Saturday, May 31, 2008


Corruption everywhere
The White House named a special inspector general to search for possible fraud and abuse in the funding of Afghanistan's reconstruction yesterday, three months after a congressional deadline for the appointment. . . .

Well, obviously, they didn’t replace ENOUGH of them
24 Former U.S. Attorneys Say Congress Can Subpoena White House . . .

Another stupid blinder from McCain – but don’t worry, he’s the “expert” on Iraq
“I can look you in the eye and tell you it is succeeding. We have drawn down to pre-surge levels.”
[Josh Marshall] In his statement today John McCain said that "we have drawn down to pre-surge levels." But of course that that's not remotely accurate. We won't even be fully down to pre-surge levels this summer. And now in response to criticism on this point, the McCain camp is now attacking the Obama campaign and any press outlet that picks this up for "nit-pick[ing] the tense of the verb." . . .

[John Aravosis] He's lost his mind. . .
[Joe Sudbay] The McCain campaign can't explain why McCain gets the facts wrong -- over and over and over. . . .
Labels: confused, john mccain, surge
[WP] Sen. John McCain has attacked Sen. Barack Obama for not traveling to Iraq to see the "facts on the ground." But a recent statement by McCain about troop levels has his opponents raising questions about his own knowledge. . .

Obama responds, and you can see how they’re going to keep sticking it to McCain until he explodes again
He's been proposing a joint trip to Iraq that's nothing more than a political stunt. He's even been using it to raise a few dollars for his campaign. But it seems like Senator McCain's a lot more interested in my travel plans than the facts, because yesterday - in his continued effort to put the best light on a failed policy - he stood up in Wisconsin and said, "We have drawn down to pre-surge levels" in Iraq.

That's not true, and anyone running for Commander-in-Chief should know better. As the saying goes, you're entitled to your own view, but not your own facts. . . .
[Matt Yglesias] Obviously, a political gimmick is what a political gimmick is, but there's really something very strange about the conceit that flying to Iraq and taking a guided tour courtesy of the U.S. military is the best way to learn about the country. . . .

McCain uses the military in ads (which is against the rules)

[Steve Benen] This morning, the McCain campaign insisted there was nothing wrong with using pictures of Gen. David Petraeus, without his permission, in their fundraising solicitations. This afternoon, McCain himself admitted the campaign was wrong and said it “will not happen again.”

McCain’s campaign is obviously coordinating strategy with a 527 (which happens to be illegal)

Howls of laughter!
[Andrew Tilghman] Before Rick Davis began serving as John McCain's campaign manager, his lobbying firm had a pretty cosmopolitan set of clients.

For example, Ukranian billionaire Rinat Akhmetov, who has several business links to Iran. . . [read on]

Using McClellan to bash McCain

It could get worse:
[Scarecrow] No wonder Bush loyalists and McCain's staff are in a panic. The wheels have been falling off the Straight Talk Bus as McCain was pummeled for his campaign and spiritual choices; he's voted consistently with Bush and has repeatedly praised Bush's war policies. McCain hoped to wear Petreaus' surge as armor, but if he has to defend why we invaded Iraq in the first place, he'll have to share the emperor's clothes. . .


Here’s a line McCain may live to regret
“My friends, it's clear Senator Obama was driven to his position on the War in Iraq by his ideology and not by the facts on the ground. . .”,0,2091481.story
If McCain wants to be taken seriously as a more honest, competent and moderate Republican than Bush, he's going to have to answer some of the questions he has avoided. To wit: Does he believe the administration "spun" the public to justify the overthrow of Saddam Hussein? Does he agree with McClellan that it was "a political propaganda campaign?"


[Hunter] As the week draws towards a close, I would just like to take a quick moment to congratulate John McCain and the Republican Party for doing everything they could this week to focus the public's attention on the Iraq War. I think they are doing wonderfully, and will no doubt win in November if they simply keep doing what they are doing. We are very frightened of this new strategy, which is very clever and working out perfectly. . . .

I’ve said it before: beating McCain is going to be easier than people realize. Watch this
LA Times: John McCain Has A "Nightmare" YouTube Problem . . .

Scotty says the media was derelict in not pressing him for more facts in the lead-up to the war. Well, that’s a funny thing to say, since he was a main force in concealing them


It looks as if the DNC rules committee meeting today is going to be the beginning of the end – they’ll come up with a compromise on MI and FL, and unless the Clinton campaign decides to appeal and take it all the way to the convention (which is highly unlikely) the final numbers will be tabulated after the primaries next week. Then we’ll know

Hillary is tired
"I am tired," said Clinton with exasperation. "I am tired of politicians and people in the press saying we can’t do things. . . .”

You know what, Hillary, so are we
[Ann Davidow] From the White House to the campaign trail there’s a lot of anxiety going on. Senator Clinton and her staff keep up a barrage of reasons to legitimize her continued candidacy. Senator McCain gives one uninspiring speech after another, animated only when tossing insults in Barack Obama’s direction, telling ‘his friends’ he will never surrender in Iraq, or delivering one liners with a maniacal grin and a giggle. The administration on the other hand is busily trying to exert damage control and contain the uproar caused by Scott McClellan’s book about his tour as presidential press secretary.

Common to all these anxious moments is a growing sense of how badly the American people have been and continue to be treated. If Hillary is able to say she has more popular votes, and McCain can claim superior national security credentials, and the president and his cohort can swear that author Scott McClellan just isn’t the Scottie they all knew and loved, the ensuing credibility gap requires an enormous leap of faith even among true believers. At the core of all these assertions is a continuing effort to dissemble, twist, distort and, in the end, trash the truth. Unfortunately, by the time that realization bubbles up in the collective American mind unspeakable damage to the country’s institutions has been done.

In a way it’s kind of fun to tweak some of the devious rationales the various camps put out in support of their positions. . . . [read on]

Bonus item: the GOP campaign style, becoming a parody of itself

***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, May 30, 2008


Hey guys, don’t make Scotty angry – he has even more to tell
[Dday] [C]onservatives are throwing the mother of all hissy fits in response to this. The wingnut blogosphere is blaming the messenger as they always do, attacking McClellan as a liberal, a liar, a charlatan trying to sell books, and claiming they never liked him anyway.

The White House is perhaps even more spittle-flecked than the bloggers, calling McClellan "disgruntled" and even a traitor. . . . [read on]
Responding to criticism that he did not voice his objections when he was in the White House, Mr. McClellan said that he was swayed at the time by his affection for the president and respect for the president’s policy team. “I gave them the benefit of the doubt, like a lot of Americans,” he said. Mr. McClellan said he later concluded that “things went terribly off course” in Iraq after he left what he termed “the White House bubble,” where outside views often were not considered. . . .;_ylt=AoeDpJF845_Qs9gFpQyLUeqs0NUE
Former White House press secretary Scott McClellan, speaking out for the first time since publication of his searing memoir, told NBC's "Today" show on Thursday that he erroneously believed what President Bush was saying about the war but now is answering to a higher loyalty: “a loyalty to the truth.”

“The White House would prefer that I not talk openly about my experiences,” he said . . .

Did Bush approve the Plame leak?
[Emptywheel] During the interview, Scottie revealed the two things that really pissed him off with the Bush Administration. First, being set up to lie by Karl Rove and Scooter Libby. And second, learning that Bush had--himself--authorized the selective leaking of the NIE. . . . [read on]


McClellan also recounts another "clinker," when Bush singled out Michael Brown, the beleaguered head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, with the infamous, "Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job."

"Even Brown looked embarrassed and no wonder; most Americans had already concluded that the FEMA director was in over his head," said McClellan, who adds that it helped cement an image that Bush is overly loyal even after poor performance. . . .

Back when Scotty ruled the podium: a video review


The enablers

Our pliant press
JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I think the press corps dropped the ball at the beginning. When the lead-up to the war began, the press corps was under enormous pressure from corporate executives, frankly, to make sure that this was a war that was presented in a way that was consistent with the patriotic fever in the nation and the president's high approval ratings.

And my own experience at the White House was that, the higher the president's approval ratings, the more pressure I had from news executives -- and I was not at this network at the time -- but the more pressure I had from news executives to put on positive stories about the president. . . . They would turn down stories that were more critical and try to put on pieces that were more positive . . . [read on]

Iraq: still falling apart
[Juan Cole] On Wednesday, the Sunni fundamentalist Iraqi Accord Front (IAF, Tawafuq) withdrew from talks on rejoining the government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki of the Shiite fundamentalist Islamic Mission Party (Da'wa). . .

The collapse of these talks and the failure of al-Maliki to achieve substantial reconciliation with Sunni Arabs are blows to the success of the US troop escalation ("surge"), which was advertised as necessary to move Iraq toward communal peace. This Sunni-Shiite reconciliation was one of four major benchmarks announced by George W. Bush in January of 2007, which he said should be achieved by June, 2007. In the subsequent year and a half, al-Maliki's national unity government collapsed, the Sunnis have remained in the opposition, and hundreds of thousands of Sunni Arabs have been ethnically cleansed from Baghdad in the meantime. Many of them are sweltering in Syria as refugees, their life savings dwindling, their former homes occupied by Shiite squatters. . . .

Joe Lieberman: how his support for the war distorts EVERYTHING else

McCain’s chief economic advisor is in a heap o’ trouble

McCain paying a price for his disavowal of Hagee, Parsley


McCain switches (again) on telecom immunity

McCain wants to introduce Obama to the bright, shining, new and improved Iraq
"It's been 871 days since he was there and I'm confident that when he goes he will then change his position on the conflict in Iraq because he will see the success that has been achieved on the ground."

Hillary helps, again
During one of those candidate-drops-into-a-diner-for-a-chat rituals in eastern South Dakota today, Sen. Hillary Clinton took an indirect jab at Democratic front-runner Sen. Barack Obama. . . .

McCain, who has visited Iraq eight times, has used the issue to criticize Obama’s foreign policy credentials. Obama, he says, “does not have the knowledge or the experience to make the judgments. Presidents have to listen and learn. Presidents have to make judgments no matter how popular or unpopular they may be.”

In her campaign stops, Clinton customarily pauses to praise McCain for his service to the country before going on to criticize his policy positions and cast them as a continuation of the Bush administration. But as she campaigns in South Dakota in advance of its Tuesday primary, Clinton added an extra recollection to her intro. “I have the highest respect and regard for Sen. McCain, he and I have actually gone to Iraq and Afghanistan together,” she said. “And I honor his service to our country and his patriotism.” . . .

Here’s a good reply
[Mark Kleiman] If I were Obama, the next time I was asked this I would just say, "Our brave men and women fighting in Iraq have better things to do than babysit one more tourist from Washington."

And an even better one
[Chief Obama strategist David Axelrod] In a wide-ranging interview on Wednesday with The Huffington Post, David Axelrod began with a bit of political thunder, accusing McCain of failing to question the White House as it used “deception and propaganda to essentially lead America to war.”

“What does all his experience get us?” asked Obama’s strategic guru. “What do all those visits [to Iraq] get us?”

He continued: “The fact that he goes to Iraq and gets a tour apparently does little to provoke the kinds of questions that should be asked, and what Sen. Obama has been asking since the beginning. So it is not a question of longevity in government. It is a question of judgment, it is a question of a willingness to challenge policies that have failed. And he seems just dug in.” . . .

“We are talking on a day where the president’s press secretary released a book where they frankly acknowledged that they engaged in deception and propaganda to essentially lead America to war. Senator Obama saw through that and raised the appropriate questions. Sen. McCain didn’t,” he said.


Pelosi, Reid, Dean tell the superdels: you’ve got a week to decide


Is this the final compromise for Florida and Michigan?


House and Senate races: a review

Bonus item: Oh, christ

***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, May 29, 2008


In the Bush world, you’re either a hard-core loyalist and true believer, or you are an enemy to be destroyed. Scott McClellan crosses the line, with predictable results
The White House Wednesday said it was "puzzled" by a former spokesman's memoir in which he accuses the Bush administration of being mired in propaganda and political spin and at times playing loose with the truth. . . .

White House spokeswoman Dana Perino called McClellan's description of his time at the White House "sad."

"Scott, we now know, is disgruntled about his experience at the White House," Perino said. "For those of us who fully supported him, before, during and after he was press secretary, we are puzzled. It is sad. This is not the Scott we knew."
Speaking on Fox News, where he is now a commentator, Mr. Rove said Mr. McClellan was not even present at many of the meetings he describes and suggested that he was not writing truthfully.

“First of all, this doesn’t sound like Scott. It really doesn’t,” he said. “Not the Scott McClellan I’ve known for a long time. Second of all, it sounds like somebody else. It sounds like a left-wing blogger.

“If he had these moral qualms,” he added, “he should have spoken up about them.” . . .

[NB: ". . . and then we would have fired him"]


McClellan’s main revelations -- not one of which the Bush gang denies. It's all ad hominem.

Here’s a little tidbit from McClellan’s book: Bush on his previous cocaine use

(Not that this makes McClellan a hero)
[Scarecrow] Shorter Scott McClellan: I'm shocked, shocked that the Bush White House was filled with scheming, dishonest people, which I never figured out 'till later, and I'm really upset Rove and Libby put me out in front to mislead the American people . . .
[BarbinMD] More than two years after leaving the White House, former press secretary Scott McClellan has grown a conscience. And all it took was a lucrative book deal . . .
[Bill in Portland] MASSIVE JEERS to Scott McClellan. The latest former Bush lapdog---he was press secretary from '03 to '06---to come out of the woodwork has several juicy nuggets in his hot-off-the-presses tell-all book. Bottom line: he confirms everything that we dirty hippie bloggers were screaming about at the top of our lungs, but which the traditional media ignored because...well, because Scott McClellan stood at his little White House podium and denied it all . . .


McClellan on the media
If anything, the national press corps was probably too deferential to the White House and to the administration in regard to the most important decision facing the nation during my years in Washington, the choice over whether to go to war in Iraq.

The collapse of the administration's rationales for war, which became apparent months after our invasion, should never have come as such a surprise. . . . In this case, the "liberal media" didn't live up to its reputation. If it had, the country would have been better served. . . . [read on]


Pentagon auditor: I can’t do my job!

Another major lobbyist problem for John McCain – this time he’s going to lose his chief economic advisor
[Josh Marshall] On the McCain/Gramm/UBS front (noted in yesterday evenings posts), it seems that not only is Sen. McCain's top economics advisor, fmr Sen. Gramm, lobby and work for UBS, but according to today's Financial Times the company is advising members of its private banking team not to step foot in the United States in order to avoid indictment. . . .
[Dday] Gramm's execrable Senate record, which includes easing regulation on energy trading (which directly led to Enron), and undoing the Glass-Steagall Act (which almost directly led to the mortgage mess), ought to be enough to disqualify him from any advisory economic role. But his lobbying for the very companies seeking to stop homeowners facing foreclosure from rewriting their mortgages, which was SUCCESSFUL lobbying, by the way, is really just beyond the pale. The compromise bill worked out in the Senate is far more friendly to the terms set out by Gramm's bosses, and, significantly, John McCain.

I don't think you can go wrong making Phil Gramm a major face of the McCain campaign. The guy is as perfect a symbol of failed conservative policies as there is, and he makes the deregulation and lobbyist-run federal oversight policies of the Bush Administration look like the second coming of Teddy Roosevelt.

We could add to this the fact that Joe Lieberman and Lindsay Graham are violating the ethics rules laid out by the McCain campaign, serving on the board of an organization running 527 attack ads against Barack Obama. But let that go for a second. Practically McCain's entire staff has major ties to lobbying organizations. The reformer image is virtually dead and buried.


McCain: caught up in the Renzi investigation?

McCain VP choice not acceptable to the party base

Why McCain will lose
McCain voted with Bush 100% of the time . . .

Theocracy watch: how creepy and insane is John Hagee?


Upcoming Senate races
[Bruinkid] There are 35 seats up for election because of a scenario in Wyoming and Mississippi where both seats are up, due to the passing of Craig Thomas and the resignation of Trent Lott, respectively. Now obviously, quite a few of the races are considered "safe" for the incumbent. So I'll rank these in terms of tiers. The top tier will be the races where the party holding the seat has a real shot of switching. The second tier are races that could become top tier races, but are not at this point. Tier III are ones where a major event would need to happen for the seat to come into play. . . . [read on]

What’s going to happen when the DNC rules committee meets to discuss the Michigan and Florida primary cases? Well, there’s one thing we know WON’T happen
[Steve Benen] After having first endorsed the decision to strip Florida and Michigan of its convention delegates, the Clinton campaign reversed course and insisted that the DNC’s Rules and Bylaws Committee seat the full delegations from both states, even though voters in the states were told in advance that their votes wouldn’t count, and even though the candidates didn’t campaign in either state.

This morning, the Democratic Party’s lawyers explained that the Rules and Bylaws Committee can’t grant the Clinton campaign’s request — the committee, even if it wanted to, simply doesn’t have the authority. . . .
Party rules require that FL and MI lose at least half of their delegates . . .
Almost certainly, Hillary Clinton will be disappointed at the results. . . .


Bonus item: “Nixonland” – looks like a great book

***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, May 28, 2008


This is good. Let’s get McCain on record NOW
[Scott Horton] This post is about “No Torture. No Exceptions.” It’s an initiative with which I am deeply involved, dedicated to making certain that each presidential candidate makes stopping torture part of their campaign platform. . . .

All the remaining Presidential candidates–John McCain in the Republican Party, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton in the Democratic Party–have publicly stated their opposition to the use of torture. Now each of these presidential candidates must get their parties to adopt at their Conventions a party platform plank that returns America to its historic position of absolutely rejecting torture–anywhere, on anyone, for any reason. . .


The CIA OIG Made Five Criminal Referrals During Its Investigation of CIA Interrogation Techniques . . .

CNN is STILL using one of the Pentagon’s rent-a-generals as a supposedly objective commentator

Corruption on the US border

The man from the EPA

Scotty! Welcome back!
President Bush “convinces himself to believe what suits his needs at the moment,” and has engaged in “self-deception” to justify his political ends, Scott McClellan, the former White House press secretary, writes in a critical new memoir about his years in the West Wing.

In addition, Mr. McClellan writes, the decision to invade Iraq was a “serious strategic blunder,” and yet, in his view, it was not the biggest mistake the Bush White House made. That, he says, was “a decision to turn away from candor and honesty when those qualities were most needed.” . . .

He fingers Rove and Libby too:

The White House wants you to know: Bush is not on the ticket this fall

Behind closed doors, McCain will be "snuggling up" to Bush . . .


Obama calls him on it

The silly season: Obama mixes up the names of two concentration camps. This is, according to the GOP and some in the press, a major scandal

THIS, on the other hand, is a real scandal
[Josh Marshall] For months, John McCain has been bragging on the fact that he's got fmr. Sen. Phil Gramm as his key economics advisor. That's scary enough as it is, if you're familiar with Gramm's policy predilections and legislative history. But now it turns out that Gramm, who advised McCain on his mortgage relief policy and speech, was also a registered lobbyist for the Swiss bank UBS, which is obviously heavily concerned with the mortgage crisis. According to MSNBC, which has just broken the story, UBS only deregistered Gramm on April 18th of this year, which I'm pretty certain was after McCain rolled out the policy that Gramm had a hand in crafting.

It gets better:

McCain smears Obama, Democrats with the “surrender” brush


Pssst. Hey, McCain’s lying (again)
"I can eliminate $100 billion of wasteful and earmark spending immediately . . .”

McCain was against telecom amnesty (before he was for it)

McCain again manages to articulate a policy stance even dumber than Bush’s

More red state troubles for the Republicans
[Kentucky] Senate GOP Leader McConnell Trailing Democratic Opponent
[Mississippi] In a sign that Republicans may sense they are at risk of losing a Senate seat in even the deep-red state of Mississippi . . .


Thanks Hill: Clinton crowd boos Obama


Shut up, Bill
Former President Bill Clinton said that Democrats were more likely to lose in November if Hillary Clinton is not the nominee, and suggested some were trying to "push and pressure and bully" superdelegates to make up their minds prematurely.

"I can't believe it. It is just frantic the way they are trying to push and pressure and bully all these superdelegates to come out," Clinton said . . .

More from Bill:

Does the popular vote matter in the primaries? Should it? A mini-debate

The end
[Taegan Goddard] Sen. Barack Obama's aides told the New York Daily News the freshman senator is "now just 49 delegates away" from clinching the Democratic presidential nomination.

On Good Morning America, George Stephanopoulos said the race is "almost certain to end" after the final primaries next week. He also predicted -- as Jimmy Carter did over the weekend -- that "several dozen" superdelegates will move to back Sen. Barack Obama after next Tuesday.


The changing calculus of “swing states”: How Obama is trying to reshape the electoral map
Obama has been campaigning in the states of NV, NM, and CO . . .
Of course, he wants to start wooing swing states for the general election. But I suspect he began with these three because he also wants to start shifting the media narrative about where he needs to win in November to capture a majority of electoral votes. . . .

Will it work?

Joe Lieberman continues his sad, slow decline
Senator Joseph Lieberman is scheduled to headline Pastor John Hagee's 2008 Christians United For Israel Washington-Israel Summit this July 22. In accepting Hagee's invitation, Lieberman became the most senior elected representative confirmed to appear at the annual gala. Last year, when Lieberman spoke at Hagee's summit, he compared the Texas televangelist to the biblical prophet Moses, dubbing him "an Ish Elochim," or "a man of God." . . .


Bonus item: Stop it, please

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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, May 27, 2008


Unless everything I read is wrong, a week or so from now the Democratic nomination will be settled beyond a reasonable doubt. People are starting to turn their attention to what it will take to re-unify the party after a bitter and sometimes downright poisonous fight between Clinton and Obama. Paul Krugman starts us off
Mr. Obama will be the Democratic nominee. But he has a problem: many grass-roots Clinton supporters feel that she has received unfair, even grotesque treatment. And the lingering bitterness from the primary campaign could cost Mr. Obama the White House. . . . [read on]


Clinton loses Atrios . . .
I know I'm not alone in the League of Mostly Nonaligned Bloggers in being rather puzzled by Clinton supporters. I don't mean all people who supported her, but the ones who are still pushing for her candidacy. As far as I can tell they want her to be the candidate and really just don't care how that happens as long as it does. At this point only a drastic rule change combined with a massive shift in support from superdelegates even gets her close to the nomination. In another words, cheating combined with the smoke-filled room residents overturning the outcome of the primary process.

I never really cared all that much about who won this thing, but at some point Obama became the only one with a legitimate path to the nomination. I just stare and scratch my head and wonder what it's all about. I appreciate that there are people who don't like Obama for whatever reasons and prefer Clinton for whatever reasons. But he, you know, won?

How the Internet helped Obama

US Attorney General argues AGAINST upholding the law

Looking into the Pentagon’s propaganda program

WHO supports the troops?
[NYT] President Bush opposes a new G.I. Bill of Rights. He worries that if the traditional path to college for service members since World War II is improved and expanded for the post-9/11 generation, too many people will take it.

He is wrong, but at least he is consistent. Having saddled the military with a botched, unwinnable war, having squandered soldiers’ lives and failed them in so many ways, the commander in chief now resists giving the troops a chance at better futures . . .
[AP] McCain said he opposed Webb's measure because it would give the same benefit to everyone regardless of how many times he or she has enlisted. He said he feared that would depress reenlistments by those wanting to attend college after only a few years in uniform. . . .
[Mark Kleiman] John McCain's argument against improving the GI Bill is that offering good benefits to servicemembers who leave after one tour will make it harder to develop the cadre of long-service non-coms that is the backbone of any fighting force. Commenter "oddball" on the WaPo politics blog makes a point I hadn't thought of in this regard: if it's a bad idea to tempt potential non-coms away from the service by paying their college tuition, why is it a good idea to let Blackwater and other mercenary companies tempt them away by offering them six-figure salaries, which will eventually be billed through to the taxpayers with overhead added? . . [read on]
Democrats introduce a common-sense bill to compensate service members affected by the President's excessive use of the "stop loss" policy . . .

Mr. Straight talk does it again
[BarbinMD] Now that John McCain has rejected the endorsement of Rod "It’s America’s destiny to destroy Islam" Parsley, and Parsley has taken back that endorsement, it seems that there is one point that should be clarified.

It was just a few short months ago that McCain said that Parsley was:

. . . one of the truly great leaders in America, a moral compass, a spiritual guide, Pastor Rod Parsley.

But now that McCain is rejecting Mr. Parsley for his hateful rhetoric, how does the McCain campaign explain those earlier, glowing words? Easy. According to a McCain spokesman, McCain said that Parsley was:

. . . a spiritual guide, not his spiritual guide.

Fox News analyst suggests that offing Obama would be a pretty good idea – but she was JUST JOKING, get it?


Bonus item: Didn’t watch “Recount,” but here are some reactions from others
[Digby] I don't know about you but last night after watching Recount, I had nightmares. . . .
[Steve Benen] A friend of mine asked me yesterday whether I planned to watch HBO’s “Recount,” a movie about the 2000 election fiasco in Florida. I admitted that I would not. It’s not that it doesn’t look like a good movie. In fact, I’m sure it’s great — the cast is terrific, and it was directed by Jay Roach, whose work I usually like.

The problem is, the subject matter is just a little too painful. . . .

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

Monday, May 26, 2008

[Katharine Seelye] Friday might have been one of the worst days of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton’s political career. . . [read on]
Hillary has written an exclusive Op-ed piece for Sunday's New York Daily News in which she discusses her comments about RFK's assassination and hits unnamed critics for taking her remarks out of context to twist their meaning.

"Almost immediately, some took my comments entirely out of context and interpreted them to mean something completely different -- and completely unthinkable," she wrote. "I want to set the record straight: I was making the simple point that given our history, the length of this year's primary contest is nothing unusual." . . .

[NB: Look, I’m willing to grant that this was her purpose – but then why mention assassination?]

Taken out of context? OK, let’s look at the context of Hillary’s comments. Read this entry and tell me if it changes how you view her assassination reference
Bruce Wilson . . . has a diary at DKos . . . that's a good deal more than just expressing outrage. It presents a timeline of assassination remarks related to Barack Obama-a timeline including FIVE separate incidents involving Hillary Clinton's campaign. . . [read on]


Hillary supporters attribute the controversy over this to mere Clinton-hating. She did nothing wrong – it’s all the Obama camp’s fault for whipping up outrage over it. (Don’t they see that they’re doing exactly the same thing in reverse?)

What Obama’s people said:
After her remarks were blared on Drudge on Friday afternoon, Obama spokesperson Bill Burton quickly put out a statement calling her remarks "unfortunate." . . .

Nor did anything change when, after the story blew up, Obama senior strategist David Axelrod explicitly stated that he didn't believe she'd meant the worst, claiming that he didn't think she was hoping that a "tragic, catastrophic event" would "intervene." . . .

What Obama said:
Barack Obama passed up an opportunity to pile onto Hillary Clinton’s problems Saturday, essentially giving her a pass when asked about her recent remarks about Robert Kennedy’s assassination.

“I have learned that when you are campaigning for as many months as Sen. Clinton and I have been campaigning, sometimes you get careless in terms of the statements that you make,” Obama told Radio Isla in Puerto Rico, where he and Clinton stumped in advance of the June 1 primary. “And I think that is what happened here.

“Sen. Clinton says that she did not intend any offense by it and I will take her at her word on that,” Obama continued.

Here’s how Obama-haters choose to spin this:
[Myiq2xu] His campaign covertly fans the flames, then he claims credit for displaying class in attempting to put out the fire. . . .
[Vastleft] Hey, Mr. Unity, when are you going to step up and say something like this…?

“I only destroyed the Clintons so I could complete my hostile takeover of the Democratic Party . . .”

By the way, privately even her own staff says it was a dumb thing to say
BORGER: Look, I think the comments were really unfortunate. She had made them before, Wolf, in an interview with TIME magazine. I think we have to take her at her word that she misspoke and she -- everyone in her campaign understands that she should not have said this. . . .

Here’s how bad it is: read this (to my view) perfectly fair, moderate comment on Hillary’s gaffe, then watch what the folks at Corrente do with it . . .
[Melissa McEwan] “Briefly, my opinion is that it was an ill-considered statement that warranted an apology, irrespective of intent. FWIW, I don’t think she intended to suggest anything nefarious, but it was not a particularly sensitive example to use to make her point, and careless in its disregard of the history of violence against black leaders. It was inevitable, and of course not unreasonable, that people would consider her competitor Obama within the frame she built, to upsetting results, even if she didn’t specifically mention him.” . . . [read on]

One last thing on this – when Democrats make comments like this, it makes it harder to attack the Republicans (like Huckabee and this nitwit from Fox News) for doing so
Here's Liz Trotta, a Fox News contributor, discussing the incident, first mixing up Osama and Obama, then offhandedly suggesting that "knocking off" both would be great "if we could". . . [watch]

How the length of the Obama/Clinton fight is hurting DNC fundraising


Michigan/Florida: it’s not complicated

[NB: Thought experiment: imagine that Obama had won Michigan and Clinton won Florida, everything else being the same. Do you think we would be having this sanctimonious fight over "every vote must be counted"? Of course not.]

OK, let’s move on. Here’s an intriguing new choice for Obama’s VP


McCain’s lobbyist hypocrisy


Mr. Irrelevant
In a week of dramatic developments in the Middle East, the most dramatic development of all may have been the fact that the United States, long considered the region's indispensable player, was missing in action.

As its closest allies cut deals with their adversaries this week over the Bush administration's opposition, Washington was largely reduced to watching.

More painful for President Bush, friends he's cultivated — and spent heavily on — in Lebanon and Iraq asked the United States to remain in the background, underlining how politically toxic an association with the U.S. can be for Arab leaders. . .

It’s becoming a growing theme from the Bush gang (and you can see why): it doesn’t matter if people broke the law, so long as they were doing it in response to 9/11
Attorney General Michael Mukasey is defending former government lawyers who drew up the legal basis of the Bush administration's use of harsh interrogation methods against terror suspects. . .

[NB: Telecom immunity, etc. Expect some huge blanket pardons before these people leave office.]

Why does Karl Rove keep going on tv to talk about what he won’t talk about in front of Congress (under oath)?
[Josh Marshall] On This Week this morning George Stephanopoulos asked Karl Rove if he denied contacting the Justice Department prosecuting former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman. He responded with a textbook non-denial denial. . . .


Bush logic
[McJoan] Check out this plot hatched deep in the bowels of the Interior Department: slash forest fire prevention budgets, then propose that the shortfalls in budgets be made up by selling off the timber that would have otherwise had to have been protected from fire. That's a downright clever plan for this crowd. . . .

The Republicans “panic”

Bonus item: Getting ready for the GOP convention
[Michael Froomkin] [T]he FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force is recruiting people to infiltrate anti-GOP protest groups in the run-up to the upcoming Republican convention.

The law is clear that police may attend public meetings undercover to see what people are up to. And of course undercover operations in private settings are also legal . . .

But this story raises a number of serious questions.

First, there’s this: the FBI told the potential informant that he “would be compensated for his efforts, but only if his involvement yielded an arrest. No exact dollar figure was offered.” . . . [read on]

[NB: I think that is called a “bounty.”]

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Sunday, May 25, 2008


No, I’m not quite ready to let this go yet. I really don’t think you can give an entirely innocent interpretation of Hillary’s assassination comments. At the very least, the kindest thing you can say is that it was a thoughtless, irresponsible thing to say.

Why even bring up the topic of RFK’s assassination in 1968 if the point was to describe cases where the Democratic nomination process ran into the summer? (There are better historical examples to draw from, if that was her point. The Dems got squashed that year because they were a divided party.)

Any other assessment of her comment goes downhill from there, depending on how intentional and calculated one might think it was.

Remember, she has said it before.

And just think, JUST THINK, what will come of this if something were to actually happen to Obama

The press weighs in:
[NYT] We have no idea what, exactly, Hillary Clinton was thinking when she referred to the assassination of Bobby Kennedy in explaining her decision to keep on campaigning when it looks like there is virtually no hope of her winning the Democratic nomination. . . .

[NB: The NYT, which endorsed her!]
[Michael Goodwin] Hillary Clinton's colossal blunder simply the last straw . . .


Her defenders carry on the argument
[Vastleft] Watching the feeding frenzy over Hillary Clinton’s completely innocuous RFK comment, I am now officially afraid. . . .
[Eriposte] Sen. Clinton's comments on RFK were unfortunate because they could be misinterpreted by those unwilling to take the trouble of checking out the facts independently - but it is clear reviewing her statement and the context that her observation (one that she has made before) was not offensive and that the outrage spewing forth against her is beyond ridiculous. . . .
[Turkana] Hillary Clinton made a clumsy comment about the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy, and the reaction was typical. . . .
[Frenchdoc] Anyone, with a functioning brain not demented by Clinton Derangement Syndrome, can see that she is making a matter of fact statement: some primaries go all the way to June. Could she have put it better? Yes, probably . . .
[Steve Benen] As I see it, there are three possible interpretations to consider . . .

Her critics are having none of it
[John Aravosis] Hillary is guilty as sin, and here's why. When you write or speak publicly for a living, sometimes you screw up, but there's still an internal censor that shuts you off when certain topics come to mind . . .
[Libby Copeland] Smart candidates don't invoke the possibility of their opponents being killed. This seems so obvious it shouldn't need to be said, but apparently, it needs to be said. . . .
[Steve Soto] Senator, it's time to go. Now.

Sure, many people are giving you the benefit of the doubt, saying that certainly you didn't mean to suggest that you need to stay in the race in case something sad happens to Barack Obama. Others are saying that you must have been tired at the back end of a long campaign. Sorry, no sale. Because today's disaster isn't simply a gaffe from a tired candidate; she brought up RFK's assassination to justify a continued candidacy months ago to Time magazine. Well, others may be willing to give you a pass, but I am not. And I was one of your earliest supporters . . .


Her “apology”
[NYT] But she could, at least, have apologized.

Instead, she issued one of those tedious non-apology apologies in which it sounds like the person who is being offended is somehow at fault: “I regret that if my referencing that moment of trauma for our entire nation, and particularly for the Kennedy family was in any way offensive.”

[Jay Hancock] I love these conditional apologies from people who have made public gaffes and insults. A genuine apology -- an expression of regret and an implicit request for forgiveness -- should be unconditional. It should be an acknowledgment that a wrong has been committed -- no ifs ands or buts. . . . [read on]

Obama responds
[CBS] "I have learned that when you are campaigning for as many months as Senator Clinton and I have been campaigning, sometimes you get careless in terms of the statements that you make and I think that is what happened here," Obama said in a radio interview today.

"Senator Clinton says that she did not intend any offense by it and I will take her at her word on that."

Criminal neglect
A Pentagon audit of $8.2 billion in American taxpayer money spent by the United States Army on contractors in Iraq has found that almost none of the payments followed federal rules and that in some cases, contracts worth millions of dollars were paid for despite little or no record of what, if anything, was received.

The audit also found a sometimes stunning lack of accountability in the way the United States military spent some $1.8 billion in seized or frozen Iraqi assets, which in the early phases of the conflict were often doled out in stacks or pallets of cash. . . .
The Senate yesterday passed by unanimous consent a bill prohibiting federal contractors from avoiding Social Security and Medicare taxes by hiring workers through offshore shell companies.

Earlier this week, the House of Representatives also voted unanimously to ban the practice, used by former Halliburton subsidiary KBR to avoid payroll taxes for more than 10,000 American workers in Iraq.

The bill, which appears to have veto-proof support, now goes to President Bush. The White House has not indicated whether he supports it. . . .

[NB: Well, he has to ask Dick Cheney first]

How George Bush wants to “support the troops”
This Memorial Day, I ask all Americans to honor the sacrifices of those who have served you and our country. One way to do so is by joining in a moment of remembrance that will be marked across our country at 3:00 p.m. local time. At that moment, Major League Baseball games will pause, the National Memorial Day parade will halt, Amtrak trains will blow their whistles, and buglers in military cemeteries will play Taps. You can participate by placing a flag at a veteran's grave, taking your family to the battlefields where freedom was defended, or saying a silent prayer for all the Americans who were delivered out of the agony of war to meet their Creator. Their bravery has preserved the country we love so dearly. . . .

[SusanG] All the pious trappings of a national holiday, but no new GI bill . . .

McCain too:

President Bush is scaling back next week’s fundraising swings for Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) at the request of the campaign, which wants the events closed to the press, POLITICO has learned. . . .

The Arizona event, which was to be at the Phoenix Convention Center, was the first time Bush was to have appeared with McCain since their White House meeting in March.

A McCain aide said: “The McCain campaign has a policy that fundraising events are closed press. In keeping with that policy, the campaign requested the event be moved to a private home.” . . .

And on Wednesday, Bush was to appear at Salt Lake City’s Grand America Hotel with former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney at a McCain for President and Republican National Committee Victory Reception (followed by a more exclusive dinner at the Romneys’ Park City home).

Now, both of the public events will be at private residences. . . .

The Phoenix Business Journal reports that other factors also played a part: “Sources familiar with the situation said the Bush-McCain event was not selling enough tickets to fill the Convention Center space . . .”


Pssst. . . people are starting to notice: John McCain is running a terrible campaign

McCain’s immigration ploy: it’s backfiring
[Steve Benen] John McCain’s incoherence on immigration policy has quickly gone from problematic to humiliating. The poor guy has spun himself into a box he can’t seem to get out of. . . [read on]


McCain alienates religious conservatives (again)

McCain’s budget numbers don’t add up

McCain on trade: more nonsense

Are these PARTIAL releases of McCain health records and tax returns going to fool anybody?

The decline and fall of modern conservatism


Theocracy watch: Sunday school edition
[Mark Kleiman] John Hagee wants you to understand that when he says that Adolf Hilter was doing God's will in killing all those Jews he doesn't mean that Hitler was doing something good.

As long as that's clear.


Getting retroactive immunity into the FISA bill: a full-court press from the telecoms

Has this been thought through?
[McJoan] The great minds in Bush's Homeland Security department came up with a doozie this year: let's move the facility where we study the most infectious and dangerous disease among livestock from the isolated island it's now on (accessible only by ferry or helicopter) and put it where there are lots of livestock operations. Brilliant! . . . [read on]

JEB Bush ("the smart one") polishes his credentials for dishonesty
Florida’s Constitution contains strong language barring the diversion of tax money to religious schools and institutions. As it turns out, the Florida high court struck down the voucher plan on other grounds, declaring by a 5-2 vote that it ran afoul a provision requiring a uniform system of free public schools. Bush’s response was to hatch a plan to rewrite sections of the Florida Constitution.

The legislature balked, so Bush, in cahoots with current Gov. Charlie Crist, stacked an obscure state body, the Florida Taxation and Budget Reform Commission, with voucher stooges. The tax commission, which meets every 20 years, has the power to put initiatives directly on the ballot by a two-thirds vote. The 25-member board promptly did their bidding and voted to put Amendments 7 and 9 on the ballot.

Here’s where it gets interesting: Neither amendment mentions the word “voucher.” Amendment 7 is titled “Religious freedom.” It would remove the prohibition on tax aid to religious schools. Number 9’s title reads, “Requiring 65 percent of school funding for classroom instruction; state’s duty for children’s education.” It would do that – and also state that Florida does not have to rely exclusively on public schools to educate its children, flinging the door open for vouchers.

Religious freedom sounds good to most people. Spending 65 percent of school funding in the classroom also sounds good. Clearly, Bush & Co. are hoping Florida voters won’t look any deeper and will rubber stamp these proposals.

Newspapers in the state have not been fooled. . . .

Sunday talk show line-ups
NBC Meet the Press: CBN's David Brody, New York Times' Maureen Dowd, historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, Washington Post's Ruth Marcus, Newsweek's Jon Meacham and NPR's Michele Norris.

CBS Face the Nation: Clinton Campaign Director of Communications Howard Wolfson , McCain supporter Sen. Lindsey Graham and Obama supporter Sen. Dick Durbin.

ABC This Week: Karl Rove and Obama Senior Advisor David Axelrod, and a roundtable with Vanity Fair's Dee Dee Myers, Washington Post's E.J. Dionne, ABC News' Matthew Dowd and George Will.

Fox News Sunday: Clinton Campaign Chairman, Terry McAuliffe, Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK) Chairman National Republican Congressional Committee, Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) Chairman Democratic National Campaign Committee, Col. Michael Colburn, Director President’s Own US Marine Band and a panel with Brit Hume, Washington Managing Editor of Fox News, Nina Easton, Fortune Magazine & Fox News, Bill Kristol, Weekly Standard & Fox News, Juan Williams, National Public Radio & Fox News

CNN Late Edition: Major Gen. Mark Hertling, Commander, Multi-National Division-North, Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA), Rep. David Dreier (R-CA), Robert Reich, former Clinton Labor Secretary; Obama supporter, Gene Sperling, Clinton economic adviser, Douglas Holtz-Eakin, McCain economic adviser, Mary Tillman, Pat Tillman's mother; author, "Boots on the Ground by Dusk: My Tribute to Pat Tillman", Bill Schneider, CNN senior political analyst, Suzanne Malveaux, CNN White House correspondent, Gloria Borger, CNN senior political analyst

Bonus item: Terry McAuliffe, goofball

***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.***