Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Opening The Files: Halloweenies Edition

It seems rather apropos that All Hallow's Eve should fall just one week before the midterm elections. Because the GOP sure are scared shitless of the outcome and their increasingly hysterical rhetoric is evidence of that fear. They are all but claiming that if the Democrats take control, they will show their appreciation for the assist by using our tax dollars to buy every member of Al-Qaeda a one way ticket to every street USA where they would have free reign to kill your family, rape your women (who also have to worry about being seduced by black men) and then enter into gay marriages with each other. And worst of all they would RAISE YOUR TAXES!!!


Scared yet? The GOP sure wish you were.

Marc Lynch analyzed a post on a jihadi forum and wondered if Al-Qaeda really is trying to influence our elections. Seems they might be, just not in the way the GOP would have you believe.

The Heretik on fables and fools.

Billmon reports on another Mission Accomplished.

Tim Grieve says that if the polls are any indication, the GOP are in for a scare come next Tuesday.

Trish caught up with Count Cheney on the campaign trail. Then again, considering what Wonkette reports, this might be a more appropriate costume choice for the VP.

And finally, here are some more tricks and treats from John, Bill Maher and Chris Weigant.

(Ghoulishly filed at State of the Day)


Stock the Vote

Considering all the news of 'errors' and 'glitches' involving electronic voting machines that have surfaced lately, is it any wonder that only 1 in 4 Americans think their vote will be accurately accounted for? Of course the GOP isn't in any big hurry to fix those particular problems since most of those 'glitches' benefit them (natch) but they are making a fuss now that their monopoly on the game pieces is in doubt.

How do you spell hypocrisy?

G - O - P.

Check out more from Steve Soto, Marie Therese, and Richard Cranium.

Update: Patriot Daily on the Trojan Horse.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Marked Graves Forgotten

House Majority Leader John Boehner had this to say about Donald Rumsfeld on ABC's This Week (emphasis added):
I think Donald Rumsfeld is the best thing that's happened to the Pentagon in 25 years. [..] This Pentagon and our military needs a transformation. And I think Donald Rumsfeld's the only man in America who knows where the bodies are buried at the Pentagon, has enough experience to help transform that institution.

Mr. Rumsfeld and Mr. Boehner would do well to remember these buried bodies and the many more added each day:

(Filed at State of the Day)

Verdict Interdicted

Even if the media here in the states can't read a calender, obviously someone can.
A court trying Saddam Hussein for crimes against humanity could delay its verdict by a few days, the chief prosecutor said on Sunday, in a move that would shift the announcement until after U.S. midterm elections.

If the verdict is delayed, it looks as though Karl's 11th hour plan might not have the same oomph it would have. Perhaps it's time for Dubya to get on the horn with "their man" in Iraq. Oh wait.

Well, there's always Diebold.

(Filed at State of the Day)

Sunday, October 29, 2006

On Ads and Censorship

On two occasions this week, we were given a peek into the Right's love affair with censorship. The first instance was when hardcore conservative Rush Limbaugh denounced Michael J. Fox for making a political ad for a Missouri Democratic candidate who supports stem cell research.

As is typical of the Right, Rush tried to discredit the message by attacking the messenger. He claimed that Fox was either acting and exaggerating his Parkinson's symptoms or he was off his medication during the shoot. Rush even pantomimed the scene for us, gyrating like he was on an Qxycontin/Viagra induced bender.

Fox for his part, took the high road. And ultimately Rush's bum rush backfired since media coverage has actually increased awareness and support for stem cell research. Whoopsie!

The second instance of censorship came, ironically enough, when NBC refused to air a trailer for a new documentary about the censorship of the Dixie Chicks. NBC's reason for the denial was because it was "disparaging" towards the President. While this is rather laughable given the content of the ad, those on the Right are no doubt happy about NBC's bit of self-censorship. And as some note, this has become a common practice of the mainstream media: the administration and their defenders are given almost unlimited time to air their narrative while counter narratives are either omitted or questioned ferociously. On those rare occasions when the media does stand up and do their job, they can simply be cowed by a charge of "liberal bias".

Freedom of speech is, for now, still guaranteed in this country. But if the Right has any say in it, they would rather you just shut up. Or in the case of the Dixie Chicks, just sing.

With so many great posts being generated about these two incidents, linking to them all would take forever (and use up valuable main page space). So instead I will simply guide you toward some of the more interesting fare.

Check out the heavy hitters at AMERICAblog, Carpetbagger, FDL, Hullabaloo, Crooks & Liars, Media Matters, and Shakespeare's Sister.

(Filed at State of the Day)

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Happy Blogiversary!

State of the Day turns one. They grow up so fast.

Tortured Debate Revisited

Apparently Vice President Cheney thought he was in the clear to talk about all sorts of interrogation techniques now that the Military Commissions Act has been signed into law. But "waterboarding" appears to still be a touchy subject since it has sparked a fresh debate about torture. And even though it's a bit late to be discussing it now, post-MCA, at least it is being debated.

It's certainly a debate the Bush administration doesn't want to be having this close to the elections. The White House is in a veritable tizzy, spinning like a dynamo stuck at full tilt over Cheney's "no-brainer" remarks. President Bush glibly says that the US does not torture prisoners as if Abu Ghraib never existed. Tony Snowjob is tap dancing like Fred Astaire but keeps falling in the dunk tank. Even Lynne Cheney has had to resort to a tired GOP defense.

And by the way, if anyone has any doubts about why this issue is so important, consider the real-world implications.

See Carpetbagger, Heraclitus, Jayne Stahl, and for more.

Update: More tortured debate from JB and DK.

(Filed at State of the Day)

Friday, October 27, 2006

YouTube Axes Comedy Central Clips

Sad news XF readers. YouTube has apparently begun removing Comedy Central video clips from their servers. That means no more Daily Show or Colbert Report snippets. I suppose it was inevitable that they would get the axe and Google's acquisition no doubt contributed to it.

At least I can take solace in the fact I can still (for now) look to the indispensable Crooks & Liars for my Daily Show needs while the corporate juggernaut's cross-hairs are aimed elsewhere.

Update: Well I think I have managed to salvage most of my TDS posts via redirects to C&L and Onegoodmove. Unfortunately not all were able to make the transition and had to be consigned to the virtual void. A real shame.

Poll Faulting

My esteemed colleague Creature already flagged this little gem from Bush Brain Karl Rove but I felt it is too important to just let it be. You see Karl is optimistic about the GOP chances this year. This is because there are "public" polls and then there are "other" polls which only Karl gets to see. And according to him, those "other" polls show the GOP in good standing despite what the "public" polls show.

As Kvatch says, this bit of poll faulting is all designed to muddy the water on fraud, which Karl all but admitted will happen during this highly contested election.

So will your vote count in the equation when Karl is the one doing "the math"?

(Filed at State of the Day)

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Opening The Files: 10/26/06

Can't get no satisfaction...or patience.

Another presidential presser yesterday. And as has become usual for these 'major' addresses, nothing new was really said. Bush warned the Iraqi's that America's patience is not unlimited but said no undue pressure would be applied. He noted American's frustration and said the he too was unsatisfied with the progress in Iraq. He said he owed the American people an explanation without ever, y'know, actually giving one. As President, he says he is ultimately accountable for Iraq and then proceeds to blame everyone else for the troubles there.

During the Q & A session, the press corps put froth some pretty solid questions. The hardest one for Bush to give a straight answer seemed to be the one asked by NBC's David Gregory about how the current plan for "benchmarks" for the Iraqi government were any different than the "timetables" put forth by his opponents. He went so far as to ask if this was just an election year stunt. Seems the press may finally be coming out of their stupor.

And since Bush has now made Iraq the focus of the elections, something tells me that might not sit to well with the likes of Sen. Bill Frist who has urged GOP candidates to avoid the topic.

Speaking of candidates, Bush also mentioned that he likes to campaign. "It’s what guys like me do in order to get here" he says. Considering how eager members of his party are to be seen with him, though, I guess you could call him a 'stealth campaigner'. Maybe the GOP should invest in some new technology to help out on the campaign trail.

Glenn says that regardless of all the talk about "benchmarks", the underlying theme of this presser is that we are staying in Iraq "until the job is done" (i.e. forever).

Blogenfreude thinks Bush is a little overdrawn on his political capital account. I say he's been charging it to his Visa for a while now and the due date for the bill is fast approaching.

Josh says Bush seems to have given himself a new title: Prognosticator-in-chief.

Marty Kaplan notes that The Decider is only The Decider when someone else isn't The Decider.

And The Heretik teaches us about realities and loads. Or something.


During a CNBC interview, Bush said he likes using "the Google" to look up such things has satellite photos of his Crawford ranch. Will Bunch has a Top Ten of things The Decider has also probably looked up using "the Google". (Update: Rosa Brooks)

Vice President Cheney, meanwhile, confirmed that US interrogators had indeed used "waterboarding" on terrorism suspects. He says he doesn't consider it torture, calling it a "no-brainer". Dick may want to be careful of his endorsements. He doesn't want to end up like his animated counterpart.

(Filed at State of the Day)


Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Coup Coup Ca Choo

In recent months there has been some talk that the Bush administration was getting fed up with the new head of the Iraqi government, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. There has even been talk of a possible coup d'etat. The rumors were so great that President Bush had to personally reassure al-Maliki that no timetable or deadline was being set up.

Of course that was before they went ahead and set up a timetable. Predictably, Al-Maliki isn't happy.
...The defiant al-Maliki also slammed the top U.S. military and diplomatic representatives in Iraq for saying Iraq needed to set a timetable to curb violence ravaging the country.

"I affirm that this government represents the will of the people and no one has the right to impose a timetable on it," al-Maliki said at a news conference.

Mr. Maliki might want to remember whose really in charge over there. King George does not take kindly to his viceroys getting out of hand.

(Filed at State of the Day)

Staying the course on a timeline to shift the blame

Many people are probably wondering what's up with the Bush administration lately. Not only have they disavowed their previous strategy of 'stay the course' but they have also embraced the once blaspheme 'timetables' for the Iraqi government. The simplest answer I can come up with is that Bush is once again searching for a scapegoat for his failures.

Consider that at this point, two weeks before the elections, control of Congress is looking increasingly in doubt for the GOP. The White House is said to be bracing for this shift and I believe this recent change in rhetoric has something to do with it.

Bush wants desperately to pawn the debacle that is Iraq off on someone else. And since he still has two years left in his term, the only two available options are the Democrats and the Iraqi's themselves. By setting these timetables, Bush can use them to blame the new Iraqi government for failing to control their own country. And even though the penalties for not complying with these deadlines doesn't involve troop level adjustments (or so we are told), I think this shift away from 'stay the course' may signal that Bush will indeed drawdown troops sometime between now and 2008.

Now while the prospect of Bush actually withdrawing troops is said to be, for now, a 'nonstarter', there are other factors that may affect any such decisions.

First is the 2008 presidential elections. As much as Bush wants to pass Iraq off to the next president, he still wants a member of the GOP at the helm. If the violence in Iraq is at it's current level (or worse) come 2008, any GOP candidate may have a hard time explaining how their policies would defer from the current administration's.

The Iraqi's have now been given 12-18 months to shape up and fly right. Guess where 18 months from now puts us? Smack dab in the middle of the next election-cycle. Bush can use the end of this timeline as an excuse to bring troops home just in time to influence the campaigns. The Repubs might even have the audacity to run on a slogan like "Help Bring the Troops Home. Vote GOP".

The other factor for why Bush may want to bring troops home before the end of his term is to salvage what's left of his presidency. He has found himself the lamest of lame ducks, even with an ally controlled legislature. Should the Dems take over, it will be even worse. But bringing home troops, and the media coverage of it, might help polish his image a little before his time in the spotlight runs out.

A famous fictional character once said, "With great power comes great responsibility". For this administration, however, it's all about the power.

Check out Billmon, Dan Froomkin, Robert Elisberg, Romesh Ratnesar, John Dickerson, and Michael Stickings.

(Filed at State of the Day)

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

But the Americans do it!

Reuters - Governments say they follow U.S. on jail treatment:
Some countries try to refute criticism over their treatment of prisoners by saying they are only following the U.S. example on handling terror suspects, a U.N. human rights expert said on Monday.

Manfred Nowak, the U.N. investigator on torture, told a news conference that 'all too frequently' governments respond to criticism about their jails by saying they handled detainees the same way the United States did.

'The United States has been the pioneer of human rights and is a country that has a high reputation in the world,' Nowak said. 'Today, other governments are kind of saying, 'But why are you criticizing us, we are not doing something different than what the United States is doing.''

He said nations like Jordan tell him, 'We are collaborating with the United States so it can't be wrong if it is also done by the United States.'

Why am I suddenly reminded of that old saying about jumping off a bridge?

(Filed at State of the Day)

Olbermann on Ads, Propaganda, and Terror

Keith Olbermann was at it again last night with his Special Comment on the GOP's terror ad. He hit upon some of the same subjects that I brought up the other day and many more. And as always, he does so in way that only he can: with grace of word and passion of conviction that I could only hope to someday emulate. Video below.

Be sure to check out Joan Vennochi and Bob Cesca as well.


Monday, October 23, 2006

Rewriting Their Own Reality

They wish.

As a follow-up to my last post, we now have a second White House official (Dan Bartlett) claiming that the Bush administration's strategy for Iraq has never been 'stay the course'. I swear it's as if the last four years did not exist to these people. Unfortunately for us, they have, and no amount of rewriting can change the fact this administration doesn't know what the hell it is doing. All they know is spin. Period.

More from Carpetbagger, Paul the Spud, Andy Ostroy, Justin Frank, and Joe Gandelman.

Update: Still more from Josh, Dan Froomkin, and Eugene Robinson.

(Filed at State of the Day)

Opening The Files: 10/23/06

Stay the Course. Or not.

Yesterday during an interview for ABC's This Week, President Bush apparently was under the misimpression that even though he is the leader of the free world, people don't really listen to what he has to say. He claimed that his administration has "never been 'stay the course'" when it comes to Iraq.

But thanks to such marvelous inventions as the printing press, video cameras and audio recorders, we have numerous ways of documenting just how much the Bush administration has never been 'stay the course'.

Joe says Bush lied. So what else is new?

Steve Young has a poll going for the response Tony Snow will give about the President's 'course correction'.

Jon Perr says that even though Bush has now cut and run on stay the course, it's still #5 on the Bushboard.

Suzanne Nossel thinks the Bush administration's exit strategy is the same as the one that got us into Iraq: mislead the public. Lies in, lies out as they say.

Joe Gandelman tells us about the saddest part of this revision of recent history.

Elsewhere in the blogs...

Steve Gillard reminds us that Iraq has always been about one thing: Bush.

Tristero teaches us about the difference between Leaders and Lemmings.

And finally, Emptypockets says that ever since 2001, Americans have sought to bring order to the chaos. Unfortunately, the Bush administration and their enablers in the Congress have only brought us more chaos.

(Filed at State of the Day)


Sunday, October 22, 2006

On Ads and Propaganda

The GOP have apparently decided to resurrect the theme of "Vote Dem and Die" that was prevalent during the 2004 presidential election. This Sunday, the Republican National Convention will begin airing an ad titled "The Stakes". It is a short montage of quotes from Al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden and various others promising death will come to Americans superimposed over images of terrorists training to bring about those promises. At the very end it says "These are the stakes. Vote November 7th."

Many have denounced the ad for the blatant fearmongering it is designed to induce. Others have said it is reminiscent of the 1964 Lyndon Johnson ad "Daisy" which implicated death my thermonuclear fire should Republican Barry Goldwater take office. No doubt the comparison is made because both ads use the phrase "the stakes". But the imagery invoked in that earlier ad, and the current one's comparison to it, is not without a sense of irony.

Consider that here we are some 42 years later with a Republican presidency presiding over a time in which the risk of a nuclear confrontation are nearly as great, and perhaps even more so, than they were during the Cuban Missile Crisis. (Jack has an excellent post on that subject, BTW)

This past week, CNN broadcast footage filmed by Iraqi insurgents sniping American troops. House Republican Duncan Hunter has called for CNN correspondents to be expelled from Army embeds because they have now become "the publicist for an enemy propaganda film".

Funny how it's become hard to tell "enemy propaganda" from "campaign ads".

For more check out Carpetbagger, Atrios, Kos, Liz Sidoti, Josh, Robert Parry, and Capt. Fogg.

(Filed at State of the Day)

Friday, October 20, 2006


Go read Kevin Tillman.


From MSNBC.com:
Awaiting the recommendations of a commission exploring U.S. options in Iraq, the White House on Wednesday emphatically ruled out some proposals to end the long and unpopular war.

Presidential spokesman Tony Snow said a suggestion to divide Iraq into Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish regions, each with high degrees of autonomy, was a “nonstarter.” Similarly, he said a phased withdrawal of American troops — perhaps by 5 percent every two months — also was a “nonstarter.”

You withdraw when you win,” Snow said. “Phased withdrawal is a way of saying, ‘Regardless of what the conditions are on the ground, we’re going to get out of Dodge.’“ (emphasis added)

Might I remind Tony:

(Filed at State of the Day)

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Purse Snatching Revisited

Many months ago, I surmised that the only way Congress would finally stand up to the President's increasing encroachments on their authority would be when he clipped the strings dangling from the legislative handbag.

Well it looks like Bush is getting his scissors ready.

From Air Force Times:
Congress said it wants next year'’s defense budget to include funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but President Bush has indicated he may ignore that request.

In a "“signing statement"” released when he signed the 2007 Defense Authorization Act on Oct. 17, the president listed two dozen provisions in the act that he indicated he may or may not abide by.

Among the provisions is Section 1008 of the Authorization Act, which requires the president to submit defense budgets for 2008 and beyond that include funding for the wars and contain "“a detailed justification of the funds requested."

The article goes on to quote Senator Carl Levin as saying that he "would not be surprised" if Bush ignored the provision because he has done it before. And the real kicker is that Bush may be in the right to refuse the request.
Some constitutional scholars say Bush may be on solid legal ground if he refuses to send Congress a defense budget that includes war funding, a congressional staffer said. The scholars argue that the Constitution does not give Congress the authority to tell the president what to request or how to request it.

Now of course Congress can still vote down any supplemental spending bills that the President sends their way. And while this outcome is unlikely (even under a Democratic majority), I wonder how Bush would react should it actually occur?

Perhaps he'll shout "I'm the Decider!" and run off with the cash. Too bad we Americans will be the ones holding an empty bag.

Opening The Files: 10/19/06

Beginning of the End.

Keith Olbermann has been described as the modern day incarnation of legendary reporter Edward R. Murrow. He has attained this status because of his insightful and well-versed commentary, particularly on the politics of the day. Of late, his most poignant and forceful monologues have taken the form of his Special Comment at the end of his shows. And with each new soliloquy, Mr. Olbermann seems to out-do himself.

Last night, he continued that trend.

During an impassioned Special Comment, Keith discussed the recent death of the centuries hold writ of habeas corpus at the hands of the Military Commissions Act, signed on Tuesday by President Bush. Watching Keith is a requirement for anyone who is worried about what has become of our once great nation. You can watch him here and be sure to check out The Heretik, Judy, and The Rude One for more great commentary.

The Battle for Middle Earth (Metaphors)

Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum is apparently pandering for the Hobbit vote. The Senator compared the war in Iraq to the struggle waged against the evil forces of Lord Sauron from the classic J.R.R. Tolkien novel The Lord of the Rings.

Lance Mannion has not one but two great posts up discussing the real world implications of Santorum's allusion and what we ultimately should take away from Tolkien's tome.

Kvatch reports that the Senator has been diagnosed with Metaphor Malaise.

Elsewhere in the Intertubes...

Riverbend was back after a long hiatus in which many, myself included, were wondering if she had fallen victim to the violence we have wrought in Iraq. Her discussion of the Lancet study got Billmon thinking about his own actions in this disastrous war.

(Filed at State of the Day)


Tuesday, October 17, 2006

An Unamerican Law Needs No Further Revisions

If you were to do a quick search of my blog for the phrase 'signing statements', you would find a slew of posts dedicated to the topic. And while it may seem like I am just harping on what is at best a semantics issue to be debated amongst constitutional lawyers, my persistence is due the lack of any similar actions by those outside the blogosphere. This absence is a travesty, considering that these statements are quite possibly the worst affront to how our system of government operates.

For those needing a refresher in how our legislative process works, it goes something like this:

The Congress passes a bill and sends to the President, who then has two options available to him. He can either a) pass the bill as is and make it law or b) veto the bill, sending it back to Congress. Congress can then either make changes to the bill or override the President's veto with a 2/3 majority.

All previous presidents have adhered to this basic legislative procedure. A notable exception was President Clinton who for a short time possessed line-item veto authority until it was ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.

As anyone who follows politics probably knows, Bush found himself a third option. He has made it a habit of attaching signing statements to just about every piece of legislation that crosses his desk. And while past presidents have also issued such statements, the scope and frequency of them increased multifold under the current president.

The prevailing theme for most of them has been that Bush will construe the provisions of the bill with his role as the "unitary executive". Most of the provisions that these statements address are those which attempt to apply a limit or check on the presidency. So if Bush thinks certain provisions infringe on his authority as the "unitary executive", say a ban on torture or congressional notification, he is reserving the right to disregard those provisions.

The true nature of these statements was revealed yesterday when Bush signed the Military Commissions Act of 2006 some 19 days after it was passed by Congress. I speculated last week that the delay was probably due to the need for the wording of the signing statement that would undoubtedly be attached to be just right.

Well turns out I was wrong. Because according to Tony Snow, no signing statement will be issued this time. This seems rather strange because one excuse for the multitude of statements in the past has been the need for the President to clarify his interpretation of the legislation. Surely even if there are no provisions Bush objects to, he would still wish to issue a statement, if for no other reason then to once again state that he's The Decider?

But then again, what's not to like about this law? It gave Bush everything he could hope for and then some. He has been given immunity from any past violations of the War Crimes Act he may have committed. Abuses like those we saw at Abu Ghraib have now been legalized and even if those cheap suits McCain, Warner or Graham say 'no they aren't', Bush is now the final arbiter of what constitutes torture. Anyone, including US citizens, are now subject to indefinite detention at the President's whim. And most incredibly of all, Bush can now suspend habeas corpus, a power that even English kings did not possess.

As the title of this post says: An Unamerican Law Needs No Further Revisions.

They are to be saved for what little is left of the Constitution.

For more reactions see Creature, Swopa, Shakes, Mary, Dan Froomkin, Digby, JB, Olbermann, Tbogg, Lindsay Beyerstein, Clammyc, and Robert Parry.

Update: Looks as though I may have jumped the gun on there not being a need for a signing statement this time around.

As part of the new law, President Bush has the authority to interpret the applicability of the Geneva Conventions. The law calls for these interpretations to be rendered via an executive order. Tony Snowjob brought it up at yesterday's press briefing. (h/t windspike)
Q And the interpretations that were required by the law, that are to be published in an executive order --

MR. SNOW: What it says is the President is authorized to do an executive order. I'll read you the language in a moment. The President's senior advisors are going to make recommendations as to the appropriate steps. Once you have a law passed, then you have the people in the executive branch try to interpret how to make it happen. So there will be further consultations with Congress and consideration of additional legal guidelines in issuance of an executive order. So they're going to try to walk through all the --

Q It says the executive order is published in the Federal Register, right? Your intention is --

MR. SNOW: Let me just -- let me read to you, because -- I'll just read you the language. It sort of speaks for itself, but it's worth going through, with your forbearance. It says: "As provided by the Constitution in this section, the President has the authority for the United States to interpret the meaning and application of the Geneva Conventions and to promulgate higher standards and administrative regulations for violations of treaty obligations which are not grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions.

"The President shall issue interpretations described by Sub-paragraph A" -- which I just read to you -- "by executive order published in the Federal Register. Any executive order published in this paragraph shall be authoritative except as to grave breaches under Common Article III," and so on. So that's the language.

Q So he does have to, then, publish an executive order, isn't that right?

MR. SNOW: Well, again -- well, we'll see. This says he's authorized to do so.

Take particular note of the word "shall" in the above exchange. Because I have a feeling that the issuance of any signing statement will hinge on the definition of that word. Some may try to say that it means the President is required to issue an order and file it with the Federal Register. Others may say that there is no such requirement. As Tony illustrated in the briefing, the administration is going with the latter definition.

But what if Congress intended the former? If it did, a signing statement is sure to be in the offing.

Saddam Verdict: A Parting Gift?

As noted by my inimitable co-blogger Creature, the verdict in Saddam Hussein's show trial is set to be delivered just two days before the November 7th elections. The politically beneficial timing is obvious. It allows last minute speechifications about how the US has finally brought "an evildoer" to "justice". Bush can call the what is surely to be a guilty verdict a success in the "war on terror", once again trying to tie it to the war in Iraq.

So will this one last electoral gift courtesy of the deposed dictator be enough to keep the GOP in power?

For more reactions check out Carpetbagger, Christy, SusanUnPC, and Magpie.

(Filed at State of the Day)

Monday, October 16, 2006

Trick or Treat

Yesterday, the Washington Post reported the President Bush and Karl Rove are "inexplicably upbeat" about GOP prospects for the November elections.

Steven D. has a comprehensive piece that may explain why.

(Filed at State of the Day)

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Rationale Roulette

The AP has finally caught up with the rest of us. They report that Bush keeps shifting his justification for why we invaded and continue to stay in Iraq.

As Joe says, this rationale roulette is one of the reasons Americans think Bush is a liar. But can you really blame the AP for being hesitant to point out the obvious? If it were not for the refusal of those in the media to ask the tough questions instead of just reporting everything Bush said as if it were gospel, we might not be in the situation we are today.

Welcome to the reality-base community AP.

(Filed at State of the Day)

Opening The Files: 10/15/06

Another busy week. It started out with a bang (literally) when North Korea tested a nuke. And the fallout (no pun intended) has made for some interesting commentary.

Even though Wednesday was to be the first time since the test that we would get to hear the President's opinion on the matter at length, Bush seemed desperate to change the subject. When he finally did get around to talking about North Korea, he made vague warnings of 'serious repercussions' but ruled out a military response. Makes you wonder what happened to that whole 'no options off the table' policy.

And following the lead of Senator John McCain, Bush blamed the Clinton administration for the failure to stop the Koreans.

The ever worsening chaos in Iraq was also a topic of discussion. Little of what Bush said was new, aside from his intolerable statement about what Iraqi's can 'tolerate'. He mentioned that the US remains flexible to change but that the we would "not leave before the job is done." And as if to drive that point home, we also learned the same day that the Army plans to keep troops in Iraq as far out as 2010.

Bush mentioned that he was looking forward to what James Baker (whom he lovingly referred to as Jimmy) had to say about what to do in Iraq. Considering what's being reported, somehow I doubt he will like what he hears.

Matthew Rothschild thinks Bush is in Fantasy Land when it comes to North Korea. But pixie dust longer seems to be adequate for Iraq, so it's all about oil now.

Larry Johnson says that, just like Osama, Kim Jong-Il seems to have a soft spot for the Decider. He also points us to a discussion about how North Korea's test will now make a military confrontation more likely...with Iran.

Georgia10 says there is no 'victory' or 'defeat' in Iraq, only an end.

Helen Thomas says that Christmas has come early for the White House now that Jimmy has come in to pull Bush's chestnuts out of the fire.

Confidencer-in-Chief and The Unacceptables

According to a US News article, the Bush administration is so confident that the GOP will prevail this November that they have no plans for the alternative.
The Washington Post, meanwhile, noticed that President Bush has been using the word 'unacceptable' to describe his stance on a lot of issues. No doubt a Democratically controlled Congress is one of the things Bush finds unacceptable.

Carpetbagger wonders if Bush will get the blame should the GOP fail to hold onto Congress. According to The Heretik, it may be hard to tell which party is which once the blame game starts.

Jane Hamsher points us to some links showing us how the Bushies seem to have an aversion to planning post anything.

Why is Bush so confident about the outcome of the elections? Billmon has a short post that might explain why.

DK wonders if Bush's unacceptable rhetoric really makes him a hardliner. You know what they say about actions and words.

And finally, Kevin Drum noticed the last paragraph of that WaPo piece that says Bush is trying hard to get people to listen to him. What was it I said yesterday about flapping gums?

(Filed at State of the Day)


Saturday, October 14, 2006

Flapping Gums

I was browsing through CNN's transcript of Bush's press conference on Wednesday and this statement from the President to a reporter jumped out at me:
[..] I couldn't hear you, but I saw you talking, anyway.

Funny how the same thing can be said about this President.

(Filed at State of the Day)

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Cabinet Cleaning

No, Bush hasn't dumped Rummy or Condi. I'm talking about my blog's new look. With the readers that sure to arrive courtesy of my co-blogger status at State of the Day, I decided a remodel was in order.

So take a moment to browse thru the new, and hopefully improved, The Xsociate Files.

Just don't mess up my filing system.


(Filed at State of the Day)

At least he didn't call them semicolons

During a Rose Garden presser on Wednesday, President Bush dismissed a Johns Hopkins study that estimated some 600,000 Iraqi's have died since the US invasion 3 ½ years ago. Bush even went a step further saying he was 'amazed' that Iraqi's desire for freedom allowed them to 'tolerate' a certain level of violence.

Currently, only 33% of Americans can 'tolerate' this President.

(Filed at State of the Day)

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Padilla Update: Torture Edition

Via Glenn we finally learn some of the things that were done to Jose Padilla during his detention as an "unlawful enemy combatant". I urge you to go read Glenn's post. Because with the passage of that horrible detainee bill, it is a stark reminder of what Congress gave Bush the power to do to any American citizen of his choosing.

(Filed at State of the Day)

Inconceivable Invasion

The Twit has more to say.

USATODAY.com - Rice says U.S. will not invade North Korea:
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Tuesday the United States would not attack North Korea, rejecting a suggestion that Pyongyang may feel it needs nuclear weapons to stave off an Iraq-style U.S. invasion.

President Bush, Rice said, has told 'the North Koreans that there is no intention to invade or attack them. So they have that guarantee. ... I don't know what more they want.'

Perhaps they remember the last round of Bush bloviations about not wanting war with another "Axis O' Evil" nation. Or maybe Kim checked out Fubar's handy graphic.
...Asked whether North Korean leader Kim Jong Il may have felt that he needed to stage an apparent nuclear test this week to prevent an invasion similar to the U.S.-led attack on Saddam Hussein, Rice said Iraq 'was a very special situation.'

Yea, it was called Election 2004.

(Filed at State of the Day)

A Message from President Bush

(Filed at State of the Day)

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Opening The Files: 10/10/06

NuKorea and Lil' Kim to the rescue.

For years the world has questioned whether North Korea did in fact possess a nuclear weapon. On Sunday, we learned the answer.

During one of the few times I turned to the TV for news, I happened to catch President Bush yesterday morning joining other world leaders in condemning the nuclear test. But there was something about his address I couldn't quite put my finger on.

Finally I realized what it was. It was subtle, almost barely noticeable, but several times during his statement he seemed to be on the verge of breaking into a smile. Now it may have just been my imagination but somehow I doubt it.

Because he certainly has something to smile about now. With all the troubles that have been plaguing the White House and the GOP the last couple of weeks, this test has the potential to be the gift the keeps on giving right up until election day. It distracts from the clusterfucks that Bush has made of Iraq and Afghanistan and he gets to play tough guy just when people are starting to question his competency as a leader. There's also the added bonus of Foleygate being consigned to the inner folds of most of the major news publications for a while.

For all the political benefits that came from this test, you'd almost swear Bush called in a favor or something.

Many in the blogosphere are crowing about new polls that show Bush's approval numbers tanking and Democrats gaining ground. I wonder how long that will last now that The Decider's speechwriters get to dust off their How to Win Elections Through Fearmongering lexicon.

Josh, in this much linked to article, gives us a brief history of how we came to be here today. Carpetbagger found an interesting excerpt from Bob Woodward's "State of Denial" that might explain a few things.

Tristero and Cernig wonder if this was the October Surprise that Karl was promising.

With all the speculation that the nuke test was a dud, could the Koreans be setting up for a do-over?

Steven D. reminds us that a nuclear North Korea is unlikely to push Bush's plans for the Iran to the back burner. Maybe they'll just turn it down to a slow boil.

And finally, The Heretik teaches us about egos and Koreanals. Or something.

(Filed at State of the Day)


Monday, October 09, 2006

Going Nukular

And no, I'm not talking about some new Bush presser where his behavior becomes increasingly erratic. I'm talking North Korea. Cause they've apparently tested a nuke.

Heckuva job, Bushie.

(Filed at State of the Day)

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Time Covers



What's the holdup?

Marty Lederman notes that it will probably be at least another week before the Military Commissions Act (aka the Torture and Detainment Act) gets signed into law. As Marty says about the delay, "Odds are that the White House has asked the Congress to hold off, so that the Administration can schedule the signing statement for a date of its choosing."

Plus you have to allow them some time to work on the wording. The statement's gotta me more then just "I'm The Decider". Keeping up the appearance of a democracy is hard work.

Signing for Dummies.

If it weren't for the indispensable work of Charlie Savage at the Boston Globe, we might never know how stupid we have become to believe we still live in a democracy. The Decider struck again this week and the timing could not have been more appropriate.

At the same time we learn of a report by the non partisan Congressional Research Service that concludes Bush's use of signing statements are part of his "comprehensive strategy to strengthen and expand executive power" at the expense of Congress, Bush goes and proves their findings accurate. For you see when the President signed a new Homeland Security bill into law on Wednesday, he added a signing statement saying once again he would ignore the law he just signed.

Among the powers Bush said he possessed were the authority to alter Homeland Security reports regarding privacy rules and, far more appallingly given the aftermath of Katrina, ignore minimum qualification requirements for future directors of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Bush sure does want cronyism to remain the status quo for FEMA. Maybe he has someone in mind for a recess appointment. I hear Mark Foley is available.

Of course, these statements are just the latest notes in this sad symphony. When will someone point out The Decider is off key?

(Filed at State of the Day)

Saturday, October 07, 2006

(Lack of) Substance Abuse

As evidenced by the many clips which populate my blog, I am a big fan of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Which is one reason why I was perturbed by a study that came out some months ago claiming Daily Show viewers tended to be more cynical toward politics and politicians. Now for me, a little cynicism towards ones elected leaders can go along way. The issue of how detrimental TDS's brand of "news" was to the political discourse in this country seemed rather ridiculous. But it had people seriously asking the question: Is Jon Stewart bad for democracy?

Well turns out, probably no more than what you get from other sources of "news". According to a new study due out next summer, The Daily Show has about the same mount of substantive news coverage as other broadcast news programs.

So for my money, I'm sticking with The Daily Show. At least their humor is intentional.

(Filed at State of the Day)

Friday, October 06, 2006

Stalled Message

Bush anti-terror message stalled by sex scandal:
President George W. Bush's campaign strategy of painting Democrats as soft on terrorism has been stalled by a congressional sex scandal, jeopardizing Republican hopes of holding the House of Representatives, analysts say.

Analysts said the timing of the scandal, a month before the November 7 elections, could be trouble for Republicans who already have been feeling heat from voters over the Iraq war.

'This is a really serious problem for the Republicans right now,' said Merle Black, a political scientist professor at Emory University in Atlanta. 'We don't know how this is going to play out. We're a month away from the election. But right now, it's a major problem for the Republican leadership.'

I guess Karl's distraction isn't working out so well.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

TDS: Paged Heat

Onegoodmove has your moment of Zen.

Opening The Files: 10/05/06

I guess I might as well get use to doing two or more OTF's a week. Because I have a feeling a lot will be happening between now and election day that will garner some great commentary. Anyway, on to the Intertubes!


Foleygate continues to dominate the headlines. Which some might call a travesty considering there is so much more going on. Iraq, which is quickly deteriorating, has all but fallen off the radar. But then nothing spells ratings like a tawdry sex scandal.

The GOP are desperate to scrub (get it?) themselves clean of the matter. FOX News seemed happy to oblige, labeling Foley as a Democrat. The Associate Press went a step further, attaching the (D) to both Foley and Hastert. Course I'm sure it was just an honest mistake. Heck, blame it on the keyboard makers. R and D are pretty close to each other.

Now you had to know Keith would have something to say about FOX News' relabel libel. And speaking of Keith, Jeff Cohen wonders if he might be on thin ice.

Fubar has the alternate targets for the GOP blame game.

AJ feels guilty about writing a post on Bob Woodward's book during Foleygate. He shouldn't though. Someone has to.

William Pitt is curious: of all the things the Repubs should be sweating over, a sex scandal is what has them perspiring? What do you expect from the same folks who obsessed over Bill Clinton's phallus? And as Ellen Goodman says "I wouldn'’t have chosen to play on this field, but I will take it."

Sen. Russ Feingold points out the truly outrageous scandal.

And finally, Nance Gregg has the Five Stages of (GOP) Death.


Prepping the Feast

SAN JUAN (XF) - Terrorism detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba are being fed twice the daily recommended calories in preparation for their eventual slaughter and consumption at the annual White House Thanksgiving feast, the Xsociate Files has learned. A little noticed provision in the new detainee legislation passed by Congress last week calls for all detainees to be fed a high-calorie diet to "fattened them up".

With little over two months to go before the event, administrators at the facility are scrambling to plump up as many detainees as possible. It was believed that hunger strikes by the detainees, which have plagued Gitmo since late last year, would hinder their efforts. But thanks to forced feedings, the staff remains hopeful that they can be ready in time.

"We really didn't know if we could pull it off," one source who asked to remain anonymous said, "There was a minimum weight requirement for all the detainees. Thankfully we've been able to perfect our feeding techniques and things are coming along quite nicely."

How the detainees would be prepared for the meal has yet to be determined but sources tell XF that a chef has already been chosen.


Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Arrested Dissent

A Colorado man who was arrested back in June has sued the Secret Service agent who arrested him. So what was his crime?

Voicing his disapproval of the Iraq war to the Vice President. This of course is a big no-no, but apparently the man was under the impression this was still a free country. His mistake.

But it kinda makes you wonder: in light of the new detainee legislation awaiting the President's John Hancock, we will even hear about the next person who makes the same mistake of thinking they are free to exercise their First Amendment rights?

More from The Heretik, Greg Sargent, Audient, and Carpetbagger.

Wanted: WMD

War for Media Distraction.

Things have not been going well for Bush and the GOP this election season:

--An NIE comes to light that says the war in Iraq is making terrorism worse, a conclusion the American people had already reached on their own.

--Bob Woodward concedes that Bush has not been telling the truth about the war (welcome to the majority, Bob). He also reveals that Condi Rice apparently ignored pre-9/11 warnings, as did Rummy and Ashcroft, of impending attacks by Al-Qaeda.

--The GOP House leadership, so embroiled in CYA over Foleygate, has found themselves in total disarray barely one month before a critical election.

Simply put, we are in the midsts of an explosion the likes of which haven't been seen in a while. This makes the need for a distraction all the more imperative if a Democratic takeover of Congress is to be averted. And that spells one thing.


I know there has been a lot of talk shooting through the Intertubes about a war with Iran being this year's October Surprise. But with all of the above scandals (and many more I am probably missing), I think any attack on Iran would better be characterized as an October Distraction.

Check out Billmon, TalkLeft, and Arthur Silber for more.

Update: The Poll Toll.

Insulation Insult

House Speaker Dennis Hastert had this to say to Rush Limbaugh about the Foley saga:
But, you know, this is a political issue in itself, too, and what we’ve tried to do as the Republican Party is make a better economy, protect this country against terrorism — and we’ve worked at it ever since 9/11, worked with the president on it — and there are some people that try to tear us down. We are the insulation to protect this country, and if they get to me it looks like they could affect our election as well. (emphasis added)

So is Hastert basically saying that those who would bring up the issue of the House leadership apparently coddling a child predator are aiding and abetting "the terr'sts"? Sure sounds like it to me. And notice his strawman "some people" euphemism for the Democrats. Too bad Hastert's whole "It's a conspiracy, I tellsya!" claim doesn't have a leg to stand on.

Anyone else think it's about time we changed the insulation?

Update: Denny isn't the only one ascribing to the conspiracy theory. Rush, Boehner, and Hannity jumped on the bandwagon as well.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

TDS: Foley Erect

C&L has your moment of Zen.

Opening The Files: 10/03/06

States of Denial and Foley Follies

This weekend was pretty busy. The thing getting the most media coverage has been what some are calling Foleygate. Many are salivating over the potential damage Rep. Mark Foley's internet liaisons with underage House pages (and possible cover-up by House leadership) could do for the GOP as we approach the mid-terms. The White House has tried to steer clear, while making some pretty asinine comments to try to downplay the scandal.

Of course the sad thing about this whole Foley Affair is that it has overshadowed both the torture bill and the damning revelations in Bob Woodward's latest tome "State of Denial". Makes you wonder why, since Foley's foibles had apparently been known for a while, it would choose now to break. While it's possible that the Dems were the ones who let this slip, I think a far more likely scenario is that Karl Rove might have been behind this.

Consider that the White House had to have known Woodward's book would be coming out soon (books like this always have to be vetted first). So they knew that they needed something to distract from the book's revelations. What better distraction then a scandal involving a member of Congress and underage boys? And so far the distraction has worked. The GOP might not like it but I'm sure Karl has no qualms about throwing some allies under the bus so as to keep his benefactor's anemic approval ratings from taking a dive.

Among the most damaging revelations the White House would rather be ignored was Woodward's account of a pre-9/11 meeting where then CIA Director George Tenet warned then National Security Advisor Condi Rice of the looming threat Al-Qaeda posed. Rice denied the meeting ever too place, saying it was 'incomprehensible' she would ignore such dire warnings. Too bad they have records.

As for the torture bill, AG Gonzales has fired a warning shot across the bow of the Supreme Court (or as Jill put it, replicated a scene from The Godfather). This might be something SCOTUS should pay attention to. Because as was predicted that a court challenge to the torture bill would come in "days", a pre-emptive lawsuit has now been filed.

Josh Marshall says that Foleygate has pretty much decapitated the House GOP leadership. They do seem to be running around like a certain headless farm animal.

Kos points that whether it's the safety of our soldiers or House pages, there is no one the GOP wouldn't sell out. For them, power is everything.

Virt, as is his usual, writes a snarky post about the Republican leadership blaming the pages. He's kidding of course, but Matt Drudge isn't. By the way, Matt, Kolchak called. He wants his wardrobe back.

Carpetbagger also noticed the fortuitous timing of this Foley scandal and discusses some of the implications of that pre-9/11 meeting.

Arianna says that Woodward is only restating what many of us have known for a while.

Tristero points out that Newt Gingrich is also pushing the "ignore the Supreme Court" meme. Digby weighs in on Gonzales' warning.

And finally, Creature points out that in his haste to throw others under the bus (as I speculated above), Karl may have lost control of the message.