Tuesday, January 31, 2006


Well, it looks like Bush will be able to crow tonight over his new Supreme Court member, Sam Alito – and put his weepy wife next to the First Lady in the SOTU audience. Hey Martha, turn those tears into a smile

The Democrats' attempt at a filibuster falls ‘way short (two votes, huh?). So, now here’s the debate – was it a good thing or not to have tried?

[Kevin Drum] The lefty blogosphere has spent the last week trying to fire up support for a filibuster of Samuel Alito. This campaign was never likely to succeed, and today it failed as expected. But that's not all: it failed by the embarrassingly lopsided margin of 72-25. . . I'm glad the filibuster took place, because even in failure it puts a marker down for future court fights. Still, even given the amateurish way that Senate Dems handled it, I expected it to get more than 25 votes. So here's today's assignment: In 5,000 words or less, what does this say about the influence of the lefty blogosphere?

[Digby] I didn't expect it to get more than 25 votes and I'm frankly stunned that we did as well as we did. Indeed, something very interesting happened that I haven't seen in more than a decade.

When it became clear that the vote was going against the filibuster, Diane Feinstein, a puddle of lukewarm water if there ever was one, decided to backtrack and play to the base instead of the right wing. That's new folks. Given an opportunity to make an easy vote, until now she and others like her (who are legion) would always default to the right to prove their "centrist" bonafides. That's the DLC model. When you have a free vote always use it to show that you aren't liberal. That's why she was against it originally --- a reflexive nod to being "reasonable."

Obama had to choke out his support for a filibuster, but he did it. A calculation was made that he needed to play to the base instead of the punditocrisy who believe that being "bold" is voting with the Republicans. Don't underestimate how much pressure there is to do that, especially for a guy like Obama who is running for King of the Purple. The whole presidential club, including Biden joined the chorus.

The last time we had a serious outpouring from the grassroots was the Iraq War resolution. . .

I keep hearing that it's bad that these Senators "pandered" to the blogosphere and I don't understand it. We want them to pander to the blogosphere. . . It isn't actually pandering. It's responsiveness. I believe that there is finally a recognition that the Party has hit the wall. We have moved as far to the right as we can go and we have been as accommodating as we can be without thoroughly compromising our fundamental principles. Most of us are not "far left" if that means extreme policy positions. Indeed, many of us would have been seen as middle of the road not all that long ago. We are partisans and that's a different thing all together. The leadership is recognising this.

I know it hurts to lose this one. I won't say that I'm not disappointed. But it was a very long shot from the outset and we managed to make some noise and get ourselves heard. The idea that it is somehow a sign of weakness because we only got 25 members of the Senate, including the entire leadership, to vote to filibuster a Supreme Court nominee is funny to me. Two years ago I would have thought somebody was on crack if they even suggested it was possible.

. . . This is a dramatic moment for the netroots. Get ready for marginalization, evocations of 1968 and 1972, calls for purging us from the party, the whole thing. That's what happens when the citizens rise up. Don't let it shake your will. We are the heart of the Democratic party and we can make a difference.

[Jane Hamsher] The Judiciary Committee hearings on Alito were a real eye opener for me and I think for many others as well. Not so much because the members of the committee were in such disarray -- that's been going on for a long time -- but because as we sat here together and watched them collectively I got a sense in reading the comments that some seismic shift was happening, that people finally realized that enough was enough. Something had to be done, someone had to start agitating for change and it wasn't going to come from within the Democratic establishment. . . [read on]

More post-mortems: http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2006/1/30/18174/0900


The 25: http://atrios.blogspot.com/2006_01_29_atrios_archive.html#113867351946273278

One bit of SC hope (an article for fee, unfortunately, unless you are an Atlantic subscriber): guess who is the most influential SC judge, and the best at forging five-vote coalitions? It isn’t Roberts, and it sure isn’t Scalia. . .


“Kick Me, I’m a Democrat”


Perhaps Bush could spend his State of the Union address explaining all the broken promises of his previous SOTU addresses

Broken promises: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/chi-0601310163jan31,1,7365261.story?page=2

What you WON’T hear: http://quote.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=10000039&refer=columnist_sperling&sid=afEwQxAXRHv4

Ten things Bush won’t tell you about the State of the Union: http://www.juancole.com/2006/01/top-ten-things-bush-wont-tell-you.html

[Dan Froomkin] No one in Washington seems to be expecting much new substance from President Bush's State of the Union address tomorrow night. So the big questions have more to do with tone. . . Will the speech consist mostly of optimistic swagger -- or will there also be humility about the things that have gone awry?

Deficits to come

[Heritage Foundation] The deficit will reach $394 billion in 2006;
$412 billion in 2007;
$428 billion in 2008;
$436 billion in 2009;
$458 billion in 2010; and
$805 billion in 2015.

Well, you have to give them credit. The Bush/Cheney administration follows through on one of its major campaign promises

Largest. Profit. Ever.
Exxon Mobil Corp.'s announcement Monday that it amassed a stunning $36.1 billion profit in 2005--the biggest single-year profit ever for a U.S. company--could complicate Republicans' efforts to maintain control of Congress because of their longstanding ties to the oil industry. . .

Exxon Mobil, aided by strong energy prices, disclosed Monday that it had set a record for profits among American companies, reporting $36 billion in annual income. But while most companies would be proud to trumpet record profits, Exxon Mobil did everything it could to play down the news. . .

Reporting from Iraq: Christiane Amanpour

"The Iraq war has been a disaster. It's a spiraling security disaster," Amanpour explains to Larry King. "It just gets worse and worse."

The Bush gang has put out the story that the NSA debate is a “winner” for them, and the media dutifully echoes that he has already “won” the argument on illegal spying. I say, “bring it on”



[NB: Classic Rovean politics – embrace your failures and spin them as successes]

More: http://www.ericumansky.com/2006/01/the_whs_nsa_blu.html
[Anonymous Liberal] Why bluff so aggressively? [G]iven the weakness of its legal position, you would expect the administration to be making some attempt to mitigate the long term fallout of this scandal, perhaps by attempting to moot the issue by seeking congressional authorization for the program. Sure, the administration would take some lumps in the short term by implicitly admitting that it overstepped its authority, but better that than a stinging judicial rebuke down the road.

[Eric Umansky] Answer: They know they're going to lose in court; they are just trying to keep the public on the side on the meantime to avoid the Armageddon scenario: having the Dems gain control of Congress, after which the subpoenas would start flying.

February 6: the NSA hearings start, and Glenn Greenwald has really done his homework

The focus of the questioning will be the legal justifications for the Administration’s decision to eavesdrop on Americans without the judicial oversight and approval required by FISA. The operational aspects of the eavesdropping program -- i.e., what type of eavesdropping was engaged in, the reasons why it was necessary to eavesdrop outside of FISA, etc. -- will be investigated by the Senate Intelligence Committee, in as-yet-unscheduled hearings to take place in both opened and closed session. . .

The Senate Judiciary Committee did not exactly display great skill and acumen in questioning witnesses during the Alito hearings. As a result, there is substantial concern about whether its members will ask the necessary and relevant questions of the Attorney General, and more importantly, whether they will do so in a way (including with follow-ups and documentation) which will elicit and reveal the Administration’s real theories of its own power, and highlight the contradictions underlying those theories, as opposed to simply allowing the Attorney General to breezily recite pre-prepared talking points without really being challenged.

I believe we should not leave it up to the members of the Judiciary Committee -- again -- to decide for themselves which questions will be asked. . .

Ten questions



There’s no question about it: Gonzales lied during his confirmation hearings


You know, sometimes “conspiracy theories” are correct – when there IS a conspiracy

[Secrecy News] The Mystery of the Two James Baker Statements: In a 2002 statement presented to the Senate Intelligence Committee, James A. Baker of the Justice Department Office of Intelligence Policy and Review questioned the constitutionality and the necessity of a proposal by Senator Mike DeWine to lower the legal threshold for domestic intelligence surveillance of non-U.S. persons from "probable cause" to "reasonable suspicion."

But for yet unknown reasons, Mr. Baker's remarkable statement is found in two distinct versions.

"If we err in our analysis and courts were ultimately to find a 'reasonable suspicion' standard unconstitutional, we could potentially put at risk ongoing investigations and prosecutions," Mr. Baker said in the more expansive version of his statement.

Moreover, "If the current standard has not posed an obstacle, then there may be little to gain from the lower standard and, as I previously stated, perhaps much to lose."

Yet even as Mr. Baker was expressing concerns about lowering the probable cause threshold, the government was doing precisely that in the NSA domestic surveillance activity.

Baker's testimony was highlighted last week by blogger Glenn Greenwald and cited in the Washington Post and the New York Times.

Strangely, however, the testimony in which Mr. Baker presented those concerns cannot be found anywhere on the public record except for the Federation of American Scientists web site.

The testimony that is posted on the Senate Intelligence Committee web site does not contain the three paragraphs in which Mr. Baker questions the propriety of going beyond the probable cause standard as proposed by Senator DeWine.

Likewise, only the truncated version of Mr. Baker's testimony was archived in the Nexis database and published by the Government Printing Office in its printed hearing record.

Molly Ivins misses one

[Molly] I am confounded by the authoritarian streak in the Republican Party backing Bush on this [extensive, illegal spying on Americans]. To me it seems so simple: Would you think this was a good idea if Hillary Clinton were president? Would you be defending the clear and unnecessary violation of the law? Do you have complete confidence that she would never misuse this 'inherent power' for any partisan reason?

[Tristero] Molly, you're assuming that sooner or later there actually will be a Democratic president. Republicans assume that will never, ever happen again. And they're doing everything possible - controlling voting machines, gerrymandering, fraud, blackmail, buying the media - to make sure it doesn't. . .

The next big debate: Health Savings Accounts – another debate we can win



WH release of Abramoff information “inevitable”


Let’s see: the 9/11 attack was something that “could not have been anticipated” (even though it was). The insurgency in Iraq “could not have been anticipated” (even though it was). The flooding in New Orleans “could not have been anticipated” (even though it was). You might think these people would have learned to stop using this formulation; but you would be wrong



Clear as mud: http://www.needlenose.com/node/view/2584

FEMA: how stupid can they be?

Federal emergency officials failed to accept offers of possibly life-saving aid from the Department of Interior immediately after Hurricane Katrina. . . The Interior Department offered the Federal Emergency Management Agency the use of personnel who were experienced in water rescues and also offered boats, helicopters, heavy equipment and rooms, the documents say.

If the Bush gang insists on covering up Katrina documents to hide their failures, there is only one alternative

[Bill Kavanagh] It’s time for an independent commission to investigate and report to the nation on the emergency, relief, and recovery effort before, during, and after Hurricane Katrina.

The media seems overly eager to find signs of a Bush “rebound” in popularity (you can be sure they will trumpet one right after the inevitable SOTU “bounce”). But the simple fact is that despite occasional blips, his pattern has been one of overall and steady decline. Yet still we keep hearing about Bush’s great personal popularity


Just read it

Over at Huffington Post, Arianna imagines what would happen if Tim Russert grilled members of the Bush administration with the kind of heat Oprah used to fricassee James Frey. . .

Bonus item: Missing your Paul Krugman fix?

"How does one report the facts," asked Rob Corddry on "The Daily Show," "when the facts themselves are biased?" He explained to Jon Stewart, who played straight man, that "facts in Iraq have an anti-Bush agenda," and therefore can't be reported. . . Mr. Corddry's parody of journalists who believe they must be "balanced" even when the truth isn't balanced continues, alas, to ring true. The most recent example is the peculiar determination of some news organizations to cast the scandal surrounding Jack Abramoff as "bipartisan."

***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 (http://pbd.blogspot.com).

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Monday, January 30, 2006


Two votes shy on the filibuster? (according to Buzzflash)


[NB: This doesn’t fit with what else I’m reading, but there is some sense of a shift within influential quarters – Feinstein, for example. Maybe this could happen after all]

Update: http://www.democrats.com/blog/6

More phone numbers of key swing votes


A reasoned case AGAINST the filibuster


Making it personal

[Robert Parry] These insults added a personal element to the decision facing Democratic senators. With Republicans hooting down the Democrats’ last presidential nominee, as well as a longtime Senate colleague, crossing the aisle to support Bush’s Supreme Court nominee suddenly had the bitter taste of an act of political treason. . . [read on]

Three Republicans break ranks, tell Bush to fess up on Abramoff connections


Trouble: http://www.mydd.com/story/2006/1/29/163348/663

What the NSA scandal is (and isn’t) all about

[Larry Johnson] I suppose the average American, one who has never held a security clearance or handled NSA intelligence, is inclined to cut George W. Bush some slack. Only a crazy person would argue that Al Qaeda terrorists have a right of privacy in the United States. But that, my friends, is a canard. The issue is not about giving aid and comfort to the enemy. Instead, does this President, hell, any President, have the right to unilaterally decide what does and does not constitute a threat to national security?. . . .

So what is Bush up to? I see at least two possibilities. First, they may be allowing unfettered data mining on domestic targets without probable cause. An old fashioned "fishing" trip. You cast out a net and pull it in, picking over the contents, and hoping you snared the oyster with the big pearl. This nonsense works in a Tom Clancy novel but not in the real world. Even with the most robust computer power you have no simple way to find "actionable intelligence".

Second, the source of the intel tips is tainted. If you are generating leads from persons being held in secret prisons or if the info is obtained thru torture, then it makes it difficult to make a truthful declaration before a judge. Why not lie to the FISA court? That's called perjury. I suspect this explains the real motive for the refusal of the Bush Administration to go the FISA route.

More: http://thinkprogress.org/2006/01/29/hagel-criticism/


Yet another example of perverse mis-framing


Is the “war on terror” the greatest threat to American security in its history? According to one eminent historian, not even close. . .


More: http://glenngreenwald.blogspot.com/2006/01/putting-terrorist-threat-into.html

A very important Newsweek story: how the totalitarians in the Bush admin (Cheney, Addington, etc) overrode the concerns of DOJ professionals about the legality of their policies. Good to be reminded that there were committed people at the Justice Dept, ideology aside, who really did care about the rule of law (and, of course, you can guess what happened to them)


[NB: Also, more evidence of what a useless hack Alberto Gonzales is]

An emerging tendency in the Bush admin: invoke the support of other agencies and laws when they reinforce their policies – even when they are perfectly prepared to ignore and override them if they don’t

[Juan Cole] Who woulda thunk it? Bush and Blair plotted to go to war against Iraq even if the UN Security Council declined to authorize it. . .

Still more evidence of how the Bush admin is ruining the military – and isn’t it strange (to someone coming of age in the 60’s) that progressives are now the ones pointing this out?


Fight the fear


SOTU: no one’s listening


The likeability factor


Nationalizing the 2006 election: the Democrats CAN win



Let’s be Blunt: will the House leadership race just extend their scandal troubles?


Bill Frist: not just a liar, but a stupid liar


Bonus item: “A miracle for progressive politics”


Bloggers vs reporters: http://www.tpmcafe.com/story/2006/1/29/17236/8788

***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 (http://pbd.blogspot.com).

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

Sunday, January 29, 2006


The grassroots push to filibuster Alito: interesting as an example of the political impact of blogs, and very revealing in showing how “democratic” the Democratic party thinks itself to be

The filibuster movement: how to help


Phone numbers: http://www.mydd.com/story/2006/1/28/163221/054

[NB: No, I don’t expect that it will happen, but I do believe that pressing the issue is the right thing to do. Is that still relevant to our politics? “Doing the right thing?”]

Jim VandeHei, reliable conduit for GOP talking points, frames this in terms of that tired old chestnut: how the Dems are torn between their radical base and their need to appeal to “moderate” and “crossover” voters (because, you see, Alito is such a “moderate” Supreme Court candidate). But this time the cliché has an intriguing new spin: it’s the bad old bloggers who are pushing the party dangerously to the left


[NB: Of course, the Post is still stinging over the mean vicious blog attack launched against their ombudsman, Deborah Howell, just a few days ago. I expect to see a lot more “dangerous blogger” stories in the future]

Here’s how cynical our political discourse has become

[Digby] I just saw a very interesting exchange on FOX News. The designated Democrat was Bob Beckel, the other two were typical faceless wingnut gasbags and I can't remember their names.

When asked how the Democrats could make such a stupid mistake by allowing Kerry to call for a filibuster (the two wingnuts giggling like schoolgirls at the question) Beckel replied something like this (I'm paraphrasing)

"Now you know that in this environment if a Democratic president nominated a pro-choice, pro-affirmative action, pro-government secrecy judge to the high court that many Republicans would want to filibuster. Sometimes politicians do things out of conviction and many Democrats are supporting a filibuster because they really believe that he should not be on the Supreme Court."

The wingnuts were very taken aback by that statement, one of them replying: "Well, that's putting the best possible face on it." . . . [read on]

Some really interesting reactions from those mean old bloggers





The media narrative: http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2006/1/28/173240/728

Of course, there are right-wing blogs too: http://digbysblog.blogspot.com/2006_01_22_digbysblog_archive.html#113840480202253520
[Digby] How can that be, we wonder? Why, after all these years of being called every name in the book by the conservatives, can the "so-called liberal media" be upset when the liberals use very mild tactics in comparison to what has been happening on the right? . . . [read on]

[NB: There is something fascinating and important going on here. The press expects, and has gotten accustomed to, attacks from the right. As copiously documented here and in Media Matters and elsewhere, they are continually bending over backwards to accommodate conservative perspectives – CNN’s recent transformation being a case in point. They EXPECT to be attacked as the “liberal media”: they think they ARE the liberal media, and as individuals most of them may be. So they expect these criticisms and are prepared at some level to accept them. After all, liberals (unlike conservatives) really do believe in representing a range of alternative views fairly, so they can always be bullied from the right. What’s the old story, attack a liberal and their response will be, “You may have a point.”

Now, to their shock and disbelief, they are being pressed from the other side. The pendulum has gone ‘way too far in the other direction, and the dialectic is at work. But because the criticisms are coming from the left, they CONFLICT with the media’s view of itself, and this is proving very difficult for them to accept: “Us? Allies and enablers of the Bush administration? That’s ridiculous.”]

Now, THIS I like. A lot

[Steve Soto] What can be done? Well, every afternoon there should be a DNC press conference aimed specifically at 1) debunking whatever Scottie McClellan said that morning; and 2) restating the Democratic talking points for the week in time for the afternoon and evening news and cable shows so that the media has a coordinated Democratic pushback they can include in their stories that night. And if the Democratic pushback and counter-narrative isn’t included in what the NYT, the WaPost, MSNBC, CNN, and the major news networks said that night or the next day, Democrats should make an issue of that as evidence of bias, every time it happens. Remember, work the refs, but do it with facts.

And yes, every week there should be a Democratic version of the Grover Norquist message coordination sessions that take place now within the GOP’s right wing. Democrats will not agree on everything, but Norquist doesn’t force agreement either. He seeks areas of common ground from which talking points and coordinated messages can be developed, and then between him and the White House and RNC the script is blasted far and wide for that week and the weekend cable and news shows, and aimed right at Fox. Democrats can do the same thing, and still ignore Fox by calling it repeatedly for what it is: a right wing propaganda outlet.

It is entirely possible for a DNC media operative, and media operatives from the DCCC, DSCC, Reid and Pelosi’s offices, and the supportive think tanks to meet by phone every morning for an hour to do this, and then to have the pushback press conference every afternoon to point out the lies, spin, and framing attempts by this administration in time for the evening news and the cable shows. And doing these meetings with framing experts like Dr. Jeffrey Feldman or George Lakoff would help as well. All I ask is that you don’t do it with Beltway pollsters and consultants, who have already done enough damage to the party for a lifetime. Deal with the facts and turn that focus through framing into messages that can reach people through a media that will be challenged every day to cover both sides of the day’s stories, and not just what the White House peddles to a lazy and co-opted media without a daily counter-programming from the Democrats. The goal is to stay on message, and hammer both the GOP as well as the media with an alternate narrative that challenges the White House and GOP on their efforts to write their own history to their liking. For example, Juan Cole’s piece from yesterday laying out the case against Bush and the right wing bedwetters on Iraq and the war on terror debacle should be Exhibit A of a counter-narrative.

Unless you give the media an alternate storyline to cover, and pressure them and specifically their bosses to cover it, we are wasting our time. Democrats cannot break through the media blackout because we are not disciplined and aggressive enough. Now is the time to start working the refs ourselves. It can’t be left to center-left bloggers to do what the party and Beltway politicians have heretofore been too self-interested and unfocused to do themselves.

Another lesson in the cowing of the media

From 1994 New York Times editorial:

Attorney General Janet Reno seems hellbent on sacrificing her reputation to the White House's effort to contain the Whitewater Development flap. Not only has she continued to refuse, on insultingly specious grounds, to appoint an independent counsel. It now emerges that by so refusing, she has bought time for Justice Department and White House lawyers to cook up a deal to keep the Whitewater records under wraps. . .

[Atrios] The issue I want to highlight is not independent (law expired) or special prosecutors, but the very concept that the attorney general should him/herself be independent. That is entirely gone from our media conversation. Every knows Gonzales is Bush's tool, and it isn't remarkable. It's just the state of affairs. The very idea that he should be independent has been stricken from contemporary discourse.

Hope? http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/01/27/AR2006012701413.html
There are any number of matters of legitimate inquiry and public concern involving Mr. Abramoff and his White House dealings that might not rise to the level of a criminal prosecution. . . The president himself attended a White House meeting with some of Mr. Abramoff's clients. How did that get set up? The White House acknowledges that Mr. Abramoff had some "staff-level meetings" there. With whom, and about what?

Republicans didn't tolerate this kind of behavior from the Clinton White House in the midst of its fundraising scandal. "At every turn, they are stonewalling, covering up and hiding," Haley Barbour, then the head of the Republican National Committee, said as the Clinton administration tried to brush off questions about its fundraising before the 1996 election. Mr. Barbour complained of the administration's "utter contempt . . . for the public's right to know."

Such obstructionism is no more acceptable now. The public understands this: Three-fourths of those surveyed in a new Washington Post/ABC poll said the White House should disclose the contacts. "This needs to be cleared up so the people have confidence in the system," Mr. Bush said. Our point exactly.

Josh Marshall has a contest for the first reader who can find a GOP politician on record saying that the Bush gang should release information on their entanglements with Abramoff. We may have a winner


More on the “bipartisan scandal” debate

[Steve Benen] The Republican defense for the Jack Abramoff scandal is basically one phrase: Dems took Abramoff money too. Those five words have been repeated by every GOP activist and lawmaker, and regurgitated by reporters striving for some kind of fact-free "balance," but the truth remains that Abramoff was a Republican operative, who donated to Republican candidates and office-holders, which makes this a Republican scandal.

But wait, the GOP says, some Abramoff clients contributed to Dems. True? Yes, but the context makes all the difference. . .

More: http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/archives/individual/2006_01/008099.php


Good thing the House Democrats have been holding to the “ethics truce” and not filing charges against obviously crooked Republicans

"House Republicans, wounded by lobbyist scandals, have called on the House Ethics Committee to investigate more than 10 Democratic members headed by Jan Schakowsky of Illinois and Nydia Velazquez of New York," Robert Novak reports.

The must-read of the day: the Times says what must be said

A bit over a week ago, President Bush and his men promised to provide the legal, constitutional and moral justifications for the sort of warrantless spying on Americans that has been illegal for nearly 30 years. Instead, we got the familiar mix of political spin, clumsy historical misinformation, contemptuous dismissals of civil liberties concerns, cynical attempts to paint dissents as anti-American and pro-terrorist, and a couple of big, dangerous lies. . . [read on!]

Bush’s broken promises


[Joe] The Washington Post examines the lack of progress in New Orleans compared to what Bush promised. If we all didn't know how incompetent Bush was, this article would be shocking. Instead, it's expected. . .

And more broken promises to come. . .


How the Bush gang utterly failed in coping with Katrina: the full story starts to emerge


FEMA? Bribery? Horrors!


CBO: tax cuts are hurting, not helping, the economy


The anti-Robin Hood (thanks to Susan Madrak for the link): http://redsoxville.blogspot.com/2006/01/bizarro-robin-hood_28.html

Well, we know what Bush thinks about the importance of National Guard duty, don’t we? But even from him this is a bizarre move

[Rob] As Katrina showed, the National Guard is already stretched thin in doing the job that it was designed for - protecting the nation. War abroad may be protecting the nation by proxy, but it leaves you short-handed at home. So after years of war in Iraq and nothing but more of the same to come, what does George Bush decide? He decides, I kid you not, to cut the size of the Army Reserve AND National Guard. . .

The Pentagon’s massive psy-ops and propaganda program – and its strategy for controlling (or destroying) the Internet. Paranoid and hyperbolic, you say? Read for yourself



Congress has granted unusual authority for the Pentagon to spend as much as $200 million of its own budget to aid foreign militaries, a break with the traditional practice of channeling foreign military assistance through the State Department. . .

“Chaotic misuse”

US audit finds 'spectacular' waste of funds in Iraq

Andrew Sullivan. Read on


Daniel Ellsberg on Iraq and Vietnam


Another Bush foreign policy disaster: Haiti


Exhibit #472 in the destruction of science-based policy by the Bush gang


More: http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2006/1/28/2208/28740

Ooops. Global warming is real. Really? Good to know. What? It’s getting too late to do anything about it? Oh-oh


Ann Coulter, serial killer

[A]s Paul Waldman noted, Coulter seems to call for the deaths of people she doesn't [like] all the time. . .

Stop her before she kills again! http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2006/1/28/121249/002

Sunday talk show line-up


Bonus item: Enjoy

[Ted] I was reading the back pages of Kung Fu Monkey when I came across this, in response to Rove’s old speech that accused liberals of treason:

Did you know that the definition of treason is quite specifically defined in the Constitution? Did you know it’s the only crime actually spelled out in the Constitution? DO. YOU. KNOW. WHY?

No. Of course you don’t. Nobody ever bothers to read the goddam thing.

Because the Founding Fathers had seen the charge of treason used too many times against the political opponents of the British Government. They knew, when the government gets nervous and breaks out the Big Evil Golf Bag of Shutting Up Questions, the first club out is the Treason Charge. They knew the first guy to yell treason was the bastard.

***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 (http://pbd.blogspot.com).

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

Saturday, January 28, 2006


A mere oversight: one of the recurring lies from the Bush gang about the illegal wiretap policy is their claim that it was “reviewed” by relevant Congressional authorities. That is, of course, completely untrue

[Georgia10] Thanks to the non-partisan Congressional Research Office, we already know that those "briefings" to Congress weren't about oversight as much as a pre-emptive CYA measure which likely violated the law. As for oversight from the Department of Justice, recall that deputy Attorney General deputy Attorney General James B. Comey refused to sign off on the program because of "concerns about its legality and oversight." Even then-Attorney General John Ashcroft refused to sign off on the program. Only after the program was revised in 2004 did the Department of Justice again sign off on it. . .

[Glenn Greenwald] Since the NSA scandal began, one of the most bizarre aspects of the story is that the Administration has been claiming that Congress authorized it to eavesdrop in violation of FISA, but the Congress which is said to have done so had no idea that the Administration was engaged in warrantless eavesdropping and had no idea that it had authorized eavesdropping in violation of FISA. Beyond that fact, the actions of the Congress throughout 2002 make undeniably clear that Congress was not only completely unaware that the Administration was eavesdropping outside of FISA, but also that Congress was deliberately misled by the Administration into believing that FISA continued to govern the Administration's eavesdropping activities. . .

Nothing could have mattered less than what the Senate decided to do with FISA because the Administration -- obviously unbeknownst to the Senate -- had already decided that it could eavesdrop however it wanted no matter what the Senate said and no matter what FISA allowed. Despite this, the Administration allowed the Senate to go through the embarrassing spectacle of acting as though it had authority with regard to the Administration’s eavesdropping and, worse, even encouraged that illusion by participating in the Senate hearings and pretending that it mattered what the Senate did with FISA.

An institutional humiliation greater than this is difficult to imagine. . .

Additionally, the Administration should not be able to get away with claiming with a straight face that Congress was not only aware of its FISA-violating eavesdropping activities, but also that Congress had actually somehow "authorized" it. . . It should be very difficult for Senators – or for anyone who actually still believes in representative democracy and the basic governing principles of our country – to read the transcript of these Senate hearings without cringing with embarrassment for these Senators who were so plainly misled by the Administration. . .

Evidence that the Bush gang knew that circumventing the FISA law was illegal, and they didn’t want people to find out about it

[Georgia10] This draft legislation sought to amend that section and expand its application to authorizations for the use of force, not just formal declarations. . . My suspicion is that the language was ultimately dropped because the administration feared the debate that would have resulted. I suspect the administration balanced the odds. Option #1: Kill the amendment, continue without the cover of law, and hope no one would find out about the program. Option #2: Proceed with the amendment, and hope it passes for legal cover. But if it failed to pass, then the administration would truly be screwed. If Congress rejected this amendment, it would have explicitly rejected the very conduct the administration was engaged in. Perhaps the administration went with Option #1 and rolled the dice. . .

While the Justice Department dismisses the proposed legislation as being drafted by a few low level staffers, it stands as a key indicator of the concerns which permeated the DOJ about this program. Recall that the deputy Attorney General would not sign off on the program. This is a critical fact which must be repeated as often as possible. Doubts about the legality of the program reached the very top of the DOJ.

More lies

[Steve Benen] When it comes to his warrantless-search program, Bush's honesty has been in short supply. He's misrepresented his legal authority, his predecessors' decisions, Congress' authorizations, and his administration's congressional briefings. But there's one particular distortion Bush has emphasized that's more annoying than the others.

"In the weeks following September the 11th, I authorized a terrorist surveillance program to detect and intercept al Qaeda communications involving someone here in the United States…. We know that two of the hijackers who struck the Pentagon were inside the United States communicating with al Qaeda operatives overseas. But we didn't realize they were here plotting the attack until it was too late."

It's been a favorite White House talking point all week. Scott McClellan has repeated it; Gen. Michael Hayden, the principal deputy director of national intelligence, emphasized it on Monday; and the president defended it in his press conference yesterday.

As it turns out, of course, the claim is completely wrong. . .

Seeing that their first pack of lies and distortions didn’t convince anyone, Bush’s Justice Dept now issues a NEW set of arguments to defend their warrantless spying (uh, you think there’s a reason why this isn’t taking hold, guys?)


Whitewater coverage vs NSA coverage


Yet again, the Bush gang embraces a policy that they savaged when a Democrat was advocating it



McCain still concerned about interrogation methods (gee, John, did you think that your amendment, which Bush signed and then promptly said he intended to ignore, would stop these people?)


Oh, christ

US military seizing Iraqi women -- and holding some for months -- to lure in their fathers and husbands, Knight-Ridder's Nancy Youssef reports. . . Reader TS reminds us this is against the Geneva Conventions.

Why the long silence from Patrick Fitzgerald in the Plame investigation? A bit of hopeful speculation


What more does it take for the Dems to filibuster Alito?


What more does it take for the Dems to take the lead on ethics reform and cleaning up the House?


Democratic prospects in the fall elections


A clear Abramoff/Bush admin link: Tyco and insider trading


Turning up the heat on Bush admin/Abramoff entanglements: the people want to know

76% !!!!!

I found one of the photos! (fake, unfortunately)

Sometimes the Bush gang’s lies are complex matters of spin and nuance: “misrepresentations” might be a better word. But sometimes, they are simply lies, blatant unbelievable falsehoods, and anyone looking at them with the simplest of human experience knows that they are lies

[Josh Marshall] Whether there are one or five or a hundred pictures of President Bush and Jack Abramoff is really beside the point. What is the point is this line from President Bush from yesterday's press conference: "You know, I, frankly, don't even remember having my picture taken with the guy. I don't know him.". . . Even discounting for the inherent squishiness of the language, that's just a lie. . .

More: http://www.workingforchange.com/article.cfm?itemid=20286

More Bush policies to channel public funds into the pockets of their donors and cronies: it is so open and blatant now that people have forgotten how to be outraged by it



If you ever read Molly Ivins on Texas politics, you know it can be as wild as a pack of hound-dogs chasin’ a squirrel ‘round the barn in the middle of a hurricane. But this is just too much to hope for: Tom DeLay! Jack Abramoff! Governor Rick Perry! Scotty’s mom!


(By the way: Molly Ivins is battling breast cancer. Send a kind thought her way)


This makes me really angry: it shows what happens once the simple-minded media wonks get a trope implanted in their heads (Kerry the Elitist, Cheese-Eating Euro-Lover)

CNN's Ed Henry said that Sen. John Kerry's call for a filibuster of Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr.'s nomination to the Supreme Court reinforced the "elitist" label given to Kerry by the GOP during the 2004 presidential campaign because he made the statement from the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. However, when CNN later interviewed Sen. Saxby Chambliss about the potential filibuster, there were no "elitist" comments to be found, even though Chambliss was also commenting from Davos. . .

Katie Couric, America’s sweetheart, sort of apologizes for repeating for the umpteenth time the lie that Democrats are embroiled in the Abramoff scandal too – then NBC goes on to make it worse (with a big assist from Tim Russert)

LAUER: Katie pressed him (Howard Dean) on that and we did some research. We went to the Center for Responsive Politics and found out that technically speaking, Howard Dean may be correct. But here’s what we found. That 66 percent of the money in this situation went to Republicans, but 34 percent of the money — not from Abramoff, but from his associates and clients — went to Democrats. So, can Democrats wash their hands of this?

RUSSERT: No, they will say it is a primarily a Republican scandal because the personal money of Abramoff went only to Republicans. But Matt, the issue is broad and wide. Democrats also understand that they accept trips from lobbyists and meals and so forth, and that’s why in order to reform all this, it has to be a bipartisan approach. But Democrats get raging mad when you suggest this is a bipartisan scandal.

[Susan Madrak] Do you suppose it’s just too complicated for them to understand? Indian tribes continued to give to the same Democratic representatives from their states as they always did – but the amount they contributed actually decreased, as per Abramoff’s direction. . . They directed that money to the Republicans instead

More on the “bipartisan scandal”: http://billmon.org/archives/002351.html




“Non-partisan”? NON-PARTISAN???!?

O'REILLY: Time now for "The Most Ridiculous Item of the Day." Appearing on the Today show this morning, DNC chairman Howard Dean challenged an assertion that lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who was charged with a variety of money-related crimes, was a nonpartisan offender. . . . Well, according to the Federal Elections [sic] Commission, Mr. Abramoff did funnel almost $2 million to Democrats. So is Dean lying? Well, it depends on how you view spin. Abramoff personally did not give any of his own money to Democrats, but he's charged with giving them other people's money. That's what Dean's hiding behind. He's quite a guy, isn't he? Ridiculous? I think so. But as always, I could be wrong.

This study should be the end of the “Bipartisan Scandal” debate (but of course it won’t be, because it is much easier for the media to seem “even-handed” than to point out the UNDENIABLE FACT that one party is neck-deep in corruption)

New study by non-partisan research firm says no dice to claims Jack Abramoff was steering tribal money to Dems like he was to Republicans. In fact, the study suggests opposite. . .

More: http://www.mydd.com/story/2006/1/27/223617/476

The study: http://www.prospect.org/web/page.ww?section=root&name=ViewWeb&articleId=10924

By the way, speaking of Tim Russert. . . .


Fair and balanced

Hardball: Republican Tucker Carlson, Republican Joe Scarborough, and Republican Rita Cosby will discuss the issues of the day with Republican Chris Matthews.

Meet the Press: Senate Maj. Leader Bill Frist, Washington Post's David Broder, Bloomberg's Roger Simon, and National Review's Byron York.

I have had just about enough from this woman

[Tim Grieve] Here's the ever-charming Ann Coulter, speaking Thursday night about her hopes that George W. Bush will get to nominate a replacement for Associate Justice John Paul Stevens. "We need somebody to put rat poisoning in Justice Stevens' creme brulee," Coulter said.

Coulter insisted it was "just a joke, for you in the media."

Pursuant to 18 U.S.C. Section 115, anyone who "threatens to assault, kidnap, or murder . . . a United States judge . . . with intent to impede, intimidate, or interfere with" that judge's duties is guilty of a felony.

That's just a joke for you, Ann. Sort of.

Bonus item: “The Idiot Deity”


Extra bonus: A preview of the SOTU (pretty funny)


***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 (http://pbd.blogspot.com).

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

Friday, January 27, 2006


Joe nails it: for evidence that they consider “not relevant,” the Bush people are going to a heck of a lot of effort to hide the Bush-Abramoff photos


A HECK of a lot of effort. . .

[Josh Marshall] Earlier this month, we were alerted to the existence of a series Abramoff photos at the website of Reflections Photography, a studio that does photo shoots for many Republican political events and sells copies to the individuals who attended the events and other members of the public through an online photo database. . .

When we went to the page for the photograph of President Bush and Abramoff, the page in question had disappeared from the site. Indeed, in the sequence of photographs from the event in question, each had a unique identification number in perfect consecutive order. All were there on the site, in sequence, with the exception of the one that was apparently that of President Bush and Abramoff.

I called back Reflections Photography and spoke to the woman who had earlier sold us the licensing rights to the other image. I told her there was another photograph we wanted to purchase the rights to publish but that it appeared no longer to be on their website. . . I told her that as far as we knew the photograph had been available on the site until quite recently. Then I asked if the photograph in question were available in their offline archives and whether I could purchase it that way.

She said that it was and that the CD in question was available for purchase. . . I asked her if it would be possible for her to pull the CD. Then I could describe the photograph with the identification number in question to her to verify that it was the same picture. . . The woman, who was helpful and friendly throughout, said she could and asked me to wait a few minutes while she retrieved the CD in question.

After a few minutes, she returned and proceeded to pull up the photo in question on the CD. Then, to her audible surprise, she told me the "photo was deleted" from the CD.

That, as you'd imagine, caught my attention. So I asked what that meant. The woman from Reflections told me that that this sometimes happened when the White House wanted to prevent the public from accessing certain photographs of the president.

When I asked her when this had happened she told she didn't know and wouldn't be at liberty to tell me even if she did. . . This was back on January 11th. From what we could tell, the photograph had been removed from the site roughly a week earlier. . .

But early this afternoon, I decided to take one more go at Reflections. I talked to company president Joanne Amos. We went back and forth over various questions about whether photographs at the site were available to the public and why some had been removed. When she, at length, asked me who it was in the picture with the president. I told her we believed it was Jack Abramoff.

Amos very straightforwardly told me that the photographs had been removed and that they had been removed because they showed Abramoff and the president in the same picture. The photos were, she told me, "not relevant."

[NB: And what a quaint coincidence that her excuse is exactly the same as the WH talking point]

When I asked her who had instructed her to remove the photos, she told me she was the president of the company. She did it. It was "her business decision" to remove the photographs. She told me she had done so within the last month. . .

Did the White House send out the word to deep-six those Bush-Abramoff pics? . . . Scott McClellan won't answer our questions. But this mystery would not be difficult to solve by a press outlet with sufficient juice to get a question answered by Scott McClellan. Has the White House or anyone working at the White House's behest instructed Reflections Photography to destroy or remove from its archives photographs of President Bush and Jack Abramoff?

[Josh Marshall] David Donnelly points out that the owner of Reflections, Joanne Amos, is a maxed out Bush-Cheney '04 contributor.

[Josh Marshall] When I was speaking with Reflections President Joanne Amos, our conversation started with my pressing her about the disappearance of the single photograph. . . But as we got into that second part of the conversation I noticed that Amos spoke repeatedly not of removing a photograph but of removing photographs -- i.e., in the plural. So it seems like more than one picture of Bush and Abramoff swirled down the memory hole.

[Josh Marshall] TPM Reader FL started poking around the Reflections Photography website this afternoon and even managed to find one of the key gaps. . . I just heard back from him and he told us that just over the last hour or more whole sections of the company's archives have been pulled down off the web. Sure enough, when we checked, big chunks of the site had already bit the dust . . [T]he folks at Reflections already seem to have pulled a whole event from which one of Bush/Abramoff photographs had earlier been erased. . . So the digital shredding party seems to be underway.

Just so

Over at The Corner, Kathryn Jean Lopez comments about George Bush and Jack Abramoff:

The Abramoff picture stuff is so ridiculous. Of course he has a ridiculous number of pictures taken all the time. That members of the press — who bring relatives to the White House for pictures with the president as a matter of form — would make such a ridiculous deal out of it is nonsense.

[Kevin Drum] Normally I'd sort of agree with this. Even the fact that the White House is so assiduously keeping us from seeing all these routine pics doesn't necessarily mean much. . . . But when photo agencies go to the trouble of deleting pictures of Bush and Abramoff from their website, then deleting them permanently from their own CDs, and then claiming that they did it all on their own with no direction from the White House or anyone else — well, that just starts to sound a little suspicious, doesn't it? If the White House isn't guilty of anything, why are they skulking around in shadows so much?

And here’s an interesting new rationale for not releasing them

Bush said the photos, if released, "will be used for pure political purposes. . .“

[NB: In other words, we KNOW they’re controversial and will make us look bad, and that’s why we won’t let you see them. And the press nod their heads and write it all down in their little spiral pads. Does no one understand what an audacious cover-up this is?]

Here’s how to get rid of an aggressive prosecutor

Noel Hillman has been leading the Abramoff lobbying investigation for two years. He's about to leave it because President Bush has nominated him for a federal judgeship. . . Democrat Senators Chuck Schumer and Ken Salazar and two Congressman say this is even more reason to appoint a special prosecutor. . .

More: http://digbysblog.blogspot.com/2006_01_22_digbysblog_archive.html#113834805693472017

How Bush dodges questions



Sound familiar? http://americablog.blogspot.com/2006/01/bush-still-maintains-hes-not-crook.html

(By the way, I REFUSE to say anything here about Oprah and James Frey, except this: wouldn’t it be interesting if this pop-culture dust-up actually had a wider political impact on Bush?)


Only one of these two Bush statements on NSA spying is accurate

[T]here's no doubt in my mind it is legal. . .

I'm not a lawyer. . .

It IS illegal

[Sam Rosenfeld] The president's press conference this morning showed how weirdly difficult it is for journalists to discuss the wiretapping issue with administration officials using plain English. That's because the debate over whether the program is illegal isn't actually a debate at all. . . George W. Bush answers every question on the matter by asserting that the NSA program is absolutely legal -- and then explains why he needed to violate the FISA statute to implement it. Forget for a minute that the administration refused to revise FISA when legislative action was proposed; instead, just consider his explanation (elaborated by Al Gonzales) on its own terms. There simply isn't an actual dispute between the administration and its critics about the legality of the spying program. The president himself says, in so many words, that FISA was inadequate to the task at hand, so they broke that law. To be sure, he then hammers the podium and yells out a meaningless "This program is legal!" But the substance of what he's saying doesn't even dispute that the program is, in fact, technically illegal. It's a bit odd. The only possible way to construe the logic of the administration's argument for the legality of the NSA program is to interpret it as an argument that the original FISA statute, still on the books, is simply unconstitutional. Either FISA is illegal or the NSA program is. As Richard Posner puts it succinctly in his otherwise problematic TNR article, "The administration and its defenders have responded that the program is perfectly legal; if it does violate FISA (the administration denies that it does), then, to that extent, the law is unconstitutional.". . .

But of course, Bush never actually says that. In so many words, his argument is that the NSA program may be illegal, but it's the right thing to do, and as the president he has an obligation to do it. And yet, invariably, what you read in the press is that "some critics have even questioned the program's legality."

A case in point

QUESTION: Mr. President, though -- this is a direct follow-up to that -- the FISA law was implemented in 1978 in part because of revelations that the National Security Agency was spying domestically. . . What is wrong with that law that you feel you have to circumvent it. . . ?

BUSH: You said that I have to "circumvent" it. Wait a minute, that's a -- it's like saying, "You know, you're breaking the law." I'm not. . .

I looked. I said, "Look, is it possible to conduct this program under the old law?" And people said, "It doesn't work in order to be able do the job we expect to us do." And so, that's why I made the decision I made.

And, you know, "circumventing" is a loaded word. And I refuse to accept it, because I believe what I'm doing is legally right.

[NB: “Circumventing” is a loaded word because it is the EXACTLY CORRECT word]

By the way, the very same “reasoning” is being applied to torture

Q: Could you call on your Texas straight talk and make a clear and unambiguous statement today that no American will be allowed to torture another human being anywhere in the world at any time –

Bush: Yes. No American will be allowed to torture another human being anywhere in the world. And I signed the appropriations bill with the McCain amendment attached on because that's the way it is. I know some have said, well, why did he put a qualifier in there? And one reason why presidents put qualifiers in is to protect the prerogative of the executive branch. . .

[. . . to violate those laws if they think they have to!]

And under this all, a seismic shift in the relations between the President, Congress, and the law (signing statements, etc). This is the point that puts many erstwhile Republican allies in a tough spot: they support the President’s conduct of the “war on terror,” but they’re furious that he’s just said that anything that Congress passes is just advisory to him. He invokes it (the war resolution) when he thinks it reinforces his inclinations, and ignores it (FISA) when it doesn’t



More evidence for this: even now that Congress is willing (god knows why) to expressly GIVE him this authority, Bush says he doesn’t want (or NEED) it


Why the Greenwald scoop is so devastating to the WH “defense” of warrantless spying – and why their response to that story makes it even worse

It's entirely contradictory that the standard the administration rejects as overly burdensome now is the same standard the administration wanted to keep in place in 2002. But it also completely undermines the notion, argued by the administration repeatedly for the last month, that Congress implicitly authorized the president to conduct warrantless searches.

The administration argued against DeWine's proposed changes to FISA — and Congress followed suit, voting down DeWine's amendment in committee. In other words, lawmakers had an opportunity to expand the administration's power, but specifically decided not to. When the White House insists, as it does often, that Bush's warrantless-search authority derives in party from Congress, it's demonstrably false, not just because of the wording and intent of the 9/11 resolution, but also because of what happened with the DeWine proposal.

Which leaves us at an interesting point. The president circumvented FISA because he wanted to and he claimed legal powers that the legislative branch specifically said he does not have. This isn't a gray area — Bush knowingly and willfully took a step that Congress said he could not take.

[Judd] Here is Justice Department spokesperson Tasia Scolinos:

The FISA “probable cause” standard is essentially the same as the “reasonable basis” standard used in the terrorist surveillance program. The “reasonable suspicion” standard, which is lower than both of these, is not used in either program.

There are two fundamental problems with this argument:

1. It completely contradicts what the administration said earlier this week. Scolinos claims “reasonable basis” is pretty much the same as “probable cause.” On Monday, Michael Hayden – former NSA director and currently Deputy Director of National Intelligence – said that Bush’s warrantless domestic surveillance program was started precisely because it lowered the standard in a significant way.

2. The legal analysis is wrong. Scolinos falsely claims that “reasonable suspicion” is a “lower” standard than “reasonable basis.” The term “reasonable basis” has no real meaning in 4th Amendment jurisprudence. To the extent that “reasonable basis” does have meaning, it’s used interchangeably with “reasonable suspicion.” For example, in the Supreme Court case of Florida v. L.J., Justice Ginsburg wrote: “The officers, prior to the frisks, had a reasonable basis for suspecting J. L. of engaging in unlawful conduct: The reasonableness of official suspicion must be measured by what the officers knew before they conducted their search.”

[Glenn Greenwald] But in addition to being false, the Administration’ explanation is also irrelevant -- really besides the point of this whole story. Certain media stories have effectively conveyed some of the issues raised by this matter but have not quite grasped the most significant part of it, and the Administration's response does not, as a result, address the real issue. What matters most here is not that the Administration refused to support the DeWine legislation (although that does matter), but what the Administration said in July, 2002 when explaining their refusal to support it. . .

[E]ver since this scandal arose, the glaring question has always been: given how permissive FISA is and how rubber-stamping the FISA court has always been, what possible reason could the Administration have for deciding to eavesdrop without complying with the law and obtaining judicial approval under FISA? In short, what was their motive for breaking the law?

The Administration finally provided a coherent explanation for the first time on Tuesday when Gen. Hayden claimed that the "probable cause" requirement for getting a warrant under FISA was too restrictive and therefore did not allow them to engage in the eavesdropping they wanted. But the important point here is that Gen. Hayden's excuse for why the Administration decided to eavesdrop outside of FISA is transparently false, and -- in several different ways -- the Administration’s own statements from DoJ official James A. Baker made in connection with the DeWine legislation directly contradict the explanation it is now giving for its conduct. . . [read on!]

What is the real reason the Administration chose to eavesdrop in violation of FISA -- i.e., in secret and with no oversight -- rather than within FISA and with oversight? There is still no viable answer to that question from the Administration. Whatever the real reason is, the Administration still has not disclosed it. One thing is clear: the explanation given by Gen. Hayden this week simply is untrue.

More: http://waroncorporateevil.blogspot.com/2006/01/new-evidence-reveals-that-bush-knew-he.html

General Michael Hayden: no credibility

The Bush administration has pulled out all the stops in attempting to defend the NSA’s warrantless domestic spying program. After speeches by President Bush and Attorney General Gonzales, Deputy Director of National Intelligence and former NSA Director General Michael Hayden took another crack at the defense in a speech on Monday. He’s not exactly the ideal choice to restore the administration’s credibility.

As Think Progress documented back in December, Hayden misled Congress. In his 10/17/02 testimony, he told a committee investigating the 9/11 attacks that any surveillance of persons in the United States was done consistent with FISA. . . At the time of his statements, Hayden was fully aware of the presidential order to conduct warrantless domestic spying issued the previous year. But Hayden didn’t feel as though he needed to share that with Congress. . . . The Fraud and False Statements statute (18 U.S.C. 1001) make Hayden’s misleading statements to Congress illegal.

[Atrios] I remember when members of Congress didn't like being lied to. I remember when members of the press thought lying was a bad thing.

The news media just don’t get it


Let’s see. Yesterday we saw a major pushback that surveillance on U.S. citizens on U.S. soil by tapping into U.S. phone carriers isn’t “domestic” spying if they’re talking with someone overseas. What’s next? It isn’t domestic spying if you’re from another country? It isn’t domestic spying if you’re talking with someone in the U.S. who comes from another country? It isn’t domestic spying if you’re talking about an international topic? Read on

QUESTION: Members of your administration have said that the secret eavesdropping program might have prevented the September 11th attacks. But the people who hijacked the planes on September 11th had been in this country for years having domestic phone calls and e- mails.

So how specifically can you say that?

BUSH: Well, Michael Hayden said that because he believes that, had we had the capacity to listen to the phone calls from those from San Diego elsewhere, we might have gotten information necessary to prevent the attack.

BUSH: And that's what he was referring to.

QUESTION: But they were domestic calls...

BUSH: No, domestic -- outside -- we will not listen inside this country. It is a call from Al Qaida or Qaida affiliates either from inside the country and out or outside the country in, but not domestically.

[NB: And remember, from all accounts they WERE listening to domestic/domestic calls too]

Well, we said we wanted democracy in the Middle East, and we’ve certainly gotten it. Now what?



More: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/blog/2006/01/26/BL2006012601068.html



Fifty-two percent of adults said Bush's administration since 2001 has been a failure. . . Fifty- eight percent described his second term as a failure. . .

Take his promise to cut the deficit, for example. . .



[Chris] The GOP has tripled the number of projects and almost doubled the spending since they took control of the House. I guess when you make so many promises to wealthy donors there's going to be a price and the bill is left with the American taxpayer. I always hear about the fiscal conservatives in the GOP but they sure as hell don't seem to be around.

Republicans (rightly) worried

A House Republican "Dear Colleague" letter. . .

Simply put, the current climate we [the Republican conference] face is the worst it has been since we seized the majority in 1994. Any Member of Congress who fails to understand that should read the polls. If we do not understand voters' anger and respond, we will suffer the consequences in November. . .

Fairly or unfairly, the recent scandals are tarnishing our party's image, and threatening our majority in the House of Representatives. We must make a clean break and support real reform.

The recent scandals are taking a toll. Three times as many voters say corruption is a bigger problem among Republicans than Democrats. Of voters who associate Jack Abramoff with one party or the other, 15 times as many associate him with the Republicans Party (30 percent Republicans, 2 percent Democrats). According to a CBS News poll released on January 9, more than twice as many Americans believe that Republicans are more corrupt than Democrats (36 percent say Republicans are more corrupt, 16 percent say Democrats).

More: http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/story/9183313/the_harder_they_fall

Another attempt to rewrite history: the Republicans are trying very hard to pretend that nothing like the K Street project ever existed. Point man for this ridiculous pack of lies: the desperate (and losing) junior Senator from Pennsylvania, Rick Santorum

Santorum also told the Morning Call that he hadn't seen Grover Norquist "in years." When, in fact, Norquist spoke at a Santorum press conference last June. . .

[Josh Marshall] Sen. Santorum categorically denies any ties to so-called 'K Street Project'. "I had absolutely nothing to do -- never met, never talked, never coordinated, never did anything -- with Grover Norquist and the -- quote -- K Street Project," Santorum said yesterday.

Last November he told the same paper: "The K Street project is purely to make sure we have qualified applicants for positions that are in town. From my perspective, it's a good government thing."

More: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/01/25/AR2006012502240.html

“Get This Party Started”



The dangers of Democrat-bashing




But sometimes, it’s so damn tempting. . .

Several prominent Democratic senators called for a filibuster of Samuel A. Alito Jr.'s Supreme Court nomination yesterday, exposing a deep divide in the party even as they delighted the party's liberal base. . .

Lazy reporting on the “nuclear option”

[Atrios] One of the best examples of collective media whoring for Republicans has been the discussion about the "nuclear option." As RNC parrot boy/CNN reporter Ed Henry just explained, as I'm sure he's done many times, the "nuclear option" involves something so simple as "changing the senate rules." Of course it isn't about changing the Senate rules. It's about cheating. It's about bypassing the established process for changing the Senate rules. . . There's no way to describe it correctly without calling it cheating. So they don't describe it correctly at all.

Aaron Brown knows what he’s talking about (thanks to Buzzflash for the link)

"Truth no longer matters in the context of politics and, sadly, in the context of cable news," said Aaron Brown, whose four-year period as anchor of CNN's NewsNight ended in November. . .

At this point, is there ANY journalist in the country who doesn’t understand the difference between saying “Abramoff gave money” and “groups who had hired Abramoff as a lobbyist gave money”? One at least. . .



Ominous poll numbers for Hillary

A new CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll finds that among registered voters, 48% would consider voting for Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) for president in 2008, including 16% who say they would "definitely" vote for her. However, 51% say they would "definitely" not vote for Clinton.

Bonus item: Shouldn’t the Second Amendment have an exception for stupidity?

A Virginia lawmaker accidentally discharged a handgun in his General Assembly office Thursday morning, firing a bullet into a bulletproof vest that was hanging on the wall of his office. No one was hurt. . .

[Holden Note: He accidentally discharged his pistol into a bulletproof vest he happened to have in his office? Gimme a break, I bet he was testing the vest to see if it really could stop a bullet.]

Del. John S. "Jack" Reid (R-Henrico) apologized to his colleagues on the floor of the House of Delegates Thursday afternoon, saying that "everyone has a right to feel safe here." . . . Reid said he has a valid permit to carry a concealed weapon and regularly brings his gun to the legislative session. . .

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