Tuesday, October 31, 2006


Situation normal . . . .

[NYT] The American military has not properly tracked hundreds of thousands of weapons intended for Iraqi security forces and has failed to provide spare parts, maintenance personnel or even repair manuals for most of the weapons given to the Iraqis, a federal report released Sunday has concluded. . . The American military did not even take the elementary step of recording the serial numbers of nearly half a million weapons provided to Iraqis, the inspector general found, making it impossible to track or identify any that might be in the wrong hands.

Exactly where untracked weapons could end up — and whether some have been used against American soldiers — were not examined in the report, although black-market arms dealers thrive on the streets of Baghdad, and official Iraq Army and police uniforms can easily be purchased as well, presumably because government shipments are intercepted or otherwise corrupted. . . .

[Steve Benen] Wait, it gets worse. . .

There's some irony, I suppose, in the fact that we went to Iraq to find Saddam's weapons that weren't there, and ended up losing track of our own weapons that were there.

Outrageous, right? How do you think they will solve this problem?

The Halliburton subsidiary that provides food, shelter and other logistics to U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan exploited federal regulations to hide details on its contract performance, according to a report released Friday.

The special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction found that Halliburton's Kellogg, Brown & Root Services routinely marked all information it gave to the government as proprietary, whether it was or not. . . . By marking all information proprietary — including such normally releasable data as labor rates — the company abused federal regulations, the report says.

In effect, Kellogg, Brown & Root turned the regulations "into a mechanism to prevent the government from releasing normally transparent information, thus potentially hindering competition and oversight." . . .

Hmm . . . but couldn’t they come up with an even BETTER solution?

[Fox News] The special IG [Inspector General] office, which since 2004 has kept watch over how U.S. taxpayers' funds are being spent rebuilding Iraq, is scheduled to close at the end of fiscal year 2007, next Sept. 30. Its expiration has prompted concerns that new and continuing investigations into waste, fraud and abuse by Iraqis and American contractors will recede into the shadows of the federal bureaucracy. . .

THEN, after you eliminate any oversight on Iraq spending, dump even more money in

Reuters - Iraq needs around $100 billion over the next four to five years to rebuild its shattered infrastructure, government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said on Tuesday. . . .[read on]

Did you know?

With the US death toll in Iraq passing 100 this month and mid-term elections just days away, the Pentagon said the US force in Iraq has grown to 150,000 troops, the biggest it has been since January. . .

And those “well trained” Iraqi security forces?

"How can we expect ordinary Iraqis to trust the police when we don't even trust them not to kill our own men?" asked Capt. Alexander Shaw, head of the police transition team of the 372nd Military Police Battalion. . . "To be perfectly honest, I'm not sure we're ever going to have police here that are free of the militia influence."

The top U.S. military commander in Iraq, Gen. George W. Casey Jr., predicted last week that Iraqi security forces would be able to take control of the country in 12 to 18 months. But several days spent with American units training the Iraqi police illustrated why those soldiers on the ground believe it may take decades longer than Casey's assessment.

Seventy percent of the Iraqi police force has been infiltrated by militias, primarily the Mahdi Army, according to Shaw and other military police trainers. Police officers are too terrified to patrol enormous swaths of the capital. And while there are some good cops, many have been assassinated or are considering quitting the force.

"None of the Iraqi police are working to make their country better," said Brig. Gen. Salah al-Ani, chief of police for the western half of Baghdad. "They're working for the militias or to put money in their pocket." . . .

The Iraqi police are not the only ones who feel unsafe. The American soldiers and civilians who train the Iraqis are constantly on guard against the possibility that the police might turn against them. Even in the police headquarters for all of western Baghdad, one of the safest police buildings in the capital, the training team will not remove their body armor or helmets. An armed soldier is assigned to protect each trainer.

"I wouldn't let half of them feed my dog," 1st Lt. Floyd D. Estes Jr., a former head of the police transition team, said of the Iraqi police. "I just don't trust them." . . .

Well, we knew it was coming: Bush says, if you vote Democratic, the terrorists will win


Cheney has a simpler line: It’s the elections themselves that are the problem. (Should we cancel them? Thanks to Josh Marshall for the link)

[Reuters] Vice President Dick Cheney said on Monday insurgents had stepped up attacks in Iraq to try to sway next week's U.S. elections and they were constantly surfing the Web to keep tabs on American public opinion. . .

Worse to come. . .


Hmmmm. . . does Bush really want to equate the accuracy of his predictions over these two matters?

President Bush campaigned in a crucial House district in Georgia today, telling a friendly audience that he foresees victory in Iraq eventually and victory over the Democrats next week. . .

Is Cheney getting ready for Democratic subpoenas? Shredding company makes a big pickup from his compound (thanks to Atrios for the link)


Haw, haw, haw (thanks to Buzzflash for the link)

Sen. George Allen of Virginia is running the worst campaign in the country, political insiders said in a poll released Saturday by the National Journal. . .

Allen has suffered "numerous self-inflicted wounds," one Republican respondent said. "This onetime presidential wannabe has ushered himself off the national stage, and he will be lucky to win re-election."

A Democratic respondent said the race "should never have been in play. But Allen's ineptness and, frankly, stupidity, as well as the campaign's inability to dig itself out of the mess the candidate makes has been a textbook case of how not to run." . . .

[NB: Of course, he’ll still probably win]

Or, maybe not

With George Allen refusing to explain why multiple warrants were issued for his arrest, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee today asked the Virginia State Bar to release Allen’s bar application. Allen would have had to explain the warrants on the application and its contents could be the only document shedding light on his arrests. . . .

More trouble for Jim Gibbons (R-NV)

[AP] The district attorney said Monday that authorities have reopened their investigation into a cocktail waitress' claim that a Republican congressman running for governor assaulted her in a parking garage after a night of drinking. . .

[Joe] This case has had many twists and turns. The latest involves the appearance of previously missing surveillance tapes. . . .

The tapes: http://www.tpmmuckraker.com/archives/001898.php

Even the safe Republicans are acting crazy

U.S. Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-5th, is refusing to tape a debate with her opponent, Democrat Roger Sharpe, on Wednesday unless reporters are barred from the broadcast studio. . .

Is this the deal that silenced the Ethics Committee report? Denny Hastert to step down?


Are these people even CAPABLE of running an honest campaign?

[Paul Kiel] Well, I think we have our answer as to who is behind the Progressive Policy Council, the phony group behind a mailer that's gone out to an untold number of Pennsylvania voters in an apparent attempt to sour liberal voters on Democrat Bob Casey.

Records with the Virginia State Corporation Commission show that the group's charter was filed by a man named Jason Torchinsky of Holtzman Vogel. And who is he? . . .

More on push polls: http://www.tpmmuckraker.com/archives/001903.php


Gee, Mark, it’s not even Halloween yet and you’re already freakin’ me out

[Mark Kleiman] The Democrats hold the New Jersey Senate seat, and carry Montana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Missouri, and Virginia . . . Lieberman keeps his commitment to caucus with the Democrats . . . . The Iraq Study Group reports, says Iraq is a mess, mistakes have been made, and a new strategy is needed. . . . Rumsfeld resigns. . . . Bush appoints Lieberman to Defense. . . [Connecticut Governor] Rell appoints a Republican to take Lieberman's seat. . .

I think this is really, really dumb – what’s the point of electing a black Senator if in the process you also give the Republicans control?


Why is Rove so confident? (revisited)

[Josh Marshall] All sorts of articles have been written over the last week or so with one question: Why is Karl Rove so confident? What does he know that the Dems and the pundit-predictors don't?

The answer is really, really simple: nothing. There's not anything he knows. In fact, he's not even confident. It's a bluff.

There are ten different reasons to know this. But the most compelling and sufficient one is to look at his history. . . [read on]

A compromise solution on the Florida ballot to replace Mark Foley


All polls, all the time

[Chris Bowers] Just look at these amazing House polls . . .

More: http://politicalwire.com/archives/2006/10/30/sixty_new_house_polls.html



[Charlie Cook] With the election just eight days away, there are no signs that this wave is abating. Barring a dramatic event, we are looking at the prospect of GOP losses in the House of at least 20 to 35 seats, possibly more, and at least four in the Senate, with five or six most likely. . . .

Hmmm. . . why is the U.S. government suddenly worried about the security of e-voting machines? (thanks to David N. for the link)

Federal officials are investigating whether Smartmatic, owner of Oakland, Calif.-based Sequoia Voting Systems, is secretly controlled by Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez. . . Concerns about Smartmatic are keen on the eve of the Nov. 7 election, given fears that someone with unauthorized access to the electronic system could create electoral chaos. Some critics believe that if the Venezuelan government is involved, Smartmatic could be a ''Trojan horse'' designed to advance Chavez's anti-American agenda. . .

[NB: The irony of all this is that if they are so worried that a rogue govt could mess with our electoral system, then they clearly aren't as confident about the security of voting machines as they've been claiming to be. Which is more likely -- that Hugo Chavez could gain access to hack into voting machines, or that some domestic group or individuals could?]

Why has CNN picked up the vile “Democrat Party” mislocution favored by the Right?


Here come the sex police (thanks to Daniel Politi for the link)

The federal government's “no sex without marriage” message isn't just for kids anymore.

Now the government is targeting unmarried adults up to age 29 as part of its abstinence-only programs. . . The government says the change is a clarification. But critics say it's a clear signal of a more directed policy targeting the sexual behavior of adults.

“They've stepped over the line of common sense,” said James Wagoner, president of Advocates for Youth, a Washington, D.C.-based group that supports sex education. “To be preaching abstinence when 90% of people are having sex is in essence to lose touch with reality. It's an ideological campaign. It has nothing to do with public health.”. . . .

Bonus item: Boo!


***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.***

Monday, October 30, 2006


If Iraq really was truly independent, they wouldn’t let themselves be used for a stunt like timing the Hussein verdict for maximum impact on U.S. elections

[John Aravosis] The Iraqi government should immediately demand that the verdict be postponed . . . This is simply outrageous that the Iraqi government is conspiring with the Bush administration in order to influence the US elections. It's also rather ironic that the US puppet Prime Minister in Iraq Nouri al-Maliki spent the past week visiting his masters in Washington, DC, all the while proclaiming that he was a real boy and not a wooden toy, and now we find out that he's doing George Bush's bidding . . .

Maybe they won’t (thanks to Buzzflash for the link)

The Chief Prosecutor at the court trying ousted Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein for crimes against humanity said on Sunday that the verdict, due in seven days, could be delayed again by up to two weeks. . .

Even the media can’t ignore that things are going to hell in Iraq (fourth worst month for U.S. deaths since the war started – with two days to go). But look at what’s happening in Afghanistan


More: http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2006/10/29/74340/460

“The computer ate it”

[Billmon] This reads like something from the script of “Abbott and Costello Join the Army” . . .

Everyone is linking to this editorial by respected military journalist Joe Galloway

The president says that there'll be tough fighting to come, which is hardly news to a military that's already suffered more than 2,800 killed and 22,000 wounded; a military so ground down that it won't be able to man the next annual deployments without once again reaching out and activating thousands of Army National Guard and Reserve troops that have maxed out their active duty availability.

Oh yes. One other bit of news: the White House that says nothing is too good for our troops has turned its back on a plea by Army leaders for a $25 billion increase in its 2008 budget so it can carry out the missions the administration has assigned to it.

The White House Office of Management and Budget rejected Army chief Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker's extraordinary plea by for the additional funds to pay for repairing and replacing thousands of worn out and blown up tanks, Bradley fighting vehicles and Humvees.

Instead of the $25 billion that Schoomaker says the Army needs just to keep doing what it's been doing with spit, adhesive tape and baling wire for the last five years, the Pentagon says the Army can have $7 billion. . .

This unseemly circus and its clowns in Congress can't go away fast enough and with enough dishonor and disgrace to suit the circumstances. Their place in America's history is secure: They will go down as the worst administration and the worst Congress we've ever had. Period.

They deserve to lose both the House and the Senate on Nov. 7, and the White House in 2008. They bullied their way into a war that they thought would be a slam-dunk and then so bungled things that the only superpower left in the world has been humbled and hobbled in a world that they've made more dangerous for us.

Thanks, guys. You've done a heckuva job. We won't forget it.

The man in charge

[Time] Bush has lived by the political philosophy that when the crowd is against you, you just strut more boldly across the stage. That's why he held a news conference a few days ago to hug his war policy even tighter. It is there that he argued staying the course means "constantly changing tactics to meet the situation on the ground," and that benchmarks (good) aren't the same as timetables (bad).

But it was as if no one was listening. Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki declared that he wouldn't abide by either one if it was imposed by Washington, and Bush's top general in Iraq, George W. Casey, broke ranks to suggest he was thinking about asking for more troops.

That was just about the last thing any Republican wanted to hear with less than two weeks to go before an election. Within 24 hours, therefore, Casey was pulled back on message with a statement in which his office said he had given the "wrong impression." . . .[read on]

How stupid do they think we are?

"October has been very busy from a standpoint of operations on the ground and certainly back here in Washington," White House counselor Dan Bartlett said.

With Iraq again dominating the national dialogue right before key midterm elections, "there's an expectation in the air that after the election, the partisanship and the politically charged environment will dissipate somewhat and people can start looking for ways to work together on this issue," Bartlett said. . .

[NB: What evidence, what evidence at all, is there to suggest that the Bush gang has EVER been interested in a bipartisan approach to anything, let alone war and security? Their only interest is in getting people to approve their approach, without question. Democrats who disagree with them are slammed as disloyal, or worse. Even as they are starting to enact Democratic proposals (give the Iraqis a deadline to start assuming responsibility for themselves; redeploy troops out of combat areas – the Murtha agenda), they are ramping up their attacks on Democrats in the lead-up to November 7. Why the hell should anyone reward them for this by playing “forgive and forget” later on?]

From reader Paul B.

I strongly object to the term "waterboarding." Its usage makes the practice sound like something college students might do on Spring Break, instead of what it is: torture.

[NB: Good point. From now on I will call it “simulated drowning.”]

The kind of people they are (appetizer)

[Avedon Carol] I just watched Bill Scher and Jonah Goldberg debating liberalism, and it's always illuminating to see conservatarians trying again to justify imposing their will on others in the name of stopping liberals from imposing their will on others. . . [read on]

The kind of people they are (grand feast – don’t miss this one)

[Paul Burgess] WHEN I WAS speechwriting at the White House, one rule was enforced without exception. The president would not be given drafts that lowered him or The Office by responding to the articulations of hatred that drove so many of his critics.

This rule was especially relevant to remarks that concerned the central topic of our times, Iraq. Having left the White House more than a year ago, I conclude that the immunizing effect of that rule must have expired, because I now find that I am infected with a hatred for the very quarter that inspired the rule--the deranged, lying left.

I never used to feel hatred for people such as Cindy Sheehan, Harry Belafonte, Danny Glover, or other pop-culture notables who, for example, sing the praises of Central American dictators while calling President Bush the greatest terrorist on earth. I do now. . . [read on!]

Michael Steele’s (R-MD) push-polling

"Do you favor carrying out medical experiments on unborn babies?"

More: http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/week_2006_10_29.php#010652
A TPM reader in Virginia says that the George Allen campaign is using a a similar question in its push-poll calls: "Do you favor carrying out medical experiments on a dead fetus?"

Even Curt Weldon’s (R-PA) hometown paper endorses his opponent


As always, the Republicans move quickly to accuse others of doing the things they are doing themselves

[Mark Kleiman] Election time is coming, so the right blogosphere is, as usual, all a-twitter about "voter fraud," which in their parlance always means voting by those ineligible to vote, not depriving those who are eligible of the right to vote as in Florida in 2000 or Ohio this year, or misrecording or miscounting of votes in badly designed (or deliberately misdesigned) high-tech voting systems.

The latest version of this fan-dance comes from Jonathan Adler at the Volokh Conspiracy, and has been gleefully linked to by Glenn Reynolds. It seems that the Poughkeepsie Journal has found 77,000 dead people on the voter rolls in New York State, of whom 2600 may have voted. Moreover, "Democrats are more successful at voting after death than Republicans, by a margin of four-to-one, largely because so many dead people seem to vote in Democrat-dominated New York City."

Note first that the operative phrase is "may have." The newspaper report clearly concedes a point that the blog posts ignore: in fact the reporter detected not a single instance of actual voter fraud. . .

Another porn donor to the “values” Republican party


Google-bombing the Republicans: it works!


Latest poll updates


The GOTV battle will determine the war


The Republicans are already starting to “frame” a likely Democratic victory. As you might guess, it doesn’t involve shaking hands and saying “good fight, now let’s work together”


Karl Rove: the Dems may win (but I’m still a genius)



Steve Clemons gets giddy

Pelosi should not hold back. A public spotlight must be focused on those who took this nation in to the Iraq War -- and in particular, hearings along the lines of those that Harry Truman called in the Senate in 1940 to expose war profiteers should be quickly assembled and legal investigations of the structural corruption behind this war launched. . . . If the House becomes the primary driver of investigations into the abuses, corruption, and duplicity that took this nation into a war that has undermined American status and security in the world, then the spotlight on the many scandals to roll forward will actually bring over Republicans. . .

We are going to see the implosion of the Bush presidency I think -- and just like Watergate -- there needs to be space for the William Cohen types and Howard Baker types of this Congress to join in a collaborative spirit with Democrats to save this country. . .

Joe Lieberman’s (R?-CT) pas de deux with himself: for the war, but against the war; will caucus with the Dems if he wins, but might not. . .



Heh: Bob Schieffer (CBS) calls Ken Mehlman’s excuse for backing a racist ad in Tennessee, “lame.” Mehlman says, we didn’t support it (but we paid for it), we’re glad they pulled it (but it was “fair”), I don’t think it was racist (but my response to it was the same as Harold Ford’s “from a race perspective”)


Wolf Blitzer shows some teeth

[CNN] Blitzer:...In this most recent interview, she [Lynne Cheney] knew we would be speaking about politics. That was reaffirmed to her staff only hours before the interview. As a former co-host of Crossfire during the 1990s, she knows her way around the media. She was never shy about sparring with Democratic strategist and co-host.

[Digby] Lynn Cheney has a schtick and it's the "offended Republican mom responds with righteous indignation." . . . [read on]

More: http://thinkprogress.org/2006/10/29/blitzer-cheney/


[John Aravosis] I'd also add, as an aside, that Cheney had the audacity to ask Wolf "do you want us to win?" the war in Iraq. A comment I find extremely troubling from a national political figure in a democracy. CNN's job isn't to help the US, or anybody else, win or lose. Their job is to report the news. Aside from reporting a story that they know, or suspect, will cause massive damage to US national security, it is not the media's job in a democracy to further some governmental agenda. Mrs. Cheney knows that, but she, like so many others now leading the Republican party, don't really believe in democracy. So it's no wonder she wants to know whose team the press is on since in her sick little world freedom is always partisan. . .

A sea change ahead

[ABC] The number of people who go online for political news is rising, with more than one-third saying they check the Internet for such information.

This group is more likely to be younger, better educated and male than the population in general, an Associated Press-AOL News poll found.

While 35 percent say they check the Internet for political updates about campaigns and candidates, that number grows to 43 percent of likely voters and they tend to be more liberal than conservative. . . [read on]

Bonus item: Michael J. Fox versus Rush Limbaugh – no contest

[DarkSyde] Here, Fox responds to Rush Limbaugh who said in part "When you start telling them that there's a cure . . .You are creating a false hope scenario. And that is cruel."

[ABC] MJ FOX: What is crueler, to not have hope or to have hope? And it's not false hope. It's a very informed hope. I mean, it's hope that's informed by the opinion of our leading scientists, almost to the point of unanimity that embryonic stem cells, because they're pluripotent, because they have the capacity to be anything. . . I don't want to get too corny about it, but isn't that what that person in harbor with the thing is about, hope? And so to characterize hope as some kind of malady or some kind of flaw of character or national weakness is, to me, really counter to what this country is about.

Limbaugh said he would slap actor and Parkinson's disease sufferer Michael J. Fox, "if you'd just quit bobbing your head." . . .

***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, October 29, 2006


This nails it: how the Cheney “waterboarding” story reveals the utter inability of most of the mainstream press to report on the plain truth of a story without letting themselves get spun into a he said/she said mode

[DK] We're darn near six years into this nonsense, but still the White House can beat the press corps like a drum. I'm referring to Cheney's comment that waterboarding detainees was a "no brainer," which the White House has managed to turn into a story about what Cheney really said or what he really meant by what he said.

There's no legitimate doubt about what Cheney said and what he meant. Cheney knows it. The President knows it. So do Tony Snow and the whole White House press corps. Yet we have this spectacularly silly dance--clever people being too clever by half: Snow and Cheney's staff cleverly parsing the interview, and the press cleverly trying to trip up the parsers. . .

No thinking person believes Cheney was referring to anything other than waterboarding. The White House is unable to explain what else Cheney could have been referring to. Yet the leading papers are unable to cut through the malarkey.

I suppose the only thing we work harder at being in denial about than Cheney's comments is the fact that we have used waterboarding and other forms of torture. Every thinking person knows that to be true, too, and it shouldn't take Cheney's slip of the tongue to convince us.

OK, boys, I think we get it

"I consider myself a friend of the U.S., but I'm not America's man in Iraq," [Iraq’s Prime Minister] al-Maliki told the U.S. ambassador, according to Hassan al-Seneid.

[AP] President Bush on Saturday reaffirmed his support for Iraq's prime minister, telling Nouri al-Maliki that he is not "America's man in Iraq" but a sovereign leader whom the U.S. is aiding.

[Swopa] Wasn't George Lakoff just saying yesterday how denying a frame actually reinforces it? Oh, well.

This morning: http://www.needlenose.com/node/view/3514
[NYT] A Maliki spokesman, Ali Dabbagh, said the prime minister had said the Iraqi government wanted more control over its army, which operates under Americans. . .

One major lever the Iraqis have is the United Nations agreement that extends legal authority for foreign troops to be here. Senior officials are trying to amend the agreement, which expires on Dec. 31, in order to give the government more control over parts of the army sooner, a process American officials are watching worriedly.

“I am now prime minister and overall commander of the armed forces, yet I cannot move a single company without coalition approval because of the U.N. mandate,” Mr. Maliki told Reuters on Thursday. “If anyone is responsible for the poor security situation in Iraq, it is the coalition.”

When is a “timetable” not a timetable?


Karl Rove applies his genius to military and geopolitical strategy – and if this is really how these people think you should be very, very worried

[AP] "More sacrifice is going to be required," Rove, President Bush's chief political strategist, told a ballroom full of Republicans . . . "We will either create a world in which our children and our grandchildren have a hope of an optimistic future or we will leave to them a world with a hateful empire centered in the Middle East."

[NB: Leave aside the fact that with the possible exception of Libya, everything these people have done has made the Middle East MORE hateful and unified against us: how much “more sacrifice” would be entailed with bringing their vision into reality?]

Bush: this is what REPUBLICANS are saying about him

[Bruce Fein] Iraq will inexorably disintegrate under a White House successor in the White House who will have disowned the Bush madness and removed American troops as concessions to reality. Enjoying retirement in Texas, Mr. Bush will argue for the history books that Iraq was not lost on his watch; and, that more of his madness would have been crowned with victory. These observations will seem unjustifiably harsh to Mr. Bush's cheerleaders. But the president has consistently shown himself a small man driven by petty ambitions. And tall and high-minded American soldiers in Iraq pay a steep price. .. [read on]

Well, the Enron bad guys have all been sentenced, so I guess the problem of corporate corruption is finally solved. Good work, guys

[M.J. Smith] The New York Times leads with corporations and Bush administration officials lining up for an easing of some business regulations put in place post-Enron. . . the story illustrates just how much steam efforts to lighten corporations' regulatory burdens have gained. Industry groups with close ties to the Bush administration have been working on proposals that would be put forward soon after the November elections. Why so soon after the new Congress takes office? Because, the Times says, it's "as far away as possible from the 2008 elections." The proposals may also, where possible, come in the form of rule changes instead of legislation to avoid that messy lawmaking process . . .

The Sarbanes-Oxley law put in place after Enron's collapse is among the targets. . .

More: http://www.nytimes.com/2006/10/29/business/29corporate.html

Income inequality in one sentence

[Jonathan Chait] Over the last quarter century, the portion of the national income accruing to the richest 1 percent of Americans has doubled. The share going to the richest one-tenth of 1 percent has tripled, and the share going to the richest one-hundredth of 1 percent has quadrupled.

Hmmm. . . . how do people like this get in Ken Mehlman’s Rolodex?

It turns out that the Republican National Committee is a regular recipient of political contributions from Nicholas T. Boyias, the owner and CEO of Marina Pacific Distributors, one of the largest producers and distributors of gay porn in the United States. This recent article on Marina Pacific's new marketing campaign form XBiz, a porn industry trade sheet, notes that, in addition to producing its own material, the "company acts as a distribution house to hundreds of lines, mostly gay, 40 of which can be purchased only through MPD." . . .

More: http://americablog.blogspot.com/2006/10/republican-national-committee.html

Jon Porter (R-NV) finally releases his schedule and phone records to “disprove” that he illegally made fundraising calls from his office. One little problem . . .


Did George Allen (R-VA) spit on his ex-wife? Is this the sort of thing our national elections have come to? How do we feel about playing this game?

Allen is a renowned spitter. . .

Or does he deserve whatever he gets? http://www.thecarpetbaggerreport.com/archives/8899.html

Webb fights back: http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2006/10/28/205313/02

The role of the press: http://mediamatters.org/items/200610280001

More on how the media strains credulity to try to find moral equivalence between the Republicans’ attack ads (90% of their ad buys!) and anything similar on the Democratic side


Fighting back: http://www.discourse.net/archives/2006/10/fighting_back.html

Eight key states with likely voting problems (thanks to David N. for the link)

Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Indiana, Florida, Maryland, Ohio, New York

It’s already starting in Florida

[Susan Madrak] Early voters in Florida are reporting problems with the electronic voting machines, and you’ll never guess what - the mistakes are all in favor of the Republicans!

What are the odds?

“Seven reasons why Karl Rove is optimistic” (make that eight – see above)


More: http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-rove29oct29,0,440699.story

Theocracy watch: How national policies have been skewed by Bush’s deference to the Christian Right


Sunday talk show line-ups

ABC's "This Week": House Majority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio; actor and stem-cell research activist Michael J. Fox; actress and UNICEF ambassador Sarah Jessica Parker.

CBS' "Face the Nation": Reps. John Murtha, D-Pa., and Duncan Hunter, R-Calif.; Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean and Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman.

NBC's "Meet the Press": Democratic Rep. Ben Cardin and Republican Lt. Gov. Michael Steele, Maryland Senate candidates.

CNN's "Late Edition": Sens. Joseph Biden, D-Del., and Richard Lugar, R-Ind.; Samir Sumaidaie, Iraqi ambassador to the U.S.; Reps. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla.; retired Army Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton.

"Fox News Sunday": Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, R-Calif.; Sens. George Allen, R-Va., and Charles Schumer, D-N.Y.

Bonus item: In the White House basement


***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, October 28, 2006


[Sorry for the late posting. Blogger is glitchy today]

Cheney cracks out of turn

In an interview Tuesday with WDAY of Fargo, North Dakota, Cheney was asked if "a dunk in water is a no-brainer if it can save lives."

The vice president replied, "Well, it's a no-brainer for me, but for a while there I was criticized as being the vice president for torture. We don't torture. That's not what we're involved in." . . .

Human Rights Watch said Cheney's remarks were "the Bush administration's first clear endorsement" of water boarding.

[NB: Now what else could he have thought “a dunk in water” referred to? I grew up near Lake Michigan and was dunked many times – nobody would ever think THAT was an interrogation technique. Clearly the only way it would be effective was if people thought they were going to drown. Call that “waterboarding” or not – it’s torture. Of course this was what Cheney meant]

Tony spins frantically

Q Tony, your argument that Vice President Cheney didn't know that he was being asked about water boarding or wasn't being asked about water boarding and didn't intend to give an answer that suggested he was saying the United States uses water boarding, it doesn't follow when you read the transcript and it doesn't follow sort of common sense.

MR. SNOW: Well, I'll tell you what he --

Q How can you really make that argument?

MR. SNOW: I'll tell you what he said. He was asked the question, "You dunk somebody's head in the water to save a life, is it a no-brainer?" And also, if you read the rest of the answer, he also -- the Vice President, who earlier had also been asked about torture, he said, "We don't torture." . . .

Q Then how can you say that he's not referring to water boarding, when it was very clear, when you look at the whole context, not only that specific question --

MR. SNOW: Does the word --

Q -- but the one before?

MR. SNOW: Did the word "water boarding" appear?

Q It came up in the context of talking about interrogation techniques and the entire debate that has been conducted in this country.

MR. SNOW: I understand that. I'll tell you what the Vice President said. You can push all you want, wasn't referring to water boarding and would not talk about techniques.

Q Let's back it up here for a second, because what we're saying is -- and I've got the transcript -- "Would you agree a dunk in water is a 'no-brainer' that can save lives?" Vice President: "It's a 'no-brainer' for me." Tony --

MR. SNOW: Read the rest of the answer.

Q What could "dunk in the water" refer to if not water boarding?

MR. SNOW: I'm just telling you -- I'm telling you the Vice President's position. I will let you draw your own conclusions, because you clearly have. He says he wasn't talking --

Q I haven't drawn any conclusions. I'm asking for an explanation about what "dunk in the water" could mean.

MR. SNOW: How about a dunk in the water?

Q So, wait a minute, so "dunk in the water" means what, we have a pool now at Guantanamo, and they go swimming?

MR. SNOW: Are you doing stand up?. . .

Q Why did the Vice President then, when the inference was clearly there from the questioner, who more than once referred to a dunk in the water. . . He, in the questioning, talked about how his radio listeners believe that this is a useful tool. "If it takes dunking someone in order to save lives, isn't it a silly debate to even be questioning that?" The Vice President says, "I do agree," later says, "That's been a very important tool that we've been able to secure the nation" -- referring to Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.

If the Vice President is so careful, why did he allow himself to answer a question in which "dunking in the water" was a part of that question?

MR. SNOW: The answer -- look, he was answering a question. And also as you know, he went on to talk about torture. Look, I've said what I'm going to say on it. I can't -- I really -- what you're asking me to do is to deconstruct something. I've asked what he meant. I've told you what he said he meant. I can't go any further than that, so you can ask all the whys and wherefores. But I want you to think -- let's go back to the "no brainer" part here.

The Vice President is not somebody who's going to reveal techniques. He's been in this business for a very long time.

Q He was asked about a technique, and he responded to a technique, and said that he agreed --

MR. SNOW: No, he was not asked -- he was not asked, no. . .

Q You're quibbling over semantics, to borrow your phrase. You're quibbling over semantics.

MR. SNOW: I know. But, no, I think -- I actually think. . .

Q It doesn't have to be legally precise. The Vice President understood what the questioner was asking.

MR. SNOW: I'm telling you -- and I will tell you once again -- the Vice President says that he refers to the fact that when you're questioning people, you don't torture. You obey the law, and you protect the American people. We're not going to go any further.

Q Tony, is it not possible that the two are not mutually exclusive? In other words, that the Vice President does not construe water boarding as torture, and therefore, to him --

MR. SNOW: No, no, no, no --

Q -- it's the same sentence --

Q So he does construe water boarding as torture?

MR. SNOW: No, what he does -- he doesn't talk about water boarding. And he also -- what he does say is that the techniques that the Americans use do not qualify as torture, and he is not going to talk about specific techniques.

Q So we know from this that a "dunk in the water" does not qualify as torture, right? And the Vice President is saying we're not involved in torture, and a dunk in the water is a "no brainer" for him.

MR. SNOW: Okay, and I will let you --

Q Is he saying --

MR. SNOW: I will let you deconstruct. The text speaks for itself. Let's change --

Q Did you talk to him?

MR. SNOW: No, I didn't. I talked to Lea Anne. . .

Q -- when he says "dunk in the water," that's a serious question. You can't just sort of beg off and say, I'm sorry, I'm not going to deconstruct it.

MR. SNOW: No, but, Jennifer -- Jennifer, you've listened -- there have been statements out of that office for two consecutive days that say they don't talk about water boarding, they don't talk about torture, they don't condone torture. They're not going to talk about techniques.

Q All we're asking is, what's a "dunk in the water"?

Q He agrees with it. We want to know what that means.

MR. SNOW: All right.

Q If he agrees with a "dunk in the water," then --

MR. SNOW: All right, talk about a dunk in the water.

Q But you need to deconstruct it, not us. That's why we're asking you.

MR. SNOW: Okay, well, I've told you what deconstruction I've had. . .

Q One follow on this, because what you said in the morning was, "You think Dick Cheney is going to slip up on something like this?" Is it possible that he's not slipping up at all --


Q -- but that he's winking to the base and saying --


Q -- "of course we water board, and of course we'll do anything we need to to get the information because he knows that what they do --

MR. SNOW: I think you just won the cynical question of the year award. No, I don't.

Q How is that cynical? . . .

[NB: By the way, let me blow this bogus “we don’t discuss techniques” issue out of the water. Their rationale is supposedly that disclosing techniques helps the terrorists because if they know our techniques they can train new terrorists to better withstand them. Two problems with this excuse: one is that unless you kill everyone you interrogate, or lock them in isolation from lawyers and the Red Cross forever (yeah, I know), sooner or later these techniques will come out. Second, waterboarding is hardly a secret now – and if they can prepare for it, you can be sure they already are. We’re not talking about some super-secret technique that no one has ever heard of. Refusing to acknowledge waterboarding as a technique is intended to conceal it from only one audience: the American people]

More: http://www.thecarpetbaggerreport.com/archives/8890.html


Amnesty International: http://susiemadrak.com/2006/10/27/10/27/the-america-we-believe-in-does-not-torture-people/

Cheney “explains”

"I didn't say anything about waterboarding. . . . He didn't even use that phrase," Cheney said on a flight to Washington from South Carolina. . .

Former CIA general counsel Jeffrey H. Smith said Cheney's comments were "irresponsible" and send a signal to U.S. interrogators that "the people at the top want you to get rough."

"It's clear that the vice president didn't mean a friendly swim at the country club," Smith said. "It would be designed to somehow frighten a prisoner and elicit information from them. Whatever it means, a dunk in the water is not harmless or innocent."

[NB: A while back, Jon Stewart did a brilliant satire on the Bush gang’s magical belief in the power of “The Word” – i.e., if you don’t use a specific word or phrase (“stay the course,” etc) that is somehow a significant difference, even if your actual policies and actions are the same. This is another example of such magical thinking – is Cheney’s defense that he didn’t explicitly use the term “waterboarding”? Who is fooled by that?]

Lynne Cheney: almost as bad as her husband


More: http://americablog.blogspot.com/2006/10/lynne-cheney-tells-cnn-that-lesbian.html


This stinks: the Ethics Committee investigation is complete, but they won’t release their report on the Foley scandal until AFTER the election


Oh geez: one of Hastert’s aides (Ted Van Der Meid), already on the hot seat over the Foley mess, is now accused of blocking a House corruption investigation


More: http://www.cq.com/public/20061027-spending.html
Ronald Garant and a second Appropriations Committee investigator who asked not to be identified said Van Der Meid engaged in “screaming matches” with investigators and told at least one aide not to talk to them. Van Der Meid also prohibited investigators from visiting certain sites to check up on the effectiveness of the work, the investigators said. . .

Do you think the news media mind being played for fools? Or will they go along with wall-to-wall coverage on this for the last 48 hours before the vote?

The Bush administration has a long history of timing national security-related actions with the political calendar, and the media should be asking if it has done so again. The verdict of the Saddam Hussein trial, which was originally scheduled to be announced on October 16, 2006, has been postponed until November 5, 2006, just two days before the U.S. midterm elections.

Given the importance of the midterm elections, the administration's documented history of manipulating Iraq and terrorism announcements for political gain, and the heavy influence of the U.S. on the Iraqi court, David Brock, President and CEO of Media Matters for America, today called on the media to question the new date set for the release of the Saddam verdict.

"Why has the verdict been postponed? Is it designed to influence this fall's election? Is this yet another example of the administration playing politics with our policy in Iraq? These are the questions the media should be asking," said Brock. "Forget the October surprise -- it looks like Karl Rove and the Bush Administration have been preparing for a November surprise. . .”

[Josh Marshall] Yep, they should be asking. Why haven't any of the major networks or national newspapers pressed the White House on why they scheduled the sentencing of Saddam Hussein two days before the US's midterm elections.

Interesting story: Is Condi Rice using her lieutenant (Philip Zelikow) to circulate critical views on Bush’s foreign policies?


[NB: And while we’re on the subject of Zelikow, whatever happened to that story of a month ago, that George Tenet gave Condi a “10 on a scale of 10” briefing on July 10, 2001 that warned of a terrorist attack – but that SOMEBODY decided it didn’t need to be mentioned in the 9/11 Commission report, which Condi’s pal Zelikow oversaw? Remember? http://pbd.blogspot.com/2006_10_01_pbd_archive.html#115996395535251691]

George Allen (R-VA) wants to play rough – we can play rough: unseal those divorce records


It’s in the water! Convicted GOP crook Duke Cunningham’s replacement, Brian Bilbray (R-CA) is. . . .already under grand jury investigation himself (thanks to Josh Marshall for the link)

A neighbor of Republican 50th District Rep. Brian Bilbray said Thursday that he was subpoenaed to testify before a San Diego County grand jury in August and spent about an hour and a half answering questions about whether Bilbray lived in his Carlsbad neighborhood. . .

Speculation has swirled around the Bilbray's residence issue for days, with Democrats and Busby's campaign claiming they had received calls from several of Bilbray's Carlsbad neighbors, saying they had been called to testify before a grand jury investigating the congressman's residence.

The allegations that Bilbray was not living where he said he was first surfaced in May, just weeks before a special election to pick a temporary replacement for the seat formerly held by the now-imprisoned Randy "Duke" Cunningham. . .

On a voter registration form that Bilbray signed in June 2005 and his statement of candidacy, which he signed in February, he lists his official residence as Carlsbad. His mother owns the home and Bilbray has said that he moved into the house in mid-2005 to help care for the woman, who uses a wheelchair.

However, because he has three homes, one in Carlsbad, one in Imperial Beach and one in Virginia ---- and on different documents has claimed each of them as his residence ---- Democrats called on the district attorney's office in May "to investigate whether Mr. Bilbray committed perjury or voter fraud."

More! Tom DeLay’s replacement (Shelley Sekula-Gibbs - R-TX) also in hot water


Jim Gibbons (R-NV) sure is acting like someone guilty of sexual assault


The media’s awful job covering the latest Republican salvo of lying, crazy, racist, sexually salacious attack ads

Must-read: http://billmon.org/archives/002894.html
[Billmon] But no one in the corporate media, to my knowledge, have even come close to putting an accurate lead on the story -- which would look something like this:

Faced with the likely loss of one if not both houses of Congress, the Republican Party has embarked on a massive, last-ditch effort to smear Democratic challengers in competitive districts across the country.

The resulting campaign has completely demolished whatever minor restraints remained on the use of lies and distortions in political attack ads, and has pushed the already debased American political process to a new low.

A "straight" journalist couldn't possibly write a lead like that and expect to get it past his/her editor -- even though the Republicans themselves revealed their intentions quite clearly some weeks ago . . . [read on!]

A case in point: a false equivalence

[Digby] I was just watching Washington Week with Gwen Ifill and they did a segment on the attack ads we are seeing this cycle. They led off with the Harold Ford Playboy ad and the Michael J. Fox ad in Missouri.

Did you see the Fox ad as an attack ad? Did he disparage Talent's character or imply that he was a bad person? Was he appealing to peoples baser nature by playing to their prejudices? . . .

I suspect the sad truth is that the kewl kids think it's hitting below the belt for a disabled person to appear in an advertisement --- just as Rush does. They obviously think it's manipulative and wrong to show the actual results of an illness for which you are advocating. After all, somebody might be having dinner and they don't want to have to look at that icky sick stuff that makes them feel all guilty and uncomfortable. Therefore, tt's an attack if someone endorses a particular candidate and he isn't "normal."

Negative ads: SHOULD the Democrats use them more?


NBC refuses to run an ad for the new Dixie Chicks documentary (“Shut Up and Sing”) – why? Because it’s critical of Bush. . .

Well, you can see it here all the same: http://thinkprogress.org/2006/10/27/dixie-chicks-advertisement-nbc/

[Josh Marshall] This really is pretty unbelievable: NBC won't run ads for the Dixie Chicks documentary because, in the words of the NBC's commercial clearance department, "they are disparaging to President Bush."

Networks usually at least go to the length of coming up with a phony 'we don't run ads with a political message' excuse. But I'm not sure I've ever seen one say something like this. . . .

[Glenn Greenwald] Leave to the side for the moment the fact that this controversy is far more likely to help the film than hurt it. Far more important than that issue is the emergence of a very disturbing trend whereby television networks are refusing to broadcast political advocacy material that will offend the Republican power structure in Washington.

In 2004, CBS and NBC both refused to broadcast an ad from the United Church of Christ which touted its acceptance of all people, including gays and lesbians, into its congregations. CBS said it rejected the Church's $2 million ad campaign "because its ad implies acceptance of gay and lesbian couples -- among other minority constituencies -- and is, therefore, too 'controversial.'" During that incident, CBS all but acknowledged that its decision was based upon the White House's potential disagreement with the ad's message. . . .

More: http://americablog.blogspot.com/2006/10/new-nbc-policy-bans-dixie-chick-tv-ads.html

Pretzel logic

[Matthew Yglesias] More from the aforementioned Bush chat with conservative columnists. Why does the president keep saying this: "I am trying to show success. It will affect Iran. A free Iraq will affect Iran. It will affect Syria."

The administration's been caught in an infinite loop on this question from day one. As everyone can see, it's essentially impossible to accomplish anything in Iraq insofar as the governments of two adjacent countries are actively trying to undermine what we're doing. And yet, the president keeps insisting that one of his long-term goals in Iraq is to overthrow the governments of two of Iraq's neighbors. So -- surprise! -- they try to undermine his policies. And then the administration turns around and whines about it, before deciding down the road that he should once again re-iterate his goal of toppling the regimes. Meanwhile, he has no actual means at his disposal to accomplish this. It's moronic; the kind of thing that it would only take about five minutes of thinking to dissuade you from. But he's been at this for years.

Woo-hoo! Bush’s blazing economy

The economy has slowed to a snail's pace, growing in the just-finished quarter at the slowest rate in more than three years and stirring fresh debate about the country's financial health heading into the elections. . .

More: http://www.samefacts.com/archives/macroeconomic_policy_/2006/10/slowdown.php

It's Clinton’s fault: http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/week_2006_10_22.php#010634

The Goofus Files

[Bush, in Iowa] You know, when I campaigned here in 2000, I said, I want to be a war President. No President wants to be a war President, but I am one. . . [read on]

Extra edition: http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/archives/individual/2006_10/009910.php

Hey, Dan Froomkin is on a roll. . .

It may go down as one of the most ridiculous -- and ridiculed -- utterances of the Bush presidency. . . [read on]

George Lakoff on framing “stay the course”

THE Bush administration has finally been caught in its own language trap.

“That is not a stay-the-course policy,” Tony Snow, the White House press secretary, declared on Monday.

The first rule of using negatives is that negating a frame activates the frame. If you tell someone not to think of an elephant, he’ll think of an elephant. When Richard Nixon said, “I am not a crook” during Watergate, the nation thought of him as a crook.

“Listen, we’ve never been stay the course, George,” President Bush told George Stephanopoulos of ABC News a day earlier. Saying that just reminds us of all the times he said “stay the course.” . . . [read on]

The myth of Republican (Rovean) invincibility


Corporations start to plan for Democratic control of Congress, shift patterns of giving


Making peace with Wal-Mart?


Bonus item: Which Republican said this?

“I trust Hamas more than I trust my own Government.”

***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, October 27, 2006


The Bush gang shows what they think of any serious attempt to question them or hold them accountable for their mismanaged war

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld told reporters today to "just back off" and "relax" instead of looking for differences between U.S. and Iraqi officials on benchmarks for progress in Iraq toward political and security goals . . .

Rumsfeld bristled when asked about consequences for Iraqi failure to meet certain goals. . . "Well, it's a political season," he said. "And everyone's trying to make a little mischief out of this, and . . . turn it into a political football, and see if we can't get it on the front page of every newspaper and find a little daylight between what the Iraqis say or someone in the United States says. . . So you ought to just back off, take a look at it, relax, understand that it's complicated, it's difficult. Honorable people are working on these things together. . .”

[NB: Honorable people who have lied from the very start-up of the war until now. Honorable people who worry about perception management and word choice, when thousands of Americans and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis are being killed. Honorable people who are holding off on any course correction in Iraq until after the election, because political leverage is more important to them than doing the right thing]

Dick Cheney says (again) that the terrorists are correlating their attacks to influence the election


But the fact is, it’s THESE people who are manipulating war policy with the election date in mind

[CBS’s JIM] AXELROD: Well, the White House is in quite a bind, Katie, because on one hand, it has to project some sense of resolve, certainly to keep appealing to its base. On the other hand, they read the polls, and they know that voters want a change in Iraq policy. But as far as any significant change, a White House official tells me, do not expect to see anything significant prior to Election Day. Quoting, "You're not going to see anything before November 8th. It would be political suicide, and Karl Rove would never allow it."

More: http://mediamatters.org/items/200610260003

George Bush, winner

[Dan Froomkin] One of the more reality-defying aspects of President Bush's position on the war in Iraq is his insistence that we're winning.

That was a central theme at yesterday's press conference . . . "Absolutely, we're winning," Bush said. "As a matter of fact, my view is the only way we lose in Iraq is if we leave before the job is done."

With the body counts soaring, the country descending deeper into civil war and the central government consistently unable to assert itself, how can he call this winning?

The answer: It's becoming increasingly clear that Bush sees the war in Iraq in very simple terms. As he himself said, he believes that the only way to lose is to leave. Therefore anything else is winning -- anything else at all. . . . Even if no progress is being made -- even if things are getting worse, rather than better -- simply staying is winning.

So we're winning.

Bush expanded on this principle in a fascinating, one-hour Oval Office interview yesterday afternoon . . . The result was a slew of disjointed, sometimes not particularly intelligible, but sometimes deeply telling insights into his thinking about the war. It's a heckuva read.

For example, Bush said he owes his conviction that leaving equals losing to Gen. John P. Abizaid, the Central Command chief who oversees military operations in the Middle East.

And regardless of his recent public attempts at semantic backtracking, Bush made it clear to this group of supporters that "stay the course" remains his strategy. . . .

As for "stay the course"? Said Bush: "This stuff about 'stay the course' -- stay the course means, we're going to win. Stay the course does not mean that we're not going to constantly change."

Reality-challenged? http://atrios.blogspot.com/2006_10_22_atrios_archive.html#116187727177975330
[Bush] My attitude about our – look, I'm into campaigning out there: People want to know, can you win? That's what they want to know. I mean, there's – look, there's some 25 percent or so that want us to get out, shouldn't have been out there in the first place – and that's fine. They're wrong. But you can understand why they feel that way. They just don't believe in war, and – at any cost. I believe when you get attacked and somebody declares war on you, you fight back. And that's what we're doing.

As Greg points out, a strong majority support getting out. But more than that, we weren't attacked by Iraq.

Bush: "There's some kind of reward during Ramadan for violence"

More nonsense: http://www.editorandpublisher.com/eandp/columns/pressingissues_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1003315514
If you've ever fantasized about what it would be like to eavesdrop on our president chatting with some of his strongest fans in the media, then your decidedly odd dream has come true. President Bush met with eight leading conservative columnists on Wednesday afternoon, and a transcript has just been released. . .

Ten Republicans have called for Rumsfeld’s resignation


This letter from Pat Tillman’s brother will break your heart – and make you angry (thanks to several correspondents for the link)


As noted here before, the “border fence” bill is an unusually dishonest bit of Washington kabuki – it doesn’t actually entail building a fence

[Nico] Bush is right, the bill does “authorize” the construction of a new fence. But that doesn’t mean the bill pays for it. As the Washington Post reported earlier this month:

No sooner did Congress authorize construction of a 700-mile fence on the U.S.-Mexico border last week than lawmakers rushed to approve separate legislation that ensures it will never be built, at least not as advertised, according to Republican lawmakers and immigration experts. . . . [S]hortly before recessing late Friday, the House and Senate gave the Bush administration leeway to distribute the money to a combination of projects — not just the physical barrier along the southern border. The funds may also be spent on roads, technology and “tactical infrastructure” to support the Department of Homeland Security’s preferred option of a “virtual fence.”

The Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee know they only have a short time to still be in charge and pull stunts like this

[Josh Marshall] There's a fight brewing behind the scenes at the House intel committee that deserves your attention. It kicked into high gear last week when ranking member Jane Harman (D-CA) released the summary of the committee's investigation into the corrupt practices of former committee member Rep. Duke Cunningham. As payback, Chairman Hoekstra (R-MI) yanked the clearances of one of the Democratic committee staffers and accused him of having leaked the Iraq NIE to the New York Times.

The accusation is one for which Hoekstra's staff now reportedly concedes the chairman has no evidence. Rep. LaHood (R-IL), who first leveled the accusation, went so far as to tell Fox News that the accusation was payback for Cunningham.

This has been kicking around for a few days. The staffer in question, Larry Hanauer, swore out an affidavit, stating that he played no role in the leak.

Then yesterday Chairman Hoekstra told the Democrats he wants to convene an investigation in which the Republicans alone choose an investigator and that investigator gets to look through the Democratic staff's phone logs, email, and review all other 'relevant' records all with a broad breach to uncover any "improper" conduct.

In other words, it's a witch hunt. . .

Tom DeLay, Jack Abramoff, and Big Pharma: the travesty that became a Medicare bill


Chris Shays (R-CT): join the list, buddy

[TNR] Shays's moment of triumph in Iraq came about because he happened to already be in the Middle East--attending the third Qatar-American Conference on Free Markets and Democracy in the tiny oil-rich nation of Qatar. Shays's visit was paid for by The Islamic Free Market Institute, a nonprofit group founded by GOP ally Grover Norquist and run by a protégé of disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff to help bring Muslims into the Republican fold. . .

Shays has been a strong advocate for public-disclosure rules over the years. "As public servants, we have a responsibility to uphold the ethics process, not weaken it," he told The Houston Chronicle in 2005, objecting to an effort to defang House ethics rules in the wake of revelations about Tom DeLay's overseas travels and ties to Abramoff. Those travel rules require members of Congress to file forms revealing all travel expenses paid by outside sources. But, despite his record of pushing for meticulous record-keeping, Shays's privately sponsored trip to Qatar was notably absent from his own annual federal financial disclosure form, filed in May 2004, in violation of House rules.

Here’s the list: http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/week_2006_10_22.php#010594
How many members of the 109th Congress are under federal investigation? Hint: you can't count them on two (or even three) hands.

[Daniel Politi] The WSJ fronts a look at trips members of the House of Representatives take abroad and says it has become routine for them to eat meals paid by lobbyists and defense contractors. Accepting these meals not only breaks House rules but also might be a violation of federal law. . .

Every time someone tells you this. . . .

The divisive debate over gay marriage, which played a prominent role in 2004 campaigns but this year largely faded from view, erupted anew on Thursday as President Bush and Republicans across the country tried to use a court ruling in New Jersey to rally dispirited conservatives to the polls. . . .

“Yesterday in New Jersey, we had another activist court issue a ruling that raises doubts about the institution of marriage,” Mr. Bush said . . . The president drew applause when he reiterated his long-held stance that marriage was “a union between a man and a woman,” adding, “I believe it’s a sacred institution that is critical to the health of our society and the well-being of families, and it must be defended.”

. . . just tell them this

[Bush, Oct 27, 2004] "I don't think we should deny people rights to a civil union, a legal arrangement, if that's what a state chooses to do so," Bush said in an interview aired Tuesday on ABC. Bush acknowledged that his position put him at odds with the Republican platform, which opposes civil unions.

"I view the definition of marriage different from legal arrangements that enable people to have rights," said Bush, who has pressed for a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage (search). "States ought to be able to have the right to pass laws that enable people to be able to have rights like others." . . . [read on]

More: http://glenngreenwald.blogspot.com/2006/10/rank-ignorance-posing-as-expertise.html

Personally, I will count it as a victory for us all if Jean Schmidt (R-OH) is sent home on election day




[Charles P. Pierce] It is devoutly to be hoped that, if it does nothing else, a Democratic sweep in the upcoming elections might disenthrall the Republicans from the notion that they can collect anyone off the steam-grates of their party's boulevards, dress them up, and throw them out there to plague and pester the rest of us. Among its other effects, the "Gingrich Revolution" created a framework in which an incredible passel of fools, lightweights, mountebanks, kinky libertines, and public omadhauns managed to get themselves elected to Congress. . .

“Both sides do it” – except that both sides DON’T do it. The new generation of desperate, vicious GOP attack ads

On the brink of what could be a power-shifting election, it is kitchen-sink time: Desperate candidates are throwing everything. While negative campaigning is a tradition in American politics, this year's version in many races has an eccentric shade, filled with allegations of moral bankruptcy and sexual perversion. . . The result has been a carnival of ugly, especially on the GOP side. . . The National Republican Campaign Committee is spending more than 90 percent of its advertising budget on negative ads, according to GOP operatives, and the rest of the party seems to be following suit.

More: http://www.first-draft.com//modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=7626



The kind of people they are

The commissioner of internal revenue has ordered his agency to delay collecting back taxes from Hurricane Katrina victims until after the Nov. 7 elections and the holiday season, saying he did so in part to avoid negative publicity. . . .

Are these people sick and heartless, or just very, very stupid?

[NBC’s MATT] LAUER: And you brought up Michael J. Fox. Let me just ask you: You know, Rush Limbaugh started a lot of controversy when he said perhaps Michael J. Fox was exaggerating or faking these effects of Parkinson's disease in that ad promoting stem cell research. Didn't Rush Limbaugh just say what a lot of people were privately thinking? . . . But also, Susan, last word. If Michael Fox goes out there politically and puts himself in the fray, he has to expect to be, you know, taken to account, correct?

[SUSAN] ESTRICH: Correct. And he is being taken to account.

[Avedon Carol] To: Susan Estrich
Subject: Calling Michael J. Fox to account

I completely agree that it was outrageous for Michael J. Fox to contract Parkinson's disease just so he could make campaign commercials, and congratulations to you for agreeing with Matt Lauer that he should be "called to account" for it.

My only quibble is that I can't help but wonder why you people didn't think he needed to be called to account for making a similar campaign commercial for Arlen Specter [R-PA] . . . . [read on]

More: http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/week_2006_10_22.php#010597


The ad is changing minds: http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2006/10/26/122145/38

Rush Limbaugh: how can someone like this still be taken seriously?

[Tristero] [B]e sure to check out Sam Seder's comments, that Limbaugh's real job is to insulate his listeners from reality. He's absolutely right. The only real issue is funding for stem cell research, which the Republican party - consistent with its mistrust of all things scientific, be they biological, physical, ecological, or statistical - opposes. But suddenly the airwaves are all atwitter with chirpy parrots concerned with whether Michael J. Fox was acting. As if that matters one whit.

What matters is that the United States under Republican rule is deliberately undermining its commitment to world-class scientific inquiry. . . . Meanwhile, the real subject - the real issues in stem cell research, its potential and limitations - are not being addressed by a public that needs to be, and deserves to be, informed. Ditto evolution, global warming, racism, poverty, war, nuclear proliferation - you name it.

[NB: The problem is that in Limbaugh’s world there are only two categories: “good for Republicans” and “good for Democrats.” ANYTHING that benefits the Democrats politically, any issue that they have a more popular stance on, must be discredited by any means possible. Every other value – truth, fairness, even intellectual consistency – needs to be submerged under this larger purpose. If the Democrats win in the fall, will Rush acknowledge it as the will of the people speaking, that perhaps more people support those positions than his own? Of course not]

[Shakespeare’s Sister] Limbaugh is just one of many loathsome characters who have made names for themselves by treating politics as a game, a fun and profitable little pastime that has no real-world consequences -- and the richer he gets, the more real a lack of consequences becomes for him. The luxury of staggering wealth means never having to worry about Social Security, or healthcare, or how much gas costs. It’s a game. Who cares.

And in that game, people like Michael J. Fox aren’t real people. They’re images on a screen, they’re pawns to be played. Stem cell research isn’t a real thing. It’s a political football. Safely nestled away from the real world in a radio studio, Limbaugh doesn’t want or need to think about the people he mocks, the people he uses to score a goal. . . [read on]

Bonus item: Bush likes to use “the Google”


Yeah, it's on "the Internets" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internets_(colloquialism)

Extra bonus item: Iraq’s “Daily Show” (thanks to A.G. for the link)


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