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Heh! Kinda funny how invading Iraq was supposed to produce a strong ally to Israel in the heart of the Mideast. Oops!
Juan Cole translates Grand Ayatollah Sistani's Fatwa on Gaza, noting that:

...the Neoconservatives argued for putting the Shiites in control of Iraq on the grounds that, as a religious minority themselves, they would be more sympathetic to Israel


Very interesting commentary on how the left blogosphere has reacted to the Gaza fighting. Appears to be a real sea change in how Israel is perceived. Joe Klein BTW, was condemned, quite rightly I thought, for failing to represent the left in the run-up to the Iraq War, but he's really redeemed himself by opening up the national conversation about Israel.

Fascinating question from David "The New Tim Russert" Gregory to the Foreign Minister of Israel.

Is it acceptable to Israel for Hamas to remain in power in Gaza?

My understanding is that Hamas was elected and therefore enjoys some sort of status in President Bush's eyes.  Or is that just for American allies?
I respond to a letter in the Inky concerning warrantless surveillance and the eternal question of "Does human nature change over the centuries?" (My answer to that question was "No.")

Whuuh? You expected Bush to cut his final vacation short just to deal with a war in which hundreds have died?!?!? Bwah-hah-hah-hah!!!

Lots of questions about Michael Connell, Karl Rove's IT guy, who oversaw several elections, many of which produced highly questionable results.

Fannie Mae's 10-person Board of Directors makes $160,000 per person, per year!!!! Which might be okay if they had, say, not been sleeping through the $8 Trillion housing bubble or the collapse of Fannie Mae. Right now, the WaPo is hollering about workers making $27 an hour, these directors make $320 an hour and somehow the WaPo is silent on them.

Truly stupid pieces by traditional media outlets that try and pretend that only Democrats get fawnng adulation pieces from their fellow traditional media folks. Of course, they skip right past actual fawning coverage of Republicans (And yikes! This featured 2002 piece from Time Magazine reads like Stalinist agitprop in the cold light of today).

Hoo-boy, do I hope this rule goes nowhere! The Bush Administration has just approved a rule allowing medical personnel to make decisions regarding the lives of complete strangers, decisions that they are in no way competent to make (See: Terri Schiavo).

A reprint showing how Peggy Noonan gauged G.W. Bush's honesty and trustworthiness shortly before the 2000 election. The uranium story cited here shows that Noonan has zero ability to gauge such issues.
It also shows that Bush & Co are criminals who should be in prison!
President-elect Obama explains why he supports having Rick Warren give the invocation at the inaugural. Admirable sentiments, but not very convincing. Warren is a

conservative who strongly disagrees with Obama on gay rights, reproductive rights, foreign policy, and modern science.

If Warren were there to debate in some way, it might be justifiable to include him. But he's not there for that. Inclusiveness is fine, but this seems a tad over the line of acceptable. Further arguments. A lefty blogger explains to a traditional news reporter, slowly and using lots of little words, why having Warren give the invocation is a bad idea.
Update: Further commentary.

Yup, now that we're running down the clock and we're near te end of Bush's term in office (Yay!) we're now getting revised accounts as to what a great President he's been all these years. *Choke* I think the official term is "Gag me with a spoon!" And here's a really good one. Despite having, y'know, been the President for eight years of disaster after disaster, somehow, none of the disasters are his fault!
Update: Oh yeesh! Now SecState Rice is claiming that the Bush Administration utilized the UN more than any other administration.  Oh, and there was no waste of money in Iraq. These claims are just too silly to even comment on.
Further update: Rush Limbaugh's brother David condemns Obama's announced intention to cleanse America's image abroad, claiming that our image is just fine.

Will Obama's team release the full story of their contacts with Patrick Fitzgerald's team concerning the Governor Blagojevitch scandal? No. Fitzgerald has asked them not to.

The Iraqi reporter/shoe thrower is turning out to have made himself quite popular in Iraq.  

NSA whistleblower revealed! The guy who discovered the illegal NSA wiretaps and told the NY Times, which then took from Spring 2004 to very late 2005 to reveal it to the public, and only then because the book author was going to reveal it anyway.
Frances Frago Townsend has an interesting complaint on the issue.
Update: some speculation on how Tamm's case may be affecting the warrantless wiretapping case.
Yeah, yeah, I'm a wet blanket and a spoilsport, but I can't say I really approve of throwing shoes, even at an evil war criminal. I mean, I understand it, but still...

Credit where credit's due, Colin Powell makes a good speech and points Republican Party in good direction.

The Obama-Blagojevich connection. Seems awfully doubtful there IS much of one. No question the traditional media is trying very strenuously to create at least the appearance of one. John Dean speaks from his Watergate experience and recommends getting all the facts out, sooner rather than later.

Well, Bush shows his usual class and sensitivity. The Obama family wanted to move

...into the Blair House before Jan. 5, so that daughters Malia and Sasha could start classes on time at Sidwell Friends School in Washington.

An anonymous Whte House spokesperson said "[T]here were previously scheduled events and guests that couldn't be displaced." Ri-i-ight! Stay classy George! 
Hard to make much more of a comment to this than "Duh."  A panel blames the abuses of detainees on the chain of command, not upon the ordinary grunts.

David Horowitz of FrontPage Magazine (The link is to an unusually sensible blog post of his), writes the following in a fundraising email:

The Freedom Center will not stand by and watch the left advance deeper into government, popular culture, and higher education.  Nor will we allow it to snatch defeat out of the jaws of victory in Iraq or hamstring our military in Afghanistan.

Erm, lemme see, how does one begin? Well, the left has already advanced deeply into the culture, so FrontPage is a bit late on that. "Jaws of victory"?!?! Nuh-uh. Nothing of the kind. Once the US leaves Iraq, the Iraqis are fully prepared to make oil contracts with the Chinese, not the Americans. The American-Iraqi Status of Forces agreement won't be ratified until the middle of next year. And Shiites and Sunnis have not made peace with each other.

Peggy Noonan claims  that "At Least Bush Kept Us Safe" for the last several years, at least of course, since 9-11 and since Katrina and of course not including London and other places which have suffered bombings. The piece (Lengthy at 34 kilobytes) then counts all of the many ways in which Bush has failed to "keep us safe." 
The AP tries, desperately, furiously and unsuccessfully, to link President-Elect Obama to the scandal of IL Governor Rod Blagojevich trying to sell Obama's old Senate seat.
Update: Time Magazine refers to Pat Fitzgerald saying that Obama is not involved: "'s never good news when a top-notch prosecutor has to go out of his way to distance them from a front-page scandal." And why does PatFitz have to distance Obama from the Blagojevich scandal?!?!? Could it be because the media is irresponsibly trying to connect Obama to the scandal without any evidence?!?!?
Probably half of the US soldiers who died in Iraq did so because their thin-skinned, improperly-armored vehicles were hit with a mine or an IED.

DoD (Department of Defense) was aware of the threat posed by mines and improvised explosive devices (IEDs)...

Yet DoD did not develop requirements for, fund, or acquire MRAP-type vehicles for low-intensity conflicts that involved mines and IEDs...

Bush tries to whitewash history to divert people from the fact of his utter moral bankruptcy.

Freedom's Watch, the group headed by Ari Fleisher and that spent $15 million on an ad campaign is no more.

So endeth the most overhyped, overrated, and underwhelming political project since the presidential candidacy of Rudy Giuliani.

Freedom's Watch spent $30 million on TV ads and Democrats gained eight Senate seats and 24 House seats. 
As President Bush refuses to argue in a face-to-face manner and as Juan Cole is a blogger, Cole has to argue about Mideast policy by blogging. One other problem with the same Bush speech is that, yes, Bush verbally rejected a link between al Qaeda and Iraq, but he only drew that distinction long after the Iraq War had begun.  In other words, he drew that distinction only after it had served its purpose.
SecState Rice celebrates the invasion of Iraq as Iraq is "at the center of Middle East politics as a bulwark against Iran." Erm, slight problem with that assessment as Iraq is now in the hands of a Shiite goverment friendly to Iran. Other than that, yeah, it's a "great strategic achievement."

Bush will have his Presidential Library at Southern Methodist University. It:

will be completely independent from the academic governance of the university. It will reportedly “sponsor research and programs designed to promote the vision of the president” and “celebrate” Bush’s presidency.

Why is it going to be on the grounds of, and associated with, SMU if SMU will not have any say in its "academic governance"? That sounds like a loser of a proposition for SMU and a straight win for Bush's Library. Bush gets to run the library any way he pleases, but SMU gets the hit on their reputation. I guess they stand to make lots of cash from the deal. Still sounds like a pretty crappy deal for SMU.

The pollster Zogby is absolutely destroying his credibility! He published an apples-to -oranges poll that compared current questions about the McCain campaign to decades-old questions about Obama & Biden. Zogby is "standing by" the poll, thereby sinking himself along with his client.

Happy, happy, joy, joy!!! The Obama Transition Team has announced that ALL political appointees in the Foreign Service will be relieved of their duties on January 20th! NONE of them will stay on.

*Sigh* Okay, how do we explain why it's not all right for Bush to pardon Scooter Libby for commiting the felony of outing a CIA agent who, BTW, was working on the issue of Weapos of Mass Destruction. Scooter Libby is a criminal.
If Bush & Co want to go to turn themselves in and go to jail in place of Scooter, well yee-hah! In that case, sure! But if they want to remain free, then no! Far better that Scooter rot in jail (No, he's not in jail because of Bush's intervention) than that his buddies be completely off the hook. 
Bush's "confession" over the allegedly unsatisfactory intel before the start of the Iraq War is grossly, pathetically unsatisfactory. As usual, Bush just blames everyone else for his own failures.

President-Elect Obama's approach to filling out his Cabinet sounds eminently sensible and marks a huge departure from the last eight years.

"I assembled this team because I am a strong believer in strong personalities and strong opinions. I believe that's how the best decisions are made."

Yee-hah to that!

Amazingly, but unfortunately, predictably, the press corps seems determined to "gin up" scandals.

November                         back to top

WaPo publishes dreadfully misinforming editorial, describing a completely unreconizable picture of Iraq over the past several years.

The Nation documented way back in April 2003 that

Gen. Barry McCaffrey, who continues to be featured frequently by NBC News as an objective analyst ... opines about war policies in which he has a substantial (and concealed) financial stake.

The NY Times' David Barstow covered the story again in April 2008, covers it again November 2008 and notes that NBC News has still refused to note McCaffrey's conflict of interest.
Update: NBC and General McCaffrey undertake a coordinated PR effort to defend their good names.

First Lady Laura Bush gives herself points for how much she loves the women of Afghanistan. Problem: It was clear to me back in December 2002 that Afghanistan was not reconstructed or rebuilt. Sure enough, it was only a matter of time before the Taliban reassembled and began attacking. Afghan women are now no better off than they were before the US invaded that country.

Former SecDef Rumsfeld is writing his memoir that, predictably, says "I was right in my strategy for Iraq!"
Of course, he wrote so many memos taking so many positions on so many subjects, they were called "snowflakes" by his overwhelmed subordnates. So whatever position happened to be the right one years later, you can bet he's got a memo that takes just that position.

Given the choice between being successful and being ideologically consistent, Reagan and the younger Bush have been polar opposites.

Marvelous news! John Brennan, a torture advocate who withdrew his support for that but loudly supported "enhanced interrogation tactics" and rendition, has been refused any high-level national security position! And the blogs were credited for pushing the Obama transition team away from supporting him.

It's truly disgusting to see millionaire pundits hardly saying a word about executives who pull in hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars in bonuses, spreading the vicious smear that auto workers make $70 an hour (The average wage is $25, auto workers make $30).

Many Republicans and traditional media people are adopting an odd definition as to what Obama meant by "change." It seems to be a definition that ignores  the distinctions between "insiders" and "Republicans."

For some odd reason, the press corps is being accused of being excessively pro-Obama. Not really sure what their evidence is and gee, it sure would have been nice had someone brought this interesting little factoid up during the campaign. The press corps also seems very confused about whether they want information about appointments or not.

Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and the American Association for the Advancement of Science are demanding that "burrowing" cease and desist immediately. They list several specific examples.

Marvelous news on the appointments front! Obama appears to be choosing really good people. Digby reproduces some real "Truth, justice & the American way" rhetoric from the Attorney General appointee. Punchline: the guy who  reprinted this stuff in the first place was trying to criticize him! Someone else has mild reservations, but essentially approves. 

Woo hoo! The progressive Representative Henry Waxman beats out the "Blue Dog" Rep. John Dingell.

New Homeland Security chair has Constitutional Law background!

"Truth, justice & the American way" triumph! Five innocent detainees at Guantanamo have been ordered freed.

"Burrowing" appears to be the latest method to frustrate the new administration and to make it more difficult to achieve liberal goals. It's a process of transferring a political appointee to a protected career position.. One problem is that the appointee may not be qualified for the new position.

But there's evidence that the burrowing under Bush has been extensive, and hasn't just been confined to the administration's waning days.

More extensive examination of the issue.

Interview transcript. Funny stuff! Guy being interviewed starts losing it at the fifth question and is swearing by the end. Summary of poll questions. Lots of just plain false suggestions.

Liberal bloggers "speculating" about Hillary Clinton and the Secretary of State job? But mindless, evidence-free speculation is a traditional media speciality. Bloggers don't really do that.

Weekly Standard writes a plea to keep Missile Defense going. Is it really worth it to do so? Major problem is that it's impossible to tell how truly effective the program is until a new and critical team takes over the testing. Otherwise, there's simply no way to tell.

So, now that the US has agreed to be out of Iraq by the end of 2011, just how firm is that agreement? With Press Secretary Dana Perino talking about mere "aspirational dates" and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Admiral Mullen talking about the withdrawal being "conditions -based," the agreement doesn't seem very firm at all.

WaPo Ombudsman again frets over all of the "Liberal Bias" the WaPo contains. She's very sorry and promises to do better.
The US is discussing the worthless boondoggle known as Star Wars/SDI/Missile Defense. We need to contact the President-Elect and encourage him to shut it down.
Also, the sub-group within the My Barack Obama site that encouraged (unsuccessfully) Obama to preserve FISA is regrouping and plotting strategy.

Facebook for Philadelphia to oppose California's Proposition 8. They conducted a rally on November 15th and claimed that 5000 were there.

Kewl! The first YouTube-style presidential address. Well, okay, Obama is just the President-Elect so far, but hey, it's all good.

A suggestion for what to do with prisoners at Guantanamo Bay that are innocent, in a way that will keep them from returning to the battlefield. I would recommend that America truly and decisively reject the prison there as an unequivocally immoral thing that no Americans approve of. That would then convince the prisoners tht Gitmo is rejected by the American people.

It's pieces like this piece 'o crud that really make me appreciate how good writers will use quotes and links to back up what they say!!! This writer has absolutely no clue that people might want to know "What exactly is the evidence that you're basing all of these wild, unhinged assertions on?!?!"

Yes, I'm very disappointed that our new President-Elect is backing the idea of allowing Senator Joe Lieberman (I-CT) to retain his current chairmanship of Homeland Security. I absolutely guarantee that the decision will come back and bite the Democratic Party in the $#@!

Hoo-boy! Wingnuttery ahoy! We've got Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA) comparing Obama's “civilian national security force,” to Hitler!!!1!@@!! He later "dialed to back" after both Georgia Senators expressed dismay.
Hempstead police, after using horses against peaceful protesters from the IVAW, charge IVAW with "Disorderly Conduct."
Bwah-hah-hah-hah!!! Newt Gingrich wants to run the Republican National Committee! Love it! That's almost as good as Governor Palin for President!

Kofinis: Sarah Palin is like that crazy relative who comes over and doesn't want to leave.

Oh, and here's a good one:

Christie: Voters did not decide that on Tuesday. It was a very close election. I mean -- 52 percent, you can't say that he had a mandate.

Uh, scooz me, but Obama won 66.3 million votes to McCain's 57.9, which actually rounds off closer to 53%. When Bush declared a mandate with only 50.7% of the vote, yes, I would say Obama very definitely won a mandate! 
And this is just, like, whoooo!

Obama thinks he is a good talker, but he is often undisciplined when he speaks. ... President Bush is an excellent model; Obama should take a lesson from his example. Bush never gets sloppy when he is speaking publicly. He chooses his words with care and precision...

Wow! That's not even mockable, that's so lacking in reality. Has this guy even heard of a "Bushism"?

Atrios makes an extremely good point about how there's criticism and there's criticism. Sometimes one is a friendly critic who wants the person or project to succeed and sometimes one is a hostile critic who doesn't. Tom Friedman is clearly a friendly critic of the Iraq War and so yes, he does bear some responsibilty for the consequences.

The WaPo Ombudsman takes a look at her paper's campaign coverage and concludes it was tilted to favor Obama. I point out that McCain ran a  campaign of demagoguery and name-calling, meaning that a straight "bean-counting" tells us next to nothing. Ombudsman Howell arrives at no conclusions concerning the content of the various Op-Eds she bean-counts so assiduously.

Is there some way to prevent criminals such as Karl Rove & Tom DeLay from making TV appearances? Or at least some way to precede their appearances with an honest description of their crimes?

Yee-haw!!! Sarah Palin looks to be the permanent Republican figurehead for hard-line rightwingers! Yes, we'll have Palin "to kick around" for many moons to come. You can help! Here's a petition by Michelle Malkin to support Palin's hard-line positions with. Here's a liberal endorsement for that petition. 

Just why did McCain fail to seize the presidency? For all of the claims that McCain and the Republican Party were substantively different from Bush, it's really not clear where, exactly, they actually differed. One extremely good point is that Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's acceptace of Barack Obama's timetable for the withdrawal of American troops from Iraq back in July basically neutered McCain's perceived advantage.

Ah! Sweetness, light & sunshine! Barack Obama wins decisively! Right wing smears getting a lot less traction than they used to. As to Matt Drudge? Bwah-hah-hah!!! Poor Drudge is in very bad shape compared to the guy who "rules our world" back in 2004. 

From 16 October to 31 October, six cases are examined where prominent media figures have compared Obama to Hitler or his campaign to the Nazi Party.  And yes, victimization is a major theme of conservative media criticism.  
The major telcos are, once again, trying to kill off "net neutrality." This is the concept that all net users must be treated equally. Companies can't pick and choose whose content gets favored access. Fach sheet (23 page PDF) shows why net neutrality is essential to protecting regular citizens. The case between Comcast & BitTorrent is probably the highest-profile case we've seen recently. 

October                         back to top

Uh! Mah! Gawd! The stupid!!! It HURTS!!! Governor Palin thinks her 1st Amendments rights are being violated because people are disagreeing with her and saying things that she doesn't like.

McCain campaign launches ugly and frankly, racist, attack on Palestinian Professor. Karl Rove of course approves the attack and Drudge features it on his website.
McCain campaign speaks of the need to get America off of using Mideast oil so much, but doesn't have any realistic, concrete plans for doing anything about that.

Two things about the helicopter assault on an alleged al Qaeda target in Syria on 26 October - 1. In a piece published on 28 October, the targets killed are still referred to as "unverified," meaning that the US has yet to produce physical evidence that they really did attack a genuine threat. 2. Syria has requested assistance in guarding their "450-mile long desert border with Iraq, but the Americans refused." [emphasis added]
*Sigh*! And just why are US troops in Iraq again? If only two steps of the five-step "surge" plan are complete and if the US will not intervene in case of Iraqi civil war, what in the heck are US troops "in harm's way" for?!?!?

Yeesh, what a bunch of whiners! A Republican journalist whines about the "lack of balance" in today's journalism (That ol' "liberal media" bugaboo) and Republicans in general "worrying" (The term is "concern troll") about the presidency, the House and the Senate all being in the hands of just one party!*!!1!  That is, of course, just the situation that Republicans enjoyed from 2001 to 2006.

A member of our peace group warns darkly:

There aren't too many of these articles YET, but, some are beginning to pop up.

It's entitled: "McCain guarantees victory" and cites the pollster Zogby, to which Daily Kos responds:

...despite Zogby's breathless "it's getting CLOSER!", it's not clear that that's true in any meaningful way.

In the meantime, Kos has a very cheerful piece on Alan Greenspan, the novelist Ayn Rand and the "Epic Failure" of Republican  conservatism. They also have a kewl landslide diagram and pix of Obama's 100,000 person rally in Denver.

No, Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac are not to blame for the housing crisis.

Iraq reneges on security agreement with US. Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki seems to think he can run his own country without assistance from the US [/snark]! Seeing as continued occupation is supported by neither country, it's hard to see how anyone would fight to keep US troops there.

McCain campaign worker Ashley Todd allegedly mutilated by black male Obama supporter who drew a "B" into her cheek with a knife  (Amazingly, without breaking her skin). Turns out this was a hoax. "Journalist" Matt Drudge "breathlessly reported" it and the McCain campaign picked up the story as well. What's that you say? Did the McCain campaign do any fact-checking? Ha, ha, ha! No, of course not.
Return of the "Mayberry Machiavellis" in the McCain campaign. It's difficult to come up with any real policy differences between McCain and Bush for the very good reason that his staff doesn't pay much attention to policy details.

Good heavens! WHAT does this even MEAN!?!?!

...a Vice President has a really great job, because not only are they there to support the President agenda, ... But also, they're in charge of the United States Senate, so if they want to they can really get in there with the Senators and make a lot of good policy changes that will make life better... [emphasis added]

Huh!?!?! WHAT is Governor Palin talking about!?!?! Does this person have a clue as to what it is that a VP does?!?!?
Chris Matthews tries asking McCain aide Nancy Pfotenhauer and can't get a coherent reply.

Hey, John McCain gets an endorsemet! Not, er, exactly one he wanted, but hey, y'know? Al Qaeda evaluates McCain as "impetuous" and decides that that's just the quality they want in a US President!

Now, to be fair, Governor Palin's wardrobe money doesn't come from taxpayers, it comes from the Republican Party, so Democrats & independents don't pay anything, but dude!!!!! $150,000!?!?!?! As Jane Hamsher points out:

I've made entire movies where the budget to clothe the whole cast was less than that. [emphasis in original]


ABC’s wardrobe guidelines allow $4200 per prime time show for female characters, so “do the math”, it’s the equivalent of 29 prime time shows.

Yeah well, Governor Palin is scheduled to do a 15 minute interview with CNN, but their choice of interviewers leaves much to be desired. This is a fellow who decided even before he investigated Troopergate that there was no story there. Turns out actually, there was.

Update: "...Griffin allowed her to openly lie about a number of issues without any interruption or challenge..."
I did a paper on Star Wars/SDI/Missile Defense back during the late 1980s. What a frackin' waste of the taxpayers' money!!! It's a 50-year old program (The period from the ABM treaty to Reagan's revival was an "on spec" period) that has yet to produce a usable weapon. Fortunately, the latest study says the whole program needs to be taken "back to the garage for some serious repairs."
Colin Powell endorses Barack Obama. We lefties don't particularly like Powell as he helped get the Iraq War started, but he may appeal to more moderate, centrist voters and actually did say some very good, pro-American things about Muslims.

What's really amazing about the traditional media here is how unmoored they are from any real standards. Especially amazing is how someone wants the presidential candidates to tell everybody how they feel about God, but as Governor Palin subscribes to an unusual "flavor" of Christianity, the McCain campaign is anxious to NOT have her be questioned about God. Conservatives don't appear to recognize the problem.

Wow! Ranting and raving! Governor Palin looks here like Mussolini himself! And yeah, it's hard to categorize this as anything but the statement of a complete snob.

Good for the Obama campaign! They've requested an investigation into smears on ACORN, smears which have, quite predictably, resulted in violence.

Local columnist bemoans what "the fates" have done to the campaign of "poor" John McCain. Defends McCain against the charge of wanting  "Bush's third term." Problem: Barack Obama has proposed ending the Iraq War, something that's costing the US Treasury $10 billion a month. What savings has McCain offered that's even a fraction of that?

About a year ago, Michelle Malkin and many other right-wingers were verbally assaulting and hectoring and hassling a family and their 12-year old son over the boy's televised statement on the SCHIP program. Their given reason?

[T]he office of Mitch McConnell, the Senate minority leader, ... asked: "Could the Dems really have done that bad of a job vetting this family?"

Turned out the family was precisely what they said they were and that they were fully entitled to support the SCHIP program.
Now that McCain has made a complete cluster---- of the life of his chosen hero, Joseph Wurzelbacher, we get Malkin fuming that:

The left's political plumbers are attacking the messenger, rummaging through his personal life...
[emphasis added]

Yeah, it sure is awful when bloggers go rummaging through someone's personal life.  Kind of amazing that what was perfectly acceptable a year ago is completely unfair today.
Update: Yup! It's Michelle Malkin again! Now she's taken the lead in forcing the University of Nebraska to cancel an invitation to William Ayers to speak on 15 November. Can't ya just smell that love of freedom? That love of free discourse and debate?

Hard to get a more definitive verdict on the third and last debate between Obama and McCain than this:

CBS poll of undecided voters:

Who won the debate?

McCain (R) 22
Obama (D) 53

...the base was clamouring for a knock-out punch.  [McCain] had to throw them something, even if it meant alienating the non-insane.

McCain doesn't appear to think that the health of women is an importan component of the abortion debate. In fact, he doesn't seem to think women are important at all. Obama's answer was pitch-perfect.

Keith Olbermann on the screaming, frenzied crowds at McCain-Palin rallies:

Obviously, Senator, you haven’t heard your own speeches, and Gov. Palin’s, and what people shout during them. And you haven’t heard your state GOP Chair in Virginia, Jeffrey Frederick, giving talking points to 30 of your field-operatives heading out to canvass voters in Gainesville, Virginia, with a reporter present, telling them to try to forge a connection between Barack Obama and Osama bin Laden to emphasize bombings and terrorism.

Juan Cole gives us a capsule history of the last 30 years, concentrating on how the Republican Party and Reagan's coalition of the Religious Right and the big-money people has shaped America.

Al Jazeera does a report on McCain supporters spewing all sorts of nonsense about Obama. Very sad that America looks so bad to foreign countries.

The level of sheer racism and hatred in the McCain rallies is really reaching dangerous levels. Michelle Malkin notes the video at first link and says:

Let’s talk about “insane rage” and “violent escalation.” This is insane rage — Madonna bashing Sarah Palin and shrieking “I will kick her ass...”

Er, well, okay, but Madonna is not part of the Obama campaign. When Palin accuses Obama of "palling around with  terrorists," she is saying that as a part of the McCain campaign.  Just a bit of a difference there.

Governor Sarah Palin charged with "abusing power" to such an extent that even the traditional media reports it!
Heh! McCain tries to pretend that his administration will be above such things.
Update: Report is ignored in numerous quarters.

NBC's "Meet the Press," ABC's "This Week," and CNN's "Late Edition" ignored the story altogether

Worrisome signs that Sarah Palin's & John McCain's speeches are inciting people to violence, or at the very least, to violent language. Of course, right-wingers see the traditional media as hopelessly biased in favor of Obama and the Democrats. Interesting YouTube, where people try to avoid using inflammatory language, but where they clearly feel it.
Update: McCain finds it difficult to "dial it back" and to calm his followers down. Funny how that happens!

'Fraid to say, this is not surprising news. Two NSA whistleblowers go onto ABC News and reveal that, surprise, surprise, the "Terrorist Surveillance Program" was not a well-crafted, highly-targeted program and that many, many people who had absolutely nothing to do with terrorism were surveilled.

I guess women haven't come that far after all, at least not on Fox News. A news reader complains that a Newsweek cover of Governor Palin was, get this, NOT retouched!  Yes that's right, she was expecting Newsweek to retouch all of Palin's facial imperfections.

Amusing to see how small websites can get the current state of the presidential race right, but big media websites can't seem to do that. As a group, the big sites refuse to admit that Obama is poised to win well over the 270 votes needed to win.

Bush cuts off aid to African countries because they might practice contraception.
Of course, due to this "pro-life" policy, African women now have a much greater chance of dying while giving birth.

Heh! Mark Halperin of "The Page" in Time Magazine considers Matt Drudge to be an important and influential person. Rather difficult to see why he thinks that as Obama has opened up a significant lead in the past few weeks and, as Drudge is a Republican, quite obviously, he had nothing to do with that.

Obama wins second debate with McCain without breaking a sweat. McCain sounded like a grumpy, tired old man fussing about whether Obama announced his intention to invade Pakistan, if that proved necessary, to get bin Laden. Obama appeared more comfortable and relaxed than he did at the last debate. Funny, but McCain had a full 90 minutes to repeat Palin's attacks on Obama and didn't say a word
According to the David Horowitz website "Discover the Network,"
Barack Obama's connections to William Ayers (Whose last acts of violence were in 1972, when Obama was eight years old) are, well, pretty darned unimpressive. The two of them were on the same board of directors 1999-2002. Yes, Ayers has made some really hating comments about the Bush Administration, but if that were a crime, many, many millions of us would be in jail!
The McCain campaign has decided to make an issue of the Ayers connection anyway.
The connections of McCain & Palin, on the other hand, are wide and deep. Daily Kos counts three highly questionable associates for McCain and two for Palin.
Update: McCain campaign sending out very muddled, confused message on Ayers.

Cheney: Wildlife Conservation Has Been A ‘High Priority’ Of Bush Administration

Wow! It's hard to know how to even parody such a blatant falsehood. 
Obama speaks at Abington High School football field.

On the Vice-Presidential debate, I had to chuckle at this one: [Palin] "went toe-to-toe with a guy who's run for president twice, and she held her own"
Wel-l-l-l, "CNN vote of debate watchers: Biden 51, Palin 36
CBS poll of undecideds: Biden 46, Palin 21"
So, uh, no.
CNN transcript.

Bail-out bill passes Senate 74-25, both Obama & McCain vote "Aye."

What's been about the silliest claim of the campaign (And believe me, it has lots of competition!) has been the one about Alaska being in some sort of danger from Russian aircraft:

“Putin rears his head and comes into the airspace of the United States of America."

Thankfully and unsurprisingly, the Air Force confirms that, no, no Russian plane has violated US airspace over Alaska during Palin's term as Alaska's Governor.

September                         back to top

The bail-out bill failed by a vote of 228 against to only 205 for. 60% of Democrats voted yes on the bill, but only 33% of Republicans did so. Breakdown: 65R 140D - yes, 133R 95D - no. Stock market promptly tanks, losing 777 points, 7% or $1.1 trillion in value.
An examination as to who is to blame for the economic crisis.

Mosque gassed after hate DVD stuffed in newspaper

188 kilobyte PDF of the House Discussion Draft Bill for the bailout.
Based on Speaker Pelosi's summary, it looks to be a reasonably good plan. It's "the largest single non-defense expenditure ever is about to pass into law."

John McCain's very bad week. Saturday Night Live's hilarious takedown of Governor Sarah Palin.
This seriously calls for letters! MSNBC correspondent Kelly Norah O'Donell makes a series of highly edited, selective quotations in order to make a very dishonest and partisan point. She claims that Obama appears to be in such hearty, full-throated agreement with McCain that it puzzles her what Obama's disagreement is. No mystery at all IF one looks at the full quotations. Addresses for MSNBC, MSNBC's Senior Vice President, News, and President, NBC News.

Obama wins the debate!!! My own reaction. No game changers, but people notice McCain's refusal to make eye contact. Speaking on the "surge," Obama points out that the war didn't start in 2007. 

So John McCain allegedly "suspended" his campaign. But does he actually do so? It was especially silly for MSNBC to both have a McCain adviser attacking Obama on one of their shows and to run the announcement that he was suspending his campaign.

Huh?!?! Foreign countries aren't willing to help the US out of its fiscal jam? German Chancellor Angela Merkel reminds the US that:

she had pushed for steps to boost the transparency of hedge funds during Germany’s presidency of the Group of Eight last year. ”We got things moving [last year], but we didn’t get enough support, especially in the United States and Britain.”

After the Iraq War had been launched, a UN debate made it quite clear that the US had done a very poor job of reconciling countries to US actions. We're now seeing the results of such "steamroller" action.

Heh! Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson tries to "walk back" the demand that he be able to dispose of $700 billion in whatever way he gol durn jolly well pleases. Original wording:

Sec. 8. Review.

Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency. [emphases added]

And now:

Paulson insisted over and over during today’s hearing that he “wanted” and “welcomed” oversight.

William Greider thinks the bail-out plan is an "historic swindle." Robert Reich weighs in

It's actually (grimly) hilarious to see conservatives now doing a complete 180o on philosophies they've held very firmly and unwaveringly for the past eight years.

Opposition rapidly growing to "Treasury Secretary Paulson’s unconditional, blank-check bailout plan." We're seeing encouraging signs of spinal columns among Democrats, helped along by the fact that Republicans don't seem to like the plan much either. Natcherly, McCain has all sorts of ties to the corporate lobbyists who got us into this mess.

Wow! Did our president really have that shaky a grasp of how the national economy works before entering the Oval Office?!?!?

Can the Bush Administration be trusted to spend the $700 billion they're asking for to bail the US out of yet another financial crisis?
Um, no. The piece looks at several dramatic failures of  control, discipline and oversight, but what's really staggering is $10 billion wasted on Iraqi reconstruction. The July 08 report of the Special Inspector General for Iraq says that $50 billion had been spent on reconstruction. Three inspectors told Congress in Feb 07 that one-fifth of that amount had either been lost or was very poorly tracked.

Al Jazeera shows videotape of truck ramming into security gate at Islamabad's Marriott Hotel and shows truck burning.
The following explosion left a 30 foot crater.

Hilarious pair of pieces: Dodgy Journalism: Time's Michael Scherer debates strawman, loses
followed by: Michael Scherer debates Michael Scherer, loses
Oh, and Scherer Wanks About Renewable Energy
The question was whether John McCain supports privatizing Social Security. Scherer argued that no, McCain was not suggesting that.
So what does McCain then tell all of us? Why, of course he's for that!

Amazingly, upon the very day that Admiral Mullen was assuring Pakistan that the US respected its sovereignty, a US drone attack killed at least six Pakistanis. Yes, this incident is related to the loss of confidence in US financial markets. It demonstrates to the world that the solemn word of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (by law the highest ranking military officer overall in the United States Armed Forces) is worthless. Not good. Not good at all.

Bush tries to make it appear as though the current economic crisis was a unanticipated "bolt out of the blue." (And yeah, we've heard that one before.) Unfortunately, there was nothing mysterious or unanticipated about it.  The housing bubble has been a problem for quite some time and very little was done to correct it.

Wow! Has a Vice-Presidential candidate ever out-drawn a Presidential candidate before? Keep in mind though, Sarah Palin's approval ratings for voters as a whole have cratered from +17 points on 11 Sept to -4 on 18 Sept.

"adolescent criminal (in mentality if not age)"
hacked into Sarah Palin's semi-official Yahoo email account. Two points to remember: 1. Palin received an official government email account that's much harder to hack into and chose instead to do official Alaska business on a non-secure email account and 2. Funny how right-wingers are all upset at how people are snooping into private emails, but didn't seem to give a damn about our government violating FISA and the Fourth Amendment to do the same.

"Angler," the new book on Vice-President Cheney, answers a question I've long had. White House Counselor (Later Attorney General) Alberto Gonzales and Chief of Staff Andrew Card went to confront a very ill Attorney General John Ashcroft to get him to sign off on the warrantless wiretapping program. My question was "Why was there a confrontation, followed by a threat of mass resignations, at that particular time?" Turns out that's how long it took for the NSAs General Counsel and the NSAs Inspector General to piece together just what the program did  and to conclude that it was illegal. 

Right-wingers have been crowing and whooping about Governor Sarah Palin and how she was going to save McCain's campaign. Welllll, not so fast there! Seems she's now in "favorability free fall," with her favorability rating dropping from +17 on September 11 to +4 on the 15th. This coincides with the horrified discovery of the traditional media that McCain is (*Gasp!!!*) a liar!!!
Update: The traditional media's failure to, 1. adopt a "theme" or "storyline" of McCain and Palin lying (Something Hillary Clinton got hammered for when she fibbed about coming under fire in Bosnia) and 2. their meaningless, idiotic stories ("Lipstick" got mentioned 350+ times, "Fannie Mae" only 230 times) have combined to leave them utterly helpless and toothless.

No, the Bush Doctrine that ABC Newsperson Charlie Gibson asked Sarah Palin about is not a simple, straightfoward, clear-cut doctrine. There have in fact been many versions of it. But no one prior to this ever seemed to have any trouble with it when asked about it. Obama and McCain both answered correctly and immediately when they were questioned on it.

What exactly does it mean to be "pro-life"? Does it really mean anything beyond the fact that one is against women controlling their own bodies? Clearly, it doesn't mean that one respects life in general, as we see by US military policy in Afghanistan.

Bwah-hah-hah-hah!!! Palin's latest rally in Alaska drew about 1000 people. An anti-Palin rally drew 1400!!!

John Dean considers Palin unqualified to fill the office of the Presidency should the 72-year old McCain be unable to fulfill his term in office.
Palin's failure to recognize even the very name "Bush Doctrine" (The idea that the US can and should launch preventive wars to head off possible future threats) shows that she is manifestly unqualified to be the Vice-President.
Naturally, traditional media people don't consider her lack of familiarity with the doctrine on which the Iraq War is based to be disqualifying.

YouTube on McCain's smears, lies and distortions. The spirit of Karl Rove and his late mentor Lee Atwater live! You can donate to the makers of this film here.

A number of items on the Republican Vice-Presidential nominee. Remember, due to his age, McCain would have a 1/6th chance of not being able to complete a four-year term.

Charles Gibson - co-host of ABCs Good Morning America, will be interviewing Republican Vice-Presidential candidate Sarah Palin. As to the format of the show:

The only interviews that are done this way are lifestyle and celebrity interviews. And it's pretty clear that that is what this will be.

The Free Press of Detroit MI asks voters how they appraise the AK Governor/VP candidate Palin - not terriby impressed. Palin gets marks for being a good speaker, but not for delivering any clear idea as to how a 1st McCain term would not just be a 3rd Bush term.
So the McCain team has apparently decided that Palin is best used as a "stealth candidate" and to keep her under wraps for the duration, appearing only in friendly forums like closed-door fundraisers and Fox News. 
Y'know, one can only say "Oops!" so many times. Monica Goodling at the Department of Justice made consistent use of “PPO Non-Career Appointment Forms” (PPO is the acronym for “Presidential Personnel Office”) for DOJ "career" candidates.  When challenged on this blatant disregard of the rules:

Goodling responded that they were given the PPO form by mistake. This response shows that Goodling was aware that it was improper for career candidates to complete a political form.

Unfortunately, after the McCain campaign uses songs they haven't asked to use and would not have received permission to use in any event, it's pretty clear that, as with Monica Goodling and the career DOJ applicants, the McCain campaign is not making use of copyrighted songs accidentally, they're stealing songs deliberately, intentionally and with malice aforethought. 
How conveeeenient! All of the sudden, the   Republican Party is completely free of sexism! Just in time for them to defend their Vice-Presidential nominee from justified criticisms of her policies! Funny how all of the sudden, history is re-written so that Hillary Clinton and other Democratic women have never   suffered any sexist attacks at all.

Conditions in St Paul are getting worse and worse for protesters. Physical beatings are getting way out of control.

The idea that just because someone is pointing a camera at you, you have the right to take the camera away or destroy the film or the tape – which is something we’ve had documented – you know, that’s not part of policing.

Evaluation of Governor Sarah Palin (R-AK),McCain's running mate - Lots of love from regular Alaskans and from the hard-core religious right.  Not much good to say about her from the point of view of science, the environment, sexuality education or corruption. BTW, it's unfair to compare her to Dan Quayle, the elder George Bush's VP, unfair to Quayle, that is.
AP has a serious Ron Fournier problem. Looks like they're going to defend him anyway.

Joe Lieberman in early August:

I'm not gonna to go to that convention -- the Republican convention -- and spend my time attacking Barack Obama.

Sept 2nd:

When others wanted to retreat in defeat from the field of battle, when Barack Obama was voting to cut off funding for our troops...

Militariztion of Twin Cities, reporter Amy Goodman arrested. Raids have been conducted on "suspected protesters" since Aug 30th. Amy Goodman has been reporting for Democracy Now! for almost 20 years and was arrested for trying to defend her co-workers. Greenwald:

Beginning last night, St. Paul was the most militarized I have ever seen an American city be, even more so than Manhattan in the week of 9/11 -- with troops of federal, state and local law enforcement agents marching around with riot gear, machine guns, and tear gas cannisters, shouting military chants and marching in military formations. Humvees and law enforcement officers with rifles were posted on various buildings and balconies. Numerous protesters and observers were tear gassed and injured.

TwinCities Indymedia

Hurricane Gustav: is New Orleans prepared? Wish we could say "yes," but there doesn't appear to have been much improvement over the past three years.

August                         back to top

Major problem with the Russia-Georgia situation appears to be that demonstrated that the United States could not or would not defend Georgia, despite the widespread international impression that Washington, after having trained Georgia’s troops and showily displayed the Saakashvili government as its protege, was in some way implicated in the Georgian attack on South Ossetia, and on the Russian soldiers legally there as “peacekeepers.”

The Democatic 2004 candidate, John Kerry, plays off the words of "Senator McCain" against those of "Candidate McCain." Good stuff!

Harriet Miers and Joshua Bolten MUST appear before the House Judiciary Committee to answer questions! To which we can only say GOOD! Enough of these scofflaws deciding which rules they like and don't like and which laws they'll obey!

Sampling of International reactions to pick of Biden as prospective VP:  Sudan plus Iraqi Sunnis & Shiites don't like his proposed plans for their countries. Iraqi Kurds like him, Israel, India, Ireland and Iran all like him. Turkey can live with him and Germany  is ambivalent.
*Sigh!* There's simply no two ways about it. Members of the media just LOVE John McCain! McCain says America should reinstate the draft. Media people claim (falsely) that he didn't say that. Media people claim the Georgia-Russia conflict showed how "tough" McCain was. Actually, it showed that he couldn't wait to blow up the world!
Britain's MI5 conducts a lengthy survey of domestic terrorists and concludes that profiling is useless.

...those who become terrorists "are a diverse collection of individuals, fitting no single demographic profile, nor do they all follow a typical pathway to violent extremism".

Ah-HA! Now we know! The Church of England reveals the truth. The reason that people have left the church is due to Buffy the Vampire Slayer! Yeah, seriously. The idea is that she represents the religion of Wicca, which is seducing women away with a message of female empowerment.

VetVoice comments on John McCain's tendency to refer people to his Vietnam POW experience as his all-purpose answer to just about any uncomfortable question.
Hilarious look at all of the various ways that right-wingers have tried to smear Obama (And its still only August!)

So, it's looking like the US is discussing withdrawal by 2011 after all. And the exact plan the negotiaters appear to be considering?

That plan is right out of the Center for American Progress' "Strategic Redeployment" paper of 2005 -- get out of the cities, get less visible, move from a combat mission to a training mission, and then go. The left won the Iraq debate. Period. 

Yee-hah!!! Rachel Maddow gets tapped to do an MSNBC show!!! Between her, Jon Stewart, Steven Colbert and Keith Olbermann, that makes four liberals on the teevee! Woo-hoo!
Pensite Review has a real chin-stroker of an evaluation:

It’s interesting that it’s happening now, so close to the election.

We expect to see any number of right-wing blogs hollering "Aaugh! Another liberal on the teevee?!?!?
Update: the New Republic is very concerned that this destroys the objectivity of MSNBC.

South Ossetia review:
The story of how a 16-year, low-grade conflict over who should rule two small, mountainous regions in the Caucasus erupted into the most serious post-cold-war showdown between the United States and Russia is one of miscalculation, missed signals and overreaching...

People are mocking commentator Cokie Roberts for making the utterly stupid statement that Hawaii is some sort of foreign country. Well, to provincial East Coast elites, I guess it is.

In a very sensible and prudent decision, Turkey refuses to allow US warships to travel through the Bosporus and the Dardanelles, the narrow straits that connect the Mediterranean and the Black Seas, to carry out what the US claims are merely relief operations.

Attorney General Michael Mukasey has requested new powers for the FBI, powers which they have decisively shown they're not competent to handle.

South Ossetia war update: Georgia has actually been a US satellite for awhile now. conflict with Russia was only a matter of time.

...add in the tireless US promotion of Georgia as a pro-western, anti-Russian forward base in the region, its efforts to bring Georgia into Nato,...

...under the Bush administration, Georgia has become a fully fledged US satellite. Georgia's forces are armed and trained by the US and Israel.

In an excellent and very hopeful contrast to the Kerry campaign of 2004, the Obama campaign is taking the Jerome Corsi "Swiftboating" book with absolute, deathly seriousness. It appears that Obama knows full well that the traditional media is not his friend.

U.S. Troops Deployed Abroad Reject McCain’s Iraq Plans, Donate 6:1 To Obama

Well, looks like the South Ossetia war between Russia and Georgia [map] is on again! The current truce was negotiated with President Nicolas Sarkozy of France, but apparently broke down when Russia kept up the attack.
There is considerable evidence of lengthy US - Israeli planning that preceded the war. Currently, the fear is that Bush may be doubling down and increasing the US commitment. 
Allegedly, Russia has bargained with the US to trade off Georgia's independence for sanctions on Iran. We'll have to wait and see on that one.

$%#@&%!!! And just why did we vote Democrats into the majority in 2006?!?!? Speaker Pelosi has now decided that, in addition to such sensible energy policies as:

...a requirement that electricity be produced from renewable sources such as wind and solar energy and the release of some oil from the nation’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve...

she also wants to allow offshore drilling!!! In 2006, we asked for and got more Democrats. What we need this year is better Democrats!

The South Ossetia conflict between Russia and Georgia is now over and Georgia seems to have gotten disillusoned with the ability of the West to pull its' chestnuts out of the fire.
The BBC and Just World News contribute post-mortems.  The fact that the US is heavily overstretched by the Iraq War and was thus unable to respond effectively was a big problem. Besides which, the US loss of moral credibility over that war and Guantanamo left it pretty much irrelevant.
The Guardian appears to feel that Russia deserves some blame, but that there's plenty of blame to be spread to Georgia. Detailed timelines and corporate media reactions.
Update: Of course now, after the crisis is over, SecState Rice is headed over there.

Voter fraud (Not vote fraud, where the government makes it difficult to vote, but voter fraud, where an individual appears to be a legitimate voter while he or she is not) - not a problem in real life, but something that Republicans are pushing very hard as 1. Obama is counting heavily on new voters and 2. Republicans  realize they have to even the electoral odds somehow.  

Conflict between Georgia (borders on the Black Sea and the Caucasus Mountains) and Russia. Russia is the formally-appointed peacekeeper for the region that includes Georgia, so it's not like Russia is (legally) the aggressor. It's of course popular to take the "David vs Goliath" position when observing a small country vs a large one, but that may not be the case here

Jane Mayer discusses her book "The Dark Side," about the War on Terror. Interesting answer to 911Truth theory (That 9-11 was an inside job):

...there was a tremendous sense of guilt inside the Bush White House and various highest places because they dropped the ball on 9/11, as Clarke said.
... they felt they had to show that they were in charge like nobody's business afterwards because they missed this, and they had 12 opportunities...

The FBI case against Bruce Ivins is looking shakier and shakier.

Had some extensive email conversations with conservatives recently that I think are of some interest. Number 1 (PDF - 70+ kilobytes) and I've appended extra comments to Number 2 (PDF - roughly 200 kilobytes). I think these conversations are worthwhile to the extent that one can make one's speech shed light instead of heat, but it really helps when both people have a fair amount of understanding between them to begin with.  A condition that I don't think was really present in either case.

Wow! Media people are starting to realize John McCain doesn't walk on water!!! Yippee!

[F]ormer top government scientist, Bruce E. Ivins, who died Tuesday [29 July] of an apparent suicide.

The government just a month ago disposed of the case of another government scientist Steven Hatfill, which apparently cleared the way to accuse Ivins. Many, many questions are raised with the new accusation. We need a full-scale Congressional investigation. We especially need to inquire about the role played by ABC News.

NY Times Book Review reviews Jane Myers' new book on the torture policies of the Bush Administration. Vice-President Cheney appears to be the primary actor here, Bush appears to play a peripheral role.

"To a man who's only tool is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail" - both campaigns are determined to solve the Afghanistan problem by sending more troops

But greater US attacks and more US troops in Afghanistan aren't the answer.

The piece concludes:

So let's let India and the new government of Pakistan handle their own problems.
...they'll do better without heavy-handed US threats, which only aid extremists and ultranationalists.


A conservative and I were having an email conversation and the guy waxes lyrical about the legal theory called "Original intent" and how wonderful it is. My question is "How seriously do conservatives take it in real time?" Welllll, not so much, it turns out.

Federal precedent dating as far back as 1807 contemplates that even the Executive is bound to comply with duly issued subpoenas.

On what basis is the Bush Administration fighting the subpoenas of Harriet Miers and Josh Bolten?

The Executive cannot identify a single judicial opinion that recognizes absolute immunity for senior presidential advisors in this or any other context.

But they're claiming "absolute immunity" anyway.  In other words, when it comes to the day-to-day actions of this administration, the "Original intent" theory is completely irrelevant.

Lawyer Jack Balkin is very impressed with the decision.

Well, lots of damning testimony about Monica Goodling's actions in picking and choosing who could fill jobs at the Justice Department. Unfortunately, it doesn't look like anyone will be going to jail. This is quite serious as there's a reason that being selective about the politics of people there is so utterly and blatantly illegal. Despite the fact that a culture of partisanship prevailed, former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales claims he slept through the whole thing. Of course, it's very highly likely that Gonzales was hired for the AG job precisely to politicize the office. Problem is, if citizens get the impression that things like ones' sexual orientation are important to whether one receives justice, that discredits the entire system of justice in the US.

Unsurprising news of the week: Media harder on Obama than McCain.

Bush Charged with Murder One in Congressional Hearing

Lefty blogs noted how McCain was treated by Katie Couric's show on CBS News (NY Times covered it, but left gaps in explanation). Now, CNN’s Reliable Sources picks up the story!

Jane Mayer discusses  the extremely bad effects the War on Terror has had upon the soul of America.
A discussion of how the US view of the law for the last seven-plus years has pretty much destroyed America's credibility. The US lectures Russia and ends up looking pathetically stupid.

Is the "Surge" in Iraq a meaningful element of the larger strategy there? Katie Couric interviews John McCain and Barack Obama, editing McCain's answer to be less embarrassing to him and being very, very obtuse with Obama.
Yes, there certainly was a reduction in violence in Iraq and General Petraeus and the "Surge" certainly have something to do with that, but no, there's really no evidence that either of them were game-changers. BTW, Iyad Allawi, the former Prime Minister of Iraq, really doesn't think so either.

Glenn Beck is not precisely advocating genocide, but it's hard to see what else he could mean.

...if you’re sitting down and you’re talking to people, as [Barack Obama] has said that he wants to do, and try to bring everybody together, you cannot bring people together that have extremist ideology. […] You do not get into bed with people that want to destroy you and run you into the sea. [emphases added]

It's hard to see what else he could mean by this, other than that all Palestinians must cease to exist. Keep in mind this guy recently substituted for Larry King, an honor that one would think CNN would reserve for people they really liked.

WaPo spins the story of Barack Obama and Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki agreeing that US troops should be out of Iraq sometime in 2010 as though their positions were somehow inconsistent with each others.
Whuuh?!?!? Drudge doesn't rule the world of the WaPo and the NY Times? They make independent editorial decisions?!?! 
Attorney General Michael Mukasey suggested that the problem of military detainees could be decided by new legislation. Problem #1: The courts are perfectly capable of hearing the cases at issue. Problem #2: The Geneva Conventions and the Constitution already comprehensively cover all of the relevant issues. There's simply no need to come up with any further laws.

Some people are just professional umbrage-takers. They just go through their material, looking and looking and looking for something, anything to get offended about. 

The US seems intent on tossing out any leverage it might possibly have over the Maliki government of Iraq by insisting, over the objections of the highly nationalistic Iraqis, on remaining at all costs in Iraq. The really amusing aspect is that Maliki is agreeing with the campaign position of Obama and not that of McCain.

Via e-mail, a prominent Republican strategist who occasionally provides advice to the McCain campaign said, simply, "We're fucked."

Why, according to Speaker Pelosi, are oil prices so high?

The price of oil is… is attributed to two oil men in the White House and their protectors in the United States Senate.

WaPo utterly disgraces itself with an op-ed stating that the problem with environmentalists is that

...many environmental leaders seem unpracticed at coalition-building. They tend to be conventionally, if not radically, liberal. They sometimes express a deep distrust for capitalism and hostility to the extractive industries.

Erm, the reason that environmentalists have not been building broad and deep coalitions is that there is already a national consensus that the extractive industries are wrong!

The really important question about the New Yorker cover (Showing Barack Obama as a Muslim and his wife Michelle as a gun-toting militant) is "How did conservatives view it?" Answer, in pretty much the way bloggers thought they would, as a "true picture" as to how the couple really is. As Atrios said, this "... doesn't make the New Yorker public enemy #1, just makes them idiots of the week."

Heh. Now we know that Obama is right on his withdrawal plan from Iraq! Michael O'Hanlon isn't just angry, he's livid over the plan. His main criticism is that Obama wants to pull out

— regardless of what the Iraqis do, regardless of what our enemies do, regardless of what is happening on the ground —

which is actually a very popular position among the American people.
In an email correspondence with a conservative, the fellow asked me how I justified supporting the Inky columnist Trudy Rubin. I replied "Rubin ain't no Molly Ivins." As if to prove that, Rubin produces an, uh, interesting column today. She suggested that Iraq was a problem for Barack Obama, ignoring the fact that it's a major problem for his rival McCain and her suggestion that "...Iran and the United States [want] to fight their battles on Iraqi soil" is just plain bizarre. There's simply no evidence that either a vacuum would be  created by an American withdrawal or that such a vacuum would be filled by Iran.

So now the Bush Administration wants to reach a deal with Maliki bypassing the Iraqi Parliament as well as the US Congress.

"He is trying to figure out, just as we did, how you can set up an agreement between the two and have it be legally binding," one official said, "but not go through the legislative body."

Hang it up, guys! You've lost. I mean, c'mon, if you have to bypass both legislative bodies to get an agreement, then that agreement won't be worth the paper it's written on.

So legendary journalist I. F. Stone got most of his scoops by digging through government records and by quizzing reporters who had official access. He didn't have official access and didn't go to press conferences himself and yet scooped the press corps time and time again. How do reporters do when they have plentiful, generous official access to the McCain campaign? Well, er, um, not so hot, actually. The American people would benefit by knowing the answers to many, many very important questions that the reporters on McCain's campaign bus/plane somehow never seem to get around to asking.
Traditional media figure asks his exclusively conservative panel if Obama has "lost his glow" at a time when Obama's poll numbers are increasing and at a time when McCain is stumbling. Ya think we could perhaps ask McCain about his adviser's comment that America's economic problems are all mental? Huh? Maybe?

Here's an amusing one: Mark Penn (Who supervised Hillary Clinton's failed Democratic primary  campaign) and Karen Hughes (Who supervised Bush's failed attempt to market America to the Muslim world) now team up to rescue "corporations in crisis." Yeah, I'll buy stock in that "neat adventure."

McCain engages in eliminationist language. Apparently, he thinks it's just hilarious to speak of the mass killing of Iranian citizens. The really sad part is that:
Reporters Dismiss McCain’s Iran ‘Joke’ As Part Of His ‘Real Guy’ Persona
I mean, Good Lord people! Don't we have any standards of morality left?!?!?

Well, the Democrats lived down to our worst expectations by caving in on FISA. The piece at this link expresses puzzlement as to how "caving in" can be interpreted by Democrats as "showing strength," but they seem to believe that it does.
Jane Hamsher of FDL has some good words of wisdom for how to respond (And it's not to put all our chips on Ralph Nader).

Ooh! Very serious news!
Sounds like the Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani may oppose Bush's proposed Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) that's intended to allow US troops to remain in Iraq after the UN mandate expires at the end of 2008. Very, very bad news for Americans who wish for US troops to remain in Iraq for, essentially,  forever (*cough* McCain *cough*)
The BBC runs a show "debunking" 9-11 Truth theories. Results are more amusing than convincing.

Jonah Goldberg compares Obama's suggested student national service (50 hours a year for high school students, 100 hours a year for college students) to...get this...slavery!!1!1! As though students have never been required to do anything prior to this.

I can't wait for Jonah Goldberg's sudden discovery that some children are told -- told!!
-- to clean their rooms.

Prime Minister Nouri al -Maliki of Iraq appears to want the US to go home!  US, of course, says "Don't be silly, we're not going anywhere." Actually, the full statement was:

In a rebuff to the Mr al-Maliki the Pentagon said any timetable would be articifical and withdrawal would depend on conditions on the ground.

Close enough. BTW, American citizens couldn't care less what "conditions on the ground" are, they want US troops to come home by majorities of 55% to 65%, depending on who's doing the polling.   
Hmm. Very, very interesting! Michael Chertoff, head of the Department of Homeland Security both now and back when Hurrican Katrina hit New Orleans, can't seem to find has calendar for 30 Aug 05!

A columnist from our local paper writes a love letter to John McCain. My answer. Mr Ferris essentially argued that McCain has not changed his position on immigration due to his unyielding sense of right and wrong. My reading is that McCain's position is a bit more flexible than that and that his stand on the issue has changed more over time than Ferris' view suggests.  
Sweden appears to have passed a law similar to what Bush & Co would like for the US. Swedes aren't very happy about it. Businesspeople especially are displeased as their customers are going to feel their privacy has been lost.

Oh, pu-u-u-leeeezze! The summer sun must be getting to some people:

Wouldn't George W. Bush make an awesome high-school government teacher?

I have a hard time thinking of people less qualified!
Controversial piece in the Inquirer gets lots and lots of online comments. Examination of two letters in response.

A number of rather highly suspicious things concerning the return of Ingrid Betancourt from a several-year long captivity in South America. Also: Was McCain the bagman?
Obama explains his position on FISA (3316 comments as of 11:30pm 5 Jul, piece was posted at 5:00pm 3 Jul). Assessment as to how useful and truthful his explanation is. Conclusion: inadequate.

The subsection of the MyBarackObama site that urges Obama not to support the current FISA bill is now the largest subsite there. [Warning, if you want to sign up for the sub-site, it allows one to choose "daily digest" vs "individual messages," as the digest contains up to 100+ messages per day, I recommend "daily digest."]

Survey of the North Korean nuclear cluster**** where Kim Jong Il got pretty much everything he wanted in exchange for pretty much nothing. The US got some pretty pictures of a cooling tower being destroyed, but the hard-line right-wingers are right, as John Bolton said: “I think it’s actually a clear victory for North Korea."

So, it turns out that  "harsh interrogation practices" (i.e. torture) that the US was using on prisoners was based on Chinese communist torture manuals! Uh, slight problem with that. Those techniques weren't designed to produce truth, they were designed to get false confessions.

I've been having an email conversation with a conservative who says (Among many other things): "My big issue is less govt." Well, what exactly does that mean in practice? This piece estimates that the US needs to spend at least $1 trillion in order to bring our transportation infrastructure back into shape after a quarter-century of Republican "small government" philosophy. That's the meaning of small, cheap government!

June                         back to top

It really, really helps to put Wesley Clark's words in context before concluding that he made a boo-boo. 'Cause yeah, "The Village" is sure going at that comment! Hissy fits galore!

No! The Iraq War was about oil?!?! Geddoudahere!!! Nah, really?!?!

Number of good, deepthink posts on the tension between Barack Obama's position on FISA and support for his candidacy on the left generally. Here's the group profile of the MyBarackObama subgroup that asks Obama not to support the FISA bill (HR 6304) as it now stands:

Senator Obama - we are a proud group of your supporters who believe in your call for hope and a new kind of politics. Please reject the politics of fear on national security, vote against this bill and lead other Democrats to do the same!

[The sub-site allows one to choose "daily digest" vs "individual messages," as the digest contains up to 100+ messages per day, I recommend "daily digest."]
My personal take on Presidential candidates is that we have to see our relationship with them as a partnership. He does something wrong, we say so. Something right, we say so. Praise and blame as they're deserved. Let's not toss out the baby with the bathwater and dump somebody who is better than the opposition, especially when the opposition has the traditional media firmly in his corner.

Six U.S. Senators maintained their refusal to support the troops by voting against the new GI Bill yesterday.  One (John McCain) refused to support the troops by simply not voting.

My last post was a tad premature. FISA isn't completely done for. There will be a vote on July 8th. Remember:

The Democrats passed the FISA bill, which provides immunity for the telecoms that cooperated with the National Security Agency's illegal surveillance over the past six years. This bill, which when signed means we will never know the extent of the Bush White House's violation of our civil liberties, is expected to be adopted by the Senate. Barack Obama has promised to sign it in the name of national security. The bill gives the U.S. government a license to eavesdrop on our phone calls and e-mails. It demolishes our right to privacy. It endangers the work of journalists, human rights workers, crusading lawyers and whistle-blowers who attempt to expose abuses the government seeks to hide.

Contact your Senators!!!

Well, FISA's pretty much done for. Senate voted for cloture, which is the really critical vote. There's a slim possiblity that things could turn around, but frankly, it seems to be all over except for some kabuki preening and prancing. 

The ACLU presents "Major David J. R. Frakt's Closing Argument in Favor of Dismissal of the Case Against Mohammad Jawad." Strongly recommended reading! The last four paragraphs are especially heartening. Makes me proud to be an American!

Oo-er! Not really sure what this means! Russia gets involved in Afghanistan?!?!?

Wow! How can the Bush Administration be any less competent?!?!?  The fellow who was put in charge of an Arabic-language TV station couldn't speak Arabic! As a result, the station was transmitting merrily away and he had no idea what was being said over the air! And gee, wow, surprise, surprise, the station said a lot of stuff they shouldn't have been saying.

David Broder makes an infuriating argument:

“McCain benefits from a long-established reputation as a man who says what he believes,” writes Broder. “His shifts in position that have occurred in this campaign seem not to have damaged that aura." (emphasis in blog post)

Well, duh! "The Village" (Popular blog name for the Washington DC press corps) runs nothing but favorable news about McCain. They positively refuse to run anything negative about the man!

Worrisome bill making its way through Congress.

H. Con. Res. 362
Expressing the sense of Congress regarding the threat posed to international peace, stability in the Middle East, and the vital national security interests of the United States by Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons and regional hegemony, and for other purposes.

More details

Anne Ewing says:

Basic intent is to authorize a blockade and search policy in the waters around Iran without U.N participation, which could be construed as very provocative, and might precipitate fighting.   Since Ahmadinejad is on very shaky ground at home, what is the point here?

it is very early in the process and the bill might not go anywhere at all, but the sponsorship is alarming.

As of 21 June, the bill has 146 co-sponsors.

Best explanation I've seen for Barack Obama's surrender on FISA. Good comment:

Either way, no good comes from lending uncritical support to a political leader, or cheering them on when they do bad and destructive things, or using twisted rationalizations to justify their full-scale assault on your core political values.

And let's please remember: No, the FISA bill voted in on the 20th of June was not a meaningful compromise as the other side got all they wanted while our side got nothing. Obama went back on his core argument. His claim was that we had to find a new way to talk about national security. This was not the way to do it.

Wall St Journal serves up a big, steaming pile of nonsense concerning the Boumediene case (That gives habeas corpus rights to prisoners at Guantanamo Bay).
And very, very interesting. Prisoners have been held at Gitmo for a number of years, but now that the evidence to hold them may have to undergo review by civilian courts, all of the sudden,

US asks to rewrite evidence against Guantanamo detainees ahead of court review

Gee! Amazing how that happens!   
Looks like the court in charge of hearing habeas corpus petitions from Guantanamo Bay prisoners isn't wasting any time getting the roughly 200 cases ready for trial.

Rush Limbaugh describes what makes Iowa's response to its' flooding different from New Orleans in late August 2005. Problem is, his description:

I don’t see a bunch of people running around waving guns at helicopters, I don’t see a bunch of people running shooting cops. I don’t see a bunch of people raping people on the street.

didn't happen in New Orleans! These problems existed only in the overactive imaginations of overly paranoid white people!

A World Public Opinion poll says that Bush is trusted to do the right thing by just 2%. That's double the number who trust Pervez Musharraf (Pakistan), two-thirds the score that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (Iran at 3%) got, but less than half of those who trust Vladimir Putin (Russia at 5%) and Hu Jintao (China, also at 5%).

On Friday, 890 Afghanis broke free from jail, 390 of them were Taliban. Afghanistan is threatening to go into Pakistan to retrieve the escapees. Pakistan is less than thrilled about the prospect.

The proposed SOFA for Iraq is pretty much dead, thank goodness! Booman Tribune awards its own Wanker of the Day award to the WaPo, which confuses Iraq with Japan & South Korea.

Happy, happy, joy, joy!! The US Constitution is affirmed! Prisoners at Guantanamo Bay do indeed have habeas corpus rights, thus affirming a 900-year-old right. Bush's right-wing revolution appears dead. That doesn't mean the prisoners all get to go free, of course.

Reaction in Iraq to the proposed US bases in that country:

...the US is lowering the number of bases it wants from 58 to "the low dozens" and says it is willing to compromise on legal immunity for foreign contractors...
The new deal between Iraq and the US is in theory a "status of forces agreement", which the US already has with more than 80 other countries, but, in practice, it is a manoeuvre by the US administration to avoid calling the agreement a treaty which, under US law, would then have to be submitted to the Senate.

A look at the fundamentally deceptive terms used by the US to describe what it seeks in Iraq. 
Dennis Kucinich read out his impeachment resolution for four hours on the 11th. Several groups endorsed his resolution. Asked on the 13th about where it goes from here, Kucinich replies

We can’t let this president wage war and kill more people in violation of international law, in violation of the Geneva Convention[s]. His conduct has been totally in alignment with violating the Nuremberg Principles. We need to hold him to account.

*Sigh!* Oh well, Barack Obama says:

Look. I am a pro-growth, free-market guy. I love the market.

More evidence that Obama and McCain see eye-to-eye on economic issues. Does that mean that there's no difference between the candidates? Looking at the decision on habeas corpus rights for Guantanamo prisoners, no, the difference between them is absolutely night and day. Yes, we should support Obama for president despite his economic views. 

US wants the ability to "...
define what is an aggression on Iraq..." In other words, to justify an attack on Iran after having decided that something or other they did constitutes aggression. Negotiations are outright collapsing.

Granted, I'm a bit of a computer geek, but this is pretty amazing. McCain doesn't do his own computing, he leaves that up to his wife. Okay, fine. Gotta delegate a few things, but he doesn't even know whether she uses a Mac or a PC! Y'know, a president has to be somewhat literate on computers!
Rep Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) presents a five-hour speech on his resolution to impeach Bush (Clerks of the House had to read it all again, taking another five hours). Resolution referred to committee by 251-166 vote.

The Senate's Phase 2 report - how our local paper covered it (Not well).

VP Cheney's daughter Liz threatens Iran. Says: "The time for diplomacy here is rapidly coming to an end.
Fox News wonders

...whatever happened to the recession? I thought we were in a recession; you don’t hear that. It hasn’t happened.

'Fraid to tell ya, but with five straight months of job losses, we are definitely in a recession!

Seriously now, people, Iran is not a threat. The comparison of Iran to Nazi Germany is just plain ridiculous.

John McCain's secret plan to win in November: Get 25% of the African-American vote! Of course, Bush's share of that vote was an anemic 11%!

The reviews of Hillary Clinton's concession speech reminds me of the Shakespeare line:

Nothing in his life
Became him like the leaving it.

According to the Carpetbagger Report, Clinton's speech was superb:

If there was any doubt about the grace and class we’d see from her today, Hillary Clinton showed this afternoon what she’s really made of. I’ve been watching her for years, and this was as great as I’ve seen her, ending on a high note.

Heck, Clinton goes even further and adopts Obama's rhetoric! Still further congratulations.

McCain flip-flops on whether or not it's okay for the President to break the law. Apparently, it's a bad thing as a general principle, but okay when it comes to warrantless wiretapping.

Another reason as to why there should be term limits for pundits - David Broder, the "dean" of the press corps, comments on Bush's many crimes, including the illegal propaganda that he carried out over the course of many years:

You'll have to forgive me, but I am reluctant to see every big policy dispute turned into a criminal or impeachable affair.

Erm, 'scuse me, but propaganda, giving American citizens what purports to be news or opinion without telling them that it comes directly from the government, is illegal according to the Appropriations Acts and the Anti-Deficiency Act.

Despite the brave talk from die-hard Hillary Clinton supporters, Clinton announced that she was
suspending her campaign and supporting Barack Obama for President. She's scheduled to make the announcement Saturday in New York state.

Obama finally wraps it up! He's now the first African-American major party candidate ever. DLC is of course annoyed because they're going down the tubes right along with Hillary Clinton. Clinton offers to be vice-president. Ugh! I'd rather see her promoted to Supreme Court Justice or some prominent cabinet position than to the vice-presidency. Having her as VP would conflict with Obama's message of change and would drag in all of the 90s baggage, all the DLCs failed strategies, yuck!

Excellent advice on how Obama should approach his upcoming visit to Iraq.
1. Try to meet with a broad range of leaders, including Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani.
2. Visit the Iraqi exile community in Jordan.
3. Focus on what Iraqis want rather than just on hollow, meaningless platitudes about "victory" (Which no one seems to be able to define anyway).
4. Above all, avoid the "Dukakis trap," no wearing of any type of military garb.

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Is Barack Obama an "apostate"? In other words, was he a Muslim at any point in his life and did he then reject Islam in favor of Christianity? Do Muslims in any of the 40 nation-states that have Muslim governments even regard Obama as an apostate? The answer to all three questions is an unequivocal "No."

McCain, the "experienced one," "the professional," "the expert," flubs a point on troop strength in Iraq, stating that troops were now down to "pre-surge levels." Er, not quite. Troop strength was 130,000 before the "surge" and is 155,000 now.
Update: Obama slams McCain:'d think that Senator McCain would just admit that he made a mistake and move on. But he couldn't do that. Instead, he dug in. And the disturbing thing is that we've seen this movie before -- a leader who pursues the wrong course, who is unwilling to change course...

McClatchey Newspapers responds to McClellan's candor and criticism of the press corps by confirming that, yes, we have a corrupt and decadent press corps that miserably failed the American people.

Awhile back, a blogger looked at the Politico's admission of error and I wondered how sincere their admission was and how much would actually change there. Well, according to the same blogger, not much. One of their head people, Mike Allen was asked about his phrase "left wing haters" and he responded: " can call them 'critics' or 'skeptics' or 'opponents' or whatever."
'Cuz, y'know, it's all the same.
Especially amusing was the assertion by one of their columnists, Daniel Paul Kuhn, that "GOP operatives were excited about the prospects of McCain winning in a 'blowout.' "
Um, okay. Considering that Michelle Obama oudrew both Bush & McCain in McCain's home state, su-u-ure, that's likely.

Bush ‘Plans Iran Air Strike by August’ from Asia Times. Bush Administration wants to follow up last September's declaration that the Quds Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) is a terrorist unit by bombing the IRGC headquarters.

Former White House spokesperson Scott McClellan writes a harsh history of his fomer employer. A blogger tries to figure out when a reported meeting took place.  McClellan tries mightily to absolve Bush of any wrongdoing, but that's just impossible as Bush had to have known what was going on.
Update: Jessica Yellin confirms that there was heavy corporate pressure applied to tell pro-Bush, pro-war stories.

*Sigh!* Poor Rachael Ray, Dunkin' Donuts spokesperson, wore what the company described as a "black-and-white silk scarf with a paisley design," but Michelle Malkin described it as a "...keffiyeh...the traditional scarf of Arab men that has come to symbolize murderous Palestinian jihad." Dunkin' Donuts surrendered and pulled the ad where Ms Ray wore the offending item.
Update: Dunkin' Donuts contact information and further historical information on the kaffiyah/keffiyah.

Truly, truly repugnant and disgusting! Fox News person "jokingly" "confuses" Obama and Osama and then suggests she'd like to see both of them dead. Full contact information here.

Karl Rove issues non-denial denial. George Stephanopoulos discusses the Don Siegelman selective prosecution case and (to Rove) "He says your fingerprints were all over it." What's really puzzling is why the press corps seems to think Rove is some sort of genius or why they even consider him to be someone they want their names associated with.

Indiana's voter ID law, approved by the Supreme Court on 28 April is declared by legal scholar Jeffery Toobin to be "...a very clear attempt by Republicans to stop Democrats from voting." Adding: "The real agenda was to help Republicans."
Bwah-ha-ha-ha!!! President Bush and Senator John McCain were going to hold a joint fundraiser at the Phoenix AZ Convention Center.  Lack of interest resulted in too few ticket sales, which led to the fear that protesters would outnumber attendees. The event was moved to a private residence.

First Lady Laura Bush,  the Myanmar/Burma junta and their dealings with Cylcone Nargis - an update: Laura Bush backs down a bit on her criticism of the junta, but still very brittle and defensive about her earlier comments, points out that other countries have been critical as well. Well yes Mrs Bush, but your husband has already started a war based on lies about how he had to protect America, meaning other nations are hyper-sensitive about Americans who criticize them!

''For the humanitarian purpose, you have to put politics aside and say unequivocally that we want to help,'' said Joel Charny, vice president for policy at Refugees International, a Washington-based advocacy group. ''We know the Burmese generals are going to be suspicious. We shouldn't be taking an approach that's going to make it more likely that backs get up and doors remain closed." 

I have to say I completely agree with this. I find it absolutely sickening for someone on a national TV show to call the other Democratic presidential candidate a "bitch" and to have all the other guests act as if nothing out of the ordinary just occurred. What is wrong with these people?!?!?

Now this is truly silly! Barack Obama spoke to a crowd of 75,000. The event also included a band, The Decembrists (No, I've never heard of them either), so a fellow from the right-wing Media Research Center wonders darkly "How many of the people showed up to hear Obama, and how many to hear the band?"
Well, let's see, the last concert the band played (May 3rd) was to a room that held a little under 800 people. An upcoming concert where the band will share the venue with two other bands will play to about 8000. So the answer then, is "Not many."

Jerusalem Post describes how Bush wants to attack Iran before his term is up. Includes White House denial. Also from the JPost: Russian envoy is very unenthusiastic about a nuclear-armed Iran, but neither does he like the idea of a joint US/Israeli attack on that country. He also strongly urges that the IAEA be kept engaged and active inside Iran.
A look at just how powerful Iran's president is. (Hint: Not very)

Oh, good grief! Hillary Clinton quotes Karl Rove's endorsement of her!
Hang it up HRC, you've lost!
Daily Kos concluded back in February that she couldn't possibly win. Look at the crowd Obama's getting and tell me that HRC still has a chance.
White House transcript of interview that got the President really, really upset. Video of same. The White House's intemperate reaction. The reaction

against NBC News stands out for its angry tone and its accusation that the news division deceptively and deceitfully edited the president's words.

Keith Olbermann's broadside against Bush may have be one of the factors upsetting him.

FEC deadlock, after five months, finally broken! The Federal Election Commission has been without any authority to resolve campaign laws being broken because they haven't had a quorum. Hans von Spakovsky has been the problem as Democrats have absolutely refused to seat him. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was unusually blunt:

Democrats stood united in their opposition to von Spakovsky because of his long and well-documented history of working to suppress the rights of minorities and the elderly to vote. He was not qualified to hold any position of trust in our government. [emphasis added] 

Von Spakovsky withdrew his nomination to the FEC.

A reporter from the WaPo reveals his true stance on "Saint" John "Maverick" McCain. During an online chat, after 5 out of 11 questions centered on McCain, Jonathan Weisman said:

Oy, what’s with all the McCain questions? Anyone wondering about those Miley Cyrus photos anymore?

Later, when a more comfortable question came in:

Ah, thank goodness someone in chatting land is a Republican.

Not that there's anything with reporters having political preferences. It's just good for us citizens to know that so that we know where they're coming from.

Man! Good news breaking out all over!!

Well, the US thought that it could present evidence of Iranian interference in Iraq. Oops! Turns out that the weapons captured in Karbala and Basra that the US thought came from Iran actually don't. The US media has prevented the US government from being embarrassed, though.

But for the media blackout of the story, the large EFP discovery in Karbala would have further undermined the credibility of the US military's line on Iran's export of the EFPs to Iraqi fighters.

Apparently understanding the potential political difficulties that the Karbala EFP find could present, Bergner omitted any reference to them in his otherwise accurate accounting of the Karbala weapons 

Excellent overview of just what it is that the US is facing in Iraq. Iraq is not a state, there are and will be no "turning points" and without a militia that's personally loyal to him, Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki is essentially a figurehead. What we're facing there is called Fourth Generation Warfare (4GW). What's really sad is that America's "enemy," Muqtada al-Sadr, is actually Iraq's best hope for eventually coalescing into a state.

Why IS gas so expensive these days? Not that the media will tell you this, but it's the war. The deficits created by fighting a war on a credit card is the main culprit.

Okay, Homeland Security, specifically Customs, is getting way, wa-a-a-ay outta control! An Italian fellow who had a romantic relationship with an American woman and was visiting for the umpteenh time was detained because Customs suspected he was trying to work illegally inside the US! By detained, we mean he was kept locked away for 10 days!! The absolutely ludicrous aspect is that they told the American woman that he had to be kept incommunicado from her because he feared an assassination attempt from Italy!!! Naturally, he's denied he ever said anything of the sort. Oh, and Customs can download any electronic data you're carrying and keep it forever.
Representative John Conyers (D-MI, Judiciary Committee Chairman) wants citizens to join him in declaring that attacking Iran = impeachment.

Right-wing blogger claims that lefties are ignoring Bush's warning that disaster will follow an American withdrawal from Iraq. Problem is of course, that all of the dire warnings he presents are entirely hypothetical and unprovable until after a withdrawal actually occurs. A lot of the dire warnings concern events that are occurring anyway, like the refugee crisis that's swamping nearby countries.

In an insult to every man and woman who truly sacrificed for the Iraq War, Bush claims to have given up golf "for the duration."  Actually, he appears to have quit for medical reasons, but he has shown an astonishing capacity for not understanding the real meaning of sacrifice.

Reality check - yes, the presidential contest is important, but there are deep, serious issues the next president must face, no matter who it is. But keep in mind that, despite the Republican attempt at "rebranding," they're the same old party that's been behind GW Bush for the past 7+ years.

*Sigh!* Doug Feith, the "stupidest [effing] guy on the face of the planet," writes a book in which he attempts to pass off a revisionist history of the last few years, especially late 2002-early 2003, the six months before the Iraq War. Best rebuttal, of course, is the record of the 935 Bush Administration lies that preceded the Iraq War.

Very interesting commentary on the Bush Administration and their attitude on rhetoric vs reality. Yeah, they really seemed to have thought they could just sorta wave their hands and make their own reality.

Bush’s emphasis on the inherent hunger for freedom is powerful. ... It puts his liberal opponents in a tight spot, because it is awkward for them to object to the kind of sweeping universalism they have always embraced. ...

The problem with Bush’s freedom rhetoric is that it appears to not be true.

Yeah, that was always the reason that we liberals never felt outmanuevered by Bush's freedom rhetoric. It was always entirely a matter of nice-sounding words. There was never any actual reality to them.

The media and the electorate - is the Clinton-supporting electorate annoyed with the media's declaration that Obama has won the nomination? Sure looks that way. The blog Crooks & Liars says: "The on-line community is solidly behind Obama," (So am I, says your wemaster Rich) so it's good to keep in mind that Clinton supporters have been highly reactive to signs that Clinton is being disrespected. 
So it looks like the Republicans will have their own "Ralph Nader 2000" this election cycle. Bob Barr is running on the Libertarian ticket! Yee Hah! Go, Bob, go!!

Sadr City, Baghdad to be "cleansed"? Are Bush and Petraeus preparing another Second Battle of Fallujah? That's the one that started immediately after the 2004 election and that turned Fallujah into a reeking charnel-house.

Update on Burma/Myanmar in the aftermath of Cyclone Nargis. The junta is handling things better than US commentators think.

John Holmes, the former British ambassador to France... said co-operation from Myanmar authorities was "reasonable and heading in the right direction."

How the television news military analyst program worked. A look at how the analysts dealt with the Guantanamo Bay prisoner PR problem that arose with Amnesty International's report on conditions there. CNN sent a military analyst down to Gitmo, where he spent a grand total of three hours looking into the situation and then declared that prisoners were being well-treated and had nothing to complain about.
Essentially, the military reported on the military and gave itself a clean bill of health.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid promises hearings into the situation.
Good summary of the fighting in Lebanon and how it came to happen. The official Lebanese government, dominated by Sunni Muslims & the Druze, demanded that Hezbollah (Which represents Lebanon's  Shiites. Lebanese Christians are split between the two.) surrender the fiber-optic phone grid that they had built in reponse to Israel jamming their cell phones during the 2006 war. This appears to be a typical Bush Administration negotiating approach. "Give up what it is that gives you an advantage in return for nothing." Hezbollah responded by taking over Beirut, the Lebanese Army backed Hezbollah, things have now settled down a bit with the central government having been embarrassed and weakened.

A reminder of some long-ago history: The Bush Administration was adamantly opposed to the International Criminal Court (ICC) long before the Iraq war began. According to the records, President Bush signed the Executive Order authorizing torture in February 2002 and then officially pulled out of the ICC in May 2002.

The House Judiciary Committee is preparing to question several Bush Administration members on policies concerning torture. The ACLU has a page set up for citizens to contribute questions the House can ask. Committee discovers that there is no "ticking time bomb" that justifies torture.

The Burmese / Myanmar government defends itself against Laura Bush's criticisms:

"Ye Htut, a Burmese government spokesman, also accused the first lady of politicizing the tragedy. 'I would like to say that what we are doing is better than the Bush administration response to the Katrina storm in 2005, if you compare the resources of the two countries,' he told reporters."

The link where one can contribute to the relief effort is here.

Is Laura playing the part of GeeDubya Bush's beard?

The Inky presents a very incomplete and sanitized version of First Lady Laura Bush's remarks on the Myanmar junta's moral failings that led to the deaths of over 10,000 citizens (As of 11:50pm on 7 May, the official toll was 22,500, but that number could grow to as high as 100,000). Dan Froomkin of the WaPo gives us the complete version. Hooo-weee! If I were a member of that junta, I'd be SO annoyed at having this moralistic scold lecturing me from several thousand miles away!! Ooh! Would that tick me off!!!
And for her to immedately switch over to talking about her daughter's wedding...wooo!
I have nothing good to say about Myanmar's junta, but there's a way to get influence and leverage and instead, the Bushes demonstrate all the grace and subtlety of a charging rhinoceros!
Michael Gordon of the NY Times charges that Iran is killing American soldiers in Iraq by training Iraqi insurgents, using Hezbollah personnel as trainers. Problem: ALL of the information is second-hand, NONE of the information is verified by non-deeply-compromised sources.

Yeesh! Even Joe Lieberman is unable to find out what the governmen is up to concerning their plans for the internet. Apparently, the government wants to: able to turn the net into a controllable, monitorable and trackable pre-internet AOL-type service...

Seriously, the fact that Republicans lost a seat in Louisiana, a seat they've held since 1974, and that they had poured about $1 million into scary, scary ads that screamed about how Cazayoux was "too liberal" and how he "supported higher taxes" and how he was connected to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama, means that it looks like that dog just don't hunt no more. In fact, linking candidates to President Bush seems to be the kiss of death for them.

The 50+ year old* Star Wars/Missile Defense/ABM/Whatever program proceeds merrily along with spokespeople refusing to answer questions about whether or not the program actually works.

"…. I'm sure, Mr. Chairman, you would not want us to transmit in an open hearing to enemies around the world – Iran and North Korea – any kind of data that they could take advantage of in trying to overcome the system for the future," Gen. Obering replied. "I know you wouldn't want to do that."

*This is assuming that the period from the 1972 ABM Treaty to Reagan's 1983 revival of "Star Wars" can be counted as an "on spec" period, where private companies kept spending on the program, anticipating a revival of it.

Well, well, well! One of the George Bushes, either te elder or the younger, purchased a 100,000 acre ranch down in Paraguay in 2006. Insurance, perhaps? Someplace to go if people suggested holding the younger Bush accountable for his many crimes? In any event, it seems the Bushes may not be as safe from the international community as Klaus Barbie, Josef Mengele and Adolf Eichmann were. Paraguay is now being run by "a former Roman Catholic Bishop with leftist, populist tendencies, Fernando Lugo." Yup, must be a lot of unhappiness and panicking in the White House!

On 24 Apr, it was reported that the networks used retired generals as on-air military analysts without admitting that they were still working for the Pentagon. On 7 May, the black-out continues.

Amazingly enough, FISA appears to be an issue again, no thanks to the Blue Dog Democrats. Blogs are busy raising money to run ads in the districts of the worst of them.

Aw now, this is truly sad. Nelson Mandela of South Africa found out he was on the terrorist watch list and had to appeal to SecState Rice to get permission to enter the US. Apparently, the designation is based on 20-25 year old information and the list hasn't been adjustd to reflect political reality. The really bad part of the story is that AIPAC is concerned that getting onto the list should be a permanent designation as they don't want members of Hamas ever getting taken off the list.
Seems former Governor Don Siegelman is also on a watch list and also has restricted travel privileges. The author used a list for determining whether a person in Russia is suffering corrupt political persecution and Siegelman's rating is off the charts.

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Wow! Hard to believe that a government lawyer could put forth such an utterly corrupt and administration-serving argument.  Legal analysis that demands careful reading in full.

Fierce fighting in Baghdad.

TEHRAN, April 30 (Xinhua) -- Iran had totally removed U.S. dollars in the country's oil transactions, an Oil Ministry official said on Wednesday.

Very questionable piece on the Iranian general who commands the Quds Force (A group that was denounced by Bush in February 2007. Bush's very first accusation was that Iran is supplying IEDs to Iraqi insurgents, a highly questionable charge.) that starts off reasonably enough but quickly descends into flat-out disinformation.
Concerning Russ Feingold's (D-WI) hearing on secret laws, specifically John Yoo's memo on torture:

J. WILLIAM LEONARD: Would like to focus most of his testimony of the OLC memo that was discussed earlier. Classification of this document was the worst abuse of classification that he can recall in his long career -- it had no impact on sources, methods or other national security concerns, it was pure legal analysis. Classifying this was an abuse of power, and it was appallingly done by the Deputy at the OLC who has the power within the government to make those sorts of decisions.

Republican rebuttal:

DAVID RIVKIN: I want to put the so-called "secret law" into its proper context. Blah blah blah long-term war with scary terrorists booga booga booga.

Initial reactions on Supreme Court's voter suppression approval - C&L01      C&L02

Marvelous piece by Elizabeth Edwards on presidential campaign and how journalists have covered it (Very poorly).

At the White House Correspondents Association dinner, Bush takes a "victory lap." But what is the victory he's celebrating?

A Wall St Journal editorial tries to argue that John Yoo's legal torture opinion is inconsistent with international law, but not with US domestic law. Wrong answer! Torture violates all kinds of laws going back many centuries. Very interesting sentence:

Criminal investigators may well conclude that this act joined John Yoo in a joint criminal enterprise with the persons who devised and pushed implementation of the torture policies. [emphasis added]

John McCain is not just breaking one pledge, he's breaking two! He pledged not to use corporate jets (He uses one belonging to his wife's company) and he pledged to pay the full going rate (He pays first-class regular airline fare, about half as much as his private-jet airfare actually costs).
Very interestingly, he's been using a private jet since last summer for his campaign travel and nobody from the traditional media has noticed?!?!?

"Informed reader" examines the case that the alleged Syrian nuclear reactor was "nearly complete." The verdict: Not very likely.

Lot's of choices out there!
Six-term Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney is running for president on the Green Party ticket and Cindy Sheehan is running for Speaker Nancy Pelosi's seat. 

Good piece on the slightly -below-the-surface qualities that separate Barack Obama from Hillary Clinton. I especially agreed with the first distinction, that Clinton is a creature of the DLC, whereas Obama is strongly committed to the Howard Dean 50-state strategy.

About two & a half years after a combination of Hurricane Katrina and official neglect devastated New Orleans, John McCain has no idea what to do about the city.

"I really don't know," he finally said. "That's why I am going ... We need to go back to have a conversation about what to do: rebuild it, tear it down, you know, whatever it is." [emphasis added]

Many questions as to why the Bush Administration is now, after several months, talking about the Israeli bombing of a site in Syria. Representative Pete Hoekstra (R-MI) felt the Intelligence Committee (of which he is the Senior Republican) was "used" by the White House in finally making public the "evidence" that North Korea was assisting Syria in building a nuclear power plant, just in time to "scuttle the six-party talks aimed at ending North Korea's nuclear program." Of course, VP Cheney and former UN representative John Bolton are absolutely delighted that the "North Korea 3.0" policy has failed.
Back in February, Seymour Hersh contributed real reporting on the story (As opposed to what the rest of the press corps usually does).

Former Attorney General John Ashcroft goes absolutely bonkers over a student who dares, dares, I tell you, to confront the man with (gasp, shudder) facts and logic! According to the Fmr Atty Gen, there is a vitally important distinction between "forcing" water down someone's throat and between "pouring" water down their throat (while the subject is physically restrained and their mouth is held open).
Question: Did the Bush tax cuts of 2001 ever pay for themselves? Did they spark enough productivity in the economy to stimulate earnings enough so that the extra tax receipts made up for cutting the tax rate in the first place? Nope. The tax cuts cost the government over $1.1 trillion.
Bush aides' argument that the tax cuts aided the economy is composed of sheer wishful thinking. Oh hey, didya know that we're not in a recession? No, y'see, we're in a slowdown. Yeah, yeah, that's the ticket!

Editor & Publisher covers the NY Times story about retired military personnel appearing on news shows and giving "objective" and "knowledgable" testimony on the war that, strangely enough, mirrored Bush Administration propaganda more or less word for word. The Pentagon’s military/media cabal placed "at least" nine op-eds in the NY Times and they served as frequent sources for quotes. The whole operation has been described as classic "psyops." The question remains: Is the NY Times doing penance?  

Update: Doesn't seem to be much interest in the story. Most media outlets very, very quiet on their role in it. Distinguished contributor to reporting the tale: Comedy Central! Amy Goodman's Democracy Now has also contributed a report.

Gotta say, Hillary Clinton just keeps digging herself a bigger and bigger hole. Now she's insulted the members of MoveOn, an organization that was created to defend her husband back in 1998.
The organization's Action Team member Eli Pariser, claims that MoveOn did not oppose the invasion of Afghanistan, but Sourcewatch quotes an online campaign (that collected 30,000 signatures compared to an August 2002 petition against the Iraq War that collected 220,000 signatures) that sounds an awful lot like opposition.

If not the "best quote ever," well, it's a pretty strong contender.

Commentary on the Obama-Clinton "debate." Absolutely disgraceful exhibition by ABC. Clinton doesn't come off very well, either. Glenn Greenwald and Digby explain why our press is so shallow and frivilous.

Chris Matthews "gets tough" with John McCain:

...we've had enough softball, Senator. It's time for the show to start here." Matthews continued: "Let me ask you a tough one here. We've done the Abu Ghraib stuff. We're getting to the domestic Abu Ghraib here. Is [Sen.] Barack Obama an elitist?"

Excellent post from Juan Cole today. Too much to try and summarize.

Pope says Iraq War is without justification.

It is perhaps paradoxical that in this grave international crisis the Holy See finds itself in a diplomatic and political position closer to the Social-Democratic Germany of Schroeder and the orthodox Russia of Putin than to the America of George W. Bush. But this is precisely the situation.

Summary of the left blogospher's reaction to the 16 April debate in Philadelphia: Hated it!

Firedoglake and Digby get together to get folks to send still more letters about the top Bush people all approving of torture.

NY Times Book Review prints a very disturbing review that treats al Qaeda in an eerily similar manner to how the Nazis wrote about the Jews (Acknowledging that, unlike the Jews, al Qaeda is a real and serious threat).

I agree, whoever won the Clinton-Obama debate, ABC News most definitely lost it. Talking about 60s radicals who were active 40 years ago was clearly not worth even two minutes, let alone the 10 or so they actually spent on them. It took 53 minutes into the debate to actually get into policy!

Yup! That's the truth. We love Mary Matalin! That Republican spokesperson is the most wunnerful spokesperson for the Democrats since JFK! Please keep her on!

MR. RUSSERT: Is Condi Rice relevant?

MS. MATALIN: Con--you know, what people don't know about Dr. Rice is that she weighed in on every domestic issue before the president when...

Um, that's supposed to help!?!?! To be attached at the waist with Mr 28% (as of 14Apr) while the economy is tanking? Gotta love it!

ACLU and Crooks & Liars blog combine to demand an Independent Counsel for Bush's casual admission that his administration has engaged in torture. Traditional media is still extremely quiet about this! Yes, the WaPo did have a story similar to this in January 2005, but it only named officials as high as former AG Alberto Gonzales, before he was named as AG. An examination of just what resulted from torture discussions.

Side note: Alberto Gonzales is having difficulty finding a job. Let's hear it now: "Awwwww!"

I initially included Presdent Bush in among the "principals" who had approved specific torture techniques, then realized he wasn't specifically named. Well, now that's changed and he's admitted to knowing all about it.

Update: Media reaction the next day was underwhelming. NY Times wasn't featuring the story by 9:00am, WaPo put it on page A3 and ABC News placed the story fourth underneath a picture of cute puppies.

Kewl! Pope Benedict XVI apparently doesn't want to enjoy a state dinner with an admitted torturer! 

Interesting to hear that the Bush Administration feels that Jimmy Carter shouldn't meet with Hamas (The legitimately -elected leaders of the Palestinian people) because "Hamas is a terrorist organization." 

An analysis of Bush's  April 10th speech on Iraq. The main question was apparently whether Bush instructed his speechwriters to be "mendacious or merely shallow." 

"Fifteen months ago," Bush said today, "extremists were sowing sectarian violence; today, many mainstream Sunni and Shia are actively confronting the extremists."

This is all very fine and well, but what exactly do the very loaded and highly emotional words extremists and mainstream mean? Remember, both Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's army and the rival Shiite militia of Muqtada Sadr are given financing by and have good relations with Iran. So who's who? 

Further analysis. Not looking good here. An especially worrisome statement from Bill Kristol: "I think people are overdoing how much of a lame duck the president is." Reminds me uncomfortably of the 1989 "Wimp factor" that the elder George Bush exorcised by invading Panama!

Senator James Webb (D-VA) tries to pin down an Administration spokesperson on exactly what a "permanent base" is (As the Bush Administration has pledged not to seek "permanent bases" in Iraq) and hey, guess what? It's not at all clear what the term means!

Well, it seems that  VP Cheney, [then] NatSec Advisor Rice, SecState Powell, SecDef Don Rumsfeld, Atty Gen John Ashcroft and CIA Dir George Tenet not only approved of torture, they approved torture techniques in detail. Rice reportedly didn't care. She told the CIA, after the Yoo memo was made inoperative "This is your baby. Go do it."

And it wasn't just once: "Tenet, seeking to protect his agents, regularly sought confirmation from the NSC principals that specific interrogation plans were legal. . . ."

Hey Rapture-seekers, guess what? You're too late!!! Bwah, ha, ha ....oh, that report was a fake? D'oh!

AP photographer Bilal Hussein has been held by the US military in Iraq for nearly two years. Pretty much as soon as Iraq had the right to decide whether or not to keep Hussein in custody, an Iraqi judicial committee decided to release him. No word yet on whether he'll actually be released as the US military still has physical custody of him. There are 24,000 other Iraqis in custody.

Muqtada al-Sadr calls off million-man march scheduled for today (Anniversary of the day Baghdad fell to the Americans).

Examination of John McCain's "100 year war" comment. Is it really inaccurate to say that McCain wants 100 years of fighting and/or occupation in Iraq? 'Cause it sure looks like he does indeed want that.

Crooks & Liars has lots of good scenes from the General Petraeus / Ambassador Crocker report, but it sounds here like Keith Olbermann got the best summary of it. And why is Joe Lieberman's question time counted against the Democrat's time? I mean, considering he's moved steadily to the Republican view of things, why isn't his time counted against that side of the aisle?

Will the Mahdi Army (The militia that's under Muqtada al-Sadr) be disbanded? Those familiar with the situation say: "Hell will freeze over first." BTW, there are 28 separate militias in Iraq.

New National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) presented to Congress. Democrats highly suspicious about why it doesn't say anything about recent disastrous Basra offensive and why the Bush Administration doesn't appear to be in any hurry to release a complete unclassified version as opposed to just quoting the "good news" sections of it.

Sayyid Muqtada al-Sadr calls for million-man march in Baghdad. To take place on the anniversary of the fall of Baghdad to American forces.

Former Presidential Press Secretary Tony Snow insists that black is white and that up is actually down.  Snow tries to make believe that the recent fighting in Basra, the place in which Sayyid Muqtada al-Sadr's troops delivered a butt-whupping to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's troops, was actually a Maliki victory.

Commentary on all-too-clever "gaffes" that all-too-conveniently serve the political purposes of the speaker. The commentary on Attorney General Michael Mukasey is one that's especially worth following up on.

Thank you ACLU!! American citizens can finally view the 2003 John Yoo torture memo. Sure would have been nice to have viewed them in 2003, when they could have made a real political difference. Lawyer/blogger Marty Lederman has a whole series of observations, the first of which is:

The classification of this memo was entirely unjustifiable. And it's fairly outrageous that Congress didn't release it when they received it. The classification and oversight systems are hopelessly broken.

Another lawyer/bloger Christ Hardin Smith wonders about why she can't seem to find any references to the Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. v. Sawyer case, as this IS a rather important Supreme Court decision concerning presidential authority. 

The memo in PDF format:  Part One, Part Two It's 81 pages long.

It's crystal clear that the campaign to clear the Iraqi city of Basra of "lawless elements" i.e., Moqtada al-Sadr's Mehdi Army, has miserably failed. Prime Minister al-Maliki has come out greatly weakened and al-Sadr plus his Iranian allies have come out  much stronger. 

By the time the cease-fire was called, al-Maliki had been bloodied after days of ineffective fighting and welcomed a way back from the precipice.

The US Government Accountability Office (GAO) has put out a report on contracts with the Department of Defense. Money spent on those contracts since 2000 has gone from $790 billion to $1.6 trillion. "but acquisition outcomes in terms of cost and schedule have not improved."

Please contact the Foriegn Relations Committee to urge them to have the recently-relieved-of-duty Admiral Fallon testify on the need to avoid war with Iran. 

March                         back to top

We've heard ad infinitum, ad nauseum, about how President Bush compares himself to Harry Truman, who left office as an unpopular President, but later became quite popular. The Toronto Globe & Mail comes up with a really devastating reply to that claim.

Well, it's not quite Lam Son 719, the ARVN (Army of the Republic of Vietnam) invasion of Laos that was beat back by the North Vietnamese in 1971, but it must have been humiliating for Bush & Cheney to see their puppets in Iraq be defeated by Moqtada al-Sadr. Very interestingly, Sadr directed that his people stop attacking the HQs of rival political parties. Guess his forces were doing lots and lots of damage.

Bush gets booed throwing out the first pitch of the season.

At a campaign speech, Bill Clinton said:

And I think it would be a great thing if we had an election year where you had two people who love this country and were devoted to the interests of the country, and people could actually ask themselves, who's right on these issues, instead of all this other stuff that always seems to intrude itself on our politics.

Why, whatever could Bill mean by "all this other stuff"? Well, he was probably referring to things like:

MSNBC then played a short excerpt of Clinton's comments, while an on-screen graphic read: "RACE & THE RACE."
What did Clinton's speech have to do with race? Absolutely nothing. It was just something MSNBC threw in there. This is precisely what Clinton meant by "all this other stuff!"

Sadrists open New fronts throughout Shiite South

Former Governor Don Siegelman of Alabama, released from prison today on bond in a bribery case, said he was as convinced as ever that politics played a leading role in his prosecution.

Siegelman smells Karl Rove behind his prosecution.

Iran called on Saturday for an end to fighting between Iraqi government forces and Shi'ite Muslim militants to remove any "pretext" for U.S. troops to stay in Iraq.

Doesn't look like things are going too well for the offensive into Basra:

Three days into a U.S.-backed government offensive, however, the Mahdi Army retained control of key neighborhoods of the southern port city of Basra and was able to prevent Iraqi soldiers and police from penetrating its strongholds.


Iraq's government has extended by 10 days a deadline for Shia militiamen fighting troops in the southern city of Basra to hand over their weapons.

Erm, since when does one extend an ultimatum? One gives an ultimatum and then one delivers the "or else!!" Extending it is an admission of failure.

Update on the Hillary Clinton "I remember landing under sniper fire...we ran with our heads down" story: Clinton admits she "misspoke." Blogger uncovers other episodes of Clinton "misspeaking." Veterans who have actually been under sniper fire are very, very upset at Clinton's fanciful stories:

She has no sense of what a statement like that does to soldiers...She is insulting the command in its entirety...Believe me, heads would have rolled all over if the military put the then-first lady at unacceptable risk...

So why did she fib?

As first lady, she did not attend National Security Council meetings, did not receive the presidential daily briefing on terrorism and other threats and did not have a top level security clearance. Her foreign trips were glorified goodwill tours, a collection of photo opportunities and sightseeing trips.

Clinton is trying far too hard to make her experience into something it wasn't.

Update: CJR points out that McCain was treated very differently concerning his Iran/al Qaeda gaffe. Clinton's gaffe was treated properly, criticism came from reporters and it was a matter of easily-checked facts and her claims as to her qualifications to be President. McCain's criticism was portrayed as a partisan dispute and reporters never did any fact-checking and made excuses for him.

"The cease-fire is over; we have been told to fight the Americans," said one Mahdi Army militiaman

Well, the relative peace created by many factors, not just the "Surge," was nice while it lasted.

Sure, "Saint" John McCain  "The Maverick" agrees with both General David Petraeus and Osama bin Laden that Iraq is the "central front," but is he basing that conclusion on real knowledge or on ideology?
Howard Kurtz gives several reasons as to why McCain is so knowledgable. Just how valid are these reasons?

Well, "Teh Awesome Surge" is drawing to an entirely predictable close.

Improved security in Iraq in recent months has been attributed to a combination of the surge, the truce observed by Moqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi army, and the effectiveness and commitment of the [Awakening] councils, which are drawn from Sunni Arabs and probably the most significant factor, according to most analysts.

The Awakening Councils were sustained by payments to individual former insurgents of $10 a day to not fight Americans. For some unknown reason, the payments have stopped and the former insurgents now feel ripped off. They are going on strike. As there are 80,000 of them as compared to 140,000 US soldiers, this is not a small problem.

This is just too ridiculous not to comment on. Hillary Clinton is claiming that she landed in Tuzla, Bosnia in 1996:

I remember landing under sniper fire... there was no greeting ceremony... we ran with our heads down, we basically were told to run to our cars...

Nuh-uh, no way, ain't gonna happen!!  There is no frikkin' WAY that ANY President is going to send ANY First Lady into ANY zone where she's going to be exposed to ANY physical danger! This story is not the SLIGHTEST bit credible!

Lebanon's Daily Star looks over the past five years and decides that they're really not sure what our president is trying to say.

NY Times publishes timeline of Iraq War. The "ghost of Judy Miller" shows up in a highly slanted, misleading entry on Hans Blix and his report to the UN on 27 Jan 03 concerning how cooperative Saddam Hussein was being with the UN weapons inspectors. The entry doesn't exactly lie, but it simplifies the incident in such a way as to favor the Bush Administration's case for war. It makes the Bush Administration appear positively reasonable when we know full well they were not.
Summary of items and events because so much happened yesterday.

From firedoglake:

Darcy Burner, Donna Edwards (who both need to be cloned a couple hundred times) and several other progressive House candidates, along with some ex-military/DoD honchos, unveil Responsible Plan To End The War In Iraq, which also emphasizes ending the war on the Constitution and the war on media independence.

Well, it looks as though the "Bush Recession" is well and truly started, with Bush sounding an awful lot like Herbert Hoover, Bush touting his administration's economic performance (4.2% job growth for the whole expansion "That is the worst performance over a business cycle since the government started keeping track in 1945"), E. J. Dionne Jr. writes about how the wealthy are lined up, waiting for the government to bail them out, that very government they want to "drown in the bathtub." Bush's words of congratulations to Treasury Secretary Paulson for "working over the weekend" stuck many as being another "Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job!"

Woo-hoo! Constitutionally-correct FISA amendment passes House by 213-197. The fight is far from over, but it looks like FISA's an issue that will have to be left to the next president. Good observation:

But this, in my view, is the real good news because it means that we can actually, finally, maybe get a mandate for the constitution in this coming election:

House of Representatives will enter closed session to discuss FISA bill. House Judicary Committee Chair John Conyers (D-MI) is very, very skeptical of the Bush Administration's case:

The more my colleagues know, the less they believe this Administration's rhetoric. ... I believe the more information Members receive about this Administration's actions in the area of warrantless surveillance, the more likely they are to reject the Administration's scare tactics and threats.

After a fruitless attempt at suppression by the Bush Administration, ABC News has obtained a copy of the document summary concerning Saddam Hussen's covert activities in the Middle East. The PDF is 11 megabytes for a 94-page document.

The head of U.S. Central Command, Admiral Fallon, distinguished himself by being opposed to war with Iran. Now he's resigned

What America needs, Fallon says, is a "combination of strength and willingness to engage."

Those are fighting words to your average neocon...

Not that this should be a surprise to anyone, but...

[Saddam Hussein's] security services were directed primarily against Iraqi exiles, Shiite Muslims, Kurds and others he considered enemies of his regime.

In other words, despite SecDef Rumsfeld's claims of "bulletproof evidence," a review of some 600,000 captured Iraqi documents demonstrates no operational Iraq-al Qaeda link.

NSA spying more intensive than previously thought.

It isn't clear how many of the different kinds of data are combined and analyzed together in one database by the NSA. An intelligence official said the agency's work links to about a dozen antiterror programs in all.

A number of NSA employees have expressed concerns that the agency may be overstepping its authority by veering into domestic surveillance. And the constitutional question of whether the government can examine such a large array of information without violating an individual's reasonable expectation of privacy "has never really been resolved," said Suzanne Spaulding, a national-security lawyer who has worked for both parties on Capitol Hill.

And Michael Chertoff, the head of Homeland Security, had a hilarious look at the programs in the agency he runs:

...I don’t know which program it comes under. I don’t know whether it’s got a warrant or doesn’t have a warrant. I don’t know whether it’s collected — I mean, as soon as I can contextually tell where it’s collected or not collected. So I don’t know if it’s under this program or that program. None of that is known to me. All I know is, incorporated in the massive intelligence we get is all these different streams of intelligence...

Sigh! Just gives ya a nice warm fuzzy feeling of security, don't it?

Bwah-hah-hah!!! Republican anti-abortionist steals from anti-abortionist groups. I mean, hey, what's the more critical priority, protecting life or making a buck? 

Bush states on his weekly radio address that:

The bill Congress sent me would take away one of the most valuable tools in the war on terror -- the CIA program to detain and question key terrorist leaders and operatives.

He then goes on to credit the "CIA program," i.e., torture, with rescuing Americans from a series of terrible plots. Senators Feingold (D-WI)  Rockefeller (D-WV) and Leahy (D-VT) have all very clearly stated that there is no evidence that torture has saved a single life or disrupted a single plot.
As has been frequently pointed out, no, the US hasn't been attacked since 9-11. But no, it wasn't attacked much before then either, when there were no extensive intel operations, i.e., warrantless wiretapping, "National Security Letters," and extensive interviews of Arabs going on. These extensive intel operations have not resulted in the cracking of any serious cases.

There was a blast at a New York City armed forces recruiting station Thursday morning. No one was hurt as the building was empty, but we at PRAWN strongly condemn this action and all other actions like it. Violent actions like this are NOT helpful to cause of peace!

This is pretty offensive.

I don't know what [Hillary Clinton] would do as president. But all of my experience with her when she was first lady is that this is a woman who would put our nation's interests first and any campaign promises a distant second. [emphasis added by blog]

So if Clinton promised to get our troops out of Iraq, that would just a mere "campaign promise" and we know those silly things aren't taken seriously by anyone! I would hope that campaign promises are made because the candidate is quite serious about them and has no hesitation or mental reservations about keeping them. 

This seems to be the time for really bad "attempts" at "satire" and incredibly lame excuses. First the WaPo puts out a piece insulting to just about every woman over the age of 10 and then wonders why there are so few females among their readership. Then Rush Limbaugh insults Barack Obama by comparing him to Curious George (A cartoon character who's been around since 1941)

It was not my intent to bring dishonor and guttural utterances into this campaign.
I had never heard of Curious George.


Hoo-wee!  I surely would be embarassed to be a pro-Bush partisan right about now! Bush, whose troops have occupied Iraq for nearly five years now, has to sneak in and out of Iraq like a thief in the night. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad comes for an official state visit and stays for two days! The really harsh part is that Ahmadinejad gets to visit with Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani. Back in early 2006, Sistani received a letter from Bush (8th paragraph) that Sistani couldn't even be bothered to open.
Kind of amazing how little the US actually knows about interrogations, how to conduct them, whether information gained is trustworthy, etc.

Apparently, telecom companies are giving more money to Democrats than to Republicans because Republicans are reliably voting for telecom immunity anyway. Why bother buying the cow when you can get the milk for free?

Article that links to PDF of Vice-President Dick Cheney document that was leaked in 1992. Lewis Libby had to do damage control because document made Cheney look deranged. Document recently released with numerous passages blacked out. Problem for Cheney: NY Times already released most of the document in 1992, so NY Times helpfully fills in blacked-out parts, making one wonder just how enthusiastically our government over-classifies  information that would cause little or no damage to national security if released.

February                         back to top

Serious dilemna for Barack Obama: First, there's absolutely no question that he can out-argue John McCain with one hand tied behind his back (Cole also makes some very sensible observations about "al Qaeda in Iraq"). That's not a problem at all. The problem is that the US has a very decadent, corrupt media that isn't really concerned with truth or facts or fairness or objectivity. Greenwald makes the point that black Muslim ministers and white Christianist ministers are treated very differently. It will be the job of the left blogosphere or netroots to inform folks of the true facts of the situation and to keep the national conversation properly focussed.

Update on White House email system and hundreds of thousands of missing emails. What's perhaps the most startling aspect of the scandal is that:

...the Bush Administration managed to dismantle, apparently on purpose, the Clinton Administration’s email archive system — which worked just fine — without replacing it with anything at all.

Under a functioning political system, this would be front-page news as it's a rather obvious sign of criminal intent.

Update on John McCain's playing around with the campaign-finance law that bears his name. And no, there's a major difference between what McCain is doing and what Howard Dean did four years ago. Dean didn't materially benefit from public financing before pulling out, McCain has received the equivalent of several million dollars in aid.

Detailed look at Bush Administration justifications for stomping on the Constitution, i.e., for pushing for telecom immunity in the new FISA bill. What exactly is the rush in getting telecoms immunized?

Rolling Stone comments on "The Myth of the Surge," detailing how that particular strategy is coming to an end.

FISA follies: Republicans are trying to have it both ways. They say that getting a new FISA law is critical to national security, BUT they refuse to meet with House Democrats to work out the new law.  

The President and House Republicans simply can’t have it both ways. They cannot argue simultaneously that the temporary August law was essential to national security, and then turn around and engineer the defeat of an extension of it.

John McCain seems to have materially gained from having been committed to utilizing public financing for his campaign as it meant that he received several million dollars worth of public assistance to help him get on the ballot. Now McCain wants to drop out because he's already burned through all of the money that he's allowed to spend until August. What's the name of this nasty law that's in McCain's way? Why, it's McCain-Feingold! Yup, McCain helped to write the very law that's now cramping his style!

Michelle Obama said: “For the first time in my adult lifetime, I am really proud of my country.” Horrors! Why on Earth would she not be proud? Well gee, maybe because of things like Operation Condor, the US involvement in the collaboration between Peruvian, Bolivian and Argentine secret police forces to kidnap, torture and "permanently disappear" South American individuals.

There's a very real danger that folks consider "Maverick" John McCain to be, at heart, a liberal. He isn't

Do you think [McCain]'s a conservative?
Absolutely. Liberals attracted to him would like to believe that he's not, but that's a mistake, and that's why so many in the national media love him. But this idea that once he's president he'll become more liberal, it's wishful thinking. If you look at his record, he's a conservative. But that gets skewed by this obsession with character. In 2000 we were assured that Al Gore was the dishonest one, that George Bush might not be bright, but he's honest. Clearly, Bush has told some pretty heinous lies. So often the press gets it wrong.

I fact, McCain's not even very honest. His statement:

I’m the only one the special interests don’t give any money to.

Actually, McCain has received about $400,000 from special interests.

As to his judgement and his hanging around with Vicki Iseman? I hate to paraphrase conservatives from the late 90s, but it's not the sex, it's the inability to learn from past mistakes. The blogs don't see much evidence that McCain actuall slept with Iseman, but McCain very clearly did many, many favors for lobbyists and that's a problem that the Bill Clinton & Monica Lewinsky affair didn't have. Their affair was just that, a strictly sexual encounter. With McCain and Iseman, there was lots of lobbying and cash and Senatorial favors for corporate clients involved.

Howard Dean's statement is perfect and should be the template for all Democratic comments on McCain/Iseman.

Gee, this gives me such confidence that the upcoming trials of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay will be fair and impartial:

"At which point, [Haynes's] eyes got wide and he said, 'Wait a minute, we can't have acquittals. If we've been holding these guys for so long, how can we explain letting them get off? We can't have acquittals, we've got to have convictions.'"

One more legal avenue to disrupting the warrantless wiretapping program is closed off as Supreme Court refuses to hear the ACLUs suit. Note that:

1. When the Supreme Court refuses to hear an appeal, that does not mean that they agree with the lower court decision. It just means they're not ruling on it.

2. Only two judges have ruled on the legality of the NSA spying on Americans without warrants (All the other decisions have been concerned over the  whether the plaintiffs had "standing") and both judges have concluded the program was flatly illegal

The case of the folks who once did indeed have proof that they were being spied upon is recalled.

What good did it do the US to put Cuba under an embargo that lasted 46 years? There is no apparent evidence that it did the US any good whatsoever. Castro is leaving office in his own good time and on his own terms. Cuba had a strong 7% growth rate last year because other countries are ignoring the embargo.

We've got an awful lot of fawning media stenographers swooning over what a "straight talk" kinda guy John McCain is and how honest he is and what good judgment he has. Please, people, this just isn't funny. As dday from Digby's blog points out:

If John McCain can keep taking multiple positions on issues, or say one thing and do another with abandon, and the media will give it a pass, that's a tremendous detriment for the Democratic nominee.

Oh, good grief!!! McCain is now claiming that "radical Islamic extremism" is "the greatest evil, probably, that this nation has ever faced."

Very interesting news from Iran, precisely because it doesn't fit into the prevailing "We gotta git 'em afore they git us" narrative.

Oh , and as to how well Iraq is doing after having gotten rid of their evil dictator nearly five years ago? Well, not so hot, actually. Raw sewage is not being treated because Baghdad's sewage plants are overloaded and breaking down. Gotta love that smell of liberation!

Good piece on how the right wing crafts its message. Further reading on the same subject.

Seems the latest blogstorm for the right wing is that Code Pink in Berkeley, CA has been granted a permanent parking spot from which to stage protests against the city's Marine recruitment center. The National Republican Senatorial Committee, under the chairmanship of Sen. John Ensign (R-NV) has used the issue to argue for a return to a Republican majority in the Senate. 

A few months back, I was so distressed with Congress' inability to get anything done that was against President Bush's wishes, I removed "The Gavel" from my laptop's internet browser  "bookmarks." I reinstated it upon learning that Republicans walked out of Congress today, following which Bush scolded Congress. Speaker Pelosi stood firm and insisted the country will be safe even if the amendment to FISA expires. Not only that, they approved contempt resolutions against Meyers & Bolten!

I guess we can hear now that McCain was against torture before he was for it?  Or will we continue to hear about what a "maverick" and a "straight talker" he is?

Yeah, yeah, I'll take good news wherever I can get it, so sue me. "A lifelong Black progressive [Donna Edwards] and a groveling tool of corporate power [Al Wynn] face off..." and with 51% reporting, it's Donna with a very comfortable margin of 59% to 37%!!

Very bad weather keeps away all the casual voters, leaving just the really determined folks, who of course went very heavily for the progressive candidate.  

Kinda worries me that Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia is responsible for guarding our civil liberties:

Is it really so easy to determine that smacking someone in the face to find out where he has hidden the bomb that is about to blow up Los Angeles is prohibited under the Constitution?

And yes, Scalia is a fan of the TV show "24." 

Well, the Senate has miserably and uttterly failed the people of the United States and the rule of law by passing a FISA bill that refuses to punish telecom companies for deliberately and consciously breaking a clearly-written law passed at the time by a large majority and which was uncontroversial for more than two decades.

Please sign the petition to demand that the House not do the same.

How far has the US fallen from the days when FISA was first passed?  

Senator Feingold's comments.

But the cases [against several alleged planners of the 9-11 highjackings] may be clouded because of recent revelations that Mohammed was subject to a harsh interrogation technique known as waterboarding , which critics call torture.

Asked what impact that will have on the case, Hartmann said it will be up to the military judge to determine what evidence is allowed.

Since when is a trial judge given the authority to decide that torture is a permissible way to extract information?  Britain, to its credit, is absolutey opposed to the US proposal.

And I think it's very, very important that we always assert that our system of values is different from those who attacked the US and killed British citizens on September 11, and that's something we'd always want to stand up for.

Bush made the swaggering, "he-man"-type statement "I'm a spray man myself," to Afghanis in response to questions about how they should deal with their increasing production of poppies.  Bush and his ambassador to Afghanistan, William "Chemical Bill" Wood, are very enthusiastic backers of aerial spraying to reduce the drug trade.  The policy has proven very unsuccessful though and has increased the influence of the Taliban.
So, it was soooo very, very pleasant to read the words of Ana Pejcinova, an independent consultant and Macedonian national who used to work for the USAID-funded Alternative Livelihoods Program in Helmand Province.  She speaks words of practicality and common sense that are so sorely lacking in the Bush Administration.

The 911 Commission relied very heavily on information obtained from the three people that the Bush Administration has admitted were waterboarded. Critical question:

AMY GOODMAN: Did you know that these questions were obtained under duress, under torture? 

PHILIP ZELIKOW: We did not know that. We could see that they were extremely reluctant to tell us about the circumstances, and therefore we could only assume that they felt they had something that they wished—they didn’t want the Commission to know about.

This is of course, why the videotapes of the interrogations and internal documents concerning same were so crucially important. If the 911 Commission knew that the answers to their questions were obtained in between screams and sobs, they would have realized that a large chunk of their information was garbage.

Intel Chief cites threat from al Qaeda!!1! Gee, isn't that amazing? He does so just as the Senate is considering changes to FISA. Wow! Amazing how that happens!! The head of the CIA, General Hayden, was asked whether he could make CIA interrogations consistent with international law and the Army Field Manual. Hayden "bristled" at the question and rhetorically asked whether CIA haircuts also had to be consistent with those of the Army.

Iraq faces severe wheat shortages in 2008. Oh, great, that's what they really need on top of everything else.

Small victories.  Joe Lieberman was slated to be a "superdelegate" for the Connecticut primary. The DNC stripped him of that status because he endorsed John McCain, a Republican. Yeah, one wonders how he got a status to be stripped of in the first place, but hey...
Also, NY Times' editors have finally taken notice that Maureen Dowd has a real problem dealing with Barack Obama in a professional manner. Many years too late for them to finally start exercising editorial discretion, but again, a positive development.

More on conservatives trying to hang the "fascist" label on liberals.  Perhaps if conservatives didn't repeat the "Dolchstosslegende" (Stab in the back legend) with "liberals" playing the part of the Jewish people, maybe liberals woudn't call them fascists.

Most of the daily papers ignored Bush's signing statement that said he could establish permanent military bases in Iraq if he was in the mood, but Jon Stewart's Daily Show covered it. After Democrats denounced the signing statement’s the question: where are the Republicans? More notably, where are the Republican presidential candidates, led by a sitting senator? [McCain,that is]

The state secrets privilege has been a very-widely abused privilege from the very case (1953 concerning a 1948 airplane crash) that established the privilege in the first place.  As John Dean puts it:
...seldom is nation[al] security truly at stake when the government claims it to be. Typically, the invocation of national security borders on being a hoax.

Propaganda alert! New Republican term for 911Truthers: 911 Deniers.
Also, v
ery interesting evidence on passenger lists and autopsies.

Round-up of news, including review of Dave Neiwert's blog posts covering Jonah Goldberg's "Liberal Fascism."

January                         back to top

American public unimpressed with drop in violence in Iraq.  Violence has gone from "apocalyptic levels" to the merely intolerable (War news for Jan 31st) and proportion of Americans who think conflict isn't worth it has gone from 56% to 59%.

Iraqi government decides without parliamentary approval, to scrap 13-year-old food rationing program which has kept many millions of Iraqis from starvation.

Status of women in Iraq, five years into the occupation.

The President attaches a signing statement to the Defense Authorization Bill, most notably to section 1222, the provision that forbids money to be spent on new bases.

Just amazing to see the extreme and utter decadence, frivolity and irrelevance of our press corps. Apparently, there was a massive voter shift towards Clinton in the 72 hours before the primary vote
...a massive shift that nobody in the media detected.
...all the corporate press does these days is shallow, polling-based horserace coverage, and now it can't even get that right. [emphases in original]

Cartoonist has a pretty good take on Bush's Mideast trip. Essentially, it was a victory lap without a victory.  
"Seldom has an American President's visit left the region so underwhelmed, confirming Bush's huge unpopularity on the street and his sagging credibility among Arab leaders he counts as allies.
'It is impossible to feel any excitement about Bush's words, because no Palestinian, no Arab believes he will, or can, deliver.'
Of course, some might question how exactly victory is perceived, whether gettng the corpse to appear somewhat lifelike is good enough for the purpose.

Did Daily Kos tip the Michigan primary to Mitt Romney? CNN strongly doubts that, but there seems to be some evidence for it.

Evidence that Bush's words on democracy are just so much hot air.

According to the pollster Rasmussen (Generally has a pretty good reputation for accuracy) John Edwards is the strongest Democrat and John McCain is the strongest Republican. Unfortunately, as exciting as it would be to have either Clinton or Obama in the running, they both do poorly in the general election match-ups.  Fortunately for Edwards, he grows on people, the more they see of him, the more they like him.

About that long-overdue revision of Paul Bremer's anti-Baathist law? The one that was going to help reunify Iraq?  Seems it's a lot less than meets the eye
Shiites like Moqtada al Sadr appear to like it, ex-Baathists hate it.

Tony Snow tries to claim that how the Iraq War was waged was not all that bad:
Number one, when it comes to the war, everybody — it’s great to be a backseat general, and everybody gets it wrong at the beginning of a war.

Well, number one, the Iraq War was a war the US launched.  It was launched at a time that the US chose with perhaps the Congressional mid-term elections of 2002 being the only time factor that was determined from outside the Bush Aministration's complete control.  Two, the sacking of Baghdad was entirely avoidable. Everybody outside the Bush Administration knew that US troops could easily have been deployed to protect historical sites and government offices, but US soldiers sat around with no orders being given to do so.  The film No End in Sight made it clear that the US failure to stop the sacking of Baghdad was an early provocation that helped to spark the insurgency that continues to the present day, an insurgency so intractable that the US had to drop 40,000 pounds of bombs on Baghdad's Southern outskirts nearly five years after "Mission Accomplished."

IVAW "Yellow Rose of Texas" bus bursts into flames.  Driver/owner was only occupant at time and safely abandoned vehicle. Bus had earler encounter with McCain campaign bus.

Congressman Al Wynn defends himself:

Their ads claim I received vacations paid for by lobbyists. The truth is I was invited by trade associations such as the Railroad Association and minority business organizations to give keynote speeches and participate in panels during overnight and two-day business trips.

This is what we call "a distinction without a difference," Wynn had trips paid for by private organizations.  Sure, he may have done business on those trips, but that doesn't mean he didn't have any time off to enjoy the sights or the activities. At the absolute minimum, he's got a lot more explaining to do.

So, it appears that the Iranian speedboat "attack" was just what Iran said it was, a "routine identity check."  Seems the threat voiced during the non-incident could have come from many different sources as that radio channel is open to all sorts of radio broadcasts.  

The Iranians analyzed the Pentagon video released to the US media and found that the audio track was not synchronized properly with the video, pointing to serious tinkering.

If this was an attempt at another "Gulf of Tonkin" incident, it lacked competence.

Amazing quote from Atrios.  Yup, our decayed, decadent press corps is just as messed up and cozy with our Republican political elites as everyone said they were.

Fred Hiatt of the WaPo asks the same question as the counter-protesters did earlier: "Why do the Democratic candidates refuse to acknowledge progress in Iraq?" and the answer is the same: There's just not much progress there. The editorial complains that a pull-out would erase "the progress that has been made," but refuses to recognize that for "the progress" to last, Iraqis need to make political accomodations with each other.  That was, allegedly, the whole point of the "Surge" and the editorial admits it hasn't been achieved.
Juan Cole assesses the one-year anniversary of Bush's announcement and setting of goals for the "Surge."  Funny, it doesn't appear that any of those goals have been achieved.
Ed Henry of CNN also points out that Bush has made optimstic pronouncements on other subjects:

I remember traveling with the President last summer when he was asked about a whole other matter, the immigration reform bill back in this United States and he made a bold declaration then saying "I'll see you at the signing ceremony."

As you know, that signing ceremony never happened. So, it's important to remember that sometimes optimistic talk doesn't turn into reality.

Wow!  Jonah Goldberg speaketh the truth!

Goldberg: The benefit of Bush’s compassionate conservatism [in 2000] was that it was majorly a marketing slogan…

Alex Chadwick: You mean you’re worried Mike Huckabee might actually mean it?

Goldberg: Yes, that’s what I’m terrified of.

Pleasant surprise to see a right-wing source agree with those on the left about the failings of the traditional media.

Former Senator George McGovern composes an excellent piece about why Bush & Cheney need to be impeached.

In a news video, Iraq War supporters are heard chanting "The Surge is working!"  Is it?  Welllll...

... by most accounts, levels of political violence are much reduced.

But the surge has not accomplished the goal that the administration of US President George W. Bush set when it announced the policy at the beginning of last year - to buy time for Iraqi politicians to reach compromises on the country's future that would reconcile its feuding ethnic and sectarian factions.

Sibel Edmonds (Background) made many serious charges in a set of closed-door sessions of testimony to Congress. She has now decided to reveal some of that which Congress has inexplicably chosen to keep secret concerning nuclear proliferation and US complicity and high-level interference with the investigations of same. She charges that high-level Israeli, Turkish and Pakistani officials are involved.

Survey of American terrorist actions.  Funny, there's not a black or a Muslim among the perpetrators. Strange how that is.

Congresswoman Jane Harman (D-CA) half-intentionally reveals extremely serious problems with Congressional oversight of the CIA during the time of the Bush Administration.  She was informed of serious crimes against humanity by the CIA in their interrogations of the alleged al Qaeda detainee Abu Zubaydah and protested, weakly and without any follow-up or public exposure, in a letter that was, without any good reason,  classified until 3 Jan 08. Harman was between a rock and a hard place. She could not have revealed what she knew without risking her security clearance, but how was she to conduct effective oversight while being sworn to silence?

So, it looks like solid wins for Barack Obama with 37%+, his nearest competitor John Edwards at 29%+ and Hillary Clinton a very short way behind him, also at 29%+. Bill Richardson is the only other one who got above 1%.  On the Republican side, it was Mike Huckabee with 34% and his closest competitor, Mitt Romney trailing very badly behind him at 25%. Fred Thompson and John McCain both got 13% and Ron Paul got 10%.  Rudy Giuliani may as well drop out with only 4%. Analysis: Kos  firedoglake
TPM  Crooks&Liars

So just how did Benazir Bhutto die?  Very confusing stories about.  Very suspicious aspect:

Beyond the now-infamous decision not to perform an autopsy, there was the decision to cordon off the crime scene and wash it down with fire hoses afterward.

FireDogLake gives us the sad news [/snark] that Jonah Goldberg is really, really upset that no one will take his "Liberal Fascism" book/theory seriously.  

"Jonah hopes that

...some other liberal actually reads the book and offers a sustained argument against it."

The blog Sadly No! has been running pieces on this astonishingly bad piece of dreck starting with Simply Goddamn Embarrassing on 18 December and continuing with the one (1) positive review that "Liberal Fascism" has received and a talk show in which the hostess declares:

[Jonah] talks about how people throw the word fascism around without really understanding its meaning

Which is amazingly self-descriptive because it's reallly not clear that either Goldberg or his host understands it either.