April 30, 2007

Frank Rich: Our Poodle Press

From the NYT:
April 29, 2007

All the President’s Press


SOMEHOW it’s hard to imagine David Halberstam yukking it up with Alberto Gonzales, Paul Wolfowitz and two discarded “American Idol” contestants at the annual White House Correspondents’ Association dinner. Before there was a Woodward and Bernstein, there was Halberstam, still not yet 30 in the early 1960s, calling those in power to account for lying about our “progress” in Vietnam. He did so even though J.F.K. told the publisher of The Times, “I wish like hell that you’d get Halberstam out of there.” He did so despite public ridicule from the dean of that era’s Georgetown punditocracy, the now forgotten columnist (and Vietnam War cheerleader) Joseph Alsop.

It was Alsop’s spirit, not Halberstam’s, that could be seen in C-Span’s live broadcast of the correspondents’ dinner last Saturday, two days before Halberstam’s death in a car crash in California. This fete is a crystallization of the press’s failures in the post-9/11 era: it illustrates how easily a propaganda-driven White House can enlist the Washington news media in its shows. Such is literally the case at the annual dinner, where journalists serve as a supporting cast, but it has been figuratively true year-round. The press has enabled stunts from the manufactured threat of imminent “mushroom clouds” to “Saving Private Lynch” to “Mission Accomplished,” whose fourth anniversary arrives on Tuesday. For all the recrimination, self-flagellation and reforms that followed these journalistic failures, it’s far from clear that the entire profession yet understands why it has lost the public’s faith.

That state of denial was center stage at the correspondents’ dinner last year, when the invited entertainer, Stephen Colbert, “fell flat,” as The Washington Post summed up the local consensus. To the astonishment of those in attendance, a funny thing happened outside the Beltway the morning after: the video of Mr. Colbert’s performance became a national sensation. (Last week it was still No. 2 among audiobook downloads on iTunes.) Washington wisdom had it that Mr. Colbert bombed because he was rude to the president. His real sin was to be rude to the capital press corps, whom he caricatured as stenographers. Though most of the Washington audience failed to find the joke funny, Americans elsewhere, having paid a heavy price for the press’s failure to challenge White House propaganda about Iraq, laughed until it hurt.

You’d think that l’affaire Colbert would have led to a little circumspection, but last Saturday’s dinner was another humiliation. And not just because this year’s entertainer, an apolitical nightclub has-been (Rich Little), was a ludicrously tone-deaf flop. More appalling — and symptomatic of the larger sycophancy — was the press’s insidious role in President Bush’s star turn at the event.

It’s the practice on these occasions that the president do his own comic shtick, but this year Mr. Bush made a grand show of abstaining, saying that the killings at Virginia Tech precluded his being a “funny guy.” Any civilian watching on TV could formulate the question left hanging by this pronouncement: Why did the killings in Iraq not preclude his being a “funny guy” at other press banquets we’ve watched on C-Span? At the equivalent Radio and Television Correspondents’ Association gala three years ago, the president contributed an elaborate (and tasteless) comic sketch about his failed search for Saddam’s W.M.D.

But the revelers in the ballroom last Saturday could not raise that discrepancy and challenge Mr. Bush’s hypocrisy; they could only clap. And so they served as captive dress extras in a propaganda stunt, lending their credibility to the president’s sanctimonious exploitation of the Virginia Tech tragedy for his own political self-aggrandizement on national television. Meanwhile the war was kept as tightly under wraps as the troops’ coffins.

By coincidence, this year’s dinner occurred just before a Congressional hearing filled in some new blanks in the still incomplete story of a more egregious White House propaganda extravaganza: the Pat Tillman hoax. As it turns out, the correspondents’ dinner played an embarrassing cameo role in it, too.

What the hearing underscored was the likelihood that the White House also knew very early on what the Army knew and covered up: the football star’s supposed death in battle in Afghanistan, vividly described in a Pentagon press release awarding him a Silver Star, was a complete fabrication, told to the world (and Tillman’s parents) even though top officers already suspected he had died by friendly fire. The White House apparently decided to join the Pentagon in maintaining that lie so that it could be milked for P.R. purposes on two television shows, the correspondents’ dinner on May 1, 2004, and a memorial service for Tillman two days later.

The timeline of events in the week or so leading up to that dinner is startling. Tillman was killed on April 22, 2004. By the next day top officers knew he had not been killed by enemy fire. On April 29, a top special operations commander sent a memo to John Abizaid, among other generals, suggesting that the White House be warned off making specific public claims about how Tillman died. Simultaneously, according to an e-mail that surfaced last week, a White House speechwriter contacted the Pentagon to gather information about Tillman for use at the correspondents’ dinner.

When President Bush spoke at the dinner at week’s end, he followed his jokes with a eulogy about Tillman’s sacrifice. But he kept the circumstances of Tillman’s death vague, no doubt because the White House did indeed get the message that the Pentagon’s press release about Tillman’s losing his life in battle was fiction. Yet it would be four more weeks before Pat Tillman’s own family was let in on the truth.

To see why the administration wanted to keep the myth going, just look at other events happening in the week before that correspondents’ dinner. On April 28, 2004, CBS broadcast the first photographs from Abu Ghraib; on April 29 a poll on The Times’s front page found the president’s approval rating on the war was plummeting; on April 30 Ted Koppel challenged the administration’s efforts to keep the war dead hidden by reading the names of the fallen on “Nightline.” Tillman could be useful to help drown out all this bad news, and to an extent he was. The Washington press corps that applauded the president at the correspondents’ dinner is the same press corps that was slow to recognize the importance of Abu Ghraib that weekend and, as documented by a new study, “When the Press Fails” (University of Chicago Press), even slower to label the crimes as torture.

In his PBS report last week about the journalism breakdown before the war, Bill Moyers said that “the press has yet to come to terms with its role in enabling the Bush administration to go to war on false pretenses.” That’s not universally true; a number of news organizations have owned up to their disasters and tried to learn from them. Yet old habits die hard: for too long the full weight of the scandal in the Gonzales Justice Department eluded some of the Washington media pack, just as Abu Ghraib and the C.I.A. leak case did.

After last weekend’s correspondents’ dinner, The Times decided to end its participation in such events. But even were the dinner to vanish altogether, it remains but a yearly televised snapshot of the overall syndrome. The current White House, weakened as it is, can still establish story lines as fake as “Mission Accomplished” and get a free pass.

To pick just one overarching example: much of the press still takes it as a given that Iraq has a functioning government that might meet political benchmarks (oil law, de-Baathification reform, etc., etc.) that would facilitate an American withdrawal. In reality, the Maliki “government” can’t meet any benchmarks, even if they were enforced, because that government exists only as a fictional White House talking point. As Gen. Barry McCaffrey said last week, this government doesn’t fully control a single province. Its Parliament, now approaching a scheduled summer recess, has passed no major legislation in months. Iraq’s sole recent democratic achievement is to ban the release of civilian casualty figures, lest they challenge White House happy talk about “progress” in Iraq.

It’s our country’s bitter fortune that while David Halberstam is gone, too many Joe Alsops still hold sway. Take the current dean of the Washington press corps, David Broder, who is leading the charge in ridiculing Harry Reid for saying the obvious — that “this war is lost” (as it is militarily, unless we stay in perpetuity and draft many more troops). In February, Mr. Broder handed down another gem of Beltway conventional wisdom, suggesting that “at the very moment the House of Representatives is repudiating his policy in Iraq, President Bush is poised for a political comeback.”

Some may recall that Stephen Colbert offered the same prediction in his monologue at the correspondents’ dinner a year ago. “I don’t believe this is a low point in this presidency,” he said. “I believe it is just a lull before a comeback.” But the fake pundit, unlike the real one, recognized that this was a joke.

Copyright 2007 The New York Times Company

April 29, 2007

Sex. Sex, Sex. And Rice.

Condi Rice "absolutely loved" her deputy Randall L. Tobias, who has just resigned in a prositution scam. He started with Thais and moved onto Latinas, but were there any sistas along the way?

Don't forget, the extremely single Ms. Condi once called George W. Bush her "husband" (before correcting herself). I am just curious about how much love she has to spread around.

The Watergate hooker scandal involving the CIA's #3 died with barely a wimper in the US press. Surely this latest sex scandal will have some legs? Wolfie and Gonzo are on the ropes, I think it's time Condi made it a threesome.

April 28, 2007

Qui Custodiat Democrats?

How about this guy?
Gravel today is a fierce critic of the Iraq war and government secrecy.

"This war was lost the day that George Bush invaded Iraq on a fraudulent basis," he said in the debate. Believing that Congress has the power to both declare and end wars, he called for a law to end the war.

"He's the one to say not only that the emperor has no clothes, but that the emperor wannabes have no clothes," said national pollster John Zogby, adding, "There is an angry voter. I don't know how that will take shape, it's way too early. But you got a sense why Mike Gravel is in the race on Thursday and that he is in the race."

The reaction to Gravel's performance has overwhelmed his campaign. His aides said they got more requests for interviews yesterday than in the first 12 months of the campaign.

Gravel's website could not handle the flood of hits after the debate, they said. Bloggers complained that they were ready to donate money but were unable to get into the website .
Compare that with this guy:
The Senate's No. 2 Democrat says he knew that the American public was being misled into the Iraq war but remained silent because he was sworn to secrecy as a member of the intelligence committee.

"The information we had in the intelligence committee was not the same information being given to the American people. I couldn't believe it," Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin, Illinois Democrat, said Wednesday when talking on the Senate floor about the run-up to the Iraq war in 2002.

"I was angry about it. [But] frankly, I couldn't do much about it because, in the intelligence committee, we are sworn to secrecy. We can't walk outside the door and say the statement made yesterday by the White House is in direct contradiction to classified information that is being given to this Congress."
The Democrats machine is searching for a soul.

Bush's Whore-Monger In Chief

Hello. My name is Randall Tobias and I am the head of the US Agency for International Development. I am also Director of US Foreign Assistance at the State Department.

I have resigned my posts today because I was outed by a prominent DC Madam, whose whores serviced my pleasures. I started with the Thais but then I moved to the Central Americans.

And of course, like Wolfie, Gonzo and all the others, I am not prepared to admit that I ever did anything wrong (unless someone has actual video evidence).

Talking Points Memo: by Joshua Micah Marshall.

April 27, 2007

Look! Up In The Sky!

Steve Bell is a genius.

Wazzup With The Impeachment Thing?

You wont read much about Kucinich 's Impeachment Bill in the media, but here from David Lindorff is the lowdown:
Kucinich, defying the leadership of the Democratic Party, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), who have been struggling mightily to prevent impeachment from occurring during the waning years of the Bush presidency, on Tuesday filed three articles of impeachment, claiming that Cheney violated his oath of office and the Constitution, for deceiving Congress and the American people about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, about alleged but nonexistent links between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda, and finally for making threats to invade Iran.

The bill now goes to the House Judiciary Committee, where Chairman John Conyers (D-MI) and the rest of the committee's members will have to decide whether go hold formal hearings on the charges.
The move by Kucinich comes as impeachment is gaining ground among the broader public. Today, the Vermont House of Representatives will hold a floor debate and vote on a resolution calling for Congress to initiate impeachment proceedings against both President Bush and Cheney. That measure would be a companion to a similar resolution passed last week by Vermont's state Senate. If the state's lower house passes its version, Vermont will be the first state in history to pass a bi-cameral resolution on impeachment.

Under Thomas Jefferson's Manual for the Rules of the House, under which the US House of Representatives has operated for over 200 years, such a resolution would require the House to take up the impeachment issue, just as would a member's bill of impeachment.

The speaker of the Vermont House of Representatives, Lynn Symington, had strenuously opposed the resolution, and has been keeping it bottled up in the House Judiciary Committee, but following passage of the resolution in the state Senate, and a massive grassroots campaign by Vermont impeachment activists, she has been forced to relent and let the measure go forward. Passage is not a sure thing, however.

Similar measures are being pushed in at least 10 other state legislatures, while two such efforts, in New Mexico and Washington state, were killed thanks to pressure from the national Democratic Party leadership.

On April 28, demonstrations are planned in Washington, DC and all around the nation, calling for impeachment to begin against both Bush and Cheney. To find the location nearest you...
Get active! Come on, I am not going to do everything for you!!! Oh, well.... OK.
The mainstream corporate media, which has so far been largely ignoring the issue of impeachment, will have to go to extra lengths of censorship to block out the popular movement now, with a bill on the floor of the House, and with impeachment resolutions passing in the Vermont state legislature. It will be interesting to see how the nation's news gatekeepers handle the story now that it is breaking out into the open so forcefully.
John Conyers played the impeachment card for all it was worth prior to the mid-terms, and I hope he will fall behind this now (but I doubt it). This is not just about impeaching Bush and Cheney et al, it's also about forcing the Dems to do the right thing.

It's about the PEOPLE controlling the government, and thereby controlling their own lives. You know: DEMOCRACY.

Was Young Kevin Rudd Buggered By A Priest

This article certainly suggests it as a possibility:
The way Ashgrove old boys from the early '70s tell it, the place was fairly typical of Catholic boys' boarding schools of that era. Every student had to play rugby, regardless of his talent or inclination, chapel was at 6am each day, canings were a daily occurrence, and some of the Brothers had a dubious affection for their young charges. Former students can still remember the brother who would always volunteer for shower duty.
Gotta be a story there. But which brave, intrepid Aussie journo will chase it down...?

And of course, in the interest of "fair and balanced" journalism, somebody should also ask John Howard whether anyone besides George W. Bush has ever given it to him up the Khyber. The public have a right to know.

AttorneyGate: The Big Picture

TPMmuckraker puts the case together:
The entire scheme has been laid out before us. The question now is whether Karl Rove will get away with it.

Here's the scheme, as revealed over the past month: Rove and his deputies traveled to various agencies throughout the government, lecturing management there about Republicans' political prospects. Which House and Senate members were in trouble? Which Democratic seats were vulnerable? What were the major issues in the election?

But there was a line to be drawn: no commands were to be given -- because such a directive would be a blatant violation of the Hatch Act, which forbids the use of government resources for political ends.

On the contrary, the government officials receiving the briefing were supposed to get the hint -- as Tom Hamburger reported, "employees said they got a not-so-subtle message about helping endangered Republicans." The briefing simply gave them the tools to be helpful in the next election. They were supposed to take the ball and run with it.

The Washington Post reports today that Rove and his deputies gave such briefings to at least 15 different agencies (ranging from NASA to the Department of Homeland Security). But one briefing in particular continues to shine a light on all the rest: the one given this January to officials at the General Services Administration, the government's massive procurement agency...

April 25, 2007

Kucinich Calls For Cheney Impeachment

Great stuff! But this is just disgraceful journaminimalism from WaPo blog The Sleuth:
It appears Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) wants Vice President Dick Cheney in tip-top shape for those impeachment proceedings.

With the Veep making an unexpected visit to his doctor this morning to check the blood clot in his leg, Kucinich has delayed his gonzo plan to introduce articles of impeachment against the Veep...

As the Sleuth exclusively reported, Kucinich initially planned to introduce articles of impeachment "with respect to the conduct of Vice President Cheney" last week. But that was before the massacre at Virginia Tech.

Now, it looks like Cheney's trip to the doctor will delay Kucinich's shot at getting a much-needed media blitz. (Kudos to Kucinich for his compassion! Only a vegan, only a vegan.)

UPDATE: Kucinich now plans to hold his news conference announcing articles of impeachment against the vice president at 5 p.m. ET today. (Kucinich was in the Speaker's Lobby off the House chamber just moments ago personally handing out press releases announcing that the big event is back on.)

Let's hope Cheney doesn't have a dental appointment or anything between now and then!
This smart-ass toungue-in-cheek ridicule explains a lot about the state of journalism in the USA today. The fact that Pelosi and other Democrats will not support Kucinich's proposal is to their own shame, and to the greater detriment of the USA.

Given Cheney's health and his current predicament, it was quite reasonable for Kucinich to delay his announcement until the outcome of Cheney's doctor visit was made clear. Cheney could just as easily have been taken to hospital, and announced his resignation on medical reasons. That would have been the half-honourable thing to do. Instead Cheney talks crap like this:
"Some Democratic leaders seem to believe that blind opposition to the new strategy in Iraq is good politics," Cheney said. "Sen. Reid himself has said that the war in Iraq will bring his party more seats in the next election. It is cynical to declare that the war is lost because you believe it gives you political advantage."
The Bush cabal is determined to go down fighting. So where's the fight from the Democrats? At least Kucinich's proposal will force them to put a vote on the record. And ordinary netizens in particular will be watching closely to see who votes against it.

April 24, 2007

Bolfobitz The Banker

Q: Why has this shameless man still not resigned?:
Norway joined a growing list of doubters over World Bank chief Paul Wolfowitz's leadership, as bank members consider how to resolve a furore surrounding accusations of ethical lapses.

Expressing concern over the controversial former Bush administration official's ability to head the bank, Norway's development minister Erik Solheim said: "There is no doubt confidence in World Bank leadership has been undermined."

"He will have a very hard job to repair this confidence," he told Reuters in Oslo.
A: Because all the shameless fools who rose to prominence in the Bush administration did so by being utterly, unembarrassedly shameless throughout their careers. Rather like prositutes, lap dancers and erotic models.

What is particularly galling is that Bolfobitz is being ousted on the very same platform upon which he ran: corruption. Ironically, it is the more corrupt countries who are now supporting the Bank's corrupt leader:
A group of European countries including Germany, the Netherlands and Britain have said that they believe Wolfowitz has placed himself in an untenable position. But some other member governments, notably among developing countries and in emerging markets, have told Reuters they had not yet taken a stand on whether Wolfowitz should step down.
Isn't this just a perfect reflection of the whole "terrorism" thing that got Bolfobitz into the job in the first place? Declare war on terror, become the outstanding practitioner of terrorism in the world. Declare war on corruption, become the outstanding practitioner of corruption in the World Bank.

Anyone else see a pattern? I think the Karl Rove playbook calls it something like "attacking with your greatest weakness". Ergo, Bush's opponents are Nazis, Islamic terrorists are fascists, etc.

How many times am I going to repeat this before somebody listens?

April 23, 2007

The US president's men in dire straits

From The Raw Story:
A Washington Post columnist questioned if Rove, Wolfowitz and Gonzales can be trusted.

"Today's topic is credibility -- specifically, recent claims by certain high-ranking present, former and perhaps soon-to-be-former Bush administration officials," columnist Eugene Robinson wrote this week.

"The aim is to answer a simple question: Should we believe these three Bush loyalists if they tell us that rain falls down instead of up, or should we look out the window to make sure?" it said.

"Rove, Wolfowitz and Gonzales are making the last-ditch argument of a cheating husband caught in flagrante: Who are you going to believe, me or your lying eyes?"
I've addressed this same issue today at my Howard Out blog. It's not just the US warmongers who are having credibility problems, it's everyone who was ever associated with the immoral Iraq War.

April 22, 2007

Report On Haditha

Report On Haditha Condemns Marines:
The Marine Corps chain of command in Iraq ignored "obvious" signs of "serious misconduct" in the 2005 slayings of two dozen civilians in Haditha, and commanders fostered a climate that devalued the life of innocent Iraqis to the point that their deaths were considered an insignificant part of the war, according to an Army general's investigation.

Maj. Gen. Eldon A. Bargewell's 104-page report on Haditha is scathing in its criticism of the Marines' actions, from the enlisted men who were involved in the shootings on Nov. 19, 2005, to the two-star general who commanded the 2nd Marine Division in Iraq at the time. Bargewell's previously undisclosed report, obtained by The Washington Post, found that officers may have willfully ignored reports of the civilian deaths to protect themselves and their units from blame. Though Bargewell found no specific coverup, he concluded that there also was no interest at any level in investigating allegations of a massacre.

"All levels of command tended to view civilian casualties, even in significant numbers, as routine and as the natural and intended result of insurgent tactics," Bargewell wrote. He condemned that approach because it could desensitize Marines to the welfare of noncombatants. "Statements made by the chain of command during interviews for this investigation, taken as a whole, suggest that Iraqi civilian lives are not as important as U.S. lives, their deaths are just the cost of doing business, and that the Marines need to get 'the job done' no matter what it takes."

April 20, 2007

Gonna Find Out Who's Naughty And Nice

"I've been in politics long enough to know that polls just go poof at times."
- George W. Bush
Jobs can just go "poof!" too, George. Even yours. And all your nasty friends.

While Abu Gonzales is dragging the rule of law into the dirt in the USA, Bush still insists he is doing a heckuva job:
The Attorney General has the full confidence of the President, and he appreciates the work he is doing at the Department of Justice to help keep our citizens safe from terrorists, our children safe from predators, our government safe from corruption, and our streets free from gang violence.
But what about Wolfie? Is he about to lose his job? In a sign of his failed credibility, this humble blog has been getting hits from World bank employees googling for cartoons about their boss. Here's one for you, guys:

You can help get rid of Wolfowitz by signing a petition here (look for a biting new video at this site in the next 24 hours too). But hopefully the petition will be redundant soon. The Times says Bush is now making a list of potential replacements:
Most prominent on the list is Ashraf Ghani, the man credited with overhauling the economy of Afghanistan after September 11, The Times has learnt. Such an appointment would mark the first time a non-American has held the position in the 60-year history of the global lender.
Let's just check that guy twice:
Mr Ghani would be a bold choice to head the World Bank, where he worked as a special adviser between 1991 and 2002. After the overthrow of the Taliban by the USled coalition, he was the Afghan Finance Minister for two years, carrying out extensive reforms, including issuing a new currency, balancing the budget and overhauling the treasury’s systems.

Working at present as Chancellor of Kabul University, he was a candidate to replace Kofi Annan as Secretary-General of the United Nations last year but lost out to Ban Ki Moon, of South Korea.

Mr Ghani was described then as someone with a strong record as an administrator but who had a reputation for impatience. As well as the first non-American chief of the World Bank, he would also be the first Muslim in the job.
I think part of the reason why Wolfowitz is still in his job is that the controversial deal that put him in place (and there was a lot of resentment at the time) involved a secret promise that the NEXT World Bank President would not be a US official. Ghani may not be an "American" but he still sounds like a US stooge. Is that progress?

So Wolfie and Gonzo are swinging in the wind right now. But there are not going to go quietly. Just look how long it took to get rid of Rummy.

These guys just don't care that they are destroying the prestige of their own offices. They don't care that they are destroying the US Constitution, the office of the Presidency, the laws of the land, the prestige of the USA, decades of international law, and of course the lives of millions of Iraqis. They just don't care.

Some would say this is just incompetence. But it's not really incompetence when you deliberately place incompetent people into positions of great responsibility, again and again, and never hold them accountable.

The USA is heading for a major Constitutional crisis. The Bushistas have been preparing for it since day one, and the last thing they want to do is lose their devoted A.G. just ahead of the showdown. Wolfie might go, but Gonzo's position is more critical. I think Bush will cling to him for dear life.

Hey, but if he does go, how does "Patrick Fitzgerald, A.G." sound?

US Democrats Still Want to Win "Economically" In Iraq

So US Senator Harry Reid told Bush yesterday that the Iraq War is lost:
"This is the message I took to the President, I believe myself that this war is lost and that the surge is not accomplishing anything, as indicated by the extreme violence in Iraq yesterday," Mr Reid said.

"I know I was like the odd guy out yesterday at the White House, but at least I told him what he needed to hear, not what he wanted to hear," he added.
Sounds good, right? But wait a minute:
"The war can only be won diplomatically, politically and economically, and the President needs to come to that realisation," Mr Reid said.
Say what? How is the USA ever going to "win" this war in any way whatsoever? This is utterly abyssmal stuff from the Dems.

No doubt Harry and his friends in Washington are still thinking about the new Iraq Oil Law, which is due to be presented in parliament next week:
Al Shahristani said the draft law would be presented in a bundle that would include the oil and gas law, a law outlining the functions of the ministry of oil, another for Iraq National Oil Company and a fourth for oil revenue management. The future role of foreign oil companies in Iraq has caused controversy but Al Shahristani said such concern was unfounded.
The Democrats should be loudly telling the people of the USA (and Iraq) that this war was all about oil, that it was designed from the start as a greedy, violent oil-grab by Dick Cheney's Big Oil backers, and that the oil that lies under the sands of Iraq belongs to the Iraqi people and nobody else. Anything less is transparent nonsense, and I do not see how any good will come of it.

Who Controls The GOP Machine?

Joshua Micah Marshall says Alberto Gonzales is "just a cog":
In almost every case, what we're talking about here is Gonzales's willingness to take orders from the White House -- most importantly from Karl Rove and President Bush -- on firing US Attorneys for corrupt purposes and using the Justice Department to suppress Democratic turnout in swing states. Mr. Gonzales is a secondary issue. The real players are in the White House.
But are Bush and Rove really the ones in control of the GOP machine? I am sure Cheney would have something to say about that, for starters. So would Frank Carlucci, Ruprt Murdoch and a few prominent Christian Evangelists.

April 19, 2007

Back To Ground Zero

IF - and it's a big IF right now - all is right with the world today, then stories like this should be multiplying exponentially week by week till the cows come home, the birds start to roost, and the fat lady sings.
The district director of Rep. William Jefferson (D-La.) has been subpoenaed to appear before a grand jury in the federal investigation that has been dogging Jefferson since last year.
Of course, Jefferson is a Democrat, and it is pretty clear that 99% of the USA's current problems are down to the GOP, but I think the key to the problem is this: ALL our politicians have let us down.


Tom the Dancing Bug

Tom rocks.

April 18, 2007

Argentina , Te Quiero

A new poll of global opinion underlines just how far Bush has dragged the USA's reputation into the dirt:
Fifty-nine per cent of Australians surveyed said they trusted the US either a "great deal" or "somewhat" and the Philippines, Israel and Poland were the other staunch supporters with 85, 81 and 59 per cent respectively.

But 40 per cent of Australians answered "not at all" or "not very much" when asked how much they trusted the US "to act responsibly in the world".

But 80 per cent of Australians think the US takes on the role of international enforcer more than it should, agreeing with three out of four Americans.

Globally, the majority of respondents answered "not at all" or "not very much" when asked how much they trusted the US "to act responsibly in the world".

Eighty-four per cent of Argentinians answered "not at all" or "not very much" as did 80 per cent of Peruvians.

Winning In Iraq

An excellent article taking a close look at The Inexplicable Enrichment of Bush Cronies:
The only people who are benefiting from Bush's war on terror are members of the Military Industrial Complex. Since 9/11, the pay for the CEOs of the top 34 defense contractors in the US has doubled, according to the August 2006 report, "Executive Excess 2006," by the Institute for Policy Studies, and the United for a Fair Economy.

The bill is rising so fast because the level of war profiteering is unprecedented. The Excess Report lists George David, CEO of United Technologies, as the top earner, making more than $200 million since 9/11, despite investigations into the poor quality of the firm's Black Hawk helicopters.

Halliburton CEO David Lesar made $26.6 million in 2005, and nearly $50 million since 9/11, an amount that even beats the $24 million that Dick Cheney received in exchange for the guarantee that Halliburton would be the number one military contractor during the Bush administration.

April 17, 2007

Is George W. Bush Reading "Bush Out"!!!?


Today this humble little blog got a hit from someone within the eop.gov domain. That's the Executive Office Of The President Of The United States.

Yeah, that's right.

The hit came from Washington, D.C., on April 16th at 11:46:42 pm. It was a Google blog search (blogsearch.google.com) for the words "George Tenet" and it led to this post, in which I had basically just cut and pasted some amazing news from E&P about the former CIA Director's upcoming book.

What does this mean? It means that someone in the White House wants to know what bloggers are saying about George Tenet's new book, presumably because the press will (as usual) be catching up with bloggers' questions in another day or two... or five.

So is George W. Bush actually reading my blog, or is this just his inside team leaping into Damage Control Mode as the Tenet book goes public? Is Bush finally trying to escape the information cocoon into which Darth Cheney and his own lack of intellectual curiosity have locked him? Having recently cited the Fadhil brothers' charlatan "Iraq The Model" blog for evidence of his Iraq surge success, is Bush suddenly taking an interest in REAL blogs?

Stay tuned.... These are interesting times indeed!

Oh, and for the record, since the White House is worried about it, I might as well add my 2 cents on George Tenet's book... I think Tenet was never happy about being the fall guy for that whole WMD thing. Did he really say Saddam's WMDs were a "Slam Dunk" or not, that seems to be the central question. Now that the thrill of his Medal Of Honour has worn off, and as he watches this administration sink into the mud of oblivion, I think Tenet is out to salvage some shred of personal respectability.

(hat-tip and a free Bush Out T-shirt to loyal reader RC)

UPDATE: Tenet's book "At the Center of the Storm" is due out April 30th. He has already begun taping a segment for 60 Minutes, which will screen the day before. But it seems the only gossip currently circulating is what's found in this Al Kamen WaPo article.

US Citizens Want OUT Of A Losing War

WaPo has a new poll:
A Washington Post-ABC News poll of 1,141 adults, conducted April 12-15, found that 58 percent trusted the Democrats in Congress to do a better job handling the situation in Iraq, compared to 33 percent who trusted Bush...

And pessimism about the war continues to grow. For the first time, a narrow majority of Americans, 51 percent, say the United States will lose the war in Iraq, compared to 35 percent who said the United States will win. Bush continued today to say victory in Iraq is pivotal to the larger war on terrorism, but Americans are increasingly siding with the Democratic view that the issues are separate. Some 57 percent now say the United States can succeed in the war on terrorism without winning the war in Iraq, a 10-percentage point increase since January, when Americans were almost evenly divided on the question.
I don't know how they think they are going to "win" a "war" which is not even real. But at least we are moving in the right direction.

April 16, 2007

Coming Soon: George Tenet's Revenge

From E&P:
The long awaited tell-all (or at least tell-some) memoir from former CIA director George Tenet is coming at the end of the month. Apparently Washington Post columnist David Ignatius has seen it or been briefed on it because on Chris Matthews' Sunday show today on CNN he spilled some beans about it.

Matthews himself must know something about the book, "At the Center of the Storm," because he said, before kicking it to the columnist, "Tenet takes on vice president Dick Cheney. Cheney has maintained that Tenet told President Bush in December of 2002, two weeks before Bush decided to invade Iraq, that there was a 'slam dunk' case to be made that Saddam Hussein possessed those banned weapons. But now Tenet denies ever making that claim. David, this is a big fight. It's pushback time. How tough is this book gonna be?"

Ignatius replied: "It's going be very tough. George Tenet has been doing a slow burn ever since he left the CIA. He's been angrier and angrier as he saw himself being essentially made the fall guy on WMD in Iraq. And he's gonna come back saying he and his agency, the CIA, were pushed, again and again, by Cheney and Cheney's people to give him the answers that they wanted. And he's got chapter and verse on that."

He added: "He will tell a story that I think will make people's hair curl.
Tenet is also set to give Condi a good kicking. More popcorn! Now!

Bush Personally OK'ed Iglesias Firing

After a revealing article in the Albuquerque Journal, the "purge" scandal now goes all the way to the Prez:
No one disputes that Domenici's call to Iglesias was at best inappropriate. But there's been a lack of direct evidence that Iglesias's refusal to bow to political pressure led directly to his firing. Now we have that evidence. And it's not Kyle Sampson or even Alberto Gonzales whom Domenici went to to get sign off for Iglesias's ouster. It was right to the president. And the available evidence now points strongly to the conclusion that the final decision to fire David Iglesias came from the President of the United States.
Basically, Iglesias was under fire to dish dirt on Dems ahead of the 04 election, but refused. A week after the election, Bush told Iglesias' boss to fire him.

UPDATE: You know, reading TPM is a bit like watching a great drama unfold on your TV screen. But this is real, and it's therefore a million times better when the good guys seem to be winning.
This is curious. The day's big story... did not contain any reaction from the White House or the Department of Justice....

Sen. Domenici had a conversation about firing Iglesias with President Bush himself. That places the president at the center of the story and marks him as the likely 'decider', shall we say, in Iglesias's ouster. If there were any way for the White House to deny that such a call had occurred, they'd do it. But it's mid-Sunday evening and there hasn't been a peep. So I think we can be pretty certain that that call did take place as claimed...

It appears now that Alberto Gonzales will stand before Congress on Tuesday with all of the Administration's cover stories about the U.S. attorney purge littered around his feet like so many rejected scripts....

Late word from the White House and DOJ in response to the Albuquerque Journal article... As this close reading TPM Reader notes... You can drive a Halliburton convoy through that White House denial.
As they say, get out the popcorn. Tomorrow's Gonzales testimony is going to be interesting. I just hope the Democrats are up-to-date on the latest from TPM.

April 13, 2007

Clinical Demolition

Larry Johnson explains why the destruction of the Sarafiya bridge in Baghdad is a very significant bad sign:
The destruction of the bridge is a significant technical accomplishment for the group that planned and carried out the attack. I do not buy the explanation that this was a mere "truck" bomb. I am not familiar with any truck bomb in the world that takes out two ends of a bridge simultaneously. In fact, if it was the result of a truck bomb you would expect a hole in the pavement,i.e. a crater. While it is difficult to tell from the picture it sure looks like the bridge was sheared at two separate points and an entire section of the bridge fell intact into the water. That is not what one would expect from a blast from a truck bomb.
Again, h/t Ant Loewenstein.

The Privileged Excutive and his Privileged Ass-kissers

I do hope Joshua Micah Marshall is at least managing to work from home with his new baby from time to time.

Today he points out just where things have gotten to:
Executive privilege doesn't just apply to conversations the president has with his top aides. It doesn't just apply to conversations his top aides have with each other. It doesn't even just apply any presidential aides doing anything connected to the White House. Executive privilege applies to the outside political party work the president's aides do on their own time.
No wonder they don't want to let Abu Gonzales out the door, he could be their ace up the sleeve.

Personally, I think the Bush administration has been angling towards this from the get-go. These oil baron thieves are not going to hand power back to the GOP without a struggle. Yeah, you heard that right.

Wolfie Says Sorry

Wolfowitz finally says the magic words:
"I made a mistake, for which I am sorry."
No, he is not talking about Iraq. Sorry.

WaPo's #1 Editor Is A Horse's Ass

Straight from the Horses Mouth:
Is it too far fetched to believe that a neocon fifth column has infiltrated much of our major news media?

April 12, 2007

A Good Look At Baghdad

An interesting map from the BBC - Mapping the violence.

Discouraging to see that the Beeb is still use the once-"ridiculously-over-inflated" but now controversially-under-estimated Iraq Body Count figures as opposed to the Lancet's UK-Ministry-of-Defence-verified casualty figures of 665,000+.

Bush Starts Destroying The Evidence

This AP Story has just gone out on the wires:
The White House said Wednesday it had mishandled Republican Party-sponsored e-mail accounts used by nearly two dozen presidential aides, resulting in the loss of an undetermined number of e-mails concerning official White House business.

Congressional investigators looking into the administration's firing of eight federal prosecutors already had the nongovernmental e-mail accounts in their sights because some White House aides used them to help plan the U.S. attorneys' ouster. Democrats were questioning whether the use of the GOP-provided e-mail accounts was proof that the firings were political...

"This sounds like the administration's version of the dog ate my homework," said Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt. "I am deeply disturbed that just when this administration is finally subjected to meaningful oversight, it cannot produce the necessary information."

Divide And Conquer?

Robert Fisk details America's new plan for Baghdad, a.k.a. FM 3-24:
Faced with an ever-more ruthless insurgency in Baghdad - despite President George Bush's "surge" in troops - US forces in the city are now planning a massive and highly controversial counter-insurgency operation that will seal off vast areas of the city, enclosing whole neighbourhoods with barricades and allowing only Iraqis with newly issued ID cards to enter.

The campaign of "gated communities" - whose genesis was in the Vietnam War - will involve up to 30 of the city's 89 official districts and will be the most ambitious counter-insurgency programme yet mounted by the US in Iraq.

The system has been used - and has spectacularly failed - in the past, and its inauguration in Iraq is as much a sign of American desperation at the country's continued descent into civil conflict as it is of US determination to "win" the war against an Iraqi insurgency that has cost the lives of more than 3,200 American troops. The system of "gating" areas under foreign occupation failed during the French war against FLN insurgents in Algeria and again during the American war in Vietnam. Israel has employed similar practices during its occupation of Palestinian territory - again, with little success.

But the campaign has far wider military ambitions than the pacification of Baghdad. It now appears that the US military intends to place as many as five mechanised brigades - comprising about 40,000 men - south and east of Baghdad, at least three of them positioned between the capital and the Iranian border. This would present Iran with a powerful - and potentially aggressive - American military force close to its border in the event of a US or Israeli military strike against its nuclear facilities later this year.

There's Nobody Left But Barney and Laura

From the Guardian:
Three retired generals approached by the White House about a new high-profile post overseeing the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and reporting directly to the president have rejected the proposed post, leaving the administration struggling to find anyone of stature willing to take it on.

One of the four-star generals said he declined because of the chaotic way the war was being run and because Dick Cheney, the vice-president and the leading hawk in the Bush administration, retained more influence than pragmatists looking for a way out.

The deputy White House spokeswoman, Dana Perino, confirmed today that George Bush was considering restructuring the administration to create a new post, dubbed the "war tsar" by US media. It would involve coordinating the work of the defence, state and other departments at what she described as a critical stage in the wars. One of the retired generals approached, Marine General John Sheehan, told the Washington Post: "The very fundamental issue is they don't know where the hell they're going."

April 10, 2007

Yo, Condi!

Henry Waxman's four questions for Condi Rice:
1) Whether she knew if Bush “cited forged evidence about Iraq’s efforts to procure uranium from Niger in the State of the Union Address”;

2) Whether she was aware of doubts raised by CIA and State Department officials questioning the veracity of those claims before Bush delivered his speech;

3) Whether there was any factual basis for Rice’s reference in a 2003 op-ed to “Iraq’s efforts to get uranium from abroad”;

4) Whether Rice “took appropriate steps to investigate how the Niger claim ended up in the State of the Union address after it was revealed to be fraudulent.”
Via The Crypt's Blog.

Some Day I'll Fly Away

When Joshua Micah Marshall says "we're going to try to get more deeply into this", it's time to pay attention. Marshall sinks his teeth into stories with a grip that would make a bull terrier blush. And he doesn't loosen his grip till there is blood on the floor (and fresh meat to chase).

Marshall's latest target is Bush's highly politicized Terrorist Watch List. And the incident that got him started was the grounding of one of his old college professors, who also happens to be a constitutional expert, a war hero, and a vocal Bush critic.
"I presented my credentials from the Marine Corps to a very polite clerk for American Airlines. One of the two people to whom I talked asked a question and offered a frightening comment: "Have you been in any peace marches? We ban a lot of people from flying because of that." I explained that I had not so marched but had, in September, 2006, given a lecture at Princeton, televised and put on the Web, highly critical of George Bush for his many violations of the Constitution. "That'll do it," the man said. "

"After carefully examining my credentials, the clerk asked if he could take them to TSA officials. I agreed. He returned about ten minutes later and said I could have a boarding pass, but added: "I must warn you, they're going to ransack your luggage." On my return flight, I had no problem with obtaining a boarding pass, but my luggage was "lost." Airlines do lose a lot of luggage and this "loss" could have been a mere coincidence. In light of previous events, however, I'm a tad skeptical."

Bush Nearly Kills Himself

The question of impeaching Bush almost became redundant. Bush was about to plug a live electrical cord into a hydrogen tank. Blame Alan Mulally for saving his ass:
Mulally told journalists at the New York auto show that he intervened to prevent President Bush from plugging an electrical cord into the hydrogen tank of Ford's hydrogen-electric plug-in hybrid at the White House last week. Ford wanted to give the Commander-in-Chief an actual demonstration of the innovative vehicle, so the automaker arranged for an electrical outlet to be installed on the South Lawn and ran a charging cord to the hybrid. However, as Mulally followed Bush out to the car, he noticed someone had left the cord lying at the rear of the vehicle, near the fuel tank.

"I just thought, 'Oh my goodness!' So, I started walking faster, and the President walked faster and he got to the cord before I did. I violated all the protocols. I touched the President. I grabbed his arm and I moved him up to the front," Mulally said. "I wanted the president to make sure he plugged into the electricity, not into the hydrogen This is all off the record, right?"
It would have been a pretty ironic way to go: Death By Hybrid. And self-immolation would have resonated well with the suicide bomber sympathizers.

Sometimes you should just let Nature run it's course, Mr Mulally. According to Darwinian theory, the slow-witted are supposed to remove themselves from the evolutionary cycle in such mishaps.

UPDATE: It occurs to me that if Bush really was in danger here, then the hybrid car scene has a big problem. There are plenty of dumberer people than Bush in this world, and if hybrid sales take off and they all risk such self-immolation then the process of Natural Selection is going to get a big kick along.

UPDATE 2: Now Mr Mulally says this was just a joke that went wrong. Wow, funny - NOT.

April 08, 2007

Working From Home?

In his six years of power, Bush has spent well over a year on his ranch:
Bush has spent part or all of 409 days of his presidency on the 1,600-acre ranch, according to CBS White House correspondent Mark Knoller, who keeps meticulous records of Bush's travel.

This blog is NOT endorsed by the WSJ.

Juan Cole wryly introduces an Al Jazeera story about REAL Iraqi bloggers thusly:
Aljazeera reviews the reports of some Iraqi bloggers that the Wall Street Journal is not publishing.
Vote #1 Cole.

April 07, 2007

How to Get Out of Iraq

Juan Cole explains How to Get Out of Iraq:
Bush's ineptitude has made a regional proxy war a real possibility, so the question is how to avoid it. One Saudi official admitted that if the United States withdrew and Iraq's Sunnis seemed in danger, Riyadh would likely intervene. Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul has threatened to invade if Iraq's Kurds declare independence. And Iran would surely try to rescue Iraqi Shiites if they seemed on the verge of being massacred.

But Bush is profoundly in error to think that continued US military occupation can forestall further warfare...

The key to preventing an intensified civil war is US withdrawal from the equation so as to force the parties to an accommodation. Therefore, the United States should announce its intention to withdraw its military forces from Iraq, which will bring Sunnis to the negotiating table and put pressure on Kurds and Shiites to seek a compromise with them. But a simple US departure would not be enough; the civil war must be negotiated to a settlement, on the model of the conflicts in Northern Ireland and Lebanon.

Why Is Cheney Blaming Al Zarqawi for Sammara Bombing?

Playing to his base, Dick Cheney today spat out a mouthful of bloody lies about Abu Al Zarqawi, including this one:
"He's the guy who arranged the bombing of the Samarra Mosque that precipitated the sectarian violence between Shia and Sunni."
Why would he say such a thing? Yes, it's fair to say that the Samarra Mosque bombing was the tipping point that led to civil war. It was certainly a brilliant and daring piece of strategy from somebody who wanted civil war. But Al Zarqawi didn't do it, of course. So who did...???

At the time, I said that this was a US PysOps job, and I have seen nothing since to dissuade me. Locals said US forces were unusually active in the area that night. Anyone who knew about Honduran death squads would know about playing your enemies off against one another. The Bush administration is stacked with such people, and their main man in Baghdad was right in the thick of Iran-Contra (as was George H. W. Bush and his boyz).

Why would Cheney casually try to pin this major operation (the logistics were professional) on Al Zarqawi?

If he has hard evidence to the fact, why would he not have revealed it long ago? If he has no evidence, why make up such a thing, unless he is trying to cover up his own involvement?

Sure, he is playing to his base, trying to muddy the waters, giving the stoopid Bush-loving dawgs a bone to chew on. But such big lies do not slip off the tongue so easily unless they have been carefully rehearsed.

Dan Froomkin and TPM have more on Cheney's latest brain-dump.

Personally, I think the US military operation in Iraq has been run by the same bloody US murderers who brought us the Iran-Contra scandal, using the same blood-thirsty death squad tactics, and I believe that this is the main reason why Iraq's morgues are still seeing 50 to 100 tortured corpses every day.

Those who do not learn from the past are doomed to repeat their mistakes.

April 04, 2007

Cheney The Nervous Lurker

If you haven't yet done so, check out this eerie video of Cheney lurking behind some bushes while Bush was giving a B.S. presser.

What does it mean? I think he was waiting to step in personally in case the media questioning went down the wrong track. I think it shows how nervous he has become. I think it shows how his inner circle of subordinates is dwindling, thinning and losing their nerve, so the Big Dick's gotta do his own dirty work.

What sort of questions might he have been worried about? Maybe this sort of thing:
Duke and Mitchell Wade have already been sent to jail or pled guilty. The big fish, Wilkes, is still out free. And his lawyer may use the White House's interference in the Lam investigation as the wedge to help his guy beat the rap entirely.

And what about those pictures of Wilkes hanging out with the Vice President? ...

Let's not be fooled on this one. The White House and the politicals at the DOJ were and are doing everything it can to spring Wilkes and Foggo.

Remember, Mitchell Wade really only gets you to Duke Cunningham, the little-lamented hapless federal inmate. Wilkes was tied in with DeLay, Cheney, Doolittle, the whole rotten crew. And he skates.
Or maybe he was monitoring the questions about forthcoming military action against Iran? Patrick Cockburn has this exclusive:
A failed American attempt to abduct two senior Iranian security officers on an official visit to northern Iraq was the starting pistol for a crisis that 10 weeks later led to Iranians seizing 15 British sailors and Marines.

Early on the morning of 11 January, helicopter-born US forces launched a surprise raid on a long-established Iranian liaison office in the city of Arbil in Iraqi Kurdistan. They captured five relatively junior Iranian officials whom the US accuses of being intelligence agents and still holds.

In reality the US attack had a far more ambitious objective, The Independent has learned. The aim of the raid, launched without informing the Kurdish authorities, was to seize two men at the very heart of the Iranian security establishment...

The two senior Iranian officers the US sought to capture were Mohammed Jafari, the powerful deputy head of the Iranian National Security Council, and General Minojahar Frouzanda, the chief of intelligence of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, according to Kurdish officials.
Just a few hours before the raid, Bush warned Americans that "Iran is providing material support for attacks on American troops." Was this a fishing expedition that came home empty-handed, or a deliberate attempt to provoke Iran into war? Either way it has the Big Dick's fingerprints all over it.

PS: Hey, how do you know when Cheney is taking Viagra? He gets taller!


Blog Archive