Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Rising gas prices and ongoing bloodshed in Iraq continue to take their toll on President Bush, whose standing with the public has sunk to an all-time low, according to the latest Washington Post-ABC News poll.

George Bush (“He Cares”) makes a big gesture of “cutting his vacation short” (by three days) to start dealing seriously with the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. Since he will undoubtedly wring every drop of political symbolism out of this disaster, it is important to remember what he did that helped contribute to the scope of devastation. AmericaBlog is a good place to start: wall-to-wall coverage of his hypocrisy and opportunism. But let’s begin with the photo that should become the “My Pet Goat” of this disaster: goofing with a guitar for a photo op while the suffering and death toll mount
[John] If your aides claim, and I'm sure they will, that you didn't need to come back to DC this past weekend to help coordinate hurricane relief. Why? Because they'll say that you have all of this state-of-the-art communications technology at your Crawford ranch, so being at Crawford is the SAME as being at the White House.

So, if all that's the case, then why is the White House now telling us that you're cutting your vacation short tomorrow to come back to Washington and deal with the hurricane? I thought you were dealing with it just fine while on vacation?

Either you can manage hurricane relief sufficiently while on vacation, and in that case there's no need for you to return to DC tomorrow, or you can't, and in that case where the hell have you been the past 5 days?


Maybe comments like this on CNN snarked him into action
Cafferty: Where's President Bush? Is he still on vacation?

Blitzer: He's cut short his vacation he's coming back to Washington tomorrow.

Cafferty: Oh, that would be a good idea. He was out in San Diego I think at a Naval air station giving a speech on Japan and the war in Iraq today. Based on his approval rating, based on the latest polls, my guess is getting back to work might not be a terrible idea.

Good grief. Why the levees failed
The choppers that were rescuing people were supposed to attempt to sandbag one of the levy breaches. Somewhere along the way, it was never communicated, night has fallen, and within 12-14 hours the entire city will flood. . .
The Army Corps of Engineers is trying to plug the biggest levee break, but—there are conflicting reports—either the first attempt wasn't successful or there was a communications breakdown and authorities haven't tried. The mayor said if the holes aren't patched, the water will keep rising until this morning, at which point they'll be level with Lake Pontchartrain. . .


Live blogging:

Bush’s responsibility
New Orleans had long known it was highly vulnerable to flooding and a direct hit from a hurricane. In fact, the federal government has been working with state and local officials in the region since the late 1960s on major hurricane and flood relief efforts. When flooding from a massive rainstorm in May 1995 killed six people, Congress authorized the Southeast Louisiana Urban Flood Control Project, or SELA.

Over the next 10 years, the Army Corps of Engineers, tasked with carrying out SELA, spent $430 million on shoring up levees and building pumping stations, with $50 million in local aid. But at least $250 million in crucial projects remained, even as hurricane activity in the Atlantic Basin increased dramatically and the levees surrounding New Orleans continued to subside.

Yet after 2003, the flow of federal dollars toward SELA dropped to a trickle. The Corps never tried to hide the fact that the spending pressures of the war in Iraq, as well as homeland security -- coming at the same time as federal tax cuts -- was the reason for the strain. At least nine articles in the Times-Picayune from 2004 and 2005 specifically cite the cost of Iraq as a reason for the lack of hurricane- and flood-control dollars.

Newhouse News Service, in an article posted late Tuesday night at The Times-Picayune web site, reported: "No one can say they didn't see it coming....Now in the wake of one of the worst storms ever, serious questions are being asked about the lack of preparation."
[WP] With thousands of their citizen-soldiers away fighting in Iraq, states hit hard by Hurricane Katrina scrambled to muster forces for rescue and security missions yesterday. . .
[NYT] As the levees of Lake Pontchartrain gave way, flooding New Orleans, it seemed pretty clear that in this case, government did not live up to the job. . .


Heart-breaking: now the troops in Iraq have to fret and worry about their families and loved ones back home,1,1730703.story

The racial politics of Katrina
[NYT] People who think of that graceful city and the rest of the Mississippi Delta as tourist destinations must have been reminded, watching the rescue operations, that the real residents of this area are in the main poor and black.

Who's a "looter"?

Right wing pundits joke at Katrina’s expense. (I love Jonah Goldberg’s “apology” – when I made the joke we didn’t know yet what the death toll was – as if making the joke on the verge of a predictable catastrophe is any different)

How to help

In other news. . .

Report that Plame indictments are coming soon

Homeland Security Dept still trying to dismantle the Federal civil service

Under the radar. . .
The Post got ahold of draft federal regulations that would, according to the WP, allow power plants to pollute more. The proposed position is the opposite of the one taken by federal lawyers in a series of current lawsuits originally initiated by the Clinton administration.

Poverty rate climbs for fourth straight year

[Kevin Drum] Question 1: what's the point of a strong economy if it produces higher poverty rates, declining private sector healthcare coverage, and stagnant incomes?

Question 2: Whenever there are any nuggets of good employment news, the explanation from various quarters is either (a) tax cuts or (b) welfare reform. Do these two things also get the credit when there's bad news?

What an ass. After saying we shouldn't play the blame game, Bush blames Clinton, Carter, even Reagan for previous failures that supposedly led to 9-11. Uh, isn’t there one President missing from that sequence?

[WP] Richard A. Clarke, the former head of counterterrorism in the White House under presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, said yesterday that there were twice as many attacks outside Iraq in the three years after the 2001 attacks as in the three preceding years.

You knew this was coming: US still trying to rewrite that “magnificent” constitution in Iraq (as if our continued interference at this stage does anything more than undermine its already-meager legitimacy)
[AP] BAGHDAD, Iraq -- The U.S. ambassador suggested Tuesday there may be further changes to the draft constitution to win Sunni Arab approval, saying he believed a final edited draft had not been presented.

[NB: What a clown show. Not passed, not legal, not credible, and – now we are told – not finished]
Shiite politicians on the drafting committee disagreed vehemently with Khalilzad: "Influential Shiite lawmaker Khaled al-Attiyah, a member of the constitution drafting committee, insisted Tuesday that “no changes are allowed'' to the draft “except for minor edits for the language."

Spinning the pathetic results in Iraq as “victory”

“Bush’s Islamic Republic”

Bolton quickly (and predictably) becoming a bull in the china shop at the UN

Roberts hearings to begin next week and – guess what? – they have suddenly “discovered” some new missing documents,1,1207565.story

Another crooked Republican (ex) governor,0,5344279.story

“Love in Action” – a Christian anti-gay brainwashing technique – sounds like something out of Brave New World (well, I guess that’s what it is)
This post will tell you exactly why we have to continue to fight the American Taliban, the Dominionists, that absolutely unhinged element that is trying to take over our culture and invade every aspect of our lives. Homosexuality isn't destroying the family, it's institutions like the "ex-gay" movement that want to emotionally and psychologically destroy gay people. These are gay people who are still trying to come to grips with their orientation; by crushing them with guilt and hellfire, the ex-gay movement represents the height of immorality.

A 16-year-old boy named Zach in Tennessee recently came out to his parents. It didn't go well. In fact, it resulted in him being sent to one of those "ex-gay" re-education holes. . .
1. All new Refuge clients will be placed into Safekeeping for the initial two to three days of their program. A client on safekeeping may not communicate verbally, or by using hand gestures or eye contact, with any other clients, staff members, or his/her parents or guardians. In case of a practical need, Safekeeping clients may write down their question or request and show it to another client, staff member, or their parent or guardian. Writing may only be used when absolutely necessary. . .

The full LIA manual:

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Tuesday, August 30, 2005


Some mornings you just want to grab some people and slap them around. . .

Governor of Kentucky, under investigation for corruption, GIVES AMNESTY to all his co-conspirators (and then refuses to testify himself). If the Dems can’t make Fletcher the poster boy of GOP arrogance and corruption, they really are in trouble
Just minutes ago, Governor Ernie Fletcher, in one of the more audacious displays of political grandstanding, in a setting full of cheering and clapping political supporters, announced that he was thumbing his nose at the Kentucky criminal justice system, announced he was issuing "blanket" pardons (calling it amnesty, but Section 77 of the state constitution does not contain the term 'amnesty', only 'pardon') to anyone who "might have violated" state's Merit System laws. Yes, he left it that open and vague.
Just when you think the GOP can't sink any lower or get any slimier they do.
I think this is what Republicans call decisive leadership.
Is issuing pardons to potential witnesses against oneself chargeable as obstruction of justice?

But here’s the punch line: Fletcher apparently doesn’t have the power to grant “amnesty” (PRE-trial and conviction) – only to pardon afterward
It's not entirely clear if "amnesty" is a pardon or if it's some double super secret thing not actually present in the Kentucky constitution. . .
You can’t pardon somebody just because they’re indicted. There has to be a fine or a sentence to remit. You can’t nullify something that doesn’t yet exist.
This incident shows how the power of pre-conviction, and especially pre-indictment, amnesty can work harm (here, by removing a way for the public to get at the truth of the accusations).

Are voters catching on to what Republicans do once they seize power?
A majority of Ohio voters thinks Gov. Bob Taft (R) "is doing a poor job in office" and 46% say the governor "should should resign for his ethics violations," a Cleveland Plain Dealer Poll shows.

Rumsfeld tells troops to “go on the offense”

[NB: Uh, so what HAVE they been doing?]

Iraq’s constitution: the reaction from women

Iraq’s constitution: the reaction from the rest of the Arab world

A Sunni/Sadrist coalition to block the constitution?

Yeah, what he says
"The theme in this region is the reality of a foreign military power that comes in with great determination and overwhelming force, defeats people, subjugates a nation and then gets completely lost in the local maelstrom of interests and the irresistible force of indigenous identity -- religious, ethnic, sectarian, national. People act in a maniacal way when they assert these identities, which includes nurturing and protecting them," said Rami Khouri, a U.S.-educated Arab analyst and editor of Lebanon's Daily Star newspaper. . . "Every single foreign power that has been in this region since Alexander the Great -- through the Romans, Greeks, Ottomans, British, French and now Americans -- has learned the same lesson," Khouri said.

The Oil and Gas Administration goes against its own previous arguments to consider tapping into the strategic oil preserve, for no other reason than to shovel more profits into the coffers of the oil companies
The White House said Monday it was willing to use the government's emergency oil stockpile to help refiners hurt by Hurricane Katrina's rampage through the Gulf of Mexico, but that it was too early to decide if or how much crude should be released.

[Joe] Oh, how times have changed.

You may recall that in fall of 2000, the Bush campaign brutally attacked the Clinton administration for considering doing the same thing in order to lower what were then skyrocketing oil prices in order to help average Americans:

Republican presidential candidate George W. Bush's campaign criticized Gore's proposal, calling it an "election year political ploy" that could threaten national security.

Bush's communications director Karen Hughes told reporters in New York: "That reserve is intended for strategic and national security purposes, not for election year political purposes."

Amazing, but not surprising they can find a way to help the oil industry during a national crisis. And what a convenient way to address the truly skyrocketing oil prices which are damaging Bush and the GOP. Yeah, that's not politics.

UPDATE: AP reports that the oil industry didn't suffer serious damages:

Oil refiners said damage to their equipment in the Gulf region appeared to be minimal, and oil prices dropped back from the day's highs above $70 a barrel. But the refiners were still assessing the damage, and the Bush administration said it would consider releasing oil from the nation's emergency stockpile if necessary.
The SPR is not meant to be used as a market stabilization mechanism or, even worse, as a blunt instrument for hammering down oil prices. It's meant to be used in emergencies.


You knew this was coming, didn’t you? Anti-war groups now classified as “terrorist” organizations

Fred Barnes, tool
Weekly Standard executive editor and Fox News political contributor Fred Barnes said that "the press has created" anti-war protester Cindy Sheehan because "[t]hey hate Bush." Discussing Sheehan's ongoing protest outside President Bush's Crawford, Texas, ranch, Barnes said, "She is entirely the creation of the American mainstream press. She has no moral standing. She has no political standing. The press has created her. And why have they created her? It's August. They hate Bush. And they've used her as a mascot to get at Bush. It's as simple as that."

Free Judy! It’s all fine for the NYT to be defending one of its reporters, but how can they report on this without acknowledging that this is not an ordinary case of a reporter protecting her sources? It seems, in fact, a pretty clear co-conspiracy of mutual silence and protection – why else wouldn’t Lewis Libby release her from her promise, and why isn’t the NYT pressing him to do so (since supposedly all Bush admin people are supposed to “cooperate fully” with the investigation?)
The New York Times reporter Judith Miller has now been in jail longer for refusing to testify than any reporter working for a newspaper in America. It is a very long time for her, for her newspaper and for the media. And with each dismal milestone, it becomes more apparent that having her in jail is an embarrassment to a country that is supposed to be revered around the world for its freedoms, especially its First Amendment that provides freedom of the press.
[Arianna] Reading the latest New York Times Judy Miller editorial is the journalistic equivalent of watching a bombing comic pull out all the stops in a frantic attempt to wring a reaction out of his audience. You can feel the flop sweat dripping off the page. . . Today’s impassioned defense -- -- No. 5 in an increasingly desperate series -- reads like it was written by someone in a rhetoric class forced to make a case for a cause they don’t really believe in. . .

Pat Roberts (R-KS) FINALLY decides to have his committee look into the Plame situation – but not to identify who outed her. I think this is an attempt to inoculate Rove et al. from any charges to come by making it look like the CIA didn’t do enough to protect its own agents’ cover

How Bush made his money
How is it that the entire debate about the Kelo eminent-domain decision has run its course without anyone mentioning that the President of the United States made most of his huge fortune by arranging for exactly that sort of taking of private property for private use?

Imagine a Democratic President in the same situation, and imagine what Fox and Rush and Drudge would have made out of it. That's why it's fair to say that the country has, in effect, no liberal media in the sense that it has conservative media.

A lengthy examination of just how useless the WH press corps has become (with a great doctored photo)
"This is the most complacent and complicit media I've ever seen," Helen Thomas, the most senior member of the White House press corps, told me in an interview at her office at Hearst. . .

Scott McClellan is the Undertaker of Information. With the gentle sterility of a mortician, McClellan puts a dark suit on every day and tells us, in a soothing voice, how comfortable our beloved information will be now that it is dead and resting in an attractive coffin. The press—outraged family members of the strangled Truth—wail, “But Scott, it wasn’t dead before you guys got your hands on it!” And the Undertaker, unruffled, sympathetic and appropriately somber, politely informs you that it is part of an ongoing investigation, and he believes he has already told you what the president’s comments were on that.

After a while, it is sickeningly passive-aggressive.

But the bottom line is, Scott is telling the truth: The truth is dead. And you’re never going to see it again. It’s in heaven now, with Chandra Levy and JonBenet Ramsey and Nicole Brown Simpson. . .

Sports columnist weighs in on Intelligent Design debate – which shows why she is a sports columnist

Bonus item: “Shrill, bombastic, and mean-spirited”

[NB: What, they just figured this out?]

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Monday, August 29, 2005


I have nothing to say here about Hurricane Katrina, except to wish the poor people of New Orleans and the surrounding region the least suffering possible under the circumstances.

Politically, of course, this couldn’t come at a better time for Bush, who will get to zoom down there with rolled-up sleeves and buckets of federal aid at just the time when he wants something else to talk about besides the mess he’s made in Iraq, Plame, oil prices, Republican scandals, and all the other things that the news won’t have time to cover as they obsessively document every conceivable angle of Katrina’s destructive impact

Still, it’s possible to point up even in the midst of natural disaster a reminder of human responsibility
[New Orleans City Business] In fiscal year 2006, the New Orleans district of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is bracing for a record $71.2 million reduction in federal funding.

It would be the largest single-year funding loss ever for the New Orleans district, Corps officials said.

“I’ve been here over 30 years and I’ve never seen this level of reduction,” said Al Naomi, project manager for the New Orleans district. “I think part of the problem is it’s not so much the reduction, it’s the drastic reduction in one fiscal year. It’s the immediacy of the reduction that I think is the hardest thing to adapt to.

“There is an economic ripple effect, too. The cuts mean major hurricane and flood protection projects will not be awarded to local engineering firms. Also, a study to determine ways to protect the region from a Category 5 hurricane has been shelved for now.”

I know most people have only heard that “Iraq passed a constitution. . . . or something” (rather in the same way that a person passes a kidney stone, I’d say). Here’s what isn’t being said about it. First, they haven’t “passed” anything, because it was never voted on by Parliament. And the opposition wasn’t just from a few Sunni dead-enders, but a large part, possibly all, of the Sunni delegation, including many who had been cooperative with the Bush project earlier. This struggle is nowhere near over, and probably will get a lot worse
[Bush] "Their example is an inspiration to all who share the universal values of freedom, democracy and the rule of law," Bush told reporters from a helicopter hangar at his Texas ranch. "This is a document of which the Iraqis and the rest of the world can be proud."
The papers give a little ink to the content of the draft, mostly focusing on the conflict surrounding it. . . The Wall Street Journal (subscription required) has the translation of Iraq's draft constitution online; TP had trouble finding the text on other papers' sites (the LAT does have a partial breakdown of provisions).,0,156739.story
Article 2 establishes Islam as the official religion of the state and a basic source of legislation, guarantees the "Islamic identity" of the majority of the Iraqi people and requires that no law contradict the "undisputed" rules of Islam. At the same time, it requires that laws do not contradict democratic principles and basic freedoms. It also safeguards religious freedom for Iraq's Christians and other minority faiths. However, it does not explain how those sometimes-contradictory goals will be resolved. . .

Article 39 gives Iraqis the choice to define their "personal status" according to their own beliefs, supplementing Iraq's civil laws governing marriage, divorce and inheritance with the option to turn to religious clerics in matters of family law. Iraq's Islamists originally wanted to put all such laws under the jurisprudence of clerics. But secular Iraqis and many women demanded that Iraq's previous laws be kept. They fear that under this provision women in more restrictive environments still might be forced by husbands and fathers to accept religious rather than civil rulings. . .

Article 90 allows experts in Islamic as well as civil law to serve on the supreme federal court. Iraqi Shiites had originally wanted a separate court to vet laws according to Islamic criteria, but secular Iraqis and Sunnis were outraged, fearing an Iranian-style Guardian Council, which approves all laws in Tehran. . .

Article 137 reserves 25% of the seats in the future parliament for women, who scored a victory by pushing out a previous clause that put an eight-year time limit on the provision
Iraqi government spokesman Leith Kubba said some Sunnis did agree to the draft constitution. "Everybody knows you can't please all players. . . At the end of the day, this is the best the government can come up with, and we hope this vote will close the debate," he said.,2933,167251,00.html
The document, which included last-minute changes aimed at easing Sunni concerns, was read to lawmakers but was not put to a vote in the assembly, where the Shiite-Kurdish bloc has an overwhelming majority.

"The constitution is left to our people to approve or reject it," said Talabani, a Kurd. "I hope that our people will accept it despite some flaws."

Talabani acknowledged that the Sunni Arabs had objections to the draft "but everybody had reservations. This is part of democracy ... If the people do not approve it, we will draft another constitution."
[Reuters] A Sunni Arab delegate on the drafting committee said all his colleagues on the panel objected to the draft presented to parliament. "We have not agreed on this constitution. We have objections which are the same as we had from day one," Hussein al-Falluji, the Sunni Arab delegate, told Reuters.

[Juan Cole] All of his colleagues. These "colleagues" are the Sunni Arabs who risked their lives to cooperate with the Americans and the new government by serving on the constitution drafting committee.
Sunni leaders have urged their community to defeat the charter in a nationwide referendum on Oct. 15, saying it had been rammed through the drafting committee by the dominant Shiite Arab and Kurdish alliance.

The absence of Sunni endorsement, after more than two months of intensive negotiations, raised fears of more violence and set the stage for a bitter political fight ahead of the referendum. A political battle threatened to sharpen communal divisions at a time when relations among the Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds appear to be worsening. . .
[John] I heard Bush earlier today saying that this was no big deal as several of the delegates to America's original constitutional congress rejected our constitution too. Of course, a little bit of information is a dangerous thing to an idiot. The sunnis are the sane ones in Iraq. They're also an enormous part of the country. If they're cut out, that means the shias control Iraq along with the kurds. The shias are tied to Iran and the kurds want to slice up Turkey and get their homeland back. Only an idiot would think that the sunnis being cut out of the constitution is anything but a recipe for civil war, at best. At worst, Iran de facto gets part of Iraq and Turkey invades in order to stop the kurds, or even worse, Turkey splits in two and all hell breaks out in a NATO ally.


“Just like Philadelphia in 1787” (this is a great piece, well worth reading in its entirety)
. . . That said, though, as a student of American history it's hard not to be contemptuous of anyone who would dare compare what the framers tried to do in Philadelphia to the deal that just went down in the Baghdad bazaar. Whatever you think of their politics -- or the utter hypocricy of slaveowners and slave merchants posing as champions of liberty -- the men of 1787 were giants.

The boys of 2005 (and their American sponsors), on the other hand, are just pygmies pretending to be giants. And the Iraqi people are going to be footing the bill for those pretensions -- in blood -- for a long time to come.

Congratulations, from Condi Rice

Meanwhile, behind the scenes, a touch of honesty
Several administration officials acknowledged deep regret and frustration that all their efforts had failed to produce a document that could not only establish human rights but also bring a huge disaffected element into the political process, as the Americans had hoped and predicted.

"We're disappointed that we don't have a document that has a complete consensus," said a weary senior State Department official, speaking anonymously because he did not want to be seen as criticizing the Iraqis publicly. "We think it's a good document in terms of basic rights and philosophy. How to proceed now is an issue for Iraqis to decide."

Lowering their sights, administration officials said Sunday that their task now was to keep the political process alive, even if the constitution was rejected in October, and thereby keep the disaffected Sunnis from helping to stoke more violence.

First Republican breaks ranks, openly calling for investigation into Downing Street memos, Bush’s pre-war lies (thanks to Buzzflash for the link)

Another Republican questions Bush policies
With lawmakers facing tough questions at home about the war in Iraq, Senator John W. Warner, the chairman of the Armed Services Committee, says he intends to summon Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld quickly for a hearing when Congress returns next week.

Mr. Warner, a Virginia Republican who is one of the most important Congressional voices on military policy, said mounting numbers of dead and wounded Americans, the contentious process of drafting an Iraqi constitution and the economic cost of the war were adding up to new anxiety in Congress.

"The level of concern is, I think, gradually rising," Mr. Warner said in an interview on Friday. "Our nation has given so much to the Iraqi people, and what are they giving us in return?"

Mischief on the GOP’s fall congressional agenda
The bills are mandated by a budget resolution that passed this spring, after acrimonious debate. The budget blueprint mandated $35 billion in entitlement savings over five years, along with $70 billion in tax cuts over that period. By parliamentary rules, the resolution ensures that both the spending and tax cut packages cannot be filibustered, and thus can pass the Senate with a simple majority of 51 votes.

Such rules were established by the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974, specifically to facilitate passage of tough deficit-reduction measures. But since the GOP took control of Congress and the White House, the rules have been used instead to ease passage of President Bush's major tax cuts. This year, amid pledges of fiscal discipline, Republican lawmakers vowed to restore the budget act's original intent. Now, they have just weeks to turn the abstract pledges of the 2006 budget resolution into detailed legislation. . .

Medicaid will be the largest target. Even with the cuts, the program would grow from $184 billion this year to $250 billion, as Medicaid rosters swell with population growth and the working poor are dropped from employer-provided health plans. The budget resolution mandated that the Senate Finance Committee produce legislation that would carve $10 billion out of entitlement programs under its jurisdiction.

Finance Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) had hoped to find all $10 billion from Medicaid, but committee and Senate leadership aides say divisions in the panel may force him to lower that Medicaid target. Instead, some savings will have to come from Medicare and welfare programs.

Record high gasoline prices should ease passage of legislation to open Alaska's Arctic wilderness to oil drilling, a move that environmentalists have thwarted for decades. . . "Timing's everything in this town," said a senior Senate GOP aide, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the proposals have not been finalized.

But timing will make other proposals far more difficult, aides conceded. Cuts in farm price supports would come as farmers in Illinois, Missouri and parts of Iowa cope with drought. Senate aides say they can find $7 billion in savings from federal student loans by squeezing the banks that act as middlemen. But with students just returning to school, the timing of the proposal will feed into Democratic attacks. . .

Democrats intend to make the Republicans squirm, especially since the sixth tax cut in five years will be moving simultaneously.

Down in Crawford, the competing Iraq protests come to blows, but not in the ways you might expect
Ken Robinson, of Richardson, Texas, who described himself as a Vietnam veteran, was carrying a sign at a “You Don't Speak for Me, Cindy!” rally. The sign read, “How to wreck your family in 30 days by ‘b**** in the ditch' Cindy Sheehan.”

Kristinn Taylor, an event organizer with, heard about the sign and rushed up to Robinson.

“This is our rally and you can't do that here,” he said, only for Robinson to insist he was within his rights.

Camera crews rushed in and Taylor turned to face them.

“To all the media here, this sign is not representative of the crowd here today,” Taylor announced. Some of the crowd around Robinson came forward to shake his hand, while others chanted, “Idiot, go home.”

The two men then squared off and raised their voices.

“Just get outta here!” Robinson yelled, and aimed a kick at Taylor's midsection. Taylor called for security, and a young Woodway policeman quickly showed up.

“I have the right to freedom of speech,” Robinson said.

Robinson continued to protest loudly as police handcuffed him and led him away.

And. . .
[TBogg] Before we bring up the "oops" moment in Crawford, we have a flashback moment from Life of Brian:

Reg: The only people we hate more than the Romans are the f-cking Judean People's Front.
Stan: Yeah, the Judean People's Front.
Reg: Yeah.
Stan: And the Popular Front of Judea.
Reg: Yeah.
Stan: And the People's Front of Judea.
Reg: Yea... what?
Stan: The People's Front of Judea.
Reg: We're the People's Front of Judea!
Stan: I thought we were the Popular Front.
Reg: People's Front!
Francis: What ever happened to the Popular Front?
Reg: He's over there. [points to a lone man]
Reg, Stan, Francis, Judith: SPLITTER!
. . .
Brian: Are you the Judean People's Front?
Reg: F-ck off! We're the People's Front of Judea.

Okay. Now that we've got that out of the way, we take you to Crawford, Texas where the inevitable happens when two groups. . . meet up and can't seem to figure out they're on the same side.

[MSNBC] Across town in Crawford, other parents of soldiers who are serving or have died in Iraq countered Sheehan with their own raucous rally that started with a prayer.

The pro-Bush caravan was coordinated by Move America Forward, a group led by former California Assemblyman Howard Kaloogian and Republican strategist Sal Russo.

Organizer Howard Kaloogian accused Sheehan of "giving hope and encouragement to our enemies."

The crowd, which organizers said topped 3,000 but appeared closer to 1,500, chanted "Cindy, Go Home" and compared her to Jane Fonda, whose visit to a North Vietnamese gun site in 1972 earned her the nickname "Hanoi Jane."

"Cindy-Hanoi Jane," read one of the signs at the rally.

In one heated moment, members of the pro-Bush crowd turned on what they mistakenly thought were a group of anti-war protesters, cursing them, threatening them and tearing down their signs. A police officer rushed the group to safety.


Pour yourself an extra cup of coffee and take a few minutes to read this Boston Globe attack on Karl Rove. You’ll be glad you did

The law of omerta: long-time govt official questions corrupt no-bid Halliburton contracts, gets the boot

Bonus item: Let’s review the bidding, shall we?
[Fubar] The evolving rationale for the Iraq adventure
• 9/11
• Flypaper
• Liberate oppressed Iraqis
• Democracy in the Middle East
• So the deaths will not have been in vain

Dump it all in a blender. Throw against wall to see what sticks.

***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, August 28, 2005


We never promised you a rose garden: Bush et al. frantically retrofitting expectations to accommodate the increasingly dire outcome in Iraq. Now we hear that sacrifice is necessary, now we hear that the struggle will be slow and progress marginal, now we hear that things aren’t as rosy as the same people were telling us they were just a few weeks ago
US President George W Bush, assailed by sagging poll numbers and criticism from anti-war protesters camped outside his ranch, has called for Americans to show resolve and brace for additional sacrifice in Iraq. . . In his weekly radio address, Mr Bush acknowledged the job for US soldiers was not yet done. . . "Our efforts in Iraq and the broader Middle East will require more time, more sacrifice and continued resolve," he said.
Also known as the Whatever It Is, I'm Against It excerpt of the day:

Bush’s argument for continuing the war to honor the (American) dead, it occurs to me, is rather like the classic definition of chutzpah, someone who kills his parents and asks for lenience because he is an orphan.,0,7970359.story
After weeks of pressing Iraqis to finish the constitution quickly, President Bush, whose approval ratings have been falling, urged Americans on Saturday to have patience. . .

Is this all a hint that those troop withdrawals might not happen after all (especially if there’s an upsurge of Sunni violence over frustration with the constitution)?

No, we never promised you a rose garden. . .
If you're suggesting, how would we feel about an Iranian-type government with a few clerics running everything in the country, the answer is: That isn't going to happen.

Donald Rumsfield
Interview with Associated Press
April 24, 2003

Not only does the Bush gang now reflexively respond “9-11” to any question about Iraq, they now apparently answer “9-11” to any question whatsoever
Ask about Cindy Sheehan. . .

MR. DUFFY: Well, first of all, the President has spoken continuously about the way he approaches this war, following September 11th, 2001. On September 14th, 2001, he stood at the National Cathedral and told all of America that this was going to be a very long and difficult war, and that there were going to be some very trying moments; but that because of what happened on 9/11, that we had to view the world in a different way.

The Washington Post calls out Bush
[I]t is dispiriting, and damaging to the chances for success, that President Bush still refuses to speak honestly to the country about the challenges the United States now faces, or how he intends to address them. In two major speeches on national security this week, Mr. Bush simply repeated the misleading description of Iraq he offered during his national television address in June, conflating the war with the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and describing the enemy as terrorists akin to al Qaeda.

While it is true that Islamic extremist movements have made Iraq a battleground, and failure to defeat them would be a catastrophe for U.S. security, the main challenge remains the nationalist and mostly secular Sunni insurgency, which is fighting for control of Iraq, not of Islam. Mr. Bush breezily praised the constitutional process as if it were the antithesis of the military conflict, rather than a political expression of the same Iraqi power struggle. He boasted that Iraq will have a constitution that "honors women's rights" and "the rights of minorities" even though the prevailing draft raises serious questions about both.

What lackey wrote this NYT headline?
"IRAQ DEAL: Bush call sets up constitution"

Believe it or not, they are now talking about more WEEKS of haggling in Iraq. (Talk about making it up as you go!)
Sunni Arab political leaders, condemning a draft of Iraq's proposed constitution handed to them on Saturday, scrambled to arrange meetings to revise the document even as Shiite and Kurdish leaders insisted that it would be published without substantial changes. . . The latest draft includes only slightly revised language on two critical issues - proposals to create autonomous regions within Iraq, and the status of the Baath Party - that have infuriated many Sunnis. If this last chance for consensus is missed, some Sunni leaders say, the document could provoke even more sectarian violence.

The document reached Sunni Arab members of the constitution committee only after a series of delays in the negotiations. The Sunnis left the door open to further talks, saying they were continuing to meet among themselves, with Shiite and Kurdish counterparts, and with the American ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad. Revisions to the constitution will be discussed at a meeting of the Iraqi National Assembly on Sunday, though similar meetings have been repeatedly canceled. . . Shiite leaders made clear on Saturday that the document would not undergo any major changes and that plans were being made to print and distribute five million copies of it to the Iraqi people in the coming week.
"The chances of bringing Sunni Arabs to the political process are almost lost. . . Things will deteriorate in every aspect.",0,7970359.story
Sunni Arabs across the political spectrum closed ranks Saturday, proposing a flurry of amendments to a draft constitution they have condemned, while some officials said negotiations could drag on until a nationwide referendum on the charter scheduled for the fall.

Despite announcements by several Shiite politicians that negotiations were complete and the draft constitution was finished, discussions continued feverishly Saturday and might keep going until, during and after a meeting of the National Assembly scheduled for today.

"There is no D-day," said Ali Dabagh of the United Iraqi Alliance, the Shiite coalition that dominates the transitional assembly and the Iraqi government. "Negotiations can continue until Oct. 15."

Early this morning, a Shiite negotiator said rifts also seemed to be emerging between Shiites and Kurds over language regarding Iraq's ties to the Arab world. "Until now, we have not reached a deal with the Sunnis," Jawad Maliki said. "And the Kurds have made new demands."


[NB: So does this mean they ship out a draft for people to read and vote on, but keep modifying it up to the date of the vote itself? How is that supposed to work?]

As bad as you think it is on the ground in Iraq, it keeps getting worse – and as background, what reporters are and aren’t telling us about it
[Juan Cole] Rory Carroll & colleagues at the Guardian reveal that behind the rosy talk, British and American officials are asking "how do you know when you are on the brink of civil war?" and privately comparing the unfolding catastrophe in Iraq to the Lebanese Civil War.,6903,1557954,00.html
Saddam Hussein intended Baghdad's convention centre to be a showcase. A phalanx of pillars in the foyer, an expanse of marble, two staircases sweeping up to a vast hall, the building was a statement: this is Iraq.

The carpets are tattered now, the windows grubby and the toilets do not flush, but that did not stop the convention centre last week doing exactly what it was supposed to do. It exhibited a nation. . .

How ready are those Iraqi troops? Here’s how ready they are

This Cindy Sheehan business won’t turn into a million-person march on Washington any time soon, but it will be a steady, embarrassing reminder that “Bush lied and soldiers died.” And any time the Bush gang DOES announce withdrawals, it will be claimed by Sheehan et al. as a victory for them. The latest ploy is to compare her to “Hanoi Jane” Fonda – but that won’t work guys. Sheehan is just a sad, tired, ordinary mom who has lost a son to a war she no longer believes in. Every move they make to villainize her just makes them look smaller
[Rob] I just watched Cindy Sheehan on Bill Maher. When Maher asked her jokingly that if she didn't get satisfaction from George Bush, would she go over his head to Cheney or Rumsfeld, she replied:

"You know what Bill, I have gone over his head, I've gone to the American people. And we employ him, he's our employee."

She has found her voice, and I gotta say, she's got a great voice. She's quick, she's smart, and I think that she's going to be a great face for the American people's growing frustration with the war.

Seeing Cindy tonight, I saw an average American speak in her own voice, and having it heard. And it's resonating. I predict that we've seen just the beginning of Cindy Sheehan.
The “Bring Them Home Now” Crawford-to-Washington Tour leaves Crawford Aug. 31st and will be passing through different parts of the country. . . They’re looking for sponsors and hosts. Click here for more info.

An emerging phrase, Yellow Elephants: Republicans who enthusiastically support sending other people’s kids off to die, while scoffing at the idea that their kids would make suitable cannon fodder. Here’s the latest


General Karpinski has a book
The book, "One Woman's Army," published by Hyperion, sheds little new light on the Abu Ghraib prison abuse scandal. . . But it's her vignettes of an American army at war, of the hot, dusty and snafu-filled world in which her "patched-together, under-trained, overextended, poorly supported" brigade landed, that opens windows on the reality of Iraq. . .

The interview:

What Bolton is doing, and how the world is reacting to it
[Stygius, via TPM] Not only is Bolton trying to dilute or remove effective action against AIDS, global poverty, climate change, etc. he's trying to turn the meeting into a UN reform vehicle; more specifically, a John Bolton UN reform vehicle.

This next bit I want to make emphatically: My sense is that Bolton is not only hamstringing the development goals of the meeting, this is also an attempt by him to seize control of the US's UN reform project from others within the State Department (namely, the Secretary of State).

Bolton needs very badly to take over and be identified with any UN reform initiative, even if it fails on his account. This requires waging battle against his political adversaries within the administration.

Secretary Rice has ostracized Bolton from the major UN reform decision-making, in part by appointing Shirin Tahir-Kheli as her own UN Reform Special Adviser. Rice's worry is that, given Bolton's track record, Bolton would only screw up UN reform. A reasonable probability. Hence, Shirin Tahir-Kheli.,3604,1557419,00.html
[Julian Borger] For any student of the Bush administration's foreign policy, the US version of the draft United Nations summit agreement, leaked earlier this week, is an essential text.

The hundreds of deletions and insertions represent a helpfully annotated map to Washington's disagreements with most of the rest of the world on just about every global issue imaginable. . .

The edited document:
AN INTERNATIONAL alliance will confront US President George Bush to salvage as much as possible of an ambitious plan to reshape the United Nations and tackle world poverty.

The head-to-head in New York tomorrow comes after the revelation that the US Administration is proposing wholesale changes to crucial parts of the biggest overhaul of the UN since it was founded more than 50 years ago.

A draft of that plan had included a review of progress on the UN's millennium development goals — poverty eradication targets set in 2000 for completion by 2015 — and the introduction of reforms aimed at repairing the damage done to the UN's reputation by Iraq, Rwanda and the Balkans.

But it was revealed this week that Mr Bush's new ambassador to the UN, John Bolton, was seeking 750 changes to the 36-page draft plan to be presented to a special summit in New York on September 14-16. Mr Bolton's amendments, if successful, would leave the plan in tatters.

The British Foreign Office confirmed yesterday that Britain was standing behind the original plan, putting it at odds with Mr Bush.
Any hopes that John Bolton, the new US ambassador to the United Nations, would have been chastened by the way he was elevated to his position have been dashed by the emergence of a leaked document detailing his negotiating demands for next month's UN summit. . .

Plame update (sort of)

Bonus item: Bush has “jumped the couch”

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Saturday, August 27, 2005


I think we’re witnessing the effective end of Iraq as a unified, sovereign country. This is an utter repudiation of this country’s postwar “mission,” and will cause untold suffering in the region for years to come. Nice job, guys
Shiite and Kurdish leaders drafting a new Iraqi constitution abandoned negotiations with a group of Sunni representatives on Friday, deciding to take the disputed charter directly to the Iraqi people.

With the American ambassador, Zalmay Khalilzad, standing by, Shiite and Kurdish representatives said they had run out of patience with the Sunni negotiators, a group that includes several former members of Saddam Hussein's Baath Party. The Shiites and Kurds said the Sunnis had refused to budge on a pair of crucial issues that were holding up completion of the constitution.

The Shiites and Kurds reached their decision in meetings that ran late into Friday night, disregarding the Sunnis' pleas for more time.

The Shiite and Kurdish representatives sought to play down the importance of leaving the Sunnis out, saying that with their Baathist links, they had never truly spoken for the broader Sunni population. The Iraqi leaders who drafted the constitution defended it as a document that would ensure the unity of the country and safeguard individual rights.

"The negotiation is finished, and we have a deal," said Ahmad Chalabi, the deputy prime minister and a member of the Shiite leadership. "No one has any more time. It cannot drag on any longer. Most of the Sunnis are satisfied. Everybody made sacrifices. It is an excellent document.",0,5243213.story
Deep divisions in Iraq over the country's draft constitution carry seeds that could destroy the Bush administration's beleaguered strategy for turning the strife-torn country into a unified and stable democracy. . .

Critics of the drafting process now include some Sunni Arabs the administration had been able to count on in the past, such as Ghazi Ajil Yawer, one of Iraq's two vice presidents. Respected Middle East specialists, including some who have advised the administration in Iraq, worry about the way events have unfolded.

"I see developments on the constitutional side as potentially disastrous," said Larry Diamond, a scholar at Stanford University and former senior advisor in the defunct Coalition Provisional Authority. "I think the Bush administration has miscalculated profoundly by trying to get this constitution done by Aug. 15 at any price."

On Friday, the deadlock continued, with Sunni negotiators unwilling to accept new wording proposed by Shiites, amid increasing indications that the Iraqi electorate will be asked, in a national referendum set for Oct. 15, to approve a document that has not been endorsed by Sunni leaders. . .
What's the likely end state for Iraq? Heather Hurlburt argues that we're already there for the Kurds: they have no interest in a centrally governed Iraq, and they have both the economy and the militia to make their wishes stick. That sounds right to me, especially since it seems unlikely that either the Shiites or the Sunnis really have much interest in trying to oppose them.

In a related piece, Michael Kraig argues that a loose confederation is both the current and future best case for Iraq, and we might as well get used to it. Would it work? The risks are high, but he suggests we can make the best of the situation by actively engaging Iraq's neighbors, none of whom really want to see Iraq spin apart and export its jihadis to their countries. His suggestion: accept the reality of a loose confederation, concentrate on building a "firewall" around Iraq, and work closely with neighboring countries who all have a stake in making this work.

One last-ditch effort to get Sunni support
BAGHDAD, Aug 27 (Reuters) - Iraqi leaders must complete a final version of the country's new constitution and present it to the public for a referendum which must be held by Oct. 15.

Shi'ite Arabs and Kurds prepared a draft which was presented to parliament on Monday, but it has not yet been finalised because of objections by Sunni Arabs who have already begun mobilising their community against it.

Sunnis are a 20 percent minority, but they are the majority in central Iraq where the insurgency is strongest.

Here is a rough timetable of events. * On Sunday, Sunni politicians deliver their verdict on a modified draft document prepared by Shi'ites in an effort to assuage Sunni anger over provisions creating a decentralised, federal political system that would exclude members of Saddam Hussein's Baath party from public life. Sunnis dominated his regime.

Later on Sunday, parliament will convene for a report on the final wording of the document, which may or may not include the changes proposed by Shi'ites to please the Sunnis.,1,868017.story
A final bid by Shiite negotiators for a compromise to end the impasse with Sunni Arabs over Iraq's draft constitution failed late Friday, and it was becoming clear that the talks are hopelessly deadlocked. . . Government spokesman Laith Kubba told Al-Arabiya television that negotiations had reached a standstill. "This is the end of the road," he said. . .

A leading Sunni negotiator called the Shiites' latest offer unacceptable.

"There is no compromise--they are only playing with words," Saleh Mutlaq said. "They are very far from what we want."

Leaders with Iraq's Shiite-Kurdish alliance have not been able to reach a consensus with their Sunni Arab counterparts over key sticking points in the country's draft constitution, four days after the negotiators were legally bound to have the document finished. . . Shiite and Kurdish negotiators have drafted a constitution that decentralizes government power and creates autonomous regions in the Kurdish north and southern Shiite provinces, both oil-rich regions. Fearing a future in which they are cut off from Iraq's oil wealth, Sunni Arabs have fought vehemently against the inclusion of that provision. . .

The compromise put on the table Friday would set aside debate over implementation of federalism and a timeline for the purging of Baathists from government until December, when the country elects a new parliament, Shiite negotiators said. . . Mutlaq said the offer did not go far enough and doubted that a consensus with the Shiite-Kurdish alliance is possible at this stage.

"With the way they are working, I don't think we are going to reach any agreement," Mutlaq said. . . Though wrangling has continued on certain provisions of the constitution, Shiite and Kurd leaders have said they believe the draft they have in hand can pass legal muster because it was submitted to Iraq's parliament Monday, just minutes before the expiration of a deadline that would have forced the dissolution of parliament.

Sunni leaders say the draft was incomplete at the time and therefore legally invalid. They have threatened to take their claims to court. . .
With Iraq's new constitution still in limbo, thousands of Sunni Arabs rallied in central and northern Iraq on Friday to protest the proposed draft. . .

Sunni political leaders have refused to agree to the draft constitution in large part because a Shiite proposal would create a vast autonomous region in Iraq's oil-rich south. The Sunnis say that proposal - which would parallel the federal zone governed by the Kurds in northern Iraq - could cripple the Iraqi state and allow neighboring Iran to dominate the Shiite south.

"Kirkuk's Arabs refuse any constitution that would divide the country by different names, which is at odds with Islam and with the Arabic nation of Iraq," said Sheik Abdul Rahman Mished, the leader of Kirkuk's Arab Assembly. With its volatile ethnic mix of Kurds, Sunni Arabs and Turkmens, Kirkuk has been particularly vulnerable to fears of sectarian division.


Not only the Sunnis are unhappy
Reuters reports that Muqtada al-Sadr's supporters rallied in 8 cities on Friday, totaling a hundred thousand demonstrators in all. They chanted against the new constitution, which they characterized as an American-authored document.


One happy camper
Tehran, Iran, Aug. 26 – A senior Iranian cleric welcomed on Friday the establishment of an Islamic republic in Iraq and hailed the country’s new constitution as one based on “Islamic precepts.”

Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, who heads the powerful ultra-conservative Guardian Council, told worshippers in Tehran’s Friday prayers, “Fortunately, after years of effort and expectations in Iraq, an Islamic state has come to power and the constitution has been established on the basis of Islamic precepts.”

“We must congratulate the Iraqi people and authorities for this victory,” he said. . .

Don’t blame us!
The decision to move forward was a heavy blow for the Bush administration, which had expended enormous energy and political capital to forge a constitution that included the Sunnis. On Thursday, in a last-ditch effort to get a deal, President Bush telephoned Abdul Aziz Hakim, a cleric and the leader of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, to press him to offer a more palatable compromise to the Sunnis.
Talks over the Iraqi constitution reached a breaking point on Thursday, with a parliamentary session to present the document being canceled and President Bush personally calling one of the country's most powerful Shiite leaders in an effort to broker a last-minute deal . . .

The concern that a deal on the constitution was falling apart appeared to have to prompted Mr. Bush to call Mr. Hakim to urge a compromise. One Iraqi official, who was not authorized to speak publicly, said the Americans, who have already expressed their frustration with the Sunnis, have recently become irritated with what they regard as the stubbornness of the Shiites as well.

"The Americans are very angry that the Shia are not agreeing on this," the Iraqi official said. "They really want them to make these concessions to the Sunnis to keep them on board."
SECRETARY RICE: Well, I think that the United States has been very involved with the Iraqis every step of the way. But this is an Iraqi process; this is not an American process. And I know that Zal, as John Negroponte before him, tried to help in any way that they were asked to do. Sometimes they were asked to facilitate, to hold discussions, but I want to be very clear that this is an Iraqi process and I think you saw today that Iraqis are in control of this process. They decided that they were responsible officials who needed more time to look at the very difficult issues that were in the text. And so they took that time in accordance with a process that was set up. And so, yes, Zal has been active. Our people have been active. Others have been active in helping them, but this is by all means an Iraqi process.
It's not the U.S. position to be the play-by-play announcer. We support what they're doing. They are working together in -- in a non-violent fashion to achieve a very important objective here, which is to write a constitution that can be durable; that represents the views of the majority; that respects the minority rights; that has women's rights; and has everything that, you know, that the international community wants, and that Iraqis want. Again, this is an Iraqi process.

White House spokesman Trent Duffy
Remarks to Reporters
August 25, 2005

This is an Iraqi process, but the United States is doing everything it can to assist them in meeting their own obligations and deadlines.

White House spokesman Trent Duffy
Remarks to Reporters
August 26, 2005


Wesley Clark on Bush’s failure in Iraq

On the August 24 broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio show, Rush Limbaugh claimed that the Iraq war "has always been portrayed as something that's gonna be hard" and that "the ease with which all this was gonna happen was never stated." In fact, several Bush administration officials, including Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld, did predict a short and easy process of regime change in Iraq, ignoring warnings from the intelligence community that the aftermath to the initial battles in Iraq would pose numerous difficult challenges. . .

In fact, despite Limbaugh's denials, several top Bush administration officials have made specific predictions about the duration and difficulty of achieving regime change in Iraq:

• On the March 16, 2003, broadcast of CBS' Face the Nation, Cheney stated: "I think [the war will] go relatively quickly." When host Bob Schieffer pressed the vice president to offer a more precise estimate of how long the war would take, Cheney replied: "Weeks rather than months." On NBC's Meet the Press the same day, Cheney stated, "my belief is we will, in fact, be greeted as liberators [by the Iraqi people]."

• In a February 7, 2003, appearance at Aviano Air Base in Italy, Rumsfeld projected that the Iraq war "could last six days, six weeks. I doubt six months."

• In a February 13, 2002, Washington Post op-ed, Ken Adelman, at the time a member of the Defense Policy Board, stated: "I believe demolishing Hussein's military power and liberating Iraq would be a cakewalk. Let me give simple, responsible reasons: (1) It was a cakewalk last time; (2) they've become much weaker; (3) we've become much stronger; and (4) now we're playing for keeps."

The lessons of Britain and the Boer war (thanks to Jan Pieterse for the link),12271,1555820,00.html

General Janice Karpinski speaks out on U.S. torture policies
MC: You wrote in an e-mail: "The techniques are a clear departure from what soldiers are taught and understand, the techniques that were directed by the highest level of this Administration." By that, you mean all the way up to the Oval Office?

JK: I mean all the way up to Cheney. I don't know the workings of how it gets up there. But I would think that, very similar to any other big corporation or the military, that if you have a deputy - or a Vice President, in this case - and he is making decisions or approvals, then maybe by default you will say, "If I didn't know, I should have known," or "I did know." Because he's your Vice President. Or he is the Vice President. Or he is the Secretary of Defense. I don't know what they are telling the President. And I don't care. He's the President, and he's supposed to know what's going on in this Administration, and honestly, sometimes it doesn't seem like he does.

Details of the CIA report on 9-11 intelligence failures start to leak out

The future of oil (thanks to Buzzflash for the link)

I think we’ve got a trend here, folks
ARG: 36%

Harris: 40%

Gallup: 40%

The return of Jim Crow?,1,6843667.story

I’ve said this before, but I think when goons like Pat Robertson violate the tenets of Christianity, it is particularly important for Christians to repudiate them. One reliable source is Jim Wallis

More piling on:

Christians lie, too:

John Roberts’ ethics problem

The Duke is dead
Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R-Calif.) "demanded and received" an inflated price for the sale of his home from a Washington defense contractor in 2003 in violation of the federal bribery statute, prosecutors in San Diego said yesterday.

The assertion that the congressman took the money "in return for being influenced in the performance of his official acts as a public official" was made public in the government's response to a civil court filing by Cunningham's attorneys. They are fighting a Justice Department effort to seize the congressman's new home in Rancho Santa Fe.

All I can say is: ha, ha, ha. Michigan Republicans in trouble for questionable donations to. . . Ralph Nader (thanks to Buzzflash for the link)

FDA still dicking around on approving morning-after pill,1,7794478.story

The continuing WH effort to discipline and domesticate the WH press corps

[NB: Bought out with just a plate of fried catfish. . . ]

***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.***

Friday, August 26, 2005


Deadline #3 comes and goes, Iraq still without a constitution – and on the brink of chaos
Talks over the Iraqi constitution reached a breaking point today, with Shiites leaders saying they had lost patience with a group of Sunni Arab negotiators and had decided to send the document straight to the Iraqi voters for their approval.

The dire situation brought the direct intervention of American officials, who pressed senior Shiite clerical leaders to help them broker a last-minute compromise. The decision by the Shiite leadership to bypass the Sunni Arabs provoked threats from the Sunnis that they would call on their people to reject the constitution when it goes before the voters in October.

Negotiations among the three leading Iraqi factions continued toward midnight, with some leaders saying they would make a last-ditch effort to strike a deal on Friday. But after so many days of fruitless talks, some senior political leaders suggested that time had run out.

"There are still some negotiations, but if we don't have any compromise, then that's it," said Sheik Khalid al-Atiyya, a Shiite member of the constitutional committee. "We will go to the election to vote on it."

The Sunni Arabs continue to disagree with the Shiites and the Kurds over the question of federalism, which would essentially set up powerful local regions instead of a strong central government.

Barring some last-minute deal, the decision by the Shiites to move ahead without the Sunni Arabs would mark a huge blow to efforts by the Bush administration to bring the leaders of the Sunni community into the negotiations over the Iraqi constitution.

American officials here have expressed hope that bringing the Sunni Arabs into the talks on the constitution would help bring them into the political process and ultimately drain away support for the guerrilla insurgency.
Sunni groups are saying they'll organize voters against the draft, which goes to a national referendum Oct. 15. The document goes six feet under if two-thirds of voters in any three of Iraq's 18 provinces vote against it. It's unclear if Sunnis have the numbers for that.


Here’s how crazy it’s become
Fearing constitution talks are deadlocked, Shiite negotiators planned to study new proposals from Sunni and Kurdish delegates after suggesting the draft should go forward to the voters in two months as is.

A Sunni negotiator, meanwhile, pointed the finger at the Kurds, accusing them of "intransigence" over the issue of federalism, which the Sunnis oppose. A meeting was expected later Friday, after the parliament speaker declared the talks would last at least another day after the third deadline was missed.

Several Shiite negotiators, expressing frustration with the continued delays, said Thursday there was no need for unanimity or a parliament vote and that the draft approved by them and the Kurds last Monday should go to voters in an Oct. 15 referendum without further changes. . . Parliament speaker Hajim al-Hassani, a Sunni who was elected on the mostly Sunni ticket headed by former President Ghazi al-Yawer, agreed that the law does not require a parliament vote.
[Atrios] On one hand they've postponed the vote on the constitution, but on the other hand we've got some people saying they don't need to actually vote on the constitution because they already approved it on Monday even though it wasn't complete. . . I don't know if that bit of Calvinball is there to just try to sneak the document through (sounds like rather a bad idea) or to prevent the assembly from being dissolved, which seems to be what's required by law. . .
[Tim Grieve] We can only wonder how the Bush administration will spin today's news. . . [T]here is no word as to when the National Assembly might meet again. And even if it does meet again, it's unclear whether the National Assembly would have any authority to act. Some Sunni opponents to the process argue that the interim constitution required the National Assembly either to adopt a constitution or dissolve by Aug. 15 or, at the latest, by Aug. 22, the date on which the first extended deadline ran.

Rule of law? A scathing attack from Billmon on the complete sham this “constitutional process” has become

Juan Cole gives the post mortem
Disaster looms, and the Bush administration's blunders are largely to blame. . .

I’ve been waiting for this: here’s the constitutional issue that is going to cause the Bush policy trouble domestically. Not federalism – that’s only going to cause the Iraqi people trouble. Not women’s rights – that’s only going to cause Iraqi women trouble. No, the killer issue that has Republicans over here petrified once their constituents catch wind of it is the lack of religious freedom in Iraq

As the process starts to collapse, damage control to prevent Bush from being blamed for the failure begins. Here’s a case in point. A story in CNN, today, points out that Bush called the Shiites WEDNESDAY to urge them to keep negotiating. What makes this “news”? Why is it running now?
In the midst of political wrangling over the delayed final draft of the Iraqi constitution, President Bush this week called a Shiite leader, encouraging him to keep the political process open during the often-difficult negotiations. . .

Always watch the little words
[Armando] President Bush told thousands of National Guard members and their families on Wednesday that an immediate withdrawal of American troops from Iraq would only embolden terrorists and make America and its allies more vulnerable to attack. The president said withdrawing troops now - as Ms. Sheehan advocates - would "only embolden the terrorists and create a staging ground to launch more attacks against America and free nations."

Okay, doing it NOW emboldens the terrorists, but what about 3 months from now? 6 months? A year from now? 2 years? When will withdrawing the troops NOT embolden the terrorists Mr. President?. . .

By the way, how big an idiot is Bush? Look at this line:

Despite more violence on Wednesday in Iraq, Mr. Bush said, "What's important is that the Iraqis are resolving these issues through debate and discussion, not at the barrel of a gun."
[Garance Franke-Ruta] Is it possible that the president's adamant refusal to publicly consider withdrawal from Iraq is pure politics, rather than policy? Nothing but a domestic play in an environment where it's politically useful for the GOP to be able to paint Democrats and critics as weak-kneed appeasers unwilling to stand up to the terrorists? The increasing murmurs about withdrawal from Iraq that are coming from the leaders of our armed forces suggest as much, and that a plan for the drawing-down of troops may well be in the works at the same time that, for domestic political reasons (the need to project "resolve" and so on), such a plan or intention is being denied.
[Matt Yglesias] I think David Brooks' column today makes it clear that conservatives are about done with this venture, too, though they'd like to label it a success and I'd prefer to label it a failure. But that's half semantics and half politics.

What should the Democrats do about this? Digby poses the challenge


The National Review!
“You have to give Bush credit--he's the absolute opposite of Clinton. Clinton was in favor of small, popular things. Bush apparently likes to be in favor of big, unpopular things.”

Watch for some stealth moves by the Republicans next month to try to sneak through some version of “Social Security reform”
[Susan Madrak] They plan to maneuver one version through and then change it in committee, sidestepping the Democrats completely.

Everything you ever wanted to know about the Plame scandal: a comprehensive overview of how we got here and what might happen next,0,61238.story

Editor & Publisher reads the whole thing, all the way to the end, and finds this
[E&P] But near its conclusion it raises an emerging issue, promoted by Michael Wolff of Vanity Fair, among others: If Time magazine had gone public about Rove's conversations with Cooper, it might have had some impact on the Bush-Kerry race for the White House last year. . . But. . . “Time editors were concerned about becoming part of such an explosive story in an election year.”
[Tim Grieve] In a way, it may be even worse than that. By not seeking a waiver from Rove -- by not reporting what its reporter knew to be true -- Time allowed Americans to go the polls believing that which the magazine knew to be false. Until Time turned over Matthew Cooper's email messages to Patrick Fitzgerald this July, the White House was free to proclaim -- as it did, repeatedly and vociferously -- that Karl Rove had nothing whatsoever to do with the outing of Valerie Plame. That's the false story Americans had been told when they cast their votes for the presidency in November. Time knew better but didn't say.

And this little tidbit: Colin Powell (apparently) keeps dropping little crumbs of bread that lead reporters to. . . Karl Rove

What Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, and the rise of torture policies tell us about the Bush gang’s wider philosophy of government (great post)

Duke Cunningham: bribery

Dirty GOP governor #4 (add to Ohio, California, and Kentucky)

Will John Roberts be tripped up by. . . Iran/Contra?

Of course we should have known that Bush’s program of “UN reform” was actually the BLOCKING of UN reform – and Bolton’s just the guy to do it
Less than a month before world leaders arrive in New York for a world summit on poverty and U.N. reform, the Bush administration has thrown the proceedings in turmoil with a call for drastic renegotiation of a draft agreement to be signed by presidents and prime ministers attending the event.

The United States has only recently introduced more than 750 amendments that would eliminate new pledges of foreign aid to impoverished nations, scrap provisions that call for action to halt climate change and urge nuclear powers to make greater progress in dismantling their nuclear arms.

Here’s a real scoop: Steve Clemons gets a copy of Bolton’s marked-up document, which shows his edits (oooh, someone on the “team” is already undermining the boss)

Cliff’s Notes version:

Here’s more good stuff from Clemons
[Steve Clemons] The Bolton Civil Wars in the State Department may have just re-started. . . For those who followed the Bolton battle from early March through August, one of the real issues with John Bolton is that he was constantly attempting to undermine Colin Powell, Richard Armitage and others but did so with Dick Cheney's blessing.

There is evidence bubbling to the surface -- not altogether clear -- but pointing to the possibility that Bolton has already stepped out of his holding pen and is undermining Condi Rice and Bob Zoellick -- again with Dick Cheney's blessing. . .

And one more example of Bolton’s diplomatic “style.” You might think – you MIGHT – that newly installed in his position, he’d be looking to mend fences and build up his legitimacy. But if you think that, you don’t know Mr. Thumb-In-Your-Eye (and remember that we paid for this partisan charade)
[Arianna] So John Bolton had a reception at the U.N. ambassador's private residence in the penthouse at the Waldorf Astoria last night. The Washington Times, Fox News, and various other conservatives were invited, but some of the people who weren't included Colum Lynch from the Washington Post and Warren Hoge from the New York Times, both of whom cover the U.N. for their respective papers. If you thought the Bush administration’s cowardice about facing anyone not completely on board was confined to Crawford and the campaign trail, think again.

Lynch actually called the mission to the U.N. to confirm that he was not invited, and he was told that, indeed, he was not. A few hours before the reception I asked Warren Hoge about all this. "I'm not taking it personally. I've never met John Bolton," he told me, "and clearly this will continue through tonight."

Doug Feith has arguably done more direct damage than anyone in the Bush administration below the troika of Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld. And most people still couldn’t pick him out of a police lineup (for a review, search “Feith” in the PBD archives)

Looks like Rumsfeld’s got a “tell”
How can you tell when Donald Rumsfeld is lying?. . .

Fox News: more dangerous than a loaded weapon
[Kevin Drum] Just when you thought cable news couldn't sink any lower, cable news sinks lower. Two weeks ago, Fox News wrongly identified the house of Randy and Ronnell Vorick as a terrorist lair:

In what Fox News officials concede was a mistake, John Loftus, a former U.S. prosecutor, gave out the address Aug. 7, saying it was the home of a Middle Eastern man, Iyad K. Hilal, who was the leader of a terrorist group with ties to those responsible for the July 7 bombings in London. . . Hilal, whom Loftus identified by name during the broadcast, moved out of the house about three years ago. But the consequences were immediate for the Voricks.

. . . He gave out the address! On national TV! That's practically an invitation for local thugs to firebomb the house.

But now for the worst part. Not only has Fox not retracted this report, but here is Loftus' brain dead pseudo-excuse for broadcasting the Voricks' address to 20 million viewers in the first place:

"I thought it might help police in that area now that we have positively identified a terrorist living in [Orange County]," he said.

Note to Loftus: the next time you want to let police know about a terrorist living here in the OC, call the police.
A couple whose home was wrongly identified on national television as belonging to an Islamic radical has faced harassment, and police are providing special protection.

How long will Jon Klein (Mr. Entertainment News) stay in charge of CNN? Why CNN is losing out big time to Fox (thanks to Atrios for the link)

Bonus item: GOP shill Tony Blankley tells an absurd lie
In an August 24 op-ed, Washington Times editorial page editor Tony Blankley spun poll data on Iraq to argue -- contrary to the findings of every recent major poll on the topic -- that nearly two-thirds of the American people continue to support the war in Iraq.

How did Blankley manage this feat? He wrote:

. . . In a major USA Today/CNN/Gallup poll from three weeks ago 32 percent of the public said we can't win the war in Iraq. Another 43 percent predict victory, while -- critically -- 21 percent say "the United States could win the war, but they don't think it will.". . . If one adds that "could win, but don't think we will win" 21 percent to the 43 percent who predict victory -- one has a very solid 64 percent supporting the war.

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