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Thursday, August 31, 2006

More on Bush's speech:

Bush says: (excerpts)
The war we fight today is more than a military conflict; it is the decisive ideological struggle of the 21st century.

As veterans, you have seen this kind of enemy before. They are successors to fascists, to Nazis, to communists and other totalitarians of the 20th century. And history shows what the outcome will be.

The security of the civilized world depends on victory in the war on terror, and that depends on victory in Iraq.
So, if it's so important, why haven't we raised taxes, initiated rationing, or (as Slate's Fred Kaplan remarks) "reactivated the draft, printed war bonds, doubled the military budget"?

This whole Clash of Civilizations or whatever it's supposed to be, just seems out of tune with the underlying policy choices already made by Bush and the Republicans who control Congress. They've spent a lot of money, and wasted lives, but on the whole have avoided asking the broad public to sacrifice anything. So how important can it be?

And another thing. All this talk about the enemy being "successors to Fascists, to Nazis, to Communists, and other totalitarians of the 20th century" doesn't resonate well. The Fascists were, if anything, well organized. Snappy uniforms, lots of marching in orderly columns, Nuremberg Rallies, searchlights, out in public in a big way. But terrorist and insurgents are anything but that. Strictly on an image basis, they're scruffy, hiding in caves or bombed out buildings, dressed casually, and furtive.

Some commentators have said that Bush is firing up the base, and that may well be as far as this rhetoric goes. But it's pretty strange, none the less.

UPDATE: If you want to read more on this topic, check out CNN's "The new GOP buzzword, Fascism", which contains this:
Stephen J. Wayne, a professor of government at Georgetown University, suggested White House strategists "probably had a focus group and they found the word `fascist.'

"Most people are against fascists of whatever form. By definition, fascists are bad. If you're going to demonize, you might as well use the toughest words you can," Wayne said.
Is there no tougher word than "fascist"? The thesaurus doesn't offer much hope (for the word "fascist"). Further thesaurusing around didn't help much. The candidates for tougher words seemed limited to: Frankenstein, devil, hellish, venomous, and sinister (or has Bush already used these terms?).

So maybe "fascist" really is the last stop in political name-calling. Maybe it's a sign Bush is running out of rhetorical ammunition, and is, pardong the expression, "in the last throes" of attacking his opponents.



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Bush's speech to the American Legion today: really bad

Get a load of this:
... we're using every element of national power to confront al Qaeda ...
No you're not.

And here's Bush speaking on behalf of the country:
We believe that freedom is a gift from an almighty God, beyond any power on Earth to take away.
Two problems. Some people don't believe in god, and some who do believe in a god don't believe "freedom is a gift" from said deity.



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Gregory Djerejian of The Belgravia Dispatch says vote for ...?

In comments about Rumsfeld's latest speech:
Indeed, as the failure of the Bush Administration's war strategy becomes more and more evident to all but the most hardened denialists, as their desperation and incompetence becomes more evident to the American public, as their Middle East policy increasingly lies in tatters, and as they continue to erroneously attempt to conjoin things like the London terror plot with Iraq, without admitting the need for urgent re-appraisal of our overall strategy in the war on terror (they are incapable and/or too exhausted to make significant course corrections)--the rhetoric is beginning to border on dangerously reckless, and I trust the American people to reject this growing demagogy, and vote the Democrats in in November. I take no particular joy in this, as I think the Democrats have distinguished themselves by what I've called their ferocious lameness too often, but I cannot support a party that continues to allow a man this discredited a platform to propagate such gross dissembling, not to mention continues to allow him to prosecute a war where he has failed so dismally to achieve our nation's most basic strategic objectives.
Will the American people vote the Democrats in in November? And even if they do, will it be by a fairly small margin? Has this country made a clean break from the current Republican policies? It's not clear it has.



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Something few people seem to think about:

Over at Salon, Sydney Bloomenthal writes about Bush and 9/11: (emp add)
Five years later, the Day of Remembrance for Sept. 11 should properly begin on Aug. 6 to recall the Presidential Daily Briefing that Bush received in 2001, titled "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US," which he ignored, dismissing his CIA briefer: "Well, you've covered your ass now." Before then, the administration had shunted aside the terrorist issue as something tainted by association with Bill Clinton. Counterterrorism chief Richard Clarke was ignored and demoted, pushed off the National Security Council Principals Committee. Despite Clarke's urgent entreaties the Principals Committee discussed terrorism only once, deciding at Rumsfeld's behest not to fly Predator drones for surveillance over Osama bin Laden's camps in Afghanistan. Bush's final dismissal of the threat warning on Aug. 6 meant that the CIA and FBI and other agencies were under no pressure from above to coordinate or even to be on the alert for terrorist plots.

In the aftermath of the derelict approach before 9/11, incompetent bungling has been compounded. By now the history is all too sadly familiar: allowing bin Laden to escape at Tora Bora by failing to commit U.S. troops; draining personnel and resources from Afghanistan in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq ...
Bush's ability to use 9/11 to his advantage is one of the more stunning political events of this century.



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Friday, August 25, 2006

Katrina one year anniversary:

Here is the timeline posted back then for the week when the disaster unfolded -



Bush / White House Chertoff / DHA Brown / FEMA Blanco / Louisiana & Mississippi Nagin / New Orleans government action

 

cite "Before Hurricane Katrina slammed into Louisana and Mississippi"
SeattleTimes DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff listened in on electronic briefings by the National Hurricane Center warning of a storm surge capable of overtopping levees in New Orleans
SeattleTimes FEMA Director Mike Brown listened in on electronic briefings given by the National Hurricane Center warning of a storm surge capable of overtopping levees in New Orleans
  Fri 26 Aug
CNN 4 p.m.: The National Hurricane Center warns that Katrina is expected to reach dangerous Category 4 intensity before making landfall in Mississippi or Louisiana.
CNN hours later: Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour and Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco declare states of emergency.
  Sat 27 Aug
CNN 5 a.m.: Katrina is upgraded to a Category 3, or major hurricane, with the Gulf Coast in its path.
White House "The President today declared an emergency exists in the State of Louisiana and ordered Federal aid to supplement state and local response efforts in the parishes located in the path of Hurricane Katrina beginning on August 26, 2005, and continuing. The President's action authorizes the Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), to coordinate all disaster relief efforts which have the purpose of alleviating the hardship and suffering caused by the emergency on the local population, and to provide appropriate assistance for required emergency measures"
CNN During the day, residents of Louisiana's low-lying areas are told they must evacuate; residents in other low-lying areas are urgently advised to do so.
AP evening: Mayor C. Ray Nagin was visiting New Orleans television stations and urging people to leave
StPTimes night: Natl. Hurricane Ctr. head Mayfield calls Nagin
StPTimes night: Natl. Hurricane Ctr. head Mayfield calls governors of Louisiana and Mississippi
  Sun 28 Aug
CNN 2 a.m.: Katrina escalates to Category 4 strength, heading for the Gulf Coast.
CNN 7 a.m.: Hurricane Katrina intensifies to Category 5
CNN 10 a.m.: New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin orders mandatory evacuations
StPTimes Natl. Hurricane Ctr. head Mayfield videoconference with Bush
White House "The President today declared an emergency exists in the State of Mississippi"
White House "The President today declared an emergency exists in the State of Alabama"
  Mon 29 Aug
FT FedEx said it began airfreighting 120,000lbs of water and telecoms equipment on behalf of the Red Cross before the hurricane hit.
CBReport Northcom started planning before the storm even hit. The USS Bataan was sailing almost behind the hurricane so once the hurricane made landfall, its search and rescue helicopters could be available almost immediately. Authorization was given in a timely manner. [NOTE: Early reports were that authorization was not given.]
CNN 4 a.m.: Hurricane Katrina is downgraded to a strong Category 4
AP FEMA head Michael Brown told NBC's "Today" show that his agency had "planned for this kind of disaster for many years"
CNN
7 a.m.: Katrina makes landfall on the Louisiana coast
AFP New Orleans area residents, seeking refuge from Hurricane Katrina wait to get inside the Superdome
White House President discusses Medicare in Arizona
AP noon: FEMA head Brown requests dispatch of 1,000 DHS employees to the region, giving them two days to arrive.
AP FEMA head Brown urged local fire and rescue departments outside Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi not to send trucks or emergency workers into disaster areas without an explicit request for help from state or local governments
CNN
Two major flood-control levees are breached, and the National Weather Service reports "total structural failure" in parts of New Orleans.
AP A section of the roof of the Superdome, where 10,000 people are taking refuge, opens.
  Tue 30 Aug
MSNBC Beginning early in the week a strange paralysis set in. For days, Bush's top advisers argued over legal niceties about who was in charge, according to three White House officials
Meet the Press DHS SEC'Y CHERTOFF: Well, I think if you look at what actually happened, I remember on Tuesday morning picking up newspapers and I saw headlines, "New Orleans Dodged The Bullet" ... It was on Tuesday that the levee--may have been overnight Monday to Tuesday--that the levee started to break. And it was midday Tuesday that I became aware of the fact that there was no possibility of plugging the gap ... [cf. Wonkette]
CNN New Orleans is left with no power, no drinking water, dwindling food supplies, widespread looting, fires -- and steadily rising waters from major levee breaches. Authorities try evacuating the thousands of people at city shelters.
CNN The U.S. military starts to move ships and helicopters to the region at the request of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
White House President gives speech about V-J day in San Diego
AP Plays a guitar presented to him following his visit to Naval Base Coronado
NYTimes Many refugees said they had come [to the convention center] after hearing directives on the radio that they do so, because the Superdome and other shelters were already filled. But Kenya Smith, head of intergovernmental relations for New Orleans, said Friday that the convention center was never designated an official shelter. At the convention center, he said, the refugees were told - he was not sure by whom - that FEMA would send buses to take them from the city.
  Wed 31 Aug
White House Returning to Washington DC, the president flies over affected area
CNN Evacuations from the Louisiana Superdome to the Houston Astrodome begin.
White House Bush gives 'laundry list' speech about hurricane relief efforts
  Thu 1 Sep
  New York Times editorial: Waiting for a Leader "George W. Bush gave one of the worst speeches of his life yesterday, especially given the level of national distress and the need for words of consolation and wisdom. ... He advised the public that anybody who wanted to help should send cash, grinned, and promised that everything would work out in the end."
AP Victims of Katrina outside the Superdome as they wait for evacuation
White House President Asks Bush and Clinton to Assist in Hurricane Relief Efforts
WaPo Bush in interview on ABC's Good Morning America: ""I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees."
  Photo in several newspapers showing the situation Thursday
TPM FEMA page for Katrina-related giving had Pat Robertson's Operation Blessing listed second (since then the page has been reformatted)
CNN Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff announces that 4,200 National Guard troops trained as military police will be deployed to New Orleans over the next three days.
CNN Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco requests the mobilization of 40,000 National Guard troops.
CNN Mayor to feds: 'Get off your asses'
Reuters Dorothy Divic, 89, is surrounded by onlookers trying to keep her alive on a street outside the convention center
News Hour FEMA head Brown: "with regard to the ... the convention center ... They've had meals every day that they've been there."
NY Times FEMA head Brown told network television interviewers on Thursday night that federal officials had learned about the [convention center] refugees just that day.
  Fri 2 Sep
White House 9 am: President Heads to Hurricane Katrina Affected Areas "The results are not acceptable."
White House President arrives in Alabama, Briefed on hurricane Katrina
Local (Los Angeles) FOX anchor and Chris Wallace agree that Bush looked bored and uninterested.

At conclusion of briefing, Bush said of FEMA head, "Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job"
White House President arrives in New Orleans, tours area. [cf. Sen. Landrieu the next day: "yesterday we witnessed a hastily prepared stage set for a Presidential photo opportunity"
CNN Members of the Congressional Black Caucus criticize the pace of relief efforts
  Sat 3 Sep
CNN The Army Corps of Engineers brings in pumps and generators to help get New Orleans pumps back on line
NYTimes FEMA cuts Jefferson Parish's emergency communications line
  Sun 4 Sep
   
  Mon 5 Sep
White House Bush returns to areas affected by hurricane
SaltLTrib 50 firefighters sent to Louisiana with first assignment to stand beside Bush as he toured devastated areas.
 
  Between Monday (29 Aug) and Sunday (4 Sep)
NYTimes FEMA turns away three trailer trucks from Wal-Mart loaded with water
NYTimes FEMA prevented the Coast Guard from delivering 1,000 gallons of diesel fue
Post-Gazette Red Cross officials said that FEMA would not allow them to deliver food to New Orleans
Chi-Tribune FEMA accepts only one truck from Chicago
SaltLTrib FEMA issues call "for two-person fire teams to do community relations"
 
  Tue 6 Sep
AP Criticized for its sluggish response to Hurricane Katrina, the White House said Tuesday that "we're not going to engage in the blame game"
White House BUSH: "What I intend to do is lead an investigation to find out what went right and what went wrong."
NOLA Bodies found piled in freezer at Convention Center. "It's not on, but at least you can shut the door."
Daniel Martinez, a spokesman for FEMA said plans for body recovery "are not being released yet."


(subject to updates)

A big Thank You to the Daily Kos website, which was the starting point for many of these entries.

UPDATE: There is another timeline over at Nobody Knows Anything, which contains a different mix and goes back further to when FEMA was reorganized and levee projects and funding were decided upon.

UPDATE2: There is a very detailed timeline over at the dKospedia that covers (for the most part and currently) the period between Aug 26 to Sep 1.

UPDATE3: Additional timelines: a very extensive and well-sourced one at Right Wing Nut House (right-leaning, but the timeline is unbiased), and the BBC (thinner, but with some pictures)



And another thing ...

This is a subsequent post from early this year (March) when the videoconference was released:

Look closely at the clip from the hurricane Katrina video conference that had Bush saying little except empty promises.
It's a guy taking pictures of Bush. That's important. Why bother with additional staff who could be involved with the federal response to the crisis? Far better to have pictures of the president looking good.

By the way, is Bush the Clarence Thomas of the executive branch? Both apparently don't ask any questions when important subjects are debated. Perhaps it's because they don't have much of an ability to be engaged with anything complex.

UPDATE: The cameraman appears to be using a still-shot camera (not a videocamera) and almost certainly took this picture (below) which was released by the White House to show Bush fully engaged.


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Wednesday, August 23, 2006

The personality cult lives on ...

From Powerline yesterday: (emp add)
Hail to the Chief

I had the opportunity this afternoon to be part of a relatively small group who heard President Bush talk, extemporaneously, for around forty minutes. It was an absolutely riveting experience. It was the best I've ever seen him. Not only that; it may have been the best I've ever seen any politician. ...

The conventional wisdom is that Bush is not a very good speaker. But up close, he is a great communicator, in a way that, in my opinion, Ronald Reagan was not. He was by turns instructive, persuasive, and funny. His persona is very much that of the big brother.
All hail Big Brother!


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Troubletown cartoon:

Pretty good this week.



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Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Making big noises about terror threats = boffo ratings for GOP:

From USA Today (via Kevin Drum):
WASHINGTON — The arrest of terror suspects in London has helped buoy President Bush to his highest approval rating in six months and dampen Democratic congressional prospects to their lowest in a year.

In a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll taken Friday through Sunday, support for an unnamed Democratic congressional candidate over a Republican one narrowed to 2 percentage points, 47%-45%, among registered voters. Over the past year, Democrats have led by wider margins that ranged up to 16 points.
If you were a GOP political operative, what would you focus on in the next three months?

I guess people deserve the government they vote for, and if that means keeping the GOP in for reasons of "terror" while also gutting the safety net for the poor and creating greater risk for the middle class, that's what they'll get.



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More on Bush's press conference yesterday:

Two critical reviews over at the Washington Post are worth reading - Eugene Robinson's President on Another Planet, and Dan Froomkin's President on a Mission. And check out David Corn's observations in The Nation:
Bush ... said:
The strategy is to help the Iraqi people achieve their objectives and their dreams, which is a democratic society. That's the strategy.
Actually, that's not a strategy. That's a goal. A commander in chief should know the difference.

Of interest was this line from Bush: (emp add)
... imagine a world in which you had Saddam Hussein who had the capacity to make a weapon of mass destruction ...
When you're talking about "a" weapon of mass destruction that poses a threat, you're not talking chemical or biological. You're referring to the "mushroom cloud" machine - a nuclear weapon.

Shortly after that line, Bush said this: (emp add)
...the main reason we went into Iraq at the time was we thought he had weapons of mass destruction. It turns out he didn't, but he had the capacity to make weapons of mass destruction.
So, we're back to the ur-scare, that Saddam could assemble a nuclear weapon and hand it over to the terrorists. Is anybody buying that fiction anymore?

Yesterday Bush demonstrated more clearly than ever, his lack of understanding of what's happening in Iraq and his utter reliance on Karen Hughes style bromides ("freedom agenda").


Of note: Froomkin writes
Bush held forth in a press conference called with less than two hours' notice this morning.

The White House announced Bush's 10 a.m. press conference at 8:13 a.m. The timing was ideal if the goal was to have the press corps at a disadvantage. Most reporters -- and newsrooms -- are not even remotely functional that early on Monday mornings.

And it was quite the surprise. The White House's 8 a.m. morning update to reporters stated that Bush had "no public events."
Why does manly-man Bush constantly hold these surprise press conferences in the morning? What ever happened to a days-notified-in-advance, prime-time press conference, like the kind Reagan or Clinton had? Bush sure comes off as a chicken when he plays "pop-in".



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Monday, August 21, 2006

How about now?

In a much-derided [1 2 3] essay in the Washington Post about the current mess in Iraq, Ken Pollack writes:
How Iraq got to this point is now an issue for historians (and perhaps for voters in 2008); what matters today is how to move forward ...
How about us voters in 2006?



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Is Bush finally losing it?

Has the stench of failure of the Iraq war finally reached his nostrils?

It would seem so. (And after such a very, very long wait of many of us.)

Did you hear his comments today and the note the tone?

And get a load of what he said:
I fully believe it was the right decision to remove Saddam Hussein, and I fully believe the world is better off without him.
That is the irreducable core of the whole affair. Doing better than his daddy (as Maureen Dowd might put it).

For those of us who have wanted to see Bush finally grapple with the mess he's made, this might be the time to pay attention - especially as we move closer to the November elections.



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Thursday, August 17, 2006


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Tuesday, August 15, 2006

It's not Islamo-fascism, it's Islamo-Nazism:

Or at least that's the term being used by Michael Medved on his radio show today.

Expect much, much more of this hysteria as we get closer to election day.



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Rabbi Marc Gellman:

Josh Marshall tips us off:
Rabbi Marc Gellman: How could Jews not all support Lieberman since he's a Jew too?
Follow the link and read this:
In truth I am also bewildered about why Jews do not support President Bush more than the pathetic 22-26 percent ...

So he supports the war. So what?
"So what?" indeed.

Gellman also spoke out about the Terri Schiavo case, where he wrote:
... this obviously is not Terri Schiavo's time. She is alive, innocent and mute. She is not at death's door. All this sound and fury is about cruelly bringing the door to her.
No, she really was dead.



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Saturday, August 12, 2006

Clap louder: (official White House photo and caption)


President George W. Bush is applauded by a welcoming committee of
state and local community leaders as he arrives at Austin Straubel
International Airport in Green Bay, Wis., Thursday, Aug. 10, 2006.
After greeting the welcoming committee President Bush spoke to reporters
on the airline bombing plot uncovered in the United Kingdom, saying
it is "a stark reminder that this nation is at war with Islamic fascists
who will use any means to destroy those of us who love freedom, to
hurt our nation." White House photo by Eric Draper
UPDATE: Related story, Increasingly, Bush Escapes the Media Pack



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Friday, August 11, 2006

An election. It's only an election:
  • Charles Krauthammer: "In the short run, as in the Vietnam days, there will be 'success"' a purging of hawkish Democrats like Joe Lieberman."
  • Dick Cheney: "... what it says about the direction the party appears to be heading in when they, in effect, purge a man like Joe Lieberman ..."
  • James Glassman: "Angry donkeys in Connecticut have purged one of their most popular leaders ..."


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Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Excellent Pat Oliphant cartoon today:

Here.



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Tuesday, August 08, 2006

IF

Joe Lieberman loses the primary (which he seems to be doing)

and

Joe decides to run as an independent

then

will we be seeing this in November?


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Message thread:

Yahoo news story, Dennis Miller to join Fox News this fall
WHY NOT JUST HIRE A BOWL OF SHlT?

its funnier and doesnt smell as bad
Re: WHY NOT JUST HIRE A BOWL OF SHlT?

It was cheaper to get Dennis Miller.
Re: WHY NOT JUST HIRE A BOWL OF SHlT?

Hannity already works for them.


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Out of his freakin' mind:

Via Dan Froomkin's column, we learn about Bush's bicycle ride this last weekend - in a Reuters story Bush, at 60, showing no signs of slowing. Read it and weep: (emp add)
By Steve Holland

CRAWFORD, Texas (Reuters) - Just weeks after his 60th birthday, President George W. Bush showed no signs of slowing down on Saturday, powering his mountain bike up steep hills in 100-degree (38 Celsius) heat and exhausting younger riders.

Confident that a U.N. resolution on southern Lebanon was essentially complete, Bush broke away from his ranchhouse for a spin around his 1,600-acre (647-hectare) Texas ranch, across single-track trails that he helped hack out of the dry, dusty environs.

While some of his Democratic critics have complained he spends too much time on his bike, Bush said the exercise helps him deal with the pressures of the presidency.

"Riding helps clear my head, helps me deal with the stresses of the job," a sweat-soaked Bush said after an hour-and-20-minute ride that shot his heart rate up to 177 beats per minute at the top of one climb.

The president set a brutal pace for his accompanying riders, who included two Secret Service agents, White House spokesman Tony Snow and this reporter, who managed to gasp his way through the 12 1/2-mile (20-km) ride.

"What I would give to be 16 again!" Bush yelled out at one point as he mashed the pedals of his Trek bicycle through a wooded area.

In fact, Bush does not ride quietly, constantly shouting out in his Texas twang the names of trees and geographic features and yelling at himself to pedal faster.

"Air assault!" he yelled as he started one of two major climbs, up Calichi Hill, which he named for the white limestone rock from which it is formed.

[snip]

Standing in the shade of a tree while one of his dogs, Miss Beazley, barked, Bush said he does not try to think out solutions to world problems while riding, instead using the rides to clear his head.

[snip]

"They're fun exercise rides, and I try to maximize the time available and at the same time stay fit. In my case I know I need to be spiritually fit as well as physically fit in order to do this job."
You know, Bush has been acting even more out of touch than he usually does. Jocouse when it's inappropriate. "Frat boy" when visiting the White House press room for the last time. He's got to be on some sort of medication.

Remember what he said prior to Katrina?
"I think the people want the president to be in a position to make good, crisp decisions and to stay healthy," Bush said during an Aug. 13 [2005] bike ride with journalists at his ranch. "And part of my being is to be outside exercising. So I'm mindful of what goes on around me. On the other hand, I'm also mindful that I've got a life to live, and will do so."
Fat lot of good that did.

And how about Tony Snow on a bicycle? Snow, normally a GQ kind of guy, must have looked a bit scruffy while on the trail



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Sunday, August 06, 2006

Sen. Chuck Hagel: George W. Bush is worthless

In the news: (emp add)
WASHINGTON, Aug 6 (Reuters) - Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel, a frequent Republican critic of President George W. Bush's Iraq policy, said on Sunday it was irresponsible and wrong to send more U.S. troops to Baghdad.

Speaking on the CBS show "Face the Nation," Hagel said pouring more U.S. troops into Baghdad would not reverse the rising tide of sectarian killing there.

"Where we go from here ... is a cold, hard assessment that Iraq is not going to turn out the way we were promised it would, and that's a fact, not because I say it -- that's the way it's going," he said.

Hagel said there were no longer any good options in Iraq for the United States. He suggested enlisting former Presidents Bill Clinton and George Bush the elder to convene a regional peace conference.
Can you believe it? What could be a more stinging critique of the current administration than to suggest previous presidents take over the country's Middle East diplomacy.



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Saturday, August 05, 2006

Take the tour:

Someone wrote to Andrew Sullivan with some interesting observations about "Caesarism" and how it relates to Hugh Hewitt and other strong admirers of Bush. It's somewhat akin to the Straussian philosophy, and equally dangerous. Also, via the trackback there was a complimentary post with sharp, Bush-critical remarks, and some interesting visitor comments as well.

Great fun if you like cogitating about the Bush-worshipers and the general insanity of our current leadership.



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The New York Times gets it 100% right:

The first words in their editorial, A Timetable Isn't an Exit Strategy are:
As America’s military experience in Iraq grows ever more nightmarish, it is becoming clear that President Bush’s strategy comes down to this: Keep holding to a failing course for the next 29 months and leave it to the next administration to clean up the mess.
That's been George W. Bush's life story. Screw up and have somebody else bail him out and salvage the situation. But for once in this guy's life, he should face the music and not be allowed to wiggle out. This time reality may not grant him his wish. At least let's hope so.



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Thursday, August 03, 2006

This story stinks:

This is a trivial issue, but one that bothers. A guard dog at a teddy bear exhibit in England went nuts and ripped up "hundreds", including one that belonged to Elvis Presley. We read:
Barney the guard dog ripped the head from the antique teddy called Mabel after going berserk and savaging more than 100 bears in an exhibition.

The doberman pinscher, who was meant to be guarding the £500,000 collection, went on the rampage after his handler let him off the leash.
And:
A security guard at the museum, Greg West, said he spent several minutes chasing Barney before wrestling the dog to the ground.
Okay, here's the problem:
  • How could a dog be going after "hundreds" of dogs if the minder was wrestling him to the ground (and presumably, just after being let off the leash). Almost for sure, the guy let the dog free in the room and then left the scene for a while. From pictures, it looks like a lot - at least several dozen - teddy bears were savaged.



  • Who poses for pictures with the dog after the carnage?


    Greg West with the dog.



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The picture:

This was originally part of a post about the Lieberman campaign by Jame Hamsher over at Huffington Post.



Derived from this: (note the costume change)
Subsequently, the image was removed from that website and Jane issued an apology of sorts.

Creating and using that picture:
  • Was wrong.
  • Was offensive.
  • Was stupid.
Lamont was beginning to pull away from Lieberman in the latest polls, with the election a week away, and did not need this kind of "support".

There have been defenders of Jane (e.g. Digby), but I cannot join them. For all Joe's faults - and there are many big ones - he does not deserve this.

Lieberman hassaid:
Before I got into politics, my first act of public service was in the civil rights movement. I marched with Dr. King 40 years ago, I went to Mississippi to fight in 1963 for the right of African Americans to vote.
Which, while long ago in the past, should count for something. (And yes, I'm aware of the flyer about Lamont and his country club membership.)

For the record: This blog sees Joe's defeat in the Connecticut as very important in terms of getting the Democratic Party back on track. Lieberman had been associated with many odious causes and characters, as outlined in this TAPPED entry. He was a major impediment in getting a clear message out about where Democrats stand because of his cosying up to Republicans. And it mattered more with Joe than with other Democrats, because he was the Vice-Presidential nominee and not some ordinary Democrat (like Ben Nelson).

Why write this post and put up the offensive picture? Because it's not something that should disappear down the left-blogosphere memory hole. Many people, including myself, learned about the image only after it had been pulled down. But sometimes you have to see what has happened, in all its aspects, in order to render a judgement about what's going on.

UPDATE: Slate's John Dickerson has written about this incident.

UPDATE2: Jane Hamsher has toned things down. In a subsequent post at firedoglake, she has an image characterizing the primary as a battle between Lamont, piloting an F4U Corsair, which has just shot down Lieberman, bailing out of his A6M Zero.



That's much nicer, don't you think?

UPDATE3: BagnewsNotes has a similar position about this isue (and is a Koufax award winner)



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Postponing the pain:

Over at Calculated Risk, there is an excerpt of a recent Freddy Mac report on refi activity. Key lines: (emp add)
In the second quarter of 2006, 88 percent of Freddie Mac-owned loans that were refinanced resulted in new mortgages with loan amounts that were at least five percent higher than the original mortgage balances, according to Freddie Mac's quarterly refinance review.

The staying power of refinance activity has been much stronger than we initially thought," said Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac vice president and chief economist. "But borrowers are reacting to both incentives to cash out home equity through refinance and incentives to change their mortgage as they hit an interest rate adjustment.

The incentive to take cash out of home equity is partially driven by the rapid rise in short-term interest rates like the prime rate. Many borrowers have seen their rates on home equity lines of credit – which are tied to the prime rate – rise. Now they are consolidating those HELOC loans into a new first lien mortgage to reduce their mortgage payments ...

Because rates on home equity lines of credit have risen to 8.25 percent or higher, borrowers who are looking for an inexpensive way to finance home improvements or business investments, or to consolidate high cost debt, are turning to cash-out refinance. These borrowers are often willing to refinance into higher rates on their first lien mortgages.
As Calculated Risk remarks in the comments section: [MEW = mortgage equity withdrawal]
These numbers make me more pessimistic. When I looked at the BEA's Mortgage Interest supplement to the GDP report - I was surprised and disappointed that MEW hadn't fallen more. This Freddie Mac data is more evidence that MEW is strong - even while consumer spending is falling - a bad sign.

What happens to consumer spending when MEW does fall (and I'm sure it will)?


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Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Map of southern Lebanon:

This is a pretty good map of the area where the fighting is taking place in Lebanon.



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Republicans abandon 'freedom fries'
WASHINGTON, Aug. 2 (UPX) -- U.S. House Republicans have dropped their snub of France by renaming french fries "freedom fries" at House cafeterias. Instead, they will henceforth be called "quagmire fries".

As well, "freedom toast" has been renamed "Rummy's toast" on menus, but nobody on the Hill wanted to say how that name was chosen, or what it's supposed to imply.

Neither Rep. Bob Ney, R-Ohio, nor Rep. Walter Jones, R-N.C., who led the renaming campaign three years ago would comment, nor would cafeteria staff.

Ney announced the name changes at the height of anti-French sentiment in March 2003, when Paris refused to take part in the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq and called it premature.


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