Friday, November 30, 2007


Okay, hold on tight. This is Rudy’s DEFENSE: Yes I was cruising up to the Hamptons to be with my lover Judith Nathan, even though I was still married. Yes, I had my publicly funded security detail with me, because they went with me everywhere, even on my adulterous trysts. Yes, we billed the extra security costs to public programs for the poor and the disabled, which had nothing to do with the NYPD or security. Yes, when these funds were audited, my people refused to explain what the money was used for (on "security" grounds). But you’re only hearing about this because it’s a Democratic hit job. So pay it no mind.

And, yes, so far that seems to be working. . . .
"I thought the way the story was presented was like a hit job," Giuliani told CNN . . .

"Coming two hours before this debate, I kind of got the idea that it was not a legitimate story."

"I would not accuse any of my opponents of doing it," he said. "But who knows, it could be on the Democratic side."

[Ellefarr] Rudy got laid, New York paid.

A new explanation emerges: the money was taken out of the wrong programs, but was eventually reimbursed. . . maybe. But it’s just a trivial little billing issue (uh-huh)
[ABC] [NYC Comptroller Bill Thompson] "That's not the way that we operate these days, and it would not be the preferred way of doing business. In the end, it's a very convoluted way of getting things done. If anyone hoped that no one would notice, they were being foolish.
[Ed Koch's Budget Director Alaire Townsend] "Money might get moved around within the mayor's office, but I don't know why an expense of the NYPD would get recorded that way unless you just didn't want people to find it."

But it gets worse. . . . or better, depending on your point of view
[Josh Marshall] [E]arlier this year it emerged that Rudy actually spent a lot of time in his personal quarters in the command center pre-9/11 because that's where he took Judi for their snogfests while their relationship was still a secret.

In fact, it gets better. While it's difficult to prove, there was a decent amount of circumstantial evidence -- and some city officials believed -- that Rudy's reason for wanting the center in building 7 was so that he could walk there easily from city hall for his trysts with Judy. . . .
[Josh Marshall] I fear, though, that we are only rubbing the surface of the true Shag Fund in this incipient probe. Clearly there's the travel money -- billed to whatever NYC office -- used for trips and security for Rudy out at the Hamptons shags. But we also know now that while Rudy was conducting an extramarital affair with Judi he gave her her own NYPD car and driver to be squired around the city with. Where'd the money for that come from? He later assigned her her own security detail, though this did apparently come after he fired Donna Hanover as First Lady of NYC so he apparently yanked some of them from her and gave them to Judi. Where'd the money for that come from?

According to City Comptroller Bill Thompson, auditors from the Comptroller's office first started raising questions about the Rudy's travel costs during his predecessor's tenure. Rudy folks basically told them to go jump in lake. . . .
[Josh Marshall] I think it's clear that Rudy's best defense at this point is that he didn't just use these accounting shenanigans to conceal the Shag Fund but also to conceal trips by his wife and purely political trips to Upstate New York. . . .
Well before it was publicly known he was seeing her, then-married New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani provided a police driver and city car for his mistress Judith Nathan, former senior city officials tell the Blotter on

"She used the PD as her personal taxi service," said one former city official who worked for Giuliani.

New York papers reported in 2000 that the city had provided a security detail for Nathan, who became Giuliani's third wife after his divorce from Donna Hanover, who also had her own police security detail at the same time. . . .
[Former NYC Mayor Ed Koch] “That was bizarre. She’s not the city’s responsibility. Rudy is the city’s responsibility. Your wife and his children get protection, and that’s understood. But certainly not your lady friend.” . . . . [read on]
[Big Tent Democrat] There oughta be a law! Oh wait, there is one. . . Sounds like Rudy committed a felony to me. . . [read on]


Don’t ask, don’t tell
[Josh Marshall] Earlier today we heard that Rudy was going to appear on Jim Cramer's show to address the Shag Fund questions. . .

Interview has just ended. Not a single question about the Shag Fund.

Get outta here Bernie – I don’t NEED your help!
[NYT] “There would be no need for anyone to conceal his detail’s travel expenses,” said Mr. Kerik, who was indicted earlier this month on unrelated federal tax fraud and corruption charges. “And I think It’s ridiculous for anyone to suggest that the mayor or his staff attempted to do so.”

Bush doesn’t like the war funding bill Congress is sending him. Hmmm . . . I wonder how he will react?
President Bush began a new offensive against Congressional Democrats today over money for the Iraq war, calling on the lawmakers to give American troops “what they need to succeed in their missions” and pass a bill without strings attached.

“The American people expect us to work together to support our troops,” Mr. Bush said . . . [NB: “And by ‘work together,’ I mean, you should do what I want.”]

[Nancy Pelosi] “Earlier this month, Congress approved nearly a half trillion dollars for the Department of Defense. Just two weeks ago, House Democrats passed $50 billion in additional funding for our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. We have provided every penny that is currently necessary to fund Defense Department operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, and around the world. It is President Bush and his Republican allies in the Senate who are preventing extra funds from reaching our troops.

What journalists in Iraq tell each other, as opposed to what they seem to be telling us
Nearly 90 percent of U.S. journalists in Iraq say much of Baghdad is still too dangerous to visit, despite a recent drop in violence attributed to the build-up of U.S. forces, a poll released on Wednesday said.

The survey by the Washington-based Pew Research Center showed that many U.S. journalists believe coverage has painted too rosy a picture of the conflict. . . .

[M]ost journalists said they believe violence and the threat of violence have increased during their tenures. . . .

Alice tells us Bush does not “seek” to establish permanent bases in Iraq. (Which is not the same as saying he won’t)
[Spencer Ackerman] General Lute said on Monday we'll negotiate them. [Iraq govt spokesman] Ali al-Dabbagh wouldn't rule them out. But at the White House press gaggle today, Dana Perino denied the Bush administration's interest in long-term U.S. military bases in Iraq. . . .

The secret agenda at Annapolis?

I love it! Government expert on integrity and transparency tells FBI investigators they can’t get copies of files he deleted from his computer
The decision by Special Counsel Scott J. Bloch escalates the confrontation between the Bush appointee and the White House, each of which is investigating the other.

Bloch's office is tasked with upholding laws against whistle-blower retaliation and partisan politicking in federal agencies. Earlier this year, Bloch directed lawyers in his office to look into charges that former Bush adviser Karl Rove inappropriately deployed government employees in Republican political campaigns.

Bloch had previously been targeted by the White House, which in 2005 asked the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to investigate allegations that Bloch had retaliated against whistle-blowers among his own staff members and improperly dismissed whistle-blower cases brought to the agency by others. . . .

Bloch's office confirmed a Wall Street Journal report that he had hired Geeks On Call, a commercial computer service, to "scrub" the hard drive of his computer, and that the technicians scrubbed the hard drives of laptop computers used by two aides. Bloch said he took that action after malfunctions led him to believe a virus was destroying his files.

But the process used by the technicians to wipe the hard drives, Bloch's office confirmed, was more thorough than necessary to kill a virus. The effort raised questions, two officials close to the case said, about whether Bloch was attempting to obstruct the OPM investigation -- an allegation that he denies.

Through a spokesman, Bloch said he does not recall ordering the erasure of data in the hard drives of laptops used by chief of staff J.R. Sanchez and another top aide who had left the agency. Bloch had asked that the files in his computer be encrypted and moved to a portable "thumb drive," which he carries on his keychain, his spokesman said. . . .

More showdowns coming
A Senate chairman acknowledged explicitly on Thursday that President Bush was not involved in the firings of U.S. attorneys last winter and therefore ruled illegal the president's executive privilege claims protecting his chief of staff, John Bolten, and former adviser Karl Rove.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy directed Bolten, Rove, former White House political director Sara Taylor and her deputy, J. Scott Jennings, to comply "immediately" with their subpoenas for documents and information about the White House's role in the firings of U.S. attorneys. . . .


A federal judge has ordered the Bush administration to divulge documents related to immunizing telecommunications companies from lawsuits, saying they illegally opened their networks to the National Security Agency.

U.S. District Judge Susan Illston in San Francisco gave the Office of the Director of National Intelligence until November 30 (Friday) to turn over documents relating to conversations it had with Congress and telecommunications carriers about how to rewrite wiretapping laws. . . .


Trust us
[Spencer Ackerman] Over the summer, we reported on an under-the-radar executive order issued by President Bush allowing him to freeze or seize the U.S-based assets of anyone, potentially including U.S. citizens, he deems to threaten "the peace or stability of Iraq or the Government of Iraq" or who "undermin(e) efforts to promote economic reconstruction and political reform in Iraq."

The executive order was written so broadly as to alarm civil libertarians, who feared it was a back-door attempt at criminalizing the antiwar movement -- which Bush could conceivably argue posed a threat to Iraq by seeking to end the U.S. military presence -- or even unwitting donors to insurgent-linked charities. A spokeswoman for the Treasury Department, Molly Millerwise, told us not to worry: "Be assured that the individuals and entities we add to this list are in full faith acting in an aggressive, violent and reckless way in financing the insurgency," she said. . . .

The Washington Post’s disgusting slander against Barack Obama
Despite his denials, rumors and e-mails circulating on the Internet continue to allege that Obama (D-Ill.) is a Muslim, a "Muslim plant" in a conspiracy against America, and that, if elected president, he would take the oath of office using a Koran. . . [read on]

[NB: See the problem? Obama IS NOT A MUSLIM. Therefore the point of the story should not be “despite his denials,” as if somehow this were his failing, but “Who is promoting these stories WHICH ARE NOT TRUE?”]
[Digby] According to the Washington Post "Republicans say Barack Obama is a Muslim and Obama says he isn't" is a legitimate story. Modern campaign journalism in all it glory.
[Josh Marshall] The piece actually breaks new ground in the use of the word 'rumor'. In public writing, 'rumor' generally refers to a wholly or partly unsubstantiated report. To the best of my knowledge, there is no evidence that Obama is a Muslim any more than I am. . . .
[Greg Sargent] Obama is not "dogged by Muslim rumors." He is the victim of a smear campaign based on lies. These two things are not the same. And incidentally, to whatever extent Obama is "dogged" by these rumors, surely this will only be facilitated when news orgs like WaPo fail to make a serious effort to knock them down before printing them.


The REAL story (thanks to Digby for the link)
[Christopher Hayes] The most notorious smear forward of this cycle is the Obama/madrassa canard, which represents the cutting edge of electronic rumor. At least two weeks before the Obama/madrassa smear appeared in the online magazine Insight, on January 17, it had been circulating widely in an e-mail forward that laid out the basics of Obama's bio in a flat, reportorial tone . . . It's a coldly effective bit of slander. . . Who wrote it? The unsatisfying answer is, we'll probably never know. . . [read on]

The Washington Post reporter responds – perversely missing the key problem with the original story

Well, we now know Joe Klein’s source for his bogus FISA story. You might think he would have known enough to be skeptical
Today, House Intelligence Committee member and “Bush loyalist” Pete Hoekstra (R-MI) revealed that he was a “source” for Klein’s error-filled column, and proudly defends Klein in a column titled “Klein Kerfluffle” in the National Review. . . .

In his National Review piece, Hoekstra attacks progressive bloggers as “civil liberties extremists” . . .

Oh, THAT Hoekstra:
[Emptywheel] He's one of the guys who still believes that Iraq had WMDs. He's the guy who thought it'd be a good idea to put a bunch of Iraqi documents (and Al Qaeda documents dumped in just for fun) online, regardless of the fact that the documents included plans from Iraq's pre-1991 nuke program. He's the guy who hired Fred Fleitz to write propaganda on Iran for the HPSCI.

In short, he's nuts, and very much in the business of creating propaganda. . . .
[July 2006] House Intel Chief Hoekstra on press leaks: I have no evidence, but probably al Qaeda or foreign spies are responsible for the leaks.

The Chicago Tribune versus Time Magazine – two standards of journalistic integrity
[The Trib] A Time magazine essay by Joe Klein that was excerpted on the editorial page Wednesday incorrectly stated that the House Democratic version of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act would require a court approval of individual foreign surveillance targets. It does not.

[Time] In the original version of this story, Joe Klein wrote that the House Democratic version of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) would require a court approval of individual foreign surveillance targets. The bill does not explicitly say that. Republicans believe it can be interpreted that way, but Democrats don't.

CNN: we are not the story
[Tim Grieve] On CNN a few minutes ago, reporter Dana Bash said that voters in a CNN focus group were unhappy that Republican candidates didn't spend more time last night talking about education and healthcare. What she didn't say: CNN, which controlled the questions that were put to the candidates at last night's debate, didn't choose any about education and healthcare.

In rebroadcasts of the November 28 CNN/YouTube debate for Republican presidential candidates, CNN expunged, without disclosure, a segment in which retired Brig. Gen. Keith Kerr asked the candidates to address "why you think that American men and women in uniform are not professional enough to serve with gays and lesbians." . . [read on]

CNN: bloggers and are like the Iraqi insurgents

Alice in Wonderland, political theorist
Q Dana, does the President believe that the Pakistan elections can really be free and fair, when the opposition will now only have three weeks to campaign between the time of which the emergency rule is lifted and the vote is held?

MS. PERINO: Well, I think we have -- look, our system of government is different. . . [read on]


Bonus item: The kind of people they are (with statistical proof!)

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Thursday, November 29, 2007


Sorry, but there’s just no delicate way to put this. The new symbol of the Republican party should be an elephant dumping a huge pile of crap. What a miserable, shameless bunch of liars this group is!

Giuliani, on the ropes?
As New York mayor, Rudy Giuliani billed obscure city agencies for tens of thousands of dollars in security expenses amassed during the time when he was beginning an extramarital relationship with future wife Judith Nathan in the Hamptons, according to previously undisclosed government records.

The documents, obtained by Politico under New York’s Freedom of Information Law, show that the mayoral costs had nothing to do with the functions of the little-known city offices that defrayed his tabs, including agencies responsible for regulating loft apartments, aiding the disabled and providing lawyers for indigent defendants.

At the time, the mayor’s office refused to explain the accounting to city auditors, citing “security.” . . .
[Joe Sudbay] Rudy keeps promoting himself as the "security" candidate. Funny thing that "security" was the code word to cover up Rudy's taxpayer financed affair when he was Mayor. What a slimeball.
[Paul Kiel] It's not much of a mystery why Bernie Kerik and Rudy Giuliani got along so well. They both showed a certain ingenuity when it came to leveraging New York City resources for trysts.

Kerik, of course, had his 9/11 love nest. And Giuliani, well . . .
[Trapper John] Beginning tonight, Rudy is more likely than not done as a serious candidate.

Barring a remarkable explanation from the Giuliani campaign or a superlatively craven trad med press meltdown, Rudy's campaign is likely to be destroyed by this story. Two things capture the American attention like no other: sex and money. . . .


Don’t underestimate the “craven media” scenario, however
[Steve Benen] So far, Rudy Giuliani’s scandalous personal life has been largely ignored by major media outlets. One of these days, that’s going to change, and today may be the day.

Giuliani is the first thrice-married serial adulterer to ever even run for president, a fact that most reporters have ignored entirely. When the Village Voice reported a few months ago that Giuliani kept his emergency command center in 7 World Trade Center, in part so he could maintain a convenient love nest for his extra-marital affairs, the media, once again, yawned. . . . [read on]

[Todd Beeton] From the start, we knew that Giuliani would be a hard sell for the nomination if the media simply did its job and reported his extreme unfitness for office. Looks like, with a push from online outlets such as TPM, which currently features an extensive catalog of Rudy's ethical issues, and The Politico, we may be seeing the beginnings of the unraveling of Giuliani's entire "America's Mayor" persona and with it, any remnants of a rationale for his candidacy.

It gets worse
[Josh Marshall] Not only did Rudy pick obscure public agencies to bill for his trips out to hang in the Hamptons with Judy Nathan, he seemed to pick them to guarantee the maximum impression of tastelessness and chutzpah should he ever be found out.

Admittedly he only charged $10,000 to the people with disabilities fund. Chump change for the shag fund. But the office charged with getting counsel for indigent defendants got stuck with $400,000.

Rudy and Judy aren't like us little people. But even that high in the stratosphere, half a million dollars covers a lot of shagging.


Rudy “explains”
[AP] Rudy Giuliani dismissed a report Wednesday that he expensed the cost of his security detail to obscure city offices for trips to a Long Island resort as the then-mayor began an extramarital affair with current wife Judith Nathan. . . [read on]


Another teensy weensy problem for Rudy – if anyone pays attention
[Eric Kleefeld] Wow, this really should put a dent in Rudy Giuliani's Mr. 9/11 image. Wayne Barrett, a biographer and vocal critic of Rudy, has a new article outlining Rudy's business relationship with Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifah al-Thani, a Qataran emir whose finances helped found Al-Jazeera — and who has been accused of sheltering none other than Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in the 1990's . . . [read on]


Romney, liar
Mitt Romney's presidential campaign recently sent out a slick mail piece in South Carolina emphatically stating that Romney is "the only major presidential candidate who supports the Republican party's pro-life platform: A constitutional amendment banning abortion nationwide."

That blanket declaration is aimed directly at many of the state's conservative primary voters, who believe abortion should be outlawed in full.

But the claim doesn't completely square with Romney's previous statements that the abortion issue should first be decided by state legislatures before a constitutional amendment can be passed, leading one conservative leader in the state to call parts of the Romney brochure "oversimplified" and "offensive." . . .
[Josh Marshall] Having trouble keeping up with Romney's latest story on whether he'd appoint a Muslim to serve in his administration? We try to unravel the fast-breaking bamboozlement in today's episode of TPMtv . . . [watch it]

[From a Republican reader] I made myself watch Mitt Romney, just to try to figure out what he is thinking as he goes through this process. I don't really know, but here's a guess: to Romney, getting elected President is a lot like putting together a business deal. The details of getting the deal done matter, because the deal doesn't happen without them, but the main thing is getting the deal done. I think Romney has personal beliefs, but not political principles; he wouldn't do anything in this campaign that would hurt his family or someone he cared about, but he'll change positions the way most people change socks. Whatever it takes to get the deal done.

For Romney, a turning point of sorts. Orrin Hatch (LDS-UT), comes out to tell Mitt he needs to address the Mormon issue to establish his independence. (Interesting that Hatch himself never felt that need, even when he was being considered for the Supreme Court.)

McCain, liar
[Steve Benen] To hear some of John McCain’s media admirers tell it, “McCain, whether you agree with him or not, has been entirely consistent about the war.” To hear his campaign tell it, “John McCain has mainted [sic] a consistent record on Iraq since the very beginning.”

But pesky little details like reality keep getting in the way. . . . [read on]


Thompson, liar
MSNBC's O'Donnell aired Thompson ad without challenging its claim that Thompson helped "expose the truth during Watergate" . . .

[NB: Excuse me, but I was paying attention during Watergate. Anyone who watched the hearings remembers that Thompson, then the counsel for the Republicans (yes, they let lawyers do some of the questioning) bent over backwards at every point to reframe the testimony in a way friendly to Nixon. Even worse, he leaked secret testimony to the Nixon White House so they knew what the committee was doing.]

Huckabee on the rise: but this means one and only one thing. The Christian Right has found a candidate they can rally around, after being disappointed by McCain, Giuliani, Romney, and Thompson
[Devilstower] The traditional media loves to swim in schools, following a comfortable narrative. Once they've decided who is a "maverick," which former mayor has "foreign policy experience" and who is a "popular president," little things like facts aren't allowed to spoil the story. Every now and then, the school of media fish catch a flash of color and seemingly as one, they flip around and wiggle off in a new direction.

This week, there seem to be two new narratives on the campaign trail. One is the sudden discovery of Mike Huckabee . . .
[Eric Kleefeld] The American Prospect reports that Huckabee appeared this week on the televangelism show Believers' Voice of Victory, and he declared proudly, "I had to come to the conclusion that I only had one client ... when I laid my head on the pillow, I'd say, 'Lord, are you pleased?' ... even if I get voted out of office, I'll never get voted out of heaven."

If this seems familiar, that's because it is — President Bush himself once told Bob Woodward the following about whether he consulted his father for advice: "You know he is the wrong father to appeal to in terms of strength. There is a higher father that I appeal to." . . .


Could it be: Huckabee for President?
[Mark Kleiman] It can’t be anyone else. . . [read on]

Republican democracy in action
[WDBJ] If you’re planning to vote in Virginia’s February Republican presidential primary, be prepared to sign an oath swearing your Republican loyalty.

The State Board of Elections on Monday approved a state Republican Party request to require all who apply for a GOP primary ballot first vow in writing that they’ll vote for the party’s presidential nominee next fall. . . .

Then there are the people working in Bush’s administration. How bad is it when the people whose job it is to protect the law are among the worst violators?
[David Kurtz] You can't make this stuff up. Scott Bloch, the guy investigating politicization in the Bush Administration, is himself under investigation, and called Geeks on Call to come and erase his computer hard drive. Now he's under investigation for that, too.
Scott Bloch heads the Office of Special Counsel (OSC), an odd little agency that was set up to police federal employees of infractions that do not rise to the criminal level. The OSC's main brief is enforcing the Hatch Act, which prohibits federal employees from using government resources for political ends (so Bloch should be a busy man). He's also supposed to make sure whistleblowers do not suffer retaliation. The OSC reports to the White House.

Bloch himself has been under investigation since 2005 for a variety of infractions, including retaliating against employees who took issue with internal policies and discriminating against those who were gay or members of religious minorities. At the direction of the White House, the Office of Personnel Management's inspector general has been pressing on with an investigation of Bloch.

Which makes this all the more curious. From The Wall Street Journal:

Recently, investigators learned that Mr. Bloch erased all the files on his office personal computer late last year. They are now trying to determine whether the deletions were improper or part of a cover-up, lawyers close to the case said. . . . [read on]

More on Bloch:

More missing emails:
So far the RNC has spent $231,615 looking for [Rove’s] missing emails. . . . [read on]

More muck
[Paul Kiel] When John Tanner, chief of the Civil Rights Division's voting section, appeared before a Congressional panel last month, he was upbraided by Democrats for his "ineffectiveness." Little did they know that as the section, probably the most politicized in the Justice Department under the Bush Administration, has done less and less to protect African-American voters from discrimination, Tanner has been seeing the country on the taxpayers' dime.

He even managed to make taxpayer-funded trips to Hawaii in three consecutive years, two of them a week long. One Department lawyer who accompanied Tanner on his first trip took the earliest available flight back after having completed all necessary work in just two business days. But Tanner insisted on staying a full week, despite the lack of apparent Department business. It's a crime for government officials to use public funds for personal travel.

A review of Justice Department documents obtained by TPMmuckraker shows just how extensive Tanner's travel has been. . . .
[Josh Marshall] You probably know DOJ voting section chief John Tanner for doing his level best to crack down on minority voting and telling an audience that voter ID laws aren't a problem since blacks and hispanics don't live that long anyway.

And more muck
[Emptywheel] Who Has Been Lobbying Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell? McConnell doesn't want you to know, no doubt fearing there will be the same kind of firestorm when we learn who has been schmoozing him . . . [read on]

The Bush plan for a permanent troop presence in Iraq needs to be approved by the Iraqi parliament, but not by the US Congress. Anybody bothered by that?


The Israel/Palestine gambit: are these really the people to negotiate an historic peace agreement?
As [Condi Rice] described it to Bumiller, she went upstairs at 5 a.m. the morning after the Palestinian elections in 2006 to the gym in her Watergate apartment to exercise on her elliptical machine. She saw the news crawl reporting the Hamas victory.

“I thought, ‘Well, that’s not right,’ ” she said. She kept exercising for awhile but finally got off the elliptical trainer and called the State Department. “I said, ‘What happened in the Palestinian elections?’ and they said, ‘Oh, Hamas won.’ And I thought, ‘Oh, my goodness! Hamas won?’ ”

When she couldn’t reach the State Department official on the ground in the Palestinian territories, she did what any loyal Bushie would do: She got back on the elliptical.

“I thought, might as well finish exercising,” Rice told Bumiller.
[Dan Froomkin] There were clear signs of ambivalence yesterday. Bush mangled the names of his two guests of honor, calling them "Ehud Elmo" and "Mahoomed Abbas." And, after his speech, Bush didn't even stick around for the afternoon's events. . . [read on]
[Bush] So the vision is the beginning -- today was the beginning of the outline of a vision, so that people have something to be for. And it's an important step. Today was an important step, and it's going to be hard work to be done...In other words, there has to be something more positive than that which is being -- that which is on the horizon today. . . .

Generally, if a leader is able to promote peace, genuine peace, it will help their standing with the people. I'm not a great analysis of polls, but I do believe that leadership is rewarded, and particularly leadership that leads to the prospect for peace.
Q Yesterday there was this launch of the peace negotiations, the handshakes. What happens today?

MS. PERINO: One of the things that was wonderful about yesterday was that we had a moment when the Israelis and the Palestinians were able to come together, agree on a statement to launch these negotiations. But one of the things the President said was really important is yesterday was important, but what happened the next day was even more important, which is the start of the negotiations. . . .

One of the things that he told President Abbas, which I believe he'll tell Prime Minister Olmert, as well, is that when you're in one of these negotiations, it's really important to keep your eye on the big picture, that there are many issues that are going to have to be discussed -- and both leaders touched on some of them yesterday in their statements. These are difficult, emotional issues. It's going to be time-consuming as they work through them and there could be sticking points.

And what the President encouraged them to do was to work with their negotiators; that there would be days when it looks like things were really tough, but that if you keep your eye on the big picture, that you can help make sure that you'll have a successful negotiation. . . .

[NB: Deep thoughts]

Watch Alice:

If they were serious:

Demanding answers on FISA

“The Terror Presidency”

The good news: it looks as if people are finally fed up with having these people in charge

Our fair and balanced news media
WaPo Edit Page Says White House Outreach To Syria Might Work -- After Blasting Pelosi For Same Thing . . . [read on]

Yep. Pretty much covers it
Why America Hates Its Congress: GOP Obstructionism, Senate Dems Who Won't Fight, & Awful Reporting . . . [read on]

Our intrepid reporters
Journalists covering the war in Iraq contend stories about ordinary Iraqis are not getting the play that the U.S. military and insurgents are, according to a study released Wednesday.

It reveals: "Overall, journalists working in Iraq give their own coverage a mixed but generally positive assessment. A majority (58%) regard press coverage in Iraq as 'good,' the second-highest mark. Another 16% rate the coverage as excellent. But nearly a quarter (23%) rate the coverage as only fair. Another 2% grade the coverage as poor."

Most also say reporting has not been overly negative, adding that the situation there is actually worse than most Americans believe. . . .
[John Aravosis] Kind of pathetic when the official report from the US State Department on what's "really" happening in Iraq is actually just a bunch of plagiarized paragraphs from the major media in the US. To wit, the following analysis an anonymous friend just sent me. I just checked it out and he's right. State outright plagiarized much of the major media in making its "report." . . . [read on]

One more round on Joe Klein
[Kos] Democrats and "liberal" pundits like Joe Klein live in perpetual fear of Republican criticism. They have been so beaten down after a generation of right-wing noise machine attacks, that their entire existence is predicated on avoiding being whipped by Rush and his right-wing colleagues.

Have you ever seen or read a Republican say, "Republicans shouldn't do X because Daily Kos will attack us!" And in case that sounds too self-aggrandizing, replace "Daily Kos" with "Alan Colmes" or "Joe Klein" or "Air America" or whatever. Have you ever seen that happen? Once?

Of course not. Republicans don't live in fear of what the other side will say. They focus on what they think is right or in their self-interest. The reaction of the opposition never enters their calculations. . . .

Reporting rumors – sure, why not?

Liveblogging the GOP YouTube debate – the chance for ordinary Americans to engage the candidates . . . uh
[Joe Sudbay] 8:43 P.M. Wait. The tax question is from Grover Norquist, a prominent D.C.-based GOP operative. That totally undermines the whole concept of the YouTube debate. As if Grover doesn't have enough access to the candidates. That's pathetic, CNN and YouTube. Pathetic. . . [read on]




Watching this debate, I hereby predict that the winner of the GOP nomination will be a total asshole.

The low point of the debate?
[Josh Marshall] In explaining why he doesn't support gays in the military [Duncan Hunter] basically said that if the military were a cross-section of America, gays in the military might work. But the military is really a Christian conservative institution, and they won't put up with gays. . .

Polls say Huckabee the big winner of the debate


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Wednesday, November 28, 2007


The Annapolis photo op. What has it really accomplished, aside from distracting media attention from the far bigger story of the Bush plan to create permanent US bases in Iraq?

The bottom line: the Israelis and Palestinians agree to begin talking about a possible framework for future negotiations that may result in a proposed plan whose details can be worked out later – a victory for George Bush!

In fact, it was all about, and only about, an opportunity to get this photo on the front pages
[Daniel Politi] All the papers lead with yesterday's Middle East peace conference in Annapolis, where Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas agreed to begin formal talks next month and pledged to "make every effort" to reach a deal by the end of 2008. . . The New York Times notes that both sides agreed the success of this new peace process "will depend in part on how vigorously President Bush pushes Palestinians and Israelis."

USA Today goes high with a description of the Bush, Abbas, and Olmert handshakes and notes the "gesture … was reminiscent of President Clinton's maneuver on the South Lawn in 1993." The Wall Street Journal points out that "beyond relaunching peace talks, Mr. Bush offered little new, and the depth of American involvement remains unclear." The Washington Post hints that if yesterday's events are any indication, participants shouldn't hold their breath waiting for a lot of participation from Bush. The president "spent only three hours in Annapolis and left Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in charge of most of the one-day gathering."

Everyone notes that Palestinian and Israeli negotiators worked practically around the clock to come up with a joint statement that could be presented in Annapolis. And it wasn't clear until President Bush began speaking yesterday morning whether the two sides had been successful. . . The LAT says the statement wasn't finalized until 10:52 a.m., which was a mere eight minutes before Bush was scheduled to speak. The Post cites the French foreign minister saying that the two sides came together only after Bush got involved and pressed them to agree on something. In the end, the joint understanding was reached by merely "the watering down or elimination" (WP) of any controversial phrases, which is why it ended up being so vague and ultimately unimpressive. . . .

[Josh Marshall] So it seems the Iraqi constitution says the Iraqi parliamentary would need to approve the new 'US troops in Iraq forever' deal by a two-thirds margin. And since the idea of a permanent US occupation is really unpopular in Iraq, that seems really unlikely.

On the other hand, apparently we're going to try to do it extra-constitutionally over here too. So do we really think we'll be more punctilious over there than we are here?

All the major Democratic candidates, plus Harry Reid, come out against permanent bases in Iraq -- now what are they going to DO about it?

Colin Powell’s revenge?

‘Roid rage
[AP] A federal grand jury investigating Blackwater Worldwide heard witnesses Tuesday as a private lawsuit accused the government contractor's bodyguards of ignoring orders and abandoning their posts shortly before taking part in a Baghdad shooting that left 17 Iraqi civilians dead.

Filed this week in U.S. District Court in Washington, the civil complaint also accuses North Carolina-based Blackwater of failing to give drug tests to its guards in Baghdad — even though an estimated one in four of them was using steroids or other "judgment altering substances." . . .

Another disgraced Bush hack you’ve never heard of
Julie MacDonald, the former Deputy Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks at the Interior Department . . . [read on!]

Bye-bye, Trent. It’s been a Lott of fun

Ooooh, more fun. Dan Rather’s lawsuit against CBS for firing him over the Bush National Guard story, if it ever goes to trial, could end up putting some very interesting people on the stand, under oath. VERY interesting

The deeply dishonest Joe Klein column on FISA metastasizes into a wider indictment of Time Magazine and “Village” journalism generally

Klein’s mistake:
[Matt Stoller] Klein's meltdown has been epic. He first denied the problem, then conceded it, then argued it wasn't a big deal, and then concluded he couldn't figure out if he got it wrong or right and it wasn't a big deal anyway.

Klein’s editor:
[Jane Hamsher] I’ve spent all morning on the phone trying to figure out who the editor at Time Magazine was on Joe Klein’s FISA column (the one Klein has now written about five times, fully admitting he never read the original bill). I finally confirmed that the editor was Priscilla Painton, and called her and identified myself. I asked her what the editing process was, and how a piece with so many errors made it into print.

“That assumes that there are errors,” she said. And hung up on me.

Who is she?

Time prints a “correction”
[Time] “In the original version of this story, Joe Klein wrote that the House Democratic version of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) would allow a court review of individual foreign surveillance targets. Republicans believe the bill can be interpreted that way, but Democrats don't.”

Modern journalism at Time is just as Paul Krugman writes: "Shape of Earth - Views Differ."

[Glenn Greenwald] Time Magazine has done a superb service for the country by illustrating everything that is rancid and corrupt with our political media. . . [read on]

And here’s the punch line: Klein himself shows that the Time “correction” is a sham
[Klein] “Democrats say that I was wrong to report that the bill includes a FISA court review of individual foreign terrorist targets who might communicate with U.S. persons, although it does include an annual "basket" review of procedures used by U.S. intelligence agencies to target foreign suspects. The Republican Committee staff disagrees and says my reporting is correct.

I have to side with the Democrats.”

The Village

With a quagmire in Iraq and a tumbling economy, things look very, very, bad for the Republicans. So why has the DC intelligentsia decided that Social Security is the defining issue of the next election?

Fox News: we never said the WHOLE truth
[Atrios] Fox dispatched a reporter to an ESPN Zone in Washington, DC, where they were lucky to find "online shopper" Peter Perweiler, who did indeed have big online shopping plans. "I'm looking at some big-ticket items this year," he said, "so I really want to know what other people - problems they're having with items, things of that nature."

Good to know. What would also have been good to know: Peter is also the marketing manager at the National Retail Federation.

Giuliani: Hey, yo – so I like bad guys, what’s your beef?
[Steve Benen] Way back in June, Time’s David Von Drehle asked an interesting question: “How many alleged criminals can a law-and-order candidate be associated with before it starts to hurt?” . . . [read on]


Romney: Gee, it sounded so good the first time I said it
“…based on the numbers of American Muslims [as a percentage] in our population, I cannot see that a cabinet position would be justified. But of course, I would imagine that Muslims could serve at lower levels of my administration.”

The criticisms:
[Steve Benen] Of all the presidential candidates, Mitt Romney should be the very last one to publicly endorse discrimination on the basis of religion. He’s a member of a religious minority, he’s been the target of discrimination, and he’s spent the better part of 2007 imploring Americans to judge public officials on their ideas and character. To show prejudice on the basis of faith, Romney has said many times, is “un-American.”

The roll-back:
[Greg Sargent] At a press availability today, Mitt Romney personally denied the report in the Christian Science Monitor saying that he'd privately told an Islamic businessman that he didn't see how putting a Muslim in his cabinet could be "justified" given demographic realities. . . .

The problem:
[Greg Sargent] Presidential candidate Mitt Romney has discounted appointing Muslims to his cabinet on more than just the one occasion reported in a CSM op-ed yesterday. . .

The proof:
Okay, some unexpected new evidence has emerged that corroborates our account from earlier today that Mitt Romney said on an earlier occasion that he is opposed to having Muslims in his cabinet. . . .

Just don’t call me prejudiced!
[CBS] Of course, there are whites who will never vote for Obama because he is black.

"I don't want to sound prejudiced or anything, but for one, I am not going to vote for a colored man to be our president," said one South Carolina voter.

Bonus item: What a guy
[NYT] Mr. Bush made no comment when [Gore's] Nobel was announced, and today, the two stood silently, and a bit awkwardly, during the photo opportunity.

But the president did personally telephone Mr. Gore to extend the invitation. . . Mr. Bush’s press secretary, Dana Perino, told reporters the president is willing to let bygones be bygones.

“This president does not harbor any resentments,” she said.

[NB: Yeah, he’s let go of all that anger over the stolen 2000 election and everything. . . .]

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

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

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


Not content with ruining his own Presidency, Bush seems determined to screw up future presidencies by tying them to his own failed Iraq policies
[Spencer Ackerman] So it begins. After years of obfuscation and denial on the length of the U.S.'s stay in Iraq, the White House and the Maliki government have released a joint declaration of "principles" for "friendship and cooperation." . . .

The U.S. and Iraq will negotiate another year-long United Nations mandate for foreign troops in Iraq, which will expire (I think) in late December 2008. According to today's declaration, following the forthcoming renewal at the U.N., "we will begin negotiation of a framework that will govern the future of our bilateral relationship." That means that during Bush's last year in office, the administration will work out the terms of the U.S.'s stay in Iraq in order to, at the very least, seriously constrain the next administration's options for ending the U.S. presence. Even if Bush doesn't take the audacious step of signing a so-called Status of Forces Agreement -- the basic document for garrisoning U.S. forces on foreign soil -- while he's a lame duck, the simple fact of negotiations will create a diplomatic expectation that his successor will find difficult to reverse. . . [read it all]
[Tim Grieve] The Iraqi government expects the United States to keep about 50,000 troops in the country over the long term.
[Spencer Ackerman] Here's the full text of the joint Bush-Maliki agreement on principles for a long-term U.S. security commitment to Iraq. There's some hilarious obfuscatorese on the question of bases and troop levels. ("Support will be provided consistent with mechanisms and arrangements to be established in the bilateral cooperation agreements mentioned herein" -- in context, I promise, that translates to "let's worry about defining the U.S. troop presence in the final agreement.") But take a look at this key economics "principle":

Facilitating and encouraging the flow of foreign investments to Iraq, especially American investments, to contribute to the reconstruction and rebuilding of Iraq. . .

Already $6 billion worth of Iraq contracts are under criminal review. How much more Iraqi business could flow to Americans? . . .

It would have been nice to get some elaboration on this at today's White House press briefing. But according to TPM's Ben Craw -- our intrepid and dashing video editor, who watched the briefing while I goofed off -- the press corps didn't bother asking Dana Perino about any aspect of the Bush-Maliki deal. . . .

[Spencer Ackerman] Whatever rationale the Bush administration cooks up for our soon-to-be-permanent presence in Iraq, chances are it won't compare to Nouri al-Maliki's. Maliki went on Iraqi TV today to say that the joint agreement reached today with President Bush actually means that the U.S. presence in Iraq is... wait for it... coming to an end! . . . [read on]

Does Congress have a role?
Could Congress stop a Bush administration-brokered deal to garrison U.S. troops in Iraq indefinitely? Not according to General Douglas Lute, the so-called "war czar." . . .

Chris Dodd (D-CT) says, you just try:

Of course, this isn’t what they were telling us before
[Spencer Ackerman] Oh, for the halcyon days when the Bush administration saw fit to deny that it sought a permanent U.S. military presence in Iraq. Let's take a look at what senior administration officials said way back when, shall we? . . .
[Spencer Ackerman] What? Permanent U.S. bases in Iraq? I've never heard of anything so absurd! Why, you -- you -- you conspiracy theorist! How can you be so shrill, so irresponsible, so, so, so...

Oh, wait
[Atrios] There have frequently been moments in the discourse surrounding our unfolding Iraq disaster when "only crazy people think that" magically transforms into "of course everyone always knew that" in an instant.

And we're there again.


Looks to me as if the quickly cobbled-together Middle East conference is mainly a cover to distract attention from this huge story. You know how much they massage these timing issues. And it looks like it’s working: only USA Today prominently features the impending agreement, and even they get it wrong – everyone else leads with the Annapolis conference
[Daniel Politi] The New York Times and Washington Post lead with, while the Los Angeles Times devotes its top nonlocal story to, today's Middle East peace conference in Annapolis. The papers struggle to say something new about an event that has been extensively dissected and analyzed during the past few weeks. . . .

USA Today leads with the deal reached by President Bush and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki yesterday that marks the beginnings of negotiations on the future long-term relationship between Iraq and the United States. The deal calls for a one-year extension of the current U.N. mandate but there was no mention of future troop levels. . . .

Two versions of the conference,2933,312783,00.html
[Fox News] Bush to Act as Key Negotiator at Mideast Peace Talks in Annapolis
[Dan Froomkin] President Bush's indolent approach to tomorrow's Middle East peace conference in Annapolis suggests that he's just going through the motions to make his beloved secretary of state happy. . .

There are no more goalposts
[Spencer Ackerman] When last we left the Bush administration's so-called benchmarks for strategic progress in Iraq -- that is, the political progress that military success allows -- they weren't being met, and the White House didn't care. Now that the year's almost over and the administration is beginning to bring the "surge" troops home, it's worth asking: what happened to the benchmarks? The New York Times reports that the administration has quietly given up on them, preferring nebulous goals for which it's easier to claim success. . . [read on]

What a surprise
The State Department's acerbic top auditor wasn't happy when Justice Department officials told one of his aides to leave the room so they could discuss a criminal investigation of Blackwater . . .

The episode reveals the badly strained relationship between Bush administration officials over the probe into whether Blackwater smuggled weapons into Iraq that could have gotten into insurgents' hands.

As a result of the bureaucratic crosscurrents between State's top auditor and Justice, the investigation has been bogged down for months. . . .

“Americans’ Economic Pessimism Reaches Record High.” . . . [read on]

Trent Lott resigns – and while the reasons seem murky, the impact of a former (and possible future) Republican leader saying “this just isn’t fun any more” shows how demoralized and pessimistic the GOP is right now
Mississippi Sen. Trent Lott announced Monday he will leave a 35-year career in Congress . . .
[Jonathan Singer] This is about as bad of news as the GOP could stomach at this point. Already four other Republican Senators (Wayne Allard in Colorado; Pete Domenici in New Mexico; Chuck Hagel in Nebraska; and John Warner in Virginia) have announced their intention to retire, and one more (Larry Craig in Idaho) is not expected to run for reelection, either. As such, the Republicans now have to defend more seats than any caucus in more than a decade. What's more, the last time that one caucus had to defend at least five more open seats than its opposition -- the Republicans in 1958 -- the other side picked up 13 seats . . .
[Josh Marshall] [N]o one seems to know why Trent Lott is resigning abruptly in the second year of his current term in office, when he actually seemed possibly on his way back to being Minority Leader in the senate. Roll Call says the decision was "precipitated by a desire to spend more time with his family and a general fatigue of Congress." If so, that's a pretty rapid onset desire to spend time with the fam. . .

MSNBC says this ...

While the exactly reason Lott is stepping down before he finishes his term is unknown, the general speculation is that a quick departure immunizes Lott against tougher restrictions in a new lobbying law that takes effect at the end of the year. That law would require Senators to wait two-years before entering the lucrative world of lobbying Congress.


The political impact
[Emptywheel] I'm most intrigued by what Trent's departure will do to Senate leadership. After all, the Republicans have actually done better in the minority than they were doing in the majority. That's partly because Republicans just better at obnoxiously obstructing legislation than actually governing. But it's also because Mitch McConnell and Trent Lott are masters of parliamentary procedures. So switching Bill Frist, in the majority, for McConnell and Lott, in the minority, was a significant step up for the Republicans.

Well, the Republicans may lose Lott imminently, and McConnell is facing a surprisingly tough re-election campaign in KY. . .
[Lott] “I’ve switched back and forth six times, and the majority is better,” he said. “I like to get things done.”

[Kos] "Deal-making" in GOP parlance, and that of the beltway, isn't the same as "deal-making" in normal English usage. It means, "we get our way, the Democrats be damned". So "too partisan" in Republican and beltway pundit parlance means "Democrats are demanding a say".

It was SOOO much easier when DC was a one-party town and the GOP could do whatever it wanted. . . .

How the governor of Mississippi (a former RNC chairman) is violating state law to help ensure that Lott's seat stays in Republican hands
[Kos] Lott wants out by the end of this year so new ethics guidelines that prohibit former members of Congress from lobbying for two years, rather than one. And we all know that Lott is ditching the people of Mississippi so he can cash in on K Street. He admitted it.

So Lott needs to be out by Dec. 31. However, if he does that, Mississippi law requires a special election within 90 days, and a low-turnout special might hurt the GOP. They want the presidential race to boost Republican turnout in a state that leans heavily Republican in presidential elections.

So what will win, Lott's desire to cash out ASAP, or the GOP's desire to maximize their possibilities of holding that seat? Well, if you're a Republican, there's always option 3: lie and obfuscate the law and try to pull a fast one . . .
[Greg Sargent] And guess what -- it looks as if the Mississippi Secretary of State has confirmed that the special election is in fact supposed to happen 90 days after Lott's resignation date -- and not in 2008, as Barbour is claiming. . .


The political landscape for 2008, looking better and better

The immigration issue will really hurt the Republicans, if the Democrats handle it right – and hurt the Democrats if they don’t
[Digby] This time, of course, the stupid irrelevant issue they are forcing into the ether is illegal immigration. And, like "the deficit" it is virtually designed to twist the Democratic candidates into pretzels as they help the Republicans once again misdirect the public to blame something other than the corrupt plutocrats who just pillaged the treasury for their woes. . . [read on]


Heh, heh. The sharks are eating each other
[Greg Sargent] [L]ooks like Rudy Giuliani is suddenly aware that the GOP nomination isn't his for the taking. In the wake of polls showing him sinking in New Hampshire, he's just launched an aggressive attack on someone other than Hillary, taking his toughest shots yet at the New Hampshire and Iowa frontrunner, Mitt Romney. . .

More sharks:

Giuliani’s moral compass (worth a laugh)

Giuliani on earmarks

Giuliani’s pal
[Paul Kiel] Bernie Kerik had a talent for making wealthy friends -- and then hitting them up for money. It was a talent that prosecutors say crossed the line into bribery on at least one occasion. . . .

An overview of the surveillance programs (that we know about)

The ins and outs of the upcoming fight over different versions of the FISA bill

A question that still needs answering
Did Bush ask Scott McClellan to lie -- or didn't he?

Criminalizing drugs: it ain’t working

Bonus item: Joe Klein’s (or as they call him, Joke Line) “journalistic malpractice”
[Glenn Greenwald] Joe Klein has just posted yet again about his FISA confusion, and it has now moved well beyond farce into an almost pity-inducing realm. If Time has any dignity at all, someone there will intervene and put a stop to this. It's actually difficult to watch.

In the last five days alone, Klein has now written five separate times about his FISA debacle, and is further away than ever from having any idea what he's even talking about . . .

The result of all this "nosing around": "I've reached no conclusions." And he then unleashes this:

I have neither the time nor legal background to figure out who's right.


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

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

Monday, November 26, 2007


Where Bush’s Iraq “policy” stands today
[Steve Benen] The Bush gang has decided to play small-ball. . . The administration will push Iraq to take some modest steps, which they were going to take anyway. When these events occur, White House officials will say, “See? Look at all the political progress!” and hope people are too dumb to know the difference.

Two months ago, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said we would see “a major breakthrough” within “weeks” on political reconciliation in Iraq, which he believes is unfolding at “breakneck speed.”

Now that goal is so unattainable, we’re not even trying to reach it anymore. . . [read on]


Another benchmark of “progress” in Iraq, with fudged numbers
By all accounts, Iraqi families who fled their homes in the past two years are returning to Baghdad.

The description of the scope of the return, however, appears to have been massaged by politics. . .

Our man in Islamabad
The Bush Administration knew that Pakistani strongman Pervez Musharraf planned to institute emergency rule but did not act or speak out about the plan, according to officials with knowledge of the discussion who spoke anonymously in Friday's Wall Street Journal. . .

Because the US response was "muted," Pakistan interpreted American silence as a green light to instituting martial law, quickly deposing an intransigent Supreme Court, which had ruled against the general in the past. . .

Who’s to blame?

An overview, from Juan Cole
Bush's achievements in the Middle East were supposed to have been the 'Cedar Revolution' in Lebanon and the removal of Syria troops; holding fair elections in Palestine in January of 2006; and a deal to have Gen. Pervez Musharraf cohabit politically with Benazir Bhutto, leader of the Pakistan People's Party.

As of this weekend, Lebanon does not have a president and the country's stability is in doubt. The Palestinian Authority is divided and is a mess, with the elected government having been overthrown by a US-backed coup. And opposition leader Nawaz Sharif has returned to Pakistan, possibly derailing the Benazir option but also provoking a crisis in the political elite about what they should do.

I don't think this is going well.

Just in case facts matter any more (thanks to Matthew D. for the link)
Despite President Bush's claims that Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons that could trigger "World War III," experts in and out of government say there's no conclusive evidence that Tehran has an active nuclear-weapons program. . .


The kind of media we have
[AP, on Condi Rice’s last-gasp Middle East summit] The rock star diplomat has become the workaday American secretary of state, with all the advantages and all the baggage that the title and Rice's long association with President Bush and the Iraq war entail. . . [read on]
[Elizabeth “Pucker up and kiss their” Bumiller] For Ms. Rice, Annapolis reflects her evolution from passive participant to activist diplomat who has been willing to break with Mr. Cheney and other conservatives skeptical of an American diplomatic role in the Middle East. . .

[NB: Wake me if this meeting accomplishes one damn thing. I’ll be happy to be wrong . . .]

Don’t hold your breath . . .,1,1536472.story
President Bush's national security advisor said Sunday that the president would not adopt a more activist role in Mideast peace negotiations that start today, even though many observers believe the United States must step up its direct involvement if the effort is to succeed. . . .
The opening of Tuesday's Middle East conference in Annapolis, seven years into the Bush administration, is a reminder of how little the traditional concept of brokering an Arab-Israeli settlement through an ongoing "peace process" has figured into President Bush's foreign policy.

Another is Bush's near-absence from the Middle East during his presidency. . . .

All about the Benjamins . . .
[Christy Hardin Smith] When the George Bush Presidential Library opens its doors, I do not think that Follow The Money will be among the celebrated volumes gracing its bookshelves. Their loss. For Follow The Money is an absorbing read, a connect-the-odious-dots primer on political corruption in the Republican gilded donor age, and a lesson on the value of sunshine and oversight inside a Beltway where power and money flourish sordidly in every nook and cranny of the shadows. . . . Reading all of this, laid out in one continuous, intertwined narrative, showcases the malignant kudzu of modern American political smarm in all its kickback and corruption glory. . . . [read on]

Joe Klein, useful idiot
[Glenn Greenwald] On Wednesday, I documented that Joe Klein's column in this week's Time Magazine contained multiple false statements about the new FISA bill -- The RESTORE Act -- passed by House Democrats last week. The most obvious and harmful inaccuracy was his claim that that bill "would require the surveillance of every foreign-terrorist target's calls to be approved by the FISA court" and that it therefore "would give terrorists the same legal protections as Americans." Based on those outright falsehoods, Klein called the House Democrats' bill "well beyond stupid." . . .

What I want to do is examine Klein's conduct here to illustrate how so many Beltway reporters (though not all) function. This is not a matter of some obscure error involving details. Because of what Klein did, Time Magazine told its 4 million readers that the bill passed by the House Democrats "would give terrorists the same legal protections as Americans" and thus shows how Democrats still can't be trusted on national security. The whole column was built on complete, transparent falsehoods about the key provisions of that bill. . . .

Klein, of course, never bothered to read the bill and still hasn't (even though he is published by Time to "report on" and opine about this bill). Instead, even now, he says that he has spoken with both Republicans and Democrats, and while Democrats insist that what he wrote was false, "the Republican Committee staff disagrees and says [his] reporting is correct."

In other words, Klein's GOP source(s) blatantly lied to him about what the bill does and doesn't do in order to manipulate him into uncritically feeding Time's readers the Rush Limbaugh Line -- namely, that Democrats are giving equal rights to Terrorists and preventing the Leader from eavesdropping on foreign Terrorists. And Klein dutifully wrote down what he was told in Time without bothering to find out if it was true and without ever bothering to talk to any of the bill's Democratic proponents. . . .

That is the real story here. That's how our political system works. Scheming GOP operatives feed whispered lies to their favorite, most gullible, most slothful and/or dishonest Beltway journalists. Gleeful and grateful that they have been chosen for this dirty task, these journalists then scamper and write down what they were told and think that, by doing so, they are engaged in what they call "original reporting" -- which means uncritically passing on what they're told by government sources. As a result, they continue to obfuscate every key political issue and mislead Americans by doing the opposite of what journalists are supposed to do. . . . [read on]


A handy overview of the state of the Presidential race

Another Republican candidate bashes Fox for its pro-Giuliani tilt

Bonus item: The New York Post condemns 9-11 conspiracy theories – all except its own, of course

***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.***