Sunday, April 20, 2008

ABC Newz, becuz politikz iz hard

Pope says Americans are "angry." I can't wait for Hillary to denounce him.

John Aravosis (DC), Come on, Hillary - get 'em.

Benedict examined American society, saying he detected anger and alienation, increasing violence and a "growing forgetfulness of God."

Seriously, now that Hillary is an agent of our Lord, smiter of irreverent pastors and defender of the armed faithful, let's hear what she has to say about the Pope, since he pretty much just called Americans bitter. (H/t to ABlog commenter Nigel.)

I'm bitter about Hillary constantly mentioning "San Francisco" to curry favor with the religious right

John Aravosis (DC), Anyone else notice that Hillary and her staff keep gratuitously mentioning "San Francisco" when talking about Obama's "bitter" comments? Markos noticed it too: "I remember the good ol' days when only Republicans used to demonize San Francisco," Markos wrote yesterday. A DailyKos diarist noticed it too, as did the readers at popular gay news and culture site Datalounge. As did some folks interviewed by the SF Chronicle:

So the most shocking part of the whole incident, he said, has been the appearance that "Hillary Clinton wants to ... throw in with the critique from the far right" in appearing to feed the image of an out-of-touch "San Francisco-style Democrat."

It suggests "that the Clintons are so committed to the political tactics that they'll do virtually anything to advance a step without regard for the long term implications," he said. "Most Democrats and most Republicans will not attack their opponent in such a way as to give massive fodder to the other side in the general election."

But "she's just writing the playbook for the Republicans in November..."

And we all know what San Francisco is code for. Now let's examine what Hillary was after. From the NYT:
Some Clinton advisers also said that the focus on Mr. Obama’s “guns or religion”
comment was a way to put him on the spot with so-called values voters...
Value voters. That's PC media slang for the religious right. Here are a few examples of Hillary dropping the SF-bomb concerning the bitter thing:

Hillary's appearance at the Alliance for Manufacturing Forum in PA: "I am well aware that at a fundraiser in San Francisco, he said some things that many people in Pennsylvania and beyond Pennsylvania have found offensive.

Then at the Compassion Forum (irony much?) on April 13, she did it again:

CAMPBELL BROWN: But, senator, you’ve been out there on the stump attacking him pretty aggressively over this. And his response has been, and he said it pretty bluntly tonight, shame on you. You know that he is a man of faith—this is what he's saying—and to suggest that he is demeaning religion is you playing politics.

HRC: I do think it raises a lot of concerns and we've seen that exhibited in the last several days by people here in Pennsylvania, in Indiana where I was yesterday, and elsewhere, because it did seem so much in line with what often we are charged with. Someone goes to a closed door fund-raiser in San Francisco and makes comments that do seem elitist, out of touch and, frankly, patronizing.

Again, why throw in San Francisco?

Then check out Hillary's Web site. It's littered with "bitter" San Francisco references, including the last one, that's quite damning. Here, here, here, here, and especially here:

MT Endorsement Watch: “Yellowstone County Commissioner Bill Kennedy says he is endorsing Hillary Rodham Clinton…[Kennedy said:] ‘In Montana, going to church or going hunting is part of our heritage, not something we ‘cling to’ out of bitterness or frustration…Sen. Obama showed a real disconnect with rural Montana. It might work to look down on us from San Francisco, but it won’t sell when he comes back to Montana.’”
Really? From San Francisco? What is that supposed to mean? Oh, and before I have to deal with all the "Hillary is SUPER pro-gay" responses, yes she is. She's also super pro-black, pro-gun-control, and pro-NAFTA. But when it became expedient for her campaign to race-bait, embrace guns, and then claim she was always anti-NAFTA, Hillary flipped on a dime.

As for the gays, yes, the Clintons are very pro-gay, until they're not. Remember DOMA, and Bill Clinton's radio ads touting his support for the anti-gay bill? Here's the NYT coverage of the ads at the time:

In a radio advertisement aimed at religious conservatives, the Clinton campaign is showcasing the President’s signature on a bill banning gay marriages in spite of earlier White House complaints that the issue amounted to ”gay baiting.”… Mr. Clinton signed the law early on a Saturday morning, minimizing news coverage. He said he had long agreed with the principles in the bill but hoped it would not be used to justify discrimination against homosexuals…
Longtime Clinton friend David Mixner reminds us:
In fact, after proclaiming to the community how painful it was for him to sign it, President Clinton’s reelection campaign had ads up in the South touting the legislation within two weeks!
Let's also revisit my post of last June in which we learned that Bill Clinton was advising John Kerry to endorse the anti-gay Federal Marriage Amendment. What kind of advice do you think Bill is giving Hillary about how to reach "values voters" - well, we already know his advice, throw the gays under the bus - and do you really think she's not taking it?

Let me also share the story of how Hillary's people freaked when Joe and I told them we were going to ask Hillary a "gay" question at the Democratic National Committee winter meeting a year ago (I mean, the question was about DOMA and civil unions, hardly anything she hasn't answered before). Joe literally got yelled at for even suggesting that we were going to ask Hillary something about DOMA. We were told that we had to give Hillary and her people the question in advance. We refused. We were then told that we couldn't ask her about DOMA since her husband signed it into law - apparently, it would be embarrassing to her. You'll be surprised to hear that we never got the interview. And remember that a year ago February, we were one of the only top blogs that even liked Hillary. Senator Dodd, on the contrary, had no problem answering the same question at the same meeting. Wesley Clark gave a great answer as well.

WWII vets ticked at Mrs. Cheney for abusing Iwo Jima symbol

John Aravosis (DC), Iwo Jima vets are just LIVID with the vice president's wife, Lynne Cheney, for using the symbol of the Iwo Jima memorial to sell her children's book, America: A Patriotic Primer. Here's Cheney's cover.

Wow. Imagine taking the image of the Iwo Jima memorial and using it for your own purposes as a cover to a publication. Man, that Mrs. Cheney is an evil one. No wonder the vets groups are so upset with her.

Oh, wait a minute. Mrs. Cheney's use of the memorial is fine, it's TIME magazine's use of the memorial as a cover for a publication that isn't fine with the vets groups because, uh, you know, Mrs. Cheney's book uses Arial font and TIME uses, um, Garamond? I mean, duh.

In all fairness to the vets, I'm sure they didn't know that Mrs. Cheney also absconded with their sacred symbol of untouchable patriotism and uber-manliness, so we should be hearing them excoriating Mrs. Cheney any time now. (Hat tip to ABlog reader Robert for finding the Cheney book cover.)

At Clinton HQ, they're making a list... checking it twice.

Joe Sudbay (DC), Another reason Hillary Clinton is losing may be explained in tomorrow's NY Times. The Clinton campaign seems to spend a lot of time figuring out which disloyal Democrats to hate -- and to what degree they should hate them. The Clinton campaign is on life support and they are busy making an enemies list.

Last year, word was that Team Clinton basically went around to donors and others with a clear message, which I'll paraphrase here:

Get on the bus, NOW. If you don't get on the bus, NOW, you will never get on the bus. This is the winning bus and we're going to remember who didn't get on early because when you try to get on, there won't be any seats left.

Despite the warnings, a lot of people took a different bus.

It does sound like the crew at the Clinton HQ puts a lot of time into tracking who, in their minds, has screwed them over. John Kerry is currently at the top of the hate list (a top Clinton supporter says Kerry is now "dead" to the Clintons):

Mr. Kerry, his top aides and family members have received varying degrees of tongue-lashing from Clinton surrogates, chiefly two top fund-raisers — John Coale and Peter Maroney — with previous close ties to Mr. Kerry.

(Quick aside: Mr. Coale is married to Greta Van Susteren from FOX News. Oh, and for what it's worth, they're both Scientologists.)

Now, I'm just saying that it might have behooved the staffers, fundraisers and consultants associated with Team Clinton to put some time into being decent to those who could have helped them. However, Team Clinton took a different approach -- and look where it got them. The arrogance of that campaign, and the sense of entitlement, permeated everything they did. John and I learned first-hand that if you weren't 100% with them every step of the way, even if you went far out of your way to help them on numerous occasions, you were persona non grata - not needed. Not that we ever wanted to be needed by Team Clinton, but we saw how they treated people who ever strayed from the reservation. And we weren't the only ones to experience the special charm that is Team Clinton. Lots of political types -- and reporters -- we've spoken to have similar stories of how they too were mistreated by the campaign. It's a window into the character of the campaign, and its leader - and it isn't pretty.

This arrogance and vindictiveness of the Clintons is important to understand. It helps explain why Hillary won't get out of the race even though she can't win it. The world revolves around Hillary and Bill. They're willing to destroy anyone who gets in their way. And if the majority of the Democratic voters, the majority of the states, and the majority of the delegates get in their way, then they'll be on the top of the list. Right after John Kerry.

Airlines blame FAA for all of their problems

Chris in Paris, Someone really needs to tell the US airline industry to stick it. They consistently offer some of the worst service in the world, throw charges on to the customer at every corner, pay management excessive salaries for terrible products, jam customers in to smaller and smaller spaces, receive billions in taxpayer handouts yet it's never enough. Now it's the fault of the FAA for insisting that the US airline industry actually maintains their planes properly instead of providing the maintenance quality usually expected in the developing world. Sorry that Congress is forcing the FAA to finally step up and demand improvements, but if the airline industry doesn't like it, get out of business.

For anyone that flies on a regular basis, do we really want the airline industry telling us what level of maintenance is enough? This is an industry that is struggling with high fuel costs and cutting corners. Maybe others are comfortable with this overpaid bunch of executives calling the shots with safety but considering how well self-regulation has worked in the past across multiple industries, thanks but no thanks. They can go Cheney themselves.

Pentagon uses military analysts as ‘puppets’ to push talking points. A new New York Times article reveals that the Pentagon has wooed military analysts with private briefings and access to classified information “in a campaign to generate favorable news coverage of the administration’s wartime performance.” Most of these analysts have ties to contractors who are “vested in the very war policies they are asked to assess on air,” and many admit that they suppressed doubts about the administration’s misinformation out of fear of jeopardizing their access or contracts:

The documents released by the Pentagon do not show any quid pro quo between
commentary and contracts. But some analysts said they had used the special access as a marketing and networking opportunity or as a window into future business possibilities.

Over time, the Pentagon recruited more than 75 retired officers, although some participated only briefly or sporadically. The largest contingent was affiliated with Fox News, followed by NBC and CNN, the other networks with 24-hour cable outlets. But analysts from CBS and ABC were included, too. Some recruits, though not on any network payroll, were influential in other ways — either because they were sought out by radio hosts, or because they often published op-ed articles or were quoted in magazines, Web sites and newspapers. At least nine of them have written op-ed articles for The Times.

These analysts were also instructed to not “quote their briefers directly or otherwise describe their contacts with the Pentagon.”

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Real Time with Bill Maher: Your Delegate Sensibilities

Nicole Belle, Crooks and Liars: On Real Time with Bill Maher this week, Bill Maher had some strong words for those who feel that the Democratic nomination race should be decided already. (Click the pic for the vid.

And finally, new rule: If voting can destroy the Democratic Party, then the party isn’t very democratic. Democrats need to stop freaking out about how this long primary battle between two popular candidates needs to be “settled yesterday! Because the candidates are bloodying each other! They’re causing irreparable harm! Mommy and Daddy are fighting!” Hey you people need to reach into your teenager’s knapsack and pull out a Paxil or Prozac and chill out.

Democrats, your task is not just to choose between this pair, it’s to grow a pair. Now, I know the idea of a very close race brings up some pretty bad memories for Democrats, but these are Democratic primaries. There are no Republicans in this race, so there is nobody organized enough to actually steal the election. What is so terrible about a long, drawn out contest? A season of American Idol is, what, 87
weeks? That’s a lot of time just to pick out a cruise ship entertainer. This is the presidency we’re talking about. I understand that a lot of Democrats feel passionately about their candidate, and that’s great. But then their passion gets the best of them and they go on websites like DailyKos, and post stuff, like the Obama supporter, who wrote, “I will vote for Hillary, but then I will leave the country.” Yes, because who could live in a nation that elects the person that you just voted for?

And that is what is so great about the internet. It enables pompous blowhards to connect with other pompous blowhards in a vast circle jerk of pomposity. But that doesn’t mean I’m throwing my hat in for Hillary. For one thing, she would say I was shooting at her. And I know she’s going to have a tough time catching Obama, because he’s black and she’s not that fast. But this is America, we don’t call the election before we know who the real winner is. That, after all, is the job of the Supreme Court.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Tony Snow’s Tall Tale: Former Bush Flack Falsely Claims Obama Voted ‘Present’ 160 Times As U.S. Senator On Dennis Miller’s radio show last Friday, former White House Press Secretary Tony Snow falsely claimed that Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) has “voted present” 160 times as a member of the United States Senate. “He has cast more present votes in the United States Senate over the last three years than anybody else in the chamber,” claimed Snow.
Miller tried to correct Snow, saying that it was “in the Illinois Senate” that Obama had made a series of “present” votes, but Snow refused to budge, saying, “no, no, in the United States Senate”:

TONY SNOW: What Obama always tries to do, is to do what looks to be respectable and to avoid trouble. So when he’s in the United States Senate, he’s voted present, what 160 times.
DENNIS MILLER: In the Illinois Senate, I believe.
SNOW: No, no. In the United States Senate.
MILLER: Oh, I thought when he was down in the house of Illinois that he voted present.
SNOW: He’s done both. He’s done both. He has cast more present votes in the United States Senate over the last three years than anybody else in the chamber.

Snow’s claim is completely false.

Both Obama’s GovTrack page and his Washington Post Votes Database page show that Obama has never voted “present” as a U.S. senator. When contacted by ThinkProgress, the Obama campaign also confirmed that the senator has never voted “present” in the U.S. Senate.

It is possible that Snow is referring to missed votes rather than “present” votes, but even so, Obama has missed fewer votes during the current Congress than Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), who missed 297 votes this Congress. In the previous Congress, Obama missed 11 votes while McCain missed 58.

LSB: If Rove is Bush's Brain, then Snow is Bush's Asshole - and he just farted again!

DOJ investigates whether Goodling forced out gay attorney NPR reports that the Justice Department Inspector General is investigating whether Monica Goodling, a key administration figure in the U.S. Attorney scandal, dismissed a career DOJ attorney “because of rumors that she is a lesbian“:
Justice Department e-mails obtained by PR show that Gonzales’s senior counsel Monica Goodling had a particular interest in Hagen’s duties. A few months before Hagen was let go, according to one e-mail, oodling removed part of Hagen’s job portfolio — the part dealing with child exploitation and abuse.
DOJ officials “said they came away with the impression that the Attorney General’s office decided not to renew Leslie Hagen’s contract because of the talk about her sexual orientation,” despite her receiving strong performance reviews. (HT: TPM Muckraker)
LSB: Did Gonzo and his DoJ understand what "justice" meant?

Graham Claims McCain Has Done ‘Even More’ Than Al Gore On Global Warming An online ABC News article on the “surrogate wars” of this year’s presidential election quoted Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), an ardent supporter of Sen. John McCain’s (R-AZ) candidacy, saying that McCain has “earned a reputation…of doing things that put the country ahead of party.” As an example, Graham cited McCain’s environmental record, claiming that it’s stronger that former Vice President Al Gore’s:

“He’s not going to run away from President Bush but at the end of the day, John McCain has earned a reputation, and has the scars to show it, of doing things that put the country ahead of party,” Graham said, noting McCain has differed with the party on immigration, his desire to close Guantanamo Bay, and enacting robust climate change policies.

Climate change is the road less traveled but he’s traveled it even more than Al Gore,” Graham said. “Al Gore has talked about it and deserves great recognition but he was around here a long time and never introduced a bill.”

On its face, Graham’s claim is laughable. But digging deeper into the substance, it rings of pure absurdity. In fact, Gore held the first congressional hearings on climate change in the late 1970s, well before McCain was even elected to Congress.

In 1997, Gore helped broker the Kyoto Protocol which called for nations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Despite the passing of a Senate resolution stating that the U.S should not join Kyoto, Gore symbolically signed the protocol in November, 1998. While McCain voted for the resolution condemning Kyoto, he claims today that “we have an obligation” to cut greenhouse gases but still thinks the U.S. “did the right thing by not joining the Kyoto treaty.”

Moreover, the evidence shows that McCain is confused on environmental issues. He now supports ethanol despite previously criticizing it. McCain has talked tough on capping carbon emissions but failed to even vote on key Senate legislation addressing the issue. Furthermore, he doesn’t seem to understand his own position on cap-and-trade:
In the Republican debate in Florida, he denied that his cap-and-trade program included a mandatory cap on carbon. (One wonders what he thought that first word was doing in there.) He has said he won’t support a cap-and-trade bill unless it includes extra support for nuclear power (because nuclear power is low-carbon), not
seeming to grok the fact that the whole point of a cap-and-trade program is to raise prices on carbon, offering a de facto subsidy to all low-carbon options.

While Gore was starring in the Oscar winning global warming documentary “An Inconvenient Truth” and being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his work on climate change, McCain has been trying to build an environmental record that is just strong enough to anger conservatives and fool the media into continuing to call him a “maverick.” But the reality is that McCain’s record falls well short of the leadership Gore has shown on the issue.

LSB: Graham must be ass-kissing for the #2 spot.

As He Waives Laws For Bush’s Border Fence, Chertoff Says Immigrants Must ‘Comply With The Law’ This week, the Department of Homeland Security announced it will use its authority to bypass several laws and regulations it claims are impeding the completion of 670 miles of border fence, including the National Park Service Organic Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act, the Clean Air Act, the Antiquities Act, the Native American Graves Protection Act “and 31 other laws.”

Subsequently, DHS will not have to conduct detailed reviews on the fence’s impacts on wildlife, water, and vegetation.

Secretary Michael Chertoff believes we must follow the law — except when he wants to waive it. In a small blogger roundtable yesterday, Chertoff said that “whatever happens” with immigration reform in the future, the public must be be legally compliant: I think people on all ends of the spectrum should realize that it is in everybody’s interest to get this job done at the border, to enforce the law against employers. … We also need to resolve the problem of people who are here illegally, who have got to comply with the law but many of whom have been here for a long time, and we’ve got to figure out a way to deal with that issue.

But the foundation for doing this is living up to our obligation as it is now. And I would say that whatever happens eventually with immigration reform, there’s no excuse for not complying with the law as it’s been set forth.

Watch it:

If Chertoff would only apply those standards to himself. His waiver represents “the biggest use of legal waivers since the administration started building the fence.” Even White House environmental adviser Jim Connaughton acknowledged the fence may “not meet the strict requirements of the law.” Chertoff also admitted that without the waiver, his fence would run into legal trouble:
Although we want to be respectful of the environment, we cannot afford to get enmeshed in the kinds of litigation that have traditionally cost projects decades to complete.
While the administration claims Congress authorized the waiver with the Real ID Act of 2005, Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS) noted, the “waiver represents an extreme abuse of authority. … It was meant to be an exception, not the rule.”

War’s toll on U.S. troops. Gen. David Petraeus and Amb. Ryan Crocker recently recommended to President Bush that troop levels in Iraq “remain nearly the same through 2008 as at any time during five years of war.” The New York Times reports on a survey by the Army surgeon general’s Mental Health Advisory Team that shows the mental health toll of these repeated deployments on U.S. troops:

Among combat troops sent to Iraq for the third or fourth time, more than one in four show signs of anxiety, depression or acute stress, according to an official Army survey of soldiers’ mental health. […]

Among the 513,000 active-duty soldiers who have served in Iraq since the invasion of 2003, more than 197,000 have deployed more than once, and more than 53,000 have deployed three or more times, according to a separate set of statistics provided this week by Army personnel officers. The percentage of troops sent back to Iraq for repeat deployments would have to increase in the months ahead.

The Army study of mental health showed that 27 percent of noncommissioned officers — a critically important group — on their third or fourth tour exhibited symptoms commonly referred to as post-traumatic stress disorders.

Red State Video: Should Hillary Drop Out?

Win Without War Launches National Campaign To Stop Congressional War Funding

Joint Chiefs: Change Course, Start Draft Or Lose Army

Nicole Belle, Crooks and Liars. From VetVoice:

In testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee yesterday, Army Vice Chief of Staff General Richard Cody sternly rebuked all those who’ve been blowing sunshine and spreading baseless happy talk for five years with regard to the war in Iraq. And he was blunt–blunter than I’ve ever heard him before–about the crisis facing the Army. He even went so far as to hint at the “D-word” in his prepared remarks:

Today’s Army is out of balance. The current demand for our forces in Iraq and Afghanistan exceeds the sustainable supply and limits our ability to provide ready forces for other contingencies . . . Current operational requirements for forces and insufficient time between deployments require a focus on counterinsurgency training and equipping to the detriment of preparedness for the full range of military missions.

Given the current theater demand for Army forces, we are unable to provide a sustainable tempo of deployments for our Soldiers and Families. Soldiers, Families, support systems, and equipment are stretched and stressed by the demands of lengthy and repeated deployments, with insufficient recovery time. Equipment used repeatedly in harsh environments is wearing out more rapidly than programmed. Army support systems, designed for the pre-9/11 peacetime Army, are straining under the accumulation of stress from six years at war. Overall, our readiness is being consumed as fast as we build it.

And then he added the kicker:

If unaddressed, this lack of balance poses a significant risk to the All-Volunteer Force and degrades the Army’s ability to make a timely response to other contingencies.

Anyone with a lick of sense (which clearly does not include anyone in the Bush administration) has known that the military is stretched to the breaking point. But this is not what the White House nor the RNC wants to hear during an election year. Will they listen to the generals now?

LSB: Why start listening to them now? This White House will find another like Gen. Betrayus to say whatever they need him to say till they ride out of town. Congrats, Gen. Cody, for not blowing smoke!

Countdown: Yoo Torture Memo Is More Evidence Of Impeachable Crimes

Logan Murphy, Crooks and Liars: The now-infamous John Yoo torture memo, which states that torture isn’t really torture unless it kills the suspect, and that President Bush’s wartime authority trumps torture law, is creating quite a firestorm. Constitutional professor Jonathan Turley joined Keith Olbermann on Thursday’s Countdown where he once again repeats his claim that President Bush broke the law and that the Democrats were afraid to pursue charges because they know it would trigger impeachment hearings and that scares them to death.

Turley:”…It’s really amazing, Congress, including the Democrats, have avoided any type of investigation into torture because they do not want to deal with the fact that the president ordered war crimes. But, evidence keeps on coming out. The only thing we don’t have is a group picture with a detainee attached to electrical wires.”
LSB: PLEEEASE stop talking about impeachable offenses by this administration! Ain't gonna happen, my friends. Despite overwhelming evidence, this Congress has neither the balls nor the time between vacations/running for office to pursue our Criminal-in-Chief or his traitorous goons. I would love to see the war crimes division in The Hague bring this bum to trial, but that's just my own personal fantasy!
John Amato, Crooks and Liars: John Yoo should be in handcuffs as I write this post. Froomkin kind of says it all:

The Justice Department memo released yesterday is a key link in the chain of evidence connecting the monstrous abuse of detainees at the Abu Ghraib prison
and elsewhere straight to the White House.

President Bush has described the torture and murder of prisoners by U.S. military personnel as the work of an aberrant few. But this 2003 memo opened the door to precisely the kinds of abuse so horrifically chronicled in the Abu Ghraib photographs.

And the memo’s author — John Yoo, then a deputy in the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel — was a longtime ally and notoriously pliant scribe for the radical legal views of Vice President Cheney and his chief enforcer, David S. Addington. Yoo’s memo is a historic document. It is the ultimate expression of Cheney’s belief that anything the president or his designates do — no matter how illegal, barbaric or un-American — is justifiable in the name of national self-defense.
It is also an example of how enabling zealots to disregard the rule of law and the customary boundaries of human conduct leads to madness.

Jon Stewart slams FOX News for “Obama Watch” clock

SilentPatriot, Crooks and Liars: Jon Stewart rips on FOX News’ Chris Wallace for starting an “Obama Watch” clock — complete with “24″-like sound effects and ticker — that tracks how long it’s been since Obama promised he would appear on FOX News Sunday. Tweety catches flack too for some of the mindless questions he asked the Senator during Wednesday’s Hardball College Tour.

I wonder who posted about the Obama Watch a few weeks ago?

(Click the pic for the vid.)

Mukasey plays fast and loose

Steve Benen, Crooks and Liars: About a week ago, Attorney General Michael Mukasey was talking up the Bush administration’s surveillance efforts, and raised a few eyebrows when he got choked up while discussing 9/11 and telecom immunity.

But as my friend Sarabeth explained to me yesterday, it was the comments right before Mukasey got emotional that are probably the most important.
Officials “shouldn’t need a warrant when somebody with a phone in Iraq picks up a phone and calls somebody in the United States because that’s the call that we may really want to know about. And before 9/11, that’s the call that we didn’t know about. We knew that there has been a call from someplace that was known to be a safe house in Afghanistan and we knew that it came to the United States. We didn’t know precisely where it went.”

At that point in his answer, Mr. Mukasey grimaced, swallowed hard, and seemed to tear up as he reflected on the weaknesses in America’s anti-terrorism strategy prior to the 2001 attacks. “We got three thousand. . . . We’ve got three thousand people who went to work that day and didn’t come home to show for that,” he said, struggling to maintain his composure.
The AG’s argument seemed pretty straightforward: a terrorist suspect called the United States shortly before 9/11. If we’d known about that call in time, we might have been able to prevent the attacks. Therefore, it’s dangerous — indeed, it could be deadly — to subject the Bush administration to safeguards and oversight when it comes to surveillance.

There are two main problems with this. First, the argument is completely incoherent. Second, it’s almost certainly premised on a transparent falsehood. Glenn Greenwald took Mukasey’s procedural claims apart quite nicely.

Even under the “old” FISA, no warrants are required where the targeted person is outside the U.S. (Afghanistan) and calls into the U.S. Thus, if it’s really true, as Mukasey now claims, that the Bush administration knew about a Terrorist in an Afghan safe house making Terrorist-planning calls into the U.S., then they could have — and should have — eavesdropped on that call and didn’t need a warrant to do so. So why didn’t they? Mukasey’s new claim that FISA’s warrant requirements prevented discovery of the 9/11 attacks and caused the deaths of 3,000 Americans is disgusting and reckless, because it’s all based on the lie that FISA required a warrant for targeting the “Afghan safe house.” It just didn’t. Nor does the House FISA bill require individual warrants when targeting a non-U.S. person outside the U.S.

Independently, even if there had been a warrant requirement for that call — and there unquestionably was not — why didn’t the Bush administration obtain a FISA warrant to listen in on 9/11-planning calls from this “safe house”? Independently, why didn’t the administration invoke FISA’s 72-hour emergency warrantless window to listen in on those calls? If what Muskasey said this week is true — and that’s a big “if” — his revelation about this Afghan call that the administration knew about but didn’t intercept really amounts to one of the most potent indictments yet about the Bush administration’s failure to detect the plot in action. Contrary to his
false claims, FISA — for multiple reasons — did not prevent eavesdropping on that call.

Was there a 9/11-related call from a terrorist safe house to the U.S. before the attacks? Apparently not. No one has heard about this alleged call before now, including The 9/11 Commission, which makes no mention of this.

It’s probably because Mukasey made it up for dramatic effect, hoping that his audience would end up agreeing with the administration’s line on FISA and telecom immunity.

It’s what people who are losing an argument do — they make stuff up. Usually, we like to think the nation’s top law-enforcement official would be above this kind of stunt, but it’s helpful to know that Mukasey is, when push comes to shove, just part of the Bush gang.

(Maddow:”…Oh please, just let him have just been lying, because if he was telling the truth here, if there really was a call from a known al Qaeda safe house in Afghanistan to the United States before 9/11 which the Bush Administration did not tap and trace? That is huge news and we ought to get some answers about why we were left so unprotected and surprised on 9/11. Let’s hope that he was just making that up.”)

Colbert threatens to boycott Olympic boycott

SilentPatriot, Crooks and Liars: Colbert went off on all the goody-goodys out there who want to boycott the Olympics over the Chinese government’s violation of human rights. (Click pic for vid.)

Countdown: N.I.E. or L.I.E.?

Nicole Belle, Crooks and Liars: The surge is working, so sayeth the latest NIE.

Or at least, that’s what the White House says it says. Unfortunately, since the White House refuses to declassify it, they’re just expecting us to take their word for it (and we all know how well that’s worked out for us in the past). The Congressional Democrats have issued a strongly worded letter to express their dissatisfaction. (Ironically, Russ Feingold has issued a strongly worded letter to the Congressional Democrats, asking to think for once about not enabling Bush’s plan).

Rachel Maddow, doing a fantastic job of subbing for Keith Olbermann on Friday’s Countdown, speaks to VoteVets Jon Soltz about the politicization and incomplete picture of what’s happening in Iraq that the White House is trying to paint in preparation for Gen. Petraeus’s testimony next week. (Click pic for vid.)

MADDOW: And in a democracy, the idea is that when a democracy goes to war, the citizenry is informed about why and how it’s going and what the point is. Jon, do you expect that the testimony from Gen. Petraeus and Amb. Crocker is going to be substantive and frank, or are you expecting White House P.R.?

SOLTZ: Well, obviously it’s White House P.R., because it is Gen. Petraeus and Amb. Crocker. Now that’s not to say they’re going to lie, they’re two very honorable men who deserve Americans’ respect. But this is not about a couple of streets in Baghdad, this is not about troops and tactics. The question for Democrats next week and organizations like ours, and VoteVets, is we’re going to broaden this debate. The fact of the matter is that Adm. Fallon retired because he was being undermined by a direct channel that the Iraq commander had to the White House. And so the fact of the matter is that Adm. Fallon, who was concerned about Afghanistan you know, had to retire. So where is the Centcom commander? Where is the Secretary of Defense? Where is the Chief of Staff for the Army, Gen. Casey, to say the Army can’t hack this, this troop deployment any more? So they’re giving you a very limited scope and that limited scope will be honest, but we’re not…they’re not going to tell you that George Bush and John McCain have our country in a policy of retreat and people who served in the military, we’re tired of it.

Clinton's dramatic health care story is dramatic, but not true -- and the campaign never vetted it.

Joe Sudbay (DC), Okay, this is not good for the Clinton campaign. Not good at all. Clinton has been regularly telling a very sad and tragic health care story in her campaign stump speech that is not true.

The NY Times has the article. The JedReport has video of Clinton telling the story again yesterday -- and it's not pretty. As Jed notes, "The level of detail with which Clinton tells this yarn is breathtaking." Today, the Clinton campaign admitted to CNN, "In this case, we did try, but were not able to fully vet it." What? How can that be? Seriously.
Since the Clinton campaign is talking to superdelegates about "electability," the superdelegates should ponder the narrative that is developing about Hillary Clinton's ability to tell the truth. It's not like she just relayed this health care story or just told the Tuzla story. Watch the videos. She was emphatic in both cases and went into great detail. Yet, neither are true. Now, I don't imagine the Republicans would make hay out of this pattern in the general election, do you?

Hillary Clinton thinks it's a major issue when a campaign adviser meets with a foreign government about a trade deal. Or she did last month anyway.

Last night, we learned from the Wall Street Journal that Mark Penn met with his client, the Colombian government, to strategize about a trade pact his client, Hillary Clinton, opposes.

Via Ben Smith, we learned that not too long ago, just last month actually, Clinton was pretty clear that a meeting between top campaign adviser and foreign governments should be a major issue:

Peering at the 50 or so reporters packed into a small hotel conference room here, she added: "I would ask you to look at this story and substitute my name for Sen. Obama’s name and see what you would do with this story ... Just ask yourself [what you would do] if some of my advisers had been having private meetings with foreign governments."

Jed thinks the Penn-Colombia meeting "is a pretty remarkable act of hypocrisy" from the Clinton campaign. Jed is right. His latest video shows just how adamant Clinton was that this should be a major controversy:

So, are we dealing with yet another double standard from Hillary Clinton? And, keep in mind, Penn isn't just any campaign adviser. Penn is the ultimate Clinton campaign strategist. (I'm sure the Colombian government would never assume that hiring Mark Penn would get them access to Hillary Clinton. Perish the thought.)

UPDATE: Clinton hasn't fired Mark Penn, but Colombia did. The fallout continues from the meeting Mark Penn had with his client, the Colombian government, to discuss a trade pact that his client, Hillary Clinton, opposes. Although, now, the controversy surrounds the meeting Mark Penn had with his former client, the Colombian government, to discuss a trade pact that his client, Hillary Clinton, opposes.

While Hillary Clinton can't seem to quit Mark Penn, Colombia fired his ass today:

Mr. Penn on Friday apologized for meeting with the Colombians, calling it an “error in judgment.” The Colombian government said his reaction showed a “lack of respect.”

On Saturday, the Colombian government issued the following statement:

The Colombian Government announces its decision to terminate the contract with Burson Marteller. This firm conducts public relations and communications consulting services on behalf of Colombia in the United States for the approval of the Free Trade Agreement and the continuation of Plan Colombia.

Mr. Mark Penn, President and CEO of Burson Marsteller, reponded to claims by Union representatives who questioned his relationship with the Colombian Government by declaring that it was an “error in judgment” to meet with his client the Colombian Ambassador on March 31. The Colombian government considers this a lack of respect to Colombians, and finds this response unacceptable.

The firm was retained by the Colombian Embassy in Washington in March of 2007 based on its track record in the field of Public Relations.

Democrats call for economic aid package

Chris in Paris, And all McCain can say is "tax cuts and less regulation." Just as Bush ran on tax cuts and less regulation, McCain proves again that all he wants is a third Bush term. The same tax cuts and less regulation that got us in to this economic meltdown are the same tax cuts and less regulation that McCain thinks will cure all of our economic problems.

So to refresh everyone's memory, the GOP handed out luxurious tax cuts to the richest Americans and look how well that worked out for everyone else. Stagnating wages for most Americans along with increasing inflation and even less stability. The GOP followed the marching orders from their wealthy lobbyist friends on Wall Street to open up new financial markets without traditional regulations and safeguards and look how well that worked out for the rest of us.

To listen to McCain talk about the issue that will surely be at the top of everyones list in November is quite revealing. He admits he has no clue about economics and to regurgitate Phil Gramm talking points only shows how incapable he is to face the economic turmoil that we will face in the coming years. We tried this GOP experiment and it failed miserably for everyone outside of Big Oil and the corporate boardrooms.

Now, it's John McCain's turn. Where are his tax forms?

Joe Sudbay (DC), The DNC wants to know where McCain's tax returns are. So do we. Given McCain's utter contempt for campaign finance laws (he's breaking the law), we really need full disclosure.

Yesterday, CNN reported on McCain's access to lots of money from his second wife. Lots of money:

As heiress to her father's stake in Hensley & Co. of Phoenix, Cindy McCain is an executive whose worth may exceed $100 million. Her beer earnings have afforded the GOP presidential nominee a wealthy lifestyle with a private jet and vacation homes at his disposal, and her connections helped him launch his political career -- even if the millions remain in her name alone. Yet the arm's-length distance between McCain and his wife's assets also has helped shield him from conflict-of-interest problems.

Remember how the right wingers made Teresa Heinz Kerry (and her wealth) an issue in 2004? Remember that?