Monday, March 31, 2008


Sadr offers Maliki a cease fire. Out of weakness or out of strength? (Looks like strength to me)

Guess who brokered the deal? Guess who is the real political force in Iraq right now? (pssst – not us!)

Every prediction, every estimate, every promise made by the Bush gang about their grotty little adventure in Iraq has proven to be disastrously wrong – and yet people still take their predictions and promises seriously. Why?

[Spencer Ackerman] This week the United States suffered its 4,000th military death in Iraq. That number will surely increase, as violence is now exploding across the country. Iraqi forces are clashing with the powerful Shiite militia of radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr. As if to offer denial in the face of disaster -- and commit the U.S. to losing many more soldiers and Marines -- the Bush administration has begun negotiations with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to keep U.S. troops in Iraq for years, even decades, after President George W. Bush leaves office. . . .

Afghanistan, the “successful” conflict
President Bush heads to Europe today to try to rescue the faltering mission in Afghanistan, and key NATO allies plan to meet his demands for more forces with modest troop increases, though not by as much as U.S. military officers say is needed to put down a stubborn Taliban insurgency . . .

Boo hoo
President Bush delivered the first pitch tonight at the new Nationals Park in Washington, D.C. to a resounding chorus of boos. After being announced, Bush was showered by boos as he strode to the mound. Even after Bush delivered the pitch, the jeering did not let up until the President disappeared from the field. . .
[Matt Yglesias] You've got to wonder why the Nationals asked Bush to throw out the first pitch at the new stadium -- it was pretty much inevitable that he'd get booed by a DC crowd. And rightly so, the man deserves to be booed. But the fan's deserve a first pitch thrower who's not so boo-worthy. Couldn't they have gotten Mayor Fenty to open the Nats' season and sent Bush to a minor league game in Utah or some other place where he's still got a good approval rating?

Our stubborn and petulant President
[NYT] President Bush likes to talk about not being swayed by public opinion, especially the views of Democrats. At a news conference last December, he said the most important criterion for picking a president is “whether or not somebody’s got a sound set of principles from which they will not deviate as they make decisions.”

Unhappily for the country, we have learned that Mr. Bush has no idea when standing on principle becomes blind stubbornness and then destructive obsession . . .


Who needs multiple points of view when you know you’re always right?
[NYT] The Council of Economic Advisers is down to one adviser. . .

The Bush gang’s illegal wiretapping. How bad was it? So bad that they couldn’t even get their toadies over at the Dept of Justice to okay it
[Emptywheel] [W]hen the illegal wiretap program started in 2001, it had no specific legal authorization--not even from the compliant John Yoo!


The magnitude of their crimes
[McJoan] Warrantless wiretapping, retroactive immunity, Operation Total Information Awareness, passport file breaches, a toothless Oversight Operations Board stacked with cronies. Each a head on the monster that is the Bush administration's approach to intelligence . . . [read on]

Good riddance!
Housing Secretary Alphonso R. Jackson is expected to resign Monday . . .


Mortgaging our future
[Steve Benen] The Republican response to the mortgage crisis has been, shall we say, a bit of a joke. John McCain has led the way for the party with a plan that is both ineffective and surprisingly callous. . .

I’m in the wrong line of work
The two top executives at struggling Countrywide Financial Corp., the nation's largest mortgage lender, are slated to receive a combined $19 million in payouts . . .

Life in Bush’s Big Booming Economy: food stamp use is at an all-tine high

All of this faux outrage and demands for apologies and disavowal of allies during the campaign is getting pretty silly

Oh, what John McCain doesn’t know. It’s amazing to see, sometimes

McCain’s deep hypocrisy about campaign finance

Party identification numbers: better and better news for the Dems

Even GOP Senators won’t donate to their own Senate campaign committee
[Jonathan Singer] The National Republican Senatorial Committee is in a whole lot of trouble these days. The committee is had terrible difficulty recruiting strong challengers for the incumbent Democratic Senators up for reelection in 2008, as a result of which -- along with impressive Democratic recruitment and a raft of GOP retirements -- the NRSC appears destined to play defense rather than offense this cycle. To make matters worse, the NRSC has less than half the cash-on-hand of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee -- a $17 million disadvantage, to be precise -- making it all the more difficult for the GOP to limit its potential losses. A lot of the disparity in the relative sizes of the two committees' campaign accounts comes from contributions, or the lack thereof, from incumbents. . . . [read on]

This is a really, really dumb idea: the kind of phony “even-handedness” that actually enshrines the interests of one campaign over that of the other
ABCNews' Mary Bruce Reports: Clinton supporter Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell backed this morning Former New York Governor Mario Cuomo's proposal to guarantee a "dream ticket". Cuomo has suggested Obama and Clinton agree now that whoever does not win the nomination will become the vice presidential candidate regardless of the outcome. . .

In the end, it won’t be Obama or party leaders or the DNC that drives Clinton out of the race – it will be when her money dries up

If the Michigan and Florida cases go to the DNC Credentials Committee, here’s what’s likely to happen – views from the Obama AND Clinton points of view



Bonus item: McSame

***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 30, 2008


In Iraq: the Maliki government started a fight with the Sadrists that it now can’t handle alone – and US troops are back fighting in the middle of a civil war
[Devilstower] It's reprehensible enough when an American president puts soldiers in harm's way to make a political point. But the GOP has placed American soldiers at the whim of Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, turning our forces into pawns between political rivals. . . .
[Kevin Drum] Did Nouri al-Maliki really launch the Basra offensive without telling us beforehand? . . . [read on]

[Kevin Drum] [W]hat happens if the Mahdi Army beats the government forces and wins the Battle of Basra? The Brits are hunkered down at the airport and have no intention of helping out. American forces are busy in Baghdad and can't afford to come south. And the Iraqi 14th Division is the best one Maliki has at his disposal. He either wins with what he's got, or he doesn't.

And if he doesn't? What then? Does Sistani intervene? Does Maliki's government collapse? Does the American military take over in Basra by scavenging up troops from northern Iraq? Does Muqtada al-Sadr abandon his cease-fire and start up a real civil war? Or does everything go back to the status quo ante, but with the Sadrists in an even better position to win the October elections and take formal control over most of the south?

Beats me. But things are not going well for Maliki at the moment, and a loss in Basra would make it crystal clear just how shaky his position is, how weak and factional the Iraqi security forces are, and how little commitment there is on any side to genuine political reconciliation.

McCain’s War
John McCain said the Basra assault was a sign of the Iraqi government's strength . . .


Scary thought: McCain’s economic policies might be even worse than his war policies

Thanks to Peg K: one little problem with Cheney’s excuse that US troops are all volunteers (as if that makes their deaths any less tragic). Under “stop loss” and other policies that extend tours and slow down troop rotations, it isn’t quite accurate to call them “volunteers” any more . . .

The Bush gang says their RNC email accounts aren’t subject to archiving laws because they were only used for “political” and not “official” business (never mind the fact that in a Rovean world there is no such distinction to begin with). So the DNC has sued to get those emails. The court says . . .
[Politico] A federal judge has handed the White House a legal victory in a battle with the Democratic National Committee over e-mails related to U.S. attorney firings.

District Judge Ellen Huvelle of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ruled Thursday that the DNC does not have a right under the Freedom of Information Act to 68 pages of e-mails sent between White House and Justice Department officials simply because the White House e-mail traffic was transmitted on a server controlled by the Republican National Committee. . .

In dismissing the DNC lawsuit, Huvelle ruled that it was "based on the false factual premise that White House officials only used their RNC e-mail accounts for political communications." . . .

[NB: Catch 22!]

Go, Steve!
OK, new rule for Democratic presidential campaigns: unhelpful praise for John McCain should, from now on, be off limits. . . . [read on]

More hints about Hillary stepping aside – Hillary responds, “No way”
Some Democrats terrified that their bloody primary campaign will doom them in November are floating a consolation prize for Hillary Clinton: governor of New York. . . .
[Josh Marshall] Sen. Clinton gave a pretty astonishing interview to the Washington Post in which she appears to say she will stay in the race till the convention in August, where she will take her fight to the credentials committee to have the delegates from the non-sanctioned Michigan and Florida primaries seated.

The convention of course starts on August 25th, roughly five months from now. . . . [read on]

Still fighting:

Who won in Texas? We should find out today

The future of Fox News

How the conservative elites define the “liberal elite”

Sunday talk show line-ups
FOX NEWS SUNDAY: Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen (D) and Sens. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) and Jack Reed (D-R.I.).

THIS WEEK (ABC): Pennsylvania Gov. Edward G. Rendell (D) and Sens. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) and Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.).

NEWSMAKERS (C-SPAN): Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.).

FACE THE NATION (CBS): New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson (D), Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter (D) and Democratic strategist Joe Trippi.

MEET THE PRESS (NBC): CIA Director Michael V. Hayden.

LATE EDITION (CNN): Heraldo Munoz, Chile's ambassador to the United Nations; Sens. Mel Martinez (R-Fla.) and Nelson; Democratic strategists James Carville and Jamal Simmons; and former State Department adviser Aaron Miller.

Bonus item: Dance, monkey, dance!

***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.***

Saturday, March 29, 2008


Dick Cheney: Don’t worry so much about those 4000 dead American soldiers. They were all volunteers

Aside from his infamous “Where are those darn weapons of mass destruction?” routine at the Gridiron dinner (which was meant to be funny but was NOT), this might be the dumbest, most offensive speech Bush has given during his time as President
“Normalcy is returning back to Iraq.” [read on]
“I thought [Basra] was a very positive moment in the development of a sovereign nation . . .” [read on]



“Yeah, and this time the deadline is real. We really, really mean it this time. You’d better watch out. We’re really serious. Are you listening?”
[Josh Marshall] As you've probably heard, our local boss in Iraq, Prime Minister Nuri al Maliki, sternly set forth a 72 hour deadline for members of the Mahdi Army to surrender their weapons or his government forces would take them by force, attack, whatever. Well, things haven't been going well and now he's extended the deadline . . .


Is everyone off the hook for the Haditha massacre?

Another Bush admin crook and liar

Join the list
[Paul Kiel] It's official: no Bush Administration official, current or former, can hold a candle to EPA chief Stephen Johnson when it comes to chutzpah.

Alberto Gonzales, to be sure, would normally be stiff competition. But for all his lies, half-truths, and careful distortions, Alberto Gonzales somehow lacked something in the way of chutzpah. Maybe it was the way he sometimes stuttered out his answers, his un-recollections, and apologies. Johnson, by stark contrast, does the job with bureaucratic sangfroid. . . [read on]


Siegelman Speaks
“[Rove’s] fingerprints are smeared all over the case. . . .”


Michael Mukasey gets weepy calling for telecom immunity

Hey, Dems: how do you think your GOP colleagues are looking at the FISA issue?
[John Boehner] “In the end, we believe they will cave." [read on]

“We need a real American President for the American America real Americans want” Any guesses about how McCain plans to run against Obama?

[SW] Is the Onion running McCain's slogan department?

McCain = Bush 2.0

Why does the press corps fawn over McCain?

If you know these men, it tells you so much about the coming McCain campaign: GOP strategist Charlie Black to join the campaign, GOP strategist Mark McKinnon to drop out, saying he wants to be no part of what they’re going to do against Obama

Look at the trend lines for Obama AFTER his race speech

Sorry to all my Hillary supporters, but the handwriting is on the wall
[Josh Marshall] It appears that we may be seeing the first signs of the long predicted super delegate move against Sen. Clinton. . .

Howard Dean doesn’t want the fight to go to the convention (and that’s bad news for Hillary)

The complex dilemma for women, and Hillary
[Anne Taylor Fleming] I have been privy to heated battles among women, joined a few myself, as we’ve wrestled with the Hillary factor. . .

Bonus item: A lapel pin

***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, March 28, 2008


Oh, man, how badly have they screwed this up?
When officers from the Central Intelligence Agency destroyed hundreds of hours of videotapes documenting harsh interrogations in 2005, they may have believed they were freeing the government and themselves from potentially serious legal trouble.

But nearly four months after the disclosure that the tapes were destroyed, the list of legal entanglements for the C.I.A., the Defense Department and other agencies is only growing longer. In addition to criminal and Congressional investigations of the tapes’ destruction, the government is fighting off challenges in several major terrorism cases and a raft of prisoners’ legal claims that it may have destroyed evidence. . . .

[NB: May have?????!??]

Over there . . .
Today's headlines from Iraq . . .

[Steve Benen] We’ve been dealing with this kind of argument for a little too long now. When conditions in Iraq deteriorate, the Bush administration says, “We can’t withdraw U.S. troops now; this is when they’re needed most.” When violence wanes, those same officials say, “We can’t withdraw U.S. troops now; their presence is helping bring some stability to Iraq.” We should stay the course if Iraq improves, and stay the course if Iraq worsens. Either way, we have to stay the course.

Evaluating the “surge” has become a similar game. The policy is a success, the administration insists, because violence and casualties have gone down. That the point of the policy was to create conditions for political progress, of which there’s been none, is apparently an inconvenience that is supposed to go unmentioned.

And now that violence in Basra is erupting, and the Mahdi ceasefire may be unraveling, you’ll never guess what the Bush gang believes now. Yep, this is proof of the success of the surge, too

Thank god we got rid of Hussein, huh?
A classified memo written by the top U.S. military officer in western Iraq reveals that a prison in downtown Fallujah is so overcrowded and dirty that it does not even meet basic “minimal levels of hygiene for human beings.” . . .

Dude. An insight into just how screwed up the Pentagon’s weapons procurement policies are. Meet AEY

More on the Bush gang’s desperate attempts to suppress the NYT story on their illegal wiretapping

I can’t WAIT to run this fall campaign on the platform of “Do you want four more years of Bush?”
Graham: McCain not all that ‘different’ from Bush . . .

John McCain: is there ANY position that he’s taken in the past he isn’t willing to throw over now?

McCain and the age issue: it’s a big deal, and hasn’t even begun to be looked at

Here’s how to “fix” Social Security. Let’s get it done and then shut up about it
[Devilstower] A new report is out on the long term health of Social Security. There's little change from last year's numbers, with the fund staying solvent through 2041, and a change in employee payroll deduction of less than 1% required to make the system solvent for at least 75 years. . .

Yes, Mr. Obama, Ms. Clinton – let’s remember who the real enemy is
Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton yesterday sharply criticized presumptive Republican presidential nominee John McCain's views on the housing crisis, illustrating a wide gap between the two parties on how to fix the ailing economy. . . .

Time to stop the ugliness on all sides (thanks to Elaine for the link)

Good Hillary, more like this please
[CNN] Clinton was asked by a questioner in the audience here what she would tell frustrated Democrats who might consider voting for McCain in the general election out of spite.

"Please think through this decision," Clinton said, laughing and emphasizing the word "please."

"It is not a wise decision for yourself or your country." . . .

"First of all, every time you have a vigorous contest like we are having in this primary election people get intense," she continued. "You know, Sen. Obama has intense support. I have intense support."

Clinton stressed that there are "significant" differences between her and Obama, but said "those differences pale to the differences between us and Sen. McCain."

"I intend to do everything I can to make sure we have a unified Democratic party," she said. "When this contest is over and we have a nominee, we're going to close ranks, we're going to be united."

And less like this, please

Good (?) advice for Obama from Karl Rove
[Marc Ambinder] Last night on Fox News, Karl Rove floated his own balloon containing a novel way Barack Obama could end up being the nominee. In June, after all the states have finished voting and assuming he has an earned delegate lead of about 100, he could say, you know what, let's go ahead and seat those delegations from Florida and Michigan based on their January primaries. Why the hell would he consider this, given that Clinton would close the delegate gap by more than 50 and would pull to near-even -- or even ahead of -- Obama in the popular vote? It would give the undecided superdelegates a reason to vote for Obama. It would show them that he's willing to put the party's interests above his own; it would be a gesture of mangnamity that Hillary Clinton could not match; it would display, at once, confidence and humility; it would give him a way to dominate the post-early-June news cycle. . .

Hmmm. . . . so Hillary has claimed that her primary wins in big states like California show her greater electability. It’s not a bad argument. But then what does she say about this?
[A] a new poll in the biggest of all states – California – shows Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois stronger than Clinton among likely voters there – with Obama favored by 9 percentage points over Republican Sen. John McCain.

If the election were held today, California's likely voters would favor Obama over McCain by 49 to 40 percent, according to the survey. A Clinton-McCain match-up is a virtual tie: 46 percent Clinton, 43 percent McCain. . . .


Who really won Texas?

Will Canada finally come clean on their role in the NAFTA controversy?

The whole sad Clinton in Bosnia story, gathered together in one sequence

Fox News stiffs the FCC

Bonus item: Things I find on the Internets

***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.***

Thursday, March 27, 2008


McCain gives a “major speech” on foreign policy and the war. You might think he would avoid cribbing content from a speech he gave . . .in 2001!

Like Bush, only not like Bush:

What B.S.
McCain called himself a "realistic idealist" . . .

McCain’s Achilles heel:
[Josh Marshall] The Democrats are missing a big opportunity to strike early at John McCain's Achilles heel -- his lockstep support for an extremely unpopular war . . . [watch]

The best part of McCain’s speech
[John McCain, March 26, 2008] Only a fool or a fraud sentimentalizes the merciless reality of war.

[George Bush, March 13, 2008] I must say, I'm a little envious. If I were slightly younger and not employed here, I think it would be a fantastic experience to be on the front lines of helping this young democracy succeed.

It must be exciting for you ... in some ways romantic, in some ways, you know, confronting danger. You're really making history, and thanks.

[NB: Intentional? A coincidence? You decide]

By the way, the man CAN’T give a speech
[After his “major speech” on the economy] The CNN video attached to the article is well worth watching because McCain is just terrible. His eyes stay glued to the teleprompter, proving yet again that when it comes to the economy he has no idea what he's talking about. . . .

The best McCain can do is uncomfortably stumble through the teleprompter words and tell everyone what they already know. . .

What’s happening to Iraq? Why are the Sadrists rebelling now?

Bad news
Behind the Pentagon's closed doors, U.S. military leaders told President Bush they are worried about the Iraq war's mounting strain on troops and their families . . .

Positively Orwellian
The Pentagon on Wednesday said an eruption of violence in southern Iraq, where US-backed government forces were battling Shiite militias, was a "by-product of the success of the surge." . . .


We’re winning, the progress is great, victory is near, blah blah blah – but then why is the Bush gang signaling their intention to keep the latest NIE secret?

Gitmo’s chief prosecutor criticizes the tribunal regime, now quits. Will Congressional testimony be next?

Interesting: the inside story of how the NYT decided to run its story on warrantless surveillance, over the objections of the Bush gang

Filing charges against McCain for campaign finance violations

Shoring up his weak economic credentials: Rob Portman for McCain’s VP?

A McCain presidency? Think about it

The GOP in 2008: no money, and not much hope
[Kos] The NRCC actually lost ground. They had $6.4 million on hand at the end of January, but they clearly got drained in their futile effort to keep IL-14 in their hands. So House Dems have over a seven-fold lead over their hapless Republican counterparts. . . .


Chris Wallace now regrets his one moment of integrity on Fox News

Is Clinton TRYING to alienate every Democrat who isn’t already a supporter? She couldn’t be doing a much better job of it
[Greg Sargent] Twenty top Hillary fundraisers and donors have sent a scathing private letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, chastising her for publicly saying that the super-delegates should support the winner of the pledged delegate count and demanding that she say that they should make an "independent" choice. . .

The letter also contains an explicit reference to the fact that these donors have contributed heavily to Democratic causes. . . The letter represents a significant ratcheting up of pressure from Hillary's big money people on a Democratic leader in a position to influence how the super-delegates make up their minds at the end of the primary. . .
[Joe Sudbay] Every time I think I don't want to write another post about the failed candidacy of Hillary Clinton, some new outrage arises. . . .
[Matt Yglesias] I doubt threatening Nancy Pelosi to take their toys and go home if she doesn't urge superdelegates to do what they want is really the smartest way for Hillary Clinton supporters to try to win this election. It sort of re-enforces the case that the Clintons and their close allies are selfish people willing and ready to destroy the party in order to maintain control over it. . . .

How much do these donors love the Democratic Party?
[Matt Stoller] The donors threatening Nancy Pelosi are listed below. I bolded the ones who contributed to Joe Lieberman's campaign for Senate in 2006, when he won reelection as an independent. . . .

Obama responds

Has the Clinton campaign now joined the “vast right-wing conspiracy”?

Does Clinton really want her supporters to back McCain instead of Obama? She sure talks like it

No end in sight
[Steve Benen] In case there was any doubt at all about Hillary Clinton’s intention to keep fighting for the Democratic nomination, as long as it takes, the senator made her objectives clear in an interview with Time’s Mark Halperin. . . .

Hillary’s people spin the delegate math – is this the best they can do?

What will the superdelegates do?
At a time when Sen. Hillary Clinton is increasingly relying on superdelegates to vault her to the Democratic Party's nomination, a handful of undecided and pledged superdelegates are coming forward to say her campaign's tactics in recent weeks are doing more harm than good. . .


The Marines?
In light of Tuzla-gate (catchy, no?), reporters are going over past statements by Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-NY, (and Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois) to see if others don't stand more rigorous examination.

One that may get renewed scrutiny is a story she told “Women in Military Service” in 1994 -- that shortly after the end of the Vietnam war, she looked into joining the Marines. . . . [read on]

Bonus item: The War Journals of Hillary Clinton, Vol. 1
[On the front lines, in Tuzla] It was a simple mission, they had told me - get in, shake a few hands and mouth a few platitudes, get out. Simple. Yeah.

Things had started going wrong while we were still in the air and only gotten worse from there. So here we were, pinned down, choking on the acrid tang of cordite and the heady scent of human blood. The mission was even simpler now: survive. Whatever the cost, survive.

There was a grunt and a clatter of equipment as Sinbad threw himself down at my side. Sweat glistened on his bare arms, and I could see tendons contracting and relaxing as he squeezed off bursts from his M14 . . . [read on]

***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 26, 2008


Looks like we’re about to see a big upsurge of violence in Iraq
[S]o much for the Sadrist ceasefire. According to The New York Times, Iraqi and U.S. (!) forces are now battling the Mahdi Army in Baghdad -- and around the country. And it's not even just the Sadrists who are fighting. . .
[I]s the US surge collapsing?
[Dday] Iraq is actually falling apart on all sides. There's a reason that Gen. Petraeus and Ryan Crocker are calling for a pause in drawing down troop levels. There's a reason that we'll keep 140,000-plus troops in the country through the rest of Bush's term. There are major fires burning on both sides of the sectarian divide. . . .
[Daniel Politi] Although Bush didn't announce a decision about troop levels yesterday, there seems to be little question that he will accept Petraeus' recommendation for a "pause" in troop withdrawals. But hold on one second, apparently the word pause has fallen out of favor. In a somewhat amusing trip through the Washington lexicon, the NYT notes that Petraeus specifically avoided using the term pause, apparently because the word has become too politically charged, and is now referring to it as a period of "consolidation and evaluation."


Keep whistlin’ boys
As the American military death toll in Iraq reached 4,000, President Bush conferred yesterday with top U.S. officials in Washington and in Baghdad and vowed in a public statement that the outcome of the war "will merit the sacrifice." . . .
[Dick Cheney] The president of the United States, under these circumstances, dealing with these kinds of issues, can't make decisions based on public opinion polls; he shouldn't. . . .

I had the experience, for example, of working for Jerry Ford, and I've never forgotten the travails he went through after he had been president for 30 days when he issued the pardon of former president Nixon. And there was consternation coast to coast...I know how much grief he took for that decision, and it may well have cost him the presidency in '76.

Thirty years later, nearly everybody would say it is exactly the right thing to do, that if he'd paid attention at the time to the polls he never would have done that. But he demonstrated, I think, great courage and great foresight, and the country was better off for what Jerry Ford did that day. And 30 years later, everybody recognized it.

And I have the same strong conviction the issues we're dealing with today -- the global war on terror, the war in Afghanistan and Iraq -- that all of the tough calls the president has had to make, that 30 years from now it will be clear that he made the right decisions . . .
[David Kurtz] White House strategy on Iraq troop levels: Let's just play it vague and maybe no one will notice we're kicking this on to the next President. . . .

Remember this pretty chart?
When Gen. David Petraeus made his big trip to Congress last September, he came armed with a full deck of slides. But none of them captured the U.S. strategy in Iraq quite like this one . . .

In it, you can see a neat illustration of how we’re going to eventually get out of Iraq. By July, as you can see above, the U.S. force level will return to the approximate size it was preceding the surge. After that, well... the question marks begin.

According to the chart, the date for the subsequent drawdown was to be determined this month (the "decision point"). But it won't be . . .


“So?” 2.0
[Dick Cheney, March 19] Q Let me go back to the Americans. Two-thirds of Americans say it's not worth fighting, and they're looking at the value gain versus the cost in American lives, certainly, and Iraqi lives.


[John McCain, March 25] We're succeeding. I don't care what anybody says.


Wheee! George’s Magic Adventure Ride
Consumer confidence hit a five-year low in March. . . .

But McCain will fix it, yes he will, no worries
[Digby] John McCain is going to solve our economic problems by convening a meeting of the nation's accountants.

He also thinks that people should be forced to put bigger down payments on their houses, but he also that mortgage lenders should be like GM after 9/11 and give zero down payment loans.

Oh, and the banks don't trust each other and now they don't trust the people. Prices go down as well as up. He will not allow dogma to override common sense.

He explained all this to us as if we were five year olds.

If you liked having the idiot George W. Bush in charge during a national security crisis, you're going to love having the moron John McCain in charge during an economic crisis. . . .


Having a “McCain Moment”

McCain continues to get a free ride from the media on his outside-the-mainstream religious supporters

Justice Dept enters State Dept passport investigation

“Just helping”?

Voter suppression – it’s what the GOP does, and they don’t plan to stop

Clinton attacks Obama personally on the Wright issue — and even her supporters say this is a big mistake

“A grave mistake”. . . .
[Josh Marshall] You can always tell when a scandal story has peaked and is ebbing, almost down to the minute: when your political opponents start to raise it explicitly against you. . . . [read on]

Changing the subject from Bosnia?

Don’t tell me that Ms. “Ready and Prepared at 3:00 a.m.” used this excuse!
Clinton said she was "sleep-deprived" and "misspoke" when she said last week that she landed under sniper fire during a trip to Bosnia in 1996, when she was first lady. . . .

[NB: As Joe asks, does this explain the other instances where she said it (and wrote it in print) too?]

How far is Clinton prepared to go?
The “Tonya Harding option”?

Debate, or no debate?

Harry Reid promises the Obama/Clinton fight won’t get to the convention

How will it end?


Bonus item: What can you say?

[Atrios] Remember back in junior high, when you had that friend that the bullies picked on all the time? And you defended that friend, who really never did all that much for you, which led to you getting your ass kicked a few times yourself? And then you got to high school and your friend joined up with the bullies? It's kind of like that.

***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 25, 2008


Okay, we all know the figure of 4000 dead in Bush’s war – but it’s actually even worse than that
[Chris Bowers] Whenever one a terrible milestone is reach in Iraq for the number of American soldiers killed, such as 4,000 today, it is necessary to point out that the milestone being focused on was actually reached a long time ago. In addition to the 4,000 dead American soldiers, the following fatalities have also occurred in Iraq over the past five years:

* Journalists: 135 fatalities
* Non-American military coalition forces: 308 fatalities
* Non-military contractors: At least 1,001 fatalities as of June 30th, 2007
* Iraqi Security Forces: At least 8,057
* Iraqi military forces: During the invasion, between 15,000 and 45,000 Iraqi military personnel died.
* Civilians: Between 400,000 and 650,000 as of June 2006, and over 1,000,000 now.
[AFP] At least 97 percent of the deaths occurred after US President George W. Bush announced the end of “major combat” in Iraq on May 1, 2003 . . .
[Brandon Friedman] American forces have just experienced the most violent two-week period in Iraq since September 2007. . . .

Alice explains why 4000 isn’t enough:

"The president carries the biggest burden, obviously," Cheney said. "He's the one who has to make the decision to commit young Americans, but we are fortunate to have a group of men and women, the all-volunteer force, who voluntarily put on the uniform and go in harm's way for the rest of us."
[Devilstower] If any one sentence could hold all the contempt that the Republicans feel for the military and for military families, this is the one. Who is this war hardest on? Poor ol' George. . . .


Victory is near!
Troop levels in Iraq would remain nearly the same through 2008 as at any time during five years of war, under plans presented to President Bush on Monday by the senior American commander and the top American diplomat in Iraq . . .
A cease-fire critical to the improved security situation in Iraq appeared to unravel Monday when a militia loyal to radical Shiite Muslim cleric Muqtada al Sadr began shutting down neighborhoods in west Baghdad and issuing demands of the central government.

Simultaneously, in the strategic southern port city of Basra, where Sadr's Mahdi militia is in control, the Iraqi government launched a crackdown in the face of warnings by Sadr's followers that they'll fight government forces if any Sadrists are detained. By 1 a.m. Arab satellite news channels reported clashes between the Mahdi Army and police in Basra.

The freeze on offensive activity by Sadr's Mahdi Army has been a major factor behind the recent drop in violence in Iraq, and there were fears that the confrontation that's erupted in Baghdad and Basra could end the lull in attacks, assassinations, kidnappings and bombings. . . .
"We don't have any Thomas Jeffersons here."

That's a Marine captain in The Washington Post's front page story this morning on the state of affairs in Fallujah. You're not likely to ever read a more sobering narrative about Iraq . . . [read on]


How we got here
David Kay, the man who headed the Iraq Survey Group and the Bush administration charged with finding WMD in Iraq after the U.S. invasion, believes that the U.S. intelligence efforts were the biggest “fiasco of my lifetime.” . . .


“Bush’s War”

The old songs are the best songs, aren’t they?
[Karl Rove, in the WSJ] One out of five is not a majority. Democrats should keep that simple fact of political life in mind as they pursue the White House.

For a party whose presidential candidates pledge they’ll remove U.S. troops from Iraq immediately upon taking office — without regard to conditions on the ground or the consequences to America’s security — a late February Gallup Poll was bad news. The Obama/Clinton vow to pull out of Iraq immediately appears to be the position of less than one-fifth of the voters.

Only 18% of those surveyed by Gallup agreed U.S. troops should be withdrawn “on a timetable as soon as possible.” And only 20% felt the surge was making things worse in Iraq. Twice as many respondents felt the surge was making conditions better. . . .

Just a year ago it was almost universally accepted that Iraq would wreck the GOP chances in November. Now the issue may pose a threat to the Democratic efforts to gain power. For while the American people are acknowledging the positive impact of the surge, Democratic leaders are not. . . . [read on]

Worse than Bush?
In 2001, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) opposed the first round of President Bush's tax cuts, saying they were "generous tax relief to the wealthiest individuals of our country at the expense of lower- and middle-income American taxpayers." But now, as he runs for president, McCain openly mocks rhetoric that talks about "who the, quote, 'wealthy' are in America." In fact, McCain has offered massive tax cuts, mostly for corporations, that are as costly as Bush's tax cuts and even more regressive. . . . [read on]

Why We Should Fear a McCain Presidency. . . .

Oh tish, tish: what are a few campaign finance laws between friends?
John McCain has officially broken the limits imposed by the presidential public financing system, according to spending reports filed last week by the campaign. . . .

More misery for the GOP
At a time when the GOP presidential nominee will need more assistance than ever, a number of state Republican parties are struggling through troubled times, suffering from internal strife, poor fundraising, onerous debt, scandal or voting trends that are conspiring to relegate the local branches of the party to near-irrelevance. . . . [read on]
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), which helps fund the campaigns of Democrats who are running for the U.S. House, reported raising $6.2 million in February. That compared to $4.6 million raised by the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), the partisan counterpart to the DCCC. . .

The DCCC began March with $38 million left to spend and had $763,000 in debts, compared to $5.1 million for the NRCC, which reported $1.9 million in debts.

The NRCC expected to have had a bit more at the end. But the House Republican organization revised its cash-on-hand total downward by about $740,000, following the results of a preliminary investigation that alleged financial mismanagement by former NRCC treasurer Christopher Ward.

Given their money disadvantage, Republican officials also may wish they had taken back some of the $1.1 million they invested in February on the campaign for March 8 special election in Illinois’ 14th District. Democrat Bill Foster went on to win that contest by 52.5 percent to 47.5 percent over Republican Jim Oberweis — an outcome widely described as a setback and even an embarrassment to the GOP, as the Republican-leaning district had long been held by Republican J. Dennis Hastert, the former House Speaker, who resigned from Congress last November. . . .


How they play it
[Paul Kiel] This election is sure to see its share of attack groups like Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. But while most of the attention will be on the billionaire-backed attack organizations, there are also sure to be a number of smaller groups operating under the radar.

A group called the Republican Majority Campaign is a good example. . . [read on]

Can Obama win a truly realigning election?

“The Obama Doctrine”
Barack Obama is offering the most sweeping liberal foreign-policy critique we've heard from a serious presidential contender in decades. But will voters buy it? . . .

Clinton’s call to arms on the economy
[Eric Kleefeld] Hillary Clinton gave her big speech on the mortgage crisis today in Philadelphia, laying out various proposals for restructuring debts, an important issue to many blue-collar voters in this key primary — a state where a loss would effectively end her candidacy, and where even no less than a resounding win would be necessary for her to be credible for the nomination.

Beyond that, however, it was in many ways about laying out her establishment credibility with Pennsylvania voters — she was accompanied by such leading Pennsylvania figures as Gov. Ed Rendell and Philly Mayor Michael Nutter — and contrasting herself against Barack Obama on the experience issue, without ever naming him directly.

Key quote:

So we need a president who can restore our confidence, a president who is ready to confront complex economic problems with comprehensive solutions, a president who will act at the first signs of trouble, working with experts to identify the problem, with agencies to adapt regulations, with Congress to pass necessary legislation, working to prevent crises rather than just reacting too little too late. We need a president who is ready on day one to be Commander-in-Chief of our economy.

Why the Clinton/Obama fight has gotten so nasty
[Josh Marshall] Perhaps this is obvious. But it seems to me that the real reason the Democratic primary race has gone from heated to vicious (at least among the candidates' supporters, if not the candidates themselves) is precisely because we're in this awkward seven week hiatus in which there are no actual elections being held. Actual voting, rightly, has served as the closest thing to a referee this on-going contest has. So each side would have it at for a week or so. And then we'd have some voting. And despite all the efforts to spin the results on both sides they'd still have an undeniable effect. After South Carolina, Hillary seriously rejiggered her approach. After Ohio and Texas, Obama's camp decided that certain attacks against them had stuck. All the acrimony and spin notwithstanding, the regular input of voters had the effect of keeping the campaigns on something like a common narrative. Without them, we are stuck with the same, unchanging stubborn set of facts: Obama has a relatively narrow lead which, under the DNC's rules, is nevertheless extremely difficult to overcome. And each side is left cycling over into more and more heated iterations of the same arguments, like a cascade into mounting levels of mania, at least among supporters if not always the campaigns themselves. . . . [read on]


Clinton’s supporters try more and more ways to redefine the rules to fit her situation
[Taegan Goddard] Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN), who endorsed Sen. Hillary Clinton for president, "proposed another gauge Sunday by which superdelegates might judge whether to support Mrs. Clinton or Senator Barack Obama," the New York Times reports. "He suggested that they consider the electoral votes of the states that each of them has won."

Said Bayh: "So who carried the states with the most Electoral College votes is an important factor to consider because ultimately, that’s how we choose the president of the United States."

Clinton supporters like this metric because it's the only one proposed so far that currently shows her ahead. . . [read on]
[Josh Marshall] There were other options that seemed to go even further down the rabbit hole. But it did lead me to have a kind of epiphany about just where the Clinton side is at this point -- gaming out different retroactive rule changes to see who would have won the popular vote if the nomination process were operating under a different set of rules. I imagine playing poker around a table with friends. Player A has a Straight Flush; Player B has four of a kind. Then B says well, sure, if you're counting straights, but if we were adding up the numbers rather than going by straights winning, I'd have won. . . . [read on]

It’s getting kind of silly:
"And also remember that pledged delegates in most states are not pledged," said Clinton. "You know, there is no requirement that anybody vote for anybody. They’re just like super-delegates." . . . [read on]
[Eric Kleefeld] Hillary previously hinted at such a strategy about two weeks ago, while over a month ago the campaign had to deny reports that they would attempt such a thing.
Five Ways Clinton Leads Obama . . .
[Cameron Fredman] Average Highest Elevation . . . [read on!]


Clinton says she “misspoke” in characterizing her Bosnia visit in 1996 as an act of heroism. Fair enough, people make mistakes – but there’s one little problem: she’s done it repeatedly, and she’s done it in print
[Tommy Vietor, Obama spokesman] “The Clinton campaign claimed today that Senator Clinton 'misspoke' when she described a supposedly harrowing landing in Tuzla, Bosnia as First Lady in 1996 -- despite the fact that the claim appeared in her prepared remarks. . . .

Senator Clinton said that a planned welcoming ceremony was cancelled because they needed to avoid sniper fire, but news footage shows that she was met by a small child who read her a poem. Contrary to the latest spin from the Clinton campaign, when you make a false claim that's in your prepared remarks, it's not misspeaking, it's misleading, and it's part of a troubling pattern of Senator Clinton inflating her foreign policy experience." . . .


It gets worse
[Josh Marshall] And there's even more. Sen. Clinton has said on a number of occasions that she was "the first, you know, high- profile American to go into Bosnia after the peace accords were signed because we wanted to show that the United States was 100 percent behind the agreement."

But this also seems to incorrect. . . [read on]

Hillary’s Bill problem (again)

Bonus item: The socialists are coming, the socialists are coming!
Rep. Virginia Foxx says she believes God will judge people for sins of omission as well as commission. . .

"You should fear for your country," Foxx told a gathering of members of the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce.

The Democratic majority in Congress has become "bolder and bolder" . . .

"I am trying to scare you to death," she said. . . .

"I think what the Democrats are doing in terms of raising taxes and adopting the budget they are adopting should scare people in this country," said Foxx. . . . "We are going down the wrong road. We are spending money we don't have. We are raising taxes on hard-working Americans, and I'm very concerned about the direction they are taking this country." . . .

"I believe they are socialists, and if you look at their platforms you will see their plan is to take money from part of the population and give it to other people in the population," she said later, referring to their universal health care plans.

"I don't know the dictionary definition of socialism, but most people would see that as socialism." . . .

***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.***