Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Falafel Shop vs. Photoshop

So Bill "McCarthy Lite" O'Reilly threatened to bring down the Kossacks yesterday. And how, prey tell, would he accomplish such a feat you ask? Why by letting his 55+ median age viewers know that there are those with the knowhow and spare time to manipulate photographs via this new fangled software called "Photoshop". Some even know how to (gasp!) post them online! The Horror!

Man, if O'Rarely right is this upset about a rather bland photo posted by an anonymous diarist, I can only imagine the hategasmic fits my own photoshoppery would send him into.

(Filed at State of the Day and All Spin Zone)

Monday, July 30, 2007

Still Lying After All These Years

This morning, The Washington Post takes a look back and sees that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has been refining his selective amnesia technique for some time now. I particularly loved this part floating a trail balloon for why he's done such a piss poor job of defending his tenure as head of the Department of Justice.
Bill Minutaglio, a University of Texas journalism professor and author of biographies of Gonzales and Bush, said Gonzales kept an "extremely, extremely low profile" in the three jobs Bush gave him in the Texas government -- general counsel, secretary of state and judge on the Supreme Court -- and had little practice before he came to Washington at responding publicly to stiff scrutiny. "The grilling he's enduring right now is beyond anything he had ever experienced in his life. He was ill prepared for it," Minutaglio said.

Poor Gonzo. I guess no one could have anticipated that being put in charge of one of the most important governmental departments in the US would mean he might have to face tough scrutiny of his job performance. Chalk this up to another thing the Bushies thought would be a cakewalk.

(Filed at State of the Day and All Spin Zone)

Sunday, July 29, 2007


The term "Phantom Limb" refers to the sensation one feels long after an appendage has been amputated. The mind, in an effort to overcome the loss of so much sensory input, creates "ghost" sensations. Pains which plagued the limb can still seemingly be felt long after it is no longer there.

For US soldiers returning from Iraq, the lost of a limb is perhaps one of the most debilitating injuries to suffer. They are also sadly the most frequent, the end result of devastating IED blasts which in an instant can turn healthy flesh into mangled carnage.

And as has happened all to often in this war, such individuals are all but ignored. In some cases they are even intentionally kept hidden, kept to the shadows so that we may never truly see the toll this war has wrought on our fellow citizen soldiers.

Another group that have been ignored have been the Iraqi amputees. Yet their numbers have continued to grow to such a degree that there is shortage of adequate care available to them.
Iraq is facing a hidden healthcare and social crisis over the soaring number of amputations, largely of lower limbs, necessitated by the daily explosions and violence gripping the country.

In the north of Iraq, the Red Crescent Society and the director general for health services in Mosul have told US forces, there is a requirement for up to 3,000 replacement limbs a year. If that estimate is applied across the country, it suggests an acute and looming long-term health challenge that has been largely ignored by the world.

We ignore all those who suffer in this war at our peril. For in doing so we risk losing the one thing that should never become a "phantom" sensation: our humanity.

(Filed at State of the Day and All Spin Zone)

Mining and Digging

Whenever the Bush administration finds itself in the midst of a controversy, one tried and true method they use to try to squash the issue has been selective leaking. Whether it's selectively declassified intelligence data or revelations of as yet unknown terror threats, inevitably information will leak that they think will somehow bolster whatever claims they are making at the time.

But this time all the may have accomplished in doing is digging the hole they're in even deeper. On Tuesday, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales testified that a March 2004 confrontation in then AG John Ashcroft's hospital room was due to concerns over "other activities" not related to the NSA spying program already confirmed by the administration. Subsequently we learned that the dissent was indeed regarding the NSA program, as both the Gang of Eight and FBI Director Robert Mueller came forward to confirm. This left Gonzales in the very serious position of having potentially misled Congress.

So given that Gonzales might be facing a perjury charge, it's not surprising that the administration is suddenly willing to talk (anonymously) about those "other activities".
A 2004 dispute over the National Security Agency’s secret surveillance program that led top Justice Department officials to threaten resignation involved computer searches through massive electronic databases, according to current and former officials briefed on the program.

It is not known precisely why searching the databases, or data mining, raised such a furious legal debate. But such databases contain records of the phone calls and e-mail messages of millions of Americans, and their examination by the government would raise privacy issues.

The N.S.A.’s data mining has previously been reported. But the disclosure that concerns about it figured in the March 2004 debate helps to clarify the clash this week between Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales and senators who accused him of misleading Congress and called for a perjury investigation.

It is quite obvious this info was leaked on Gonzo's behalf. But in revealing that there was in fact data mining taking place at the NSA, the administration has opened up a whole nother can o' worms. Because up till now, they've adamantly denied that such activities were ever taking place. Indeed, as A.L. notes, the President himself called a press conference to try to dispel any concerns that the government was "mining or trolling through the personal lives of millions of innocent Americans."

Glenn Greenwald has been among those pining for Congress to get to be bottom of just how extensively the NSA has been spying on Americans and in light of today's revelation I'm sure he'll have something to say on the issue in the coming days. Until then, the need to learn more just became that much more paramount.

Reactions via Meme.

(Filed at State of the Day and All Spin Zone)

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Answering the Call

My how times have changed. Seems like it wasn't that long ago that the White House was denouncing the blogosphere as 'hateful' and 'polarized'. Of course that was before they were on the ropes and in need of a sympathetic ear. They found it in the always amenable denizens of the right wing blogs, one of the few demographics still willing to buy their claptrap hook, line and stinker.

Conservative bloggers hosted a conference call with an 'unnamed White House official' about recent assertions of executive privilege. But beyond the news the Karl Rove would indeed disregard the subpoena issued against him the other day, there was very little new news generated. It seemed mostly to be a "we hate Dems" gabfest, with the standard swaps at Congress one would expect given the make up of the target audience: They can go Cheney themselves, the Dems are frustrated so they're acting all hyper-partisan, they're trying to embarrass the administration, etc etc.

All I want to know is, when can the liberal side of the blogs expect their conference call?

Somehow I have a feeling it will be about as forthcoming as that phone call I expected from the last girl I gave my number to. Don't wait up guys.

More from Cernig, Libby, and TRex.

(Filed at State of the Day and All Spin Zone)

Friday, July 27, 2007

Shootin' Thru The 'Tubes

TGIF and here's what's Shootin' Thru The 'Tubes:

No YouTube debate for the GOPers? That seems to be the inkling coming out of the blogs. Some wonder if it has anything to do with the questions that are likely to be submitted. Others note that the GOPer apologists seem to be settling on the "bias venue" line. That they are making the exact same arguments now that they once derided the Democratic candidates for in refusing to appear on a Fox News debate doesn't even register with them. But then, seldom does these days.

But surely, to paraphrase Roger Ailes, if the GOPers can't face the Tubers then they can't face the Terr'sts.

Speaking of not being able to handle confrontation, the latest Bill O'Reilly drummed up controversy is a perfect example of how frightful blowhards like Billo are of the burgeoning influence of the progressive blogosphere and venues where they can't control the narrative. For those not up to speed, the short of it is that Bill went nutpicking on the liberal blog Daily Kos for some disparaging comments. He then used those as a "gotcha" to suggest that all liberal blogs deal in hatred and acrimony. Of course he's one to talk since commenters to his own site aren't exactly all sunshine and daisies. Though try and point it out and you either get banned or have your mic cut. I guess free speech is only free if BillO approves of it.

Did ya hear? Turdblossom got a subpoena yesterday. Gordon says its about time someone made the little piggy squeal.

(Filed at State of the Day)


More Boobs

Once again the media is obsessing over Hillary Clinton's mammaries. Only this time it's because Clinton herself has decided to use the shtick as a teat for suckling some cleavage cash. Wingers are going gaga over the gazonga grab, though personally I just think they want an excuse to bring up the Clinton's sex life again. And I would have to agree with Tim F. that the media's excuse for why these types of stories are deserving of attention borders on the imbecilic.
How about that. Media figures tend to swoon around Republicans (Romney’s laser-cut jaw and broad shoulders, Thompson has a manly funk) but stories about Democrats always seem to revolve around being image-conscious fakes. Beltway habitues like Kurtz probably don’t even realize it when they pursue stories that just reinforce their own prejudices.

Probably not, otherwise they wouldn't know they are making themselves look more and more like boobs every time.

(Filed at State of the Day and All Spin Zone)

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Gonzales: Did I Lie or Diddle I?

A lot of people are talking this AM about whether or no Gonzo is a liar. That there is any doubt shows you how good the AG is at parsing his words to such an extent that it's a wonder he can keep up with the many competing story lines. But then the Bushies have always been excellent diddlers.

Perplexing Perjury Update: The focus of whether or not Gonzales has in fact perjured himself seems to be coalescing around testimony he gave in Feb '06 where he said there was no dissent about the NSA spying program. Sen. Chuck Schumer alluded to his exchange with Abu on the subject several times at yesterday's hearing.

Yet I seem to recall that Gonzo wasn't even sworn in at the time at the behest of none other than Arlen Specter, who is now hinting that Gonzales' statements may be 'actionable'. Yet if he wasn't sworn in, can a perjury charge stick?

I know it's probably an oversimplification but combined with The Boss' undying love for his Fredo, perhaps that's another reason for the smirk.

(Filed at State of the Day)

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Opening The Files: 07/25/07

Git 'R Gone Gonzo

As Creature says, Alberto Gonzales needs to be tossed like that month old burrito you found hidden in the back of the fridge. Yesterday was his third time on the Senate skillet and the reviews are in. Critics rave "you'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll wonder how this man made it through law school much less remains the chief law enforcement officer."

But then the reason for that is one of the few things very clear to everyone. With the Bush administration, loyalty and fealty are valued above all else. The ability to lie, mislead, and obstruct are the criteria on which such displays are judged. In that light, yesterday's award winning performance will no doubt elicit a hearty two thumbs up from The Decider.

Not surprisingly given the implications, everyone is focusing on the part of Gonzo's testimony in which he seems to be admitting that their were "other" spying programs that have not been revealed to the public. But A.L. wonders if it is all an issue of semantics.

Media Matters finds Fox News up to it's old tricks again. Josh Marshall wonders if they even notice it anymore.

Gonzales says that the Gang of Eight asked him to go shake down ask Ashcroft for his signature on whatever spying program was in dispute. The Gang, however, has a decidedly different recollection.

And Emily Bazelon says that Gonzales is the master of cringe. Indeed, I cringe at the thought of another 18 months of this hack in charge of what few civil liberties we have left. Maybe it's time Congress did something to change that.

(Filed at State of the Day)


Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Welcome to the Tubate

So the Democrats held another debate last night and from the many commentators this morning there was a clear winner: YouTube. That's because the questions were posed not by moderator Anderson Cooper who more or less served as officiator, but instead were asked by ordinary people. And the questions were as diverse as the issues. There was a woman who's son is currently deployed to Iraq asking when will the Dems get serious about ending the war. A gay couple asking who amongst the contenders would allow them to marry. There was even a question about global warming, humorously asked by a snowman.

There was very little different in the candidates answers, mostly a mishmash of standard talking points which events likes these have become known for. But having the candidates answering questions from the people who will ultimately be the ones to decide their fate certainly was a refreshing change of pace. Lord knows how the GOPers will handled it when it's their turn in September.

More thoughts from Josh Marshall, Digby, Katrina Vanden Heuvel and John Dickerson.

(Filed at State of the Day)

Monday, July 23, 2007

More NIE

Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell took to the Sunday airwaves and Tim Russert asked him a rather pointed question, which I too noted the other day, about the seeming disparity between the current National Intelligence Estimate and the previous one. Timmeh asks, "What changed?"
McCONNELL: What's different? What changed? In Pakistan, where they're enjoying a safe haven, the government of Pakistan chose to try a political solution. The political solution meant a peace treaty with a region that's never been governed -- not governed from the outside, not governed by Pakistan. The opposite occurred. Instead of pushing al-Qaeda out, the people who live in the -- these federally- administered tribal areas, rather than pushing al-Qaeda out, they made a safe haven for training and recruiting.

Now this explanation would seem to make sense. Al-Qaeda was basically given free reign to bolster up there forces in a lawless region. But as former CIA analyst Larry Johnson noticed, the data that might back up this assertion is decidedly absent.
A careful reading of the NIE on The Terrorist Threat to the Homeland fails to reveal any empirical or intelligence data to justify the conclusions. For example, if we had intelligence that an increasing number of foreigners had crossed into Waziristan during the last three years, received training, and departed the area then there would be some legitimate basis for concern about a “regenerated” Al-Qa’ida. But no such evidence or facts are proffered to make such a case. That is odd. Even in unclassified key judgments one should expect some reference to the underlying data supporting the assessment that a capability has regenerated. But there is none.

All the more reason Congress should be asking questions. McConnell was also asked about his "serious reservations" regarding the Bush administration's use of intelligence in the run up to the war. If only he showed similar skepticism now.

(Filed at State of the Day)

Censuring Bush

I've never had any qualms about expressing my affinity for Sen. Russ Feingold. He has been a stand out amongst the current congressional herd. When all of the other mooing denizens obligingly followed the piped piper of Crawford, he rebuffed the siren song. He was the only one to vote against the Patriot Act, which at the time represented a patriotic act in and of itself and a good bit of prescience on the part of the Senator given the many troubles that have arisen from that dreadful piece of legislation. He was among the few senators to vote against the authorization for use of military force in Iraq. And when it was revealed that President Bush had authorized the NSA to spy on Americans in violation of the law, Sen. Feingold bucked Beltway conventional wisdom that confronting the president on it would be political suicide and instead called for him to be censured for his actions.

Now Senator Feingold has once again brought up the issue of censure, this time for not only the continued deceptions and mismanagement of the war in Iraq but also this administration's numerous "assaults" on the rule of law. I know there are those who argue that censure is meaningless because it does nothing to alter the president's actions. Even the Dem leadership isn't too keen on the idea of moving ahead with a vote, saying the GOP will never allow it to pass. Of course they won't, which is entirely the point of the resolution.

After last week's filibuster, a vote on censure will be another instance to force the GOPers in Congress to choose. Will they side with Bush or will they side with the majority of their own constituency calling for change? If they should block or vote down the measure, they will have to return to their home districts and explain their votes. Those facing tough reelection probably dread the prospect of having to explain to the people they represent that although they too have misgivings about President Bush's actions, when it comes time to put their votes were their rhetoric is, the former falls far short of confirming the latter.

(Filed at State of the Day)

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Shootin' Thru The 'Tubes

I'm gonna enjoy a bit of lazy Sunday respite so in the meantime, here's what's Shootin' Thru The 'Tubes:

Wow, the GOP is on track to be the most obstructionistiest body in a while. Luckily, I here were due for a congressoscopy in September to remove some of the blockage.

Mitt Romney is taking some heat for being photographed holding a sign disparaging not one but two Democratic presidential candidates. His excuse is pretty lame for someone who prides himself on being steadfast in his decisions.

And speaking of lame Repubs with poor judgment, Rudy Giuliani's invocation of 9/11 and his status as mayor during that horrific time comes so frequent now that it's become the butt of many a joke at places like The Onion. Whether it's healthcare, education, immigration or even HIV, somehow Rudy will always find some round about way to lead us back to those halcyon days when no one questioned his leadership abilities. In light of this, Carpetbagger has a suggestion that might make things easier for all of us.

A lot of people were noting the cognitive dissonance from the usual suspects, most of them corralled in the pages of the Weekly Standard. Maha berated Barnett, Kathy crushed Kristol, and Libby mopped the floor with WaPo's Fred Hiatt. Remind me not to mess with any of these ladies.

(Filed at State of the Day)


Saturday, July 21, 2007

War Brand

As BarinMD says, you don't know whether to laugh or cry.
In the advertising world, brand identity is everything. Volvo means safety. Colgate means clean. IPod means cool. But since the U.S. military invaded Iraq in 2003, its "show of force" brand has proved to have limited appeal to Iraqi consumers, according to a recent study commissioned by the U.S. military.

The key to boosting the image and effectiveness of U.S. military operations around the world involves "shaping" both the product and the marketplace, and then establishing a brand identity that places what you are selling in a positive light, said clinical psychologist Todd C. Helmus, the author of "Enlisting Madison Avenue: The Marketing Approach to Earning Popular Support in Theaters of Operation."

I don't know which is sadder. That we paid $400,000 for this study or that it took the Bushies four years of running a clusterfuck to realize that bombing the shit out of a country, killing untold numbers of it's citizens and generally turning the place in a cauldron of chaotic violence probably isn't the best way of saying "We're here to help".

Update: More from Libby.

(Filed at State of the Day)

He Has a Decider's Note

WASHINGTON (XF) - In yet another highly unusual move, President Bush has sought to exempt himself from a planned colonoscopy on the grounds that it is constitutes cruel and inhumane treatment, The Xsociate Files has learned. Sources familiar with a classified portion of a recently issued executive order say that Mr. Bush, who is said to loath going to the doctor for check ups, included himself as part of the order. The move is considered unorthodox because the order in question concerns the treatment of terrorism detainees held in CIA custody.

Critics are surprised by the move, with some wondering if the president wasn't mistaken in what the order covered.

"Maybe he thought CIA meant Colon Inspection Agency," one blogger wrote in response to the news. Still others worry at the implications of the leader of the free world forgoing a procedure commonly used to detect the onset of serious illness such as cancer.

"As a guy, I can relate. But if a healthy Bush colon is the only thing separating us from a Dick Cheney presidency, it's worth the discomfort," a Senate aide is quoted as saying.

(Filed at State of the Day)


Friday, July 20, 2007

Just Keep Him Away from Any Red Buttons

Via Think Progress come three words that are sure to send a chill down the spin of many a Bush critic:
Acting President Cheney.

“President Bush will undergo a routine colonoscopy Saturday, and will transfer power to Vice President Dick Cheney during the procedure, expected to take about two and a half hours, the chief White House spokesman said.”

I can tell you're wanting to make jokes about how Bush is having his dummy parts replaced from overuse but I'm more concerned with what the ventriloquist will be doing with his free hand.

BREAKING: Clinton has boobs!

And no I'm not talking about Bill.

I have it on good authority that as member of the female persuasion of the human race, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton has breasts. You heard right. That titillating bit of info comes courtesy of this completely sophomoric piece by Robin Givhan who lets us know that Hillary's neckline has been making junkets further and further south.

It starts out well enough, noting the evolution of HRC's wardrobe from her time as First Lady to present. But then it delves into the sort of childish "tee hee" commentary more at home during third grade recess than on the pages of a major daily.

I know its an exercise in futility to expect more from our media but, seriously, what's next? Barack Obama and his Peculiar Pigment? Yeesh.

Update: I'm not the only one who thinks the only boobs on display are the ones at the Washington Post.

(Filed at State of the Day)

Dumb Lines

"I used a dumb line," Tony Snow, explaining his remark about the Iraqi government taking the month of August off.

Other 'dumb lines':

Bring 'Em On.
Last Throes.
Mission Accomplished.
Never could have anticipated.
Never been stay the course.
Wait until September.

And the biggest dumb line of all?

I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.

Add your own dumb lines in the comments.

(Filed at State of the Day)


I made a brief reference to this in my last post. But the news that the Bush administration has basically said will not enforce the law regarding contempt citations issued by Congress deserves much more than a mention in passing. No doubt many are feeling we have reached the point of no return towards a full constitutional crisis. Others would argue that we have been on this course for some time and indeed there are a litany of abuses which would have warranted swift action to correct them were this a healthy and functioning democracy. But it is not and has not been for some time. From warrantless wiretapping, signing statements, and the politicization of nearly ever facet of the government, the Bush administration have shown nothing but contempt for the very system of government which they profess to want to spread around the world.

There are those who would claim that this is just another drop in the bucket, a flash in the pan which will fade until the next affront in revealed. I would posit that something must be done now. For if Congress were ignore this and let it become common practice, they too will be showing contempt for democracy.

And I would find that most contemptible of all.

Update: Jeff Fecke peers into a future.

(Filed at State of the Day)

Respecting Justice Redux

When President Bush commuted the sentence of convicted felon, Scooter Libby, many were outraged that justice was denied. But there was still a glimmer of hope that someone would be held to account, if not criminally then at least monetarily. Sadly, that glimmer has now been extinguished.
A federal judge yesterday dismissed a lawsuit filed by former CIA officer Valerie Plame and her husband against Vice President Cheney and other top officials over the Bush administration's disclosure of Plame's name and covert status to the media.

U.S. District Judge John D. Bates said that Cheney and the others could not be held liable for the disclosures in the summer of 2003 in the midst of a White House effort to rebut criticism of the Iraq war by her husband, former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV. The judge said that such efforts are a natural part of the officials' job duties, and, thus, they are immune from liability.

Yes, good to know that outing a CIA operative is now part of "official job duties". But I guess it was to be expected, especially considering who the judge in the case is (hint: Scooter's one too). The Bushies are so averse to any sort of accountability that even if Plame's case hadn't been dumped, the President probably would have tried to intervene in some fashion. Perhaps he could have made use of the now all powerful executive privilege which is apparently the constitutional equivalent of a "do whatever I want and get away with it" badge. (I also hear scissors now beats rock and paper, too). If nothing else though, at least this will be another instance in which Plameophobes can once again shout to the heavens "No underlying crime, see!"

(Filed at State of the Day)

Olbermann on Scapegoating

A very forceful Special Comment from Keith last night. He takes the Bush administration to the woodshed once again. It is a journey to which they have no doubt become so accustomed, it surprises me they haven't suggested a new coat of paint. This time Keith's beef is with the scapegoating of those like Sen. Hillary Clinton who have the audacity to ask the simple question: do you have a plan for leaving Iraq?

Their response is the surest sign that they do not, and indeed never did.

On a related note, given this development, I wonder if I was a bit prophetic in my previous snark. Perhaps Senator Clinton should keep a close watch on her bank account.


Thursday, July 19, 2007

Take It to the Bank

WASHINGTON (XF) - The Xsociate Files has learned that as part of a new executive order covering the seizure of assets ostensibly for counter-terrorism, the Bush administration will seek to freeze the assets of those they claim to be some of the biggest offenders: members of the US Congress.

According to sources familiar with the document, President Bush issued the order as a response to the Congress' repeated attempts to force a change of course in Iraq. The order gives the executive branch the authority to block the bank accounts and financial assets of those "people, companies or groups that the United States deems are working to threaten stability in Iraq."

"Clearly, those 52 who voted yes wish to destabilize Iraq," the source said, making an apparent reference to the number of Senators who voted to advance a withdrawal plan after a rare all night session.

Democrats were outraged when told of the Bush administration's intentions. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is quoted as calling the President's actions "dictatorial" and "an affront to the separation of powers".

But not all are concerned over the measure. Some members of Congress have been exempted from the order in what critics claim is payback for standing in support of the President's policies.

"If the Democrats are really worried about losing their assets, perhaps they should invest in a decent freezer," said Sen. David Vitter, moments before getting into a car with an unidentified blond woman.

(Filed at State of the Day)


A Tale of Two NIE's

The conveniently timed National Intelligence Estimate that was seized on by the Bush administration and their allies in Congress had many in the blogs befuddled. For rather than being a clear cut justification for staying in Iraq, the unclassified portion seemed to be more of a veiled acknowledgment that doing so has allowed Al-Qaeda to become stronger.

But something very few have noted is the seeming disparity with last year's NIE. Below is brief excerpt from an op-ed by Richard Clarke.
First, it fails to note that the intelligence community’s judgment has changed significantly since its last report in 2006. Back then, they were saying that Al Qaeda was suffering. Not any more. “[W]e judge that Al Qaeda will intensify its efforts to put operatives here,” says the report.

Now this got me thinking. According to the Bush administration, in less than a year, Al-Qaeda went from an organization that was "seriously damaged" and "disrupted" (pdf) to one whose capabilities are now at the same level they were when they struck the US nearly six years ago. I know a lot of emphasis (or should I say blame) is being placed on Pakistan and the lawless region established in last year's peace accord as the excuse for why this has occurred but isn't it also entirely possible that one or both of the NIE's themselves are misleading in their assessments?

Having the bit of conspiracy theorist streak that I do, one has to consider the timing of the release of reports like these. During last year's election season, the GOP was running just about all of their campaigns on a platform of combating terrorism. Lo and behold when the NIE comes out, it reports significant gains in that area.

Fast forward to 2007 and the all-nighter debate and we find the NIE has drastically changed to warning of Al-Qaeda's recouped capabilities and the possibility they could cultivate ties with affiliates in Iraq.

Now I'm not saying that these reports have been twisted or manipulated in some fashion. They may very well be accurate in their assessments regardless of their dichotomy. But the fact that such a radical change in status happened in a relatively short amount of time just raises the question of whether such reports have become little more than political fluff to advance whatever talking points the Republicans happen to be pushing at the time.

The bigger question: Were they lying then or are they lying now?

See also Sidney Blumenthal.

(Filed at State of the Day)

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Opening The Files: 07/17/07

Pajama Party

The photoshoppery goodness accompanying this post comes courtesy of TRex who is among the many who pulled an all-nighter along with the Senate. And what a kegger it must have been. Because the only way I can see GOP members (plus Joe) still having the gumption to rally around a president whose approval rating is just this side of Nixon is to get completely hammered before hand.

As usual, fearmongering was the name of the game and cherry-pickin' ain't just for the Decider anymore. The GOPers have seized on a new NIE touting Al-Qaeda's "resurgence" as cause for why we should give the "surge" until September. At that point, I'm sure all those waffling Repub revolters will call for a change. My money's on it being the one that Gen. Peter Pace suggested the other day.

But for now, pass them their pillows and fuzzy slippers. They got some filibusterin' to do!

It figures that when the media finally does decide to bring the term filibuster back into usage they get it completely backwards.

Several anti-war groups held protests at the Capitol and Hardball host Tweety was apparently expecting a different type of demographic. Christy schools him in who these DFH's really are.

Harold Meyerson has found a new species of invertebrate residing on the shores of the Potomac.

Digby says the GOPer strategery seems like something out of a Three Stooges routine. I'd say Bugs Bunny is more like.

Glenn Hurowitz wonders if this all-nighter will just be a mid-summer's tryst. For the sake of the country, let it be a lasting affair.

(Filed at State of the Day)


Tuesday, July 17, 2007


Back when the Republican's controlled the Congress, the filibuster used to be this outmoded thing, deserving only to be nuked if ever invoked by the Democrats. But now that the tables have turned, the GOP has taken to using this procedural option with gusto. I recall but cannot find a quote from one GOPer saying that the filibuster has worked quite well for the Republicans this session.

And indeed it has. They haven't even had to actually filibuster anything. All the bills that have been blocked or voted down in the Senate have all been the result of the mere threat of a filibuster. And the hesitancy of the media to call it that makes one wonder if the word itself has in fact been banished from the Beltway lexicon.

Thankfully some remember what it means.
Forcing his Republican colleagues to put up or shut up on the notion of an up-or-down vote, Senate Majority leader Harry Reid (D-NV) just moments ago announced that he will immediately file a cloture motion on the Reed-Levin troop redeployment bill and, if Republicans follow through with a filibuster, will place the Senate in a prolonged all-night session Tuesday to force a true continuation of debate.

Many are talking about this and rightly so. It's good that Sen. Reid is taking his job as Majority Leader seriously in telling the Repubs that if they want to turn the 110th into another Do-Nothing Congress, they're going to have to work for it.

Update: Joe Gandelman has much more with prominent linkage to yours truly.

(Filed at State of the Day)

Monday, July 16, 2007

One Step Closer

The Senate did something truly appalling last week that got very little attention outside of the blogosphere. It declared war on Iran.

Okay, that not exactly true but the results may be the same nonetheless. On Wednesday, the Senate passed by an astounding 97-0 an amendment (text here) by Sen. Joe Lieberman requiring the Executive Branch to compile reports detailing Iran's role in Iraq. Might sound pretty mundane but some are speculating it may in fact be laying the groundwork for war with Iran. Digby and Dover Bitch had must read posts this weekend and like them, I too am befuddled as to why anyone in Congress would even consider giving this administration any opening whatsoever. Especially in light of their thoroughly Bushian interpretations of legislative authorizations in times past.

Sure, the stock answer from Senators is that this amendment merely requires a report on Iran's activities. And indeed there was a clause added at the last minute saying it is not a declaration of the use of military force.

Yet somehow I have a feeling the Bushies will just skim over that bit in favor of some of the more provocative language including numerous invocations of "murder" in relation to US troops. Any protestations by members of Congress can be dismissed as moot since their vote amounts to an affirmation that they agree with that interpretation. And since the amendment has already prejudged the verdict, it's a safe bet any reports henceforth will simply reinforce that assertion (fixing the intelligence around the policy, as it were).

But not to worry, I'm sure the Bushies will try to resolve this conflict diplomatically, a course long advocated by the President.

Then again...
The balance in the internal White House debate over Iran has shifted back in favour of military action before President George Bush leaves office in 18 months, the Guardian has learned.

The shift follows an internal review involving the White House, the Pentagon and the state department over the last month. Although the Bush administration is in deep trouble over Iraq, it remains focused on Iran. A well-placed source in Washington said: "Bush is not going to leave office with Iran still in limbo"...

The vice-president, Dick Cheney, has long favoured upping the threat of military action against Iran. He is being resisted by the secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, and the defence secretary, Robert Gates.

Last year Mr Bush came down in favour of Ms Rice, who along with Britain, France and Germany has been putting a diplomatic squeeze on Iran. But at a meeting of the White House, Pentagon and state department last month, Mr Cheney expressed frustration at the lack of progress and Mr Bush sided with him. "The balance has tilted. There is cause for concern," the source said this week.

Still think it was a good idea to vote on this amendment?

Update: Meme roundup.

(Filed at State of the Day)

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Shattered Kristol

As Libby said, we got a double dose of William Kristol's inanity this morning (triple if you count his appearance on Faux News). I'll leave it to the very capable Mustang Bobby to explain why his reasoning resembles so many broken pieces of glass.

(Filed at State of the Day)

Can't Take the Heat

WASHINGTON (XF) - Citing mounting criticism and pressure to change course in Iraq, President Bush has decided to double his usual late summer hiatus and will spend nearly two months at his Texas ranch, The Xsociate Files has learned. The exact dates have yet to be confirmed but sources do say it is expected he will depart sometime in late July.

Critics are outraged and are equally incensed over the month long vacation of the Iraqi parliament during what are said to be critical months of the President's surge strategy.

Press Secretary Tony Snow was dismissive of the concerns, however, saying, "Look, we understand the frustration over this. But the President is taking a lot of heat and it can easily get upwards of 72 degrees in the Oval Office."

"The President blows so much hot air and Dick Cheney gives everyone such a cold chill I'm surprised it doesn't rain when the two of them are together," a prominent political analyst is quoted as saying.

(Filed at State of the Day)


Shootin' Thru The 'Tubes

Relatively slow news weekend. Nonetheless there are some things Shootin' Thru The 'Tubes:

With Al-Qaeda having been the center of attention this past week, one had to know that another Bin Laden video would be forthcoming. I think it's still up in the air whether this was a "new" release or simply a "Best Of" rehash. But perhaps the most interesting commentary comes courtesy of a man who knows a thing or two about being Public Enemy #1.

The '08 election suffered it's first casualty yesterday and it wasn't Crazy Train like everyone has been breathlessly speculating. Instead it was former Virginia Gov. James S. Gilmore III who bowed out of the campaign citing poor fundraising numbers. Of course there's also the fact, as pointed out by Carpetbagger over at TPM, that no one really knew who the hell Gilmore was, let alone that he was running for president.

President Bush is desperate to stave off judgment of the 'surge'. Friday saw yet more bad news as Sens. Lugar and Warner unveiled legislation to change the mission in Iraq (nevermind that Bush has been doing that for years). So to brunt some of the pressure, Bush has taken to placing increased emphasis on Gen. Petreaus. But his has some wondering if the general is just being set up as the fall guy.

(Filed at State of the Day)


Saturday, July 14, 2007

Secret Squirrels

The excerpted piece below would be rife for my signature brand of snarkification were it not filled to the brim with hilariousness already. Of course the real surprise is that it comes courtesy of a reputable news org not at all associated with The Onion.
Iranian intelligence operatives recently detained over a dozen squirrels found within the nation’s borders, claiming the rodents were serving as spies for Western powers determined to undermine the Islamic Republic.

“In recent weeks, intelligence operatives have arrested 14 squirrels within Iran’s borders,” state-sponsored news agency IRNA reported. “The squirrels were carrying spy gear of foreign agencies, and were stopped before they could act, thanks to the alertness of our intelligence services.”

I wonder if their attire was big clue.

(Filed at State of the Day)

Hypocrisy, Thy Name is GOP

I'm not usually one to harp on the hypocrisy of the GOP because lets face it, it's pretty much become a given. But sometimes the hypocrisy reaches such a critical mass that it warrants attention. Just take some of the more glaring examples in recent memory:

1. Mark Foley - once championed stricter laws to protect children and teens from online predators was caught having inappropriate contacts with Capitol Hill pages...online.

2. David Vitter - once chided President Bill Clinton for his extramarital affair finds his name and number in a very different type of DC directory...that of a local Madam.

3. Bob Allen - once sponsored a failed bill to tighten Florida's prohibition of sex in public is arrested for soliciting an undercover officer...for sex in a public restroom.

I guess it's a safe bet that if a GOPer is complaining about some affront to societal norms or values, chances are he's speaking from experience.

(Filed at State of the Day)

Friday, July 13, 2007

True Grit

Peggy Noonan pens op-ed today which probably would have been more accurate had it been titled "American Nero". Peggy goes on at length about how off-putting President Bush's seemingly perpetual chipper attitude can be.
As I watched the news conference, it occurred to me that one of the things that might leave people feeling somewhat disoriented is the president’s seemingly effortless high spirits. He’s in a good mood. There was the usual teasing, the partly aggressive, partly joshing humor, the certitude. He doesn’t seem to be suffering, which is jarring. Presidents in great enterprises that are going badly suffer: Lincoln, LBJ with his head in his hands. Why doesn’t Mr. Bush? Every major domestic initiative of his second term has been ill thought through and ended in failure. His Iraq leadership has failed. His standing is lower than any previous president's since polling began. He's in a good mood.

She also goes on to point out how the American people have become the realists to the starry eyed romantic in the White House.
I suspect people pick up with Mr. Bush the sense that part of his drama, part of the story of his presidency, is that he gets to be the romantic about history, and the American people get to be the realists. Of the two, the latter is not the more enjoyable role.

Americans have always been somewhat romantic about the meaning of our country, and the beacon it can be for the world, and what the Founders did. But they like the president to be the cool-eyed realist, the tough customer who understands harsh realities.

With Mr. Bush it is the people who are forced to be cool-eyed and realistic. He's the one who goes off on the toots. This is extremely irritating, and also unnatural. Actually it's weird.

Welcome to the Bush Derangement Syndrome club, Peggy. Better late, than never. T-Shirts are in the back.

Update: More from Carpetbagger, Libby, and Joe Gandelman.

(Filed at State of the Day)

Reports of my oversimplification have been greatly exaggerated

It is rather heartening to see the stenographers in the press taking a brief respite from their administrational dictation. But as Will Bunch points out, they still aren't willing to call a spade a spade.
But no, this was just a great oversimplification. Think about it -- how can you make something more "simple" when it wasn't true to begin with?

Perhaps they are just concerned about 'oversimplifying' the fact that President Bush wouldn't know the truth if you gave him the coordinates and a GPS.

(Filed at State of the Day)

Olbermann on Chertoff's Gut

Keith takes Michael Chertoff to task for his gastrointestinal intuition.


Thursday, July 12, 2007

Mixed Baggage

President Bush, ever the optimist, dismissed a report out today showing the Iraq government failing to met most of the benchmarks set forth when the surge began as a 'mixed bag'. Some highlights of the presser are here. About what you'd expect from a guy so out of touch with reality it defies laws of physics that make David Blaine scratch his head and go "How'd he do that?".

Don't you just love that this man has the audacity to continue to peddle the line that the same people who attacked us on 9/11 are the same ones now in Iraq and if therefore you oppose him you're wanting the terrorists who attacked us to win. Sorry Mister Prez, those particular evil-doers you speak of are in Pakistan, or don't you even bother to read your own intelligence community's assessments? On second thought, don't bother. Your presser pretty much answers it for us.

Oh, and nice dig at your critics for suffering from 'war fatigue' that been affecting our psychology. Good to know you're taking an interest in our mental health.

Cause we certainly are tired, Mr. President. Tired of the lies. Tired of the false promises. Tired of the petulance. Tired of you.

Here's a suggestion: pack up your excessive baggage (i.e. Cheney, Gonzo et al) and go spend the next 18 months at Crawford where you can't hurt anyone except the occasional shrub.

More from Arianna.

(Filed at State of the Day)

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Opening The Files: 07/11/07


With the kinda-sorta GOPer defections continuing apace, the Bushies are indeed running scared. To try to counter the exodus, they've sought to 'retool' their war rhetoric. But the only tools in sight are the ones who would be willing to believe this 'retooling' is any sort of actual change. That number is now apparently 29%. What's that saying about fools?

Anyway, Bush gave a rambling speech in Cleveland yesterday were he once again resorted to the one tool left in his bag of tricks: fear. Nothing really new was said, just more of the same. But fear not (pun intended), they are working on a new way forward. Only problem? The new way seems awfully familiar.

And you can't tell me that it's just coincidental that at the same time Bush is giving a speech warning of the dangers of Al-Qaeda should we leave Iraq, a report leaks out suggesting they're on the way or already here (which begs the question, if that's the case, tell me again why are we staying in Iraq?). As if that weren't suspicious enough, you also have Homeland Security Director Michael Chertoff issuing similar dire warnings based solely on his 'gut feeling'. Something tells me we've reached the Diarrhea level of the BS Alert System.

Richard Blair has the buzz on the latest box office flop.

Shorter Eli: In a world full of Dubyas, things would get done as soon they are almost done getting. Heh?

Michael J.W. Stickings thinks it's time for a gut check on this guttural fearmongering.

Fred Kaplan says there's something depressing about Bush's Cleveland speech. You mean besides that he gave it?

Not to begrudge Shaun Mullen or anything, but is "patheticer" even a word? Then again maybe is should be with this bunch.

Here's Larisa on Devils and Ouija boards.

And John Aravosis says that Bush appears to be taking these new terror threats about as serious as he has taken previous ones.

Update: Another gut check by James Mulvaney.

(Filed at State of the Day)


Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Another Fine Member of the "Moral Majority"

Talk of the blogs this AM is a new inductee into the Hall of Hypocrisy. Another sanctity of marriage defender has some 'splain to do.
Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) apologized last night after his telephone number appeared in the phone records of the woman dubbed the "D.C. Madam," making him the first member of Congress to become ensnared in the high-profile case.

The statement containing Vitter's apology said his telephone number was included on phone records of Pamela Martin and Associates dating from before he ran for the Senate in 2004.

Now normally I wouldn't care about the extramarital affairs of a wayward GOPer. But as Carpetbagger notes, what makes cases like these newsworthy is that the subject of them often hold themselves up as the standard barer of moral superiority. Yet we see they are just as fallible as any other human being with wants and desires (or in this case a predilection for BDSM-style "sex play" as Maddam Palfrey describes her former service).

In any event, if Mrs. Vitter's past comments are any indication, Sen. Vitter may want to sleep face down for the foreseeable future.

(Filed at State of the Day)

Plugging the Dike

Predictably the Bushies went into full spin mode to try to tamp down on claims that Bush is making like the little Dutch boy to stop the trickle of GOPers from his pond. Tony Snowjob said thusly of the non-debate taking place:
“There is no debate right now on withdrawing forces right now from Iraq,” Snow said.

“The president has said many times that as conditions require and merit that there will be in fact withdrawals and also pulling back from areas of Baghdad and so on,” the press secretary said. “But the idea of trying to make a political judgment rather than a military judgment about how to have forces in the field is simply not true.”

This is just another variation on the "Bush listens to the generals" meme we've had shoved down our throats since the surge began. Of course, when those same generals tell him something he doesn't to hear, they get canned. So much for relying on military judgment.

And the claim that there are no political judgments being made right now aren't exactly true either.
President Bush, facing a growing Republican revolt against his Iraq policy, has rejected calls to change course but will launch a campaign emphasizing his intent to draw down U.S. forces next year and move toward a more limited mission if security conditions improve, senior officials said yesterday.

Once again, the Bushies are resorting to the only thing they're good at: PR. Which makes sense considering they certainly don't have any substantive signs of progress to point to.
A progress report on Iraq will conclude that the U.S.-backed government in Baghdad has not met any of its targets for political, economic and other reform, speeding up the Bush administration's reckoning on what to do next, a U.S. official said Monday.

One likely result of the report will be a vastly accelerated debate among President Bush's top aides on withdrawing troops and scaling back the U.S. presence in Iraq.

The "pivot point" for addressing the matter will no longer be Sept. 15, as initially envisioned, when a full report on Bush's so-called "surge" plan is due, but instead will come this week when the interim mid-July assessment is released, the official said.

"The facts are not in question," the official told The Associated Press, speaking on condition of anonymity because the draft is still under discussion. "The real question is how the White House proceeds with a post-surge strategy in light of the report."

It would appear he's going to just surrounded himself with uniformed soldiers while screeching "I'm the Decider!" Whether there is anyone left who'll listen remains to be seen.

Great posts from Eugene Robinson and McJoan.

(Filed at State of the Day)

Monday, July 09, 2007

Running Scared?

Two pieces this AM point to increased tension in the halls of the White House on what to do about Iraq. Following on the heels of a long delayed mea cupla by the paper of record, we find that whispers of withdrawal are popping up in the Oval Office.
White House officials fear that the last pillars of political support among Senate Republicans for President Bush’s Iraq strategy are collapsing around them, according to several administration officials and outsiders they are consulting. They say that inside the administration, debate is intensifying over whether Mr. Bush should try to prevent more defections by announcing his intention to begin a gradual withdrawal of American troops from the high-casualty neighborhoods of Baghdad and other cities.

Mr. Bush and his aides once thought they could wait to begin those discussions until after Sept. 15, when the top field commander and the new American ambassador to Baghdad are scheduled to report on the effectiveness of the troop increase that the president announced in January. But suddenly, some of Mr. Bush’s aides acknowledge, it appears that forces are combining against him just as the Senate prepares this week to begin what promises to be a contentious debate on the war’s future and financing.

Now logic dictates that we take such info with copious amounts of sodium chloride. Especially since it comes courtesy of David Sanger, who blog pal Cernig likes to call "Judy in Drag". This could very well be a cosmetic lipsticking of the proverbial pig and reading through the rest of the article quoted above, I'm inclined to agree with some that this is indeed just a head fake to buy another Friedman. I'd also offer it up as a possible "pity the poor prez" piece designed to make us want to ease up on the big lug. Certainly the Beltway elites will be suggesting just that soon enough (countdown to David Broder 3...2...).

There's another piece that also leaves me questionable of the Times article. Robert Novak writes that National Security Advisor Steven Hadley had a sitdown with prominent Repubs before the July 4th break. Ostensibly the meeting was to determine what brought about recent defections from Bush. But it left the GOPers concerned that the Bush bubble is still preventing any sort of serious discussion of the matter.

And both of the articles still leave out any indication of how The Decider feels. But if past is prologue, we can infer that he's liable to still be his ole' ornery self. Thus all the more reason to wonder if we truly are on the verge of some sort of shift in the waters of the Potomac or if that's just Cheney flushing what's left of the Constitution down the toilet.

More via Meme.

(Filed at State of the Day)

The Curse of Brownie

I doubt anyone would be at all surprised to learn of the "gaping holes" in leadership at the Department of Homeland Security. The "Heckuva Job, Brownie" affair shows that when push comes to shove, the Bushies will shove the blame for failures onto other laps. Were it not for the dangers posed, this would be almost comical. Almost.

Then again, maybe this is their way of making more outsourcing look appealing. By the way, when can we outsource the President?

Blog Thanks: The Heretik for the C&L link.

(Filed at State of the Day)

Sunday, July 08, 2007

This one they can't blame on Clinton

Remember last year when The Path to 9/11 came out and sent the righties into fits of blogasmatic Clinton hate? They heralded the docudrama as an indictment of the Clinton administration for failing to stop Bin Laden. One scene that had them practically calling for Bill's head on a pike was a scene in which then-National Security Advisor Sandy Berger calls off a special ops mission that could have resulted in the capture or killing of Bin Laden himself. And even though it turned out the scene was complete fiction, righties nonetheless professed it as prime example of the timidity of Clinton's approach to terrorism.

I wonder if they'll express any outrage at the Bush administration's approach.
A secret military operation in early 2005 to capture senior members of Al Qaeda in Pakistan’s tribal areas was aborted at the last minute after top Bush administration officials decided it was too risky and could jeopardize relations with Pakistan, according to intelligence and military officials.

The target was a meeting of Qaeda leaders that intelligence officials thought included Ayman al-Zawahri, Osama bin Laden’s top deputy and the man believed to run the terrorist group’s operations.

But the mission was called off after Donald H. Rumsfeld, then the defense secretary, rejected an 11th-hour appeal by Porter J. Goss, then the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, officials said. Members of a Navy Seals unit in parachute gear had already boarded C-130 cargo planes in Afghanistan when the mission was canceled, said a former senior intelligence official involved in the planning.

Consider that this operation occurred (or rather didn't occur) relatively recently. Since 9/11 we've been bombarded with all sorts of warnings about the dangers of Al-Qaeda. Yet when the Bushies had a potential shot at one of the main perpetrators of the worst terrorist incident in US history, they demurred. There must have been a really good reason for not proceeding, other than the nominal claim of not wanting to piss off Perez.
Mr. Rumsfeld decided that the operation, which had ballooned from a small number of military personnel and C.I.A. operatives to several hundred, was cumbersome and put too many American lives at risk, the current and former officials said.

This excuse is both laughable and insulting when you consider that no similar qualms apparently exist for the "cumbersomeness" and "risk" to Americans currently bogged down in Iraq.

The righties were pissed at Clinton for a fake act of indecision. Yet Bush's actual act barely registers a blip on their hardly-ever-right radar.

More from Joe Gandelman (and thanks for the link).

Blog Thanks: Slate.com for picking up the SotD of this post, even though they did attribute it to Creature.

(Filed at State of the Day)

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Shootin' Thru The 'Tubes

I got nothing, so here's what's Shootin' Thru The 'Tubes:

Fred Thompson, media darling and designated conservative savior in the '08 race may have just hit is first bump in the long road to the White House. Seems that in the course of trying to beef up his conservative bona fides, Ole Freddy Boy forgot to mention he may have lobbied for some pro-choice people back in the day. I'd have to agree with Kevin that regardless of whether or not this revelation gains any real traction, Fred should expect more scrutiny as the campaign season progresses.

And while we're on the subject of campaigns, seems that erstwhile long shot, Ron Paul is besting one of the top tier candidates at least when it comes to bringing in the dough. Will Crazy Train be derailed by the man with two first names? Stay Tuned.

David Shuster is getting much praise for his smackdown of Fouad Ajami's metaphor of Scooter Libby as a fallen soldier. Combine this with David's other performances as guest host and Tweety may need to start worrying about his job security.

(Filed at State of the Day)


Friday, July 06, 2007

The Do-Something Congress

Wah! The Bushies are in a bit of a snit. For the first time in their measly time in office, they're having to answer serious questions about stuff they would much rather be kept quite. So their whining like the soiled brats they are.
The White House Thursday raised questions about the level of Democratic oversight, saying that the time the majority spends on investigating the Bush administration could be used to pass bills.

Bush spokesman Scott Stanzel told reporters during the daily briefing that the White House has been subject to an average of about six oversight hearings a day since Democrats took control of Congress. In that time, he added, the administration has turned over 200,000 pages of documents.

Said Stanzel: “I would raise those issues because it raises the question, what does Congress want to do? Do they want to pass legislation for the American people or would they rather investigate and have politics be the course of the day?

This really chaps my loins. It's as if the White House has existed in a completely different universe. Then again, maybe it has. Maybe in that universe the Congress didn't pass an Iraq supplemental appropriations bill (twice) or pass a stem cell research bill or tried to vote on an immigration reform bill. Of course in this universe, the first two were vetoed by the President and the third was killed by members of his own party (in addition to many others which have been stonewalled by the GOPers).

And the White House has the audacity to suggest they aren't doing enough legislative work? I know the Bushies have trouble multitasking but that doesn't mean Congress has such deficiencies.

More from Carpetbagger.

(Filed at State of the Day and All Spin Zone)

Respecting Justice?

Earlier this week when President Bush commuted the sentence of convicted perjurer Scooter Libby, the prevailing argument for why he did not issue a full pardon was because he wish to show respect for the jury's verdict in the case. He and his minions (including Tony Snowjob in a laughable op-ed in USA Today) continue to claim that even without prison time, Libby will still face a heavy fine and two years of supervised probation.

Now Libby has paid the quarter mil fine seemingly with ease. And as for the probation, well it seems even that is up for debate. Presiding Judge Reggie Walton is concerned that by commuting Libby sentence prior to him having served any time in jail, President Bush may have removed any impetus for probation (actually supervised release, explained here).

If this is what Bush meant by respecting justice, I'd hate to see what disrespecting it looks like.

(Filed at State of the Day)

Gen. Odom on 'Supporting the troops'

Gen. William Odom (Ret.) has an op-ed in Nieman Watchdog that is a must read. Here's the lede:
Every step the Democrats in Congress have taken to force the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq has failed. Time and again, President Bush beats them into submission with charges of failing to "support the troops."

Why do the Democrats allow this to happen? Because they let the president define what "supporting the troops" means. His definition is brutally misleading.

I urge you to read the rest. The General goes on to note the disproportionality of past combat deployments with those currently being faced by our troops in Iraq. He points to the psychological as well as the physical damage being inflicted on them as the best argument for why troop redeployment is necessary.

General Odom says that Congress has the power to compel the president to change course in Iraq. Whether Democrats will be willing to use that power remains to be seen. But regardless, the need for change remains paramount if we are to ensure that we still have a viable military able to respond to other threats around the world by the time Bush leaves office.

Blog Thanks: Salon's Blog Report for linking to the ASZ of this post.

(Filed at State of the Day and All Spin Zone)

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Opening The Files: 07/04/07

Our King George

The Libby pardon (which is what this is regardless of the semantics) has captivated the blogs. And even though it was all too predictable coming from this president, the feelings of anger and disgust are nonetheless palpable.

Many have made allusions to President Bush acting as if he were King and indeed he has. For nearly seven years, he has ruled as if by divine right, as if the rights enshrined in the Constitution were just so much scribblings on what he is famously quoted as calling "just a goddamned piece of paper." How appropriate then that he should, just days before the anniversary of the founding of this nation, once again show his contempt for that sacred document.

For then, as now, we find ourselves burdened by an oppressive regime who cares naught but for themselves and those who can further their hold on power. Then, as now, we must fight to restore order to this republic, least we betray the suffering and courage of our founders who stood resolute in the face of a similar monarchical entity.

Yesterday when I highlighted the fact that no one is paying any mind to the damage done to Joe and Valerie Wilson in this whole affair, I thought the casual disregard couldn't get any worse. I was wrong. For not only did White House Mouther Tony Snowjob issue a glib "apology" when asked if Americans were deserving of one from this administration for outing a CIA operative but then he goes on to suggest that because Washington leaks like a sieve, it's not really that big a deal. Sorry for letting by vituperative, uncivil bloggerness show when I say "Fuck you and your apology, Tony".

The Anonymous Liberal says that this one-off justice is but one example of King Solomon Bush's reign. As for Scooter, maybe now he'll be free to find the real perpetrators.

Shaun Mullen says there is one word that keeps cropping up whenever he thinks about George Bush.

John Nichols on how the founders viewed the importance of impeachment and that perhaps it is time that Congress heed the voices of the past.

Jeffrey Feldman says that to stem the rising tide of cynicism, we must keep "faith" in our system of government regardless of what King George wants.

Sidney Blumenthal and Robert Scheer say that pardoning Libby was more about obstructing rather correcting an injustice.

John Fabian Witt reminds us that independence from the British Empire was not the only thing the Declaration sought to establish.

Christy is willing to stand for Liberty. Will you stand with her?

Have a safe and happy Fourth everyone.

(Filed at State of the Day)


Olbermann on Libby Pardon

A very powerful Special Comment tonight. Back in 2000, before I had taken a serious interest in politics, I was a bit nonplussed by the ascension of George Bush into the White House. But like John Wayne who Keith famously quoted last night, I also felt that out of deference to the office I would bury any grievances I may have had and merely wish my new president would do the best job he were able. But he did not do a good job, far from it.

I was not around for Watergate. I was not a witness to the Saturday Night Massacre. But I have been witness to the massacres, both literal and figurative, perpetrated by this presidency. The victims have been the peoples of both America and Iraq. Still more victims are found in the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, indeed the very rule of law itself.

Richard Nixon chose to show honor in his last act as president. He resigned so that someone more deserving of the office could take the helm. But the arrogance and hubris of this president precludes such a gesture. So like Keith, I too feel that is long past time that we as Americans, as the true bosses of Bush and Cheney, ask for them to tender their resignations.


Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Commuted Justice

Reading over the prepared White House statement released with the commutation order for Lewis Libby's sentence, I noticed something not yet highlighted in any of the multitude of blog posts I've perused. Here is the relevant graf where President Bush tries to lay out the case that even though Scooter will avoid jail, he still faces a hefty punishment.
My decision to commute his prison sentence leaves in place a harsh punishment for Mr. Libby. The reputation he gained through his years of public service and professional work in the legal community is forever damaged. His wife and young children have also suffered immensely. He will remain on probation. The significant fines imposed by the judge will remain in effect. The consequences of his felony conviction on his former life as a lawyer, public servant, and private citizen will be long-lasting.

That may be so. But I ask this: If Bush and anyone who defends his actions are so concerned about the damage done to Libby's reputation, why have no similar concerns ever been expressed about Joe and Valerie Wilson? What about their reputations and professional status? Joe Wilson has been maligned for years now by Bush defenders as some nepotic opportunist. Valerie Plame has been called everything in the book, not the least of which is a liar and a traitor. And that's leaving out the damage done to her life's work in the CIA, years spent cultivating networks of informants.

Yet everyone's so concerned about poor Libby. Such a sentiment is made all the more callous when you consider that unlike Scooter, who knew full well what he was doing when he lied to leak investigators, the Wilsons didn't have a say in having their lives turned upside down.

(Filed at State of the Day and All Spin Zone)

The Crimes to Come

A lot of people are pissed tonight at President Bush for finally issuing that get out of jail free card to Scooter Libby. I don't know why anyone would be surprised. This is atypical behavior for this president. And after pissing off a huge percentage of his remaining supporters with the immigration bill, Bush had to appease them somehow. Nevermind that it once again just shows how truly committed Bush is to the rule of law and standards of equality before justice.

But Larisa notes, the implications of what Bush has done here are huge. Just as with his steadfast refusal to get rid of Alberto Gonzales, this partial pardon of Libby demonstrates to all those loyal Bushies who remain ensconced in various agencies that lying on behalf of the President will not be frowned upon and those who do will be protected from accountability.

And everyone was worried about the underlying crime...

(Filed at State of the Day and All Spin Zone)

Monday, July 02, 2007

He Has The Power!

(h/t Joe Sudbay for inspiration)

(Filed at State of the Day)

Big Brother Joe

The events in London and Glasgow this past week have raised awareness that despite our ostensible efforts in Iraq to combat terrorism, terrorists are still able to target the US (or in this case our allies) with impunity. And while first indications seem to suggest the latest incidents were perpetrated by rank amateurs, we should not become complacent. There are individuals with far more expertise willing to ply their deadly tradecraft.

Which makes being able to track and monitor such individuals all the more paramount. But I don't know if taking the Orwellian route advocated by the likes of Joe Lieberman is the right course.
Appearing on ABC’s This Week, Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) used the foiled terror attempts in London to call for greater domestic spying here in the United States. Lieberman said, “I hope these terrorist attacks in London wake us up here in America to stop the petty partisan fighting going on about…electronic surveillance,” in apparent reference to the Senate Judiciary Committee’s subpoenas for documents related to Bush’s NSA warrantless wiretapping program.

Lieberman goes on to suggest that there is "gridlock" over whether or not we should spy on "non-American citizens". Leaving aside for the moment that the issue is not whether to spy on terrorists but if it should be done in contravention of the law, parsing the language of this exchange is rather telling and particularly disturbing when you consider who Joe Lieberman is. He is chairman of the Homeland Security Committee and as such, would hold a lot of sway in any legislation that would define what exactly constitutes a "non-American citizen".

If having Holy Joe as the arbiter of what it means to be "non-American" doesn't frighten you, I don't know what will.

More reactions via Meme.

(Filed at State of the Day and All Spin Zone)