringing in an amendment to its ethics bill last night that would allow them to become lobbyists under certain conditions.

Team members who placed people in top jobs in ministers' offices and the Prime Minister's Office can lobby the very people they hired if an independent commissioner exempts them from the five-year ban that the new law creates.
Harper over-reached during the election and is having to backtrack, surprise, surprise...

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

The stage managed presidency

(AP Photo/Haraz N. Ghanbari)

Everywhere Bush makes a speech, the massive, over-stated, in-your-face backdrops and sloganeered walls follow...

South Dakota to vote on abortion law

It's now on the ballot for November.
Voters will have the final say on a tough new law that bans almost all abortions in South Dakota.

Secretary of State Chris Nelson said Monday that the law's opponents had collected enough signatures to put a question on the November ballot asking voters if the law should go into effect as planned or be dumped.

The state's abortion law, among the strictest in the nation, bans the procedure in all cases except when necessary to save a woman's life, with no exceptions for rape or incest.
While it is commendable that the opposition to this draconian law is making a public showing and has succeeded in mounting this challenge, this course of action needs to be considered carefully. There is a strong argument that says constitutional rights should not be subjected to the fleeting will of the people, in any circumstance. Now I'm sure opponents of this law would say the same of the law passed by the legislature. That law overrides long-established constitutional privacy rights, so why shouldn't the referendum procedure be used in response? That's a tough question to answer, particularly when invoking the referendum procedure suspends the law's coming into effect. But it's a big risk.

Would you rather your constitutional rights be subjected to a popular vote or deliberate consideration in the courts? Would you mind if the "right to a fair trial" or "right to freedom of expression" were subjected to popular referendum? Didn't think so...

Gore on Letterman Friday

A Kos writer attended the taping. Reports, "Wow."

They're trying

Senate Holds Election-Year Debate on Iraq:
"Even as the GOP leadership criticized the resolution, Sen. John Warner, R-Va., chairman of the Armed Services Committee, called it 'a very serious-minded approach.' He declined to endorse it but nonetheless promised to give it careful consideration."
There's one Republican's reaction to the Democrats' resolution calling for "...a phased redeployment of U.S. forces" this year. [...] and "continued redeployment" after 2006." Not holding my breath on a Warner vote for it, but still...a Republican who doesn't immediately spew the Rove line is worth a mention.

At least the Democrats are seriously debating new options. Is anyone on the GOP side doing so? There's credit to be had for trying. And for daring to discuss redeployment in the face of Rove's "cut and run" propaganda. Ignore it and keep talking substantively about Iraq. Besides, the "redeployment" language may yet resonate. It's Murtha's characterization of what should be done as well and now we see it in this Senate resolution. Could very well yet be an effective retort to the GOP's talk.

Maher on Gore

Here's his take:
"AP: Who is going to be the next president?

Maher: That's the $64,000 question, isn't it? My guess would be Al Gore.

AP: And who should be the next president?

Maher: Al Gore. And I'm not the biggest fan. If he would just do what he didn't do in 2000, that is, talk about what he really cares about, then I think he would be the right man for the job. I think the country is so off the track and that's now recognized by the vast majority of Americans. They probably, in the next election, will just take stock and say to themselves, 'Last time we voted for the guy we wanted to have a beer with. That didn't work out so well.'"
Testing out Blogger's dashboard widget for my Mac...pretty cool way to post! No need to log in to a browser to pump out a quick note, this is very cool...haven't figured out how to insert a title yet though...:(

life happens

Busy day today, sorry, no posting! Unexpected matters.

So what have the Bushites been up to today?

Hope to get back on track in next few hours...:)

Monday, June 19, 2006

More kudos for Murtha

Rachel Sklar: Russert Watch: Jack Murtha Shows 'Em How It's Done.

I agree wholeheartedly. It was truly a thing of beauty.

Krugman today

"Class War Politics" points out the correlation between extreme partisanship and the decline of the middle class, citing a new book, "Polarized America" as evidence. Krugman accepts this argument as the basis of what's happening to America and suggests that bipartisanship is now a thing of the past.
But I would like to offer some advice to my fellow pundits: face reality. There are some commentators who long for the bipartisan days of yore, and flock eagerly to any politician who looks "centrist." But there isn't any center in modern American politics. And the center won't return until we have a new New Deal, and rebuild our middle class.
Somewhat timely in light of my previous posts today...Rove breathing fire to supporters and impugning the patriotism of Democrats along the way yet on the other hand, Bill Clinton decrying "divisive" politics and seeking to get back to "evidence-based" debate. If you accept Krugman's point, it sounds like Clinton's goal is a little further off than we think. And that's not very heartening, is it?

"Evidence-based politics"

Bill Clinton decries 'divisive' politics:
"While he doesn't agree with much of the Bush administration policies, Clinton said, he has come to understand President Bush better. Clinton said Bush has 'an intuitive intelligence,' provoking laughter from the audience. But Clinton said he meant that seriously.

What concerns him more, he said, is a particular strain of the Republican Party that he said has gotten control in Washington. Reminding his audience that he grew up in the South as a native of Arkansas, Clinton said right-wing ideologues and 'ultra-conservative, white Southerners' have 'demonized' those who think differently from them.

Their 'divisive' approach has made it more difficult to make substantive change, he said.

'My problem is I don't think this way of doing politics and making policy is good for America,' he said. 'We've got to find ways to get back to evidence-based politics.'"

The most dangerous man in America

Watch as he does his best to spin how dangerous Saddam Hussein was, and how the U.S. has "no excuses" to make for removing him from power. It's really sickening how he plays politics with people's fears, hammering away still at how dangerous Saddam was. Fear, fear, fear, that's all this guy knows. But we all now know the bitter reality. Removing him has not made the world anymore safe than it was before. Bush unwisely chose this misguided war as a means to fight terrorism yet it's done more to grow a terrorist threat from Iraq itself, that wasn't there before...

Sunday, June 18, 2006


North Korea Appears Set to Launch Missile - New York Times.

I'm glad the Bush administration has made the world so much safer by their venture to Iraq...

Murtha on Meet the Press today

Another must see. Crooks and Liars has it.

Of note, Murtha takes on by painting a nice little picture. Rove sitting in his air conditioned office in Washington, sitting on his big, fat political speeches, not plans. Again challenging the spin from the White House and asking, where's the substantive plan from the President? Murtha is throwing it back on Bush, and Rove, as the Democrats should.


Update: NYTimes report on Murtha's appearance has a quote re: my synopsis above:
When Mr. Murtha was asked today for his reaction to Mr. Rove's remarks, he said: "He's making a political speech. He's sitting in his air-conditioned office on his big, fat backside saying, 'Stay the course.' That's not a plan. I mean, this guy — I don't know what is military experience is, but that's a political statement."
Murtha on Friday's Countdown

Talking about the rhetoric of the Republicans and their refusal to engage him in a substantive debate...Dems really need to keep Murtha out in front.


Blanco Signs Law That Would Ban Abortions - New York Times...doesn't she have better things to be doing right now than passing such a "trigger" law that would only come into effect if Roe v. Wade is overturned?

Remember these two?

Two Republicans still fighting it out in New York to run against Hillary. One's a "bigamist" (says his opponent) and one's "kooky" (says her opponent).

Yeah, it's a strange one.

Still all Rove all the time

"Karl Rove Beats the Democrats Again." Here's some of Frank Rich today:
"While the Democrats dither about Iraq, you can bet that the White House will ambush them with its own election-year facsimile of an exit strategy, dangling nominal troop withdrawals as bait for voters. To sweeten the pot, it could push Donald Rumsfeld to join Mr. DeLay in retirement. Since Republicans also vilify the defense secretary's incompetence, his only remaining value to the White House is as a political pawn that Mr. Rove can pluck from the board at the most advantageous moment. October, perhaps?

What's most impressive about Mr. Rove, however, is not his ruthlessness, it's his unshakable faith in the power of a story. The story he's stuck with, Iraq, is a loser, but he knows it won't lose at the polls if there's no story to counter it. And so he tells it over and over, confident that the Democrats won't tell their own. And they don't — whether about Iraq or much else. The question for the Democrats is less whether they tilt left, right or center, than whether they can find a stirring narrative that defines their views, not just the Republicans'.

What's needed, wrote Michael Tomasky in an influential American Prospect essay last fall, is a 'big-picture case based on core principles.' As he argued, Washington's continued and inhumane failure to ameliorate the devastation of Katrina could not be a more pregnant opportunity for the Democrats to set forth a comprehensive alternative to the party in power. Another opportunity, of course, is the oil dependence that holds America hostage to the worst governments in the Middle East."
It's amazing how many Rove stories there are this week, in the wake of his non-indictment. Got to be the most written about aide, ever. Anyway, here again we have some thoughtful advice for the Dems, well in advance of the election. Whether they will get their act together and unify behind their own "story" is another ongoing saga...the suggestion to rally around a Katrina narrative on the incompetence of Bush and his gang is a compelling one indeed.

Well said

Regarding those midterm elections, it's all about Bush:
Remember: Bush really is incompetent. And the American public sees it now.

Remember: Bush really has governed above the law. And the the American public understands that now.

Remember: Bush has bogged this nation down in an insane war. And the American public understands that now.

Remember: Bush does not have a genuine plan to deal with Iraq, nor is he capable of creating and implementing one. People are dying because he doesn't know what he's doing. And the American public understands that now.

Remember: Bush's supreme callousness and negligence led to the hiring of the incompetents in charge of FEMA during Katrina. And the American public knows it.

Remember: This is one helluva unpopular president. The American public has very good reasons for disliking him and his policies so intensely. They are all but begging you to stand up and refuse to go along with his incompetent, extremist, and unlawful behavior.

Focus on Bush. Everything else is detail.
That about sums it up, doesn't it? Thanks to tristero at hullabaloo for this...

Saturday, June 17, 2006


The answer to "cut and run"

Clift: Rove Sets Trap for the Dems.

Good column highlighting the central problem for the Dems as November approaches...they still have no coherent, party-wide position on Iraq. And after watching the debate from the past few days, it certainly looks as if they won't. So unless they successfully turn the electoral focus back on Bush and his incompetence, it will not be surprising to see Rove and his "cut and run" strategy prevail. The Dems need to answer "cut and run" head on, superficial and insulting as it is.

You know, it's really quite a remarkable situation. Bush has created an intractable mess in Iraq. Yet Democrats, if they try to suggest any change in course, are tarred with "cut and run." And the Republicans, who've blindly followed Bush down this path, get a free pass and cover under Rove's "cut and run" political ploy. It's a Republican mess, yet the Democrats get hanged for it. How exactly is that allowed to happen?

A reprehensible Republican strategy that needs to be defeated. Dems clearly need their own "cut and run" retort that is as equally memorable and effective.

So is it "redeploy and be ready" as we've heard of late from Jack Murtha? Could be worth a serious mulling over.
Instead of sticking with a failed policy, I propose a new policy. Instead of "stay and pay," which is what this administration continues to argue, I propose that we "redeploy and be ready." We must redeploy American troops out of the cities to the periphery and create a quick reaction force ready to attack only when the national security of the United States or its allies in the region is at risk.

The American people are not naive. They know a failed policy when they see one. Iraq is a failed policy. It's time to redeploy.
Course, it didn't help that Murtha appeared to create a backlash over announcing his leadership ambitions out of the blue. Here's hoping that this minor faux pas will not prevent Dems from giving his ideas a hard look. Because it certainly has appeared, during this manufactured Iraq debate, that Murtha, standing on the House floor and standing up to assorted mealy mouthed Republicans, had some serious leadership stuff happening. The "redeploy and be ready" quick response could be just what the Dems need.

Update: From Minority Leader Pelosi's site:
There are only two directions to take in Iraq: Bush’s plan of staying the course to let a future President to sweep up after, or the Murtha plan to change the direction of that course. Rep. Pelosi has joined with Rep. Murtha in calling for the redeployment of U.S. forces from Iraq to make our country safer, our military stronger, and the region more stable.

Da plan! Da plan!

Democrats Outline a Platform for the Fall - New York Times:
"Declaring their party 'ready for this election,' Democratic leaders in Congress on Friday announced the platform they hope to use to regain the majority in November.

Their plan, presented at a news conference, included promises to raise the minimum wage, make college tuition tax deductible, eliminate subsidies for oil and gas companies, negotiate lower drug prices for the prescription plan passed last year, increase stem cell research and restore a pay-as-you-go policy for federal budgets."
These priorities could very well resonate, sound like they're hitting the right notes. But it could use a boost by addressing is the elephant in the room, and the Republicans/Rove have decided to fight on it. So Dems need to be seen and heard on this too. (See my other post on Iraq today.)

Rove in the limelight

Here, in the Washington Post today: Fall Elections Are Rove's Next Test. Now that, praise be, he is not indicted (how low can Bush's White House standards go?), his grand plans to divide and conquer Democrats are all the buzz in Washington. And we hear, he's also turning his mind to Bush's legacy:
Beyond campaigns, Rove has put aides on notice that his focus is also Bush's presidential legacy. At a meeting of senior White House staffers this month, one official recalled, budget director Rob Portman suggested in the course of discussing some issues that time was limited. "We've only got so much time left," Portman said.

"Wait," Rove interrupted. "We've got a lot of time left. Jack Kennedy's whole presidency was 2 1/2 years."
Well, just one little problem here, . Do I really need to say it, or isn't it quite obvious what I'm thinking after reading Rove's quote?

In the words of the late Lloyd Bentsen, "W, you're no Jack Kennedy."

Friday, June 16, 2006

Now they can cut their commercials

See? :
"Sure enough, within two hours of the House vote, the Republican Senate campaign committee circulated news releases that said Rep. Harold Ford Jr., a Democrat running for an open Senate seat in Tennessee, and Rep. Sherrod Brown, a Democrat challenging Sen. Mike DeWine in Ohio, voted to 'cut and run' from Iraq."


In one bellwether Iowa county, Democrats upbeat :
"'I'm hearing people who are strong Republicans saying we've got no business being in Iraq and that we need to get out,' Simkin said.

'But how do we get out while saving face? How do we get out without implying that they died for no good reason? People are trying to reconcile political with emotional issues and it's hard.' "
Yes, that is the problem indeed...
Murtha stares down a GOP runt

Good for him. See how they cower when confronted for their tough guy bravado? It all falls apart like a house of cards...

Btw, the more I see of Murtha, the more I agree with this...he looks pretty good while standing up to these craven Republicans...

(You have to turn the volume on this way up to hear...)

Case study in self-destruction

Latest Ann Coulter Outrage: On Fragging John Murtha

Stay the course though - 10 dead in Baghdad mosque blast. And in case you missed it, there's a new bogeyman in town:
The U.S has said Abu Ayyub al-Masri, an Egyptian with ties to Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaeda network, has taken over from al-Zarqawi as head of “al-Qaeda in Iraq.” Al-Masri apparently is the man that the terrorist group identified in a web posting last week as its new leader — Abu Hamza al-Muhajer, a nom de guerre, said Caldwell.

The military showed a picture of al-Masri — who was named in a most-wanted list issued in February 2005 by the U.S. command and who now has a $200,000 US bounty on his head — wearing a traditional white Arab headdress.
Gotta have that conflated Iraq/Al Qaeda bogeyman now that Zarqawi's been erased...

Very troubling

The Don't-Bother-to-Knock Rule:
"The Supreme Court yesterday substantially diminished Americans' right to privacy in their own homes. The rule that police officers must 'knock and announce' themselves before entering a private home is a venerable one, and a well-established part of Fourth Amendment law. But President Bush's two recent Supreme Court appointments have now provided the votes for a 5-4 decision eviscerating this rule."
If Justice Sandra Day O'Connor had stayed on the court, this case might well have come out the other way. For those who worry that Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito will take the court in a radically conservative direction, it is sobering how easily the majority tossed aside a principle that traces back to 13th-century Britain, and a legal doctrine that dates to 1914, to let the government invade people's homes.
Bush's brave new world continues to unfold...Roberts and Alito have clearly made a difference on the court in this privacy case.

What an embarrassment

Congress Erupts in Partisan Fight Over Iraq War - New York Times. The only voice of sanity, it seems, in the midst of this pathetically partisan debate seems to be John Murtha:
Representative John P. Murtha, the Pennsylvania Democrat and Vietnam War veteran whose call for a speedy withdrawal of troops transformed the debate last year, rose repeatedly to tell Republicans, "Rhetoric does not solve the problem." He added: "We need a plan. It's not enough to say stay the course."

Referring to the sectarian violence cleaving Iraq, Mr. Murtha said, "They're fighting each other, and our troops are caught in between."
There doesn't seem to be much talk about what actually should be done, just a lot of "cut and run" trash talk and "Al Qaeda or is it America" bullying. Murtha's one of the few trying to engage in a constructive debate. It's truly unfortunate on an issue of such consequence to the world that all Republicans seem to be able to do is frame such votes for political purposes and deploy their President for photo ops.

Somebody's protesting a bit too much

"Harper insists he's no `puppet' of White House":
"I see from time to time that the Liberals and members of the Bloc say that I am George Bush's puppet and other things like that," Harper said in a wide-ranging television interview with Radio-Canada that will air Sunday.

"Even if I think that people don't always agree with me, they understand that I'm nobody's puppet," Harper told the French-language program Les Coulisses du pouvoir.

Harper has been criticized by his political adversaries and some commentators for being too cozy with Bush on issues such as the Kyoto protocol and the military.
Keep trying to convince yourself, mini Bush, but Canadians know very well what their limits are on ties with the Bush administration. And I'd say you've flown a little too close to the sun thus far, if you know what I mean...

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Another race worth watching this fall

Karl Rove is sending Bush to WA-08 to fight me, Darcy Burner.
Dixie Chicks on Letterman

I missed this...You Tube is a wonderful thing.

Rebuttal to Rove on his Zarqawi bravado

, Monday night in New Hampshire raising money, politicized the Zarqawi killing like this:
"If Murtha had his way,'' Rove said, "American troops would have been gone by the end of April, and we wouldn't have gotten Zarqawi.''
Letter to the editor, Times today:
Someone should point out to Karl Rove that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi would likely not have existed as a terrorist leader if President Bush's Iraq adventure had not provided the perfect environment for his cruelty.

It's a clever political maneuver: Create a monster and then take credit for slaying it.

In a nutshell, here's what's wrong in Bush's world

Bush Says Clearing of Rove Was a Relief - New York Times:
On Wednesday Mr. Bush was asked what he thought of Mr. Rove's behavior.

"I trust Karl Rove," Mr. Bush said, "and he's an integral part of my team."
I trust . To the detriment of millions, he trusts Karl Rove.

Here's how worthy of trust Karl Rove is:
In 2003, White House spokesman Scott McClellan said he consulted Rove and was assured that the senior aide played no role in the leaking of Plame's name to the media. The White House left the clear impression that Rove knew nothing of the leak and certainly did not participate in it.

The subsequent federal investigation determined that Rove talked with at least two reporters about Plame before her identity was disclosed by columnist Robert D. Novak in July 2003, and that he relayed word of those conversations to other White House officials. (emphasis added)
Everyone knows what Rove's role in this outing of a CIA agent was. He was involved, it's on the record. Yet he'll pay no price. At least not in the near future. And despite the record of his involvement, he's worthy of a President's declaration of trust. Just more of what is wrong with Bush's version of politics. Win at all costs, use whatever it takes. And too bad for the roadkill. I suspect if there's a civil suit launched by Joe and Valerie Wilson down the road and that if damages were to be awarded against Rove, Bush and company would most assuredly be there to spring for the bill. Still, I relish the prospect of that lawsuit. Make him deal with it for years beyond his White House gig.

Bush's press conference yesterday served as a reminder of the other aspect of Bush's presidency that's caused him problems. The bully swagger. Uttering such statements, that harken back to "bring em on":
"Don't bet on American politics forcing my hand, because it's not going to happen."
The blustering, swaggering bully is back.

I did not know this

Thanks to disco, my sometime contributor, for the link.

Joementum still can't get his mojo

The peevish Lieberman still musing about jumping ship and running as an independent.

If face a primary challenge, stand up and face it down. Don't plot an end run around the democratic process of the party of which you are a long time member. The optics are terrible. Makes you look desperate to hang on at all costs, when you were a Democratic Vice Presidential candidate for pete's sake!

Beat it back or be gone...

Russ is right

He may irritate a few of his fellow Dems, but this is a major issue:
"And he reiterated a theme he's made in recent speeches, exhorting Democrats to show some backbone. Everywhere he goes, Feingold said, people ask him the same question: 'When are you guys going to stand up?'

Many in the crowd responded by doing just that, greeting the challenge with a standing ovation."