Saturday, June 30, 2007


The lie that won’t die (and an example of good, old-fashioned journalism)
[McClatchy] Facing eroding support for his Iraq policy, even among Republicans, President Bush on Thursday called al Qaida "the main enemy" in Iraq, an assertion rejected by his administration's senior intelligence analysts.

The reference, in a major speech at the Naval War College that referred to al Qaida at least 27 times, seemed calculated to use lingering outrage over the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, to bolster support for the current buildup of U.S. troops in Iraq, despite evidence that sending more troops hasn't reduced the violence or sped Iraqi government action on key issues.

Bush called al Qaida in Iraq the perpetrator of the worst violence racking that country and said it was the same group that had carried out the Sept. 11 attacks in New York and Washington.

"Al Qaida is the main enemy for Shia, Sunni and Kurds alike," Bush asserted. "Al Qaida's responsible for the most sensational killings in Iraq. They're responsible for the sensational killings on U.S. soil."

U.S. military and intelligence officials, however, say that Iraqis with ties to al Qaida are only a small fraction of the threat to American troops. The group known as al Qaida in Iraq didn't exist before the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, didn't pledge its loyalty to al Qaida leader Osama bin Laden until October 2004 and isn't controlled by bin Laden or his top aides.
[Steve Benen] Was that so hard?

I realize it seems rather silly to praise a newspaper article for pointing out demonstrable facts about the president’s misleading war rhetoric, but pieces like McClatchy’s seem all-too-rare lately.

[NB: “Truth to Power” indeed]
[Josh Marshall] For your weekend enjoyment. One of Doug Feith's stovepipers holds out for the Iraq-al Qaida relationship in a new column for the Washington Post.

BIG news, if correct
[Spencer Ackerman] As people in Washington have been saying for weeks now, the whole town is waiting with bated breath for September's Iraq-war progress report from General David Petraeus. Depending on what it says, that report will either serve as a short-term bulwark against Democratic calls for withdrawal or will make withdrawal a politically unstoppable force.

But it may be that an accompanying assessment of Iraq's political scene, to be delivered by U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker, will actually prove to be the more significant one -- in a way that could give a crucial political boost to the antiwar cause.

Here's why: Some recent comments Crocker made to a reporter that have gone almost entirely unnoticed suggest that he is on the verge of concluding in his report that the Iraqi political scene is flatlining and that there's really no hope for political reconciliation. And if he does say this come September, it would likely undercut Petraeus's expected plea for more time to prosecute the surge. It would also give antiwar critics much more ammo to pressure wavering Republicans in Congress into abandoning Bush and the war.

[Juan Cole] The Iraqi Accord Front, the Sunni fundamentalist bloc with 44 seats in parliament, says that it is withdrawing its 6 cabinet ministers from the national unity government of PM Nuri al-Maliki.

The whole concept of a 'national unity government' as thought up by then US ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad and Iraqi president Jalal Talabani in spring of 2006 has now more or less fallen apart. The Shiite United Iraqi Alliance has lost two important components, the Islamic Virtue Party (Fadhila) and the Sadr Movement. The former pulled their 15 MPs out of the alliance, the latter pulled its 6 cabinet ministers out of the government. Now the Sunni Arabs appear to be decamping, to protest the arrest of one of their own (on charges of having the sons of a fellow Sunni MP whacked).

The "surge" was intended to 'create political space' for 'reconciliation' between Sunnis and Shiites. Now the only Sunnis who were willing to cooperate with the political process are threatening to pull out of the al-Maliki government. Wouldn't that be going backward? Then what is the 'surge' for?

Another Iraq vote coming in July
Speaker Nancy Pelosi threw down a new gauntlet Friday before President Bush and Republicans in Congress, saying the House will vote in July on legislation to withdraw almost all American troops from Iraq by April.

In the Senate, Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said there also will be votes on the future course of the Iraq war next month, although he said he is consulting with other top Democrats on exactly what the legislation might entail. . .

Has Dick Cheney jumped the shark?
[Josh Marshall] Yesterday David Broder wrote a column which one TPM Reader, more or less fairly, described as Broder's expression of shock, shock at just what Dick Cheney has been up to over the last six-plus years. And this is a good opportunity to say that the Post's 'Angler' series seems to be becoming the trigger for that transition moment where consensus establishment opinion goes from seeing the vice president as the powerful administration heavy with a sometimes creepy but largely comic penchant for secrecy to an altogether more nefarious force who has used his unprecedented power as vice president to advance an agenda of official secrecy, non-accountability, untrammeled executive power, legitmized torture and general degradation of the rule of law.

But this is far too easy. Because the simple fact is that we've known almost all of this for years. . . .
[David Broder] What Gellman and Becker have described is a decision-making process in which Bush has allowed Cheney to play a bureaucratic role inside the White House that Cheney never permitted anyone to employ when he was guarding the door as Gerald Ford's chief of staff. . . .

It was not illegal, and it was not unconstitutional, but it could not have happened unless the president permitted it and enabled it. And ultimately the president is responsible for what has become, in very large respect, the resulting wreckage of foreign policy, national security policy, budget policy, energy policy and environmental policy under Cheney's direction and on Cheney's watch. . . .
[Atrios] Following up on what Josh says here, I think it's this kind of thing which has been very frustrating over the past few years. There is good reporting, and it's from that information that I form my conclusions about the Bush administration generally, but so little of it manages to penetrate the basic narratives conveyed in punditland and, more importantly, the narratives which shape much subsequent reporting.
[Digby] Broder seems to have at long last recognized that something is very rotten in Dick Cheney's office. Huzzah. But it is curious that he mentions Scooter Libby's name without addressing whether he still thinks it's such a great idea to shield one of these lying, power-mad zealots from the consequences of his actions. . .

With all the Claud Rainsing about Dick Cheney's power grab, you have to wonder when Broder will finally break to the surface of his beltway wet dream long enough to recognize that a federal prosecutor dealing with one of Dick Cheney's minions repeatedly lying to his face might have justifiably been suspicious that something more than "just politics" was going on. . . .

Broder admits that he was wrong to think that Cheney would be a good second in command and that's a big admission for him, I'm sure. But he also makes the flat claim that what Cheney has done was constitutional and legal. Again with the knee-jerk defense of the Bushies. Just because they say it doesn't make it true and there are so many secrets still unrevealed that it's impossible to properly assess that fact. It's long past time for these insiders to stop automatically giving the administration the benefit of the doubt.

Thanks to The Daily Show, I learned about Cheney’s latest trick: since he has exempted himself from the normal security and classified information system, he has invented HIS OWN security category (no, I’m not kidding), which has absolutely no official status except in his own delusional imagination
Stealth is among Cheney's most effective tools. Man-size Mosler safes, used elsewhere in government for classified secrets, store the workaday business of the office of the vice president. Even talking points for reporters are sometimes stamped "Treated As: Top Secret/SCI." Experts in and out of government said Cheney's office appears to have invented that designation, which alludes to "sensitive compartmented information," the most closely guarded category of government secrets. By adding the words "treated as," they said, Cheney seeks to protect unclassified work as though its disclosure would cause "exceptionally grave damage to national security." . . .


Too bad. Rahm Emanuel’s clever bill to pull funding for Cheney’s operation out of the authorization for Executive branch functions (since Cheney claims not to be part of the Executive branch) narrowly fails

Pundits on Cheney: do they hate him, fear him, or grudgingly admire him? They can’t decide (but I can)

Conyers, Leahy, won’t take the WH brush-off on subpoenas lying down
[Spencer Ackerman] The two chairman write that unless Fielding specifies the claim of privilege for each document being withheld by July 9, they'll "consider whether the White House is in contempt of Congress." A contempt vote in committee is the first step, to be followed by a vote in the full House or Senate. Experts say the process has never gotten further. But if the clash between Congress and the White House continued, the next step would be a referral to the District of Columbia’s U.S. attorney to enforce the subpoena by seeking an indictment from a grand jury. . .

Where do we go from here?;_ylt=ArFV3S5tjQDCm9LROxP3gvis0NUE

You abuse it, you lose it
Chairman Henry Waxman of the Oversight Committee was quoted, “The executive order allows the political staff at the White House to dictate decisions on health and safety issues, even if the government’s own impartial experts disagree. This is a terrible way to govern, but great news for special interests.” Now, with the Science Subcommittee on Oversight chaired by Rep. Brad Miller having reached the same conclusion through two oversight hearings, and on Wednesday night the House passed by voice vote an amendment from Miller and Subcommittee Chairwoman Linda Sanchez of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Commercial and Administrative Law which would prevent the White House from implementing the order, Executive Order 13422.;_ylt=Asbr3jpGVpbKTUlSgbCQdxWyFz4D
President Bush loses his power Saturday to seal "fast track" trade agreements without intervention from Congress, where Democrats blame recent deals for sending U.S. jobs abroad.

Since 1975, only one other president, Bill Clinton, has been stripped of that trade promotion authority, designed to speed the reduction of trade barriers and open new markets with other countries. Bush won't get it back again, and the next president might not either.

House Democratic leaders, including Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California and Rep. Charles Rangel of New York, whose Ways and Means Committee handles trade policy, said in a written statement Friday that their legislative priorities "do not include the renewal of fast track authority."

"Before that debate can even begin, we must expand the benefits of globalization to all Americans," they said.

In the Senate, Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., said he had other pressing trade issues, such as extending relief to trade-hit American workers. "I have always said that it is more important to get trade promotion authority done right than to get it done fast." . .
[Spencer Ackerman] It's looking grim for the Military Commissions Act of 2006. The Act, one of the final masterstrokes of the GOP Congress, stripped war-on-terrorism detainees of access to U.S. courts and entrenched the Bush administration's system of military tribunals.

First, at the beginning of the month, military judges at Guantanamo Bay dismissed charges against two detainees, ruling that the detainees weren't properly classified as "unlawful enemy combatants," as the act demands. That prompted Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) to worry aloud that the commissions created "too many shortcuts in the whole process." Then, barely a week later, a panel of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the entire legal category of "unlawful enemy combatant," a neologism crucial for the Military Commissions Act. And now, today, the Supreme Court announced it will hear a case brought by two other detainees challenging the constitutionality of the act. . .

Last week, Defense Secretary Bob Gates failed to convince President Bush to shutter Guantanamo. The court won't hear the case until at least the fall, as its term is concluding, so Gates will have several months to argue that the administration is at risk of having its entire legal edifice for Guantanamo Bay collapse.


Was Bush directly involved in the US Attorney firings? Sure looks like it

[Laura Rozen] Another Justice Department official resigns. Will the last person left at the Justice Department please turn out the lights?

[Jeralyn Merritt] How close did Karl Rove come to getting indicted in PlameGate? As they say, "this close." Check out today's re-issued opinion in the Judith Miller - Matthew Cooper D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals subpoena case containing new un-redactions: the name of Karl Rove. . .


No surprises here, but fun to read
After a string of Republican defections this week — on Iraq, immigration and domestic eavesdropping — President Bush enters the final 18 months of his presidency in danger of losing control over a party that once marched in lockstep with him. . . .

For a president who once boasted that he had political capital and intended to use it, the back-to-back desertions demonstrated starkly just how little of that capital is left. . . .

Fighting back on Republican obstructionism

Mitt Romney’s shaggy dog story

Here’s what they’re going to find, I predict—Fred Thompson doesn’t have the fire in the belly (and may not have the good health) for a long, sustained nomination and election battle – it’s not like filming a movie or show, where you can go back to your trailer in between the few minutes you’re actually in front of the camera

How caging and other GOP voter suppression strategies already put the Dems at a disadvantage in 2008 (although probably not as desperately as this claims). Thanks to Buzzflash for the links


The media is trying hard to frame the Elizabeth Edwards/Ann Coulter encounter as just another bitchy cat fight that we should all sit back and enjoy. Both sides are politically ruthless, they suggest, and they’re just being “fair and balanced” by pointing that out. The problem is, listen to this interview and tell me by what twisted reasoning anyone can equate Edwards and Coulter

What is the point at which right-wing “humor” gets seen for the vicious, hateful – and in this case racist – thing it is?
On the June 28 broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio show, Glenn Beck commented on a mock ad -- produced by subscribers to his website known as "Insiders" -- depicting a "giant refinery" that produces "Mexinol," which, according to the ad, is a fuel made from the bodies of illegal immigrants from Mexico. . .

Beck introduced the discussion by saying, "Sometimes the Insiders go too far," and later said, "I don't think we need to make the illegal aliens into fuel." Beck also said, "That would be evil conservative, yeah. I don't even know if that's conservative. That would be ... [p]sychotic, perhaps? Sociopathic, perhaps?" Beck's executive producer and head writer, Steve "Stu" Burguiere, added, "Just evil, pretty much." However, as of June 29, the ad was posted on the front page of Beck's website under the title "Picture of the Day," with a caption that described the "ad" as a "brilliant creation."

[NB: How DARE they equate this sort of thing with Michael Moore or Jon Stewart?]

Bonus item: A funny historical quirk – Ronald Reagan’s progressive past comes back to haunt him

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Friday, June 29, 2007


Bush loses big time on immigration – he wants to say it’s Congress’s failure, but he took on this issue and couldn’t get more than a handful of his own party members to support it. Best of all, they STILL angered the America First crowd AND pissed off Hispanics at the same time
President Bush’s effort to overhaul the nation’s immigration policy, a cornerstone of his domestic agenda, collapsed in the Senate today, with little hope that it can be revived before Mr. Bush leaves office in January 2009. . .

Mr. Bush placed telephone calls to lawmakers throughout the morning, but members of his party abandoned him in droves, with only 12 of the 49 Senate Republicans sticking by him on the key procedural vote that determined the bill’s fate . . .
The vote was a major defeat for President Bush, dealt largely by members of his own party. The president made a last-ditch round of phone calls this morning to senators in an attempt to rescue the bill, but with his poll numbers at record lows, his appeals proved fruitless. Bush has now lost what is likely to be the last, best chance at a major domestic accomplishment for his second term. . .
[Dana Milbank] For practical purposes, President Bush's domestic agenda was canceled at 11:22 yesterday morning when Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Senate Republican leader, approached the front of the chamber to vote on the immigration legislation the president had championed. McConnell caught the clerk's attention, pointed his index finger downward, walked away silently, and smiled. . .
[Steve Benen] A couple of weeks ago, a confident president said his immigration package was going to pass. “I’ll see you at the bill signing,” Bush said

So much for that idea. . . .

[Jonathan Singer] A lot of people spent a great deal of time both before and after the November 2006 midterm elections noting the very real possibility that the Republicans' overtly anti-immigrant rhetoric would come back to bite them in the behind eventually. Indeed, while Democratic House candidates carried the Latino vote, as defined by exit polling, but just a 55 percent to 44 percent margin, Democratic candidates in 2006 won over that same population by a significantly greater 69 percent to 30 percent margin in 2006. And judging by new USA Today polling conducted by Gallup, it appears that 2006 might not in fact have been a low water mark for Republicans. . .

Watch Bush explain his defeat
[Josh Marshall] It's President Bush reacting to the second and presumably final death of his rotten immigration bill. And lecturing Congress on what it needs to prove to the American people. He almost looks and sounds like someone has literally knocked the wind out of him (take a look and tell me if you don't agree) . . . [watch it!]
He looked uncharacteristically dejected as he approached the lectern, fiddling with papers as he talked and avoiding the sort of winking eye contact he often makes with reporters. And then President Bush did something he almost never does: He admitted defeat. . .

Now we find out why WH Counsel Fred Fielding hired all those new lawyers (and not Regent University grads, either). But in the end, this will be a political fight as much as a legal one
President Bush, moving toward a constitutional showdown with Congress, asserted executive privilege Thursday and rejected lawmakers' demands for documents that could shed light on the firings of federal prosecutors.

Bush's attorney told Congress the White House would not turn over subpoenaed documents from former presidential counsel Harriet Miers and former political director Sara Taylor. Congressional panels want the documents for their investigations of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales' stewardship of the Justice Department, including complaints of undue political influence. . .

"With respect, it is with much regret that we are forced down this unfortunate path which we sought to avoid by finding grounds for mutual accommodation," White House counsel Fred Fielding said in a letter to the chairmen of the Senate and House Judiciary Committees. "We had hoped this matter could conclude with your committees receiving information in lieu of having to invoke executive privilege. Instead, we are at this conclusion." . . .
[Paul Kiel] OK, now it gets ugly. . . .

Dems respond:
[Leahy] Certainly not since I’ve been old enough to vote have we had an administration so willing to ignore the law,” the 67-year-old senator said. “I’ve never known an administration so willing to operate outside the law, even to operate against the law, in violation of the law, as this administration. . .
[Leahy] This is a further shift by the Bush Administration into Nixonian stonewalling and more evidence of their disdain for our system of checks and balances. This White House cannot have it both ways. They cannot stonewall congressional investigations by refusing to provide documents and witnesses, while claiming nothing improper occurred.

Increasingly, the President and Vice President feel they are above the law --- in America no one is above law.

[Conyers] ...the president showed "an appalling disregard for the right of the people to know what is going on in their government."

"The executive privilege assertion is unprecedented in its breadth and scope, and even includes documents that the administration previously offered to provide as part of their ‘take it or leave it’ proposal," said Conyers, in a prepared statement. "This response indicates the reckless disrespect this administration has for the rule of law."

"The charges alleged in this investigation are serious – including obstruction of justice and misleading Congress – and the White House should be as committed to this investigation as the Congress. At this point, I see only one choice in moving forward, and that is to enforce the rule of law set forth in these subpoenas."

The Repubs respond:
Rep. Chris Cannon (R-UT), the ranking member on the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Commercial and Administrative Law, says it's a low-down dirty shame that the White House had to exert executive privilege over the U.S. attorneys subpoena. If only the Democrats, promulgating a "myth of wrongdoing," hadn't opted to "shred the Constitution":

“It is unfortunate that the Majority has seen fit to turn down reasonable offers of cooperation in favor of court battles that will do nothing except draw headlines and further distract the Judiciary Committee from work that needs to be done. . . .

“Instead, the Majority has stonewalled and denied the Committee the ability to interview the White House staff with the intent to promulgate a myth about wrongdoing. The Majority’s stonewalling has led the American people down a path of ‘constitutional crisis’. We take an oath to defend the Constitution, not shred it.”
KEITH OLBERMANN: The White House responded to the subpoenas by saying, It‘s unfortunate that congressional Democrats continuing to chose—choose the route way of confrontation. But without a confrontation, was the White House simply going to comply with this? And if the White House now does not honor the subpoena, is it not being confrontational constitutionally?

JONATHAN TURLEY: Well, there‘s a lot of people chuckling when the White House said that, because it has literally been years. The members of Congress have demanded information about the domestic surveillance program. There have been hearings. I testified at some of those hearings, others have. And no information has been forthcoming.

Even allies of the administration, such as I—Senator Specter, and Senator Feinstein, who‘s been very cooperative with the administration in the past, they were stonewalled on many of these points.

And so there was a great deal of laughter when they said that, because there has been literally no avenue that has been found to get this information out of the administration. . . .

But there is one thing that might concern them about the court, and that is, you know, for many years, since we first found out about this program, some of us have said that this was clearly criminal act that the president called for, that under federal law, it‘s a federal crime to do what the president ordered hundreds of people to do. . . .

OLBERMANN: About the Addington letter regarding the vice president, it‘s beginning to sound like a game of 20 questions, like the old “What‘s My Line?” Is he, is he an agency? No. Miss Kilgallen. Is he part of the executive branch? Does Addington‘s argument now have any merit, or is it mere legalese, and are they trying to hide the definition of what he actually is, what the vice president actually is?

TURLEY: Well, I think we have a pretty darn good idea what the vice president is constitutionally. He happens to be found in Article II of the Constitution, where other executives, including the president, are found. And his duties are laid out. There‘s never been a question about that.

The position adopted by Mr. Addington and Mr. Cheney, to put it bluntly, was absurd. I mean, it was—I had—it was completely frivolous. . . .

I think that what it really shows is the lack of sort of adult supervision within the administration of somebody to come up with a coherent and single position for the president.

OLBERMANN: So that would be a no, that‘s $25, turn the cards over, and we‘ll turn to Bennett Cerf.

Last question, Jon. Some senior officials in the administration were trying to claim today that all this, this letter, everything else, amounts to the vice president‘s office throwing in the towel on the argument that he—that it‘s not part of the executive branch. But it‘s still not going to comply with the order. Is it really just a—what is—I mean, is this an attempt to stop what Congressman Emanuel talked about yesterday, cutting off the funding? Is it just more smokescreen? Is it just more delay? What is it?

TURLEY: Well, frankly, I think that it‘s opportunism. This administration, I have to say, has a certain contempt for the law. They treat it like some of my criminal defendants used to treated it, you know, that they come up with any argument that might work, and they want you to try it out with a court of law.

And it‘s a sort of shocking development, you know, it shows not just a contempt for the law, but a contempt as well for a co-branch of the legislative branch.

But at the end of the day, they will lose, and they‘re making the situation worse. They‘re giving Congress all the power it needs to push executive privilege right out of a courtroom.

OLBERMANN: Wow. The constitutional law professor, Jonathan Turley, who should know. As always, sir, great thanks for joining us.


Interesting: the WH excuse for NOT giving documents seems to be conceding the very reason why they are necessary
“Among other things, these communications discuss the wisdom of such a proposal, specific U.S. Attorneys who could be removed, potential replacement candidates, and possible responses to congressional and media inquiries about the dismissals. . .” [read on]


Part of a pattern
[Kagro X] This "administration" does not believe it is subject to the Congressional subpoena power, and it has made that clear for more than a year, to both Republican and Democratic Congresses. Can't say they didn't warn us. Can't say we didn't know. . . [read on]
Specter: Let's Get What We Can Get

Sen. Specter has supported the Democrats' rejection of the White House's offer -- private testimony by aides with no oath and no transcript -- saying that such interviews should only be conducted with a transcript.

At a press conference today, he still insisted on a transcript, but softened his stance a little . . . [read on]

Why doesn’t the WH want transcripts? (Can you guess?)
[Steve Benen] Yeah, I’m sure the White House is all broken up about it. They’d hoped to avoid “confrontation,” but those pesky Dems kept insisting they had some kind of oversight responsibilities or something. . . .

This was the White House’s idea of “cooperation.” To reject such generosity was to embrace confrontation. Please.

Legally, we’re in for a fierce fight in the courts. Politically, the White House is now left looking as if it has something to hide, in large part because it almost certainly has something to hide.

Some testimony they WILL hear:
On Tuesday, Waxman wrote to White House Counsel Fred Fielding to detail new allegations that the WHSO -- entrusted to ensure compliance with procedures to safeguard classified information -- is dysfunctional. The heads of the office, just-departed director James Knodell and deputy Ken Greeson, took no action when presented with charges that aides to President Bush and Vice President Cheney left classified documents strewn throughout hotel rooms and across their desks, and they themselves took cellphones and Blackberries into secure facilities in violation of protocol. A frustrated Waxman told Fielding that unless House Government Oversight Committee investigators received access to interview three current and former White House officials who could speak to the alleged pattern of abuse, Waxman would ask the committee for authority to subpoena them. . . .

Fielding and Waxman have reached an agreement, averting the subpoenas for now. The White House has consented to "transcribed interviews" with Alan Swendimen, director of the Office of Administration; Mark Frownfelter, an ex-security officer; and former WHSO head Jeff Thompson.
Q The privilege applies to the document request, but what about testimony by Taylor and Miers?

MR. SNOW: We are responding only to the subpoenas which refer to document requests.


Q Tony, the arguments made by Fielding in the letter would apply also to this later request, right?

MR. SNOW: The Fielding letter replies only to the document requests -- again, for those they needed a response today. There is an additional one where I believe Chairman Conyers, in the case of Harriet Miers, has a July 12th date. The President has instructed both Sara Taylor and Harriet Miers -- that is, their attorneys -- that he is asserting privilege and would want them to withhold any document production.

Q What about their testimony?

Q Yes, what does that mean for testimony?

MR. SNOW: That's not one of the issues that's raised by the subpoenas today. . . [read on]

Well, it’s official. The Bush gang has now said, explicitly, that they don’t feel bound by judicial decisions that constrain the Commander in Chief in matters of national security; they don’t feel bound by legislative actions AT ALL, unless they agree to them; and they don’t even feel bound by THEIR OWN EXECUTIVE ORDERS. I think the implication is that they get to do whatever they think is best, and if you don’t like it the only alternative is to vote them out or impeach them. I say, you should get what you ask for. . .
[Steve Clemons] I have been arguing for years at TPM Cafe and in other writing that Vice President Cheney had done more than any other single person in the government -- including the President of the United States -- to plant acolytes and followers of his throughout the national security bureaucracy. He has had spies and apparatchiks in the Departments of State and Defense, in the Directorate of National Intelligence, the National Security Agency and the CIA, and elsewhere in government. . . .

Most outrageous is Cheney's recent claim that his office is not in the Executive Branch and is not an agency of government that fits within the matrix of checks and balances that affect the presidency. . .
Bruce Fein, former Reagan Justice department official [calling for Cheney’s impeachment] helpfully made this nice list of some of Cheney's high crimes . . .

Another key 5-4 Supreme Court decision, and for all my friends who said there was “no difference” between Bush and Gore (or Bush and Kerry), I ask them to consider a court with two people besides Roberts and Alito in place
In a decision of sweeping importance to educators, parents and schoolchildren across the country, the Supreme Court today sharply limited the ability of school districts to manage the racial makeup of the student bodies in their schools. . . .
[AdamB] In a 5-4 decision today authored by the Chief Justice, the Supreme Court told local school districts that they cannot take even modest steps to overcome residential segregation and ensure that schools within their diverse cities themselves remain racially mixed unless they can prove that such classifications are narrowly tailored to achieve specific educational benefits. . .
[Nathan Newman] It was expected but the Supreme Court today dealt a body blow to school integration across the country. Two community plans, one in Seattle and one in Louisville, both used race as a factor in assigning students to some schools as a tool for maintaining integration of their schools. A majority of the Supreme Court decided that schools, however much done in good faith, cannot use race consciousness to achieve integration, even if people know that ignoring race will lead to more racial segregation. . .


Other rulings
[Adam B] In one full term, this Court has severely curbed local efforts to promote racial diversity in schools, upheld a right-wing ban on a necessary medical procedure for women, curbed students' free speech rights, crippled Congress' ability to keep corporate money out of political advertising, prevented taxpayers from challenging the constitutionality of Bush's faith-based initiatives, made it almost impossible for women to prevail on claims of longterm sex discrimination . . . and they're just getting started.
Striking down an antitrust rule nearly a century old, the Supreme Court ruled today that it is no longer automatically unlawful for manufacturers and distributors to agree on setting minimum retail prices. . . .
[M.J. Rosenberg] This week has been a Supreme Court horror show. Today's decision, which comes close to overturning Brown vs. The Board of Ed, is about as horrific decision as any the Court has made since Plessy vs. Ferguson. . . .
[Justice Breyer] “Rarely in the history of the law have so few undone so much so quickly.”
[Christy Hardin Smith] In yet another activist court decision, the US Supreme Court conservative “Gang of Five” have issued a number of opinions this week, all of which come under the rubric of thumbing their collective noses at stare decisis.

The phrase “I told you so” leaps to mind here, but that doesn’t do us any good now. . . .


Bush once again displays his keen insight and deep understanding of the Middle East
[AP] Bush cites Israel as model for Iraq . . . [read on]

Juan Cole, of course:
These words may be the stupidest ones ever uttered by a US president. Given their likely impact on the US war effort in the Middle East, they are downright criminal. . . [read on]

Pardon me?
Libby Becomes Inmate No. 28301 – 016

Rove at work

Ann Coulter plays the victim (don’t miss it!)
Ann Coulter Loses It, Calls Elizabeth Edwards A "Harridan" . . .
[Joe Sudbay] According to NBC's David Gregory we're all missing the very important points that Ann Coulter makes because we get caught up in her hate speech. He just said to Elizabeth Edwards "if you strip away some of the inflammatory rhetoric against your husband and other Democrats, the point she's trying to make about your husband, Senator Edwards, running for the White House is in effect that he's disingenuous..."

Okay, so much wrong with the way Gregory defends Coulter. Her hateful, inflammatory rhetoric can't be stripped away -- and let's be honest, that's why NBC and ABC put her on their t.v. shows. In typical fashion, he also tries to paint everyone with the same kind of hate speech. So, instead of putting Coulter on, NBC now has one of their top reporters defending her approach. Because, you know, if you strip away the fact that Coulter advocated the assassination of a leading presidential candidate, and mocked his dead son, there's really such an important message buried inside. . . .

[TRex] No one can say for sure what exactly is going on with Ann Coulter’s blood chemistry, possibly not even her. Having had some of these experiences myself, though, I can’t say that her pattern of freakish, erratic behavior looks entirely unfamiliar. . . [read on!]

Wash that bad taste away: an interview with Helen Thomas

Bonus item: Even Fox News can’t put a positive spin on this
[Greg Sargent] Another key number in the new Fox News poll we noted below: Bush's approval rating sank to 31%.

That's the lowest ever in Fox polling. Yes, in Fox polling . . .
If there is an all-out war between the United States and various radical Muslim groups worldwide, who would you rather have in charge — Democrats or Republicans?

Democrats 41%
Republicans 38%

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

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

Thursday, June 28, 2007

[Spencer Ackerman] The CIA's declassification of its "family jewels" -- decades-old files on scandals past -- may have attracted a ton of attention, but the Senate Judiciary Committee this afternoon subpoenaed the Bush administration's family jewels: information on the origin and execution of President Bush's warrantless surveillance program. Circle July 18 on your calendars -- that's the compliance deadline. If it's not met, the committee will seek explanatory testimony from White House chief of staff Josh Bolton, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, Cheney chief of staff David Addington, and National Security Counsel executive director V. Philip Lago.

The committee wants a ton of material . . .


What if the WH says no?
[AP] The White House is giving no indication as to whether it will comply with subpoenas from the Senate Judiciary Committee. . . .
[Atrios] Dana Perino apparently did her concern troll thing, regretting that the Democrats have chosen "confrontation" or something like that with respect to the subpoenas.

David Broder aside, the fact is we have an adversial system of government. The system of checks and balances between the 3 branches is by its nature adversarial. While it's nice when presidents don't break the law and such confrontation is unnecessary, this is the system that was established.
“We’re aware of the committee’s action and will respond appropriately,” White House spokesman Tony Fratto said. “It’s unfortunate that congressional Democrats continue to choose the route of confrontation.”

In fact, the Judiciary Committee’s three most senior Republicans — Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, former chairman Orrin Hatch of Utah and Chuck Grassley of Iowa — sided with Democrats on the 13-3 vote last week to give Leahy the power to issue the subpoenas.

More questions for Gonzales
[Waxman and Conyers] The Oversight and Judiciary Committees have learned that the Vice President unilaterally exempted his office from Executive Order 12958, “Classified National Security Information,” which establishes a uniform, government-wide system for classifying, safeguarding, and declassifying national security information. . . . Although the Office of the Vice President initially complied with this executive order, it then refused to make required reports of classification activity covering 2003 and refused to permit a 2004 inspection based on the argument that the office is not an “entity within the executive branch.”

On January 9, 2007, J. William Leonard, Director of the Information Security Oversight Office, wrote to you requesting an interpretation as to whether the Office of the Vice President is bound by the executive order. . .

Due to conflicting statements from your department, the status of your review of this matter is unclear. More than six months have passed since Mr. Leonard’s letter to you, and the Information Security Oversight Office has received no response to its inquiry. In response to a FOIA request, the department’s Office of Legal Counsel stated on June 4, 2007, that no documents exist relating to your department’s response to Mr. Leonard’s letter. A department spokesperson confirmed that no “substantive work product” has been generated by the department in this matter. . .

To help our Committees understand your actions in response to the request from the Archives, as well as the Department’s views on the legal status of the Office of the Vice President, we ask that you provide written answers and documents in response to the following questions . . .

[Spenver Ackerman] The day just gets worse for Gonzales. If he was involved in the 2003 revision to EO 12958 (which became EO 13292), then he'd be able to speak to the question of whether the order always intended for the veep to be exempt -- which would further raise the question of whether Gonzales accepted David Addington's theory that the vice presidency is outside the executive branch. After all, the White House's fallback line in the controversy has been that president never "intended" for EO 13292 to apply to Cheney, thereby begging the question of what legal ground that contention is based upon. As White House counsel when President Bush revised the EO, Gonzales or a deputy must have looked at it; if no one from the counsel's office did, that itself is scandalous.

David Addington, architect of the “fourth branch” argument, made a public statement emphasizing that Cheney is exempted from the rules on protecting classified information because Bush exempted himself and the VP from the Exective Order (even though it supposedly covered all executive branch entities). When Addington didn’t mention the “fourth branch” argument, some people thought he had backed off the claim. But read his words carefully. . .
[Mike Allen] Dick Cheney's office is abandoning a justification for keeping the vice president's secret papers out of the hands of the National Archives, while asserting a new argument for withholding them.

Officials working for Cheney had tried to claim he is separate from the executive branch, but they will no longer pursue that defense, senior administration officials tell The Politico. . . .
[Paul Kiel] [F]inally given an opportunity to expound on the "fourth branch" theory of the vice presidency, Cheney's lawyer backs down. Looks like Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) called his bluff. . . .
[Addington] "Constitutional issues in government are generally best left for discussion when unavoidable disputes arise in a specific context instead of in theoretical discussions," Addington adds. "Given that the executive order treats the Vice President like the President rather than like an "agency," it is not necessary in these circumstances to address the subject of any alternative reasoning, based on the law and the history of the legislative functions of the vice presidency and the more modern functions of the vice presidency, to reach the same conclusions . . .”

What is an “agency”?
[Steve Benen] I’m afraid we’re dealing with crazy people. The executive order, Cheney’s office now argues, makes a distinction between Bush and Cheney on the one hand, and executive-branch agencies on the other. Asked where the executive order says this, Cheney’s office refuses to say.

But here’s the thing: we can read the executive order. Sec. 6.1(b) of the document explicitly states that it applies to any “‘Executive agency…any ‘Military department’…and any other entity within the executive branch that comes into the possession of classified information.” . . .

As painfully stupid as this argument is, it’s the official new White House line. Here’s Tony Snow at yesterday’s briefing:

“Well, keep in mind, what you’re talking about here is an executive order that involves compliance within the executive branch, but it also says that basically for the purposes of the executive order, the President and the Vice President’s offices are not considered ‘agencies’ and, therefore, are not subject to the regulations.”

These folks really must think we’re idiots. They can tell us that a document says something it clearly does not say, and maybe we won’t know better. I know this gang likes to create its own reality, but this is ridiculous. It’s a written document, publicly available for anyone to read. It’s easy to prove they’re lying. . . .

[NB: Agency, shmagency. What part of “and any other entity” are they going to parse now?]

“Tricky Dick”


Gonzales seems to think his problem is just a matter of better PR

More evidence of interference in US Attorney cases

I’ve been arguing that the groundswell of Republican opposition to Bush’s Iraq policies is because they no longer trust him to seriously consider a policy shift before the 2008 elections, which has them very worried. BarbinMD argues that we’re merely headed for a new “compromise.” I think they’re seriously fed up;_ylt=AgxJWwd99fgbQvUSGiPCcMsE1vAI
[AP] President Bush is sending his top aide on national security affairs to Capitol Hill on Thursday to confront what has become a tough crowd on the Iraq war.

A majority of senators believe troops should start coming home within the next few months. A new House investigation concluded this week that the Iraqis have little control over an ailing security force. And House Republicans are calling to revive the independent Iraq Study Group to give the nation options.

While the White House thought they had until September to deal with political fallout on the unpopular war, officials may have forgotten another critical date: the upcoming 2008 elections. . .
[BarbinMD] Bush's grip on the GOP is slipping. The GOP is looking at Iraq with skepticism. The GOP is ready to break with George Bush and his war policies. But is it? Or is this simply setting the stage for the next great "compromise" in this seemingly endless and futile war? . . .[read on]


The Bush gang seems to be assuming that an imposed withdrawal date is coming
[Daniel Politi] The Los Angeles Times leads with word that U.S. troops will be focusing on rooting out al-Qaida in Iraq during their upcoming offensive operations this summer. U.S. commanders say this shift in strategy, which takes emphasis away from the initial stated goal of targeting Shiite militias and death squads in Baghdad, is in preparation for the withdrawal timeline that they see coming from Congress in the next few months. . .

U.S. officials in Iraq are increasingly becoming convinced that militias are likely to reduce their attacks once a withdrawal timeline is established, but the opposite will be true for al-Qaida in Iraq. So, while insisting that Shiite militias are still a priority, U.S. troops will focus more on al-Qaida in Iraq and other Sunni militias. Notably, officials don't seem to be expecting any miracles, and instead say their goal is to create enough stability so that Iraqi forces can have some hope of success once the number of U.S. troops begins to decrease. The LAT gets extra credit today for noting something that might be obvious but is often lost in the coverage: "Despite its name, the extent of [al-Qaida in Iraq's] link to Osama bin Laden is unclear."

U.S. commanders plan a summer of stepped-up offensives against Al Qaeda in Iraq as they tailor strategy to their expectation that Congress soon will impose a timeline for drawing down U.S. forces here. . .

Bush/Cheney (and their war) are moving young voters to the left – thanks guys!

More questions about the prosecution of Dem governor Don Siegelman (D-AL), and Karl Rove’s role in it
This is not the first time Siegelman has called his prosecution biased. He has long maintained that the investigation was based on a Republican vendetta. He's pointed to an affidavit signed by Republican lawyer Dana Jill Simpson to support his claim.

As we've detailed before, Simpson says she heard Bill Canary, a state GOP operative, say Karl Rove had promised to get the Justice Department on Siegelman. Canary also allegedly said he'd get his "girls" on Siegelman, referring to two of the US attorneys in the state.

One of those US attorneys is Canary's wife. After launching an investigation, she was forced to recuse herself from the case after objections from Siegelman's lawyers. . . [read on]

The California GOP just looks dumber and dumber

Dems need to start using the word “obstructionism”


The Republicans’ no-win dilemma on immigration (thanks George)

Supreme Court watch
[Linda Greenhouse] It’s not every day that one Supreme Court justice, even one as rhetorically unrestrained as Justice Antonin Scalia, characterizes another justice, let alone the chief justice of the United States, as a wimp and a hypocrite.

Yet Justice Scalia did something very close to that, not once but twice, in separate opinions on Monday. As a result, he has served to lift the curtain a bit on the differences within the powerful five-justice conservative bloc that has marched in lock step through much of the term, bent on reshaping the law and, in several important areas, well on the way toward doing so. . .

No, we’re not done kicking Ann Coulter around here

Meet the Press includes a blogger for the first time in their journalist roundtable! Who breaks the barrier – Atrios, Kos, Marshall, even Reynolds – long-time bloggers with huge constituencies? Nope. . . .
ThinkProgress has learned that this Sunday’s edition of NBC’s Meet the Press will include a journalist roundtable featuring David Brody, a blogger and news correspondent for the Christian Broadcasting Network. . .


Look, the Christian Right just isn’t going to accept a Mormon candidate – the only question is whether the GOP is going to give them a veto over its presidential nominee

Rudy Giuliani, as a “moderate” Republican, might have had a chance at picking up some significant black support for president. Not any longer. . .

Fred Thompson, the next GOP “savior” – but once he’s in and under scrutiny, watch him sink just like the others

Bonus item: The kind of people they are (funny-scary edition)
[Johann Hari] I am standing waist-deep in the Pacific Ocean, indulging in the polite chit-chat beloved by vacationing Americans. A sweet elderly lady from Los Angeles is sitting on the rocks nearby, telling me dreamily about her son. "Is he your only child?" I ask. "Yes," she answers. "Do you have a child back in England?" she asks me. No, I say. Her face darkens. "You'd better start," she says. "The Muslims are breeding. Soon, they'll have the whole of Europe."

I am getting used to such moments, when holiday geniality bleeds into--well, I'm not sure exactly what. I am traveling on a bright-white cruise ship with two restaurants, five bars, and 500 readers of National Review. Here, the Iraq war has been "an amazing success." Global warming is not happening. Europe is becoming a new Caliphate. And I have nowhere to run. . . .

[Digby] If there is ever any doubt in your mind as to what truly gets these people up in the morning, this lays it to rest. They are so afraid of dark people they must have a supply of Depends on hand at all times. Dinesh D'Souza, who is quite dark himself, tries awfully hard to be one of the "Real Americans" but he must wonder what they think when they see him out of the corner of their eye when they are alone in a ship's corridor after a few too many martoonis. (If he doesn't, he's an even bigger fool than he seems.)

It nearly impossible to believe that these are the people who have been running the world for the last six years --- and they are. These are Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld's people. We put a bunch of rich, deluded, paranoid racists in charge of the most powerful nation on earth. It's a miracle we're still alive.
[James Wolcott] Although not the comedy classic that P. J. O'Rourke's picaresque tale of a trip up the Volga with the writers and readers of the Nation was ("Up the Volga on a Ship of Fools" I believe it was titled when it was first published in Harper's, then-edited by Michael Kinsley), Hari's piece captures far deeper, scarier depths of fear, prejudice, parochial ignorance, self-delusion, borderline derangement, and sheer inanity. . . .

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

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

Wednesday, June 27, 2007


WH spokeswoman Dana Perino: “The President and the Vice President are complying with all the rules and regulations regarding the handling of classified material and are making sure that it is safeguarded and protected.” That’s a LIE, and Henry Waxman catches them in it
I have received information that casts doubt on these assertions. There is evidence that both the White House and the Office of the Vice President have flaunted multiple requirements for protecting classified information. . . According to current and former White House security personnel who have contacted my staff, White House practices have been dangerously inadequate with respect to investigating security violations, taking corrective action following breaches, and physically securing classified information. . .
[Josh Marshall] How aggressively did the FBI look into which unknown and inebriated American official tipped Ahmed Chalabi to the fact that the US had broken a crucial Iranian code -- a fact he reportedly then shared with the Iranians? . . .


[NB: Yes, the stunning thing about these people is that for all their gnashing of teeth over the new security needs of a post-9/11 era, they have themselves been astoundingly sloppy and lax in addressing their own mishandling of classified information – Plame of course, Chalabi, and several other instances. . . .]

Tony Snow:
Q If there is a breach, who is reporting those --

MR SNOW: This is -- I don't know.

Q Does anybody know?

Q I mean, a separate White House security --

MR SNOW: This is something that the ISOO is responsible for overseeing. I'll try to get you the procedures on it.

Q But you get the question about oversight? If you say, yes, we're handling intelligence properly, but there's nobody that says, here's a breach, because there's nobody overseeing --

MR SNOW: But the ISOO is overseeing -- what I'm being --

Q Not the President and the Vice President's office.

MR. SNOW: Well, that's -- yes, correct.

Q So, nobody's watching, basically.

MR SNOW: No, that's not what it's saying. That's not at all what it's saying.

Subpoenas coming:

Addington speaks

Colbert nails it (thanks to Avedon Carol for the link)

Part four of the Washington Post series isn’t quite as stunning as the first three, but it provides much more evidence of what Cheney is all about
By combining unwavering ideological positions -- such as the priority of economic interests over protected fish -- with a deep practical knowledge of the federal bureaucracy, Cheney has made an indelible mark on the administration's approach to everything from air and water quality to the preservation of national parks and forests.

It was Cheney's insistence on easing air pollution controls, not the personal reasons she cited at the time, that led Christine Todd Whitman to resign as administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, she said in an interview that provides the most detailed account so far of her departure. . . .

Whitman, then head of the EPA, was on vacation with her family in Colorado when her cellphone rang. The vice president was on the line, and he was clearly irked.

Why was the agency dragging its feet on easing pollution rules for aging power and oil refinery plants?, Cheney wanted to know. An industry that had contributed heavily to the Bush-Cheney campaign was clamoring for change, and the vice president told Whitman that she "hadn't moved it fast enough," she recalled.

Whitman protested, warning Cheney that the administration had to proceed cautiously. It was August 2001, just seven months into the first term. We need to "document this according to the books," she said she told him, "so we don't look like we are ramrodding something through. Because it's going to court."

But the vice president's main concern was getting it done fast, she said, and "doing it in a way that didn't hamper industry." . . .

Cheney had a clear mandate from the president on all things energy-related, she said, and while she could take her case directly to Bush, "you leave and the vice president's still there. So together, they would then shape policy."

[Matt Yglesias] Mark Kleiman notes that one surprising element of the Post's recent long account of Dick Cheney's power is that "is Condoleeza Rice's passivity in the face of this interference in her communication with her own staff" which one would expect pettiness and thirst for power, if not professionalism and good sense, to keep in check.

Jim Henley counters with the observation "that Dick Cheney played a large role in selecting the Bush Administration’s cabinet and senior staff and he knew what he was doing when he gave the nod to Rice and Powell. Surely at the top of his list of criteria for NSA and Secretary of State was 'Who can I roll?'" . . .

We’ve all heard about the “Bush bubble” – now we find out that it was intentionally built and maintained by . . .
[Christy Hardin Smith] The thing that strikes me about the WashPost series is that Cheney was constructing Bush’s bubble from the very get go. He has managed to prevent anybody from one on one access to Bush without his approval. Nobody talked to Bush without his approval or his presence. His heavy handed presence managed to kill every effort to inject reality into the decision making process through intimidation. Just think about him staring at Bush from behind the bushes at that presser. . . . [read on]

[Steve Benen, yesterday] Perhaps the most interesting anecdote in today’s piece was an instance in which Bush wouldn’t give Cheney what he wanted — so Cheney went around him. . . [read on]

Richard Lugar (R-IN) comes out against Bush’s war policies; now, George Voinovich (R-OH) adds to the list. Are we reaching the tipping point?
[Frank Rich, last Sunday] As General Odom says, the endgame will start “when a senior senator from the president’s party says no,” much as William Fulbright did to L.B.J. during Vietnam. That’s why in Washington this fall, eyes will turn once again to John Warner, the senior Republican with the clout to give political cover to other members of his party who want to leave Iraq before they’re forced to evacuate Congress. In September, it will be nearly a year since Mr. Warner said that Iraq was “drifting sideways” and that action would have to be taken “if this level of violence is not under control and this government able to function.” . . . [read on];_ylt=AhefTuYezF_TxbRA_OEyVSes0NUE
[AP] Republican support for the Iraq war is slipping by the day. . .
Key Republican senators, signaling increasing GOP skepticism about President Bush's strategy in Iraq, have called for a reduction in U.S. forces and launched preemptive efforts to counter a much-awaited administration progress report due in September. . .

Tony shrugs:

If you think General Petraeus’s much-anticipated September report will be anything but an endorsement of the success of the “surge” and a plea for more time, consider this: he has a track record
[Steve Benen] It’s late-September 2004, just six weeks before Election Day. John Kerry is awfully close to Bush in the polls, and Americans’ concerns about the war in Iraq are escalating. An op-ed appears in the Washington Post that helps change the conventional wisdom among the DC chattering class:

I see tangible progress [in Iraq]. Iraqi security elements are being rebuilt from the ground up. The institutions that oversee them are being reestablished from the top down. And Iraqi leaders are stepping forward, leading their country and their security forces courageously…There are reasons for optimism…Training is on track and increasing in capacity. Infrastructure is being repaired…Progress has also been made in police training…Considerable progress is also being made in the reconstruction and refurbishing of infrastructure for Iraq’s security forces. […]

Iraq’s security forces are developing steadily and they are in the fight. Momentum has gathered in recent months. With strong Iraqi leaders out front and with continued coalition — and now NATO — support, this trend will continue. . .

And who was the Pollyana who wrote this stunningly-wrong op-ed shortly before voters went to the polls?

It was Gen. David Petraeus.

Our guys
Iraqi law enforcement officials stretched a dragnet over the Green Zone and other parts of the capital Tuesday, seeking to arrest the country's culture minister in connection with an attempted political assassination two years ago in which three people were killed, Iraqi officials said. . .
[Daniel Politi] The Post goes inside with some details on a new bipartisan congressional investigation set to be released today on the state of the Iraqi security forces. As could be expected, the Iraqi forces don't appear to be anywhere near ready to take over control of the nation's security. But lawmakers appear to be particularly troubled by the lack of information from the Pentagon on the state of the forces, even though it has spent $19 billion to train and equip them. "This report details the complete lack of understanding of who we have trained and what happens to them after we train them," Rep. Martin Meehan, chairman of the armed services subcommittee, said.

The silence is deafening
[Josh Marshall] Another 'no comment', now from the White House, on Karl Rove's alleged role in targetting Gov. Don Siegelman (D-AL) for prosecution.

Cricket, cricket ...


How did Greg Palast break the story on “caging”? You’ll laugh when you find out

Former #2 at the Interior Dept sentenced to prison: yes, lying DOES have consequences

The kind of people they are
[Rudy Giuliani’s new South Carolina campaign chairman] “Can you believe that there are those who think that the General Assembly of South Carolina is going to . . . knuckle under, roll over and do the bidding (of) that organization known as the National Association for Retarded People? . . .

[Later] "I didn't apologize to the NAACP. I apologized to the retarded folks of the world for equating them to the national NAACP," said Ravenel. . .”

[Mark Kleiman] Forget the racism for a second: The guy has a Downs Syndrome son and makes fun of "retarded people" for political laughs. . . .

“Psychopathic Freakshow”
"We need to be less concerned about civilian casualties...we bombed more people in Hamburg in two days ... I'd rather have their civilians die than our civilians... we should kill their people."
“I’ve learned my lesson; if I’m going to say anything about John Edwards in the future, I’ll just wish he had been killed in a terrorist assassination plot.”
In 2003, she wrote a column claiming that John Edwards drove around with a bumper sticker saying “Ask me about my son’s death in a horrific car accident.” . . .

During an hour-long interview with Coulter today on MSNBC, host Chris Matthews announced that Elizabeth Edwards was on the line. Edwards referenced the attacks above, saying, “I’m the mother of that boy who died. These young people behind you…you’re asking them to participate in a dialogue that is based on hatefulness and ugliness instead of on the issues, and I don’t think that’s serving them or this country very well.” The live audience cheered. . .

[The full transcript] MATTHEWS: You know who’s on the line? Someone to respond to what you said about Edwards yesterday morning. Elizabeth Edwards. She wanted to call in today, we said she could. Elizabeth Edwards, go on the line. You’re on the line with Ann Coulter.

E: Hello Chris.

M: Do you want to say something directly to the person who’s with me?

E: I’m calling — you know, in the south, when someone does something that displeases us, we want to ask them politely to stop doing it. I would like to ask Ann Coulter to — if she wants to debate on issues, on positions — we certainly disagree with nearly everything she said on your show today — but it is quite another matter for these personal attacks. The things that she has said over the years, not just about John but about other candidates, lowers our political dialogue precisely at the time that we need to raise it. So I want to use the opportunity, which I don’t get much because Ann and I don’t hang out with the same people…

C: I don’t have enough money.

E: …to ask her politely stop the personal attacks.

C: Okay, so I made a joke, let’s see, six months ago, and as you point out, they have been raising money off of it for six months since then.

M: But this is yesterday morning, what you said about him.

C: I didn’t say anything about him, actually, either time.

E: But that — Ann, Ann, you know that’s not true, and once more, this has been going on for some time.

C: And I don’t mind you trying to raise money. It’s better this than giving $50,000 speeches to the poor just to use my name on the webpages. But as for a debate with me, yeah, sure. Yeah, we’ll have a debate.

E: I’m asking you politely to stop, to stop personal attacks –

C: How about you stop raising money on your web page then? No, you don’t have to because I don’t mind.

E: I did not start with that. You had a column a number of years ago where you suggested — wait till I finish talking please…

C: Okay, the wife of a presidential candidate is calling in asking me to stop speaking.

M: Let her finish the point. Let her finish the point.

C: You’re asking me to stop speaking? “Stop writing your columns. Stop writing your books.”

M: Ann, please.

E: You had a column several years ago which made fun of the moment of Charlie Dean’s death and suggested that my husband had a bumper sticker on the back of his car saying, “Ask me about my dead son.” This is not legitimate political dialogue.

C: This is now three years ago.

E: It debases political dialogue. It drives people away from the process. We can’t have a debate about the issues.

C: Yeah, why isn’t John Edwards making this call?

M: Well, do you want to respond? We’ll end the conversation.

E: I haven’t talked to John about this call. I’m making the call as a mother. I’m the mother of that boy who died. My children participate — these young people behind you are the age of my children. You’re asking them to participate in a dialogue that is based on hatefulness and ugliness instead of on the issues, and I don’t think that’s serving them or this country very well.


M: Thank you very much Elizabeth. You wanna respond? You have all the time in the world to respond.

C: I think we heard all we need to hear. The wife of a presidential candidate is asking me to stop speaking. No.

M: No, she asked you to stop being so negative to people individually.

C: Right, as opposed to bankrupting doctors by giving a schyster Las Vegas routine in front of juries based on science — wait, you said I’d have as long as I would have, then you instantly interrupt me.

M: Go ahead, go ahead.

C: As I was saying, doing these psychic routines in front of illiterate juries to bankrupt doctors who now can’t deliver babies, and to charge a poverty group $50,000 for a speech. Don’t talk to me about how to use language.

M: Elizabeth?

E: …the language of hate, and I’m going to ask you again to politely stop using personal attacks as part of your dialogue.

C: Okay, I’ll stop writing books.

E: If you can’t write them without them, that is fine.

M: Why do you call out Hillary’s chubby legs in your book? Why do you — this may fall under the category of personal attacks, I don’t know, but why do you do that? Why do you talkabout Monica Lewinsky’s chubbiness? If she were skinny, would it have been okay?

C: Um, I don’t know, read the sentence.

E: I read the whole sentence. I couldn’t feel the context.

C: Well you have to give it to me and I could explain.

E: Why do you make fun of Hillary’s chubby legs?

C: I don’t know, you’re going to have to give me the sentence.

M: It’s in the afterword of your book, I just read it this morning.

C: Then read the sentence.

M: We’ll be back and read the entire sentence. We’ll come right back. I don’t know why we’re reading — the full intellectual context will be coming in just a moment.

More Coulter “humor”:

Glenn Beck is stupid and insulting and unfunny and no one’s watching his show on Headline News Network. Consequence? He’s given a gig on the parent channel, CNN

I guess this will now lead to another round of stories about the ineffectual Democrats
Senate Republicans today blocked the labor movement’s top legislative priority, a bill that would have made it easier for unions to organize workers. . .


Bonus item: Doh!
[Daniel Politi] Meanwhile, the White House found itself in the uncomfortable position of having to say that the president "misspoke" when he said the bill would provide amnesty for illegal immigrants. "You know, I've heard all the rhetoric—you've heard it too—about how this is amnesty," Bush said. "Amnesty means that you've got to pay a price for having been here illegally, and this bill does that."

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