Sunday, April 29, 2007

I can't believe Rice said this:

On CNN's Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer, in an interview of Condoleezza Rice, she had this to say about her performance as the head of the NSC (regarding the move towards invading Iraq):
Look, not everything went right. This is a very difficult circumstance. There were some things that went right and some things that went wrong. And you know what, we'll have a chance to look at that in history. And I will have a chance to reflect on that when I have a chance to write my book.
Standard Bush-talk: Let's not look at past performance now. Stuff happens. Let's wait until way later (when her book is out!) before we reflect on the situation.

I guess it's better than Gonzales' "I can't recall", but not by much. Seems like the chickens are coming home to roost and the Bush adminstration can't offer any substantial rebuttals, and so engages in nothing more than time-wasting when queried about problems under their rule.


Thursday, April 26, 2007

This should be enough:

TPMmuckraker has the essence of a Washington Post story:
Rove and his deputies traveled to various agencies throughout the government, lecturing management there about Republicans' political prospects.
With apparently this "restriction"
... 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.
And the administration is on message with:
They were, each official said, "informational briefings about the political landscape."
Sorry. No sale. The political advisor and his staff should not be traveling to any agencies. Should not be giving briefings. None at all.


The Broder Bounce:

Bush’s job approval



Joe Lieberman - the voice of reason:

In a Washington Post op-ed:
The current wave of suicide bombings in Iraq is also aimed at us here in the United States -- to obscure the recent gains we have made and to convince the American public that our efforts in Iraq are futile and that we should retreat.

When politicians here declare that Iraq is "lost" in reaction to al-Qaeda's terrorist attacks and demand timetables for withdrawal, they are doing exactly what al-Qaeda hopes they will do ....


Get ready for the biggest blogger attack on David Broder ever:

In light of Broder's latest column that accuses Harry Ried of being
  • "As Alberto Gonzales is to the Republicans, [Harry Reid] is to the Democrats"
  • "a continuing embarrassment"
  • someone who has given an "amateurish performance"
  • a "springtime exhibition[] of ineptitude"
  • someone who gave an "inept discussion of the alternatives in Iraq"
  • "not a man who misses many opportunities to put his foot in his mouth"
  • someone who "mistakenly argued that the military effort is lost but a diplomatic-political strategy can still succeed"
Even though Broder mentions earlier statements by Reid on other policies and politicians, it's clear that Broder's ire is triggered by Reid's comments regarding the Iraq War. The Iraq War is something Broder apparently approves of, along with Bush's handling of it.

This essay by Broder will probably be the one that permanently sinks his Dean reputation. Not so much for his irritation about Reid's Iraq War position, but because Broder ranked Reid with the lying, corrupt, and inept Gonzales.


Josh Marshall at TPM:
People think of Broder as the 'Dean' of the Washington press corps because of things he did in the 60s and 70s. But the man he is today is much more a product of the long conservative ascendancy of the last three decades -- an ascendancy still very much alive in the town's journalistic and editorial elite. You can hear the animus more and more sharply in [his] columns as his inability to grasp the political moment becomes more and more clear.
Heading Left:
... today it’s 2007 and Broder hasn’t just jumped one shark, he’s jumped a long line of sharks.

Evidence? If you can stand it, read his column in today’s Washington Post. Believe it or not, Broder manages to equate the corrupt, incomptent, arrogant, amoral, empty-headed Attorney General, Alberto Gonzales, with the fiercely partisan, anti-Iraq-war Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. The absurd, idiotic, inane title of the piece, “The Democrats’ Gonzales,” says it all. Why would Broder write such drivel? Apparently, he’s in a snit fit about the fact that Harry Reid said the war in Iraq is "lost."
Liberal Values:
Gonzales has supported torture and devised justifications for ignoring the Geneva Convention. He was an early proponent of restricting civil liberties under the Patriot Act. He argued that there is no right to Habeas Corpus, and supported the warrantless wiretaps. He has fought to increase secrecy in government, such as by working to prevent the release of the Dick Cheney’s energy task force documents. Most recently Gonzales has been caught changing his stories on the dismissals of the U.S. attorneys, making it very difficult to believe he did not conspire to fire them under the direction of the White House for political reasons. Numerous Republicans, as well as Democrats, have called for the removal of Gonzales.

In the face of all this, Broder argues that Harry Reid is as deserving of Gonzales to be removed.
Anonymous LIberal:
Sometimes David Broder's columns read like a parody of a David Broder column. This is one of those times. Desperate to write something of the 'pox on both your houses' genre of political commentary--a genre which Broder pioneered and seems utterly incapable of deviating from--he has singled out Harry Reid and decided that Reid is somehow the Democratic equivalent of Alberto Gonzales.

Let's see, Alberto Gonzales is someone who owes his last four jobs (at least) to his personal friendship with George W. Bush. Gonzales is someone who, through his spinelessness and absentee leadership, has allowed the Justice Department to become an extension of the White House political office. This is a guy who had to clear his calendar for three full weeks so that he could practice telling a coherent story about his involvement in relatively recent events--and then bombed at the hearing. This is a guy who, by his own admission, has no idea what's going on in the agency he's supposed to be running. This is a man whose primary contribution to history was giving the President disastrously bad (and morally dubious) legal advice regarding the legality of torture.

So what exactly has Harry Reid done to warrant being equated with Gonzales? Well, according to Broder, Reid said that the war in Iraq is "lost" and he once called President Bush a "loser" and Alan Greenspan a "political hack." Yes, that's pretty much it. And somehow that proves that Reid is totally incompetent, just like Gonzales.
Hammer of the Blogs:
... Broder's base description of Gonzales -- that of a bumbling underling who just can't seem to get his durned story straight, is far more generous of a characterization than a lifelong toady like Gonzales deserves.

How about this: Gonzales is a liar, and a bad one, a painfully inept and obvious one. There is already plenty of circumstantial evidence indicating that the eight U.S. Attorneys were purged for blatant partisan purposes ....

.... we have several visible layers already of fairly clear intent to deceive, to obfuscate, and in Gonzales' case, to continue providing the unwavering one-way loyalty Bush has always expected of his lackeys.

Reid, on the other hand, has discovered a knack for lobbing verbal scuds which have rankled the seersucker suits of the serious thinkerati. He has realized that he is not working for Dean Broder nor Richard Dice Cohen, nor MoDo and her superficial high-school mean-girl bullshit.

First comment on the Washington Post thread for Broder's column:
You have got to be kidding.
And further down (it's a huge thread):
Has Broder been so co-opted by the Bush neo-cons that he is actually using the Gonzales story as a launching point for an attack on the Reid and the Democrats?
It is strange, isnt it. The long march of conservatism having finally, at long last, taken over the Washington Post only to see the country turn so far and all at once away from that now discredited and exhausted philosophy. But here, on display for all, is High Broderism. Like a sycophantic courtier in the age of Louis XVI, debasing himself before the king long after the Bastille has be stormed, Broder continues in his ways long after the country has left him. Once, his false equivalencies, faux outrage over inconsequential matters, and blindness to the corruption surrounding him, got him honors, fame, and invitations to the right parties. The dean they called him. Now, I simply call him out-of-touch.
Heres the problem, Mr. Broder. Your whole worldview is that if reasonable moderates from both parties sit down in a room and talk, all will be well. That world, sir, is DEAD, and has been for many years. The modern Republican Party killed it, to the extent it ever truly existed. Apparently, someone forgot to tell you, because you keep trying, over and over and over and over again, to create equivalence between the sins of one side and the supposed sins of the other. The problem, sir, is that one side has been in power for six years and the other has not. Republicans created the current disaster. You and other DC cocktail party pundits put all your eggs in the Iraq Study Group basket. That reference at the end of your column is the tipoff to the fundamental flaw in your analysis. After all, if sensible statesmen like Lee Hamilton and James Baker cant save us, then we are well and truly lost, according to you. Memo to David Broder: nobody gives a damn about the ISG. When Bush ignored it and decided on the surge, it became a dead letter, except to sensible pundits like yourself clinging to your 1970s notions of bipartisanship. Hello -- nobody cares. Theyve moved on. Only in your fantasy world is Harry Reid some sort of bull in a china shop, ruining things for the next commission that, this time, will well and truly save us. The fundamental problem that your worldview has, apart from the fact that your world doesnt exist anymore, is that it enables true radicals like George W. Bush and Dick Cheney and their neocon friends to pretend to a moderation that doesnt exist. Republicans learned long ago that for pundits like David Broder, halfway between two positions regardless of how extreme one of the positions may be is the sensible middle. So Republicans keep pushing the goalposts further and further and further to the right, all while you keep blathering about a pox on both their houses. Only one house is blighted, Mr. Broder, and it is NOT the one inhabited by Harry Reid.


Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Now that's encouraging!

Over at the Weekly "we're seeing progress in Iraq" Standard, Max Boot has an essay, Can Petraeus Pull It Off?, where he writes: (emp add)
The news from Iraq is, as usual, grim. Bombings, more bombings, and yet more bombings--that's all the world notices. It's easy to conclude that all is chaos. That's not true. Some parts of Iraq are in bad shape, but others are improving. I spent the first two weeks of April in Baghdad, with side trips to Baqubah, Ramadi, and Falluja. Along the way I talked to everyone from privates to generals, both American and Iraqi. I found that, while we may not yet be winning the war, our prospects are at least not deteriorating precipitously, as they were last year.
Our prospects are not deteriorating precipitously. That'll rally the nation.



Why haven't those nine soldiers killed in a coordinated attaack gotten more attention?
Why hasn't the fact that April is looking to be a very bloody month not been reported much?
How is is that Bush can continue to say he's seeing signs of progress in Iraq when all the indicators are that it's not so?
Why isn't there more outrage? (By the press and punditry.)


Monday, April 23, 2007

The Broder Bounce:

Bush’s job approval



Is Harry Reid an embarrassment to the Democrats?

David Broder thinks so. And so do others. It's all about Reid's statement that the U.S. has lost in Iraq. But he's right. It's a correct assessment based on the administration's own standards.

Reid is no dummy. In fact, he's continued to speak on this topic and this Monday said that Bush is in denial over the war. Reid is ginning up the issue. Why? Partly because of the political calendar. Reid wants a debate on Iraq this year. Waiting until early 2008 to demand a troop withdrawal would likely end up with everybody saying "forget it, wait until Bush is gone". And thus, Republicans would be taking less heat for the war. But by making it an issue now, Reid forces Republicans (especially those in Congress) to stand with Bush, and most likely get entangled defending "Bush's War". And that's what Reid is trying to accomplish.


Alberto, you're doing a heck of a job:

Nothing new, really. From an AP report, Bush gives Gonzales vote of confidence: (23 April 2007)
WASHINGTON - President Bush gave embattled Attorney General Alberto Gonzales a strong vote of confidence on Monday despite scant support and scathing criticism from key Republicans.

"This is an honest, honorable man, in whom I have confidence," Bush said.

The president said that Gonzales' testimony before skeptical Judiciary Committee senators last week "increased my confidence" in his ability to lead the Justice Department. Separately, a White House spokeswoman said, "He's staying."
The testimony increased Bush's confidence. Whatever. Bush is nothing more than a third-rate salesman trying to pitch a defective product. Today, it's Gonzales. Tommorow, it'll be the Iraq War. And so it goes.


Sunday, April 22, 2007

What was that again, Mr. Chertoff?

This blog has stated repeatedly that al Qaeda's talk is just talk. That the cababilities of al Qaeda must be examined. If the capabilities are minimal, then big talk about reestablishing the Caliphate is just a lot of hot air (but that hasn't stopped Bush from saying it's something to be afraid of).

Well, Michael Chertoff has an op-ed in the Washington Post where he addresses all the components (intent, capability and consequences) in order to determine if this country is "at war" or not. Setting aside the "are we at war?" debate, let's examine what Chertoff has to say about al Qaeda's and related groups' capabilities: (emp orig)
Capability: The fanatics' intent, while grandiose, is not entirely fanciful. Islamist extremists such as those in al-Qaeda, the Taliban and associated groups from North Africa to Iraq and South Asia are fighting for and sometimes achieving control of territory in which they can train; assemble advanced, inhumane weaponry; impose their own vision of repressive law; and dominate local life. To be sure, as Brzezinski observes, the geographic reach of this network does not put them in the same group as the Nazis or Stalinists when they achieved first-class military power. But without relentless vigilance and effort from the civilized world, Islamist extremists could gain control of a state or establish a network of radical "statelets" in the Middle East, Africa and Asia.
Did you get that? Here are the capabilities, according to Chartoff:
  • fight for territory
  • assemble advanced weaponry
  • impose repressive law
  • dominate local life
Where is the mention of capabilities as we normally think? Capabilities like:
  • Anti-submarine weapons
  • Air to ground missles
  • Electronic surveillance
All Chertoff can really say along those lines is that they are assembling "advanced weaponry", by which he apparently means car and truck bombs. That's not advanced. Chertoff, like James Q. Wilson in the Los Angeles Times this week, raise a point and then pretends to answer it. But he doesn't answer it. The purpose of Chertoff's essay is to make you think that he's examined the capabilities issue and answered it affirmatively and in doing so, justified administration policy. It's getting tiresome.


Saturday, April 21, 2007

Has Maureen Dowd jumped the shark?

After the recent Edwards/haircut entry, maybe so.
More commentary at Obsidian Wings.


James Q. Wilson is a bullsh*tter:

In the wake of the Virginia Tech shooting, gun advocate Wilson pens an op ed in the Los Angeles Times. This post will examine one component of his essay. Mid-way through the piece Wilson brings up the different attitudes towards guns, essentially between Europe and the U.S. He writes: (emp add throughout)
Leading British, French, German, Italian and Spanish newspapers have blamed the United States for listening to Charlton Heston and the National Rifle Assn. [...]
Let's take a deep breath and think about what we know about gun violence and gun control. [...]
If we want to guess by how much the U.S. murder rate would fall if civilians had no guns ...
Okay. We are, presumably, going to learn what the murder rate would be (if guns were banished). Wilson (continuing directly):
we should begin by realizing — as criminologists Franklin Zimring and Gordon Hawkins have shown — that the non-gun homicide rate in this country is three times higher than the non-gun homicide rate in England.

For historical and cultural reasons, Americans are a more violent people than the English, even when they can't use a gun.

This fact sets a floor below which the murder rate won't be reduced even if, by some constitutional or political miracle, we became gun-free.
Okay now, what is this "floor"? What would the murder rate be?

Wilson doesn't say. He literally walks away from the issue after providing a non-explanation explanation ("American's are more violent").

Wilson is totally dishonest when he writes that way.

ADDENDUM: As long as this week has been devoted to "sensible news judgement", I'll say that because the op-ed was inherently dishonest (by not really answering a pertinent question about murder rates), it should not have been published.


Friday, April 20, 2007

NBC should not have shown the Cho video:

Going to disagree with Drum and Atrios here. Their argument is that approval of a decision by NBC to withhold the video from the public is also tacit approval of other (potential or real) withholdings, like on FISA or the SWIFT program or Abu Ghraib.

Not true.

How about taking as the starting point, sensible news judgement.  Yes, "sensible" is a subjective term, but it can be made less so by combining it with objective criteria: number of people affected, issues of political power, exposing falsehoods, product safety, etc.

That's what should be advocated. For what it's worth, Walter Cronkite was complaining a decade ago that the network nightly news had shifted from issues of importance, like how legislation affects peoples lives, and towards segments on "you and your pocketbook". He elaborated to say he was thinking about stories in the "news" that used to be magazine fodder. It would appear that CBS' recent change to add Katie Couric is a prime example of that sort of thing. You can pretty much guarantee that there will be a health-related story in the first ten minutes.

Anyway, to recap, NBC's airing of the Cho video was not a good editorial choice. Because:
  • The video had no value in terms of helping people "understand" better what happened (the Lauer claim). If people want to understand it, then they should listen to doctors and others who have experience with these matters.
  • The video may have a negative public safety impact because it helped Cho achieve one of his objectives - increased public notoriety. Thus enhancing the appeal for other who might consider committing a similar act.
  • The fact the public wants to see something is not a justification for letting them do so. (See Holloway, Natalee)
  • A news organization can make sensible choices not to air "worthless" but sensational items, and at the same time not suppress news of import.
  • Airing the videos shunted aside more important news.
UPDATE: Julian Sanchez takes a somewhat similar view.


Thursday, April 19, 2007

You've gotta love it:

White House press release: (in its entirety, emp add)
President Bush was pleased with the Attorney General's testimony today. After hours of testimony in which he answered all of the Senators' questions and provided thousands of pages of documents, he again showed that nothing improper occurred. He admitted the matter could have been handled much better, and he apologized for the disruption to the lives of the U.S. Attorneys involved, as well as for the lack of clarity in his initial responses.

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.
Yes, when the issue of the day is politicization of the Justice Department, the White House talks about:
  • terrorists
  • child predators
  • corruption
  • gang violence

Also, it is the opinion of this blogger that Bush will hold on to Gonzales for as long as possible, even if everyone else wants him gone.


The Gonzales testimony:

Over the past several months evidence has emerged that is not inconsistent with the charge that the administration used the Justice Department for political gain. Today, Alberto Gonzales had the opportunity to explain how the evidence, and his actions, are in accord with a benign scenario. He did not do so.


Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Choice of words:

From U.S.News & World Report
Cheney Emerges to Energize the Right

By Kenneth T. Walsh
Tue Apr 17, 10:52 PM ET

As the key parties jockey for position over the supplemental funding bill for Iraq, Vice President Cheney is back in the public eye, with guns blazing at White House critics.

In his latest broadside, Cheney said congressional Democrats were irresponsible for using a war spending bill to impose a timetable for withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq. Cheney also predicted in a CBS interview that the Democrats would eventually back down and send
President Bush a funding bill without the timetable.


Parallel lives:

Melding of this and this:
The tragic car bombing in Baghdad underscores the need to allow explosives laden automobiles on the city streets, according to the leader of a pro-car-bombing group.

"The latest bombing demands an immediate end to the car-bomb free zone law which leaves the nation's capital at the mercy of madmen," said Qassim al-Moussawi, executive director of the Tikrit-based Car Bomb Owners of Iraq, in a statement e-mailed to the media Tuesday.


Six times the Virginia Tech toll:
BAGHDAD - Suspected Sunni insurgents penetrated the Baghdad security net Wednesday, hitting Shiite targets with four bomb attacks that killed 183 people - the bloodiest day since the U.S. troop increase began nine weeks ago.
That's Baghdad only, not for all of Iraq.


The United States has lost in Iraq - by the very standards Bush set out:

While reading an interesting essay at TomDispatch (about the change in language used by the administration when discussing Iraq), there was a link to this:
National Strategy for Victory in Iraq

(The following document was released by the White House on Nov. 30, 2005.)

The following document articulates the broad strategy the President set forth in 2003 and provides an update on our progress as well as the challenges remaining.



As the central front in the global war on terror, success in Iraq is an essential element in the long war against the ideology that breeds international terrorism. Unlike past wars, however, victory in Iraq will not come in the form of an enemy's surrender, or be signaled by a single particular event -- there will be no Battleship Missouri, no Appomattox. The ultimate victory will be achieved in stages, and we expect:

In the short term:
  • An Iraq that is making steady progress in fighting terrorists and neutralizing the insurgency, meeting political milestones; building democratic institutions; standing up robust security forces to gather intelligence, destroy terrorist networks, and maintain security; and tackling key economic reforms to lay the foundation for a sound economy.
In the medium term:
  • An Iraq that is in the lead defeating terrorists and insurgents and providing its own security, with a constitutional, elected government in place, providing an inspiring example to reformers in the region, and well on its way to achieving its economic potential.
It's been 18 months since that was released by the White House. Eighteen months covers short term and includes some medium term. (Although technically, from the way it's presented, medium term appears to be sequential - dependent on short term success.)

Let's unpack the short term criteria: An Iraq that
  • is making steady progress in fighting terrorists and neutralizing the insurgency, NOT HAPPENING
  • meeting political milestones; YES (but of uncertain value)
  • building democratic institutions; NOT HAPPENING
  • standing up robust security forces to gather intelligence, destroy terrorist networks, and maintain security; NOT HAPPENING
  • and tackling key economic reforms to lay the foundation for a sound economy. MAYBE (we don't know what, if any, economic reforms are working, or might work, since the country remains chaotic)
Let's unpack the medium term criteria: An Iraq that is
  • in the lead defeating terrorists and insurgents and providing its own security, NOT HAPPENING
  • with a constitutional, elected government in place, providing an inspiring example to reformers in the region, (emp add) YOU'VE GOT TO BE KIDDING
  • and well on its way to achieving its economic potential. NOT HAPPENING (because of the violence and political disagreements).
All of the Big Criteria for Victory, which are security related, have failed to be met. Victory has not been achieved in the short or medium term.


al Qaeda says ...

This blog has been critical of Bush making arguments about the threat posed by al Qaeda when he cites what they say (and not an objective analysis of what their capabilities are). With that in mind, there is a news item that reads:
Qaeda group says Iraq a "university of terror"

DUBAI (Reuters) - The head of an al Qaeda-linked group in Iraq said the country had become a "university of terrorism", producing highly qualified warriors, since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion.

In an audio recording posted on the Internet on Tuesday, Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, leader of the self-styled Islamic State in Iraq, said his fighters were successfully confronting U.S. forces in Iraq and have begun producing a guided missile called al-Quds 1 or Jerusalem 1.

"The largest batch of soldiers for jihad ... in the history of Iraq are graduating and they have the highest level of competence in the world," Baghdadi said.
Which might be true. But until that's demonstrated it's irresponsible to use al Qaeda claims in support of one argument against Bush, that his invasion of Iraq has increased the chance of a terrorist attack (more specifically, against the United States).


Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Virginia Tech shooting - good for the Republicans?

Order of events:
  • Two events involving military-style semi-automatic rifles in the late 1980s and the early 1990s were used as examples by proponents for the Federal Assault Weapons Ban enactment.
    • January 17, 1989: schoolyard shooting in Stockton, California, in which the murderer killed five children and wounded 30 others before shooting himself (also known as Stockton massacre); a semi-automatic version of the AK-47 was used in the murders.
    • January 25, 1993: murder of two people in front of Central Intelligence Agency headquarters in Langley, Virginia, by Mir Aimal Kansi; using another semi-automatic version of the AK-47.

  • September 13, 1994: The Federal Assault Weapons Ban, a federal law of the United States that included a prohibition on the sale of semi-automatic "assault weapons" manufactured after the date of the ban's enactment. The ten-year ban was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Bill Clinton the same day.

  • November 8, 1994: U.S. midterm elections, which resulted in a net gain of 54 seats in the House of Representatives, and a pickup of eight seats in the Senate. The gains in seats in the mid-term election resulted in the Republicans gaining control of both the House and the Senate. "President Clinton, after the '94 election, thought this issue probably cost the Democrats the House of Representatives," said Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president of the National Rifle Association.

  • April 2007: Rep. Jane Harman writes:
    "... I am proud to support, again, the Assault Weapons Ban and Law Enforcement Protection Act (HR 1022), which renews the assault weapons ban that Congress permitted to expire in 2004."


"gun free zone"

Yesterday, in the immediate aftermath of the Virginia Tech shooting, right-wing Los Angeles radio host Larry Elder had a discussion with John Lott (aka Mary Rosh). I haven't had time to play back the recording I made, but I did listen to the first 10 minutes. Lott, the author of More Guns, Less Crime immediately started to talk about the fact that the campus was a "gun free zone". Which it was, apparently. And by Lotts lights, thats a bad thing. But if "gun free zones" are a problem, where do you stop? Should the delivery room in the maternity ward of a hospital be a gun free zone? It would seem that John Lott would prefer it not be.

This expression has taken hold (again) and is apparent when you Google Blog search for "gun free zone".


Dean Baker of Beat the Press vs commentators:

An interesting exchange between Dean Baker who likes H1-B visas and lowering the wages of white collar professionals (he claims it will make things less expensive for the lower-paid workers) vs. the commentators who see Baker's position as nothing more than another attack on labor. A frequent commentator, Ponzi Q. Globalization, makes compelling points. He's also been spotted on Brad DeLong's blog - challenging DeLong's free market stance.

This blogger is firmly in the Ponzi Q. Globalization camp.


Saturday, April 14, 2007

"responsible Democrats"

From the President's Radio Address:
When Americans went to the polls last November, they did not vote for politicians to substitute their judgment for the judgment of our commanders on the ground. ....

The American people voted for change in Iraq, and that is exactly what our new commander in Iraq, General David Petraeus, is working to achieve. ....

We owe it to the American people and to our troops and their families to deliver our full support. I will continue working with Republicans and responsible Democrats to do just that.
Saying that Americans voted for "change" and that Bush is implementing "change" in Iraq is one of the weakest arguments you can make. "Change" also includes things like dropping chocolate bars from dirigibles to the hungry citizens of Baghdad. Bush knows the polls and that the majority want "out of" Iraq, not "change". And who is a "responsible Democrat"? Anybody other than Joe? (Maybe Ben Nelson)


Friday, April 13, 2007

Yglesias' omissions:

Matthew has a good post taking down Charles Krauthammer's latest Rah-Rah! column on how things are looking up in Iraq and that there is still domestic support for the mission. But he focuses only on one aspect, the "turning the corner" cliche.

What Krauthammer also brought into the mix was:
  • Fouad Ajami's point of view. Ajami has been a long-time supporter of the war and Bush. Yet here, the best Krauthammer can get out of him is that Ajami is "guardedly optimistic". Let the word go out ...

  • A favorite of conservatives, the line:
    ... if the electorate was sending an unconflicted message about withdrawal, how did the most uncompromising supporter of the war, Sen. Joe Lieberman, win handily in one of the most liberal states in the country?
    That argument has been used by McCain in recent weeks. But it's bogus. A truer statement would be:
    ... if the electorate was sending an unconflicted message about withdrawal, how did the most uncompromising supporter of the war now, long time incumbent Sen. Joe Lieberman, win handily last year when he presenting a decidely mixed view on Iraq in one of the most liberal states in the country against a political neophyte and in a year where no Democrat incumbent lost with hefty support of conservatives and the Republican party?
    Which answers itself.


Thursday, April 12, 2007

Bush: keeping the fear alive

In the AP story, Bush condemns Green Zone attack, we read: (emp add)

President Bush condemned Thursday's attack on Iraq's parliament building inside the heavily fortified Green Zone and said the U.S. must continue to help the Baghdad government reconcile the nation.

The president said the attack was on a symbol of democracy — the Iraqi assembly that represents millions of people who voted in recent elections.

"There is a type of person that would walk in that building and kill innocent life and that is the same type of person that is willing to come and kill innocent Americans," Bush said in the Roosevelt Room ...


Wednesday, April 11, 2007

100% bullshit from the White House:

In Froomkin's report on the use by White House staffers of "outside" email accounts to avoid scrutiny, we read: (emp add)
A top Democratic lawmaker says outside email accounts were used in an attempt to avoid scrutiny; the White House says their purpose was to avoid using government resources for political activities, although they were used to discuss the firing of U.S. attorneys.
Why is that a lie? Because the White House website has been used time and time again to host partisan political speeches made by Bush. A sampler:
  • President's Remarks in Cincinnati, Ohio (31 Oct 2004): "Thank you all for coming. I am here to ask for your vote, and I am here to ask for your help. We have come to the great city of Cincinnati, Ohio, asking for you to turn your friends and neighbors out to the polls on Tuesday. With your help, we will carry Ohio again and win a great victory on Tuesday."
  • Remarks by the President at Victory 2004 Rally, Manchester, New Hampshire (29 Oct 2004): "For a safer America, for a stronger America, and for a better America, I ask the people of New Hampshire to vote for me."
  • Remarks by the President at Victory 2004 Rally, Toledo Ohio (29 Oct 2004): "If you believe that America should lead with strength and purpose and confidence in our ideals, I would be honored to have your support, and I'm asking for your vote."
  • President's Remarks in Council Bluffs, Iowa (25 Oct 2004): "We're here -- we are here to not only ask for the vote in this part of the world, we're here to ask for your help. We're here to say that we need your help coming down the stretch: we need you to make the phone calls, find your friends and neighbors and encourage them to go to the polls. With your help, we will carry Iowa and win a great victory on November the 2nd."
  • President's Remarks in The Villages, Florida (19 Oct 2004): " I'm traveling your state to ask for the vote. I think you got to get out amongst the people and say, I want your vote. I'm going to give you some reasons to put me back into office. I also want your help. You need to go to your friends and neighbors. Tell them we have a duty in our free society to vote. When you get them headed to the polls, remind them, if they want a safer America, a stronger America, a better America, to put me and Dick Cheney back in office."
Virtually all speeches Bush (and Cheney) gave in October of 2004 were political and for his reelection. A rough count for October shows over 80 campaign speeches by Bush or Cheney hosted on the White House website. Bushies say they want "to avoid government resources for political activities" as a way of justifying outsied email accounts? Bullshit.

UPDATE: For those who might say that the White House is merely reporting on the president's activities, which include political speeches, it should be pointed out that there are many instances when the president went somewhere and said things, but is nowhere mentioned on the website. (These are often Bush's "walking around" tours where he encounters a less-than-enthusiastic public or press reaction.)


A draft in everything but name:

Beginning immediately, all active-duty Army soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan will serve 15-month tours — three months longer than the usual standard, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Wednesday.


Bush vs Pentagon on Walter Reed:

Bush, in a speech yesterday: (emp add)
You know, we're going to make sure that the care is superb care. I went over there the other day and I made it clear to the care-givers that there were some bureaucratic snafus that were unacceptable. Secretary Gates and our military folks will clean that up.
AP story, Neglect blamed for Walter Reed woes: (emp add)
Money woes and Pentagon neglect are to blame for shoddy outpatient conditions and bureaucratic delays at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, an independent review has concluded. The blistering report called for major changes in troop care and cautioned that problems probably extend to Army hospitals around the country.

The investigation, ordered two months ago by Defense Secretary Robert Gates, is the first Pentagon review since the disclosure of problems at Walter Reed, one of the premier facilities for treating those wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Citing lapses in leadership and oversight as main reasons for the problems, the nine-member independent group concluded that the Defense Department was, or should have been, aware of the widespread problems but neglected them because they knew Walter Reed was slated for eventual closure.

In addition, the Pentagon made problems worse by ordering a hold-down on costs and expenses — dubbed "efficiency wedges" — even as Walter Reed began experiencing an influx of thousands of veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.
It wasn't "bureaucratic snafus", though Bush would like you to think so. It was "leadership and oversight" and a policy of "efficiency wedges" that led to the mess. Bush's own Pentagon says so.


Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Bush's speech to the American Legion:

You have to read it to fully appreciate the weirdness going on. Here are some excerpts (wth emphasis). First, the 9/11 connection:
This is an unusual era in which we live, defined on September the 11th, 2001. See, that's a date that reminded us the world had changed significantly from what we thought the world was. We thought that -- we thought that oceans and friendly neighbors could protect us from attack. And, yet, on that day, less than 20 miles from this post, an airplane crashed into the Pentagon and killed 184 men, women and children. An airplane driven by fanatics and extremists and murderers crashed into the Pentagon. And as you know, on that day nearly 3,000 people died in New York that day. And more would have died had not the people on United Flight 93 showed incredible courage and saved no telling how many lives here in Washington, D.C. by taking that plane to the ground.

My attitude about the world changed, and I know the attitude about the world from a lot of folks here in America's attitude changed. It reminded me that the most solemn duty of your federal government is to protect the American people from harm. The most solemn duty we have is to protect this homeland. I vowed that day that we would go on the offense against an enemy; that the best way to defeat this enemy is to find them overseas and bring them to justice so they will not hurt the folks here at home.

In other words, we don't have the luxury of hoping for the best, of sitting back and being passive in the face of this threat. In the past we would say oceans would protect us, and therefore what happened overseas may not matter here at home. That's what changed on September the 11th. What happens overseas affects the security of the United States. And it's in this nation's interest that we go on the offense and stay on the offense. We want to defeat them there, so we don't have to face them here.

On 9/11, we saw that problems originating in a failed and oppressive state 7,000 miles away can bring death to our citizens. I vowed that if you harbor a terrorist you're equally as guilty as the terrorist. That's a doctrine. In order for this country to be credible, when the President says something, he must mean it. I meant it, and the Taliban found out that we meant what we said. And, therefore, we ended al Qaeda's safe haven in a failed state.
On Iraq and GWOT:
A minority -- and I emphasize "minority" -- of violent extremists have declared that they want to turn that country into a terrorist base from which to launch an ideological war in the Middle East and attacks on the United States of America. That is the stated objective of al Qaeda in Iraq. It's important that we listen to the enemy. It's important we take their threats seriously.

I made the decisions after -- to reinforce. But I didn't do it in a vacuum. I called in our military commanders and experts, and I listened to a lot of opinions -- and there's a lot of opinions in Washington, D.C., in case you hadn't noticed. (Laughter.) The opinions that matter a lot to me are what our military folks think. After all, this is a military operation, and as the Commander-in-Chief, you must listen to your military and trust their judgment on military matters. And that's what I did.

They recognized what I recognized ...

If we retreat -- were to retreat from Iraq, what's interesting and different about this war is that the enemy would follow us here. And that's why it's important we succeed in Iraq. If this scenario were to take place, 50 years from now people would look back and say, "What happened to those folks in the year 2007? How come they couldn't see the danger of a Middle East spiraling out of control where extremists competed for power, but they shared an objective which was to harm the United States of America? How come they couldn't remember the lesson of September the 11th, that we were no longer protected by oceans and chaos and violence, and extremism could end up being a serious danger to the homeland?"


Shorter Jonah Goldberg:
We can't have government run health care because, well, because we can't.
To understand what's going on here, check out Ezra Klein's post (before reading Goldberg's Corner post). Total, absolute, intellectual bankruptcy by Goldberg. Instead of arguing about the efficacy and efficiency of a policy (in this case government run health care) Goldberg says we can't have it because American culture would reject it. When someone like Goldberg stars using culture, it's a sign that they can't argue for their point with hard facts. Talk about bringing a subjective element into a debate! Maybe that's all Goldberg wants at this point. To waste the time and energy of single-payer advocates with extended discussions about national character.

Closing thought. According to Goldberg, Social Security was a bad idea, 'cause we Americans are an independent lot and don't need no meddlin' by them busybodies in Warshington.


The only progress Bush is interested in:

Is it progress in Iraq?


From the AP's Bush inviting Dems to meet about Iraq: (excerpts, emp add)
WASHINGTON - President Bush on Tuesday invited Democrats to discuss their standoff over a war-spending bill, but he made clear he would not change his position opposing troop withdrawals. The White House bluntly said the meeting would not be a negotiation.

"It's time for them to get the job done, so I'm inviting congressional leaders from both parties — both political parties — to meet with me at the White House next week," Bush said in a speech to an American Legion audience in Fairfax, Va.

"At this meeting, the leaders in Congress can report on progress on getting an emergency spending bill to my desk," Bush said. "We can discuss the way forward on a bill that is a clean bill, a bill that funds our troops without artificial timetables for withdrawal and without handcuffing our generals on the ground. I'm hopeful we'll see some results soon from the Congress."

The AP reporter adds:

In essence, Bush invited the Democratic leaders of Congress to come hear the stance he has offered for weeks.
Bush, or whoever is advising him, is channeling Limbaugh, Medved, and all who inhabit a reality-free right-wing world. There has been no progress in Iraq this year (and it looks to be getting worse by every metric) yet Bush arrogantly demands progress (i.e. submission) towards his agenda. This has got to piss off the Democrats and chill relations further between Congress and the White House.


"bring to about 45 the number of U.S. troops killed in Iraq"

Or so we read in a Reuters story, U.S. forces in heavy clashes in Baghdad. The key paragraph:
The latest deaths bring to about 45 the number of U.S. troops killed in Iraq this month, half of them in the Baghdad area. Between 80 and 85 soldiers were killed in each of the first three months of the year, according to military figures.
And we're only 1/3 of the way into April! If you, like this blog, have been checking the Iraq Coalition Casualties website this month, you've observed a consistent high U.S. military death rate ( > 4/day). Already at 45 (plus 6 British), this is not the result of a single helicopter going down, but of a steady, daily rate of loss. Will April turn into a month that upends any happy talk of the "surge" succeeding? It may.


Monday, April 09, 2007

The David Broder solution:

You have to read it to belive it. Broder is so blatant in his support for Bush. In a column discussing Iraq and how Bush and the Congress should act, he writes: (excerpts, emp add))
From the start, Democrats ought to concede one big point: ... forces will be [in Iraq] as long as George Bush wants them to remain.

Once that point is conceded, Bush should be called upon to pay some attention to the Democrats' demands ...
Can you see it? Reid and Pelosi begging Bush to please, please, pay some attention to us.


I have a big problem with the liberal media.

Where the hell is it?


Friday, April 06, 2007

A taste of things to come?

Listened to some of Michael Medved's radio show today. Man, is he mad at Nancy Pelosi. Hates the fact that she went to Syria. Says she deserves censure. Also, that she violated the Logan Act and should be considered a criminal who should be sent to prison. And of course, Medved was reading the Washington Post editorial that was critical of her meeting with Bashar al-Assad.

And all this in reaction to a pretty minor foreign trip. The vehemence of the attack is striking. And we haven't even "lost" the war in Iraq yet ("officially", that is). Maybe Medved (and his cohorts) are exhibiting the extremism that comes when a political movement is dying. Or maybe this is nothing more than a continuation of the fierce anti-Democrat attitude that we experienced during the Clinton years (which was somewhat contained when Bush was riding high - since there was no need to bash the opposition). In any event, it's quite a phenomenon to observe. It's so nutty.

More on this general topic at Glenn Greenwald.


Tuesday, April 03, 2007


Bush press conference today:
It has now been 57 days since I requested that Congress pass emergency funds for our troops.
Time Bin Laden not captured since 9/11:
2030 days


Keep it simple:

From the White House webpage, President Bush Makes Remarks on the Emergency Supplemental, we read:
... the House and Senate [are] substituting the judgment of politicians in Washington for the judgment of our commanders on the ground ...
That presupposes a neutrality regarding the "commanders on the ground". That they are impartial in terms of goals and are more or less a random sample of "commanders" throughout the military. But that's false. A more accurate statement (which you will never hear from Bush) would be this:
... the House and Senate [are] substituting the judgment of politicians in Washington for the judgment of ... commanders I have chosen to place on the ground ...


Monday, April 02, 2007

Juan Cole is pissed off at John McCain:

Juan Cole writes: (emp add)
This grandstanding trip that John McCain took to Baghdad on Sunday is another occasion for propaganda to shore up his falling poll numbers in his presidential campaign. He said, "Things are better and there are encouraging signs. I've been here . . . many times over the years. Never have I been able to drive from the airport, never have I been able go out into the city as I was today."

He said that only three days after the US embassy issued an order that personnel are to wear 'personal protective equipment' when moving between buildings inside the Green Zone! He said it the day two suicide belt bombs were found inside the Green Zone. So he could ride in an armored car in from the airport. That's the big achievement? What about when he gets to the Green Zone? Then he has to put on PPE to go to the cafeteria.

Look, I lived in the midst of a civil war in the late 1970s in Beirut. I know exactly what it looks and smells like. The inexperienced often assume that when a guerrilla war or a civil war is going on, life grinds to a standstill. Not so. People go shopping for food. They drive where they need to go as long as they don't hear that there is a firefight in that area. They go to work if they still have work. Life goes on. It is just that, unexpectedly, a mortar shell might land near you. Or the person ahead of you in line outside the bakery might fall dead, victim of a sniper's bullet. The bazaars are bustling some days (all the moreso because it is good to stock up on supplies the days when the violence isn't so bad). So nothing that John McCain saw in Baghdad on Sunday meant a damn thing. Not a goddamn thing.

It makes my blood boil.
... McCain, you see, knows exactly what I know about guerrilla wars and civil wars. Hell, people used to shop freely in Saigon in the early 1970s! And if he is saying what he is saying, it is because he is attempting to convey an overly optimistic picture with which to deceive the American public.

I don't hear ... realism, and dedication to the welfare of the troops, from McCain. I used to, when he wasn't running for president. He isn't going to be president, and the albatross of this war he has bought into is why.


Orrin Hatch says it's impossible!

On Meet the Press, in a discussion about Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, Orrin Hatch said: (emp add)
And I personally believe that [Gonzales] ought to be given an opportunity to continue because he’s done a good job otherwise. Yes, this is a flap that looks bad, but I don’t see any criminal activity at all. I do see how you can misconstrue what he said.


And frankly, in order to make [the charge that Gonzales lied] stick, he would have had to have willfully and intentionally lied. This man isn’t capable of doing that. He’s a good man, and yes, it’s been a flap that has been embarrassing to him, to the administration, and to Republicans in general.
No need for investigations. You see, Gonzales cannot lie. Ever. Orrin Hatch just said so.