Wednesday, July 04, 2007

The Supreme Court in 2007


Supreme Court under Roberts

Impeachment should now be on the table.

Here is my take on this week's Scooter Libby's sentence being commuted, and what the Democrats need to be doing.

While it's true that the Constitution grants the president the power of clemency and pardon, it has been generally held that presidents have used that power to show mercy or, in rare cases, make political amends -- not to protect themselves from exposure.

President Bush gave clemency to a man who interfered with an investigation of the President's own administration. He used the power to protect himself.

The Founding Fathers as they framed the Constitution were very sensitive to the need for checks and balances. The whole Constitution is a series of checks and balances. They recognized the potential for abuse of the pardon power; an abuse that we saw this week.

According to a Judiciary Committee report that was drafted in the aftermath of the Watergate crisis: "In the [Constitutional] convention George Mason argued that the President might use his pardoning power to 'pardon crimes which were advised by himself' or, before indictment or conviction, 'to stop inquiry and prevent detection.'

James Madison responded: "[I]f the President be connected, in any suspicious manner, with any person, and there be grounds [to] believe he will shelter him, the House of Representatives can impeach him; they can remove him if found guilty. . . .

"Madison went on to [say] contrary to his position in the Philadelphia convention, that the President could be suspended when suspected, and his powers would devolve on the Vice President, who could likewise be suspended until impeached and convicted, if he were also suspected."

Bush's written statement even states that he believes the jury was correct. Bush states that he acknowledges the guilty verdict. He is therefore saying he recognizes Libby's guilt, and is still granting clemency. In splitting the difference between those who supported and opposed a pardon for Libby, President Bush has opened himself up to an impeachable offense.

Therefore Impeachment for the President and Vice President can no longer be off the table for congressional Democrats. What the President and Vice President did was wrong, it was about the one millionth thing wrong that they have done, and it is now time that they pay for this.

Impeachment should now be on the table.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Everyone is now "al-Qaida"

This is something I've noticed a lot lately, and should be commented on more by the progressives. Yesterday Josh Marshall and Glenn Greenwald both wrote about this new spin on the war.

Josh Marshall publishes an e-mail from a reader who identifies what is one of the most astonishing instances of mindless, pro-government "reporting" yet:
It's a curious thing that, over the past 10 - 12 days, the news from Iraq refers to the combatants there as "al-Qaida" fighters. When did that happen?
Until a few days ago, the combatants in Iraq were "insurgents" or they were referred to as "Sunni" or "Shia'a" fighters in the Iraq Civil War. Suddenly, without evidence, without proof, without any semblance of fact, the US military command is referring to these combatants as "al-Qaida".

Welcome to the latest in Iraq propaganda.

While Glenn Greenwald writes in a post titled "Everyone we fight in Iraq is now 'al-Qaida'" that states that the Bush administration, and specifically its military commanders, decided to begin using the term "Al Qaeda" to designate "anyone and everyeone we fight against or kill in Iraq.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Bush claims exemption for he and Cheney from his oversight order

Wish I had had time to write about this earlier.

Earlier this week the news was that Vice President Cheney had defied a presidential order requiring government agencies that handle classified national security information to submit to oversight by an independent federal watchdog. This caused quite a stir so President Bush did the only thing he could do.

He deferred to Cheney.

Bush now claims the same exemption from his own oversight order.

The executive order that Bush issued in March 2003 covers all government agencies that are part of the executive branch and, although it doesn't specifically say so, was not meant to apply to the vice president's office or the president's office, a White House spokesman said.

Actually reading the order it expressly states the exact opposite.

Yesterday the White House sent out spokeswoman Dana Perino to somehow defend Dick Cheney’s claim that his office somehow exists outside the Executive Order (EO) that governs the preservation of classified data, a directive which applies to all Executive Branch officials.

She actually dismissed the whole topic as “a little bit of a nonissue,” Perino said President Bush “gets to decide whether or not [Cheney] should be treated separately, and he’s decided that he should.” She then suggested there was textual evidence in the 2003 Executive Order to support the claim that it was not applicable to Cheney:

PERINO: If you look on page 18 of the EO, when you have a chance, there’s a distinction regarding the Vice President versus what is an agency. And the President also, as the author of an EO, and the person responsible for interpreting the EO, did not intend for the Vice President to be treated as an agency, and that’s clear.

Last night, MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann reported that his staff fact-checked Perino’s claim, looked at page 18 of the order, and found Perino’s claim to be false:

OLBERMANN: No exemption at all for the Vice President on page 18. So we emailed the White House, which referred us to section 1.3 — which is about something else altogether — and 5.2 — which makes no mention of the Vice President. In fact, there is no exemption for the President or the Vice President when it comes to reporting on classified material.

Sec. 6.1(b) of Bush’s 2003 executive order governing classified material explicitly states that it applies to any “‘Executive agency…any ‘Military department’…and any other entity within the executive branch that comes into the possession of classified information.” Olbermann concluded that Cheney’s defiance must lead to the following conclusion: “He’s no longer an entity of any kind.”

In the executive order, Bush stressed the importance of the public's right to know what its government was doing, particularly in the global campaign against terrorism. "Our democratic principles require that the American people be informed of the activities of their government," the executive order said.

But from the start it turns out, Bush considered his office and Cheney's exempt from the reporting requirements, White House spokesman Tony Fratto said in an interview Friday. Cheney's office filed the reports in 2001 and 2002 -- as did his predecessor, Al Gore -- but stopped in 2003.

Ed Schultz Debunks Free Market Myth

Ed Schultz — the host of the most popular progressive radio show in the country — was on Tucker Carlson's MSNBC show on Thursday to talk about the new report by the Center for American Progress and Free Press on the right wing"s hold on talk radio.
Ever since Imus the right wing bluster monkey's have been freaking out on this subject.

Ed debunked the right-wing myth that conservatives dominate simply because they are winning in a “free market.” He correctly tells guest host Michael Smerconish who was sitting in for Tucker that it’s not about the ratings, when Smerconish tries to dismiss the Center for American Progress's report because the market decides who is successful in radio Ed shot him down.

Ed pointed out to Smerconish that his ratings are better than Hannity in several markets, but still can’t find more stations to carry him. Ed argues that it’s an ownership problem. Schultz explained that the market is being controlled by a few ownership groups that are forcing conservative talk shows into local markets:
"I beat Sean Hannity in Denver. I beat him in Seattle. I beat him in Portland. I beat in San Diego. How many markets do I have to beat Hannity in before I get 200 or 300 stations? It’s an ownership issue. … The fact is, it’s market opportunities and liberal talkers, progressive talkers are being held to a totally different standard than conservatives."

John Halpin — one of the principal authors of the radio report — noted that there is no “free market” under the current system. There is little free speech or free choice in a market system that pushes out one-sided information 90 percent of the time on the radio,” he said. “Radio stations are licensed to operate in the public interest. Promoting one point of view over all others does not meet any reasonable public-interest standard.”

John Amato at Crooks & Liars has video of the interview…

Transcript from the show:

SCHULTZ: "When you are talking about the spoken word, it influences a lot of people and it influences election in this country. There is no question. We are talking about market opportunities. Right now the liberal progressive format in this country — we are all fighting over the same 100 stations. Michael, I offer to you that ownership is an issue.

"There are conservative broadcast companies in this country that do not broadcast one single second of liberal talk radio."

SMERCONISH: "But Ed, I have to tell you something –"


SMERCONISH: "CBS would fire me in the morning and replace me with a communist if that communist would get them more revenue. It’s all about the scratch."

SCHULTZ: "That’s not true. Michael, that is not true. I have got one of the top talk shows in Seattle, and I am only on one station in the country with Infinity. That’s not true. We are not being given the fair market opportunity."

SMERCONISH: "I just don’t see it that way. I think it’s totally demand driven. And if were there a demand for whatever the program happened to be, believe me, they would put it on the air, because all they want to do is sell advertising and there is nothing wrong with that."

SCHULTZ: "You know, Michael that’s almost insulting me. I beat Sean Hannity in Denver. I beat him in Seattle. I beat him in Portland. I beat in San Diego. How many markets do I have to beat Hannity in before I get 200 or 300 stations? It’s an ownership issue. Salem Radio, Infinity does one, ABC owns Hannity. It comes down to ownership. Actually, Clear Channel has been better than any of them."

"The fact is, it’s market opportunities and liberal talkers, progressive talkers are being held to a totally different standard than conservatives. "

Right Wing Domination Of Talk Radio

The Center for American Progress and Free Press today released the first-of-its-kind statistical analysis of the political make-up of talk radio in the United States. It confirms that talk radio, one of the most widely used media formats in America, is dominated almost exclusively by conservatives.

The new report — entitled “The Structural Imbalance of Political Talk Radio” — raises serious questions about whether the companies licensed to broadcast over the public radio airwaves are serving the listening needs of all Americans.

While progressive talk is making inroads on commercial stations, right-wing talk reigns supreme on America’s airwaves. Some key findings:
– In the spring of 2007, of the 257 news/talk stations owned by the top five commercial station owners, 91 percent of the total weekday talk radio programming was conservative, and only 9 percent was progressive.
– Each weekday, 2,570 hours and 15 minutes of conservative talk are broadcast on these stations compared to 254 hours of progressive talk — 10 times as much conservative talk as progressive talk.
– 76 percent of the news/talk programming in the top 10 radio markets is conservative, while 24 percent is progressive.

Two common myths are frequently offered to explain the imbalance of talk radio: 1) the 1987 repeal of the Fairness Doctrine (which required broadcasters to devote airtime to contrasting views), and 2) simple consumer demand. Each of these fails to adequately explain the root cause of the problem. The report explains:

Our conclusion is that the gap between conservative and progressive talk radio is the result of multiple structural problems in the U.S. regulatory system, particularly the complete breakdown of the public trustee concept of broadcast, the elimination of clear public interest requirements for broadcasting, and the relaxation of ownership rules including the requirement of local participation in management. […]

Ultimately, these results suggest that increasing ownership diversity, both in terms of the race/ethnicity and gender of owners, as well as the number of independent local owners, will lead to more diverse programming, more choices for listeners, and more owners who are responsive to their local communities and serve the public interest.

Along with other ideas, the report recommends that national radio ownership not be allowed to exceed 5 percent of the total number of AM and FM broadcast stations, and local ownership should not exceed more than 10 percent of the total commercial radio stations in a given market.

Read the full report here.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Is America a conservative country?

This is the question that Media Matters wanted to find out. It is a claim that has been made on numerous occasions and is repeated so often by the media it's become conventional wisdom. Media Matters for America and the Campaign for America's Future recently came together to examine 20 years of independent, nonpartisan polling data to see if conventional wisdom was actually true.

They feel that this polling data proves that the claim that America is a conservative country is completelyFALSE.

In their new joint report -- "The Progressive Majority: Why a Conservative America is a Myth" -- they show that the conventional wisdom that Americans are overwhelmingly conservative is simply wrong.

On issue after issue, a majority of Americans agree with progressives and have for decades.
» Read the Report and Spread the Word!

Here are some of the key findings from the report:

The role of government -- 69 percent of Americans believe the government "should care for those who can't care for themselves;" twice as many people (43 percent vs. 20 percent) want "government to provide many more services even if it means an increase in spending" as wanted government to provide fewer services "in order to reduce spending."

The economy -- 77 percent of Americans think Congress should increase the minimum wage; 66 percent believe "upper-income people" pay too little in taxes; 53 percent feel the Bush tax cuts have failed because they have increased the deficit and caused cuts in government programs.
Social issues -- 61 percent of Americans support embryonic stem cell research; 62 percent want to protect Roe v. Wade; only 3 percent of Americans rank gay marriage as the "most important" social issue.

Security -- 43 percent of Americans say we are spending too much on our military; 60 percent feel the federal government should do more about restricting the kinds of guns that people can purchase.

The environment -- 75 percent of Americans would be wiling to pay more for electricity if it were generated by renewable sources to help reduce global warming; 79 percent want higher emissions standards for automobiles.

Energy -- 52 percent of Americans believe "the best way for the U.S. to reduce its reliance on foreign oil" is to "have the government invest in alternative energy sources;" 68 percent of the public thinks U.S. energy policy is better solved by conservation than production.
Immigration -- 57 percent of Americans feel "most recent immigrants to the U.S. contribute to this country" rather than "cause problems." 67 percent of Americans feel that "on the whole" immigration is a "good thing for this country today."

Health care - 69 percent of Americans think it is the responsibility of the federal government to make sure all Americans have access to health coverage; 76 percent find access to health care more important than maintaining the Bush tax cuts; three in five would be willing to have their own taxes increased to achieve universal coverage.

As you can see from these numbers, this report covers a broad range of issues. And despite the perception given by the media, Americans hold progressive positions on all of them.

This is independent, non-partisan polling data -- gathered over the course of 20 years by sources such as American National Election Studies, the General Social Survey, and Gallup Polls

Media Matters for America and Campaign for America's Future both examined not only the top-level conclusions, but the underlying questions asked in each of the surveys. You can click here to view their full findings, complete with supporting materials.

» Read the Report and Spread the Word!

Even in light of their new report, the media may not be quick to change their tune. That is why it is so important that we all help to spread the word.

Information is power. Click here to let your friends, family members and colleagues know about Media Matters for America and Campaign for America's Future's findings.

By spreading the word we can help expose the myth that we live in a conservative America and show people -- by using the facts -- that you truly are among America's Progressive Majority.

Blast hits key Iraq Shia shrine

This could be very bad in a land that has known little else. The two minarets of the al-Askari shrine in Iraq, one of the holiest sites in Shia Islam, have been destroyed by two explosions.

A 2006 bombing of this Mosque shattered its famous Golden Dome and unleashed a wave of retaliatory sectarian violence that caused the violence in Iraq to intesify. The affects of that attack still bloodies Iraq, so we can only imagine what will happen now.

This is from the According to witnesses the minarets collapsed completely after being hit by bomb blasts around 0900 (0500 GMT).

This shrine houses one of two tombs in Samarra for revered Shia imams.

The bombing of the dome at the mosque in 2006 is widely believed to have set off a continuing spiral of sectarian violence in which many thousands died.
Update: Retribution attacks begin.
Four Sunni mosques have been attacked today in apparent retribution for yesterday’s bombing of the Golden Dome Shiite shrine in Samarra, “where a 2006 bombing unleashed a wave of sectarian violence that gripped Iraq for over a year.”

Faux Cable News: All The Bimbo News

According to the Project for Excellence in Journalism, an independent think tank, Faux Cable News, in recent months, has devoted significantly more air time to the death of Anna Nicole Smith than any of its rivals. That's not all. Fox is also providing less coverage of the war in Iraq than its rivals. I'll quote from the story.

“Fox spent half as much time covering the Iraq war than MSNBC during the first three months of the year, and considerably less than CNN. The difference was more stark during daytime news hours than in prime-time opinion shows. The Iraq war occupied 20 percent of CNN's daytime news hole and 18 percent of MSNBC's. On Fox, the war was talked about only 6 percent of the time. Another story that has reflected poorly on the Bush administration, the controversy over U.S. attorney firings, also received more attention on MSNBC (8 percent of the newshole) and CNN (4 percent) than on Fox (2 percent), the Project for Excellence in Journalism found.

“If Fox's audience is dominated by Republicans who are disgusted about hearing bad news on Iraq, it would stand to reason that you'd want to feed them less of it. Bill O'Reilly touched upon that idea on the air one night last December, telling viewers that the lowest-rated segment of his show the previous night was when Iraq was discussed. Ratings jumped at talk about Britney Spears, he said.”

The danger is whether those concerns eat away at journalistic credibility.

On his radio show, Fox News host Bill O’Reilly derided the group behind the report as the “Project for Excellence in Left-Wing Journalism,” but then said he wouldn’t dispute their findings. He defended his lack of Iraq war coverage, stating that the only reason CNN and MSNBC “do so much Iraq reporting is because they want to embarrass the Bush administration”:

According to good 'ol Bill:

“Now the reason that CNN and MSNBC do so much Iraq reporting is because they want to embarrass the Bush administration. Both do. And all their reporting consists of is here’s another explosion. Bang. Here’s more people dead. Bang. […]

“They’re not doing it to inform anybody about anything. The terrorists are going to set off a bomb every day because they know CNN and MSNBC are going to put it on the air. That’s a strategy for the other side. The terrorist side. So I’m taking an argument that CNN and MSNBC are actually helping the terrorists by reporting useless explosions.

“Do you care if another bomb went off in Tikrit? Does it mean anything? No! It doesn’t mean anything.”

I guess we are not supposed to care that those explosions in Iraq have killed over 3,500 U.S. troops since 2003.

CBS News Correspondent Lara Logan who has actually spent a great deal of time in Iraq says this about covering Iraq:

“When you see an American kid get shot and friends come to his aid and risk their lives, and see how they live day after day, you realize it is very hard for people far away to understand just how great are the sacrifices being made.”

CNN International Correspondent Michael Ware who has practically lived in Iraq the last four years:

“Clearly, it’s very hard to distill into one story the reality of life on the ground. Many of the soldiers I was with recently in Ramadiyah feel that people back home are turning off to an extent. They feel they’re fighting this war in a vacuum. That’s where you see the true strength of these men. They continue to do their jobs professionally and bravely. ”

O’Reilly is a complete and utter pompous ass who constantly claims that he supports the troops. I guess for the great Bill O’Reilly, supporting the troops means ignoring their work and saying that the explosions killing them don’t “mean anything.”

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Five Myths About Valerie Plame

Carol D. Leonnig writes in The Washington Post about five myths she has encountered while covering the trial of Vice President Cheney's former chief of staff. "[E]ven now, four years after Valerie Plame's name hit the papers, the public still has some startling misconceptions about this fascinating, thorny case," she writes.

Myth: "Valerie Plame wasn't a covert operative."

Fact: "Wrong. She was."

Myth: "Karl Rove would have been indicted in the Plame case if it hadn't been for all the destroyed evidence."

Fact: Missing White House e-mails "may contain interesting stuff, but for now, it's rank speculation to suggest that they hold information about the Plame case or would have pushed Fitzgerald to charge Rove with perjury," Leonnig writes. "Fitzgerald told the court just that. He was exercising standard prosecutorial discretion when he decided not to charge Rove, according to sources close to the investigation. He didn't think he had a strong enough case to prove that Rove had intentionally lied to investigators (though some FBI agents disagreed)."

Myth: "Libby didn't leak Plame's identity."

Fact: "[T]he overwhelming weight of the evidence at the trial -- including reporters' notes of their interviews with Libby -- showed that Libby had indeed leaked classified information about Plame's identity, even though that wasn't what put him in the dock."

The other two myths: "Bad press doesn't get under Cheney's skin," and "The White House would fire any administration official who leaked classified information about Plame."

Bush takes one last stab at saving immigration plan

President Bush is headed to Capitol Hill today in a last-ditch attempt to revive the compromise immigration legislation that he let die last week. He'll be having lunch with Republican senators, but it is doubtful that he will find much support. Weeks ago when there was the so-called breakthrough on the 'grand bargain' on immigration a few weeks ago had brought new life to a White House under siege. It was interesting though that the President did almost nothing to push through the legislation, and when he did he almost single-handedly rallied the opposition.

Now knowing this failure will cling to his already sinking Presidency, Bush will try, but I doubt it will do any good. Those who were opposed have already won, and they will see little political benefit in reviving this fight. As the Los Angeles Times wrote: "The collapse of immigration legislation in the Senate this week is a monument to President Bush's enfeebled clout on Capitol Hill..."

I truly believe President Bush's loss on his immigration overhaul plan could be the death knell for his second-term domestic legacy.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Virtual Tour the Creationist Museum

In an interesting twist on "we watch so you don't have too" BlueGrassRoots made the trip to the $27 million dollar Creationist Museum. They really did you a favor of going to this institute of non-learning, the Answers in Genesis Creation museum, so you don’t have to.

From their Blog:
Early in the museum, the visitor is given advice on the proper mind frame to have for your visit: “Don’t think, just listen and believe”. [..] Human Reason is the enemy and God’s Word is the hero. Descartes represents Human Reason, saying “I think, therefore I am”. But God tells us there no need to waste your beautiful mind, for God says “I am that I am”.

So logic, reason and science are Bad; blind faith is Good.

And you wonder why our jobs are being outsourced…

Crooks & Liars has an update: Maybe making casting decisions on faith doesn’t work out so well. It’s a slippery slope; start researching the actors you use for your Creation videos and pretty soon, you’re learning and stuff. ((shudder)) Can’t have that, can we, Mr. Ham?

No-Confidence Vote Monday, Needs to be just the beginning

On Monday the Senate will vote on a "no-confidence" resolution against Attorney General Alberto Gonzales for lying about ... well, everything.

Of couse I want all Senators to vote "yes" but that's not nearly enough for the man who authorized illegal wiretapping of thousands maybe millions? of U.S. citizens. It is not enought for a man who has argued for illegal torture of anyone Emperor Bush deems an "enemy combatant." Nor is it enough for a many who has supported the suborning of our democracy.

For those and other reasons, tell your Senators and Representatives to Impeach Alberto Gonzales:

You know that the White House will be fighting this resolution. Just today Tony Snow came onto the Sunday morning talk shows to reiterate President Bush's support for the ineffectual and beleagured Attorney General. This was part of the White House campaign on Sunday to downplay and dismiss Senate plans to hold a no-confidence vote on the Attorney General. Snow said the outcome will not undermine President Bush's resolve to keep Alberto Gonzales at the Justice Department.

On Monday, the Senate is planning to debate a one-sentence measure that declares Gonzales "no longer holds the confidence of the Senate and of the American people." If it passes it will be a historic event. No Attorney General has ever had a vote of no-confidence against them. Many pundits will probably down play it, and Bush is sure to ignore it, but it will be one more step towards Gonzales's impeachment. Something I do think will happen.

Last month's dramatic testimony by former Deputy Attorney General James Comey has prompted renewed attention and focus on the administration's warrantless domestic spying efforts.

Describing the shocking lengths that the White House went to in order to gain legal sanction for its surveillance program, Comey revealed that President Bush called then-Attorney General John Ashcroft's wife to seek permission for former chief of staff Andrew Card and then-White House counsel Alberto Gonzales to visit a debilitated and hospitalized Ashcroft at his bedside.

The White House orchestrated the hospital visit in March 2004, one day after a meeting between Vice President Dick Cheney and Comey in which Justice Department officials announced their staunch opposition to certifying the program. Cheney tried to skirt Comey's authority by seeking Ashcroft's approval, but Ashcroft demurred as well. The White House then reauthorized the spying program "without a signature from the Department of Justice attesting as to its legality," prompting at least eight top Justice officials to threaten their resignation. Bush finally backed down, altering the program in order to get the Justice Department's sign-off. The saga over the White House's trevails to get legal approval underscores the serious questions that surround the program -- questions that remain largely unresolved to this day.ALBERTO

Alberto Gonzales has been caught lying too often to be allowed to remaind in office.

Testifying before Congress in January 2006, Gonzales claimed, "There has not been any serious disagreement about the program that the president has confirmed." In light of Comey's dramatic retelling of a showdown that almost led to a mass resignation at the Justice Department in 2004, Gonzales's claim appears extremely difficult to square with the facts. Center for American Progress Senior Fellow Peter Swire explained that there are two possibilities that stem from the differing accounts. Either Comey and Gonzales were referring to the same program, in which case Gonzales lied under oath about the legal disagreements that surrounded the spying program, or Comey's objections applied to a different domestic wiretapping program, suggesting that the administration's spying efforts are broader than the public has been made aware. Gonzales appeared to resolve this dilemma, stating this week that he and Comey were referring to the same program. "Comey's testimony related to a highly classified program which the president confirmed to the American people sometime ago," he said. If Gonzales is now telling the truth, that can only mean he failed to tell the truth in 2006.

In order to better understand the legal nature of the administration's warrantless spying program, Jameel Jaffer, a national security analyst at the American Civil Liberties Union, urged Congress yesterday to subpoena documents relating to the program, including court orders and opinions by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. Members of a House Judiciary subcommittee yesterday threatened to issue such subpoenas after Steven Bradbury, a principal deputy assistant attorney general and head of the Justice Department's office of legal counsel, told the panel that the department would not turn over the documents because of their confidential nature. The New York Times writes that the confrontation over the documents "could set the stage for a constitutional showdown over the separation of powers." With respect to the separation of powers issue, Bradbury famously remarked in July 2006 during testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee that "the president is always right." Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) refused to back down over the committee's request for documents. "This committee created the FISA statute and the FISA court, yet the President believes we are not entitled to know what he or the court are doing." Nadler continued, "Many have begun to conclude that the shroud of secrecy thrown over these activities has less to do with protecting us from terrorism and more to do with protecting the Administration from having its lawbreaking exposed."

Citing a policy announced by Bush in Jan. 2007, Bradbury said yesterday that the warrantless wiretapping program hasn't been reauthorized for "several months," and "any electronic surveillance that was occurring as part of the program is now subject to the approval" of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. But Bradbury's comments contradict Bush's explanation of his own policy. In January, Bush said, "Nothing has changed in the program except the court has said we've analyzed it and it's a legitimate way to protect the country." While details of the administration's actions remain "sketchy," Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) said earlier this year, "[The administration’s action] is not acceptable to me…simply because I can't trust what they say." Indeed, Bush has lost the public's trust. Prior to the revelation of the NSA spying program, Bush had assured the public in 2004 that "a wiretap requires a court order. Nothing has changed." Bruce Fein, a legal veteran of the Reagan Justice Department, said that the administration's shroud of secrecy suggests they have more to hide. "Delphic remarks by the attorney general and other Bush Administration officials indicate that other foreign intelligence spying programs are ongoing and generally unknown by either the Congress or the American people," Fein said.

It is time for Gonzales to be gone.

US Arming Iraqi Insurgents

In another glaring example that the United States does not learn from mistakes of the past, we now learn from a story slated for Monday's New York Times by veteran Iraq correspondent John Burns that the U.S. military has confirmed that it is arming Sunni insurgent factions to try to contain al-Qaida in Mesopotamia.

Years ago the US armed the Afghan Mujahadeen who recruited young Arab men from all over the Middle East to battle the Soviet Army. Many of these Arabs would later become the foundation for al-Qaida. Now some brain child in the US government thinks that the solution for al-Qaida in Iraq is to arm other Sunnis insurgents, as if these other insurgents will suddenly be on the side of the US or will stop fighting the Shiite dominated government in Baghdad.

This is just another example of the United States not understanding the enemies we battle in Iraq and the Middle East.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Bush Finds New Way to Block Dealing with Climate Change

It is amazing that after all this time and all the proof that President Bush is full of shit, the US media will still buy his schtick hook line and sinker.

What Morons.

This week President Bush went out in front of the White House Press Corps and put forth a "new" proposal on dealing with global warming and climate change. IF they had been paying attention they would have seen that the most newsworthy aspect of the announcement was its attempt to muddy the debate about the issues surrounding climate change and to derail European and U.N. plans for strict caps on emissions.

Bush's grand proposal calls for a new round of international meetings (as if there have not been hundreds if not thousands of meetings already) that would rund through the end of his presidency.

The purpose of the meetings would not be to set caps on emissions, but to establish what the White House -- bringing us a bold new euphemism -- calls "aspirational goals."

Bush's supposed change in rhetoric was enough to generate some headlines about the administration's attention to the issue:

Bush Proposes Goals on Greenhouse Gas Emissions, reads the New York Times headline, makes the leap of logic that Bush was taking the lead to fend off international accusations that he was ignoring climate change, proposed for the first time on Thursday to set “a long-term global goal” for cutting greenhouse gas emissions. … It would be a major shift for Mr. Bush, who has resisted such absolute goals.

Bush Proposes Talks on Warming, says The Washington Post's front page, and the article goes on to state that President Bush sought yesterday to take the initiative on global warming talks…signal[ing] a shift in the administration’s often-criticized approach.

Bush offers to take climate lead, proclaims the Los Angeles Times, and try to state Bush offers to take climate lead. The U.S. and other big emitters would set goals under his plan.

Let me make this clear, there was NO shift in Bush's stance on Climate Change.

For a more pointed an insightful view of Bush's statement, let's travel across the Atlantic, where the style of journalism is less constrained than in the States.

Rupert Cornwell, writing in the Independent, described it like this: "In a last ditch -- and almost certainly unsuccessful -- bid to fend off international criticism of his climate change policies, President George Bush has called on 15 of the world's biggest polluting countries, including China and India, to agree on a target for reducing greenhouse gasses by the end of 2008. . . .

"Mr Bush's vague promise yesterday to work with other countries for 'a new framework for greenhouse gas emissions for when the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012' will do nothing to satisfy critics.

"The American plan places its faith in free-market mechanisms and technology to solve the problem. . . . Under his scheme, individual countries would establish 'midterm management targets and programmes that reflect their own mix of energy sources and future energy needs'.

"But for critics, Mr Bush's proposals were simply more of the same -- a transparent attempt to create the impression that the US was not dragging its heels."

Cornwell's colleague Andrew Gumbel then launches into a heroic attempt to explain what Bush really meant:

"From the President's speech in Washington yesterday:

"'In recent years, science has deepened our understanding of climate change and opened new possibilities for confronting it.'

"Translation: In recent years, my refusal to acknowledge the reality and seriousness of global warming has turned me into a laughing-stock and contributed to my record low poll ratings. So now I have to look interested.

"'The United States takes this issue seriously.'

"Translation: Al Gore takes this issue seriously, his movie was a hit, and it's causing me no end of grief.

"'By the end of next year, America and other nations will set a long-term goal for reducing greenhouse gases.'

"Translation: By the end of next year, I'll be weeks away from the end of my presidency and this can be someone else's problem.

"'To develop this goal, the United States will convene a series of meetings of nations that produce the most greenhouse gasses, including nations with rapidly growing economies such as India and China.'

"Translation: We will look as busy as we can without doing anything.

"'The new initiative I am outlining today will contribute to the important dialogue that will take place in Germany.'

"Translation: The new initiative will put the brakes on the much more robust proposal the Germans are putting forward. As long as dialogue continues, we won't have to abide by any decisions."

Julian Borger, David Adam and Suzanne Goldenberg write in the Guardian: "George Bush yesterday threw international efforts to control climate change into confusion with a proposal to create a 'new global framework' to curb greenhouse gas emissions as an alternative to a planned UN process."

Reuters reports from Brussels: "President George W. Bush's plan to tackle climate change merely restates U.S. policy which has been ineffective in the past in cutting emissions blamed for global warming, the EU's environment chief said on Friday.

"'The declaration by President Bush basically restates the U.S. classic line on climate change -- no mandatory reductions, no carbon trading and vaguely expressed objectives,' EU Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas said, according to his spokeswoman.

"'The U.S. approach has proven to be ineffective in reducing emissions,' Dimas added of Bush's call on Thursday for 15 major countries to agree by 2008 on a long-term goal for cutting emissions."

Philip Stephens writes in the Financial Times: "Time and pressure have at last persuaded Mr Bush to admit the problem. Yesterday, the White House finally agreed that the US could no longer sit on the sidelines. . . .

"The US president, though, will have to forgive those who greet it with more than a touch of scepticism. Many will consider that it is as much spin as substance - calculated as much to avoid US isolation at the summit as to secure a credible international agreement."

Thomson Financial News reports: "Environmental campaigners accused US President George W. Bush of attempting to 'derail' negotiations over tackling climate change ahead of the G8 summit next week. . . .

"Friends of the Earth (FoE) and Greenpeace expressed strong disappointment at Bush's announcement, saying the effect of his move would be to 'wreck' the existing process."

From a BBC Q and A: "Has President Bush become the latest convert to the cause of tackling climate change by curbing emissions?"

A: "It is the first time the US president has publicly said that 'long-term goals for reducing greenhouse gases' are needed.

"Mr Bush's statement has caught the media's attention, but - so far - lacks the detail needed to assess whether the proposal marks a change of heart in the White House over the need for globally binding emission targets."

The Financial Times writes in an editorial: "George W. Bush is justly famous for his tendency cheerily to dismiss uncomfortable realities, but even by his standards, his comments yesterday on climate change showed astonishing chutzpah."

Wednesday, May 30, 2007


This is President Bush’s approval rating in a new Harris poll. I just have to wonder who exactly makes up these 28%.

Can this number drop anymore?

Is this the lowest level of his presidency or can it go lower?


Bush Approval Rating Falls to 28%,Lowest Level So Far, in Harris Poll

President Bush's approval rating slipped to new lows in the most recent Harris Interactive survey, but he's not alone: For the first time since the series began, all of the political figures and institutions included in the survey have negative performance ratings.

Of the 1,001 American adults polled online April 20-23, only 28% had a positive view of Mr. Bush's job performance, down from 32% in February and from a high of 88% in the aftermath of the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. The current rating is his weakest showing since his inauguration.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice garnered the approval of 45% of those surveyed, down from 46% in February, and approval of Defense Secretary Robert Gates slid to 29% in the latest poll, from 32% in February.


On a side note, how does Condoleezza Rice have an approval of 45%?

This woman has been pathetic at her jobs in the Bush Administration. She was the worst National Security Advisor, and may be the worst Secretary of State.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Senate Intel Redux

Walter Pincus and Karen DeYoung write in The Washington Post on Saturday: "Months before the invasion of Iraq, U.S. intelligence agencies predicted that it would be likely to spark violent sectarian divides and provide al-Qaeda with new opportunities in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to a report released yesterday by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. Analysts warned that war in Iraq also could provoke Iran to assert its regional influence and 'probably would result in a surge of political Islam and increased funding for terrorist groups' in the Muslim world."

James Gerstenzang writes in the Los Angeles Times: "In early 2003, even as their deputies were receiving the intelligence community papers, top administration officials -- among them Vice President Dick Cheney and then-Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld -- publicly speculated that U.S. troops would be greeted warmly as liberators and gave no hint that some analysts were raising red flags about difficulties to come."
Here's the full report.

Bush Lies About Polls

President Bush Proves Delusional or he is Lying about the polls. President Bush some how is making the claim that the public actually supports his policy on Iraq and opposes withdrawal. The facts tell a different story, all polls agree that public wants a withdrawal.

From White House Watch By Dan Froomkin

Bush's Opinion

I often wonder why more news stories don't start: "President Bush yesterday again denied reality. . . . "

And then along comes this delightful surprise from Jennifer Loven of the Associated Press:

"Confronted with strong opposition to his Iraq policies, President Bush decides to interpret public opinion his own way. Actually, he says, people agree with him.

"Democrats view the November elections that gave them control of Congress as a mandate to bring U.S. troops home from Iraq. They're backed by evidence; election exit poll surveys by The Associated Press and television networks found 55 percent saying the U.S. should withdraw some or all of its troops from Iraq.

"The president says Democrats have it all wrong: the public doesn't want the troops pulled out -- they want to give the military more support in its mission.

"'Last November, the American people said they were frustrated and wanted a change in our strategy in Iraq,' he said April 24, ahead of a veto showdown with congressional Democrats over their desire to legislation a troop withdrawal timeline. 'I listened. Today, General David Petraeus is carrying out a strategy that is dramatically different from our previous course.'

"Increasingly isolated on a war that is going badly, Bush has presented his alternative reality in other ways, too. He expresses understanding for the public's dismay over the unrelenting sectarian violence and American losses that have passed 3,400, but then asserts that the public's solution matches his.

"'A lot of Americans want to know, you know, when?' he said at a Rose Garden news conference Thursday. 'When are you going to win?'

"Also in that session, Bush said: 'I recognize there are a handful there, or some, who just say,

"Get out, you know, it's just not worth it. Let's just leave." I strongly disagree with that attitude. Most Americans do as well.'

"In fact, polls show Americans do not disagree, and that leaving -- not winning -- is their main goal. . . .

"Bush aides say poll questions are asked so many ways, and often so imprecisely, that it is impossible to conclude that most Americans really want to get out. Failure, Bush says, is not what the public wants -- they just don't fully understand that that is just what they will get if troops are pulled out before the Iraqi government is capable of keeping the country stable on its own. . . .

"Independent pollster Andrew Kohut said of the White House view: 'I don't see what they're talking about.'"


What a surprise, George W. Bush lying to the American people again, and about the war in Iraq War no less.

The truly disturbing thing is that he is blatantly lying. There is no way Bush can think this will not get fact-checked. So he is either lying about public opinion on the war, he has decided that lying to the public is, again, the best strategy for a president to take with his people, or he is delusional. If he truly believes what he is saying, that the American public is with him, we should be very afraid, because he is not just an idiot, but he's crazy.

The Associated Press has more:

From AP:

The president says Democrats have it all wrong: the public doesn't want the troops pulled out — they want to give the military more support in its mission....
Bush said: "I recognize there are a handful there, or some, who just say, `Get out, you know, it's just not worth it. Let's just leave.' I strongly disagree with that attitude. Most Americans do as well."

In fact, polls show Americans do not disagree, and that leaving — not winning — is their main goal....

Independent pollster Andrew Kohut said of the White House view: "I don't see what [the White House is] talking about."

"[People] want to know when American troops are going to leave," Kohut, director of the nonpartisan Pew Research Center, said of the public. "They certainly want to win. But their hopes have been dashed."Kohut has found it notable that there's such a consensus in poll findings.

"When the public hasn't made up its mind or hasn't thought about things, there's a lot of variation in the polls," he said. "But there's a fair amount of agreement now."

The president didn't used to try to co-opt polling for his benefit. He just said he ignored it.

Banning Photos of the wounded

From the NYT
“They are basically asking me to stand in front of a unit before I go out with them and say that in the event that they are wounded, I would like their consent,” he said. “We are already viewed by some as bloodsucking vultures, and making that kind of announcement would make you an immediate bad luck charm.”“They are not letting us cover the reality of war,” he added. “I think this has got little to do with the families or the soldiers and everything to do with politics.”....Until last year, no permission was required to publish photographs of the wounded, but families had to be notified of the soldier’s injury first. Now, not only is permission required, but any image of casualties that shows a recognizable name or unit is off-limits. And memorials for the fallen in Iraq can no longer be shown, even when the unit in question invites coverage.We quite literally have a government that no longer believes in the very freedoms it claims our troops are dying for.

Did the CIA Order Analysts to Cherry-Pick Intel for Iraq War?

Author's Peter Eiser and Knut Royce reveal in their new book "The Italian Letter" that Alan Foley, the head of the CIA’s Weapons Intelligence Non-Proliferation and Arms Control Center, cherry-picked evidence to make the case for war in Iraq:
One day in December 2002, Foley called his senior production managers to his office. He had a clear message for the men and women who controlled the output of the center’s analysts: “If the president wants to go to war, our job is to find the intelligence to allow him to do so.” The directive was not quite an order to cook the books, but it was a strong suggestion that cherry-picking and slanting not only would be tolerated, but might even be rewarded.

Blocking Progress on Climate Change

As the threat of global climate crisis grows, the global mechanisms for averting disaster are being gutted. A new report published by the National Academy of Sciences found that from 2000 to 2004, global industry emitted roughly 7.9 billion tons of carbon dioxide, millions more than the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change had projected "under its most extreme scenario." Meanwhile, the world's only international pact mandating cuts in carbon emissions, the Kyoto Protocol, is set to expire in 2012.

With this backdrop, Bush administration negotiators met this week in Germany in advance of next month's G8 summit of the world's richest nations. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has "been pushing hard to get the Group of 8 to take significant action on climate change," setting bold new standards to take the place of Kyoto. Virtually alone in resisting her is President Bush. "In unusually harsh language," Bush administration negotiators rejected Germany's proposal, complaining that it "crosses multiple red lines in terms of what we simply cannot agree to."

The Bush administration is blocking real action on climate change. Bush's drive to hobble the G8 climate change declaration was first uncovered two weeks ago, when reports showed that the United States was seeking to eliminate a section in the G8 draft that included "a pledge to limit the global temperature rise this century to 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, as well as an agreement to reduce worldwide greenhouse gas emissions to 50 percent below 1990 levels by 2050."

Bush administration officials also tried to eliminate draft language that said, "We acknowledge that the U.N. climate process is the appropriate forum for negotiating future global action on climate change." The administration is also blocking local progress on climate change, refusing to approve efforts by 12 states "to institute tougher standards for tailpipe emissions than U.S. regulations require." In an op-ed last week, Govs. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-CA) and Jodi Rell (R-CT) charged that Bush's resistance borders on malfeasance." Also, recently more than 20 major U.S. corporations joined the U.S. Climate Action Partnership, agreeing to a 60 percent to 80 percent reduction by 2050, far beyond what even the G8 is calling for.

Climate change will drastically affect some of those least able to afford adaptations to its effects. Noting the focus on anti-poverty measures at recent G8 summits, the international development group Oxfam has issued a new report highlighting the "deep injustice in the impacts of climate change": the poor nations least responsible for the greenhouse gas emissions that are causing global warming will bear the brunt of its devastating impacts.

For Africa that means dramatic reductions in agricultural productivity, hundreds of millions newly exposed to water shortages, a 5 percent to 10 percent loss in GDP in coastal countries, and an expanded range of malaria to exhaust already-deficient heath services. The World Bank estimates that 40 percent of development assistance and concessional financing -- approximately $40 billion annually -- is directed at activities that will be affected by climate change. Oxfam estimates that it will cost developing countries $50 billion a year to adapt to climate change.Coal is not the key to the reducing global warming emissions.

Meanwhile, even as congressional leaders draft legislation to reduce greenhouse gases, "a powerful roster of Democrats and Republicans is pushing to subsidize coal as the king of alternative fuels." Prodded by "intense lobbying from the coal industry," lawmakers from coal states are proposing that taxpayers spend billions of dollars to subsidize the coal industry's production of liquid diesel fuel. This is a dangerously backwards idea. Coal-to-liquid fuels "produce almost twice the volume of greenhouse gases as ordinary diesel," and the production process of such fuels "creates almost a ton of carbon dioxide for every barrel of liquid fuel." Congressional supporters of coal-to-liquids argue that "coal-based fuels are more American than gasoline." But the only responsible way to achieve American energy independence is to create policies that also reduce global warming. That can be done with low-carbon, alternative transportation fuels, including American-grown biofuels.