Wednesday, May 30, 2007

DeLay: My Adultery Was "Different" Than Gingrich's

In [his] book, DeLay criticizes Gingrich for, among other things, conducting an affair with a Capitol Hill employee during the 1998 impeachment trial of Bill Clinton. (The woman later became Gingrich's third wife.)

"Yes, I don't think that Newt could set a high moral standard, a high moral tone, during that moment," DeLay said. "You can't do that if you're keeping secrets about your own adulterous affairs." He added that the impeachment trial was another of his "proudest moments."

The difference between his own adultery and Gingrich's, he said, "is that I was no longer committing adultery by that time, the impeachment trial. There's a big difference." He added, "Also, I had returned to Christ and repented my sins by that time."

LSB: That's quite a distinction, Hammer. You're splitting hairs a little too fine for me. For "allegedly" smart men, don't they see the shear hypocrisy?

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

White House officially recognizes legal status of gay couples and parents

Something rather historic happened this past week. The White House, for the first time ever on its Web site (that I know of), recognized the legitimacy of gay couples as both married and as parents. It was done, innocuously enough, when the White House published a photo of Vice President Dick Cheney's new grandson, the child of the VP's lesbian daughter and her lesbian spouse. The White House not only published a photo of the child with the VP and his wife, but the caption was even more telling:

Vice President Dick Cheney and his wife, Lynne Cheney, welcomed their sixth grandchild, Samuel David Cheney, Wednesday, May 23, 2007. He weighed 8 lbs., 6 oz and was born at 9:46 a.m. at Sibley Hospital in Washington, D.C. His parents are the Cheneys’ daughter Mary, and her partner, Heather Poe. (White House photo by David Bohrer)

Did you catch that last sentence? The White House officially recognized a lesbian couple as co-equal parents of a child. That not only is a recognition of the legitimacy of gay parents - i.e., if one person is the birth mother and the other the mother's partner, both are the "parents" of the child, per the White House - but the White House is also, implicitly, recognizing the legitimate couple status of two gay people in love, i.e., they are not simply two unrelated gay people, they are parents, akin to your parents, akin to a married couple. Why do I say that the White House is de facto recognizing gay marriage? Because either Mary or her lover, or both, are not the biological mom of this child - with two women, only one can be the biological parent. For the White House to recognize both as parents means that they are recognizing the legitimacy of the two women as one entity, the parent. Anyway, it's a hell of a statement by any White House, let alone one of the most conservative in history, and one that prides itself on being so anti-gay.

JSpot asks a very good question about why the baby's photo is on the White House Web site:

So now a question for grandpa: Isn’t it just a bit disingenious to say that your daughters’ family is private & off limits and to get so pissy with reporters for being “out of line,” and then you’ve got this photo on the home page of an official government website?

Hey, its not like we think you are personally a homophobe, and your love for your daughter is obvious. But given your role in an administration that denies your grandson a legal relationship with the mom who you credit as a parent on the White House website, isn’t it time to explain this incongruity?

John Aravosis,

Bush lying about polls, claims public supports his policy on Iraq and opposes withdrawal. In fact, all polls agree that public wants a withdrawal.

What a surprise, Bush is lying about the war in Iraq. What's disturbing is how blatantly Bush is now lying about public opinion on the war. Either he has decided that lying to the public is, again, the best strategy for a president to take with his people, or he truly believes the lies he's telling, which means that he's not just an idiot, he's also crazy.

From AP:

The president says Democrats have it all wrong: the public doesn't want the troops pulled out — they want to give the military more support in its mission...

Bush said: "I recognize there are a handful there, or some, who just say, `Get out, you know, it's just not worth it. Let's just leave.' I strongly disagree with that attitude. Most Americans do as well."

In fact, polls show Americans do not disagree, and that leaving — not winning — is their main goal...

Independent pollster Andrew Kohut said of the White House view: "I don't see what [the White House is] talking about."

"[People] want to know when American troops are going to leave," Kohut, director of the nonpartisan Pew Research Center, said of the public. "They certainly want to win. But their hopes have been dashed."

Kohut has found it notable that there's such a consensus in poll findings.

"When the public hasn't made up its mind or hasn't thought about things, there's a lot of variation in the polls," he said. "But there's a fair amount of agreement now."

The president didn't used to try to co-opt polling for his benefit. He just said he ignored it.

Jon Aravosis,

Not to See the Fallen Is No Favor

From the NYT

“They are basically asking me to stand in front of a unit before I go out with them and say that in the event that they are wounded, I would like their consent,” he said. “We are already viewed by some as bloodsucking vultures, and making that kind of announcement would make you an immediate bad luck charm.”

“They are not letting us cover the reality of war,” he added. “I think this has got little to do with the families or the soldiers and everything to do with politics.”

....Until last year, no permission was required to publish photographs of the wounded, but families had to be notified of the soldier’s injury first. Now, not only is permission required, but any image of casualties that shows a recognizable name or unit is off-limits. And memorials for the fallen in Iraq can no longer be shown, even when the unit in question invites coverage.

John Aravosis, We quite literally have a government that no longer believes in the very freedoms it claims our troops are dying for.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Bush’s Draft Dodge

Center for American Progress senior fellow Lawrence Korb and research associate Max Bergmann write in today’s Los Angeles Times that if Bush wants to maintain his escalation, he should call for reinstating the draft:

That would be the responsible path. Yet the president will never call for the draft. He knows the country would never support the level of sacrifice for this war that implementing a draft would demand. But this is one of the very reasons why the all-volunteer Army was designed the way it was — to prevent a commander in chief from fighting a war that lacks the support of the public. […]

If the president is committed to fighting the war in Iraq over the long term, instead of simply running out the clock on his presidency, he should have the courage of his convictions and call for reinstating the draft. If not, the only responsible course is to set a timetable to bring the troops

Sample of comments left at ThinkProgress:

  • That's what its going to take to get this stupid war for oil to come to an end... Can you imagine Bush pushing for that. Looking the American people in the eye and telling them that we have to reinstate something that he dodged by having daddy get him in the guard? I find it amazing that all of the military supporters of this little gutter snipe haven’t come unglued with him for blowing off his guard responsibliites and then never having spent a second in jail for doing it.
  • If we paid our troops the same as we paid our mercenaries, there wouldn’t be a need for a draft.
  • Never happen. If Chimpy reinstates the draft, we’ll see a level of political unrest and civil disobedience in this country that will make the 60s look like a sewing circle.
  • No, he won’t reinstate the draft, but if Congress REALLY wants to get the attention of the American people, pass law to roll back bush’s tax cuts to pay for the war. The only way to get the attention of the American people AND get them to take action is to hit them in a way they’ll recognize and feel. The draft would do that, but tax “increase” aka roll back of cuts would do it quickly and efficiently.

LSB: No, a draft for this war will never happen. The chickenhawks in Bushco would have to explain their own deferments and draft-dodging; and the Congress, despite caving-in to our despot leader on the recent war funding, would finally be forced to listen to the 76% of the American population and refuse to allow the draft. Despite their protestations to the contrary, this congress has not shown any balls so far, so why would anyone think they'd roll back the tax cuts to fund this war and solidify the right-wing description of them as "tax and spend liberals."

For the next 18 months our brave men and women will continue to be canon fodder in a civil war that has nothing to do with fighting terror at home. Enlistments will continue to decline, as the money to support our troops will go to Halliburton and other contractors, not for the promised hardware to keep our soldiers safe nor for veteran health care.

As this unjust war continues, the terrorist continue to grow and become even more embolden - not as a result of any dialogue at home, but by our continued occupation of their homeland. We, too, as previous blogs here and some MSM have written, are less safe because of cuts in Homeland Security and as contractors hire away qualified personnel as mercenaries.

Until we have a media that honestly, without Republi-Con spin, communicates the news; until we have an electorate that holds their Congr-ass-persons accountable for drawing out this war; and until we have a true president of the people, nothing is going to change.

There is a lot to do, so let's get started!

Outrage du Jour

We’ve been so wrapped up in the Iraq funding issue that this bomb is going off nearly unnoticed. Jonathan S. Landay writes for McClatchy Newspapers:

U.S. intelligence agencies warned the Bush administration before the invasion of Iraq that ousting Saddam Hussein would create a “significant risk” of sectarian strife, encourage al-Qaida attacks and open the way for Iranian interference.

The Senate Intelligence Committee on Friday released declassified prewar intelligence reports and summaries of others that cautioned that establishing democracy in Iraq would be “long, difficult and probably turbulent” and said that while most Iraqis would welcome elections, the country’s ethnic and religious leaders would be unwilling to share power.

Nevertheless, President Bush, then-Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and other top aides decided not to deploy the major occupation that force military planners had recommended, planned to reduce U.S. troops rapidly after the invasion and believed that ousting Saddam would ignite a democratic revolution across the Middle East.

The Senate Intelligence Committee ought to know better than to dump something like this on the Friday before Memorial Day Weekend. I suspect there’s a story behind that, and I’d like to know what it is. Read more …

- Barbara O'Brien, Crooks and Liars

Homeland In-Security

David Stephenson's homeland security blog is a must-read. Stephenson is an anti-war, pro-civil liberties Democrat, and has a perspective on homeland security not currently seen in Washington, namely, intelligence and competence.

If projected cuts this summer go through, the number of Federal Protective Security personnel in New England could be cut nearly in half. Do the math: each would be be responsible for an average of 15 buildings. Are they considering cloning or SecondLife avatars to fill the gap?

It shouldn't be a big surprise that the Bush administration is cutting back homeland security here to fund the war there.

Get this harrowing scenario:

The burglar alarm goes off in the Tip O'Neill federal building in Boston, and the Security detail in Boston is closed on the weekend, so it "rings" in Philadelphia. The agent in Philly reaches the "on call" agent in New Hampshire, who drives down to check out the incident. It takes "homeland security" NINETY MINUTES to respond to an ALARM in a high priority federal office building. Apparently the local Boston police were not contacted. Homeland security? Timothy McVeigh did not need that much time.

- Nicole Belle, Crooks and Liars

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Bush Administration To ‘Skim Off Border Patrol Agents’ For Duty In Iraq

During a visit to the U.S-Mexico border last month, President Bush stated that “securing the border is a critical part of a strategy for comprehensive immigration reform.” Yesterday, Bush claimed that his administration had already “stepped up efforts to improve border security,” touting his attempts to “double the size of the Border Patrol.”

Today, however, such commitments ring hollow as Govs. Janet Napolitano (D-AZ) and Bill Richardson (D-NM) have found that the defense contractor DynCorp has been authorized by the Bush Administration to hire as many as 120 “current and former U.S. Border Patrol agents.”

DynCorp “is offering $134,100 for a one-year stay, plus a $25,000 signing bonus,” a reported 70% pay raise. Further, “[t]he first $90,000 in income is tax free, and housing and food are free.”

Richardson and Napolitano both expressed outrage about the plan, saying in a letter to Bush that the plan “makes no sense“:

[A]t a time when violence is once again flaring up on our own border, it makes no sense for the United States State Department to empower a company to hire away as many as 120 veteran Border Patrol agents to serve as mentors to train Iraqis… We should be focused on supporting our nation’s security efforts along the Mexican and Canadian border instead of hampering [the Border Patrol] by sending our best agents to a war zone in Iraq.

The Bush administration’s attempts to “skim off Border Patrol agents” for duty in Iraq is made worse in light of the recent decision to withdraw half of the 6,000 National Guard troops temporarily stationed at the border.

The Bush administration had promised to replace the Guardsmen with an “equal number of new Border Patrol agents,” but “fewer than 350 new agents have been hired.”

Countdown: Turley Breaks Down Gonzo & Goodling

On Thursday's "Countdown" Keith brought in George Washington University Constitutional law professor, Jonathan Turley to discuss Monica Goodling's testimony from Wednesday and it's ramifications for Attorney General, Alberto Gonzales. (Click the pic for the vid.)

Olbermann: "What have we learned about the resume of his top official in Bush law enforcement, other than the fact that we learned that his liason, Ms. Goodling, sounds exactly like Reese Witherspoon's character in Legally Blonde. What's the big resume item here about Gonzales?"

Turley: "Well, see the problem here is that she got a very senior position that usually goes to people with many years of experience and she got it after graduating from Regent's Law School in 1999 without much of a resume to speak of. And so, I think it's plain that she was selected for some other reason. She didn't have a resume, did not have experience, so she was selected, it appears, because of her political purity. Her ability to be what people said she became, a political Kommissar within the administration and she's admitted to playing that role."

SIDEBAR 1: Fewer candidates apply for positions as U.S. attorneys The Bush administration's decision to fire nine U.S. attorneys last year has created a new problem for the White House: The controversy appears to be discouraging applications for some of the 22 prosecutor posts that President Bush needs to fill. Of the nation's 93 U.S. attorneys, 22 are serving without Senate confirmation as interim or acting prosecutors. They represent districts in Alaska, Arizona, California, the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Michigan, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, Puerto Rico, Tennessee, West Virginia and Washington. White House spokesman Tony Fratto said the administration is committed to nominating candidates for all 22 open positions, but so far the administration has submitted only four nominees.

Immigration judges lack apt backgrounds Over the last two years, U.S. Atty. Gen. Alberto R. Gonzales has appointed more than two dozen individuals as federal immigration judges. The new jurists include a former treasurer of the Louisiana Republican Party, who was a legal advisor to the Bush Florida recount team after the 2000 presidential election. There is also a former GOP congressional aide who had tracked voter fraud issues for the Justice Department, and a Texan appointed by then-Gov. George W. Bush to a seat on the state library commission. One thing missing on many of their resumes: a background in immigration law. These lawyers are among a growing number of the nation's more than 200 immigration judges who have little or no experience in the law they were appointed to enforce.

Daily Show: Dissecting Goodling’s Testimony

Jon Stewart meticulously picks through Monica Goodling's testimony and finally figures out how the USAs were selected for firing. (Click on the pic for the vid.)

"I know how this happenned. This was a miracle virgin firing. An immaculate termination…"

Crazy McCain is at it again

The man who laid out the red carpet for Al Qaeda to enter Iraq in the first place is now accusing us of enabling Al Qaeda. News flash, angry man: If it wasn't for you, Al Qaeda wouldn't even be in Iraq. And now you want to kill more US troops for a failed lie because you're not man enough (or sane enough) to admit the truth. It's over. You wanted this war, and you lost this war. It's on your increasingly disturbed head now.

John Aravosis (DC),

CBS Exposes Bush Admin’s ‘Outrageous Delay’ In Providing Marines With Bomb-Resistant Vehicle

While President Bush has been busy politically demagoging funding for the troops, CBS Evening News highlighted a disturbing report tonight that the administration waited over a year before acting on a “priority 1 urgent” request to send blast-resistant vehicles to Iraq, the so-called Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles.

Calling it “an outrageous delay,” CBS noted, “The Marines in the field asked for 1,200 MRAPs in February 2005 — but so far, they’ve received less than 100.” The report also noted that the problem is widespread and systemic:

A Marine Corps document obtained by the Associated Press says that of 100 requests for critical gear sent in last year, less than 10 have been filled. It blames red tape and the failure of bureaucrats to take risks.

“Unnecessary delays cause … deaths and injuries,” the document says — and nowhere is it more true than with MRAP.

Watch the CBS News report here.

For American troops in Iraq, the heavy-duty armored vehicle has proven to be a life-saver. As a testament to MRAP’s effectiveness, top Marine commander Gen. James Conway said recently, “We have yet to have a Marine killed in the al Anbar Province who is riding inside an MRAP.” He added, “How do you not see it as a moral imperative to get as many of those vehicles to theater as rapidly as you can?”

As AmericaBlog noted, the Marine Corps lied about why it had failed to fulfill the urgent request for the priority equipment, claiming it was not “a budgetary decision” when internal documents prove that it was.

In an open letter to President Bush, Sen. Joseph Biden (D-DE) urged the administration to publicly make MRAP production a national priority. He wrote, “How is it possible that with our nation at war, with more than 130,000 Americans in danger, with roadside bombs destroying a growing number of lives and limbs, we were so slow to act to protect our troops? … We need to know how and why this happened so that it does not happen again.”

At least 1,419 U.S. soldiers have been killed by roadside bombs in Iraq.


John Aravosis (DC), 1,106 US troops died since the time they begged George Bush for IED-proof vehicles, vehicles that actually exist, and Bush ignored them because he didn't want to spend the money (or because he wanted to use the IEDs as an excuse for war with Iran?). Check out the chart of growing IED deaths, and check out how many occurred AFTER the troops begged Bush for the vehicles in February 2005 (shown in yellow). The total number in yellow is 1,106. Some Memorial Day message for their families - Bush was too cheap to save your kid.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Special Comment: “The only things truly “compromised” are the trust of the voters…friends, and family, in Iraq”

Transcript courtesy of (Click the pic for the vid.)

This is, in fact, a comment about… betrayal.

Few men or women elected in our history - whether executive or legislative, state or national - have been sent into office with a mandate more obvious, nor instructions more clear: Get us out of Iraq.

Yet after six months of preparation and execution - half a year gathering the strands of public support, translating into action, the collective will of the nearly 70 percent of Americans who reject this War of Lies, - the Democrats have managed only this:

* The Democratic leadership has surrendered to a president - if not the worst president, then easily the most selfish, in our history - who happily blackmails his own people, and uses his own military personnel as hostages to his asinine demand, that the Democrats "give the troops their money."

* The Democratic leadership has agreed to finance the deaths of Americans in a war that has only reduced the security of Americans.

* The Democratic leadership has given Mr. Bush all that he wanted, with the only caveat being, not merely meaningless symbolism about benchmarks for the Iraqi government, but optional meaningless symbolism about benchmarks for the Iraqi government.

* The Democratic leadership has, in sum, claimed a compromise with the Administration, in which the only things truly compromised are the trust of the voters, the ethics of the Democrats, and the lives of our brave and doomed friends, and family, in Iraq.

You, the men and women elected with the simplest of directions - Stop The War - have traded your strength, your bargaining position, and the uniform support of those who elected you… for a handful of magic beans.

You may trot out every political cliché from the soft-soap, inside-the-beltway dictionary of boilerplate sound bites, about how this is the "beginning of the end" of Mr. Bush's "carte blanche" in Iraq, about how this is a "first step." Well, Senator Reid, the only end at its beginning is our collective hope that you and your colleagues would do what is right, what is essential, what you were each elected and re-elected to do. Because this "first step"… is a step right off a cliff.

And this President! How shameful it would be to watch an adult hold his breath, and threaten to continue to do so, until he turned blue.

But how horrifying it is to watch a President hold his breath and threaten to continue to do so until innocent and patriotic Americans in harm's way are bled white.

You lead this country, sir? You claim to defend it?

And yet when faced with the prospect of someone calling you on your stubbornness – your stubbornness which has cost 3,431 Americans their lives and thousands more their limbs – you, Mr. Bush, imply that if the Democrats don't give you the money and give it to you entirely on your terms, the troops in Iraq will be stranded, or forced to serve longer, or what - have to throw bullets at the enemy with their bare hands?

It is moronic! We have defunded wars before, sir, and this isn't even close to a true defunding. No harm has come to our troops.

How transcendentally, how historically, pathetic!

Any other president from any other moment in the panorama of our history would have, at the outset of this tawdry game of political chicken, declared that no matter what the other political side did, he would insure personally - first, last and always - that the troops would not suffer.

A President, Mr. Bush, uses the carte blanche he has already, not to manipulate an overlap of arriving and departing brigades into a ‘second surge,' but to say in unequivocal terms that if it takes every last dime of the monies already allocated, if it takes reneging on government contracts with Halliburton, he will make sure the troops are safe - even if the only safety to be found, is in getting them the hell out of there.

Well, any true President would have done that, sir.

You instead, used our troops as political pawns, then blamed the Democrats when you did so.

Not that these Democrats, who had this country's support and sympathy up until 48 hours ago, have not since earned all the blame they can carry home.

"We seem to be very near the bleak choice between war and shame," Winston Churchill wrote to Lord Moyne in the days after the British signed the Munich accords with Germany in 1938. "My feeling is that we shall choose shame, and then have war thrown in, a little later…"

That's what this is for the Democrats, isn't it? Their "Neville Chamberlain moment" before the Second World War. All that's missing is the landing at the airport, with the blinkered leader waving a piece of paper which he naively thought would guarantee "peace in our time," but which his opponent would ignore with deceit.

The Democrats have merely streamlined the process. Their piece of paper already says Mr. Bush can ignore it, with impugnity.

And where are the Democratic presidential hopefuls this evening? See they not, that to which the Senate and House leadership has blinded itself?

Judging these candidates based on how they voted on the original Iraq authorization, or waiting for apologies for those votes, that is ancient history now. The Democratic nomination is likely to be decided tomorrow.

The talk of practical politics, the buying into of the President's dishonest construction, "fund-the-troops-or-they-will-be-in-jeopardy," the promise of tougher action in September, is falling not on deaf ears, but rather falling on Americans who already told you what to do, and now perceive your ears as deaf, as closed to practical politics.

Those who seek the Democratic nomination need to - for their own political futures and, with a thousand times more solemnity and importance, for the individual futures of our troops - denounce this betrayal, vote against it, and, if need be, unseat Majority Leader Reid and Speaker Pelosi if they continue down this path of guilty, fatal acquiescence to the tragically misguided will of a monomaniacal president.

For, ultimately, at this hour, the entire government has failed us.

* Mr. Reid, Mr. Hoyer, and the other Democrats… have failed us. They negotiated away that which they did not own, but had only been entrusted by us to protect: our collective will as the citizens of this country, that this brazen War of Lies be ended as rapidly and safely as possible.

* Mr. Bush and his government… have failed us. They have behaved venomously and without dignity, of course. That is all at which Mr. Bush is gifted. We are the ones providing any element of surprise or shock here.

With the exception of Senator Dodd and Senator Edwards, the Democratic presidential candidates have (so far at least) failed us. They must now speak, and make plain how they view what has been given away to Mr. Bush, and what is yet to be given away tomorrow, and in the thousand tomorrows to come.

Because for the next fourteen months, the Democratic nominating process – indeed the whole of our political discourse until further notice – has, with the stroke of a cursed pen, become about one thing, and one thing alone. The electorate figured this out six months ago.
The President and the Republicans have not, doubtless will not.
The Democrats will figure it out, during the Memorial Day recess, when they go home and many of those who elected them will politely suggest they stay there, and permanently.

Because, on the subject of Iraq the people have been ahead of the media….

Ahead of the government…

Ahead of the politicians…

For the last year, or two years, or maybe three.

Our politics is now about the answer to one briefly-worded question.

Mr. Bush has failed.

Mr. Warner has failed.

Mr. Reid has failed.

So, who among us will stop this war-this War of Lies?

To he or she fall the figurative keys to the nation.

To all the others-presidents and majority leaders and candidates and rank-and-file Congressmen and Senators of either party-there is only blame… for this shameful, and bi-partisan, betrayal.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Congress Must Reject The Toothless Supplemental

Yesterday, congressional leaders relented and removed a timeline for withdrawal from the Iraq war spending bill.

The mainstream media reports today that war critics “handed President Bush a victory.” But this victory for President Bush is a defeat for the American people. While the new supplemental bill will likely pass, members of Congress need to use this opportunity to go on the record once more about their opposition to Bush’s course in Iraq.

With his veto, President Bush rejected a supplemental bill that required a change in course. In a similar vein, Congress should follow Speaker Pelosi’s lead and vote to reject a bill that maintains stay the course. Here’s why:

1) Maintain unity for withdrawal: Pelosi and Reid showed tremendous leadership in creating a bipartisan majority for withdrawal. That unity is now threatened. Those members “who reluctantly have backed House leaders on the Iraq spending bill may defect due to the leadership’s decision to eliminate any timeline for withdrawal from the legislation.” Furthermore, to pass the supplemental, many members favoring withdrawal may ally with conservatives who overhelmingly favor an open-ended
in Iraq.

2) A toothless option: The new bill will likely “incorporate the benchmarks-based provision authored by Sen. John Warner (R-VA.),” but “Bush could waive these requirements if he submits a report to Congress on why he is doing so.” The final bill is also likely to be “stripped of other features that Mr. Bush had previously resisted, including readiness standards that would have prevented troops from being returned to Iraq within one year of serving there or without adequate training and equipment.”

It doesn’t have to be this way. Congressional leaders need to live up to their word and continue to fight for a change of course in Iraq. We’ve laid out four possible courses of action for them to take.

But in the meantime, anyone who supports accountability for President Bush’s Iraq policy must reject this blank check for war.

John Aravosis, AmericaBlog: This is one of those inside the beltway observations that you might have missed, but is actually quite important. ThinkProgress, the blog for the Center for American Progress (CAP), the organization run by President Clinton's former chief of staff John Podesta, published a stern commentary today in opposition to the Iraq war supplemental agreement negotiated by Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi.

ThinkProgress notes that "this victory for President Bush is a defeat for the American people." They go on to say that congressional leaders, including Nancy Pelosi, "need to live up to their word," and that "anyone who supports accountability
for President Bush’s Iraq policy must reject this blank check for war."

ThinkProgress wouldn't take this bold a position on the most important legislation in America today, in opposition to the Democratic leadership in the House and Senate, without the Center for American Progress's approval. And you'd better believe that the Center isn't going to approve of such an important statement of policy without John Podesta personally signing off. The man was the former White House chief of staff - we can assume he doesn't miss details.

Things get even more interesting when you consider that inside the beltway CAP is perceived by many, rightly or wrongly, as a front for Hillary's presidential run. And there is no way, in my view, that CAP's position on the supplemental helps Hillary (who would prefer to remain perpetually obtuse when it comes to Iraq).

Podesta is a big deal in Washington. If he's not happy with this "compromise," to the point of publicly challenging Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, and putting Hillary in an awfully uncomfortable position, then that means discontent with the way the Democratic party leadership is handling Iraq goes far deeper than a few "crazy" bloggers or the party's supposedly-liberal base.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Was Gonzales’ hospital visit illegal?

“[C]ongressional sources tell U.S. News that Democrats will ask the Texas Bar Association to determine whether Gonzales violated his code of professional responsibility or broke laws by bringing up the NSA program in the hospital in front of Ashcroft’s wife, who lacks security clearances.” More HERE.

Pentagon Making Preparations To Keep Tens Of Thousands Of Troops In Iraq For ‘Decades’

In testimony before the Senate Appropriations Committee this month, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Peter Pace uttered a “carefully worded” statement revealing that the Pentagon had no plans to fully withdraw U.S. forces from Iraq if legislation passes Congress mandating troop redeployment:
PACE: Sir, we have published no orders directing the planning for the overall withdrawal of forces. We do have ongoing replacements of forces, and we do change the size of the force over time so that that system is available to either plus-up or draw down, but we have published no orders saying come up with a complete plan for total drawdown.

NPR investigated Pace’s statements and found one scenario being considered within the Pentagon would maintain a strong U.S. military presence in Iraq for several decades into the future.

This so-called “lily pad” strategy entails keeping a “series of military installations around Iraq,” with tens of thousands of U.S. troops remaining in the country for as long as a few decades:

[W]hat it essentially envisions is a series of military installations around Iraq, maybe five or six of them, a total of maybe 30-40 thousand U.S. troops in Iraq for a long period of time, lasting, maybe a few decades. And the idea is that these bases will be somewhat hermetically sealed, that U.S. military forces won’t be leaving them, they won’t be conducting presence patrols and the patrols they conduct now. Ground convoys won’t be driving into them.

Airplanes will be essentially landing in to deliver supplies and these sort of lily pads will be in various strategic areas in Iraq … And that will enable the U.S. military to maintain a presence in the country, perhaps…for a few decades.

The Pentagon’s goal with the lily pads is to preserve U.S. interests in Iraq for years to come “in the event that Congress or the administration pushes this [withdrawal plan] forward.” As NPR details, those interests are at least three-fold: 1) Training Iraq forces, 2) Preserving economic interests, as “Iraq obviously [sits] on the second largest reserve of oil in the world,” and 3) Providing a U.S. military “presence” to deter Iran and Turkey from “getting involved” after withdrawal.

While 60 percent of Americans are calling for a withdrawal of the U.S. from Iraq, the Pentagon is instead making preparations for an unending occupying presence.

Rove Given "One Last" Chance To Testify Before Subpoena

The House Judiciary Committee is prepared to use subpoenas to compel the testimony of Karl Rove and other White House officials, Chairman John Conyers (D-MI) and subcomittee Chairwoman Linda Sanchez (D-CA) warned White House counsel Fred Fielding today.

"We are today writing to express our extreme disappointment in the White House's rebuff of efforts by the Judiciary Committee to obtain voluntary cooperation with our investigation concerning the firing of at least nine U.S. Attorneys in 2006 and related matters," they wrote.

We write to make one last appeal for such voluntary cooperation." You can read the letter here.
If this seems like deja vu, it's because Fielding got a very similar letter from Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) last week. As Sen. Leahy did in that letter, Rep. Conyers and Rep. Sanchez note that the negotiation process between Congress and the White House stopped as soon as it started. After Democrats requested interviews and documents from the White House, Fielding replied with an offer to have Rove and others interviewed privately with no oath and no transcript. The Dems rejected the offer. That was two months ago. There hasn't been any progress since then.

As Sen. Leahy did in his letter last week, Rep. Conyers notes that even without the White House's cooperation, it's become increasingly apparent that the U.S. attorney firings were driven by the White House. That role might become even clearer when Monica Goodling, the Justice Department's former liaison to the White House, testifies before the House Judiciary Committee this Wednesday.

- Paul Kiel

The President won't fire him

Hands Held High

McCain and Giuliani are skipping Falwell's funeral. Bush sending junior aide.

We diss him publicly. They diss him by their actions.

Summer vacation courtesy of America

If they don't care, why should Americans? Is this what Americans are fighting and dying for? Is this what our tax dollars are supporting instead of something important such as health care for the US?

Iraq a "big moneymaker" for al-Qaida, says CIA

From the Los Angeles Times:

Little more than a year ago, al-Qaida's core command was thought to be in a financial crunch. But U.S. officials said cash shipped from Iraq has eased those troubles.

"Iraq is a big moneymaker for them," a senior U.S. counterterrorism official said.

This war is helping Al Qaeda. George Bush is helping Al Qaeda. And every member of Congress, Republican and Democrat, who continues to support this war is helping Al Qaeda. We already knew this - the CIA determined a long time ago that Iraq had become the newest and best training ground for Al Qaeda in the world, but now we discover that the Iraq war has also replenished Al Qaeda's faltering finances.

The Republicans have quite literally enabled Al Qaeda so that they are better able to kill our troops, and our civilians, in Iraq, Afghanistan and at home. When is the Republican noise machine going to start defending America instead of defending their failed president?

- John Aravosis (DC),

Assessments Made in 2003 Foretold Situation in Iraq: Intelligence Studies List Internal Violence, Terrorist Activity

From the Washington Post:
Two intelligence assessments from January 2003 predicted that the overthrow of Saddam Hussein and subsequent U.S. occupation of Iraq could lead to internal violence and provide a boost to Islamic extremists and terrorists in the region, according to congressional sources and former intelligence officials familiar with the prewar studies.

Yes, no one could have imagined that Iraq would go to hell as a result of our invasion. Oh, no, that's right, someone did imagine it. Bush simply ignored the advice of his experts. And now 3,400 American soldiers and Marine, and tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of Iraqi civilians are dead as a result. And don't forget, Iraq is 1/10th the size of the US - their population is 27 million, ours is 300 million - so their civilian deaths, per capita, would be equivalent to hundreds of thousands, and potentially millions, of American civilians killed.
- John Aravosis (DC),

US embassy in Baghdad to cost $592m and is size of Vatican

When will this kind of insane spending come to an end? With the increasingly regular and effective attacks on the Green Zone, this beast will be a magnet for problems. There are just too many important items that could be addressed with $600m back home in the US to keep throwing money around like this in Iraq. If the government wants to invest overseas there are also plenty of better places to spend our money to build for the future.

Rising from the dust of the city's Green Zone it is destined, at $592m (£300m), to become the biggest and most expensive US embassy on earth when it opens in September.

It will cover 104 acres (42 hectares) of land, about the size of the Vatican. It will include 27 separate buildings and house about 615 people behind bomb-proof walls. Most of the embassy staff will live in simple, if not quite monastic, accommodation in one-bedroom apartments.

The US ambassador, however, will enjoy a little more elbow room in a high-security home on the compound reported to fill 16,000 square feet (1,500 sq metres). His deputy will have to make do with a more modest 9,500 sq ft.

They will have a pool, gym and communal living areas, and the embassy will have its own power and water supplies.

- Chris in Paris,

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Bushies Behaving Badly: An illustrated guide to GOP scandals


Having a hard time keeping track of all 10,000 GOP scandals? Between fired U.S. attorneys, deleted RNC e-mails, sexually harassed pages, outed CIA agents, and tortured Iraqi prisoners—not to mention the warrantless wiretapping, plum defense contracts, and golf junkets to Scotland—you could be forgiven for losing track of which congressman or Bush administration flunky did which shady thing. Renzi—now, was that the guy with the skeezy land deal? Or the woman Paul Wolfowitz promoted?

We're not saying that Democrats never do anything shady. (Cash-stuffed freezers come to mind.) But as the saying goes, with great power come great opportunities to screw up royally. And if your memory is as hazy as ours, you could probably use a handy refresher.

For an interactive feature on the many scandals of the Republican party, click here. For a text version, click here.

A Message from John Edwards

Edwards launched a new Web site today, Edwards is proposing that this Memorial Day, we take back patriotism.

Saturday, May 12, 2007


U.S. Sen. Mel Martinez, new chairman of the Republican National Committee, told the Buzz on Wednesday that he warned the Legislature and Gov. Charlie Crist what the consequences would be for Florida if the state moved its primary up.

Florida officials chose to move it to Jan. 29 anyway -- violating Republican party rules.

"Once I made sure they knew they couldn't come to me and say 'Gee, Mel but you're the chairman'...then that's all I did,'' Martinez said."The party's rules are inflexible but the party also understands that the states are free to do what they will. They just need to know the consequences of what they do."

Martinez predicts other states will want to move up their primaries now too. "It is probably going to be a free for all. For the future we may need to think about how we control the process better and we may need to think about a national primary day or something like that. "

LSB: We DO have a national primary day or something like that, Mel - it's called Election Day! Why are we fucking with all of these different primaries, making some states more important and others seemingly inconsequential? Isn't there something we can do to shorten the damn election process, reduce the cost to taxpayers and the amount of money needed to run, and maybe do something about the influence-peddling of big donors by requiring fewer of them?

I know: one primary day so that each party may determine their candidate, using the current electoral college system if you want; a month later we'll have the conventions, requiring that the state delegates vote for the candidate that won the state vote (on the first ballot only and a free-for-all at the convention if that doesn't work); and then the party conventions can nominate and vote on the winner's vice-presidential candidate. A month later, after two mandated debates, we have Election Day. Presto! We're done!

And while we're at it, we actually have telecommunications systems in place that would allow for one-person/one-vote and we don't need the electoral crap any more. That may have been a necessary evil 225 years ago, but it is no longer necessary or desirable (as we saw in the 2000 election, where the popular vote and the electoral vote produced different winners).

Let's get on the bandwagon, folks, and get this taken care of before the next election. Who wants to get this started?

The Truth About Hate Crimes Laws

Goodling’s Partisan Witchhunt

Two years ago, Robin C. Ashton, a seasoned criminal prosecutor at the Department of Justice, learned from her boss that a promised promotion was no longer hers.

“You have a Monica problem,” Ms. Ashton was told, according to several Justice Department officials. Referring to Monica M. Goodling, a 31-year-old, relatively inexperienced lawyer who had only recently arrived in the office, the boss added, “She believes you’re a Democrat and doesn’t feel you can be trusted.” […]

Ms. Goodling would soon be quizzing applicants for civil service jobs at Justice Department headquarters with questions that several United States attorneys said were inappropriate, like who was their favorite president and Supreme Court justice. One department official said an applicant was even asked, “Have you ever cheated on your wife?”

Ms. Goodling also moved to block the hiring of prosecutors with résumés that suggested they might be Democrats, even though they were seeking posts that were supposed to be nonpartisan, two department officials said.

LSB: Any wonder she took the 5th and wanted immunity before testifying? This hypocritical lawyer (redundant, I know) was one of the reasons there was no justice at the Department of Justice. Rot in Hell, bitch!

Katrina Redux: Bush Admin. Blames Kansas Governor

This is absolutely ridiculous. It's always the victim's fault. Why can't these people ever just admit they're incompetent and can't run a government? (Rhetorical question.)

AP via HuffPo:

The White House fought back Tuesday against criticism from Kansas' governor that National Guard deployments to Iraq are slowing the response to last week's devastating tornado.

White House press secretary Tony Snow said the fault was Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius'.

In a spat reminiscent of White House finger-pointing at Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco after the federal government's botched response to Hurricane Katrina, Snow rapped Sebelius for not following procedure to find gaps and then asking the federal government to fill them.

"If you don't request it, you're not going to get it," he said.

One slight problem: Governor Sebelius did request it. In fact, she took her concerns to Bush personally in 2006:

Sebelius, a Democrat, has written the Pentagon twice and spoke about the issue at great length with Bush in January 2006 when they rode together from Topeka to a lecture in Manhattan.

"He assured me that he had additional equipment in his budget a year ago. What the Defense Department said then and continues to say is that states will get about 90 percent of what they had," Sebelius said. "Meanwhile, it doesn't get any better. I'm at a loss."

So apparently it doesn't matter if you "request it"; you're still not getting it. What's more, ThinkProgress notes three other times Governor Sebelius lobbied the Pentagon to replace missing equipment.

The governor is not to blame here. She didn't start the war, and she didn't decide to send to send the National Guard equipment to Iraq. And despite her constant efforts to get that equipment back in order to deal with disasters like last weekend's tornado, it's still her fault. Have they no shame? (Another rhetorical question.)

11 GOP Congressmen to Bush: You’ve Lost Credibility

Keith Olbermann replays an exchange between Brian Williams and Tim Russert from NBC Nightly News about a stunning, closed door meeting that Keith described as a "watershed moment" between President Bush and eleven Republican members of Congress regarding Iraq.

In this private meeting, the group, led by Reps. Mark Kirk (R-IL) and Charlie Dent (R-PA), hammered the President on Iraq and the impact the war is having on the future of the Republican Party. (Click the pic for the vid.)

Governor Bill Richardson's New Ad

LSB: He may not be a household name, but Gov. Richardson's impressive résumé clearly (I think) makes him a standout from the all of others in the race - on each ticket. His list of accomplishments surpasses the rather short list of Obama's accomplishments; he's definitely not the lightning rod that Hilary Clinton is, nor does he carry the baggage of the Clinton name (and does anyone want 4 more years of Hilary bashing and partisan bickering?); and is there anyone on the GOP slate that isn't flip-flopping over their prior votes/pronouncments on gay rights or abortion, spinning away their own prior marriage infidelities, or trying to come up with a strategy for the Iraq war that doesn't "signal retreat to el Qada" in order to kiss the collective asses of the Religious Right, Neocons and current administration?

Richardson's experience in national service and as CEO of a state bureaucracy give him the "street creds" to lead this nation. While the others are talking tough but waffling at the same time, he is the only Democrat in the Presidential field that is taking a strong position for an immediate withdrawal from Iraq:

"Our military has performed admirably, but it has done all it can do in Iraq. It is time for us to leave - carefully, strategically and soon. Iraq's crisis today is political, not military. It will have a political, not a military solution."

That alone makes him a man of convictions to be admired. And he has the negotiating experience to back up the talk. Plus, after eight years of that stick-in-the-mud, Dick "Mr. Hilarity" Cheney, we need someone with some sort of sense of humor. Please check him out!

NATIONAL JOURNAL: Administration Withheld E-Mails About Rove

The Bush administration has withheld a series of e-mails from Congress showing that senior White House and Justice Department officials worked together to conceal the role of Karl Rove in installing Timothy Griffin, a protégé of Rove's, as U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas. ...

Several of the e-mails that the Bush administration is withholding from Congress, as well as papers from the White House counsel's office describing other withheld documents, were made available to National Journal by a senior executive branch official, who said that the administration has inappropriately kept many of them from Congress. ...

For more of Murry Wass' excellent article in National Journal, click here.

Powell's Chief of Staff Proposes Impeachment

On Thursday, May 10, 2007, Lawrence Wilkerson, speaking on National Public Radio, proposed impeaching President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney. Here's the audio.

Wilkerson is a Retired Army Colonel, the former Chief of Staff at the State Department from 2002 to 2005 under then Secretary of State Colin Powell, a Vietnam War veteran, the former Acting Director of the Marine Corps War College at Quantico, and currently a teacher of national security at William and Mary College.

LSB: I think we need to start with Cheney, otherwise when George is "downsized for performance reasons" Cheney will be the decider-in-chief (and that is just too horrible to imagine).

Daily Show: President Bush Defines “Success” in Iraq

Jon Stewart uses the President's own words to answer the most pressing question of our time: What will a successful Iraq look like? (Click on the pic for the vid.) Launches 'Generals' Ad Blitz