Thursday, March 31, 2005


Death watch – this time, it’s for Tom DeLay
Ronnie Earle, the bane of DeLay's existence, is still working his way through the DeLay inner circle. . . The District Attorney is on his third grand jury, this one focusing on Texas House Speaker Tom Craddick and the Texas Association of Business. There's no way to know when Earle will issue indictments, but this grand jury expires at the end of April, so that's the latest. . . Once this grand jury finishes its business, Earle is expected to convene the fourth grand jury on the matter targeting DeLay specifically. Rumors are already flying that those already indicted are singing in exchange for more lenient sentences. No one wants to rot in jail for DeLay's sake. . . The circle is closing in.

New anti-DeLay ad:

Bush being drawn into the web?

General Sanchez, former U.S. commander in Iraq, seems awfully close to a perjury charge

U.S now holding over 10,000 prisoners in Iraq, more than double the number of just a few months ago

When will there be a proper investigation into rendition practices?

Those damn “activist courts”
A federal judge yesterday barred the Bush administration from transferring a group of detainees from the U.S. military prison in Cuba to the custody of foreign governments without first giving the prisoners a chance to challenge the move in court. . . U.S. District Judge Henry H. Kennedy Jr. said he was preventing transfers without advance notice to bar the government from "unilaterally and silently taking actions" to move detainees outside the reach of U.S. courts.

Iraq’s new govt: a complete mess. It very hard to see how any kind of stable coalition comes out of this situation

Is the practice of banning people from taxpayer-funded events merely on the basis of their SUSPECTED political leanings, the last straw for Bush Co. arrogance and insularity? And isn’t posing as a Secret Service agent a crime?
The latest incident of audience screening at President Bush's public events is making quite a splash in the media today. Three people at a Bush event in Denver last week were told by a man dressed like a Secret Service agent that they were being ejected because someone spotted a "No Blood for Oil" bumper sticker on their car in the parking lot.

Press secretary Scott McClellan, in yesterday's press briefing, was asked about the incident.

But rather than express any condemnation -- or remorse -- McClellan chose to make an assertion that is not supported by the facts: "We welcome a diversity of views at the events," he said.

In reality, ticket distribution at Bush's Social Security events has been almost exclusively controlled by Republican officials, the audiences are sometimes stocked with supporters bused in by conservative groups, and I don't believe a single one of the carefully groomed panelists on stage has ever said anything remotely critical of the president or his deeply unpopular Social Security proposals.
Hmmm. . . a bit more on the Bamboozlepalooza event where the three non-Bush-loyalists were tossed by a guy who appeared to be a Secret Service agent.

According to this article in the Rocky Mountain News, the three in question were specifically told by event officials that they were being held until Secret Service agents came to escort them out of the building. . . So it seems it wasn't just a case of these guys seeing a guy in a black suit and an earpiece and figuring he was Secret Service.

The three also claim that the real Secret Service agent who later investigated the incident told them that there have been repeated incidents of Republican operative posing as Secret Service agents to toss folks who aren't Bush-True out of taxpayer-funded Bamboozlepalooza events.


Scotty lies about it

Bush still begging (disingenuously) for critics to come forward with alternatives to his moribund Social Security proposals,1,7924443.story
"If you've got a good idea, we expect you to be at the table," he said. . . "I expect you to bring it forward," he said, "but more importantly, the American people expect you to bring it forward…. We want to listen to good ideas."
TPM Reader BG makes a good point: "The president says 'If you've got an idea, I expect you to be at the table. We want to listen to good ideas.' How does this square with the forcible removal from the presidential gatherings of anyone exhibiting the merest hint of an appearance of possibly harboring independent thoughts?"

Snow job -- he can’t possibly be this dumb, can he? If not, there is only one other explanation. . .
Snow, in remarks to the Chamber of Commerce in Bozeman, said he believed personal accounts for young workers would be cost-free for the existing Social Security system and would not affect benefits to retirees or near-retirees. . . "Why wouldn't we do this? I have not heard one good reason not to and it's hard to figure out why anybody would oppose it," he said.

His assistant sect’y is shoveling the same manure too
The Treasury Department representative, Rob Nichols, claimed that there would be no transition costs involved in creating "personal accounts". When the crowd reacted loudly, he repeated the claim, saying "this is precisely factual, [no transition costs]." That just provoked laughter.
Do they really think the press corps and the people are dumb enough to believe that? And why do they think it's to their advantage to set out such transparent lies?

Have we reached the limits of spin on this issue? EVERYONE is pointing out now that the Bush numbers simply don’t add up

One thing seems pretty clear as Bush keeps pounding his head against the Social Security wall: they are either going to cut a very partial deal (optional private accounts, or something like that), declare victory, and hope to fight again after the midterm elections; or they think they have a strategy to blame the Democrats, AARP, gays, and activist courts for the failure. I cant see any other reason why they keep raising the stakes by investing even more time, money, and flagging presidential prestige on this losing hand. What is very clear is that Bush’s limited rhetorical skills and impoverished grasp of the issues are on continual display – and if anything, are getting even worse
Two key GOP lawmakers who joined President Bush on Wednesday as he pitched restructuring Social Security said that Bush has failed to sell the American people on his plan to change the 70-year-old federal retirement system.

"Today, the public has not found his personal account approach compelling," Rep. Jim Leach (R-Iowa) said in an interview late Tuesday, less than 24 hours before appearing with Bush at Kirkwood Community College here. . . [Charles] Grassley, chairman of the Senate panel responsible for Social Security, said in a separate interview Tuesday afternoon: "I don't think [Bush] has made much progress on solving the solvency issue or what to do about personal accounts. It concerns me because as time goes on, I was hoping the president would be able to make my job easier.”
Until Bush has the political courage to step up to the plate and send a serious proposal of his own to Congress, he shouldn't expect anyone else to do it either. In the meantime, he deserves nothing but scorn. His sustained display of political cowardice is setting a standard for generations to come.

CNN says that Bush may implement part of his Social Security plan by Executive Order. (I don’t believe it – the outcry would be immense. This story was planted for some other reason)

On Schiavo: the furious revolt among the “theocons” (love that word) that Bush’s sudden disappearance over the issue has engendered -- and a great photo

The court has ruled:
A federal appeals court in Atlanta refused Wednesday to reconsider the case of Terri Schiavo, with one of the judges rebuking President Bush and Congress for acting "in a manner demonstrably at odds with our founding fathers' blueprint for the governance of a free people."

The ridiculous failure of today’s intelligence report to mention the most glaring aspect of the pre-war WMD sham: the WH was actively discouraging (or ignoring) any intelligence that didn’t fit their plans

Interesting insights into how the “top secret” classification system actually works – and how much actually gets classified

Another Dead Man Walking: I don’t see how Bolton can possibly go through an April 7th confirmation hearing like this
[Steven Clemons] I have spoken to several current and former senior foreign policy officials yesterday and this morning regarding John Bolton. Their chorus is the same. . . They report that Colin Powell and Richard Armitage hated dealing with Bolton and that Powell did not want Bolton on his team. No one trusts him. He is lustful for power and position, disdainful of process, and frequently sees it as his right and obligation to "make his own weather" when it comes to foreign policy.

One of the more interesting tidbits I picked up in these conversations -- with several people -- is that John Bolton regularly and frequently defied command and control within the State Department. . . Several sources report that Secretary of State Powell and Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage were livid that Bolton had threatened (intentionally or unintentionally) the Russians with a deadline -- and more importantly, had taken the lead himself (without vested authority) to argue under what terms the United States would abrogate the ABM treaty.
This deep philosophical disjunction between the prevailing ethos of the United Nations and the fundamental American approach to governance is not something that will change in the foreseeable future. . . What, then, does the foregoing analysis mean for the United Nations, and for America's role within the organization? It means primarily that the rest of the world should have realistic expectations that the United Nations has a limited role to play in international affairs for the foreseeable future. . . According to Bolton, the UN can't become more relevant or effective through reform. And the "philosophical disjunction" is "not something that will change.",1,4953442.story
Democrats are likely to vote unanimously against John R. Bolton when his nomination to be U.S. ambassador to the United Nations comes before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee next week, according to Democratic and Republican lawmakers and aides. . . It would be the first time that committee Democrats unanimously opposed a Bush diplomatic selection, and it could put the nomination in peril if any Republicans defected to vote against Bolton.


Yet another analysis confirms: exit polls show something fishy with the 2004 vote count
In November 2004, results of the poll differed sharply from the official vote tally. In fact, the weighted national poll predicted a Kerry victory by 3% in the popular vote, while the official count had Bush the winner by 2.5% . This was the largest discrepancy in the poll’s history. . . Our conclusion is that the data appear to be more consistent with the hypothesis of bias in the official count, rather than bias in the exit poll sampling. No data in the report supports the. . . hypothesis that Kerry voters were more likely than Bush voters to cooperate with pollsters and, in fact, there is some indication that the opposite may have been the case.

The GOP’s breach of “Contract With America”

Bonus item: a great idea for a living will (thanks to Atrios for the link)
[Robert Friedman] Like many of you, I have been compelled by recent events to prepare a more detailed advance directive dealing with end-of-life issues. Here's what mine says:

* In the event I lapse into a persistent vegetative state, I want medical authorities to resort to extraordinary means to prolong my hellish semiexistence. Fifteen years wouldn't be long enough for me.

* I want my wife and my parents to compound their misery by engaging in a bitter and protracted feud that depletes their emotions and their bank accounts.

* I want my wife to ruin the rest of her life by maintaining an interminable vigil at my bedside. I'd be really jealous if she waited less than a decade to start dating again or otherwise rebuilding a semblance of a normal life.

* I want my case to be turned into a circus by losers and crackpots from around the country who hope to bring meaning to their empty lives by investing the same transient emotion in me that they once reserved for Laci Peterson, Chandra Levy and that little girl who got stuck in a well.

* I want those crackpots to spread vicious lies about my wife.

* I want to be placed in a hospice where protesters can gather to bring further grief and disruption to the lives of dozens of dying patients and families whose stories are sadder than my own.

* I want the people who attach themselves to my case because of their deep devotion to the sanctity of life to make death threats against any judges, elected officials or health care professionals who disagree with them.

* I want the medical geniuses and philosopher kings who populate the Florida Legislature to ignore me for more than a decade and then turn my case into a forum for weeks of politically calculated bloviation.

* I want total strangers - oily politicians, maudlin news anchors, ersatz friars and all other hangers-on - to start calling me "Bobby," as if they had known me since childhood.

* I'm not insisting on this as part of my directive, but it would be nice if Congress passed a "Bobby's Law" that applied only to me and ignored the medical needs of tens of millions of other Americans without adequate health coverage.

* Even if the "Bobby's Law" idea doesn't work out, I want Congress - especially all those self-described conservatives who claim to believe in "less government and more freedom" - to trample on the decisions of doctors, judges and other experts who actually know something about my case. And I want members of Congress to launch into an extended debate that gives them another excuse to avoid pesky issues such as national security and the economy.

* In particular, I want House Majority Leader Tom DeLay to use my case as an opportunity to divert the country's attention from the mounting political and legal troubles stemming from his slimy misbehavior.

* And I want Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist to make a mockery of his Harvard medical degree by misrepresenting the details of my case in ways that might give a boost to his 2008 presidential campaign.

* I want Frist and the rest of the world to judge my medical condition on the basis of a snippet of dated and demeaning videotape that should have remained private.

* Because I think I would retain my sense of humor even in a persistent vegetative state, I'd want President Bush - the same guy who publicly mocked Karla Faye Tucker when signing off on her death warrant as governor of Texas - to claim he was intervening in my case because it is always best "to err on the side of life."

* I want the state Department of Children and Families to step in at the last moment to take responsibility for my well-being, because nothing bad could ever happen to anyone under DCF's care.

* And because Gov. Jeb Bush is the smartest and most righteous human being on the face of the Earth, I want any and all of the aforementioned directives to be disregarded if the governor happens to disagree with them. If he says he knows what's best for me, I won't be in any position to argue.

***If you enjoy PBD and support what we are doing, you can help by forwarding a copy of this issue to your friends (using the envelope link below) or by sending them a copy of its URL (

I don't get anything personally out of this project, except the satisfaction of doing it (I don't run ads, etc). The credit really all goes to the people whose material I copy and redistribute. But if I do have a "mission," it is to get this information into the hands of as many people as I can.***

Wednesday, March 30, 2005


Reverend Moon (Washington Times owner) announces that democracy is an outmoded system: says we need a “new organization”

Here we see the deep commitment of the Bush administration to basic democratic rights (here in the U.S., not in all those places where they want to “spread democracy” abroad) – I guess this is their way of setting an example. . .
Very rarely does the everyday public get a glimpse of what happens behind the scenes in a normally-secret Bush Administration.

But Monday, March 28, the Secret Service called three everyday people into their offices to discuss why we were kicked out of a presidential event in Denver last week where Bush promoted his plan to privatize Social Security. What they revealed to us and our lawyer was fascinating.

There we were - three people who had personally picked up tickets from Republican Congressman Bob Beauprez's office and went to a presidential event. But as we entered, we were told that we had been "ID'ed" and were warned that any disruption would get us arrested.

After being seated in the audience we were forcibly removed before the President arrived, even though we had not been disruptive. We were shocked when told that this presidential event was a "private event" and were commanded to leave.

More astonishingly, when the Secret Service was contacted the next day they agreed to meet with us this Monday, March 28 to discuss the circumstances surrounding our removal. We had two big questions going into this meeting:

1. How is the Bush Administration "ID'ing" citizens before presidential events?

2. Why was an official taxpayer-funded event called a "private event" - leading to citizens being kicked out?

Most shocking of all, we got answers to both questions.

The Secret Service revealed that we were "ID'ed" when local Republican staffers saw a bumper sticker on the car we drove which said "No More Blood For Oil." Evidently, the free speech expressed on one bumper sticker is cause enough to eject three citizens from a presidential event. (Similarly, someone was ejected from Bush's Social Security privatization event in Arizona the same day simply for wearing a Democratic t-shirt.)

The Secret Service also revealed that ticket distribution and staffing of the Social Security event was run by the local Republican Party. They wanted us to be clear that it was a Republican staffer - not the Secret Service - who kicked us out of the presidential event. But this revealed something else that should be startling to all Americans. . .

I was emailed this account by the people involved, so it's straight from the horse's mouth. The AP did a story on this as well.

"They hadn't done anything wrong. They weren't dressed inappropriately, they didn't say anything inappropriate," Recht said. "They were kicked out of this venue and not allowed to hear what the president had to say based solely on this political bumper sticker.

"The very essence of the First Amendment is that you can't be punished for the speech you make, the statements you make," Recht said.

So to emphasize -- the White House uses taxpayer dollars to finance these propaganda events. THEN, in order to keep out anyone who might be critical, they "outsource" ticketing and security. That way they can label the events "private" and kick out anyone they want in violation of the First Amendment. . . Who in Congress will step up and call for an investigation?
These people got ejected from a Bush “town hall meeting” on Social Security because of a bumper sticker on their car: Secret Service investigating removal of three from Bush visit. What’s interesting here is that it’s possible the Secret Service didn’t do it but someone else, possibly pretending to be a Secret Service agent did the evictions. . .

• If the Secret Service had anything to do with this, it violated the law and the Constitution
• If the evictions were by private citizens misrepresenting themselves as government officials, they committed a crime
• If the evictions were by private citizens being intimidating, it could be a crime or civil offense (e.g. assault, threats, depends on state law)
• It’s conceivable that there might be a way for private citizens to artfully mislead people and give the impression they are secret service agents without actually making actionable mis-statements (“Sir? Could you please come this way? I need to talk with you. I’m sorry, but you will have to leave. Security. I’m sure you will understand.”) I just don’t know enough about the relevant law to be sure.
It seems the planners of these taxpayer-funded events hire rent-a-cops, dress them up to look like Secret Service agents and then have them boot people who don't seem Bush-true.

Example taken. In Iraq a free and independent democratic govt is looking more and more distant every day. How much longer before some strongman like Allawi steps in and says that “for the sake of national unity” he’s taking over (notice that so far Allawi hasn’t given up anything yet)
During the session, an assembly member exhorted others to take action, saying a vote must be held as swiftly as possible while the body is in the world's spotlight.

At that point, the acting speaker kicked reporters out of the session and cut off the video feed from the convention center in Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone, where the assembly is meeting.

A Western diplomat watching the proceeding called the decision to cut the feed "an embarrassment."


Upcoming intelligence report may have a few snipes against Bush Co. lies and exaggerations after all!
The super-secret commission grudgingly appointed more than a year ago by President Bush to investigate flawed intelligence on weapons of mass destruction is expected to deliver its report to the White House on Thursday. . . But the complete secrecy of the commission's deliberations -- it operated entirely behind closed doors -- raises questions about how avidly its conclusions will be embraced by the public. . . Its members are unfamiliar to most Americans. (My WMD Commission page is one of the few places on the Internet you can find out anything about them.) Its process is a mystery. And we still have no idea how forthrightly its leaders -- an intensely conservative Republican and a centrist Democrat -- chose to deal with one of the thorniest but most critical pieces of the puzzle: The White House's role.

(The report apparently has to remind the govt that dissent and the freedom to express a range of views within the intelligence services is a GOOD thing)

A reminder of the long list of WH lies about WMD: click on the Waxman report

Some grilling from Helen Thomas on the phony intelligence issue, and a few other good questions that get Scotty squirming

38 innocent “enemy combatants” at Guantanamo to be released, after almost three years of mistaken captivity, with nothing more than a “sorry, never mind”

John Danforth! I’ll never forgive him for shilling for Clarence Thomas, but he is at heart a decent man (and an Episcopal minister). Listen to this
BY a series of recent initiatives, Republicans have transformed our party into the political arm of conservative Christians. The elements of this transformation have included advocacy of a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, opposition to stem cell research involving both frozen embryos and human cells in petri dishes, and the extraordinary effort to keep Terri Schiavo hooked up to a feeding tube. . . Standing alone, each of these initiatives has its advocates, within the Republican Party and beyond. But the distinct elements do not stand alone. Rather they are parts of a larger package, an agenda of positions common to conservative Christians and the dominant wing of the Republican Party. . .

The problem is not with people or churches that are politically active. It is with a party that has gone so far in adopting a sectarian agenda that it has become the political extension of a religious movement. . . When government becomes the means of carrying out a religious program, it raises obvious questions under the First Amendment. But even in the absence of constitutional issues, a political party should resist identification with a religious movement. While religions are free to advocate for their own sectarian causes, the work of government and those who engage in it is to hold together as one people a very diverse country. At its best, religion can be a uniting influence, but in practice, nothing is more divisive. For politicians to advance the cause of one religious group is often to oppose the cause of another. . .

The changing nature of “conservatism”

Swing voters not moved by Bush Social Security proposals, or by his ads blaming Dems for not offering an alternative proposal

Meanwhile, corporate backers of the Bush proposal are starting to run attack ads against REPUBLICANS (like Lindsey Graham, R-SC) who are off the reservation. Let the cannibal season begin!
“Reforming Social Security with personal retirement accounts is the biggest domestic policy opportunity in America today,” said Pat Toomey, President of the Club for Growth. “Lindsey Graham’s proposal of a huge tax increase as part of a reform package would squander this opportunity and do more harm than good.”

In addition to the Club for Growth, other tax reform advocates have expressed dismay over Sen. Graham’s proposal. “Raising the cap on earnings subject to payroll taxes is not only economically destructive, but it’s unfair and wrong.”

Schiavo parents sell list of their supporters to a direct-mail company, who will then use it to send all those people miscellaneous right-wing fund-raising appeals and spam. Naturally, someone concerned about saving Terri’s life will also be fertile ground for anti-gay paranoia and conspiracy-mongering, right?
[NYT] The parents of Terri Schiavo have authorized a conservative direct-mailing firm to sell a list of their financial supporters, making it likely that thousands of strangers moved by her plight will receive a steady stream of solicitations from anti-abortion and conservative groups. . . “These compassionate pro-lifers donated toward Bob Schindler’s legal battle to keep Terri’s estranged husband from removing the feeding tube from Terri,” says a description of the list on the Web site of the firm, Response Unlimited, which is asking $150 a month for 6,000 names and $500 a month for 4,000 e-mail addresses of people who responded last month to an e-mail plea from Ms. Schiavo’s father. “These individuals are passionate about the way they value human life, adamantly oppose euthanasia and are pro-life in every sense of the word!”

And if you wonder who buys these lists, and what they send to them, here’s one example.

Eugene Delgaudio
Public Advocate of the U.S.
5613 Leesburg Pike, Suite 17
Falls Church, VA 22041
(703) 845-1808

April 11, 2005

Dear fellow conservative,

Tonight, after a long day of fighting the Radical Homosexuals, I just feel exhausted.

Beaten down, wrung out, and worn to the bone.

This has been a most difficult year.

The radical Homosexual Lobby is more intimidating than ever.

Now, they dare me to stand in their way . . . they laugh, and brag that they have the votes to kill the Federal Marriage Amendment and will legalize homosexual “marriage” state by state.

And they boast about ramming the Gay Bill of Special Rights and Thought Control Bill through Congress even with Republicans in charge . . . [More]

More reasons to worry about the health of democracy
[Paul Krugman] The Schiavo case is, indeed, a chance to highlight what's going on in America. . . One thing that's going on is a climate of fear for those who try to enforce laws that religious extremists oppose. Randall Terry, a spokesman for Terri Schiavo's parents, hasn't killed anyone, but one of his former close associates in the anti-abortion movement is serving time for murdering a doctor. George Greer, the judge in the Schiavo case, needs armed bodyguards. . . Another thing that's going on is the rise of politicians willing to violate the spirit of the law, if not yet the letter, to cater to the religious right. . . And the future seems all too likely to bring more intimidation in the name of God and more political intervention that undermines the rule of law.

Hey, what’s wrong with a few lies when you’re trying to save a life? The duplicity of Schiavo’s advocates (thanks to Mark Kleiman for the link)

Does the Schiavo case give impetus to the GOP’s “nuclear option” on judicial nominees?


Jargon watch:
• First take: "Nuclear option." Didn't poll well.
• Second take: "Constitutional option." Nobody saluted when they ran it up the flagpole.
• Third take: "Byrd option." Huh?
• Fourth take: None yet. Still waiting for laughter to stop from third take.

Further jargon watch: morphing from the war against terror to the war against “extremism” – a term flexible enough to pick up lots of new enemies

Speaking of nuclear options, guess who is the biggest violator of the Nonproliferation Treaty?
Nuclear watchdogs in this country, however, warn that the Bush administration is fueling a new arms race. They contend the government is violating the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the 1970 international agreement that states that countries with nuclear weapons must work toward disarmament. The Bush administration, they charge, is pouring money into new nuclear weapons programs and performing nuclear tests, spurring other nations to do the same.

More on the upcoming Bolton battle, and what’s at stake
“CBS News Foreign Affairs analyst Pamela Falk said Bolton is "receiving so much bipartisan criticism that there is a widespread question about whether or not the administration was expecting the nomination to pass the Senate.”

Bonus item: who counts as a blogger? (read it all - hilarious)
A lot of people on the left side of the blogosphere seem to be outraged by the fact that sex entrepreneur Jeff "Bulldog" Gannon has been invited to join a panel session on journalism and blogging at the National Press Club in Washington. . . My point, to the extent I have one, is that Gannon/Guckert is going to fit in very well on that NPC panel -- as long, that is, as he's there to represent the professional journalists, not the bloggers. When it comes to blogging, Jim/Jeff doesn't have much to offer other than his cloddish prose and half-congealed "thoughts," which consist almost entirely of recycled Fox News talking points -- recycled in the same sense that cow sh-t is recycled grass. . .

***If you enjoy PBD and support what we are doing, you can help by forwarding a copy of this issue to your friends (using the envelope link below) or by sending them a copy of its URL (

I don't get anything personally out of this project, except the satisfaction of doing it (I don't run ads, etc). The credit really all goes to the people whose material I copy and redistribute. But if I do have a "mission," it is to get this information into the hands of as many people as I can.***

Tuesday, March 29, 2005


Upcoming report will, once again, bash the CIA as the source of unreliable WMD intelligence, without looking at (a) the WH pressure they were under to provide only slanted, pro-war evidence and (b) the manipulative and misleading way that intelligence was portrayed by the WH

The miserable failure of the Senate WMD inquiry
But the committee's report did not cover a crucial area: how the Bush Administration used -- or abused -- the prewar intelligence to build support for the Iraq invasion. Roberts claimed his committee was hot on that trail: "It is one of my top priorities," he said. The problem, he explained, was that there was not enough time before the November election to complete the assignment. Rockefeller took issue with that and complained that the "central issue of how intelligence was...exaggerated by Bush Administration officials" was being relegated into a "Phase II" investigation that would not begin until after the election. A Democratic committee staffer said that such an inquiry could easily be completed within months. . . Now -- with Bush re-elected -- Roberts no longer considers Phase II a priority. In mid-March, Roberts declared further investigation pointless. He noted that if his committee asked Bush officials whether they had overstated or mischaracterized prewar intelligence, they'd simply claim their statements had been based on "bum intelligence." Roberts remarked, "To go though that exercise, it seems to me, in a postelection environment -- we didn't see how we could do that and achieve any possible progress. I think everybody pretty well gets it.". . .

Following up yesterday’s post, more pre-war lies by Paul Wolfowitz
Mr. Wolfowitz...opened a two-front war of words on Capitol Hill, calling the recent estimate by Gen. Eric K. Shinseki of the Army that several hundred thousand troops would be needed in postwar Iraq, "wildly off the mark." Pentagon officials have put the figure closer to 100,000 troops. . .

He said there was no history of ethnic strife in Iraq, as there was in Bosnia or Kosovo....He said Iraqi civilians would welcome an American-led liberation force....And he said that nations that oppose war with Iraq would likely sign up to help rebuild it....Mr. Wolfowitz spent much of the hearing knocking down published estimates of the costs of war and rebuilding, saying the upper range of $95 billion was too high. . .

Moreover, he said such estimates, and speculation that postwar reconstruction costs could climb even higher, ignored the fact that Iraq is a wealthy country, with annual oil exports worth $15 billion to $20 billion. "To assume we're going to pay for it all is just wrong," he said. . .

Rumsfeld too:

Still no govt in Iraq

Our hand:
[U.S. News and World Report] U.S. officials in Baghdad said they are prepared to play diplomatic hardball – including the threat to withhold billions in promised reconstruction aid – to ensure that Iraq's political newbies stick to the game plan for a democratic, pluralistic, federalist, and unified state. "The Iraqis are free to choose whatever vision of Iraq they want. That's entirely up to them," says a diplomat in Baghdad. "It's entirely up to us, the United States, who we choose to support. We can use these funds elsewhere." [Read on!]

Given the miserable poll numbers on their Schiavo posturing, the GOP is in full spin mode in trying to redefine their stance and what the issue was all about. Track one is to tap into disability activism and to pretend that Terri S. is a disabled individual (false). Track two is to say that it’s all an issue of “judicial activism” (whereas the truly activist position would have been for courts to redefine the law to suit a particular case, as they wanted). Track three is to deny that the nearly universal condemnation of their attempt to interfere with a private family decision has anything to do with them
There are some basic rules in politics. When the public is with you, claim a mandate by the will of the people. When the public is against you, claim a strong personal compass that isn't swayed by polls. And when you think your control and approval are slipping, talk about the conspiracy working against you. . .

Department of Ouch

The Democratic response

Wall Street Journal editorial page, flagship of right-wing opinion, seems ready to cut Mr. DeLay loose (I read this as saying nothing special about their commitment to ethics, and a great deal about their concerns that DeLay could become the poster boy of GOP arrogance and corruption for the 2006 campaign, hurting the wider conservative movement)
[WSJ] By now you have surely read about House Majority Leader Tom DeLay's ethics troubles. Probably, too, you aren't entirely clear as to what those troubles are--something to do with questionable junkets, Indian casino money, funny business on the House Ethics Committee, stuff down in Texas. In Beltway-speak, what this means is that Mr. DeLay has an "odor": nothing too incriminating, nothing actually criminal, just an unsavory whiff that could have GOP loyalists reaching for the political Glade if it gets any worse. . . The Beltway wisdom is right. Mr. DeLay does have odor issues. . .

Taken separately, and on present evidence, none of the latest charges directly touch Mr. DeLay; at worst, they paint a picture of a man who makes enemies by playing political hardball and loses admirers by resorting to politics-as-usual. . . The problem, rather, is that Mr. DeLay, who rode to power in 1994 on a wave of revulsion at the everyday ways of big government, has become the living exemplar of some of its worst habits. Mr. DeLay's ties to Mr. Abramoff might be innocent, in a strictly legal sense, but it strains credulity to believe that Mr. DeLay found nothing strange with being included in Mr. Abramoff's lavish junkets.

Nor does it seem very plausible that Mr. DeLay never considered the possibility that the mega-lucrative careers his former staffers Michael Scanlon and Mr. Buckham achieved after leaving his office had something to do with their perceived proximity to him. These people became rich as influence-peddlers in a government in which legislators like Mr. DeLay could make or break fortunes by tinkering with obscure rules and dispensing scads of money to this or that constituency. Rather than buck this system as he promised to do while in the minority, Mr. DeLay has become its undisputed and unapologetic master as Majority Leader.

Whether Mr. DeLay violated the small print of House Ethics or campaign-finance rules is thus largely beside the point. His real fault lies in betraying the broader set of principles that brought him into office, and which, if he continues as before, sooner or later will sweep him out.

Desperate GOP now lying about what loyalists say at their town-hall Social Security meetings
The pull-quote: Clif Smith, A Retiree From Joplin: “I Believe [Social Security] Needs Improved [Sic].”

The full quote:

“I believe it needs improved,” said Clif Smith, a retiree from Joplin, at the AARP gathering. “But nothing of the nature of what is being talked about in Washington.”. . . Smith said he opposes private accounts because he thinks they would drain money from the trust fund, but he said the fund itself should own stock.

The pull-quote: “[Kimberly] Holloway Sees Advantages In Personal Accounts In That It Would Encourage More Savings And Financial Responsibility …”

The full quote:

Holloway sees advantages in personal accounts in that it would encourage more savings and financial responsibility, she said. . . But she’s wary that this proposal feeds into the Bush administration’s trend to encourage self-centered thinking away from considering the welfare of the general society, she said. . . “We all should care because you don’t know what (misfortune) will happen,” Holloway said. “Don’t fiddle with the social safety net.”

The pull-quote: Scott Savelkol, Recent Graduate From Dickinson State University: “Doing Nothing Is Not An Option.”

The full quote:

Scott Savelkol, who recently graduated from Dickinson State University, said he also opposes to private accounts [sic]. He would prefer lawmakers lift a $90,000 cap on wages taxed for Social Security. . . “Doing nothing is not an option,” Savelkol said.

Public opinion on private accounts continues to drop

Conservative, pro-market analysts explain why private accounts are a losing proposition

Paging Dr. Frist…paging Dr. Frist

A big smooch for Karl – my only question is, why now?

Andy Card’s brother: business as usual in the lobbying world

Another Bush Co. attempt to radically restructure the nature of govt, which is not getting enough attention: the effort to destroy civil service unions

Another new law which seems obscure but would have a huge impact on ordinary Americans (like the bankruptcy bill): loosening protections against predatory lending practices

New developments on the “nuclear option”

Opposition to Bolton for the U.N. starts to grow

Judith Miller, once a more-or-less seriously regarded journalist

More blog-bashing, and blog-defending

Bonus item: why liberals lose debates over “media bias”. Here the subject is media representations of the protestors at the Schiavo death watch (who combine both heartfelt and conscientious religious advocates and creepy wackos). Michelle Cottle, a sensible young woman, gets backed into admitting that just SHOWING these people (some of whom are self-parodying extremists) somehow represents media bias. In other words, because showing them makes them look goofy, it’s the media’s fault for showing them
Lord knows how biased the media would have been had they not put them on TV. Heads I win tails you lose.

Double bonus: “Christian soldier” (don’t miss it)


Triple bonus: on the creationism/evolution debate – a new low
"We've been attacked by the intelligent, educated segment of the culture." -- Pastor Ray Mummert

[NB: Now, of course, this is ridiculous. But think about it this way – he knows what he saying, so who is the audience to whom he thinks this is an absolutely clinching argument?]

***If you enjoy PBD and support what we are doing, you can help by forwarding a copy of this issue to your friends (using the envelope link below) or by sending them a copy of its URL (

I don't get anything personally out of this project, except the satisfaction of doing it (I don't run ads, etc). The credit really all goes to the people whose material I copy and redistribute. But if I do have a "mission," it is to get this information into the hands of as many people as I can.***

Monday, March 28, 2005


Bush squirming over selective morality in the Schiavo case – look, either it’s a moral imperative for the “culture of life” or it’s not. If one actually believed strongly against euthanasia in every case, or abortion in every case (or against the death penalty in every case), at least you would have to admire a consistent commitment to principle. But this selective outrage sounds a bit like something else, eh George?
The juxtaposition of racing through the night in Air Force One to sign legislation intended to force doctors to reinsert Schiavo's feeding tube and choosing not to use his bully pulpit to advocate for her life afterward demonstrates how uncomfortable the matter has become for the White House. For years, Bush has succeeded politically in stitching together the disparate elements of the conservative movement, marrying the libertarian and family-values wings of his party. Now he faces a major Republican rupture. . . Polls show the vast majority of Americans, including conservatives and evangelical Christians, disapprove of the decision by Bush and Congress to get involved in the Schiavo matter. And more worrying for the White House, those polls have also shown a significant drop in Bush's overall approval ratings.

Jeb too:
Florida Gov. Jeb Bush said on Sunday there is nothing else he can do to save Terri Schiavo's life. . . "I cannot violate a court order," Bush said after attending Easter Sunday church services. "I don't have powers from the United States Constitution or -- for that matter from the Florida Constitution -- that would allow me to intervene after a decision has been made.". . . To Terri Schiavo's parents -- who have said Bush should do more to help their daughter -- the governor said: "I can't. I'd love to, but I can't.". . . "I'm sad that she's in the situation that she's in," Bush said. . .

On selective mortality,1,2065273.story

On the deal with the devil the GOP has made, and the price they will pay for it


But it gets worse: now Bush’s people are saying he never really wanted to sign the Schiavo bill in the first place! So, which is worse – to have made a big show of flying across country to sign this life-or-death bill, and then to run away from it (and the GOP leadership) when the poll numbers turn south, or to have signed it without actually believing in it in the first place? Either way, Mr. Decisive looks like a weasling puss
As Dubya starts to see his numbers slide, This Week reported that the Bush administration are starting to distance themselves from Republicans on Capitol Hill, leaking that Bush didn't even want to return to Washington to sign the Schiavo bill last Sunday. In the spin wars, it's now clear that while the Democrats might have ran for cover last week, their storyline of the Republicans politicizing a family dispute in Florida has had traction in the polls.
If it's true, it's about as galactically craven and poll driven a rowback as I've ever heard. Did one of Bush's minions really say something this cowardly and gutless?

How bad was the Schiavo bill as a legislative precedent?

Tom DeLay compares himself to Jesus – okay, the joke writes itself (thanks to Atrios for the link)

Molly Ivins on why DeLay is an embarrassment even by the standards of Texas politics – which, if you follow Texas politics at all, is a stunningly low standard,1048015

“All roads lead to Karl”

In Michigan, a GOP-sponsored bill would allow physicians to withhold treatment from any patient on “moral, ethical, or religious grounds.” Could this defend them if they refused treatment to gay patients? Apparently so

Some pharmacists across the country are refusing to fill prescriptions for birth control and morning-after pills, saying that dispensing the medications violates their personal moral or religious beliefs.

Chuck Grassley (R-IA), chair of the Senate committee that would have to draft Social Security legislation says, it ain’t gonna happen

Paul Wolfowitz explains yet again how well things are going in Iraq
Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, 3/27/05:
[T]he real problem is that the conflict hasn’t ended…I think people shouldn’t have been surprised that a regime that had burrowed into Iraqi society over 35 years and killed and tortured and intimidated people so effectively didn’t quit just because they were driven out of Baghdad on April 9, 2003.

Vice President Cheney, 3/16/03:
I think things have gotten so bad inside Iraq, from the standpoint of the Iraqi people, my belief is we will, in fact, be greeted as liberators…I think it will go relatively quickly…(in) weeks rather than months.

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, 2/7/03:
It is unknowable how long that conflict will last. It could last six days, six weeks. I doubt six months.

Here’s the latest update on how victory and reconstruction are progressing

Defense Dept drafts a revised tribunal plan that might actually start giving Guantanamo prisoners some access to judicial review, but the proposal is being held up. Why? Because Dick Cheney doesn’t like it

Intelligence agencies STILL not sharing information – and the fault lies squarely with their boss, who refuses to lay down the law to them

Meanwhile, Congress is shocked – shocked! – to learn that Rumsfeld’s lean and mean hi-tech rapid-response New Army is actually turning out to be MORE expensive
The Army's plan to transform itself into a futuristic high-technology force has become so expensive that some of the military's strongest supporters in Congress are questioning the program's costs and complexity.

CIA program to track Iran and Hezbollah-supported groups operating out of South America gets closed down to reallocate resources in Afghanistan and Iraq. Last time I looked, this was a long bus ride and a few bribes away from our southern border. . .
U.S. intelligence officials said the region's lax border security and active trade routes are attractions to an Islamic republic eager to use illicit means to acquire technology and materials that the country cannot otherwise get because of restrictions on trade with the United States and other nations. . . Iran and Hezbollah are believed to have used South America as an operational and recruiting base for at least two decades.

Republicans during the Gerald Ford era WANTED to transfer nuclear technology and materials to Iran (of course, our monster the Shah was in power at that point in time). Good thing they didn’t succeed, eh? And yes, it was some of the same people who are today all for attacking Iran over the fact that they now HAVE nuclear technology and materials

A harbinger of things to come: in Ohio, religious right groups announce an all-out campaign to take over the Republican party in that state and eventually to dominate its state offices. And guess who they want to start with as governor?

More from journalists who love to diss blogs (gee, it sounds a mite DEFENSIVE to me). I never thought that blogs were a threat to serious journalism. Any reason why journalists need to be defensive?

Any reason at all?
Mike Vasilinda, a 30-year veteran of the Tallahassee press corps, does public relations work and provides film editing services to more than a dozen state agencies. . . His Tallahassee company, Mike Vasilinda Productions Inc., has earned more than $100,000 over the past four years through contracts with Gov. Jeb Bush's office, the Secretary of State, the Department of Education and other government entities that are routinely part of Vasilinda's stories. . .
The real-time pace of Internet gossip has made it difficult for newspaper gossip columnists to stay ahead of the curve. [Gossip columnist Richard] Leiby said that many people in the Post newsroom monitored, a Washington blog, all day long. "She often has the lead on me because she's in real time," he said.

[NB: This is a very revealing story. Wonkette is smart and potty-mouth funny. But of all the sites for reporters to be tracking “all day long,” this suggests a lot about the insularity and in-group thinking of the DC press corps]

Republican governors, once big supporters of tax cuts and no-tax pledges, now realize that the bills still have to be paid and that the Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR) and similar programs are ruining state budgets

In case you were wondering, this story confirms it: Fortune 500 companies are making out like bandits under Bush and the GOP

Bonus item: “Parental Guidance Suggested”
The Army expects to miss its recruiting goals this month and next and is working on a revised sales pitch appealing to the patriotism of parents, Army Secretary Francis J. Harvey said Wednesday. . . "I've challenged our human resource people to get as innovative as they can. And even as we speak we've got a number of new ideas.". . . One of those new approaches is designed to persuade more parents to steer their children to the Army.

Double bonus: coming to the small screen – more tv shows with religious themes
In an effort to cash in on the great appetite the American public seems to have for religious entertainment, several television networks are currently developing comedy and drama series that have spirituality as a central theme, reports the WSJ. Of course, networks can't help but add their own twist to this religious programming. NBC, for example, is developing a drama called "Book of Daniel" where Aidan Quinn will play the role of a drug-addicted priest who talks about his problems with a "hip, modern-day Jesus." The priest will have to deal with his daughter getting arrested for marijuana and having a gay son. For its part, Fox is developing a series titled "Briar + Graves" about an excommunicated priest who fights evil in the name of God but also likes hard liquor and guns.

***If you enjoy PBD and support what we are doing, you can help by forwarding a copy of this issue to your friends (using the envelope link below) or by sending them a copy of its URL (

I don't get anything personally out of this project, except the satisfaction of doing it (I don't run ads, etc). The credit really all goes to the people whose material I copy and redistribute. But if I do have a "mission," it is to get this information into the hands of as many people as I can.***

Sunday, March 27, 2005


The story of the day: Tom DeLay pulled the plug on his own dad when he faced a similar life support decision. I think this won’t play well in the national news, do you?,0,5710023.story
A family tragedy that unfolded in a Texas hospital during the fall of 1988 was a private ordeal — without judges, emergency sessions of Congress or the debate raging outside Terri Schiavo's Florida hospice. . . More than 16 years ago, far from the political passions that have defined the Schiavo controversy, the DeLay family endured its own wrenching end-of-life crisis. The man in a coma, kept alive by intravenous lines and oxygen equipment, was DeLay's father, Charles Ray DeLay. . .

DeLay has denounced Schiavo's husband, as well as judges, for committing what he calls "an act of barbarism" in removing the tube.

In 1988, however, there was no such fiery rhetoric as the congressman quietly joined the sad family consensus to let his father die.

"There was no point to even really talking about it," Maxine DeLay, the congressman's 81-year-old widowed mother, recalled in an interview last week. "There was no way [Charles] wanted to live like that. Tom knew — we all knew — his father wouldn't have wanted to live that way.". . .

"The situation faced by the congressman's family was entirely different than Terri Schiavo's," said a spokesman for the majority leader, who declined requests for an interview.

[NB: Yes, the difference was, they didn’t have an a--hole like Tom DeLay trying to score political points off their painful and private family decision]

DeLay, after being front and center on this debate a week ago, suddenly makes himself scarce
Mr. DeLay, the House majority leader, is not alone. Republican responses, including those of President Bush and Bill Frist, the Senate majority leader, have become muted in the face of the legal setbacks and of polls that show overwhelming disapproval of Congressional intervention, as well as a perception among the public that lawmakers trying it were motivated by politics. . . Republican Congressional officials say the lower profile is. . . a gesture of respect to a dying woman and her family, rather than an accommodation to politics.

Still, for Mr. DeLay in particular, the decision to step forward in the first place - after weeks in which he had methodically avoided television cameras as he fended off questions about his ethics - may prove to be crucial in what could turn out to be his most difficult year in Congress. While the Schiavo case may have energized his conservative supporters, Democrats and some independent analysts say, it may also have thrust him into the national consciousness at the very moment his opponents are trying to make him a symbol of Republican excess and force another ethics investigation.

For Terri Schiavo and her family, looks like it’s all over except for the grim death watch. But already the struggle is on to spin why it happened this way and what it all means. David Brooks jumps in early, offering his very helpful mischaracterizations of the “liberal” position and blaming it all on an unfortunate clash of world views — and not on extremist groups bent from the very start on polarizing the issues and hiding behind “moral” posturing to label everyone who disagreed with them a “murderer” or worse. This is the phony kind of even-handed “equivalence” of which he is becoming the master
[David Brooks] If you surveyed the avalanche of TV and print commentary that descended upon us this week, you found social conservatives would start the discussion with a moral argument about the sanctity of life, and then social liberals would immediately start talking about jurisdictions, legalisms, politics and procedures. They were more comfortable talking about at what level the decision should be taken than what the decision should be. . . What I'm describing here is the clash of two serious but flawed arguments. The socially conservative argument has tremendous moral force, but doesn't accord with the reality we see when we walk through a hospice. The socially liberal argument is pragmatic, but lacks moral force. No wonder many of us feel agonized this week, betwixt and between, as that poor woman slowly dehydrates.
[Sophie Brown] For those of you still willing to think about the Schiavo matter, I wanted to offer my response to the radical right wing pundits' claim that they occupy the moral high ground on this issue, and that the response from the rest of us has been murderous (Noonan) or coldly pragmatic (Brooks).

My answer is that the radical right hasn't taken a moral position at all.

The radical right has not argued for reinsertion based on a moral position. Instead they are disputing the facts and claiming that Schiavo is not in a persistent vegetative state.

Brooks' latest column is intellectually dishonest. . .

This is a better analysis (thanks to Lindsay Beyerstein for the link)
[Steve Sanders] And so, no matter how deserving of our empathy he and his family might be, when Mr. Schindler goes before millions of people and incites contempt toward that system by calling a judge a murderer, he has crossed a dangerous line. . . He has enlisted himself -- and allowed his daugher to be exploited -- in a larger enterprise of the American political right: to undermine trust in, and attack the legitimacy of, the judiciary, which they regard as a hindrance to shaping law according to their social and religious vision.

Consider that the Schindler family decided four years ago to seek the help of leading figures on the religious right -- most notably, the controversial anti-abortion extremist Randall Terry. And consider that two of the family's most powerful supporters, Republican leader Tom DeLay and former Family Research Council president Ken Connor, both are on record with the belief that laws, even the Constitution itself, should be overriden when higher moral and religious imperatives (identified, presumably, by people like them) are at stake. DeLay, who earlier this week said Mrs. Schiavo had been sent by God to help energize the conservative religious movement, wrote yesterday in USA Today:

Behind the law — and I would argue, above it — is the universal law of right and wrong.... If our laws don't prevent a helpless, disabled woman, capable of rehabilitation, from being starved and parched to death by an estranged husband with a clear, personal conflict of interest, then our laws are meaningless.

One begins to understand that for Mrs. Schaivo's parents, as for DeLay and Connor, law has indeed become meaningless. The only thing that matters is that their personal and religious positions prevail. And in that fight all is fair, including raw political muscle in the form of direct interventions by Congress and Jeb Bush; media spin that misleads the public about the actual legal questions involved; and irresponsible attacks that cast doubt on the integrity of judges and on the very idea of law as a system of neutral rules and objective inquiries.

Aside from here or in other blogs, have you seen ANY discussion of Jeb Bush’s foolish and abortive plan to send in state police to “rescue” Schiavo?

Yesterday Jeb was the hero, but today. . .
[NYT]Governor Bush, who has become a particular target of the protesters' scorn in recent days, has said that he has done all he can under the law. Advisers to the family were openly hostile to him on Saturday. . . "Governor Bush has stopped taking our calls," said Randall Terry, a longtime anti-abortion activist and an adviser to the Schindlers. "But we have not given up hope for a miracle."

[AP] Bob Schindler also pleaded with Gov. Jeb Bush to intervene by taking temporary custody of their daughter while court challenges are argued. . . ``With the stroke of his pen, he could stop this,'' Bob Schindler said. ``He's put Terri through a week of hell and my family though a week of hell. I implore him to put a stop to this. He has to stop it. This is judicial homicide.''

[NB: Maybe now he realizes the kind of people he’s been dealing with]
U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay may be the scariest Republican playing a leading role in the Terri Schiavo drama, but Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is no less of a true believer. . . Some of the things Bush has done to intervene in the Schiavo case make him scary, too. He shares DeLay's contempt for an independent judiciary, constantly looking for ways to restrict the power of Florida courts, and in the "culture of life" he espouses, his concern seems to be primarily for the unborn and those kept alive by artificial means. He has little compassion for those in between. . .

A bad week for both the Bush boys
The Schiavo wingnuttery is nearly proving the equal of Abu Ghraib in pushing [George] Bush's poll numbers south. Here are the numbers from the five polls that were in the field sometime during the past seven days, compared with the numbers from the last installment of each poll. . .

What comes after Schiavo?
I got a chance to talk about the Schiavo case the other night with various liberal types who were more important than me. People wondered how liberals could effectively use the right's apparent overreach on the Schiavo question to make some larger points about the gang running the show right now, without simply ourselves sinking to their level of crassness and provoking an equal and opposite backlash. My suggestion was that the public's awareness of this case, and the multiple levels of tragedy taking place here, might be a good opportunity to bring home to people the human dimension of some Republican budgetary decisions. The fact that right before this congress decided to step in and "save" Terri it was busy cutting funding for the state Medicaid programs that provide hospice and nursing home care for the elderly and disabled around the country is surely something the American people ought to hear about -- especially when the budget returns from conference committee. Along the same lines, Shakespeare's Sister notes cuts for treating people with traumatic brain injury and the elimination of the Federal Traumatic Brain Injury Program. This isn't directly relevant to the Schiavo case (it's probably more relevant to our troops) but the moment of enhanced interest in brain injury issues is unmistakable.

Larry Franklin, accused of passing classified material, cuts a deal and IS NOW BACK AT WORK AT THE DEFENSE DEPARTMENT (thanks to Laura Rozen for the link)

If you have some time, go back and review the links below. This is an incredible story, which started to unravel before the election -- the scandal that should have brought down the Bush administration. It has all the bad actors in it, including a few former Iran-Contra hoods. Yet the whole story has never been fully investigated or reported, and of course Franklin’s plea deal was negotiated with people who had no intention of unraveling the whole plot

Ancient history, you say?
For well over two decades now, dreamers and schemers who hope to overthrow the mullahs have been lurking along the banks of the Seine, passing secrets and lies through proxies, back channels, and middlemen. Among the Persian plotters marooned in the French capital is a former minister of commerce in the shah’s government, who has recently acquired the code name of “Ali.”

To the influential U.S. congressman who bestowed that somewhat unoriginal alias on him, the elderly bureaucrat is actually an oracle who passes along invaluable intelligence about terrorist conspiracies emanating from Tehran, and an important asset who should be cultivated by the CIA.

Yet “Ali” is actually a cipher for Manucher Ghorbanifar, the notorious Iranian arms dealer and accused intelligence fabricator -- and the potential instrument of another potentially dangerous manipulation of American policy in the Persian Gulf region. . .

Iraq: on the brink of civil war

John Bolton for the U.N.? Even worse than you imagine
“It is a President’s prerogative to name his ambassadors,” Secretary-General Kofi Annan meekly told reporters last week. When he was asked whether he saw the nomination as a hostile act, he laughed and said, “I’m not sure I want to be drawn on that one.” At U.N headquarters, staffers walked around in a daze of disbelief. . .

“I’m pro-American,” Bolton says, as if that required him to be anti-world. He dismisses the U.N.’s tools for promoting peace and security. International law? “It is a big mistake for us to grant any validity to international law even when it may seem in our short-term interest to do so—because, over the long term, the goal of those who think that international law really means anything are those who want to constrict the United States.” (Never mind that such laws might have “constricted” the torture of detainees.) Humanitarian intervention? It’s “a right of intervention that is just a gleam in one beholder’s eye but looks like flat-out aggression to somebody else.” Negotiation as a way of dealing with rogue states? “I don’t do carrots,” Bolton says.

Cheney gets a State Dept position especially created for his daughter (Liz, the other one) in which, among other things, she’ll be involved with economic opportunities in the Middle East. Quick, buy your Halliburton stock right away

New details on the emergency flights to whisk the Bin Laden family and other Saudis out of the country just after 9-11
The F.B.I. gave personal airport escorts to two prominent Saudi families who fled the United States, and several other Saudis were allowed to leave the country without first being interviewed, the documents show.

Fascinating: how the Bush apparatus views the major news networks

Sunday talk show lineup
FOX NEWS SUNDAY: Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson (D) and former House speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.)

THIS WEEK: Reps. David Joseph Weldon (R-Fla.) and Barney Frank (D-Mass.); Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, archbishop of Washington, and author Rick Warren.

FACE THE NATION: Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) and Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council.

MEET THE PRESS: Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (D-Conn.) and authors Reza Aslan, the Rev. Robert F. Drinan, Richard Land, Jon Meacham and Jim Wallis.

LATE EDITION: Gen. John Abizaid; Javad Zarif, Iranian ambassador to the United Nations; and the Revs. Jerry Falwell, founder of Liberty University, and Al Sharpton, founder of National Action Network.

In other news. . .
The Transportation Security Administration misled the public about its role in obtaining personal information about 12 million airline passengers to test a new computerized system that screens for terrorists, according to a government investigation.
The FBI admitted Saturday it accidentally gave classified documents back to the American translator who pleaded guilty to taking them from the U.S. prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. . . Ahmed Fathy Mehalba, who was released from jail earlier this month, contacted the FBI's Boston office Tuesday after he realized agents had inadvertently given him the computer disk containing the secret files along with his personal property.

Bonus item: How the rest of the world views us – a valuable resource (thanks to Jeralyn Merritt for the link)
Discover What the World Thinks About U.S.
With Translated Foreign News Available NOWHERE Else In English

***If you enjoy PBD and support what we are doing, you can help by forwarding a copy of this issue to your friends (using the envelope link below) or by sending them a copy of its URL (

I don't get anything personally out of this project, except the satisfaction of doing it (I don't run ads, etc). The credit really all goes to the people whose material I copy and redistribute. But if I do have a "mission," it is to get this information into the hands of as many people as I can.***