Friday, September 30, 2005


Now the fun starts: Judith Miller agrees to testify
Miller had refused to testify about information she received from confidential sources. But she said she changed her mind after I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, chief of staff for Vice President Cheney, assured her in a telephone call last week that a waiver he gave prosecutors authorizing them to question reporters about their conversations with him was not coerced.

[NB: That’s a phone call I’d like to have heard. Coordinating their stories?]

Digby’s (and Swopa’s) smart analyses: did Miller blink, or did Fitzgerald?

A good question
[Atrios] Assuming Miller is intending to testify, it'll be interesting to see what the new line is from all of those who have spent the last few months writing outraged pieces about her courageous stand against an unjust government action. There certainly were people who thought she shouldn't have to go to jail who made reasonable, if ultimately insufficient, arguments to that effect. What was troublesome was how many of those making the case would, with calculated obtuseness, fail to really acknowledge what the issues were in the case. Fitzgerald was no out of control zealot, having exhausted all other avenues before even attempting to get limited testimony from journalists, and this was a complicated case raising a lot of issues which don't fit nicely into a Journalism 101 lecture on ethics.

Now that Miller has apparently done something she could've done months ago, just what was that principle she was upholding in the first place? And, will the Times ever follow up on this editorial from August:

As of today, Judith Miller has spent more time behind bars to protect privileged information than any other New York Times journalist. Reporters from other news organizations have endured longer jail time in the same important cause over the years, but for us and we hope for others, it should be clear after 41 days in a Virginia jail that Ms. Miller is not going to change her mind. She appears unwavering in her mission to safeguard the freedom of the press to do its job effectively.

If she is not willing to testify after 41 days, then she is not willing to testify. It's time for the judge and the prosecutor to let Ms. Miller go.

Here you go:

Rough times for the GOP
On almost every front, Republicans see trouble. Bush is at the low point of his presidency, with Iraq, hurricane relief, rising gasoline prices and another Supreme Court vacancy all problems to be solved. Congressional Republicans have seen their approval ratings slide throughout the spring and summer; a Washington Post-ABC News poll in August found that just 37 percent of Americans approve of the way Congress is doing its job, the lowest rating in eight years.

On the ethics front, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) is under investigation for selling stock in his family's medical business just before the price fell sharply. The probe of well-connected lobbyist Jack Abramoff, a former close associate of DeLay, threatens to create even more troubles for Republicans. Finally, the special counsel investigation into whether White House senior adviser Karl Rove or others in the administration broke the law by leaking the name of the CIA's Valerie Plame is nearing a conclusion.
[Ari Berman] The [DeLay] indictment sent a shock wave through the GOP establishment, which is already reeling from a swath of criminal and ethics investigations. Three individuals, eight corporations and two political action committees connected to DeLay have been indicted as a result of the probe. In addition, the government's top procurement official, David Safavian, was arrested in September for obstructing a criminal investigation into ├╝ber-lobbyist Jack Abramoff, a close DeLay ally. Abramoff himself is under criminal investigation for defrauding Indian tribes and was indicted for wire fraud in Florida in a separate case. Top White House aides, including Karl Rove and Scooter Libby, have been targeted by a special prosecutor investigating the outing of CIA agent Valerie Plame. Representative Duke Cunningham announced he would not run for re-election after overselling his house for $700,000 to a military industry lobbyist; he too has been indicted. FDA chief Lester Crawford resigned unexpectedly after just two months on the job, possibly because of failure to report his wife's sizable pharmaceutical-industry holdings. And DeLay's Senate counterpart, Bill Frist, is battling possible insider-trading charges for dumping millions in HCA stock, a company founded by his father and run by his brother, weeks before it plunged in value. The U.S. Attorney in Manhattan and the Securities and Exchange Commission opened an investigation into Frist and HCA in September.
[Dan Froomkin] His second-term agenda is in shambles. His spending plan for Hurricane Katrina has torn his party apart. Support for his increasingly unpopular war is eroding. His political capital is spent. . . And now he's lost his Hammer.

For President Bush, who was already seeing his influence wane in Congress, yesterday's indictment of Rep. Tom DeLay -- forcing the iron-fisted House majority leader to step down from his leadership post -- was an enormous blow. . . Furthermore, DeLay's troubles add to the sense that the Republican Party and the White House are under siege, plagued by missteps and ethics scandals.


How the Right is defending DeLay
[T]he "indictment" of Tom Delay is entirely bogus - from what I've read, Tom Delay didn't know about the perfectly legal transaction he is accused of conspiring to make. We have now left entirely the field of normal political conflict and entered a twilight world where fantasy is presented as fact and the only standard of conduct is "will it work?". This is not the actions of a political Party engaged in seeking a majority - it is the action of a Party determined to destroy its opponents entirely and sieze all power for is, in short, the stuff from which civil wars are made...

I really do urge our Democrats to step back from the edge - you are sitting in a lake of gasoline and you are playing with fire. We on our side will only put up with so much before we start to pay back with usury what we have received. If you can't defeat Tom Delay in the electoral field, then you will simply have to accept him as Majority Leader of the United States House of Representatives - and you'd better start accepting political reality before things get really bad. . .[read on!]
[FRC] "Many Democrats want to turn the indictment of Tom DeLay into an indictment of the ideas he champions. Partisan or ideological exploitation of a matter that is now in the judicial process is wholly irresponsible."

[Tim Grieve] Funny, but we seem to remember that the Family Research Council called for Bill Clinton's resignation even before impeachment proceedings against him began. And we could have sworn that we heard Tom DeLay making political hay out of his indictment just yesterday.
[Ezra Klein] Scandals lashing the Republican Party tend to follow a particular pattern. A day or two of bad press while the media chews up the story is followed by a blistering conservative counterattack that rushes into the void just as reporters begin to need new information to propel the narrative forward. The counterattack, too, tends toward predictability, and in this case, prosecutor Ronnie Earle can look forward to a scorched-earth campaign aimed at crisping his good name. . . Which is why the Washington Post's article on Earle's past history -- or lack thereof -- of partisanship is worth a look. This territory has been well trod, but considering the blitz that the man is soon to get, it's worth walking again. . .
[Roll Call] DeLay’s allies privately suggested that they would seek retribution against Earle, although DeLay himself will have no role in that effort. Charges of prosecutorial misconduct may be lodged against Earle, and a public-relations effort to discredit Earle personally had already begun on Wednesday, with GOP insiders repeatedly pointing out that Earle unsuccessfully attempted to prosecute Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) in the midst of the 1994 Senate race in Texas. . . “Everything will be in play,” said one high-ranking House Republican aide. “We will throw everything we can at Ronnie Earle.”
Foreman William Gibson [says] he did his duty and that bound him to look at Tom Delay as just another Texan accused of criminal conspiracy . . . "I like his aggressiveness and everything, and I had nothing against the House majority man, but I felt that we had enough evidence, not only me, but the other grand jury members," Gibson said . . .

The evidence is there to prove Delay was involved in wrongdoing and also prove that he and his fellow grand jurors acted independent of political influence, Gibson said.

"It wasn't Mr. Earle that indicted the man. It was the 12 members of the grand jury," Gibson said.

Gibson is a former sheriff's deputy and a former investigator for what is now the Texas Department of Insurance.


Unfortunately, Delay’s own words convict him
– I have had ethics charges filed starting in 1993
– Again in 1995
– A racketeering suit right after that
– Some more ethics charges right after that
– This has been going on for two years, multiple grand juries, and then they come out with an indictment
– [The grand jury] asked me to come in. … Basically what I showed them was, yes, it was my idea to set up this political action committee
– It was my idea to set up TRMPAC
– I got it all organized
– I and four other elected officials were on an advisory board [of TRMPAC]
– I went to five fundraisers
– They did use my name to raise money
– They told me about it later, and then they would tell me things are going well
– Jim Ellis … also runs my ARMPAC
– Jim Ellis would let me know how things were going because was interested in how things are going and how much money they were raising
– The point here is is Texas deserved a Republican House of Representatives. The way you got change that was to take the majority in the Texas House, and that was my goal. It was successful
– Ronnie Earle let my lawyers know last week that I was going to be indicted
– I have hired Dick DeGuerin, who is my lawyer, who is the same lawyer that taught Ronnie Earle a lesson

And that’s his DEFENSE!

Has DeLay already cut a plea bargain deal?
The next step in the criminal proceedings against Republican leader Tom DeLay is a trip to Austin to be fingerprinted and photographed . . . DeLay's attorneys were working out the details of when the 11-term congressman would return to Texas in hopes of saving him from further embarrassment, they said. . . "What we're trying to avoid is Ronnie Earle having him taken down in handcuffs, and fingerprinted and photographed. That's uncalled for and I don't think that's going to happen," said Dick DeGuerin, DeLay's attorney.


Will DeLay ever be Majority Leader again? I say no: that’s part of what the substitution of Dreier (a temporary fill) with Blunt (DeLay’s heir apparent) indicates. It isn’t just this indictment in Texas, on top of five ethics rebukes – it’s that the real explosion, the Abramoff link, hasn’t even hit yet
[David Brooks] I think it's likely it's the end of his [DeLay's] career in the leadership. For a number of months, and maybe even a couple years, most Republicans in the House have been thinking, you know, "This guy skates close to the edge." The idea that he's the Hammer, that he's this ruthless guy, that's not true. He's a normal guy. He treats his members fairly. But they're tired of him skating close to the edge, and they have been talking for months about getting this guy, Roy Blunt, who's very popular, very well-liked, up in that job just to loosen the baggage on the party. And so I think they will be unhappy to give DeLay back his old job because, you know, he's just one bit of trouble after another.

But does this surprise you: DeLay plans to stay involved as an “advisor” to the House leadership?,0,1697524.story
[WP] In a sign of DeLay's confidence he will return, he will keep his majority leader office in the Capitol rather than vacate it for Blunt.
The Wall Street Journal says the new House Republican leadership structure is very fragile. "Because the structure is temporary," and with Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL) "widely expected to retire in 2008, the result is an every-man-for-himself atmosphere. Even before the leadership shake-up, Republicans were facing a series of tough votes on the budget and divisive issues such as border security and the treatment of guest workers in the U.S.". . . The leadership decisions "will be revisited as early as next January and there is already competition brewing from unhappy rank-and-file."
Representative Tom DeLay's fall from power under criminal indictment in Texas quickly touched off intense political jockeying among House Republicans on Thursday as they sensed that Mr. DeLay's troubles could create a rare opportunity to win a spot in the party leadership. . .


Smart move: go after Blunt HARD. He's dirty. If he has to step down too, GOP control of the House will be finished

“Breach of Contract”

More on David Dreier’s “private” sexual orientation (too “moderate”?)
[Matt Yglesias] High-minded liberals think we shouldn't mention certain aspects of David Dreier's personal life, so I won't bring them up. But it's clear from Sam's post that something a bit queer odd went on at yesterday's House Republican conference meeting. Let's roll that Roll Call videotape again:

Republican leaders also heard a vocal outcry from outside conservative groups and activists who objected to Dreier’s elevation.

Sadly, the paper doesn't tell us what the outcry was about. Inquiring minds want to know. Dreier has a lifetime 92 rating from the American Conservative Union. Compare that to 96 for Tom DeLay and 94 for Roy Blunt and it's hard to see what the big deal is. I'm open-minded about this. The gang at the Corner seemed genuinely outraged yesterday that anyone would imply that there was anything untoward about Dreier's sex life. Fair enough, as far as it goes. And yet there's clearly something about Dreier that doesn't sit right with conservatives. What is it? That's a legitimate story. It really would be unseemly to have everyone picking through Dreier's personal life, but there's an easily available shortcut here: Somebody on the right can explain to those of us on the left who aren't as plugged in about this stuff why Blunt is so preferable. This isn't trivial stuff.
[Mark Kleiman] However, when a politician mixes romance with public business, that's a different problem. And it seems that Rep. Dreier may have such a problem: he has his lover on the public payroll at $156,000 per year, which seems to me like a scandal independent of the sexes of the parties.


More on Bill Frist’s mounting problems

Iraq: on the edge. Meanwhile, Bush seems to think that the only problem is the domestic unpopularity of his policies – in a Rovean world, it’s ALWAYS about the politics
[WP] The administration has come under growing pressure at home and abroad over the past two weeks, with dire warnings from Arab allies and a prominent international group about the looming disintegration of Iraq. In an unusual public rebuke of U.S. policy, Saudi Arabia's foreign minister called a news conference in Washington last week to predict Iraq's dissolution. He said there is no leadership or momentum to pull Iraq's Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds back together and prevent a civil war. Other countries have expressed similar concerns in private, according to U.S. and Arab diplomats. . . In a push to boost public support for his Iraq policy, Bush will give a speech. . .


General breaks two items of bad news. Remember all those promises about troop withdrawals? Probably won’t happen. Remember those three Iraqi battalions ready to fight? Really, there’s only one. . . maybe
[AP] "It doesn't feel like progress," said Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine.

More bad news for U.S. troops – the Pentagon STILL hasn’t got that body armor problem taken care of (how much longer can Donald “Brown” Rumsfeld keep his job?)
[Mark Leon Goldberg] Sort of funny that the Pentagon isn’t shy about certain other open-ended financial commitments (not excluding an indefinite military presence in a country whose population is hostile to us). But when it comes to providing for the health and welfare of our soldiers that’s simply a bridge too far.

Democracy at work: Sunnis still plan to defeat the Oct 15 referendum – while the US remains neutral on the sidelines (uh-HUH)
U.S. forces raided the homes of two officials from a prominent Sunni Arab organization Thursday. . . The Conference for Iraq's People and the Iraqi Islamic Party are two leading political organizations representing Iraq's Sunni Arab minority, which has increasingly complained of abuse as U.S. and Iraqi forces pursue insurgents, the bulk of whom are Sunnis. The two groups are also campaigning to defeat a draft constitution in an Oct. 15 referendum.

Senior American officials say they are confident that Iraq's draft constitution will be approved in the referendum to be held Oct. 15, even though Sunni Arabs in Iraq are mobilizing in large numbers to defeat it. . . But if the constitution is defeated, several officials said they feared that Iraq would descend into anarchy. . .

[NB: well, we know the "vote" won’t be allowed to fail, first of all. But isn’t it horrific that after all this, the BEST that can be hoped for is a choice between total anarchy and a deeply wounded government with minimal legitimacy and an ongoing civil war?]

DESCENDING into anarchy? I’ve got news for them. . .
[WP] If Iraq slips toward civil war, this town along the Sunni-Shiite fault line will be one of the flash points. Talking to U.S. troops at a base near here, you come away with a idea of what the war looks like out in the killing zone -- and how hard it is to mesh U.S. strategy with the nightmarish reality of the Iraqi insurgency.

A few bad apples? Judge orders release of more horrific Abu Ghraib photos and videos (but the ruling will be appealed)
Last year a Republican senator conceded that they contained scenes of "rape and murder" and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said they included acts that were "blatantly sadistic.". . .

And how’s that Karen Hughes “good will” tour going? Let me ask it this way: what happens when you bring American-style PR and happy-talk into a cultural context to which they are utterly foreign?
"I look forward to shaking each of your hands and having you give me a hug!"


A terrible Katrina story: reportedly hundreds of prisoners were abandoned, left locked in their cells, and drowned

And the profiteering begins. . .
[KR] Across the hurricane ravaged Gulf Coast, thousands upon thousands of blue tarps are being nailed to wind-damaged roofs, a visible sign of government assistance. . . The blue sheeting - a godsend to residents whose homes are threatened by rain - is rapidly becoming the largest roofing project in the nation's history.

It isn't coming cheap. . . Knight Ridder has found that a lack of oversight, generous contracting deals and poor planning mean that government agencies are shelling out as much as 10 times what the temporary fix would normally cost.

Larry Franklin pleads guilty – no sign that he has implicated others in the administration (unfortunately)

How Tom Noe stole millions from Ohio retirement fund

In their never-ending effort to minimize the threat of global warming, GOP senators call in Michael Crichton to testify – uh, guys, the last time I looked, Crichton wrote FICTION

There are no domestic terrorists: Bush grants presidential pardons (warming up for protecting his pals later, I assume): but it includes a guy convicted of blowing up an energy facility!

Bonus item: more on Bill Bennett’s despicable “black baby” scenario, discussed here yesterday
[John Aravosis] Or you could just abort Bill Bennett and the racism rate would go down.
Conyers Calls on Network to Suspend Bill Bennett's Radio Program
[Tim Grieve] If Republican National Committee chairman Ken Mehlman is serious about wooing African-American voters, he can throw all his energy into speaking to African-American groups and recruiting African-American candidates. Either that, or he could just ask Bill Bennett to shut up.

Bennett won’t apologize
Bennett responded that the comments, made Wednesday on his "Morning in America" show, had been mischaracterized. . .

[NB: No, Bill, you lying sanctimonious fraud. People quoted your words precisely. What part of “aborting black babies” as a way of lowering the crime rate seems like acceptable public discourse to you?]

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Thursday, September 29, 2005


DeLay indictment: the first of many, we hope
[Eric Umansky] The indictment charges that DeLay and two of his associates laundered corporate contributions, sending the dough to the Republican National Committee, which then generously sent a check back for the same amount. The NYT names the RNC guy who received money and wrote the checks; he hasn't been indicted. The effort helped the GOP regain control of the Texas legislature, where they then took to redistricting, a move that ultimately was key in helping Republicans cement control of the House in Washington.

[AP] DeLay is the first House leader to be indicted while in office in at least a century, according to congressional historians.
[Molly Ivins] Tom DeLay found the one law about fundraising in Texas and broke it.

The fine print:

How the GOP is spinning this: mean ol’ Mr. Earle
[Eric Umansky] DeLay. . . denied the charges, describing the prosecutor who lodged them as a "rogue district attorney," a "fanatic" and "an unabashed partisan zealot." As the LAT details, the prosecutor, long-time Austin D.A. Ronnie Earle, is a Democrat with a history of going after politicians on both sides. He has prosecuted three Republicans and 12 Democrats. "Every single person he has indicted, Democrat or Republican, has claimed politics," said one Texas good government-type.

CNN mentioned about 50 times that Ronnie Earle was a partisan Democrat
"This is exactly the kind of issue that's going on in America, that attacks against the conservative moment, against me and against many others," [DeLay] told an audience at the Family Research Council.

Hack attack:

Long overdue
[Eric Umansky] DeLay has earned five rebukes from the House ethics committee and he is still facing an inquiry related to his buddy-buddy ties with indicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff.


A fascinating chronology
What [DeLay] and Hastert wanted was a timeserver, someone to hold the job but with no ambitions to stay in it. And they had someone in mind. This week, an aide to the speaker approached Rep. David Dreier about his role in a post-DeLay caucus. Dreier, a congenial Californian who has loyally served the GOP leadership as Rules Committee chairman, expressed interest in helping Hastert. . .
[AP] GOP congressional officials said the plan was for DeLay to temporarily relinquish his leadership post and Speaker Dennis Hastert will recommend that Rep. David Dreier of California step into those duties.
[Josh Marshall] Hastert plans to recommend Rep. David Dreier (R-CA) as his replacement. Why Dreier? Because DeLay plans on coming back. If DeLay lets someone into the job who actually has the juice to hold it, he might never get it back. That's why the logical person on the totem pole, Majority Whip Roy Blunt, is staying right where he is.
[Sam Rosenfeld] Josh Marshall very likely has the correct take on why Majority Whip Roy Blunt was passed over in favor of David Dreier to take The Hammer's post -- DeLay wants a placeholder, rather than a potential power rival with his own massive lobbying network, taking the reins temporarily while he's off fighting his indictment. (There's certainly always been talk that Blunt, while remaining publicly steadfast in his support for DeLay, has also served as an unnamed source for negative news coverage of DeLay and his troubles in the last few years, though it's hard to know what truth there is to such talk.)
[Eric Umansky] DeLay and other House leaders had settled on California congressman David Dreier to replace him. But social conservatives rebelled—Dreier supports stem-cell research and has opposed a ban on same-sex marriage. An afternoon GOP meeting ensued, and Rep. Roy Blunt, was named to the top post.
[T]he GOP caucus immediately erupted in anger over rumors that the selection of Dreier, whom they regard as too moderate, was being presented as a fait accompli.

“Too moderate”?
Dreier, who is a closet heterosexual and faced a vicious and narrow reelect battle in 2004 (and a top target in 2006), is supposedly Hastert's choice to succeed DeLay.

Dreier, er, out, Blunt in. . .
[Kevin Drum] Is every single liberal blog in the world planning to post a slobbery, wink-wink-nudge-nudge mention that David Dreier is rumored to be gay? Pardon me while I throw up. . . And spare me the drivel about the "principled" case for outing gay politicians. I'm not buying, and there's nothing principled going on here in any case. It's just childish nonsense that perpetuates the notion that there's something sordid about being gay.

[NB: I think Kevin and Mark are a bit off base here. The question is whether the GOP rank-and-file blocked Dreier from the leadership position BECAUSE he is gay – that’s fair game, it seems to me: and]
Now that Dennis Hastert has flip-flopped on his initial pick to replace Tom DeLay, announcing Roy Blunt's ascension to majority leader instead of David Dreier's, the obviously juicy remaining question is what was said in the emergency meeting of the House Republican conference today. . .
[Josh Marshall] Who will bag tomorrow's big story: what happened inside that House GOP caucus meeting this afternoon? Just what issue torpedoed David Dreier after Speaker Hastert had given him the nod? What about the folks outside the meeting? Rove weighed in. What did he say?


Meet Roy Blunt
[Eric Umansky] The NYT has a soft profile on Blunt, focusing on his quiet style. "You don't hear anybody calling Roy Blunt 'The Hammer'," said one congressman. The Journal and Post focus on substance, reminding that you do hear people calling Blunt a crony capitalist. "Even more than DeLay," says the WP, Blunt "has created a formal alliance with K-Street lobbyists, empowering corporate representatives and trade association executives to assist the House leadership in counting votes and negotiating amendments." Blunt got in a wee bit of trouble two years ago for quietly inserting a provision in a bill that would have helped Phillip Morris, for which his son as well as then girlfriend (now wife) were both lobbyists.

[AP] The political committee of Rep. Roy Blunt who is temporarily replacing Rep. Tom DeLay as House majority leader, has paid roughly $88,000 in fees since 2003 to a consultant under indictment in Texas with DeLay, according to federal records. . .

Now we see why he wanted the DeLay Rule to pass
[C]onservatives such as Steve Buyer (Ind.) rose to say Republicans should have allowed DeLay to remain majority leader even with an indictment. Earlier this year, under pressure from Democrats and a few in his own party, Hastert reversed a rule designed expressly for DeLay that would have allowed indicted leaders to retain their positions.
[Matt Yglesias, Mr. Contrarian] Noam Scheiber recalls Tom DeLay's short-lived effort to get the GOP to adopt a rule that would allow him to retain his leadership post even while under criminal indictment: "Fortunately for the country, that rule change didn't stick." But is it fortunate for the country that the rule change didn't stick?. . . If the DeLay rule had been adopted, by contrast, liberals could make a big stink about it. Conservatives could be forced into an awkward intra-party controversy about whether they really wanted an indicted felon as their leader. Instead, by rejecting the rule, that whole controversy played out when it wasn't on the public radar.

DeLay (on Clinton)
I believe that this nation sits at a crossroads. One direction points to the higher road of the rule of law. Sometimes hard, sometimes unpleasant, this path relies on truth, justice and the rigorous application of the principle that no man is above the law. . .

Will DeLay get publicly printed and cuffed? Will he get convicted? And who did Earle get to roll over on Big Tom?


More to come in the Boulis murder investigation

Frist’s HCA troubles just beginning. . .
[Eric Umansky] The WSJ says the SEC has upgraded its probe of Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist's seemingly fishy sale of his family stock. The move gives the SEC subpoena power.
Long before Bill Frist sold his HCA stock, the company's affairs were a scandal. Robert Dreyfuss reminds us that there are billions of dollars of dirty doings in the family industry. . .
[I]t's still worth recommending Daniel Gross's new piece assessing the actual reasons for the recently flagging profits of HCA, the private hospital chain run by Bill Frist's family. Gross smartly emphasizes the unwillingness of Frist or his party to look for actual remedies to the problems dogging the company. . .


The Trifecta (again)
[Josh Marshall] House Majority Leader Indicted for Criminal Conspiracy.

Senate Majority Leader the target of an increasingly serious probe of potential insider trading.

Rumors of October Rove indictment in the Plame case.

Is this a problem yet?
[Kevin Drum] . . . the trifecta. Or the pentecta. Or whatever. I can barely keep track of the myriad ethical problems besetting the Republican leadership these days.

I am so relieved that the Republicans restored honor and integrity to Washington. There hasn't been even one blow job in that town since they took power.
[Ed Kilgore] DeLay doesn't really matter. What really matters is the system which he has served, and what it has done and is doing to our country. . .

[NB: If the Dems can’t make hay out of this next year, they really are in deep trouble]

Rush Limbaugh investigation moves forward

ANOTHER brewing scandal you probably haven’t read about: Tim Flanigan (who?)
[Josh Marshall] Timothy Flanigan is set to become Deputy Attorney General of the United States. . . He is directly connected to the Abramoff scandal. . .


In other news. . .

Pentagon finally does get serious about investigating war porn-for-porn porn exchange scandal

UPDATE: nope, not for long
[AP] The Army Criminal Investigation Command in Iraq conducted the preliminary inquiry within the past week but closed it after concluding no felony crime had been committed and failing to determine whether U.S. soldiers were responsible for the photos and whether they showed actual war dead. . .
DOD pretty much said today the investigation is over because they just can't figure out who these soldiers might be. (If only someone had pictures of the soldiers faces...)

Looks like there won’t be a substantial troop withdrawal in 2006 after all

Pentagon secret intelligence activities continue to grow – and continue to dodge Congressional oversight (AND the National Director of Intelligence). Even the GOP is angry about it


Karen Hughes gets an earful
The audience - 500 women covered in black at a Saudi university - seemed an ideal place for Karen P. Hughes, a senior Bush administration official charged with spreading the American message in the Muslim world, to make her pitch. . . But the response on Tuesday was not what she and her aides expected. . .
[Sid Blumenthal] She may be the most parochial person ever to hold a senior State Department appointment, but the president has confidence she can rebrand the United States. . . This week, Hughes embarked on her first trip as undersecretary. Her initial statement resembled an elementary school presentation: "You might want to know why the countries. Egypt is of course the most populous Arab country ... Saudi Arabia is our second stop. It's obviously an important place in Islam and the keeper of its two holiest sites ... Turkey is also a country that encompasses people of many different backgrounds and beliefs, yet has the -- is proud of the saying that 'all are Turks.'". . .

Hughes' simple, sincere and unadorned language is pellucid in revealing the administration's inner mind. Her ideas on terrorism and its solution are straightforward. "Terrorists," she said in Egypt at the start of her trip, "their policies force young people, other people's daughters and sons, to strap on bombs and blow themselves up." Somehow, magically, these evildoers coerce the young to commit suicide. If only they would understand us, the tensions would dissolve. "Many people around the world do not understand the important role that faith plays in Americans' lives," she said. When an Egyptian opposition leader inquired why President Bush mentions God in his speeches, she asked him "whether he was aware that previous American presidents have also cited God, and that our Constitution cites 'one nation under God.' He said, 'Well, never mind.'"

With these well-meaning arguments, Hughes has provided the exact proof for what Osama bin Laden has claimed about American motives. "It is stunning ... the extent [to which] Hughes is helping bin Laden," Robert Pape told me. Pape, a University of Chicago political scientist who has conducted the most extensive research into the backgrounds and motives of suicide terrorists. . . "If you set out to help bin Laden," he said, "you could not have done it better than Hughes."

Tom Friedman (inadvertently) exposes the moral corruption of our Iraq policy
"That will become clear in the next few months as we see just what kind of minority the Sunnis in Iraq intend to be. If they come around, a decent outcome in Iraq is still possible, and we should stay to help build it. If they won't, then we are wasting our time. We should arm the Shiites and Kurds and leave the Sunnis of Iraq to reap the wind. . ."
[Armando] This is a stupefying statement. You sell this Debacle, stand by it as Bush is Bush and NOW you talk about wasting our time? So if the Sunni do not do what you Tom Friedman wants you suggest washing your hands of the whole affair? Do me a favor folks, never tell me how intelligent Friedman is again. This is simply despicable.

U.S. military blocks reporting out of Iraq
Eason Jordan [CNN] lost his job for saying essentially what Reuters said yesterday.

Another “#2 in Al Qaeda” killed or captured: how many #2’s can there be?

[NB: Yes, yes I know that each time you get a #2, someone else becomes the #2 – but COME ON]

It’s official: global warming IS shrinking the Arctic ice cap


A serious question: IS Bush drinking again? (and if he is, is it a legitimate story?)

Could THIS be the next SC nominee?
White House counsel Harriet Miers has never served as a judge before, and while this career "hard-nosed lawyer" (as she is invariably described) from Texas certainly deserves some kudos for a trailblazing career as a female lawyer, she's not a legal scholar, either.

But she does know better than just about anyone else where the bodies are buried (relax, it's a just a metaphor...we hope) in President Bush's National Guard scandal. In fact, Bush's Texas gubenatorial campaign in 1998 (when he was starting to eye the White House) actually paid Miers $19,000 to run an internal pre-emptive probe of the potential scandal. Not long after, a since-settled lawsuit alleged that the Texas Lottery Commission -- while chaired by Bush appointee Miers -- played a role in a multi-million dollar cover-up of the scandal.

. . . The AP is reporting that Miers, who not long ago succeeded Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez (also a possible nominee) as White House counsel, has leaped to near the top of the list to replace retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. . .

Bill Bennett (self-anointed moral arbiter of our culture): for shame
[I]f "you wanted to reduce crime ... if that were your sole purpose, you could abort every black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down." Bennett conceded that aborting all African-American babies "would be an impossible, ridiculous, and morally reprehensible thing to do," then added again, "but the crime rate would go down."

Nancy Pelosi is making a big mistake

Bonus item: profane, but – or maybe that should be “and” – hilarious (thanks to David Schoeneman for the link)

***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, September 28, 2005


Michael Brown: a shining example of humanity
[AP] A combative Michael Brown blamed the Louisiana governor, the New Orleans mayor and even the Bush White House that appointed him for the dismal response to Hurricane Katrina in a fiery appearance Tuesday before Congress. . .

At several points, Brown turned red in the face and slapped the table in front of him. . . . "So I guess you want me to be the superhero, to step in there and take everyone out of New Orleans," Brown said.

"What I wanted you to do is do your job and coordinate," [Christopher] Shays retorted. . .

"My biggest mistake was not recognizing by Saturday that Louisiana was dysfunctional," Brown told a special panel set up by House Republican leaders to investigate the catastrophe. Most Democrats, seeking an independent investigation, stayed away to protest what they called an unfair probe of the Republican administration by GOP lawmakers.

"I very strongly personally regret that I was unable to persuade Governor Blanco and Mayor Nagin to sit down, get over their differences and work together," Brown said. "I just couldn't pull that off."

Brown also said he warned Bush, White House chief of staff Andrew Card and deputy chief of staff Joe Hagin that "this is going to be a bad one" in e-mails and phone conversations leading up to the storm. Under pointed questioning, he said some needs outlined to the White House, Pentagon and Homeland Security Department were not answered in "the timeline that we requested."
[Eric Umansky] Eventually, Brown also acknowledged that his agency has been hurting. "I predicted privately for several years that we were going to reach this point [of crisis] because of the lack of resources and the lack of attention being paid to what was [once] a very robust organization," he said, adding, "at one point, we were short 500 people in an organization of about 2,500." The papers all flag those comments, but it's the Post's Dana Milbank who gives a sense of the hearing's arc, pointing out that Brown only began fingering what he dubbed the "emaciation of FEMA" after legislators kept hammering at his incompetence.

[Josh Marshall] Boy, would it be nice if someone asked this sorry fool a real question. See our Katrina Timeline for some possibilities.
[Atrios] What a piece of work. I assume his medal ceremony will happen tomorrow.
[Sam Rosenfeld] As Mike Brown re-established his image as a man of competence and integrity at today’s House inquiry hearing, the Democrats stepped up their call for a serious outside investigation into the government’s response to Katrina, with Louise Slaughter and company announcing the creation of a discharge petition to force an up-or-down House vote on the formation of a September 11–style independent commission. Meanwhile, Nancy Pelosi. . . today reiterated her opposition to the House’s sham panel and insisted that “[q]uestioning one Republican crony will not get to the truth of the disastrous federal response to Hurricane Katrina and prevent it from happening again”. . .
[Josh Marshall] Who's going to get a hold of the transcript of this guy's testimony and give it the fact check it deserves?

Here’s a start:

No connection?
[CNN] Brown told congressional investigators Monday that he is being paid as a consultant to help FEMA assess what went wrong in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. . .

[Jane Hamsher] And now I will leave you to guess where this bit of gossip came from, because I promised not to tell. But one of the above-mentioned folks called me this afternoon to say that according to sources within the Enquirer itself, the source for Bush's drinking story is -- an incredibly pissed-off, recently scapegoated head of a federal agency who thinks that BushCo. done him wrong.

A sense of unreality
[Seattle Times] Facing criticism that he appeared disengaged from the disaster wrought by Hurricane Katrina, President Bush has been looking for opportunities to show his concern. But the White House will take the effort a step further Tuesday, venturing into untested waters by putting the nation's first lady on reality television.

Laura Bush will travel to storm-damaged Biloxi, Miss., to film a spot on the feel-good, wish-granting hit "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition." Mrs. Bush sought to be on the program because she shares the "same principles" that the producers hold, her press secretary said. . . It's not clear exactly what Mrs. Bush will do, but Tom Forman, executive producer and creator, said he is hoping that she'll just pitch in and help unload.

Just the headline today, hoping for a whole stream of news by tomorrow
Lawyers for DeLay fear indictment


[Update: Indicted! DeLay to step down as Majority Leader. More to come in the morning:]

Abramoff inquiry now probing mob ties, hit men (no joke)
Fort Lauderdale police said yesterday that they charged three men in the 2001 gangland-style slaying of a Florida businessman who was gunned down in his car months after selling a casino cruise line to a group that included Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

Konstantinos "Gus" Boulis was killed on a Fort Lauderdale street on Feb. 6, 2001. Two of the three men charged had been hired as consultants by Adam Kidan, one of Abramoff's partners in the SunCruz Casinos venture. . .
Unmentioned in today's AP story are the quarter million dollars in unexplained payments Abramoff business partner Adam Kidan made to Moscatiello, Ferrari and their family members around the time of Boulis' death. . . Kidan earlier explained that the payments were for "catering" and "surveillance".

[Hunter] What is most interesting -- and possibly explosive -- about the Abramoff "bag man" investigation is that Abramoff seems tied to literally every major Republican player and power broker. Through his money connections, he represents the governing force behind the current Republican movement: if you want to play in Washington, you grease Abramoff's wheels, or DeLay's wheels, or those of one of the close "friends" they share between them. . .

Frist’s lies about his blind trust: Think Progress documents the timeline

In Iraq: a glimpse of the future
A senior U.S. Marine commander said Monday that insurgents loyal to militant leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi had taken over at least five key western Iraqi towns on the border with Syria and were forcing local residents to flee.

In an interview with The Chronicle, Lt. Col. Julian Alford, commander of the 3rd Battalion, 6th Marines Regiment stationed outside the western Iraqi town of al Qaim, said insurgents in the area had been distributing flyers they called "death letters," in which they ordered residents of this western corner of volatile Anbar province to leave -- or face death. . . "Basically, the insurgents say if they don't leave they will ... behead them," said Alford. . .

"It appears that al Qaeda in Iraq is kicking out local people from a lot of these towns out there," he said. . . Two weeks ago, Marine spokesmen denied initial reports that insurgents had taken control of the area and were enforcing strict Islamic law, whipping men accused of drinking alcohol, burning a beauty parlor and shops that sold CDs and executing government workers for collaboration with the Iraqi government.

But Alford told The Chronicle that fighters linked to al-Zarqawi had been in complete control of these ancient smuggling communities for at least the past month, and that neither U.S. nor Iraqi forces held any sway over the swath of land that abuts Iraq's desolate, porous 450-mile border with Syria. . . He estimated that between 300 and 400 insurgents were operating in the area . . . "For the time being, they run these towns," Alford said.
[Reuters] Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's network of al Qaeda-linked insurgents is emerging as a self-sustaining force, despite repeated blows by U.S. forces and the reported death of his second-in-command, U.S. intelligence officials and other experts say. . .

Inside the Green Zone!
[Eric Umansky] As the LAT emphasizes inside, the U.S. said it killed the second in command of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's terrorist network. Meanwhile, 22 men were found executed near the border with Iran. And a suicide bomber killed seven police recruits in Baquba, just north of Baghdad. The Post is the only paper to highlight news that a car bomb was found—and thankfully disarmed—inside the Green Zone.

[Christian Science Monitor] British Defense Minister John Reid says he is planning to scrap the 25,000-member police force in southern Iraq and "replace it with a new military-style unit capable of maintaining law and order."

[Matt Yglesias] That sure doesn't sound like the sort of thing that would happen in a sovereign, democratic government.

More on the Pat Tillman story (thanks to Matt Youngblood for the link)

Pentagon more interested in targeting whistleblowers than investigating prisoner abuse

The real Able Danger scandal
[Eric Umansky] The Washington Post's Bill Arkin seems to be on his way to unraveling it. He also has a good explanation for why the Pentagon has been so tightlipped: It's not that they ID'd Atta, it's that that they start snooping around on American citizens, which, whoops, is illegal.


The weirdest headline you’ll read all month
GOP Leaders Try to Soothe Conservatives
Squeezed between a conservative clamor for spending cuts and the rising cost of hurricane relief, Republican congressional leaders will respond this week with a public relations offensive to win over angry conservatives -- but no substantive changes in budget policy.

Republican lawmakers and leadership aides conceded that the wholesale budget cuts envisioned by House conservatives are not being contemplated; the Senate is moving toward approving a temporary expansion of Medicaid for hurricane survivors, estimated to cost $9 billion. Nor are GOP leaders considering tax increases. . .
[WP] As fiscal hawks surrendered, would-be government contractors were meeting in the Hart Senate Office Building to figure out how to get a share of the money. A "Katrina Reconstruction Summit," hosted by Sen. Mel Martinez (R-Fla.) and sponsored by Halliburton, among others, brought some 200 lobbyists, corporate representatives and government staffers to a room overlooking the Capitol for a five-hour conference that included time for a "networking break" and advice on "opportunities for private sector involvement.". . . John Clerici, from a law firm that helped sponsor the event, told the group that spending would "probably be larger" than $200 billion. "It's going to be spent in a fast and furious way," Clerici said.

Dangerous rumblings on the state of the economy
[Kevin Drum] Cripes. Did the Consumer Confidence Index really drop nearly 20 points in a single month? Yes it did. . . There was a big drop in new housing sales too. That's a bad combination. . . Maybe the plunge in consumer confidence is strictly a Hurricane Katrina phenomenon and will rebound next month. Maybe not. In any case, keep your hand on your wallet.

Are they serious? GOP wants a promise from the Dems not to block the next SC nominee, before anyone even knows who it is
[AP] With John Roberts' confirmation as chief justice now assured, Republicans on Tuesday began pressuring the Senate's minority Democrats to promise what they called a fair confirmation hearing and vote for President Bush's next Supreme Court nominee. . . "Because the nominee might be perceived by some to be more conservative in their view than Justice O'Connor, somebody is going to make the argument that this then makes this more extraordinary, and therefore try to put pressure on Democrats who have not seen fit to filibuster judicial nominees to say, 'Well, this is different,'" said Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., chairman of the Senate Republican Policy Committee. . .
[John Aravosis] Why should they promise that? Bush hasn't even told us who it's going to be. . . I have an idea, why don't Dems ask President Bush to "promise" now that he'll appoint someone in the image of Justice O'Connor to fill her slot?

How conservatives view conservation
[Dick Cheney 2001] "Conservation may be a sign of personal virtue, but it cannot be the basis of a sound energy policy." Also that year, Ari Fleischer, then Mr. Bush's press secretary, responded to a question about reducing American energy consumption by saying "that's a big no."

[Scott McClellan, 2005] “We'll also be sending out notices to staff about -- reminding them to turn off lights and printers and copiers and computers when they leave the office. We'll continue to move forward on more e-government, paperless systems that would reduce the use of faxes and copiers and printers and things of that nature, encouraging all government vehicles to try to consume less.

That would include by people sharing rides in government vehicles, not letting cars idle, which wastes gas. We'll be sending out notices to staff to promote mass transit options, as well, letting them know about Metro stops and encouraging ride sharing, telling them where pick-up and drop-off points are at the White House, or reminding them of that, and just scrutinizing staff travel even more, so that people can videoconference where they can versus actually traveling, and things of that nature.”
[Maureen Dowd] I can't wait to see what's next. . . Dick Cheney carpooling downtown with Brownie? Rummy Rollerblading down the bike path to the Pentagon? Condi huddling by a Watergate fireplace in a gray cardigan?

Maybe now that our hydrocarbon president is the conservation president, he'll downgrade from Air Force One to a solar-powered Piper Cub as he continues to stalk the Gulf Coast towns and oil rigs like Banquo's ghost.

The once disciplined and swaggering Bush administration has descended into slapstick. . . We've got the clownish Brownie still on FEMA's payroll, giving advice on cleaning up the mess he made. ( Let's hope the White House is paying him only long enough to buy his good will, not to take any of his bad advice.). . .

Is there a dim glow on the horizon?
[The Poorman] Perhaps I’m being overly-optimistic here, but it feels like we are a nation emerging from a very bad period, waking up, in a way, to be more like what we should be - a nation of well-intentioned, capable, and realistic pragmatists, and less like what it has been - a collection of spiteful, fearful, hateful, often deliberately ignorant fools. (Of course, I’ve felt this before - the country may hit the snooze bar a few times after this, too, but we will awake.) There will be a time, I hope, not too far from now, when the insanities which drive us today are no longer operational. I don’t mean to be pollyannaish about this - we may well find new insanities to keep us busy, and we may well continue in this decline forever. But we can do things to give us a chance at a better future, and one of those things is to prevent those people who have a track record of lying and fear mongering from having any influence on the national debate ever again.

How the Dems CAN retake the Senate
[Charlie Cook] In the Senate, though, Democrats need a net gain of six seats to win the majority, so logically they need to put six GOP seats in play.

They have accomplished that; in fact, seven Republican-held seats are now in play. They are the seats held by Republican Sens. Jon Kyl of Arizona, Jim Talent of Missouri, Conrad Burns of Montana, Mike DeWine of Ohio, Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island and Majority Leader Bill Frist of Tennessee.

Democrats have credible candidates in all but one of those states, Ohio. . . It appears likely that their nominee will be Paul Hackett, the lawyer and Iraq War veteran who came close to picking off a special election in Ohio's 2nd congressional district against now-Rep. Jean Schmidt.

If GOP Sen. Trent Lott of Mississippi retires, as many expect he will, that would set up yet another competitive Republican-held Senate seat, bringing the total to eight. . .

Bonus item: you don’t think there’s been a shift in the Zeitgeist?
"Bush is keeping track of Hurricane Rita as it hits his home state of Texas. That's Bush's worst nightmare: an electric chair with no power."
--Jay Leno

"Hurricane Rita is supposed to make landfall in Texas, which is good for Barbara Bush because she can insult survivors closer to home."
--Bill Maher

"Yesterday President Bush made his fifth visit to the area that received the most damage from Hurricane Katrina. In other words, the White House."
--Conan O'Brien

"The president believes the government should be limited not in size, Jon, but in effectiveness. In terms of effectiveness, this is the most limited government we've ever had."
--Daily Show correspondent Rob Corddry

"Now here's some sad information coming out of Washington. According to reports, President Bush may be drinking again. And I thought, `Well, why not? He's got everybody else drinking.'"
--David Letterman

***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, September 27, 2005


After presiding over a total capitulation to oil company profiteering and skyrocketing gas prices, Bush huddles with his advisors over how to address this national crisis. After serious consideration of all the options, he speaks
President Bush called on the Americans today to conserve gasoline and avoid non-essential driving. . .

Oh, and also this proposed “solution”
President Bush, saying "gas prices are on our mind," today promised that the government is again prepared to tap into the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. . .

[NB: “promised” that he is “prepared to”?]
[Ari Fleischer, 2001] Q Does the President believe that, given the amount of energy Americans consume per capita, how much it exceeds any other citizen in any other country in the world, does the President believe we need to correct our lifestyles to address the energy problem?

MR. FLEISCHER: That's a big no. The President believes that it's an American way of life, and that it should be the goal of policy makers to protect the American way of life. The American way of life is a blessed one. And we have a bounty of resources in this country. What we need to do is make certain that we're able to get those resources in an efficient way. . .

Q So Americans should go on consuming as much more energy than any other citizens in any other countries of the world, as long as they want?

MR. FLEISCHER: Terry, the President believes that the American people are very wise and that, given the right incentives, they will know how and they will make their own right determinations about how much they can conserve . . . But the President also believes that the American people's use of energy is a reflection of the strength of our economy, of the way of life that the American people have come to enjoy. . .

[Eric Umansky] It's a bit hard to understand why the LAT and NYT think the president's comments are lead-worthy. As the NYT itself reminds, a few days after Katrina, the president said just about the same thing: "Don't buy gas if you don't need it." And, rhetoric aside, on neither occasion did the president offer specific proposals for lowering oil consumption. . . The Wall Street Journal has a more sensible approach, focusing on that thing called policy. The president is apparently getting behind legislation that the WSJ dubs "Energy Bill II." It would consist largely of, as the Journal gently puts it, "regulatory relief for producers and refiners."
[Kevin Drum] So there you have it. An instinctive aversion to using government power when it's opposed by the industry, even though conservation measures could have a big impact on oil use; an almost palpable eagerness to use any excuse to strip away environmental rules the energy industry dislikes; and a bland ignorance of basic energy policy that would embarrass a high school student. . . This is the Bush administration in a nutshell.

The Carterization of Bush

Kristol: Social Security did it
[WP] "The negative effect of the Social Security [campaign] is underestimated," Kristol said. "Once you make that kind of mistake, people tend to be less deferential to your decisions."

Gloria Borger’s dinner party analogy
Ms. BORGER: . . .I talked to one conservative this week who said to me, `You know, George Bush is like the guy you're sitting next to at the dinner party and you're looking over his shoulder for the more interesting person.'

Unidentified Panelist: Wow.

Unidentified Panelist: Ooh.

Ms. BORGER: Right.

Unidentified Panelist: That's a mean thing.

Ms. BORGER: Right. That is very mean to say, and this is somebody who I will say has been close to this administration. And then he declared, `We are in the post-Bush Republican Party.'

Deeply sick
For almost a year, American soldiers stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan have been taking photographs of dead bodies, many of them horribly mutilated or blown to pieces, and sending them to Web site administrator Chris Wilson. In return for letting him post these images, Wilson gives the soldiers free access to his [porn] site. American soldiers have been using the pictures of disfigured Iraqi corpses as currency to buy pornography.


The Pentagon responds:
[The Nation] Centcom spokesman Matt McLaughlin said that, in general, "Centcom recognizes DoD regulations and the Geneva Convention prohibit photographing detainees or mutilating and/or degrading dead bodies." He added, "Centcom has no specific policy on taking pictures of the deceased as long as those pictures do not violate the aforementioned prohibitions."

The fact that US military officials refuse to denounce combat photos posted on a porn site is troubling, since the very act of posting pictures of dead civilians for entertainment value is degrading. In addition, one photograph of detainees sitting on the back of a flatbed truck with burlap sacks on their heads does appear to break even the narrow rules on photographing detainees set forth by the Defense Department.

Iraq pullout: the conflicting messages coming out could indicate disorder or vigorous internal debate – or they could simply be a way of keeping options open for whatever gets decided eventually. So, depending on who you listen to, we are (a) definitely going to stay the course (permanent bases, etc.), (b) definitely going to start pulling out troops in the next few months, (c) definitely going to stay until the Iraq forces are capable of self-defense – which is no time soon – or (d) start pulling out troops IN ORDER to make the Iraqis take their self-defense more seriously. Either our presence is helping to suppress the insurgency, or our presence is actually exacerbating and helping to perpetuate the insurgency. Either our presence is propping up a govt with limited legitimacy, or our presence is undermining its legitimacy. Either our presence is the last bulwark against total chaos and civil war, or our presence is actually making things worse. Got that?

Sunnis want more changes to the Iraq constitution

In Iraq: after a brief honeymoon for Condi, the Defense Dept continues its drive to take over State Dept functions – and she can’t stop them
From the Post: "The Americans had underestimated the problems with Iraq's infrastructure, a U.S. official in Baghdad said on condition of anonymity."

(And while we’re at it, let’s turn over to the Pentagon domestic responsibilities as well – hell, it’s the only govt agency Bush trusts)

“Axis of Evil” successes just keep piling up: Iraq, Iran, North Korea. . . and Libya. Libya?!? Well, let’s just add them retroactively to the list, since it’s the only case in which there has actually BEEN success

Cindy Sheehan arrested outside WH

The Pat Tillman “friendly fire” case takes a new twist

As noted yesterday, the WH web site to raise private money for Iraq only yielded $600 – so how do they respond to this embarrassment?

Earlier Abramoff investigation quashed?
[Josh Marshall] Perhaps even more interesting, though, is a possibility that goes unmentioned in Tuesday's Times piece: Karl Rove. . . The Los Angeles Times article on the Guam story from August 7th, 2005. . . notes that Black's replacement, Leonardo Rapadas, apparently came at the behest of none other than Karl Rove. . . . Wrote the Times. . .

His replacement, Leonardo Rapadas, was confirmed in May 2003 without any debate. Rapadas had been recommended for the job by the Guam Republican Party. Fred Radewagen, a lobbyist who had been under contract to the Gutierrez administration, said he carried that recommendation to top Bush aide Karl Rove in early 2003.

It's probably worth mentioning that at the point Black got the ax in November 2002 and was replaced by the party-backed Rapadas, the aforementioned Ralston was working as Rove's executive assistant.

CREW files ethics complaint against Frist

Frist tries to explain why his “blind trust” wasn’t actually “blind” and, as usual with liars, only makes things worse

His full statement (no questions, please):

SEC chair (and former GOP Senator) recuses himself:

DeLay indictment coming?

Next SC nominee coming Friday?

And could it be The Worst Nominee Ever?

[NB: Karl Rove’s pal?]

Or maybe not

Now, an orchestrated strategy to put abortion back on the SC front-burner,1,1219025.story

Dick Cheney, liar

Why Kerry lost

Brownie hired back at FEMA. . . no, I’m not making this up!
CBS News' Bob Schieffer just announced that the Federal Emergency Management Agency has rehired ex-FEMA chief Michael Brown-- as a consultant to evaluate the agency's response to the disaster!

80% of the contracts in Katrina reconstruction are no-bid

Christian charity, subsidized by public funds
The WP fronts FEMA's decision to reimburse religious institutions for any emergency aid they've provided to survivors of Katrina and Rita. It's the first time the agency has crossed that line.


Bonus item: WH announces that leadership of FEMA is too much for one person: department to be headed up by new troika (thanks to A.G. Rud for the link)

***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.***