Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Josh Marshall looks behind the tears.

At why CunningScam is probably much bigger than Duke's piddly 2.5MM.
But bribes are a means to an end. So pay attention to the context. This is a defense contracting scandal. Defense contracting scandals get you into the Department of Defense, particularly in a case like this in which the contracts are top-secret military spending programs over which there is little or no oversight.
TPM has and will have all the best skinny on this Republican joy ride.

Froomkin critiques Our Dear Embattled Leader's Glorious Speech

And Dan didn't even work up a sweat because ODEL didn't stray to far from the ranch with this one, despite what Faux would have you believe.
Bush's speech -- combined with a new, rosy, slogan-filled White House document entitled " Victory in Iraq " -- kicks off a bold public-relations campaign to recast the debate about the war.

But there are several reasons to suspect that it might not work:

* It doesn't answer the most compelling question in contemporary American politics: When are the troops coming home?

* It doesn't even include any objective ways of measuring progress towards an eventual U.S. pullout.

* It is at heart a restatement, rather than a reappraisal, of a strategy that according to the polls the American public has overwhelmingly rejected.

* The White House did not address, not to mention refute, the argument that the continued presence of American troops is making things worse, rather than better.

* And nothing Bush said is likely to change the fact that he has a big credibility problem with most Americans.
Whoa! Who saw that coming?

If you watched the speech and the enthused response of the midshipmen, you do have to wonder about the quality of the Navy's future leadership.

While everybody admired Our Dear Embattled Leader

Exposing his great plan for his wonderful little war, you were getting your pockets picked by Eli Lilly and the electric company. Lilly through its good friend in Congress, Rep. Steve Buyer (R-What-did-you-expect) was granted an exemption from a cost saving Medicare drug bill.
As part of a House budget bill that reduces spending on Medicaid prescription drugs, pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly and Co. and other businesses secured a provision ensuring that their mental health drugs continue to fetch top price at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars to the states.

The provision -- inserted by Rep. Steve Buyer (R-Ind.), whose district flanks Lilly's Indianapolis headquarters -- would largely exempt antipsychotic and antidepressant medications from a larger measure designed to steer Medicaid patients to the least expensive treatment options. The House Energy and Commerce Committee approved Buyer's amendment this month over the strenuous objections of Chairman Joe Barton (R-Tex.) and the National Governors Association. It survived unchallenged in the $50 billion budget-cutting bill that narrowly passed the House just before Congress left for Thanksgiving recess.
But don't worry, Lilly says this is for your own good, trust them. Meanwhile the power company has found a way to trash your environment without getting caught. Simple really, just get rid of the monitoring agency.
In a surgical strike from Capitol Hill, Sen. Larry E. Craig (R-Idaho) has eliminated a little-known agency that counts endangered fish in the Columbia River.

The Fish Passage Center, with just 12 employees and a budget of $1.3 million, has been killed because it did not count fish in a way that suited Craig....

....The Fish Passage Center has documented, in excruciating statistical detail, how the Columbia-Snake hydroelectric system kills salmon. Its analyses of fish survival data also suggest that one way to increase salmon survival is to spill more water over dams, rather than feed it through electrical turbines.

This suggestion, though, is anathema to utilities -- and to Craig -- because water poured over dams means millions of dollars in lost electricity generation.

Last summer, a federal judge in Portland, using data and analysis from the Fish Passage Center, infuriated the utilities. He ordered that water be spilled over federal dams in the Snake River to increase salmon survival. Shortly after Judge James A. Redden issued his order, Craig began pushing to cut all funding for the Fish Passage Center.....

....Salmon math has clearly riled up Craig, who in his last election campaign in 2002 received more money from electric utilities than from any other industry and who has been named "legislator of the year" by the National Hydropower Association.
I guess Larry won't have to work too hard raising funds for '06. Doesn't that warm your heart?

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Non Sequitur says what we all wish for.


Monday, November 28, 2005

The LA Times gets it.

From the editorial page today.
IRAQ'S SUNNI, SHIITE AND KURDISH leaders have finally found an issue on which they agree: a timetable for the U.S. to leave Iraq. That's fine. They have also agreed it's permissible for insurgents to kill U.S. soldiers. That's dreadful. But it's also the realization of prewar fears that if the aftermath of the invasion went poorly, American troops would be viewed not as liberators but as occupiers.

The politicians did not spell out an exact date for U.S. troops to leave. That may be the reason the White House so far has not linked them to filmmaker Michael Moore, as it did 10 days ago in smearing decorated combat veteran Rep. John P. Murtha (D-Pa.) when he called for a immediate withdrawal of troops.

Although President Bush long ago declared victory in Iraq — remember that "Mission Accomplished" banner? — both the fighting and the administration's campaign against its critics continue at a torrid pace. The death toll of U.S. troops in Iraq topped 2,100 in the same week that Vice President Dick Cheney called some critics of the war "dishonest and reprehensible."
Read the rest of it.

Colin Powell must be really pissed off

Because Lawrence Wilkerson is doing a lot of talking, all of it bad for the Bushoviks. In his latest remarks to the AP, he gets right to the point.
In an Associated Press interview, former Powell chief of staff Lawrence Wilkerson also said President Bush was "too aloof, too distant from the details" of postwar planning. Underlings exploited Bush's detachment and made poor decisions, Wilkerson said.

Wilkerson blamed Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and like-minded aides. He said Cheney must have sincerely believed that Iraq could be a spawning ground for new terror assaults, because "otherwise I have to declare him a moron, an idiot or a nefarious bastard."
I would say the first two are just cruel attacks on Big Dick but the third is spot on.

Oh, and Wilkerson says he is not speaking for Colin Powell. Which is probably why he says this:
He said Powell now generally believes it was a good idea to remove Saddam from power but may not agree with either the timing or execution of the war.

"What he seems to be saying to me now is the president failed to discipline the process the way he should have and that the president is ultimately responsible for this whole mess," Wilkerson said.
I'm starting to see some brake lights on the buck. It has to stop somewhere.

And you thought he was a Texican

At least they know their manners in Connecticut.

A few good reads

Bob Herbert today on Jack Murtha.

River on Iraq.

Paul Krugman on Peter Drucker.

This will appeal to many people

Because it is forward looking and avoids the silly deadline strawman so beloved of the Bushoviks.
"This Democrat doesn't think we need to re-fight how we got into (the Iraq war). I think we need to focus more on how to finish it," Warner said.

"To set an arbitrary deadline or specific date is not appropriate," he said. "... It is incumbent on the president to set milestones for what he believes will be the conclusion."
Nevertheless it keeps the ball out of Our Dear Embattled Leaders hands because it requires a plan to respond with, and ODEL has no plan. And the Iraq problem is too important and complex to cobble something together in a hurry.

Not bad for a potential presidential candidate.

If you missed Frank Rich yesterday

Go here and read his latest.
"We're not going to sit by and let them rewrite history," the vice president said of his critics. "We're going to continue throwing their own words back at them." But according to a Harris poll released by The Wall Street Journal last Wednesday, 64 percent of Americans now believe that the Bush administration "generally misleads the American public on current issues to achieve its own ends." That's why it's Mr. Cheney's and the president's own words that are being thrown back now - not to rewrite history but to reveal it for the first time to an angry country that has learned the hard way that it can no longer afford to be without the truth.

Quote of the Day

"The President has always been willing to make changes," the senior aide said, "but not because someone in this town tells him to - NEVER!"
I guess that just leaves God to tell him, if he will listen to Her.

Tom Toles Today

And in business news today.

Another CEO attempts to cover his incompetence by slashing his workforce and burning his assets.
Pharmaceutical giant Merck & Co. Inc. today said it will cut 7,000 jobs and close or sell five factories as the maker of the once-popular pain killer Vioxx seeks to slash manufacturing costs and reduce the time it takes to introduce new products.

The New Jersey-based company announced the restructuring plan as it faces thousands of lawsuits over Vioxx and upcoming patent expiration of its cholesterol-reducing drug Zocor, the company's top seller.

The job cuts and factory closures, however, failed to ignite much enthusiasm on Wall Street. Merck stock, a component of the Dow Jones industrial average, was down nearly 4% in early afternoon trading.

Merck said in a statement that the layoffs, amounting to 11% of its workers worldwide, are part of a plan to "to create a leaner, more cost-effective and customer-focused manufacturing model over the next three years" and eventually result in $4 billion in annual savings.
Wall St may not have been impressed, but you can bet his board will be and they will probably give him a raise and increased "performance" bonus and stock grants. Poor boy is working his fingers to the bone.

And a Merry Christmas to all Merck employees.

CunningScam has a happy ending.

The LA Times reports that Randy Cunningham will plead guilty to tax evasion in his political corruption case. And that is not all.
Cunningham "demanded and received" a bribe from a defense contractor who paid an inflated price for Cunningham's home in exchange for official favors, according to court papers.

The allegation was filed as part of a civil lawsuit in which federal prosecutors are attempting to seize Cunningham's current home in Rancho Santa Fe.

Prosecutors alleged that Cunningham and his wife, Nancy, took the illegal gains from the sale of their previous home in Del Mar Heights and used them to buy their current house. As a result, the new home should be forfeited, much as the government seizes property from drug dealers and other criminals, prosecutors claimed.
Throw the bum out of office and out on the street and good riddance!

TurdBlossom & crosshairs - perfect together

Another Time reporter has been asked to testify by in the PlameGate investigation. This time the magazine has chosen to cooperate.
The reporter, Viveca Novak, who has written about the leak investigation, has been asked to testify by the special counsel in the case, Patrick J. Fitzgerald, about her conversations with Robert D. Luskin, a lawyer for Mr. Rove, the magazine said.

The request for Ms. Novak's testimony is the first tangible sign in weeks that Mr. Fitzgerald has not completed his inquiry into Mr. Rove's actions and may still be considering charges against him. Mr. Rove has long been under scrutiny in the case but has not been accused of any wrongdoing.
One has to hope that Mr Fitzpatrick is giving them all the rope they need.

It always happens when you go away

While enjoying the delights of Thanksgiving with my family I missed this comforting story. It seems that the "Evil Dirty Bomber" Jose Padilla, after being kept in a military oubliette for 3 years was charged with lesser crimes because the two primary witnesses had been subjected to the "Cheney Love Bath" while held in their own oubliettes.
The Bush administration decided to charge Jose Padilla with less serious crimes because it was unwilling to allow testimony from two senior members of Al Qaeda who had been subjected to harsh questioning, current and former government officials said Wednesday.

The two senior members were the main sources linking Mr. Padilla to a plot to bomb targets in the United States, the officials said......

.....One review, completed in spring 2004 by the C.I.A. inspector general, found that Mr. Mohammed had been subjected to excessive use of a technique involving near drowning in the first months after his capture, American intelligence officials said......"They took him to Morocco to be tortured," said Clive A. Stafford Smith, the lawyer for the suspect, Binyan Mohammed. "He signed a confession saying whatever they wanted to hear, which is that he worked with Jose Padilla to do the dirty bomb plot. He says that's absolute nonsense, and he doesn't know Jose Padilla."
I feel safer already. Still one has to be comforted by the fact that Our Dear Embattled Leader and his minions have a surefire plan for dealing with evildoers. Just don't ask what it is, they know what is best for you.
When Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales announced last week that Jose Padilla would be transferred to the federal justice system from military detention, he said almost nothing about the standards the administration used in deciding whether to charge terrorism suspects like Mr. Padilla with crimes or to hold them in military facilities as enemy combatants.

"We take each individual, each case, case by case," Mr. Gonzales said.

The upshot of that approach, underscored by the decision in Mr. Padilla's case, is that no one outside the administration knows just how the determination is made whether to handle a terror suspect as an enemy combatant or as a common criminal, to hold him indefinitely without charges in a military facility or to charge him in court.

Indeed, citing the need to combat terrorism, the administration has argued, with varying degrees of success, that judges should have essentially no role in reviewing its decisions. The change in Mr. Padilla's status, just days before the government's legal papers were due in his appeal to the Supreme Court, suggested to many legal observers that the administration wanted to keep the court out of the case.

"The position of the executive branch," said Eric M. Freedman, a law professor at Hofstra University who has consulted with lawyers for several detainees, "is that it can be judge, jury and executioner."

The government says a secret and unilateral decision-making process is necessary because of the nature of the evidence it deals with. Officials described the approach as a practical one that weighs a mix of often-sensitive factors.

"Much thought goes into how and why various tools are used in these often complicated cases," Tasia Scolinos, a Justice Department spokeswoman, said on Friday. "The important thing is for someone not to come away thinking this whole process is arbitrary, which it is not."
Whew! They had me worried for a minute. It's a good thing we can trust these paragons of virtue and competence.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

A pardon earned

With Thanksgiving just over the horizon, I am going on hiatus as I to go over the horizon to spend the holiday with my family. I will return next week, hopefully refreshed and recharged. I hope everyone will be with their family, friends and loved ones this holiday and I wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving. In parting I leave you with this image of a turkey earning his pardon the hard way (someone check the blue tie for stains).

Monday, November 21, 2005

Digby on toture

A fine post on a terrible subject. And it makes perfect sense if you have any moral and ethical base. Go read it

Why look when they know what is there.

A previously unexamined lack of congressional oversight is the subject of a major story in the Boston Globe.
Back in the mid-1990s, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, aggressively delving into alleged misconduct by the Clinton administration, logged 140 hours of sworn testimony into whether former president Bill Clinton had used the White House Christmas card list to identify potential Democratic donors.

In the past two years, a House committee has managed to take only 12 hours of sworn testimony about the abuse of prisoners at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison.

The jarring comparison reflects the way Congress has conducted its oversight role during the GOP's era of one-party rule in Washington.

While congressional committees once were leaders in investigating the executive branch and powerful industries, the current Congress has largely spared major corporations and has done only minimal oversight of the Republican administration, according to a review of congressional documents by The Boston Globe.........

.........Representative Tom Davis, the current chairman of the Government Reform Committee, the chamber's chief watchdog for government waste and abuse, said his panel had not abdicated its oversight role, which many consider critical to the separation of powers in government.

''What aren't we doing? We aren't going after the mini scandal du jour, to try to embarrass the administration on a hearing that's going nowhere," said Davis, Republican of Virginia.
Of course, they aren't going after the premier scandals of the year either. Which is just as well, as all the major players in the scandals are Republicans. Did anyone doubt that they would get an attack of "Nelson's Blind Eye" when they were in control of everything?

Sunday, November 20, 2005

They appear to have flipped a big one.

The WaPo has a wonderful profile of Michael Scanlon and all the Prominent Republicans and their fellow travelers that are potentially in deep doo-doo if he spills all the beans.
Before he hit his mid-thirties, Michael Scanlon played enough roles to fill a lifetime: lifeguard, press aide to a powerful congressman, multimillionaire public relations entrepreneur.

Now the sandy-haired, buttoned-down Republican -- author of e-mails detailing wildly brash schemes to make money in politics -- is likely to take a turn as a star witness for the prosecution in the Justice Department's investigation of lawmakers, lobbyists, Capitol Hill staffers and executive branch officials.
And just who might be in the crosshairs?
His cooperation also increases pressure on Abramoff to make his own deal with the prosecution. Abramoff has told his legal team that despite the millions of dollars he brought in, he is all but out of money, lawyers in the case said. Abramoff and another business partner are facing trial in Florida on separate fraud charges.

Scanlon has more to show from his alliance with Abramoff. He was a reporter-friendly spokesman for then-House Majority Whip Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) in 2000 when he quit Capitol Hill to join forces with Abramoff. Soon he was raking in a seven-figure salary, astounding former colleagues as he shed his student loans and picked up a mansion on the Delaware shore, an estate in St. Barts and an in-town apartment at the Ritz-Carlton in the District.

E-mail released by Senate investigators shows that Scanlon and Abramoff referred to their secret partnership as "gimme five" -- code for their arrangement to split tens of millions of dollars in profits Scanlon's firm was taking in from the tribes. Abramoff, who cultivated a reputation as the best-connected Republican lobbyist in Washington, typically urged his tribal clients to hire Scanlon, never telling them he would be getting a chunk of the fees they paid Scanlon...

......The criminal charge against Scanlon shows that the lawmaker of most immediate interest to prosecutors is House Administration Committee Chairman Robert W. Ney (R-Ohio). Prosecutors charged that Scanlon and Abramoff conspired to bribe Ney -- referred to in the charging document as "Representative #1" -- by providing him and staff members with a golf trip to Scotland, sports tickets, meals, and campaign contributions....

......Scanlon was also a link between Abramoff's SunCruz dealings and DeLay's office.......

...........Scanlon could help investigators learn more about the purpose of gifts and nearly $3 million in campaign contributions Abramoff and his tribal clients lavished on members of Congress and their staffers, who night after night filled the lobbyist's four sports skyboxes. Scanlon may also be able to elaborate on e-mails that have been made public by the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, in which Abramoff discussed job offers to public officials and his efforts to get political appointees at the Interior Department to intercede on issues affecting clients.

Scanlon may also be knowledgeable about Abramoff's direction of tribal funds to several charitable foundations and advocacy groups and tax-exempt organizations, including one run by anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist. E-mail shows that Scanlon was intimately familiar with some of the financial dealings of anti-gambling activist Ralph Reed, former executive director of the Christian Coalition.
I love this scandal! CunningScam was in San Diego and DC, CoinGate was in Ohio but this is NATIONAL! And it covers a Who's Who of Radical Republicans. If the RNC doesn't kill Scanlon, he will kill the RNC.

Lawyers say Hadley was Woodwards source.

As written up in the London Times.
THE mysterious source who gave America’s foremost journalist, Bob Woodward, a tip-off about the CIA agent at the centre of one of Washington’s biggest political storms was Stephen Hadley, the White House national security adviser, according to lawyers close to the investigation.
This begs the question, Irve's lawyers or TurdBlossom's lawyers? And how much more information can we get out of the dueling legal teams?

The Curveball Saga in the LA Times

One of the most influential Iraqi "sources" in the run-up to Georgies Little War was also one of the most fraudulent, and the White House knew it.The story is long, detailed and scary.
Five senior officials from Germany's Federal Intelligence Service, or BND, said in interviews with The Times that they warned U.S. intelligence authorities that the source, an Iraqi defector code-named Curveball, never claimed to produce germ weapons and never saw anyone else do so.

According to the Germans, President Bush mischaracterized Curveball's information when he warned before the war that Iraq had at least seven mobile factories brewing biological poisons. Then-Secretary of State Colin L. Powell also misstated Curveball's accounts in his prewar presentation to the United Nations on Feb. 5, 2003, the Germans said.

Curveball's German handlers for the last six years said his information was often vague, mostly secondhand and impossible to confirm.

"This was not substantial evidence," said a senior German intelligence official. "We made clear we could not verify the things he said."

The German authorities, speaking about the case for the first time, also said that their informant suffered from emotional and mental problems. "He is not a stable, psychologically stable guy," said a BND official who supervised the case. "He is not a completely normal person," agreed a BND analyst.
Knowing this from the Germans, what did Our Dear Embattled Leader and his minions do?
The White House, for example, ignored evidence gathered by United Nations weapons inspectors shortly before the war that disproved Curveball's account. Bush and his aides issued increasingly dire warnings about Iraq's biological weapons before the war even though intelligence from Curveball had not changed in two years.

At the Central Intelligence Agency, officials embraced Curveball's account even though they could not confirm it or interview him until a year after the invasion. They ignored multiple warnings about his reliability before the war, punished in-house critics who provided proof that he had lied and refused to admit error until May 2004, 14 months after the invasion.
One of those warnnings was from a CIA doctor who had actually met Curveball. His supervisors reaction:
"Keep in mind that this war is going to happen regardless of what Curve Ball said or didn't say and the Powers That Be probably aren't terribly interested in whether Curve Ball knows what he's talking about,"
And so the sad story continued.
After the CIA vouched for Curveball's accounts, Bush declared in his 2003 State of the Union speech that Iraq had "mobile biological weapons labs" designed to produce "germ warfare agents." Bush cited the mobile germ factories in at least four prewar speeches and statements, and other world leaders repeated the charge.

Powell also highlighted Curveball's "eyewitness" account when he warned the United Nations Security Council on the eve of war that Iraq's mobile labs could brew enough weapons-grade microbes "in a single month to kill thousands upon thousands of people."

The senior BND officer who supervised Curveball's case said he was aghast when he watched Powell misstate Curveball's claims as a justification for war.

"We were shocked," the official said. "Mein Gott! We had always told them it was not proven…. It was not hard intelligence."
And what was Curveballs reason for his fractured fairy tales?
Curveball's motive, CIA officials said, was not to start a war. He simply was seeking a German visa.
The whole story deserves to be read carefully by everyone.

What Bob Graham knew.

Former Sen. Bob Graham reveals in the WaPo what HE knew before the Iraq war and in doing so illustrates why Congress didn't know what the White House knew.
At a meeting of the Senate intelligence committee on Sept. 5, 2002, CIA Director George Tenet was asked what the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) provided as the rationale for a preemptive war in Iraq. An NIE is the product of the entire intelligence community, and its most comprehensive assessment. I was stunned when Tenet said that no NIE had been requested by the White House and none had been prepared. Invoking our rarely used senatorial authority, I directed the completion of an NIE.

Tenet objected, saying that his people were too committed to other assignments to analyze Saddam Hussein's capabilities and will to use chemical, biological and possibly nuclear weapons. We insisted, and three weeks later the community produced a classified NIE.

There were troubling aspects to this 90-page document. While slanted toward the conclusion that Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction stored or produced at 550 sites, it contained vigorous dissents on key parts of the information, especially by the departments of State and Energy. Particular skepticism was raised about aluminum tubes that were offered as evidence Iraq was reconstituting its nuclear program. As to Hussein's will to use whatever weapons he might have, the estimate indicated he would not do so unless he was first attacked.

Under questioning, Tenet added that the information in the NIE had not been independently verified by an operative responsible to the United States. In fact, no such person was inside Iraq. Most of the alleged intelligence came from Iraqi exiles or third countries, all of which had an interest in the United States' removing Hussein, by force if necessary.
Bob Graham had access to this because of his position and also knew he could not tell others, including Novak & Woodward, because of secrecy rules. Note that disclosure would have greatly enhanced his party's position. So he did what he thought was the next best thing.
The American people needed to know these reservations, and I requested that an unclassified, public version of the NIE be prepared. On Oct. 4, Tenet presented a 25-page document titled "Iraq's Weapons of Mass Destruction Programs." It represented an unqualified case that Hussein possessed them, avoided a discussion of whether he had the will to use them and omitted the dissenting opinions contained in the classified version. Its conclusions, such as "If Baghdad acquired sufficient weapons-grade fissile material from abroad, it could make a nuclear weapon within a year," underscored the White House's claim that exactly such material was being provided from Africa to Iraq.
A BIG difference that goes well beyond accepted position spin. I know why he couldn't go public with his reasons for opposition, but I am unable to see why he didn't make a better case with his fellow senators.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

We don't know Casino Jack

But thanks to an excellent summation of the current state of the investigation, we should soon find out a great deal more than we want to know.
Scholars who specialize in the history and operations of Congress say that given the brazenness of Mr. Abramoff's lobbying efforts, as measured by the huge fees he charged clients and the extravagant gifts he showered on friends on Capitol Hill, almost all of them Republicans, the investigation could end up costing several lawmakers their careers, if not their freedom.

The investigation threatens to ensnarl many outside Congress as well, including Interior Department officials and others in the Bush administration who were courted by Mr. Abramoff on behalf of the Indian tribe casinos that were his most lucrative clients.

The inquiry has already reached into the White House; a White House budget official, David H. Safavian, resigned only days before his arrest in September on charges of lying to investigators about his business ties to Mr. Abramoff, a former lobbying partner.

"I think this has the potential to be the biggest scandal in Congress in over a century," said Thomas E. Mann, a Congressional specialist at the Brookings Institution. "I've been around Washington for 35 years, watching Congress, and I've never seen anything approaching Abramoff for cynicism and chutzpah in proposing quid pro quos to members of Congress."

Even by the gold-plated standards of Washington lobbying firms, the fees paid to Mr. Abramoff were extraordinary. A former president of the College Republicans who turned to lobbying after a short-lived career as a B-movie producer, Mr. Abramoff, with his lobbying team, collected more than $80 million from the Indian tribes and their gambling operations; he was known by lobbying rivals as "Casino Jack."
This scandal, combined with the Plame leak, combined with the Hallibuton frauds could pretty much define the reign of Our Dear Embattled Leader. His preznitential liberry may have to be moved to Leavenworth.

The GOP suffers a Big Iraq Attack

The WaPo illuminates some of the problems facing the GOP because of Georgie's Little War.
After simmering on Congress's back burner for months, the Iraq war debate has eclipsed every other issue in the capital, slowing progress on some matters while stopping it on others. The GOP-led House and Senate are struggling to pass major tax legislation, an extension of the USA Patriot Act and a broad budget-cutting bill. Bush's top 2005 domestic agenda item -- revamping Social Security -- has sunk from sight, and more recently his bipartisan panel on tax reform barely made a ripple when it issued recommendations.

GOP leaders view items such as the Patriot Act and the budget as too vital to fail in the end, but every endeavor is now made more difficult by the fracturing over Iraq -- and just when the 2006 congressional elections begin to loom. Republicans have lost their anchor of the past five years -- Bush's popularity -- while Democrats are struggling to find their voice on the war. Both sides cannot dally for long, said Peter D. Hart, a Democratic pollster.

"Iraq is now the dominant issue that is affecting voters, and it's affecting Bush's ratings," Hart said. "The public has reached a firm, fixed position on Iraq, and it's not going to change: This is not going to come to a successful conclusion, so how do we figure out how to get out of Iraq?"
I guess this was what Colin Powell meant when he referred to the "Pottery Barn Rule". And more pottery will break because we know Our Dear Embattled Leader never makes a mistake and he loves his little war.

Good Letter, read it.

The Dark Wraith has written a letter to that terrorist sympathizer, al-Qaeda Bill O'Reilly. It says what must be said. Read it.

The prayer for all our answers.

Another blogger looking for his first million

So if you haven't been there yet, click on over to see the good people at Rising Hegemon. You will not be disappointed.. You will not be disappointed.

And don't forget to bookmark the site.

AmericaBlog on Georgie's Little War

John posted this last night and as I am in full agreement, I am taking the great liberty of reproducing it here in full.
Loving our troops to death
by John in DC - 11/18/2005 10:40:00 PM

Republicans think that the only way to support the troops is to let them die. That's what this debate is about tonight. If you love the troops, you should sit back, shut up, and watch George Bush and the Republican Congress send them to their deaths in a war that's already been lost.

I admit, I'm simply stupified that the Republicans can be so calloused about our service members. It's becoming increasingly clear that the Republicans don't care about our troops. To them, our soldiers are props in one big propaganda war. That's all. So it doesn't matter if our troops are dying. It doesn't matter if the war was a mistake. It doesn't matter if we're losing. They simply don't care. The war was THEIR mistake and politically they can't admit a mistake. And that's what tonight is about.

The Republicans simply don't care about this war. They don't care if we win or lose. They don't want the facts about how things are really going over in Iraq because they simply don't care.

If the Republicans did care about our troops, they would want to know if we had enough troops to fight the war. If they cared, they'd make sure our troops actually had the body armor they needed. And if they cared about the troops, they would end a war once it's concluded we've lost. Only someone who cared more about his ego than our troops or our nation would continue a war once we've realized it's a no-win situation.

But since this is a public relations war and not a real war, at least to the Republicans, they don't want to know if we can win it, and they don't want to know if we're losing. What the Republicans are saying tonight is that America doesn't lose wars, and when America starts a war it doesn't leave until the war is won.

And while that's cute and all warm and fuzzy, like puppy dogs and apple pie, it's downright idiotic as policy. We lost Vietnam. And we didn't lose because we withdrew. We withdrew because we lost. But the Republicans don't think America loses wars. They think you never withdraw because we never lose. So I guess we won Vietnam. Or do Republicans think the American withdrawal from Vietnam was a mistake?

The bottom line is that the Republicans love our troops to death. They're rather see American soldiers die than admit the Republican party screwed up. That's what this debate is about tonight. Just keep killing the troops so long as its saves face.

I saw a young kid riding by the other day here in DC. He was maybe 25. He had no arm below his left elbow. I saw another kid with yet another missing arm a few months back. In my 20 years in DC I can't ever recall seeing any guy in his 20s with a missing arm. You see that now in DC. And I suspect you're seeing this across the nation.

But hey, the Republicans say our troops don't need arms and legs, and life, they simply need our support. And the Republicans think the best way to support our troops is to send them to their deaths and shut up, even though we all know the cause is lost. And oh yeah, when you send them to war, make sure you don't send enough troops, don't give them the body armor they need, and don't give them any plan for victory.

And when you realize that's what's taken place. And when you realize that's why our troops are dying. And when you realize that the entire war is one big fucked up mess and that it's not going to get any better, ever. Make sure you shut the fuck up. Because we love the troops.

This is a sad statement of some peoples' values.

From the NY Times comes this story of Jackson MS, where hurricane damage was mostly from power outages.
But in giving out $62 million in aid, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the American Red Cross overlooked a critical fact: the storm was hardly catastrophic here, 160 miles from the coast. The only damage sustained by most of the nearly 30,000 households receiving aid was spoiled food in the freezer.

The fact that at least some relief money has gone to those perceived as greedy, not needy, has set off recriminations in this poor, historic capital where the payments of up to $2,358 set off spending sprees on jewelry, guns and electronics.

Though a majority of the money appears to have been given out legally, the United States attorney's office is investigating at least 1,000 reports of fraud, including accusations that people lied about claims of damage or where they lived. State and local officials are criticizing FEMA and the Red Cross for doling out money without safeguards, but they also blame their fellow citizens.

"The donors all across this nation thought they were giving money to put food in the mouths of people who had nothing and clothes on the backs of people who had lost everything," said State Representative John Raymond Reeves, who represents Jackson. "But that is not what happened here. There was a feeding frenzy. Free money was being handed out."
The administration of Our Dear Embattled Leader and his trusty puppeteer Big Dick has truly set the standards for America. Read the whole piece to see how ordinary people acted like big corporations when they got the chance.

Now we know that Condomsleazy was not the source.

Because she joins the growing list of White House folks who have issued a denial.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was not the senior Bush administration official who told Washington Post editor Bob Woodward that White House critic Joseph Wilson's wife worked for the CIA, a Rice aide said Saturday.

"Secretary Rice wasn't Woodward's source," Rice senior adviser Jim Wilkinson said.

Rice was President Bush's White House national security adviser in June 2003, when Woodward says a highly placed official told him of Valerie Plame's CIA connection. Woodward has said the source was someone other than I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff and the only person indicted in a federal probe of the leak case.
She joins a group that includes TurdBlossom, TFSGOTFOTE Doug Feith and Big Dick himself. In fact, at this time, the only one being coy is:
Stephen Hadley.

Hadley won't say if he was Woodward's source. But Hadley volunteered on Friday that some administration officials say he's not the leaker.

Hadley was asked at a news briefing in Busan, Korea, whether he was Woodward's source.

Referring to news accounts about the case, Hadley said with a smile, "I've also seen press reports from White House officials saying that I am not one of his sources." He said he would not comment further because the CIA leak case remains under investigation.

Leaving the room, Hadley was asked if his answer amounted to a yes or a no. "It is what it is," he said.
Maybe he is trying to dethrone Feith as TFSGOTFOTE.

Republicans whip the poor and beat the helpless

In their neverending quest to provide tax cuts for the wealthy. This time the vote was close but a majority of them managed to keep their humanity sealed away in the basement.
The U.S. House of Representatives on Friday narrowly voted to trim social programs for the poor along with farm subsidies, student loans and other federal benefits as part of a $49.9-billion package of spending cuts.

The "deficit-reduction" plan passed the House by a cliff-hanger vote of 217-215, with all Democrats and 14 Republicans voting against the Republican-authored bill.

The vote came after House leaders worked for weeks to convince rank-and-file Republican members to support the measure. Many had balked at cutting social programs while their leaders also pursued tax cuts that would benefit the rich. As a result, Republicans shaved about $4 billion from their spending-cut goal......

..... Democrats argued that by the time Congress wraps up its work for the year, Republicans will actually add to the U.S. deficit if they push through about $60 billion in tax cuts.

Rep. John Spratt of South Carolina, the senior Democrat on the House Budget Committee, said: "After the tax cuts are passed, there won't be a dime to pay for (hurricanes) Katrina or Rita." He noted that the Republican budget calls for a $781 billion increase in U.S. borrowing authority.
The good thing about giving money to the wealthy is that they give some back. Always a good thing with an election next year.

The Big Fool says to push on.

From the AP, we get the news that Our Dear Embattled Leader is throwing in his oft repeated two cents worth (adjusted for inflation) on Iraq policy.
His war policies under siege at home, President Bush said Saturday there would be no early troop withdrawal because "sober judgment" must prevail over emotional calls to end the military mission before Iraq is stabilized.

"We will fight the terrorists in Iraq. We will stay in the fight until we have achieved the victory that our brave troops have fought for," Bush told thousands of American troops spilling out of a cold hangar at this U.S. military installation 40 miles south of Seoul. "The defense of freedom is worth our sacrifice."
Yes, it's true; the defense of freedom is worth our sacrifice, but Iraq is unquestionably not worth anymore sacrifice.

However, if ODEL wants to prove that he is more than a one tick pony he will have to turn his attention to other matters.
Now Bush turns to a two-day state visit in China, a strategically key nation. The communist giant is a vast and growing market for American goods, undertaking a military buildup that worries U.S. officials and using its economic might to assert itself globally.

Taking center stage in Sunday's meetings with Chinese President Hu Jintao are bird flu fears - China reported its first human cases this week - and sticky trade issues.

Bush also planned to continue his push to maintain a unified front among all the U.S. partners in talks aimed at stripping North Korea of nuclear weapons. After sitting down with Hu, Bush will have met on this trip with all four other participants in the negotiations, which also include South Korea, Japan and Russia.

The president also was hoping to gently press for democratic advances in China. Through a pre-trip meeting in Washington with the Dalai Lama, advance interviews with foreign reporters and a speech earlier in the week in Kyoto, Japan, Bush has emphasized the need for greater religious freedom. He intends to underline that point by worshipping at a government-approved church in Beijing.
If he would stop playing to his base for one minute, he might realize that Hu probably views their meeting as something like a visit to a comedy club on Open Mike Night. He will smile politely and clap vaguely at poorly thought out and badly presented one liners.

Politics makes strange bedfellows.

First the WaPo reveals what was expected, the Republicans straw resolution went down in flames.
Differences over policy on the Iraq war ignited an explosion of angry words and personal insults on the House floor yesterday when the chamber's newest member suggested that a decorated war veteran was a coward for calling for an immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops.

As Democrats physically restrained one colleague, who appeared as if he might lose control of himself as he rushed across the aisle to confront Republicans with a jabbing finger, they accused Republicans of playing political games with the war.

GOP leaders hastily scheduled a vote on a measure to require the Bush administration to bring the troops home now, an idea proposed Thursday by Rep. John P. Murtha (D-Pa.). The Republican-proposed measure was rejected 403 to 3, a result that surprised no one.

The idea was to force Democrats to go on the record on a proposal that the Bush administration says would be equivalent to surrender. Recognizing a political trap, most Democrats -- including Murtha himself -- said from the start they would vote no.
And the sparks did fly during this House debate. And after all was said and done we get this from CNN.
The top U.S. commander in Iraq has submitted a plan to the Pentagon for withdrawing troops in Iraq, according to a senior defense official.

Gen. George Casey submitted the plan to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. It includes numerous options and recommends that brigades -- usually made up of about 2,000 soldiers each -- begin pulling out of Iraq early next year......

..........Rumsfeld has yet to sign Casey's withdrawal plan but, the senior defense official said, implementation of the plan, if approved, would start after the December 15 Iraqi elections so as not to discourage voters from going to the polls.

The plan, which would withdraw a limited amount of troops during 2006, requires that a host of milestones be reached before troops are withdrawn.
And while Rummy chews his pencil and thinks on it, life goes on and goes away in Iraq.
Meanwhile, at least 90 people were killed in two suicide bombings in Iraq, according to hospital officials. The U.S. military put the casualties at 150, without giving a breakdown.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Good thing Albertos in charge.

Because the NY Times has a new development in the investigation into Halliburtons Iraq contracts.
Pentagon investigators have referred allegations of abuse in how the Halliburton Company was awarded a contract for work in Iraq to the Justice Department for possible criminal investigation, a Democratic senator who has been holding unofficial hearings on contract abuses in Iraq said yesterday in Washington.

The allegations mainly involve the Army's secret, noncompetitive awarding in 2003 of a multibillion dollar contract for oil field repairs in Iraq to Halliburton, a Texas-based company. The objections were raised publicly last year by Bunnatine H. Greenhouse, then the chief contracts monitor at the Army Corps of Engineers, the government agency that handled the contract and several others in Iraq.

In a letter received and released yesterday by Senator Byron L. Dorgan, Democrat of North Dakota, the assistant Pentagon inspector general, John R. Crane, said that the criminal investigation service of the Defense Department had examined Ms. Greenhouse's allegations "and has shared its findings with the Department of Justice." Senator Dorgan is the chairman of the Democratic Policy Committee, a Congressional group that has repeatedly used unofficial hearings to question the administration's record of awarding contracts in Iraq.

The Justice Department, the letter said, "is in the process of considering whether to pursue the matter."
With a properly glacial timetable, Justice should be able to drag this out until all concerned perps have left the government and fled the country. I imagine Georgie & Big Dick will have some great parties out there on Leyford Cay.

Parents! Is your college grad still living at home?

Let the NY Times show you how you can get your little darling on his or her feet and learn a trade that will serve him or her in good stead for years to come.
The report, completed by the Government Accountability Office, shows that the Army, National Guard and Marines signed up as few as a third of the Special Forces soldiers, intelligence specialists and translators that they had aimed for over the last year.

Both the Army and the Marines, for instance, fell short of their goals for hiring roadside bomb defusers by about 20 percent in each of the last two years. The Army Reserve, meanwhile, failed to fill about a third of its more than 1,500 intelligence analysts jobs. And in the National Guard, there have been consistent shortages filling positions involving tanks, field artillery and intelligence.

The report found that, in all, the military, which is engaged in the most demanding wartime recruitment effort since the 1970's, had failed to fully staff 41 percent of its array of combat and noncombat specialties.

Officials with the accountability office, the independent investigative arm of Congress, found that some of the critical shortfalls had been masked by the overfilling of other positions in an effort to reach overall recruiting goals. As a result, the G.A.O. report questioned whether Congress had been given an accurate picture by the Pentagon of the military's ability to maintain the force it needs for Iraq and Afghanistan.
Definetly the thrill of a lifetime.

Time to name the turkeys.

From Froomkin today comes this tasty bit:
The White House Web site wants your help picking a name for the two turkeys who, in a long White House tradition, will be "pardoned" by the president before Thanksgiving.

The official choices are: Democracy and Freedom; Blessing and Bounty; Marshmallow and Yam; Wattle and Snood; and Corn and Maize.

Too bad they're not accepting write-ins. You know who would win: Scooter and Karl.

Readers, you can chime in on this message board.
What an interesting idea, pardoning Scooter & Karl twice.

Fitzmas Redux is coming. Have you been good?

The WaPo provides the details for the latest moves by Fitzgerald.
The federal prosecutor investigating the leak of a CIA operative's identity says he plans to present information to a new grand jury, a sign that he is considering additional charges in his two-year-old probe.

Special Counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald said in court filings that his investigation "will involve proceedings before a different grand jury than the grand jury which returned the indictment" against Vice President Cheney's former chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby.
Oh goody! More presents to open.

And slowly the net is drawn in

Today in DC one of Jack Abramoffs close associates, and former Tom Delay aide, was indicted in the continuing Indian gambling scam.
Michael Scanlon, a former top congressional aide who became a partner of high-flying lobbyist Jack Abramoff, was charged today with conspiracy to bribe government officials and cheat Indian tribes out of millions of dollars.

The government officials were not named in the court papers filed by U.S. prosecutors in the District, but details of the gifts and legislative favors provided by an official identified as "Representative #1" match the alleged actions of Rep. Robert W. Ney (R-Ohio), chairman of the House Administration Committee.

The charge was detailed in a court document known as a criminal information -- a process that often precedes a plea-bargain arrangement with a cooperating witness. Officials familiar with the investigation who spoke on condition of anonymity said Scanlon has agreed to plead guilty and cooperate in the ongoing bribery and public corruption investigation of Abramoff, members of Congress and executive branch officials.
Looks like another defense fund or two will have to be started. I hope someone is keeping a scorecard of indictable Republicans. It would be comforting to have a clear measure of Republican values.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Quote of the Day

"I like guys who've never been there that criticize us who've been there. I like that. I like guys who got five deferments and never been there and send people to war, and then don't like to hear suggestions about what needs to be done."

Rep. John Murtha D-Pa. responding to remarks by VP Big Dick Cheney

What they should have done the first time.

According to the WaPo, six senators, including Republicans and Democrats are threatening to block the Patriot Act renewal unless certain changes are made.
Negotiators had worked for days to develop an acceptable compromise and presented a draft to senators and representatives late Wednesday.

But senators on the negotiating committee have yet to agree to the compromise, aware that six Republicans and Democrats are threatening to block the final version of the bill when it comes to the full Senate....

.....The Republican-controlled House hoped to approve the compromise on Friday. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., told senators on Thursday that they will have to address the legislation "before we leave."I am glad that these senators are acting like Americans now. But I wish they had done so the first time around.

But Feingold, D-Wis., the only senator to vote against the original Patriot Act in 2001, said there are several different delaying tactics available to stop the bill in the Senate.

Feingold said he had cleared his schedule through Thanksgiving. "And this time I don't think I'll be alone," he said.

Added Murkowski: "We have worked too long and too hard to allow this conference report to eliminate the modest protections for civil liberties that were agreed to unanimously in the Senate."

The six senators were the sponsors of legislation this year that would have tempered the powers of the post-Sept. 11 law that expanded the government's surveillance and prosecutorial powers.

They complained that the House-Senate compromise would take back some civil liberty protections on which senators had agreed. They include changing a Senate requirement that the government inform targets of a "sneak and peek" search warrant within seven days to 30 days.

Such warrants allow police to conduct secret searches of people's homes or businesses and inform them later.

The compromise also removed a Senate proposal that would have mandated judicial reviews when authorities used the law to search financial, medical, library, school and other records, according to the six senators.
This is a good thing.

Wilson calls out Woodward

And gives the WaPo a chance to redeem itself.
oseph Wilson, the husband of outed
CIA operative Valerie Plame, called on Thursday for an inquiry by The Washington Post into the conduct of journalist Bob Woodward, who repeatedly criticized the leak investigation without disclosing his own involvement.

"It certainly gives the appearance of a conflict of interest. He was taking an advocacy position when he was a party to it," said Wilson, joining media critics in questioning the role of one of the best-known investigative reporters in the United States.

Woodward disclosed that he testified under oath on Monday to special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald that a senior Bush administration official casually told him in mid-June 2003 about Plame's position at the CIA..........

...........Before publicly disclosing his involvement in the leak case on Wednesday, Woodward was a frequent critic of Fitzgerald's investigation in television and radio appearances. Woodward has described the case as laughable and Fitzgerald's behavior as "disgraceful" and has referred to him as "a junkyard dog."

One day before Libby was charged, Woodward said he saw no evidence of criminal intent.

Marvin Kalb of Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government called Woodward's conduct "puzzling" and said he had more explaining to do.

"Since he knew he had information that was relevant and he chose not to disclose that information for reasons he said had to do with confidentiality, it's odd that he would rip into the prosecutor so publicly and so persistently," Kalb said.
Has one of the men who brought down Richard Nixon achieved that Nixonian status of "unindicted co-conspirator"?

Down and down he goes.

And the WSJ has the latest stop on Our Dear Embattled Leaders continuing decline in the hearts and minds of America.
President Bush's positive job rating continues to fall, touching another new low for his presidency, the latest Harris Interactive poll finds.

Bush's current job approval rating stands at 34%, compared with a positive rating of 88% soon after 9/11, 50% at this time last year, and 40% in August.

And he's not alone. Cabinet members, Congressional leaders and both parties in Congress have also seen their ratings slip, with Democrats seeing one of the biggest dips in approval, the telephone poll of 1,011 U.S. adults shows.

Vice President Dick Cheney's approval ratings slipped to 30% this month from 35% in August, while Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's approval ratings dropped to 34% from 40% and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's approval ratings fell to 52% from 57%, according to the poll.
With graphic goodness for all to view.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Expect Halliburton to show rising profits for the last quarter,

They have found a way to get work done without paying the workers. Pretty spiffy! And here I thought they needed Oily Dick to make them profitable.
Martinez, 16, speaks no English; his mother tongue is Zapotec. He had left the cornfields of Oaxaca, Mexico, four weeks earlier for the promise that he would make $8 an hour, plus room and board, while working for a subcontractor of KBR, a wholly owned subsidiary of Halliburton that was awarded a major contract by the Bush administration for disaster relief work. The job was helping to clean up a Gulf Coast naval base in the region devastated by Hurricane Katrina. "I was cleaning up the base, picking up branches and doing other work," Martinez said, speaking to me in broken Spanish.

Even if the Oaxacan teenager had understood Bush when he urged Americans that day to "help somebody find shelter or help somebody find food," he couldn't have known that he'd soon need similar help himself. But three weeks after arriving at the naval base from Texas, Martinez's boss, Karen Tovar, a job broker from North Carolina who hired workers for a KBR subcontractor called United Disaster Relief, booted him from the base and left him homeless, hungry and without money.

"They gave us two meals a day and sometimes only one," Martinez said.

He says that Tovar "kicked us off the base," forcing him and other cleanup workers -- many of them Mexican and undocumented -- to sleep on the streets of New Orleans. According to Martinez, they were not paid for three weeks of work. An immigrant rights group recently filed complaints with the Department of Labor on behalf of Martinez and 73 other workers allegedly owed more than $56,000 by Tovar. Tovar claims that she let the workers go because she was not paid by her own bosses at United Disaster Relief. In turn, UDR manager Zachary Johnson, who declined to be interviewed for this story, told the Washington Post on Nov. 4 that his company had not been paid by KBR for two months.

Wherever the buck may stop along the chain of subcontractors, Martinez is stuck at the short end of it -- and his situation is typical among many workers hired by subcontractors of KBR (formerly known as Kellogg Brown & Root) to clean and rebuild Belle Chasse and other Gulf Coast military bases.
Who said slavery was dead?

Quote of the Day

"To question your government is not unpatriotic -- to not question your government is unpatriotic,"

Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.)in a speech to the Council of Foreign Relations

The Oil Can Boys get caught in a lie.

But you knew they would. Today, the WaPo puts the evidence before the public.
The document, obtained this week by The Washington Post, shows that officials from Exxon Mobil Corp., Conoco (before its merger with Phillips), Shell Oil Co. and BP America Inc. met in the White House complex with the Cheney aides who were developing a national energy policy, parts of which became law and parts of which are still being debated.

In a joint hearing last week of the Senate Energy and Commerce committees, the chief executives of Exxon Mobil Corp., Chevron Corp. and ConocoPhillips said their firms did not participate in the 2001 task force. The president of Shell Oil said his company did not participate "to my knowledge," and the chief of BP America Inc. said he did not know.

Chevron was not named in the White House document, but the Government Accountability Office has found that Chevron was one of several companies that "gave detailed energy policy recommendations" to the task force. In addition, Cheney had a separate meeting with John Browne, BP's chief executive, according to a person familiar with the task force's work; that meeting is not noted in the document.
Sen Ted Stevens does nothing without a purpose, we, the public, just don't know that purpose until he pulls it out. And we don't have to squeal like a pig either.

Woodward spills a few beans

So now we know from the WaPo and other sources that someone besides Libby and Rove was chattering about classified information to anyone who would listen and let him or her get away with it. And this additional reporter source will be the basis of Irve's new legal defense.As reported in the NY Times:
Lawyers for I. Lewis Libby Jr., the former White House official indicted on perjury charges, plan to seek testimony from journalists beyond those cited in the indictment and will probably challenge government agreements limiting their grand jury testimony, people involved in the case said Tuesday.

"That's clearly going to be part of the strategy - to get access to all the relevant records and determine what did the media really know," said a lawyer close to the defense who spoke on condition of anonymity............

..........The prospect of another legal battle over access to reporters' records "could be worse for the media" than the Miller showdown, said Lucy Dalglish, head of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. "You now have a situation where you have a government investigation hung completely on testimony from journalists, with journalists turned into witnesses, and that is a scary notion."

Ms. Dalglish said that unlike the special prosecutor, Patrick J. Fitzgerald, who was restricted partly by Justice Department regulations on subpoenaing reporters' notes, Mr. Libby's defense team will not be bound by those same rules.

"This is a very unsettling case, and it could take years in the courts to resolve," she said.
So we can look forward to a stonewall using the court system, at best. Three years dragging through the courts and then Our Dear Embattled Leader leaves office and retires to Bahrain with Michael Jackson.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Tom Toles Today.

The Senate finds some stones

They may only be small ones, but it's a start.
The Senate delivered President Bush its strongest rebuke yet on the conduct of the Iraq war, voting 98-0 to pass a defense policy bill that codifies the treatment of military detainees, establishes new legal rights for terrorism suspects and demands far more information from the White House on the progress of the conflict.

The measure's controversial provisions must still win passage in the House, but they mark the Senate's most dramatic foray into war policymaking and a challenge to the administration, which has issued a stern veto threat. The Senate rejected a Democratic resolution that would have pressured the administration to outline a plan to draw down U.S. forces in Iraq, but, by a 79-19 vote, lawmakers approved a weaker Republican version that insists on regular reports to Congress detailing the military's progress toward the goal of bringing the troops home.

The White House has strenuously objected to most measures that restrict its conduct of the war, especially a provision authored by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) that establishes strict guidelines on interrogation methods used on suspected terrorists. The White House says the McCain language is too broad and could preclude methods that fall well short of torture but may be necessary to elicit vital intelligence.

But an overwhelming, bipartisan majority of the Senate contended that Congress had to intervene to help re-establish the moral high ground for the United States in the administration's campaigns in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere.
Two roads to the moral high ground would be through restoration of habeas corpus and impeachment.

EJ Dionne gets it

And shares it in his op-ed column today.
The bad faith of Bush's current argument is staggering. He wants to say that the "more than a hundred Democrats in the House and Senate" who "voted to support removing Saddam Hussein from power" thereby gave up their right to question his use of intelligence forever after. But he does not want to acknowledge that he forced the war vote to take place under circumstances that guaranteed the minimum amount of reflection and debate, and that opened anyone who dared question his policies to charges, right before an election, that they were soft on Hussein.

By linking the war on terrorism to a partisan war against Democrats, Bush undercut his capacity to lead the nation in this fight. And by resorting to partisan attacks again last week, Bush only reminded us of the shameful circumstances in which the whole thing started.
A nice reminder for the folks.

Monday, November 14, 2005

The Book of Leonard

Well, not really. Just Leonard Pitts take on on the Right Reverend Slipped His Meds Again a/k/a Pat Robertson.
And the Lord did look with discontent upon the town of Dover in the province of Pennsylvania. For Dover was a wicked and prideful place and had turned its back on God. Its people had voted out school board members who tried to introduce intelligent design into schools as an alternative to the theory of evolution.

"And the Lord was wrathful and said, I will smite them with burning coals from the sky. Their fields I will make barren, their rivers I will cause to rise in flood, their football teams will lose, their sewers will back up, no one who lives there shall hit the Powerball. And I will help them not."
The rest of the piece is good, but how do you top an intro like that?

OK you're innocent, so what?

One of the lawyers working with Guantanamo detainees has written a pwerful op-ed today in the WaPo.
As the Senate prepared to vote Thursday to abolish the writ of habeas corpus, Sens. Lindsey Graham and Jon Kyl were railing about lawyers like me. Filing lawsuits on behalf of the terrorists at Guantanamo Bay. Terrorists! Kyl must have said the word 30 times.

As I listened, I wished the senators could meet my client Adel.

Adel is innocent. I don't mean he claims to be. I mean the military says so. It held a secret tribunal and ruled that he is not al Qaeda, not Taliban, not a terrorist. The whole thing was a mistake: The Pentagon paid $5,000 to a bounty hunter, and it got taken.

The military people reached this conclusion, and they wrote it down on a memo, and then they classified the memo and Adel went from the hearing room back to his prison cell. He is a prisoner today, eight months later. And these facts would still be a secret but for one thing: habeas corpus.

Only habeas corpus got Adel a chance to tell a federal judge what had happened. Only habeas corpus revealed that it wasn't just Adel who was innocent -- it was Abu Bakker and Ahmet and Ayoub and Zakerjain and Sadiq -- all Guantanamo "terrorists" whom the military has found innocent.
And that is the basis for Sen Grahams amendment. I mean, don't these folks realize how bad it makes Our Dear Embattled Leader and his Vice Vizier look when the public finds out we are holding people WE have declared innocent? That and the fact that Lindsey is going to run for president and needs to suck up to "The Base".

Jimmy Carter speaks out.

And for the record, he is a real christian. And like all real christians he speaks out against oppression and deceit.
Regardless of the costs, there are determined efforts by top U.S. leaders to exert American imperial dominance throughout the world.

These revolutionary policies have been orchestrated by those who believe that our nation's tremendous power and influence should not be internationally constrained. Even with our troops involved in combat and America facing the threat of additional terrorist attacks, our declaration of "You are either with us or against us!" has replaced the forming of alliances based on a clear comprehension of mutual interests, including the threat of terrorism.

Another disturbing realization is that, unlike during other times of national crisis, the burden of conflict is now concentrated exclusively on the few heroic men and women sent back repeatedly to fight in the quagmire of Iraq. The rest of our nation has not been asked to make any sacrifice, and every effort has been made to conceal or minimize public awareness of casualties.

Instead of cherishing our role as the great champion of human rights, we now find civil liberties and personal privacy grossly violated under some extreme provisions of the Patriot Act.

Of even greater concern is that the U.S. has repudiated the Geneva accords and espoused the use of torture in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay, and secretly through proxy regimes elsewhere with the so-called extraordinary rendition program. It is embarrassing to see the president and vice president insisting that the CIA should be free to perpetrate "cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment" on people in U.S. custody.
A real christian and a mensch. Perhaps Our Dear Embattled Leader could have his good buddy Ariel explain the word to him when Ariel lets ODEL know what he needs done next.

How nice, our interrogation style imitates the Soviets.

The NY Times has an interesting op-ed on the origins of the Army's torture techniques.
How did American interrogation tactics after 9/11 come to include abuse rising to the level of torture? Much has been said about the illegality of these tactics, but the strategic error that led to their adoption has been overlooked.

The Pentagon effectively signed off on a strategy that mimics Red Army methods. But those tactics were not only inhumane, they were ineffective. For Communist interrogators, truth was beside the point: their aim was to force compliance to the point of false confession.

Fearful of future terrorist attacks and frustrated by the slow progress of intelligence-gathering from prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, Pentagon officials turned to the closest thing on their organizational charts to a school for torture. That was a classified program at Fort Bragg, N.C., known as SERE, for Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape. Based on studies of North Korean and Vietnamese efforts to break American prisoners, SERE was intended to train American soldiers to resist the abuse they might face in enemy custody.

The Pentagon appears to have flipped SERE's teachings on their head, mining the program not for resistance techniques but for interrogation methods. At a June 2004 briefing, the chief of the United States Southern Command, Gen. James T. Hill, said a team from Guantánamo went "up to our SERE school and developed a list of techniques" for "high-profile, high-value" detainees. General Hill had sent this list - which included prolonged isolation and sleep deprivation, stress positions, physical assault and the exploitation of detainees' phobias - to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, who approved most of the tactics in December 2002.

Some within the Pentagon warned that these tactics constituted torture, but a top adviser to Secretary Rumsfeld justified them by pointing to their use in SERE training, a senior Pentagon official told us last month.
So it's OK because we do it to our own troops? That should boost enlistments.

Pat Roberts closes barn door

Thank God he finally did it. Any longer and even the horseshit would have escaped.
The Republican chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence said yesterday that one lesson of the faulty prewar intelligence on Iraq is that senators would take a hard look at intelligence before voting to go to war.

"I think a lot of us would really stop and think a moment before we would ever vote for war or to go and take military action," Sen. Pat Roberts (Kan.) said on "Fox News Sunday."

"We don't accept this intelligence at face value anymore," he added. "We get into preemptive oversight and do digging in regards to our hard targets."

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Republican blames Our Dear Embattled Leader

Yup, Doug Forrester says he would be governator of NJ now if it weren't for ODEL's run of bad news.
The race for New Jersey governor between the multimillionaires was supposed to be a tight one, or so the final polls said before Tuesday's election. But Douglas R. Forrester, a Republican, lost by a wide margin to Senator Jon S. Corzine, a Democrat, and the chief reason, Mr. Forrester now says, is President Bush's unpopularity.

In an interview published yesterday in The Star-Ledger of Newark, the state's largest newspaper, Mr. Forrester said his campaign had done "all the right things we were supposed to do." Still, he said, he could not overcome a spate of bad news for Mr. Bush, like the administration's handling of Hurricane Katrina.

As a result, he said, "it was not a foolish thing" that Mr. Corzine had sought repeatedly to link him to the Bush administration. "If Bush's numbers were where they were a year ago, or even six months ago, I think we would have won on Tuesday," Mr. Forrester told the newspaper
He is probably right. It looks like Sen Man-on-Dog Santorum is just the tip of the iceberg among Republicans up for election next year.

Tom Toles Today

Our Dear Embattled Leader is not the only one working hard.

Gretchen Morgenson describes how it is determined what CEOs and their minions will be paid for the hard work and not hard work they do.
IT'S not every day that investors can view the contortions performed by compensation consultants trying to justify the monster executive pay packages that they recommend to corporate clients. And when these exercises in absurdity are done for executives asking for great sacrifices from workers, retirees, creditors and former shareholders because they manage a company in Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, the entertainment is unmatched.

The ringside seat for this show comes courtesy of the Delphi Corporation, the automotive parts giant that filed for Chapter 11 on Oct. 8. The performers are Delphi's lawyers, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, and its compensation consultant, Watson Wyatt. The consultant said it was hired to devise incentive plans for the company's executives that would "align the interests of both program participants and company stakeholders and to benchmark such programs against competitive practice."

Brian Foley, a compensation expert in White Plains who scoured the Delphi plan, is dubious. "It starts off with usual alignment rationale, but the reality is it provides no explanation as to how that rationale works when the only people receiving payments are the 500 to 600 chosen," he said. "At the end of the day, you have shareholders, retirees, union employees and nonunion workers who get nothing under this. Align that."..........

...........But when a company jettisons a pension that is underfunded by $11 billion, according to the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, and proposes cuts of up to two-thirds in workers' pay and deep reductions in retiree benefits, you would think that its executives might want to share the pain.

You would, however, be mostly wrong............

.............Interestingly, nowhere in the plan filings does Delphi concede that mismanagement in the executive suite had anything to do with its problems. In fact, the documents draw a picture of a company that has been managed splendidly over the years. Never mind that Delphi accounting practices are under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission or that the company has recorded losses of $6.3 billion in the last seven quarters.

And pay no attention to the fact that the company itself has turned up accounting irregularities from 2000 to 2003 relating to its dealings with suppliers like EDS. One effect of the irregularities was to enhance Delphi's earnings.

ALL of these facts are irrelevant to the matter at hand: taking care of those at the top.
Please don't read the full article unless you have taken advanced anger management training.

I like Keith Olbermann

In spite of the fact that he was one of those " 15,000 bare foot farmers that call themselves Cornell", he is a breath of fresh air on the otherwise suffocating right wing cable news media. Here is a clip from his Friday night show that brings numerous right wing flaws to the attention of the non-blogging community. I urge all of my two faithful readers to tune him in. He is on MSNBC opposite The Falafel King so lets all pitch in to give Keith better ratings than that terrorist sympathizer Al-Quaeda Bill.

Flip flopping like a fish in a boat.

First he denies his political savior W at Tobyhanna and now this:
U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum said Saturday that he doesn't believe that intelligent design belongs in the science classroom.

Santorum's comments to The Times are a shift from his position of several years ago, when he wrote in a Washington Times editorial that intelligent design is a "legitimate scientific theory that should be taught in the classroom."................

.................Earlier this summer, President Bush said he favored teaching intelligent design in the classroom.
But the poor fish doesn't realize that he is still on the hook

Leonard Pitts and Frank Rich - Real Americans

From Leonard Pitts op-ed piece:
Well, I guess that settles that.

"We do not torture," President Bush said on Monday. Never mind all those torture pictures from Abu Ghraib. Never mind all those torture stories from Guantanamo Bay. Never mind the 2002 Justice Department memo that sought to justify torture. Never mind reports of U.S. officials sending detainees to other countries for torture. Never mind Dick Cheney lobbying to exempt the CIA from rules prohibiting torture.

"We do not torture," said the president. And that's that, right? I mean, if you can't believe the Bush administration, who can you believe? No torture. Period, end of sentence.

But . . . What does it say to you that the claim even has to be made?

From Frank Richs op-ed piece:
If it weren't tragic it would be a New Yorker cartoon. The president of the United States, in the final stop of his forlorn Latin America tour last week, told the world, "We do not torture." Even as he spoke, the administration's flagrant embrace of torture was as hard to escape as publicity for Anderson Cooper.

The vice president, not satisfied that the C.I.A. had already been implicated in four detainee deaths, was busy lobbying Congress to give the agency a green light to commit torture in the future. Dana Priest of The Washington Post, having first uncovered secret C.I.A. prisons two years ago, was uncovering new "black sites" in Eastern Europe, where ghost detainees are subjected to unknown interrogation methods redolent of the region's Stalinist past. Before heading south, Mr. Bush had been doing his own bit for torture by threatening to cast the first veto of his presidency if Congress didn't scrap a spending bill amendment, written by John McCain and passed 90 to 9 by the Senate, banning the "cruel, inhuman or degrading" treatment of prisoners.

So when you watch the president stand there with a straight face and say, "We do not torture" - a full year and a half after the first photos from Abu Ghraib - you have to wonder how we arrived at this ludicrous moment. The answer is not complicated. When people in power get away with telling bigger and bigger lies, they naturally think they can keep getting away with it. And for a long time, Mr. Bush and his cronies did. Not anymore.
And if you still don't get it, go read both pieces in full.

Whaddaya know! Another Friend of Jack (Abramoff)

As reported in the Austin Statesman, Ralph "Is he related to Rex?" Reed informs Jack that then Texas AG, now Sen. John Cornyn was in on the Indian scam Jack was running.
Former Christian Coalition director Ralph Reed claimed in a 2001 e-mail to a lobbyist that he choreographed John Cornyn's efforts as Texas attorney general to shut down an East Texas Indian tribe's casino.

The lobbyist was Jack Abramoff, who is under federal investigation, along with his partner Michael Scanlon, on allegations of defrauding six Indian tribes of about $80 million from 2001 to 2004. The e-mail, along with about a dozen others, was released last week as part of the investigation.

In 2001, Abramoff was working as a lobbyist for the Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana to prevent rival gaming casinos from siphoning off its Texas customers. He paid Reed as a consultant, and Reed lobbied to get the Alabama-Coushatta and Tigua casinos closed in Texas.

In the Nov. 30, 2001, e-mail, Reed told Abramoff that 50 pastors led by Ed Young, of Second Baptist Church in Houston, would meet with Cornyn to urge him to shut down the Alabama-Coushatta tribe's casino near Livingston. He said Young would back up the request in writing.

"We have also choreographed Cornyn's response. The AG will state that the law is clear, talk about how much he wants to avoid repetition of El Paso (where the Tigua casino was) and pledge to take swift action to enforce the law," Reed wrote. "He will also personally hand Ed Young a letter that commits him to take action in Livingston."

Cornyn, now a Republican U.S. senator, had filed a lawsuit in 1999 to shut down the casino operated by the Tigua tribe in El Paso, saying it violated the state's limited gambling laws. In 2002, federal courts shuttered the Tiguas' casino and Cornyn used that ruling to shut down the Alabama-Coushattas' casino.

Cornyn, who has not been accused of any wrongdoing, has denied knowing Abramoff. He also has said he was unaware of Reed's work with Abramoff.
And the moon is made of green cheese.

A rumination on Republican print perverts.

David Rossie, writing in the Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin wonders:
What is it with Republicans and smut? What is it that prompts the self-proclaimed paragons of moral values to commit prose that is at once prurient and putrid?

Consider the GOP gallery of purple prose purveyors:

William Safire, Newt Gingrich, Lynne Cheney, G. Gordon Liddy, William Buckley and Kenneth Starr. And let's not forget Bill O'Reilly, whose unwanted phone sex messages to a female colleague cost him a bundle in an out-of-court settlement.

Some might argue that it is unfair to include Starr in that crowd, but not if they read the pious pornographer's report of his investigation of the Clintons' involvement in Whitewater and Just Plain Bill's sordid romp with Monica Lewinsky and sundry others. According to Lauren Collins, writing in The New Yorker, in 1998 the Starr Report was nominated for consideration in the bad fictional sex writing contest that Britain's Literary Review holds each year.
He provides no explicit examples because he is writing in a family newspaper. He does put forth this interesting possibility as to why.
I'm not one for practicing psychiatry without a license, but you have to wonder what would cause someone to write that kind of salacious twaddle. Perhaps it could be a result of coming to adulthood and beyond to middle age and still being called Scooter. True, Phil Rizzuto handled it pretty well, but athletes tend to be more comfortable with such nicknames.

Then again it could be a result of spending too much time around the Cheneys, especially Dick. That could be the psychological equivalent of mercury poisoning.

The sharks are circling in the White House

The challenge of fixing the Bush presidency has heightened long-standing tensions among Bush aides and supporters, between moderate conservatives and hard-liners.

The moderates worry that the president has fallen under the spell of Vice President Dick Cheney and political advisor Karl Rove, and has moved so far to the right that he has alienated many voters. The hard-liners think Bush has erred by not being conservative enough; some of them even accuse White House Chief of Staff Andrew H. Card Jr. of plotting to water down the president's program.

The debate, behind closed doors, is a classic struggle for the president's ear. Outside the White House, members of each camp — in Congress, think tanks and interest groups — gossip over whether any of Bush's top aides will lose their jobs. Inside the White House, no one will talk openly about possible staff changes, but aides acknowledge that a debate over strategy is underway.........

..........The divisions may be worse than ideological; they may be partly personal.
The wild card in all this is Our Dear Embattled Leader himself. Long known for making decisions with no basis in reality, the guidelines for his choice of action remain obscured in another dimension.

It's not just the Big Swinging Dick's you have to watch

While they have been in charge and in view, they have been replacing the bureacracy of skilled, capable professionals with ideologically correct followers. Like a cancer in the body, these folks have been, bit by bit, destroying the government of the people.
Nearly 20 percent of the division's lawyers left in fiscal 2005, in part because of a buyout program that some lawyers believe was aimed at pushing out those who did not share the administration's conservative views on civil rights laws. Longtime litigators complain that political appointees have cut them out of hiring and major policy decisions, including approvals of controversial GOP redistricting plans in Mississippi and Texas.

At the same time, prosecutions for the kinds of racial and gender discrimination crimes traditionally handled by the division have declined 40 percent over the past five years, according to department statistics. Dozens of lawyers find themselves handling appeals of deportation orders and other immigration matters instead of civil rights cases.

The division has also come under criticism from the courts and some Democratsfor its decision in August to approve a Georgia program requiring voters to present government-issued identification cards at the polls. The program was halted by an appellate court panel and a district court judge, who likened it to a poll tax from the Jim Crow era.
Damned activist judge!

John Edwards admits his mistake

As a real man should do. He also lays forth some ideas that provide a good basis for ending the Iraq debacle.
It was a mistake to vote for this war in 2002. I take responsibility for that mistake. It has been hard to say these words because those who didn't make a mistake -- the men and women of our armed forces and their families -- have performed heroically and paid a dear price.

The world desperately needs moral leadership from America, and the foundation for moral leadership is telling the truth.

While we can't change the past, we need to accept responsibility, because a key part of restoring America's moral leadership is acknowledging when we've made mistakes or been proven wrong -- and showing that we have the creativity and guts to make it right.

The argument for going to war with Iraq was based on intelligence that we now know was inaccurate. The information the American people were hearing from the president -- and that I was being given by our intelligence community -- wasn't the whole story. Had I known this at the time, I never would have voted for this war.

George Bush won't accept responsibility for his mistakes. Along with Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, he has made horrible mistakes at almost every step: failed diplomacy; not going in with enough troops; not giving our forces the equipment they need; not having a plan for peace.
Read the whole article.

Moderate Republicans retain some remnants of American values.

Which does beg the question; Why are they still Republicans?
It's not just Bush who is getting lackluster reviews. While 74 percent of conservatives say Republicans in Congress are doing a good job, backing falls to 54 percent among GOP moderates, down 22 points from early summer. About one-third of moderates say their party's leadership is taking them in the wrong direction.

One potential wedge is the role of conservative religious groups in determining the party's agenda. In the most recent Post-ABC News poll, 44 percent of GOP moderates said that conservative religious groups have "too much influence" in the Bush administration, compared with 17 percent who thought those groups didn't hold enough sway. About a third saw religious conservatives as appropriately influential.

But there are also important cleavages among Republicans over Iraq. The majority of moderate Republicans are still behind the war (nearly 6 in 10 said it was worth fighting). In contrast with conservatives, however, a 66 percent majority of moderates called the current level of U.S. military casualties "unacceptable."

And moderates were also more likely to say the charges contained in the indictment of former vice presidential chief of staff I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby represented a serious crime if proved, rather than a minor one.

Why would a smart,capable lawyer persist in a palpable lie?

That is the question that the WaPo asks today in its continuing efforts to act like a real newspaper. It is this question that works most against the defense of Irve Libby.
The investigators had much of this information before they sat down with Libby on Oct. 14, 2003, and first heard from him what prosecutors now allege was a demonstrably false version of what happened. Libby said that, when he told other reporters about the CIA operative and her marriage to Iraq war critic Joseph C. Wilson IV, he believed he had first learned the information from Tim Russert of NBC News and was merely passing along journalistic hearsay. This was an explanation made dubious by Libby's own notes, which showed that he previously had learned about Plame from his boss, Cheney.

In the aftermath of Libby's recent five-count indictment, this curious sequence raises a question of motives that hangs over the investigation: Why would an experienced lawyer and government official such as Libby leave himself so exposed to prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald?

Libby, according to Fitzgerald's indictment, gave a false story to agents and, later, to a grand jury, even though he knew investigators had his notes, and presumably knew that several of his White House colleagues had already provided testimony and documentary evidence that would undercut his own story. And his interviews with the FBI in October and two appearances before the grand jury in March 2004 came at a time when there were increasingly clear signs that some of the reporters with whom Libby discussed Plame could soon be freed to testify -- and provide starkly different and damning accounts to the prosecutor.

To critics, the timing suggests an attempt to obscure Cheney's role, and possibly his legal culpability. The vice president is shown by the indictment to be aware of and interested in Plame and her CIA status long before her cover was blown. Even some White House aides privately wonder whether Libby was seeking to protect Cheney from political embarrassment. One of them noted with resignation, "Obviously, the indictment speaks for itself."
Let's face it, Big Dick would not hire someone who could not put 2 + 2 together or would forget the answer. On the basis of "Who benefits?", the only motive that fits is protecting Big Dick. And the only reason he persists in this fable is the promised pardon.

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