Thursday, June 30, 2005


Whoa: TIME may protect its reporter Matthew Cooper by pre-emptively releasing documents containing information
on who leaked Valerie Plame’s identity

Bob Novak’s mysterious role:

Paging Representative DeLay. . . Paging Representative Cunningham. . . The Chair of the House Ethics Committee
drops his absurd demand to place his own staffer on the committee, possibly clearing the way
for the committee to begin hearings

But. . .

Oh, and on the subject, check out this priceless DeLay quote
"It's not a pay raise. It's an adjustment so that they're not losing their purchasing power."

-- House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX), quoted by the AP, on a vote to increase congressional salaries.
[Ed Kilgore] How long, after all, will we have to wait for the next party-line GOP vote against a minimum wage increase
to make sure the neediest working Americans "are not losing their purchasing power"?
How long before the next administration or congressional Republican effort to cap or
pare funding for Medicaid or some other safety net program on grounds that maintaining
the purchasing power of beneficiaries represents a "spending increase"?
And how long, for that matter, will it be before Republicans take credit for popular
spending increases--say, for the military--that really just maintain the "purchasing
power" of current appropriations?

DeLay has lurched into the dangerous territory of real-life measurements of money:
what you can buy with it. He's done so on the most vulnerable grounds imaginable (other than
the usual GOP weeping about the horrific taxes levied on the estates of billionaires):
compassion for Members of Congress who are busily evading a large variety of national challenges
while running up a ruinous national debt.

As Bruce Reed observed in the latest issue of Blueprint magazine: "There's another easy way for Congress
to prove it understands that public responsibility comes before personal gain.
Members of Congress should stop giving themselves cost-of-living increases
until the federal government stops running a deficit and spending the Social Security trust fund.
Responsibility begins at the top."

Cheney gets an EKG exam – not really very surprising or scandalous information.
But of course this gang can’t even tell the truth about such a simple (and easily verified) factual matter

Support the troops! Bush Co. shortchanges veterans’ health care (and VA Sect’y Jim Nicholson screws up Big Time). . .

. . . which led to this delightful exchange between Harry Reid and Rick Santorum on the floor of the Senate

Bush’s “support the troops” web site looks a lot like a “support George Bush” web site – does that surprise you?

Of course, they lie about this too:

Find it before it gets pulled down: the WH web site for posting all their good news about “Renewal In Iraq”
(thanks to Atrios for the link)

John McDonald on the undercurrent of fear Bush was playing on in his Tuesday speech
At least he didn’t raise the color code to orange. Strange how that hasn’t happened since the election ended.

But there shouldn’t be any doubt about the intent of last night’s speech -- to scare the American people into
supporting the war in Iraq. . .

But don’t worry, very few people bothered to watch
[Reuters] President Bush's address to the nation, urging Americans to stand firm in Iraq, drew the smallest TV
audience of his tenure, Nielsen Media Research reported on Wednesday. . .

Fearing that bad news would step on the President’s message, the Army withheld information on the helicopter
shot down in Afghanistan, killing 17

Has George Bush already lost in Iraq?

And Scotty, as usual, struggles to deny the plain meaning of administration statements: when did the job
of Press Secretary shift from answering questions in order to provide information,
to doing nothing but “responding” to questions with non-sequiturs that
reinforce the WH message of the day?

Why the feckless Dems still haven’t capitalized on Bush’s war lies and failures
House and Senate Democrats, sensing an opportunity in President Bush's sagging poll numbers and an increasingly
unpopular war, have held a series of long, closed-door meetings over the past several weeks
to find a common position and a sharpened political message on the Iraq War.

Some participants in the meetings said Bush's failure to articulate an exit strategy
in his speech on Tuesday night only underscored the need for Democrats to devise their position.
But they also acknowledged that within the party, there are fundamentally different views on the war.
[Bob Herbert] The incompetence at the highest levels of government in Washington has undermined the U.S. troops who have fought honorably and bravely in Iraq, which is why the troops are now stuck in a murderous quagmire. If a Democratic administration had conducted a war this incompetently, the Republicans in Congress would be dusting off their impeachment manuals.

Idiotic GOP rep Robin Hayes (R-NC) claims to have proof of a Hussein-9/11 link. Since no other intelligence agency, congressional committee, or Presidential review panel has claimed to have anything close to such evidence, either Representative Hayes is withholding valuable data that no one else has, or (more likely) is whistling through his hat. But the conspiracy-loving wingnuts persist in assuming that there MUST be such a link, and that for some inexplicable reason the govt is sitting on the information (as if they wouldn’t have released it long ago to buttress their flagging case for the war in Iraq). But of course Bush himself has proven all too willing to tiptoe around the edges of hinting at such a link because he knows it feeds into this widespread misconception

I would, however, be very interested in hearing one of the grand poobahs of DC journalism explain to me why it is that it's okay for Republican congresspeople -- subcommittee chairs, even -- to say totally lunatic things, while the slightest hint of unhingedness on the part of anyone, anywhere who might have at some point voted for a Democrat is a huge problem.

Forget Syria and Iran – invade Saudi Arabia!
[NY Post] U.S. commanders in Iraq are facing a growing security threat from Saudi Arabia — which is emerging as a major center for recruitment and financing of terrorist operations in Iraq, The Post has learned.

Labor Dept buries negative reports on working conditions in Central America, afraid that they might jeopardize CAFTA

Is Bolton now too damaged and illegitimate to be an effective UN representative, even if Bush manages to force him through with a recess appointment?
The White House wants him to take a recess appointment -- and he allegedly doesn't want it under these conditions. There are other things he can do. AEI is probably warming a chair right now. . . In the end, while the White House did not get its way in the Senate, it will probably prevail in nudging Bolton to accept the job any way he gets it. Principle will be lost, and Bolton knows it.

On Bolton‘s enemies inside the Bush administration (fun)

House Republicans really have a death wish: they are insisting on voting on a Social Security proposal

Charlie Cook, from his weekly (email) newsletter

For those of you who might have been on vacation or otherwise distracted last week, House Ways and Means Chairman Bill Thomas, R-Calif., and a number of other House Republicans proposed the creation of private investment accounts to be funded out of the Social Security surplus.

Hello, a Social Security surplus?

Last time I checked, President Bush had given an impassioned State of the Union speech trying to persuade Congress and the country that the Social Security system was headed toward insolvency. . . It boggles the mind to think that anyone believes that Republicans could sell this country the idea that there is a Social Security surplus. . .

Like every other credible independent political analyst I know, I think it is very, very unlikely that Democrats can retake control of the House or Senate next year. Yes, I know it is a second-term, mid-term election, and that in five out of the six such "six-year-itch" elections, the party holding the White House incurred devastating losses. In fact, the average outcome in those six elections was a loss of 36 House and six Senate seats, enough to turn over control of both chambers if just an average outcome occurred.

But we keep reminding ourselves that the scarcity of vulnerable Republican seats in the House and Senate makes it almost impossible for the GOP to lose control.

Having said that, I don't think anyone has figured into the equation that Republicans would begin engaging in profoundly stupid and potentially suicidal actions that might prove us wrong and put them back into minority status. . .

Nice. Kentucky’s Republican governor reportedly has an illegal “hit list” of Democratic state workers to get rid of (thanks to John Aravosis for the link)

Bonus item: this is really, really cool
This site by the Newseum is pretty amazing.

It has a Flash map of the United States and other regions of the world with links to various cities. Mouse over the cities, and you get a copy of the local newspapers front pages. Click on it, and you get a large scan of the front page.

An incredible way to quickly see what stories are playing heavily both nationally and throughout the world.

***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, June 29, 2005


On the speech last night, there is only one thing to say, really: blah
[Kevin Drum] That was sure a. . . ho hum speech. I thought it was supposed to be about our strategy to win in Iraq, but he offered nothing new at all. Our commanders say we don't need any more troops, a timeline for withdrawal is bad, and democracy is on the march. . . Beyond that, nothing but the usual rah rah. No wonder the networks were hesitant about televising it.
[David Corn] Bush's speech will not alter the landscape--here or in Iraq. It was the rhetorical equivalent of treading water. Before the speech, NPR had asked me to talk about the address afterward with a conservative pundit. Minutes before we were to go on, an NPR worker called. We've decided, she said, that there was not enough in the speech to warrant an analysis segment. . .

[NB: what I found most interesting, and a key theme picked up by the headline writers, is Bush’s need to reassure us all that the bloodshed, sacrifice, and suffering have been “worth it.” Interesting because (a) nobody can know if it has been worth it yet until we see how this all plays out, and (b) that assessment will be made by popular judgment, in hindsight, not by Bush’s fiat. So far, people have mostly decided that it HASN’T been “worth it,” and several more years of quagmire, with an uncertain outcome, aren’t likely to raise that opinion.]

One more thing to add, thanks to Billmon
I'm going to let others parse the recycled evasions, half-truths and downright lies in Bush's speech. (160,000 "trained and equipped" Iraqi forces??? That ain't true even in Shrub's parallel universe, much less ours.) I've been doing this kind of thing for more than two years now, and I'm tired.

I'll also dispense with the long, detailed analysis of whether the speech will help Bush or not. The New York minute version: It buys him a favorable news cycle and a week, maybe two, of extreme lapdog obedience from the corporate media. It could move the polls his way by a couple of points. But after a month, and another 40 or 50 dead GIs, nobody will remember a word of it, not even G.W.

But I do want to take a longer minute to point out a subtle, and at times bizarre, shift in the propaganda rhetoric -- one that, as predicted, appears to set the stage (or at least leaves the door open) for further negotiations with some of the bad guys. It starts with this line:

Iraq is the latest battlefield in this war. Many terrorists who kill innocent men, women, and children on the streets of Baghdad are followers of the same murderous ideology that took the lives of our citizens in New York, Washington, and Pennsylvania.

Many of them?? So what murderous ideology do the rest of them follow? Utilitarianism? This use of an adjective that's at least several terrorists short of "all" or "every" is echoed in this line:

Some of the violence you see in Iraq is being carried out by ruthless killers who are converging on Iraq to fight the advance of peace and freedom.

. . . I think the partial pronoun is the tee up for the actual change in the party line, which is slipped in here:

They are making common cause with criminal elements, Iraqi insurgents, and remnants of Saddam Hussein’s regime who want to restore the old order.

If you go back and look at the old party lines (versions 1.0 and 2.0) you can quickly see that something new has been added. Heretofore, the "anti-Iraqi forces" have consisted of:

1.) Foreign Terrorists (aka "assassins")
2.) Regime Remnants (aka "dead enders")
3.) Criminal Elements (aka "thugs")

But now we have a fourth category, one with a nice neutral name that doesn't allude to hacking people's heads off or gassing your own people or hating our freedoms:

4.) Iraqi Insurgents (aka "negotiating partners.")

From there on out, the speech carefully and repeatedly distinguished between the terrorists and the insurgents, who are now -- in the fantasy world of the White House propaganda shop at least -- two unique and different populations, where before they were one and indivisible:

Iraqi forces have fought bravely – helping to capture terrorists and insurgents in Najaf, Samarra, Fallujah, and Mosul.

To complete the mission, we will continue to hunt down the terrorists and insurgents.

Today Iraqi Security Forces are at different levels of readiness. Some are capable of taking on the terrorists and insurgents by themselves.

We are building up Iraqi Security Forces as quickly as possible, so they can assume the lead in defeating the terrorists and insurgents.

And so on. It would seem the error in the historical record has been rectified (although the gang still hasn't gotten that memory hole thing completely down yet.) But the policy -- "no nation can negotiate with terrorists" -- hasn't changed one bit. It remains as a monument to our leader's moral clarity and unflagging resolution.

It really is amazing what you can do with -- and to -- the English language.

More dissections:

What Bush didn’t say . . .

George Bush, paragon of consistency
[Bush last night] “Some contend that we should set a deadline for withdrawing U.S. forces. Let me explain why that would be a serious mistake. . . Setting an artificial timetable would send the wrong message to the Iraqis, who need to know that America will not leave before the job is done. . . It would send the wrong signal to our troops, who need to know that we are serious about completing the mission they are risking their lives to achieve. . . And it would send the wrong message to the enemy, who would know that all they have to do is to wait us out.”
"Victory means exit strategy, and it’s important for the president to explain to us what the exit strategy is." -- Bush criticizing President Clinton on not setting a timetable for troops in Kosovo, 4/9/99

"I think it’s also important for the president to lay out a timetable as to how long they will be involved and when they will be withdrawn." -- Bush, again criticizing Clinton, 6/5/99. . .

"I'm going to be judicious as to how to use the military. It needs to be in our vital interest, the mission needs to be clear, and the exit strategy obvious." -- Bush, in response to a question from Jim Lehrer, 10/12/00.

Scotty’s version: We’ve got a strategy, a strategy for success. . . just don’t ask us what it is
[SCOTT McCLELLAN]: Tomorrow, the President will also talk about the strategy for success. He will talk in a very specific way about the way forward. There is a clear path to victory. It is a two-track strategy: there is the military and political track. . .

Q Scott, are there new details in the strategy for success?. . .

MR. McCLELLAN: [T]he President will be talking in a very specific way about the strategy for succeeding in Iraq. And he will talk about the two-track strategy that we have in place. . . I think we have a clear strategy for success. He's going to be talking in a very specific way about what that strategy is. It's an opportunity for the American people to hear about the strategy. . . You're going to hear him talk about the strategy we have for succeeding in Iraq, the strategy we have for victory, and where we are in terms of implementing that strategy.

[NB: I imagine Scotty saying all this with a tic and a squint and a head-jerk. “Strategy. . . awk!. . . the President has a strategy. . .it’s a very specific strategy. . . errk!. . . it’s a strategy for success. . . gah!”]

Harry Reid’s response
“Tonight’s address offered the President an excellent opportunity to level with the American people about the current situation in Iraq, put forth a path for success, and provide the means to assess our progress. Unfortunately he fell short on all counts.

“There is a growing feeling among the American people that the President’s Iraq policy is adrift, disconnected from the reality on the ground and in need of major mid-course corrections. “Staying the course,” as the President advocates, is neither sustainable nor likely to lead to the success we all seek.

“The President’s numerous references to September 11th did not provide a way forward in Iraq, they only served to remind the American people that our most dangerous enemy, namely Osama bin Laden, is still on the loose and Al Qaeda remains capable of doing this nation great harm nearly four years after it attacked America.

“Democrats stand united and committed to seeing that we achieve success in Iraq and provide our troops, their families, and our veterans everything they need and deserve for their sacrifices for our nation. The stakes are too high, and failure in Iraq cannot be an option. Success is only possible if the President significantly alters his current course. That requires the President to work with Congress and finally begin to speak openly and honestly with our troops and the American people about the difficult road ahead.

“Our troops and their families deserve no less.”

A very reserved reception from the troops. To me, this was a prime story. I’m sure they were prepped that this wasn’t to be a pep rally and that a lot of hooting and cheering weren’t appropriate to the moment. But even given that, the facial expressions and body language of the audience were like a bunch of people sitting in a dentist’s waiting room.

Look, the “serious” media can report with furrowed brow about Bush’s tone and rhetoric, but these people in uniform know some things. They know there aren’t enough troops over there. They know there are shortages of critical supplies, even now. They know the Iraqis are nowhere near ready to take over on their own. They know there wasn’t a plan -- a “strategy for success” – to follow up the initial fall of Baghdad. They know the daily frustrations and futility of fighting a “whack-a-mole” insurgency when a lot of the locals don’t want you to be there. They know that a lot of their buddies are being raked over the coals for prisoner abuse, while the officers who told them to “get tough” with the prisoners are getting excuses and promotions. They know the extended tours of duty, the broken promises about being able to go home, and the prospect of no end in sight. And many of them know the sorry state of medical care for vets.

I’m sure most of them support Bush, and I’m sure most of them, even now, agree that it has been “worth it” (they really HAVE to believe that, don’t they, at this stage?). But they aren’t going to be convinced by Bush’s “I feel your pain” rhetorical stylings and faux sincerity that the armed forces haven’t been seriously shortchanged and taken advantage of by poor war planning and Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld’s stubborn refusal to admit any mistakes at all.

And I wonder how they feel about the emergence of secret negotiations with the very people who have been slaughtering their brothers and sisters?
I notice the props are having a hard time keeping their eyes open, though. Poor guys.
Rather than interrupt the president with applause, the soldiers sat silently in green uniforms and maroon berets, until Mr. Bush, well into his speech, declared, "We will stay in the fight until the fight is won." Then they clapped, the only applause he received until the end of his address.

Yep, fake applause
ABC's Terry Moran just reported that the only time Bush got applause was in the middle of his speech when a White House advance team member started clapping all on their own in order to cajole the soldiers into clapping, which they dutifully did.

Looks like ABC won’t be getting any chummy thank you notes for a while
Stephanopoulos just said on ABC that the CIA said a few weeks ago that there were no real ties between Iraq and Al Qaeda before the war, but that now Iraq is THE NUMBER ONE TRAINING GROUND for Al Qaeda worldwide. Good God. Do people realize what that means?

The fact that Iraq has BECOME a terrorist training ground is true. It wasn’t one before the invasion of Iraq. And Bush admitted as much in November 2002. Before the war, Bush claimed we needed to attack Iraq to PREVENT it from becoming a terrorist training ground. Here’s what he said:

Imagine a terrorist network with Iraq as an arsenal and as a training ground, so that a Saddam Hussein could use his shadowy group of people to attack his enemy and leave no fingerprint behind. [Bush, 11/4/02]

We don’t have to imagine any longer. Bush’s miscalculations in his handling of Iraq have unified the terrorists and have allowed Iraqi territory to become the terrorist training ground that the extremists desired.

Time Magazine Reported the “goal” of the militants in a July 2004 article:

A “Time investigation of the insurgency today — based on meetings with insurgents, tribal leaders, religious clerics and U.S. intelligence officials — reveals that the militants are turning the resistance into an international jihadist movement. … Their goal now, say the militants interviewed, is broader than simply forcing the U.S. to leave. They want to transform Iraq into what Afghanistan was in the 1980s: a training ground for young jihadists who will form the next wave of recruits for al-Qaeda and like-minded groups.”

Nearly a year later and with little headway having been made against the insurgents, the CIA recently reported the results:

“A new classified assessment by the Central Intelligence Agency says Iraq may prove to be an even more effective training ground for Islamic extremists than Afghanistan was in Al Qaeda’s early days, because it is serving as a real-world laboratory for urban combat.”

[CNN] A CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll of Americans who watched President Bush's Iraq speech Tuesday night showed that 46 percent had a "very positive" reaction to what they heard.

The poll was taken immediately after the speech, and the 323 adults interviewed were 50 percent Republican, 23 percent Democratic and 27 percent independent. The margin of error was plus or minus 6 percentage points.

Another 28 percent said they were "somewhat positive" about what they heard, and 26 percent said they had a "negative" reaction.

"It's difficult to tell from these poll results how the speech will affect general U.S. public," said CNN polling director Keating Holland.

"Many Americans did not watch the speech. Those who did were 2-to-1 Republican, so most were arguably already in the president's camp."


Oh, what a tangled web we weave. . .
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and his top general in Iraq said yesterday that U.S. military attempts to initiate discussions with Iraqi leaders who claim to hold sway within the insurgency are in the early stages and have not yet yielded much progress.

Gen. George W. Casey Jr., commander of U.S. forces in Iraq. . . said there have been no discussions with foreign fighters, including those linked to insurgent leader Abu Musab Zarqawi.

"They're discussions, and they're discussions primarily aimed at bringing these Sunni leaders and the people they represent into the political process," Casey said at a Pentagon news conference. "But to characterize them as negotiations with insurgents about stopping the insurgency, we're not quite there yet."

Rumsfeld reiterated his belief that the war is on track toward success. He cautioned again that the insurgency could last for years and declined to put a timetable on a possible U.S. withdrawal. . . "The suggestion of those who say we are losing, or that we're in a quagmire, seems to be that, as long as there's violence in Iraq, that the conclusion must be that the insurgents are winning," Rumsfeld said. "Not so.". . .

Neither he nor Casey specified what criteria would be used to decide when to bring troops home, but Rumsfeld said a perfectly peaceful Iraq is not what will define success. . ."Success for the coalition should not be defined as domestic tranquility in Iraq," Rumsfeld said. "Other democracies have had to contend with terrorism and insurgencies for a number of years, but they've been able to function and eventually succeed."

War defenders pooh-pooh poll results in the U.S. while simultaneously trumpeting poll results in Iraq
[Dana Milbank] The result is a somewhat muddled message: Attack the polls, or cite them? Attack the skeptics, or persuade them?. . . Yesterday, only moments after Rumsfeld denounced "mercurial" polls, his fellow briefer, George W. Casey Jr., the top general in Iraq, observed: "Recent polls confirm that Iraqis are confident in their government and their security forces," he said. The juxtaposition was even worse Sunday; Rumsfeld, in the same interview denouncing polls, suggested looking "at the polling data on the confidence that the Iraqi people have for the Iraqi security forces."

There are a lot of ways to read this, none of them good
A wire piece in the Journal says an Iraqi journalist was apparently killed by GIs after he didn't pull over as their convoy was passing; it is reportedly the third such killing of an Iraqi journalist in the past week.

MZM, the defense contractor in the Duke Cunningham case, has a VERY interesting history
"MZM opened its doors in 1993, but its first federal contract was a $140,000 deal in July 2002 to provide "office furniture" and "custom computer programming services" for the executive office of the president of the United States, according to the Federal Procurement Data System." San Diego Union-Tribune, June 25th, 2005.
Government procurement records show that MZM, which Wade started in 1993, did not report any revenue from prime contract awards until 2003. Most of its revenue has come from the agreement the Pentagon just cut off. But over the past three years it was also awarded several contracts, worth more than $600,000, by the Executive Office of the President. They include a $140,000 deal for office furniture in 2002 and several for unspecified "intelligence services.". . . A White House spokeswoman declined to comment.

[Holden] I'm sure its perfectly normal for the White House to buy $140,000 worth of furniture from a defense contractor, right?

What we already knew. . .,1,4822477.story
A top Army Corps of Engineers official charged Monday that Halliburton Co. was able to receive no-bid contracts for work in Iraq because of repeated assistance by the office of the secretary of Defense.

Bunnatine Greenhouse, a longtime senior procurement executive for the Army Corps of Engineers. . . called the multiple interventions "the most blatant and improper contract abuse I have witnessed during the course of my professional career."

"Essentially every aspect of the RIO contract remained under the control of the office of the secretary of Defense," she said, referring to the acronym for the contract known as Rebuild Iraqi Oil. "That troubled me and was wrong."

The Chinese oil bidness: they’ve learned how things get done over here
Public Strategies Inc., the Austin-based public affairs firm, likes to keep a low profile. . . That probably will be impossible with one of the firm's newest clients: CNOOC Ltd., the Chinese oil company that's trying to buy Unocal Corp. . .

CNOOC's bid faces opposition from some members of Congress because of concerns about Chinese trade practices and national security. The government can block any deal it thinks threatens national security. . . Given those obstacles, CNOOC needs all the help it can get. So this week the company hired PSI and other high-powered law and lobbying firms, including Washington-based Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP.

PSI has some important political connections. Vice Chairman Mark McKinnon is a longtime campaign adviser to President Bush. And managing director Mark Palmer, who is handling CNOOC, knows plenty about managing controversy: His previous job was as the executive in charge of public relations for Enron Corp., which had businesses all over the world. . .
Q When the President talks about high gasoline prices, he often cites the demand for gasoline and crude oil from China. Is the President comfortable that the company partly owned by his campaign media advisor is assisting the Chinese in their attempt to purchase Unocal?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, in terms of that matter, we are following those reports closely. . .

“An arrogant insult”
Now that it's clear that the Senate doesn't support John Bolton, many conservatives are pushing for a recess appointment. But surprise, surprise -- back when Bill Clinton was president, a recess appointment was an "arrogant insult."

Why a recess appointment would be a bad idea. . .

. . .but Frist shows no signs of bringing Bolton up for another vote (I guess that trip to the woodshed a week or so ago wasn't to get him to promise to bring up another vote, but to STOP TALKING about the fact that there wasn't going to be another vote)

More coming on the Franklin case

Karl Rove has a plan for Rudy Giuliani (thanks to John Aravosis for the link)

Chaos ahead: Christian groups plan to flood the courts with a hundred more religious monument cases
"We see this as an historic opening, and we're going to pursue it aggressively," said the Rev. Patrick J. Mahoney, director of the Washington-based Christian Defense Coalition, which organized vigils outside the Florida hospice where Terri Schiavo died this year.

Ken Tomlinson, the kind of boss any of us would love to work for,1,1489257.story
A consultant hired by the Republican chairman of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting to monitor the political leanings of guests on PBS' "NOW with Bill Moyers" last year also tracked the content of programs hosted by NPR's Diane Rehm and public broadcaster Tavis Smiley, according to a Democratic senator who obtained a copy of the analysis.

The consultant, Fred Mann, provided Kenneth Y. Tomlinson, CPB chairman, with a report classifying guests interviewed by Smiley and on "The Diane Rehm Show" on National Public Radio as "liberal" or "conservative". . .

The corporation's inspector general is now examining Tomlinson's hiring of Mann, who was previously employed by a conservative journalism education group, as well as other contracts given to GOP lobbyists. . .

***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, June 28, 2005


It appears that the far Right is getting frustrated that they can’t get everyone to fall in line with their agenda. Thinking that this was their moment to permanently restructure government, the US legal system, and the rest of the world to fit their vision, suddenly people are exhibiting a disturbing skepticism and independence of thought. And so, of course, the Right’s response is to attack their own allies (on 90% of the issues, because they don’t support them on 100% of the issues) just as viciously as they’ve been attacking their enemies. Fun to watch
First, Cheney goes after Hagel. Now conservative leader Grover Norquist attacks three GOP Senators over at the College Chickenhawks conference:

Speaking to the same group a few hours later, party strategist Grover Norquist lambasted three Republicans who broke party ranks over the issue of judicial filibusters. He referred to them as "the two girls from Maine and the nut-job from Arizona" - Sens. Susan Collins, Olympia Snowe and John McCain.

More Republican bullying of scientists who dare to publish work that doesn’t support their agenda – this is truly frightening (thanks to Atrios for the link)

You don’t need to be a baseball fan to be deeply disturbed by the implications here
[Roll Call] Three months into their inaugural season, the Washington Nationals are in first place. Attendance is strong, hopes are high, and the team is reportedly turning a tidy profit.

But to some Capitol Hill Republicans there is a dark cloud on the Nats' horizon: the potential that their newly adopted home team could be purchased by billionaire financier George Soros.

Earlier this month, Soros joined an ownership bid being led by entrepreneur Jonathan Ledecky. Their group is one of more than a half-dozen angling to take over the Nats, who are currently owned by Major League Baseball.

In addition to being a well-known currency speculator and philanthropist, Soros is also known in political circles for having pumped more than $20 million in the last cycle into groups seeking to unseat President Bush and elect Democrats.

While the Soros-Ledecky group is not seen as the frontrunner to win the bidding for the Nationals, who should be awarded to their new owner at the end of the 2005 season, the very prospect that Soros could have a stake in the team is enough to irritate Congressional Republicans.

"I think Major League Baseball understands the stakes," said Government Reform Chairman Tom Davis (R), the Northern Virginia lawmaker who recently convened high-profile steroid hearings. "I don't think they want to get involved in a political fight."

Davis, whose panel also oversees District of Columbia issues, said that if a Soros sale went through, "I don't think it's the Nats that get hurt. I think it's Major League Baseball that gets hurt. They enjoy all sorts of exemptions" from anti-trust laws.

Indeed, Hill Republicans could potentially make life difficult for MLB in a variety of ways. In addition to being exempt from anti-trust rules, baseball is still under scrutiny over the steroid issue. The Nats, meanwhile, hope to have a publicly-funded stadium built soon, though money for that venture is expected to come through the sale of bonds rather than a federal outlay.
So now Republicanism stands for controlling the free market. Big-time Republicans, like, oh, George W. Bush, are permitted to own the Texas Rangers. But Soros is different because, uh, Democrats hate America, don't get 9/11 and want to kill our troops, so in uber-Christian-white America we don't let rich Jewish financiers do the same business deals that white Christian Republicans are allowed to do.

But there’s more. . .
[R.C.] Soros isn’t the only political big-shot looking to buy the Nats. The ownership group seen by many insiders as the frontrunner to buy the team includes Fred Malek, a close friend of President Bush, and former Secretary of State Colin Powell. Another bidding group includes ex-Sen. Peter Fitzgerald (R-Ill.).

Fred Malek's presence in the competing Republican buyer group makes the Republican threats against baseball if the Jewish, Democratic Soros becomes a buyer even creepier. Malek, lest readers forget, was Richard Nixon's official Jew counter. According to Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein's book, The Final Days (via Slate):

Late in 1971, Nixon had summoned the White House personnel chief, Fred Malek, to his office to discuss a "Jewish cabal" in the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The "cabal," Nixon said, was tilting economic figures to make his Administration look bad. How many Jews were there in the bureau? he wanted to know. Malek reported back on the number, and told the President that the bureau's methods of weighing statistics were normal procedure that had been in use for years.

Now, Malek has long been a booster of baseball in the Washington region, so it's not a huge surprise that he should be a lead competitor for the local team. But, according to Tim Noah's 2001 piece, "Malek is best known in political circles for resigning in 1988 as George Bush's hand-picked deputy chairman for the Republican National Committee after the Post's Walter Pincus and Bob Woodward reported that 17 years earlier Malek had, at Richard Nixon's request, counted the number of Jews then working for the Bureau of Labor Statistics." Malek was later rehabilitated by George W. Bush, whose syndicate to buy the Texas Rangers Malek joined in 1988.

Ragging on Soros isn't about keeping politics out of the game -- it's about furthering the interests of ruling party loyalists.

Everyone links to this sick and twisted column by Rick Santorum (R-PA) in Catholic Online
Like most American Catholics, I have followed the recent sex scandals in the Church with profound sympathy for victims, revulsion over priests who prey on minors and frustration at the absence of hierarchical leadership. Unlike most, I have been visited by the gift of hope; for I see in this fall an opportunity for ecclesial rebirth and a new evangelization of America. . .

It is startling that those in the media and academia appear most disturbed by this aberrant behavior, since they have zealously promoted moral relativism by sanctioning "private" moral matters such as alternative lifestyles. Priests, like all of us, are affected by culture. When the culture is sick, every element in it becomes infected. While it is no excuse for this scandal, it is no surprise that Boston, a seat of academic, political and cultural liberalism in America, lies at the center of the storm. . .

I do hate to see reporters hauled before the law, but now that the Supreme Court has rejected their appeal, will Miller and Cooper testify -- and will this (finally) lead to charges in the Plame case? A good overview of where things stand

Priceless. Now 57% believe that the government INTENTIONALLY LIED about the war in Iraq. (The other 43% say it was the Easter Bunny)
I beg to differ with WaPo that this is a partisan divide. Independents and Democrats know that the Bush Administration has been mendacious from the beginning on Iraq.

And when 65% of Republicans no longer believe a Republican Administration, that is not a sign of a partisan divide - that is a sign of an amazing consensus. . . Let's turn the numbers around so they make sense - 65% of Republicans, 81% of Independents and 87% of Democrats do not believe the insurgency in Iraq is weakening. . . Only in the strange world of the Media does such a result represent a "partisan divide."

Bush’s speech tonight, which they are bullying the networks to cover live because of its “importance,” isn’t expected to say a damn thing that is new about Bush’s “stay the course” approach to Iraq
MR. McCLELLAN: Tomorrow, the President will also talk about the strategy for success. He will talk in a very specific way about the way forward. There is a clear path to victory. It is a two-track strategy: there is the military and political track. On the military front, it's important to continue training and equipping the Iraqi security forces so that they're able to defend themselves, and then our troops can return home with the honor that they deserve. And then there is the political track. The Iraqi people are showing that they're determined to build a free and democratic and peaceful future, and we must continue to do all we can to support them as they build a lasting democracy. . .

Q Scott, are there new details in the strategy for success? Is there a new direction, or is the President basically summing up what he has said before?

MR. McCLELLAN: As I said, this is a new speech. And the President will be talking in a very specific way about the strategy for succeeding in Iraq. And he will talk about the two-track strategy that we have in place. . .

Q Well, I guess what I'm asking is, are people going to hear things they haven't heard the President say before? Are there new details?

MR. McCLELLAN: I think many Americans have not heard much of what the President has to say tomorrow night. . .

Q The question is, is there a new direction, though, or not?

MR. McCLELLAN: You're going to hear from the President tomorrow night. I think we have a clear strategy for success. He's going to be talking in a very specific way about what that strategy is. It's an opportunity for the American people to hear about the strategy.

Q Isn't the message really more patience? Isn't that really what the President is going to be requesting. . .

Q Scott, just to follow up on what Terry was trying to ask -- you said the President is going to get very specific. I understand he's not going to shift strategy at all. But, in terms of specifics, is it going to be the kind of thing where he's going to talk about how many battalions have been trained in Iraq? Is that the kind of thing you think that Americans don't know about? Or is it going to be, you know, presenting new initiatives and new ideas, things we don't know about?. . .

MR. McCLELLAN: I know, but that's for the President to do tomorrow night. You're going to hear all this tomorrow night. He will talk about the importance of training and equipping Iraqi security forces, and where we are in terms of making progress to do that. There has been a lot of important progress made. Iraqi forces are standing and fighting the insurgents, and standing and fighting with coalition forces, they're doing it on their own. The Iraqi people are also coming forward, providing more intelligence to help defeat the terrorists and go after them where they are. . .

Q I guess my question is, beyond discussing, perhaps in great detail, what's already going on right now, is he going to offer new ideas, new initiatives, either from the U.S. -- joint initiatives with the U.S. and other countries -- in order to make what he says the goal -- is possible?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I think I would describe it the way I did. You're going to hear him talk about the strategy we have for succeeding in Iraq, the strategy we have for victory, and where we are in terms of implementing that strategy. . .

Q Scott, if so much progress has been made in Iraq, why is the public support dropping so steadily?

MR. McCLELLAN: If so much progress has been made? I think we can go through and talk about the progresses made. There has been --

Q The question is why --

MR. McCLELLAN: There has been significant progress made in just a year's time. It takes time to build a democracy. Our own nation went through a lot of struggles before we were able to build the kind of democracy that thrives today.

Q But why is public support dropping so much?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, we're a nation at war, and war is something that is very tough. It is tough to see the images of violence on the screens of our televisions.

[NB: A trained monkey could do this job – oh, wait, he is]

David Corn: show the speech

Another faint-hearted nay-sayer on Iraq
“Before we commit troops, there has to be a clear strategy.” Contrary to recent developments, U.S. military forces should never be sent on “vague, aimless and endless deployments.”

George Bush, 2000

Could the insurgency have been foreseen? IT WAS – just not by Rummy and the boys

How to talk about the war

Halliburton’s alleged billion-dollar fraud

What next on Bolton?

The Supreme Court issues a reasonable and principled compromise on religious displays – which means the theocons must be outraged

Fox News’ fair and balanced coverage of the story
“Court Rules Against Ten Commandments"

Cunningham scandal: spreading and spreading

Our ethically challenged (Republican) House of Representatives

Cheney’s hospital visit: a check-up? a serious problem? did he even go to the hospital? Don’t expect these people to give you a straight answer

The ruling elite: by the numbers (thanks to Susan Madrak for the link)
A research team at Sonoma State University has recently finished conducting a network analysis of the boards of directors of the ten big media organizations in the US. The team determined that only 118 people comprise the membership on the boards of director of the ten big media giants. This is a small enough group to fit in a moderate size university classroom. These 118 individuals in turn sit on the corporate boards of 288 national and international corporations. In fact, eight out of ten big media giants share common memberships on boards of directors with each other. . . [read on!]

How the blogs got the mainstream media to pay attention to the Downing Street memos
A bit more than a week after the Post's ombudsman dinged the paper for not seriously covering the pre-war Downing Street memos, the Post seriously covers the pre-war Downing Street memos. It's a reasonable overview, but there's not much new. A piece in the Journal looks at how some liberal activists launched a now darn successful (shoestring) campaign to get the memos covered.

Bonus item: Reality-challenged

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

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

Monday, June 27, 2005


The theme today is the increasingly bizarre semantic gymnastics the Bush gang is resorting to as a way of not admitting that the situation in Iraq is worsening, that the insurgency poses a real threat to their plans, that they are in fact “negotiating with terrorists” (which they vowed never to do), and so on. Annie Lamott captures their state of mind with a perfectly apt image
The White House and the war machine are collapsing, and their only hope would be to hit a bottom, like alcoholics and addicts have to do before they have a prayer of finding a solution. Until then, drunks keep lowering the bottom, justifying everything, lying even to themselves. . . I think that many in the majority party are finding themselves in the same psychic shape as alcoholics a few months before they finally seek sobriety, except for George Bush, who apparently does not have a clue. With alcoholism, other people can see that the alkie is, to quote one of my friends, in a state of pitiful and incomprehensible demoralization; but it takes what it takes for the alcoholic to realize that. . .

I mean, it’s just surreal sometimes. . .
[Meet the Press] MR. RUSSERT: I think the concern that many people have is that if we were wrong or misjudged that, are we making some other misjudgments now? This is how The Washington Times reported in exchange before the hearings. "[Sen. Carl] Levin asked whether the general thought the insurgency was in its `last throes,' as Mr. Cheney said ... last month. `In terms of the overall strength of the insurgency, I'd say it was the same as it was' six months ago, Gen. [John] Abizaid replied."

For the sake of clarity for the American people, what about this insurgency? Is it in its last throes or is it alive and well and vibrant and strong as it was six months ago?

SEC'Y RUMSFELD: Well, there are various ways to measure it. If you measure the number of incidents, it's gone up during the election period and now it's back down. If you look at lethality of those instances, it's up. Now, what does that mean? Does it mean that the insurgency's stronger? Is it in its last throes? The last throes could be violence, as you well know from a dictionary standpoint. I think the way to think of it is that the insurgents are foreigners in some significant number. They are attacking Iraqis and killing them. . .
Speaking on Fox News, Mr Rumsfeld said the US regularly "facilitates" meetings between Iraqi officials and insurgents. . .

Mr Rumsfeld did not confirm any details of the talks - and sought to downplay their significance.

"I would not make a big deal out of it," he told Fox News.

"Meetings go on frequently with people.

"I think the attention to this is overblown."
But Mr. Rumsfeld said no negotiations are taking place with hardened terrorist elements belonging to al-Qaida or those, as he put it, "with blood on their hands."

[Billmon] It wasn't too long ago (four months, to be exact) that our Cheerleader-in-Chief was lumping all "anti-Iraqi" forces together in the same Islamofascist stew:

"Terrorists and insurgents are violently opposed to democracy, and will continue to attack it. Yet the terrorists' most powerful myth is being destroyed. The whole world is seeing that the car bombers and assassins are not only fighting coalition forces, they are trying to destroy the hopes of Iraqis, expressed in free elections.

And the whole world now knows that a small group of extremists will not overturn the will of the Iraqi people."

This, of course, was the party line for many moons. It was not, however, the original line. In the good old days -- back when Bush was still posing in his flight suit -- the insurgents were usually painted as a motley crew of "former regime elements" and "Baathist dead enders," reinforced by "criminals and thugs" released from Saddam's jails. Foreign terrorists, when they were mentioned at all, were a distinctly secondary propaganda element.

All this changed in the spring of last year, when the insurgency exploded into full view of the folks back home. The tidal wave of bad news -- Americans burned alive in Fallujah, the revolt of Moqtada Sadr's Shi'a militia, Abu Ghraib, the failure of the WMD snipe hunt -- apparently convinced the White House spin doctors that the war in Iraq had to be tied much more closely to the war against Al Qaeda.

The result was a sudden, obsessive focus on the evil al-Zarqawi and his jihadi legions -- as when Dan Senor, the GOP campaign mouthpiece turned coalition spokesman, tried to blame Zarqawi for the entire Fallujah debacle:

The problem here is not with the Fallujans, the problem here is not with the coalition. The problem here is with foreign fighters, international terrorists, people like Zarqawi, who we believe to be in Fallujah or nearby.

Here's Rummy, banging on the same propaganda drum back at the Pentagon:

The terrorists, assassins are threatened by the Iraqi's people's progress toward self-government, because they know that they will have no future in a free Iraq. They know, as al Qaeda associate Abu Musaab al-Zarqawi put it in his letter recently, that we intercepted: "Democracy is coming."

From that point forward, administration officials usually made a special point of referring to the Iraqi resistance as "the terrorists" -- and even launched a mini-campaign to pressure the media into using either that word or the newly invented phrase "anti-Iraq forces" instead of the more neutral "insurgents" or "insurgency."

But now the whole world (or at least, that part which reads the newspapers) knows that "terrorists" and "assassins" are the administration's new negotiating partners. Since Bush has a rock-hard policy of never negotiating with such people, the only solution is a rhetorical one. The line must be changed again. . .
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, meanwhile, said it may take as long as 12 years to defeat the insurgents. He said Iraq's security forces will have to finish the job because American and foreign troops will have left the country by then. . . Rumsfeld said he is bracing for even more violence. "We're not going to win against the insurgency. The Iraqi people are going to win against the insurgency. That insurgency could go on for any number of years. Insurgencies tend to go on five, six, eight, 10, 12 years," Rumsfeld told "Fox News Sunday."
WALLACE: When we announced that you were going to be on the program, I got a phone call . . . from a gentleman who had been a veteran of Vietnam, wounded twice in Vietnam, whose son is now serving in Iraq. And he said that he never thought that this country would fight another Vietnam, meaning send our troops over there without enough strength to win, but he said . . . that's exactly what's going on in Iraq, that we are fighting another Vietnam in the sense that we don't have enough force to win. And then he said, the problem -- and I'm going to quote him now -- is, he said, "Rumsfeld tried to fight this on the cheap."


WALLACE: What do you say to that patriotic but very concerned father?

RUMSFELD: Well, I think you thank him first for his service, and then thank him for the service of his son. And then point out that this is not a decision I make; this is a decision that's made by the military commanders. General Franks, General Abizaid, General Casey have decided what those numbers are. They've recommended them to me. I've recommended them to the president. I agree with them. I think they're right.

Fox News Sunday
June 26, 2005

The issue of troop levels is so delicate that the commanding officer here, Col. Stephen W. Davis, refuses to allow their true numbers to be publicly released. If insurgents learned the figure, he says, it would pose a safety risk for his marines.

The New York Times
June 26, 2005
Rumsfeld said Sunday [that before the war] he gave President Bush a list of about 15 things "that could go terribly, terribly wrong before the war started.". . . Asked if his list included the possibility of such a strong insurgency, Rumsfeld said: "I don't remember whether that was on there, but certainly it was discussed."

[Kevin Drum] I think we can take that as a "no," especially since there's pretty overwhelming evidence that no one before the war took the possibility of a sustained insurgency seriously, least of all Rumsfeld.

These guys still can't face the reality of what's happened to their lovely little war. They willfully ignored the advice of the uniformed military officers who had actual experience in fighting modern wars, and because of that they didn't know what they were getting into before the war, they didn't know what they were up against after the war, and they're apparently still clueless about what to expect in the future.

Juan Cole’s discursus on the plain meaning of “last throes” – all good, but here’s the punch line
And then Dick Cheney came along and reinterpreted it as something that could last for twelve years. . .

Chuck Hagel (R-NE)
GRAND ISLAND, Neb. - More than 200 Nebraska American Legion members, who have seen war and conflict themselves, fell quiet here Saturday as Sen. Chuck Hagel bluntly explained why he believes that the United States is losing the war in Iraq. . .

It took 20 minutes, but it boiled down to this:

The Bush team sent in too few troops to fight the war leading to today's chaos and rising deaths of Americans and Iraqis. Terrorists are "pouring in" to Iraq.

Basic living standards are worse than a year ago in Iraq. Civil war is perilously close to erupting there. Allies aren't helping much. The American public is losing its trust in President Bush's handling of the conflict.

. . . "What we don't want to happen is for this to end up another Vietnam," Hagel told the legionnaires, "because the consequences would be catastrophic."

Dick Cheney on Chuck Hagel
Since 9/11, we've had people like Chuck Hagel and other politicians and we've had people in the press corps and commentators who've said we can't do Afghanistan.

That’s a lie, of course:

Matt Yglesias on Chuck Hagel
Chuck Hagel seems more concerned than ever about the direction of America's policy in Iraq. Good for him. . . So what's Hagel going to do about it?

Abu Ghraib, which Bush promised to tear down, will be EXPANDED instead (because the war is going so well, you know?)
The numbers of prisoners being held by the US in Iraq has reached record levels this month, with 10,783 in custody, up from 7,837 in January and 5,435 in June last year. American Iraqi officials agree there is no sign of the resistance or the prisoners it produces abating soon.

Conditions at Gitmo getting better, Congressional visitors say (well, it would be hard to make them much worse!)
[Michael Froomkin] Reading this item, JURIST - Paper Chase: UPDATE ~ US House members report improved conditions at Gitmo. . .

After visiting the Guantanamo Bay detention center Saturday [JURIST report], House Republicans and Democrats reported that conditions at the facility are improving. The lawmakers traveled to the detention facility to witness interrogations and observe living conditions of the suspected terrorists. Representative Ellen Tauscher (D-CA) [official website] said that “[t]he Guantanamo we saw today is not the Guantanamo we heard about a few years ago”. . .

. . . reminds me of this item from the Washington Post last April, Detainee Questioning Was Faked, Book Says; U.S. Military Denies Staging Interviews:

The U.S. military staged the interrogations of terrorism suspects for members of Congress and other officials visiting the military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. . .
A new independent investigation of abuse allegations at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, "doesn't make sense," Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said Sunday. . . "I think that to go back into all of the things that's already been reviewed by everybody else doesn't make sense," Rumsfeld said on NBC's "Meet the Press" on NBC.

Did Rumsfeld just say 12 YEARS?!
This Week:

George Will: There is the 2008 election in this country that could produce a victory for the insurgents."

George Steph: How is that?

George Will: By a crack in the American... by electing a president who says 'if elected I will withdraw.'

[Atrios] Fareed then gently reminded Will that our army is going to be f-cked by the end of 2006 unless Operation Yellow Elephant starts having more success.

Then Will said that Iraq is our Chechnya.

Someone pour me a drink.

Oh, George. . . ?
This is from a George Will column in August of 2003:

Abizaid briskly defines the modest, nuts-and-bolts but potentially momentous development that must happen soon:

"We've got to do a lot more to bring an Iraqi face" -- beyond the nearly 60,000 Iraqis already under arms in reconstituted security forces -- "to the security establishments throughout Iraq very quickly." As Wolfowitz says, the basic U.S. strategy is to "get us into the background before we become the issue."

[Atrios] So, almost 2 years ago, we had Wolfowitz hitting exactly the same themes that they're hitting now - we've trained a bunch of Iraqis and all we need to do is train a few more.

More Atrios
I'm surely not the first person to make this observation, but it makes me physically ill when I think about the fact that Bush is going to use members of the military as props in his Tuesday night speech to the country.

Someone in the WH press corps has had enough
Q Scott, I understand there is an anniversary date next Tuesday, but you're saying that this speech is happening, in part, because this is a critical moment, a critical time --

MR. McCLELLAN: That's correct.

Q -- in Iraq. What's more critical about this month and this moment than, say, a month ago or nine months ago?

MR. McCLELLAN: This is a critical period. The transitional government is moving forward on drafting a constitution. . .

Q Is this moment any more critical than the critical moments you described in the run-up to the presidential election a year ago September/October, in the run-up to the election in Iraq last December/January? You said the same thing then, a "critical moment."

MR. McCLELLAN: Yes, I think you can go back and look at those time periods and look at what we said during that time period. This is a very critical period in Iraq. Here's why: because the terrorists are trying to test our resolve, and they're trying to shake the will of the international community and the Iraqi people. The terrorists, as General Abizaid --

Q They've been doing that for months, don't you agree or --

MR. McCLELLAN: No, as General Abizaid talked about, there have been a growing number of foreign terrorists coming in to Iraq, because they recognize that Iraq is a central front in the war on terrorism. And, Bill, we are a nation that is at war. And the Commander-in-Chief believes it's important to keep the American people informed about --

Q Yes, but what's changed?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, are you going to let me finish, or are you going to keep jumping in?

Q Well, you said the same thing before, and I accept what you say. But what's changed?

MR. McCLELLAN: I was just talking to you --

Q It's the same condition that we found ourselves in a year ago.

MR. McCLELLAN: I was just outlining to you why it's a critical period --

Q Yes, but it was a critical period for the same reason then.

MR. McCLELLAN: -- in Iraq, and we are a nation at war. And the Commander-in-Chief has a responsibility to keep the American people informed about the progress we're making and the strategy we have for succeeding. . .

Q Yes, but I mean, it's the same thing that you're saying.

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I think that -- no, it's not. I think the American people want to hear from their Commander-in-Chief. And you may take it --

Q I'm not arguing about that.

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, you may take a different view, but I think the American people want to hear from their Commander-in-Chief, and they will have the --

Q That's not what I'm arguing about.

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, let's go on if you're not going to –

[NB:. . . if you’re not going to shut up and just passively take notes from the load of crap I am shoveling here]

The rest of the GOP is getting nervous about the Bush Team’s approach -- and you can see why
In discussing the White House's problems, Republicans cited a variety of assumptions and decisions that have not worked out as Mr. Bush and his team had planned. They said the administration may have overestimated how much of a mandate Mr. Bush had coming out of last year's campaign, underestimated the willingness of the Democrats to stand up to him and relied too much on a belief that he could force Congress into action by taking his case directly to the people.

They said a degree of difficulty was to be expected, given the scope of Mr. Bush's second-term ambitions. At the same time, they said, Mr. Bush and his team are struggling with a problem they never had during the campaign: with no high-profile political opponent as a foil, and with Democrats refusing to put forward competing proposals on issues like Social Security, the president and his policies stand on their own, with nothing to deflect partisan fire.

Should Mr. Bush have a Supreme Court vacancy to fill - a possibility that could present itself as early as Monday - it could further inflame partisan passions and complicate the prospects for the rest of his agenda, including his push for major new energy and trade legislation this summer, members of each party said.

"They thought because they had slain the Kerry dragon they could claim a mandate and do what they wanted to," said one prominent Republican in Washington, who insisted on anonymity to speak candidly about what some see as the administration's miscalculations. "Now they have to sell things, whether it's Iraq or stem cells or John Bolton - let alone Social Security - on their own merits."

[NB: Take those three cases as examples: in each instance, the people ain’t buyin’ what the Bush team is selling. Add Social Security too – these are dramatically unpopular positions, it isn’t just a matter of better PR]

Poor Bill Frist
[WSJ] Mr. Frist is the youngest Senate majority leader since Lyndon Johnson and one of the most powerful leaders in Washington. Yet just as he was on that night in Nashville, he remains a work in progress. . . That presents risks for President George W. Bush, who wants Mr. Frist to advance an ambitious second-term agenda. It's also a danger for Mr. Frist, especially if he runs for president in 2008. His restless nature and supreme confidence have led him into waters over his head. . .

Hey, I’m a uniter AND a divider!
Tom Delay speaking to the College Republicans:

House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.), in a bit of a role reversal, came to the defense of Rove by repeating some of the most provocative lines to College Republicans and saying, "That's not slander. That's the truth." The National Republican Senatorial Committee sent out an e-mail fundraising appeal proclaiming "Karl Rove Is Right” [that liberals hate our troops and want the insurgents to win]

Tom DeLay on 9/20/2001:

DELAY: Well, there's no American that wants us to fail, that's for sure. When we went home, every member that I've talked to had the same experience that I had. Everywhere I went, it didn't matter who you were talking to -- I ran into some of the most liberal constituents that I had. People would come up to me, hug me, kiss me. They would -- they'd just say they're with us, you know, "We want this done and we want it done right, and we're with you." I mean, the prayer rallies that we went to, the vigils that we saw.

Judge William Pryor, beneficiary of the Dem/GOP “compromise” on judicial nominations, loses not a moment in setting fire to the scenery
Federal appeals Judge William H. Pryor Jr., whose fierce opposition to abortion prompted a two-year fight over his Senate confirmation, said Wednesday that “it’d certainly be wrong for a Catholic lawyer or judge to do something to advance a grave evil like abortion.”

This is what happens when you say you are trying to “fix” Social Security, but your real goal is to get rid of it: you come up with goofy, disingenuous proposals like this one – and then back them up with ridiculous photo ops that show how truly dedicated to Social Security you are
This week’s gambit by the House leadership and Senator Jim DeMint to resuscitate Social Security privatization demonstrates how desperately ill the idea has become. Their proposals, which would finance private accounts out of the program’s surpluses, include blatant budget gimmicks while worsening the finances of the system and the government. . .
Who could ever think these gonzos could want to do the program harm when they get together to shred their Social Security statements?. . .


The future of PBS
[Frank Rich] The intent is not to kill off PBS and NPR but to castrate them by quietly annexing their news and public affairs operations to the larger state propaganda machine that the Bush White House has been steadily constructing at taxpayers’ expense. If you liked the fake government news videos that ended up on local stations – or thrilled to the “journalism” of Armstrong Williams and other columnists who were covertly paid to promote administration policies – you’ll love the brave new world this crowd envisions for public TV and radio. . .

Look. . . at the seemingly paltry $14,170 that, as Stephen Labaton of The New York Times reported on June 16, found its way to a mysterious recipient in Indiana named Fred Mann. Mr. Labaton learned that in 2004 Kenneth Tomlinson, the Karl Rove pal who is chairman of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, clandestinely paid this sum to Mr. Mann to monitor his PBS bĂȘte noire, Bill Moyers’s “Now.”

Now, why would Mr. Tomlinson pay for information that any half-sentient viewer could track with TiVo? Why would he hire someone in Indiana? Why would he keep this contract a secret from his own board? Why, when a reporter exposed his secret, would he try to cover it up by falsely maintaining in a letter to an inquiring member of the Senate, Byron Dorgan, that another CPB executive had “approved and signed” the Mann contract when he had signed it himself? If there’s a news story that can be likened to the “third-rate burglary,” the canary in the coal mine that invited greater scrutiny of the Nixon administration’s darkest ambitions, this strange little sideshow could be it. . .

“It’s pretty scary stuff to judge media, particularly public media, by whether it’s pro or anti the president,” Senator Dorgan said. “It’s unbelievable.”

Not from this gang. Mr. Mann was hardly chosen by chance to assemble what smells like the rough draft of a blacklist. He long worked for a right-wing outfit called the National Journalism Center, whose director, M. Stanton Evans, is writing his own Ann Coulteresque book to ameliorate the reputation of Joe McCarthy. What we don’t know is whether the 50 pages handed over to Senator Dorgan is all there is to it, or how many other “monitors” may be out there compiling potential blacklists or Nixonian enemies lists on the taxpayers’ dime. . . [read on!]

Given the obvious problems with military recruiting it's absolutely stunning that no prominent leader has put out a patriotic call to enlist. We joke about the College Republicans, but why didn't Senator McCain go give a speech politely suggesting that they consider serving their country?. . . We all know the basic answers to this question, but the media and our political leaders have been unwilling to confront exactly what those answers mean.
[Bob Herbert] The all-volunteer Army is not working. . . The all-volunteer Army is fine in peacetime, and in military routs like the first gulf war. But when the troops are locked in a prolonged war that yields high casualties, and they look over their shoulders to see if reinforcements are coming from the general population, they find -as they're finding now - that no one is there. . .

Now, with the war going badly and the Army chasing potential recruits with a ferocity that is alarming, a backlash is developing that could cripple the nation's ability to wage war without a draft. Even as the ranks of new recruits are dwindling, many parents and public school officials are battling the increasingly heavy-handed tactics being used by military recruiters who are desperately trying to sign up high school kids. . .

But with volunteers in extremely short supply, an even more emotional divide is occurring over the ways in which soldiers for this war are selected. Increasing numbers of Americans are recognizing the inherent unfairness of the all-volunteer force in a time of war. That emotional issue will become more heated as the war continues. And it is sure to resonate in the wars to come.

Plame investigation soon coming to a head? (How many times have I written that?)

Bonus item: the Denver Three come to Washington, demanding that the govt release the name of the WH staffer who (illegally) posed as a Secret Service agent to evict them from a Bush event. We’ll see how this plays out, but for the laugh of the day, check out how Scotty tries to dismiss them
The White House was having none of it. . . "It's clear that these three protesters are trying to advance their own political agenda," Scott McClellan, the White House press secretary, said in an interview Friday. Asked who the mystery man was, Mr. McClellan did not respond and then said he had no interest in going over yet again the events in Denver on March 21.

[NB: Yeah, those damn protestors, trying to advance a political agenda. I’ll bet they didn’t even VOTE for George Bush! Why should we listen to them?]

***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.***