Saturday, June 17, 2006

Con artist

By Creature

For Karl Rove politics is all about painting a picture. The picture will not be a true portrait. It will be a caricature exaggerating to extreme a kernel of truth -- though when it comes to Karl Rove the truth part is optional. We all watched John Kerry get painted into a flip-flopping corner. These two words were repeated ad nauseam. Eventually, when asked, even the most disinterested member of the general public repeated the flip-flop line.

Today, we have a new Rove portrait being commissioned by the GOP. From a cluttered canvas of potential images, Rove has chosen "cut and run" as his primary color. But an artist's work cannot be appreciated if no one knows about it. The work needs to be promoted. In politics hiring a good ad agency is the key to getting a product out. For the GOP this ad agency works for free. Enter the corporate media. An institution that eagerly promotes Rove's portraits without a question asked. Rove said to the GOP, "hold an Iraq debate." Rove got his debate, and he got his cut and run product out thanks to the fair and balanced media. Cut and run. Cut and run. Cut and run. Over and over again.

It's a catch phrase-driven media, and thanks to the con artist known as Rove, they have a new phrase to parrot and a new image to portray. The Democrats need to counter this portrait now, before the paint dries, before November '06 becomes November '02 and November '04 all over again.

(Cross-posted at State of the Day.)

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Stay the course

By Creature

The president can have as many photo-ops as he likes. The Congress can have as many sham debates as they like. But all the posturing in the world will not end this:

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - A series of bomb and mortar attacks killed at least 31 people in and near Baghdad on Saturday in violence that showed no sign of easing despite a security crackdown against al Qaeda in the Iraqi capital.

The attacks, a day after a suicide bomber killed 10 people in a Baghdad Shi'ite mosque, followed a vow by al Qaeda's new leader in Iraq to avenge the death of his predecessor Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who was killed in a U.S. air strike on June 7.

All this death, and I haven't even mentioned the two U.S. soldiers missing in action since Friday.

U.S. military helicopters and divers searched for two U.S. soldiers missing after an attack on Friday in which one American soldier was killed in the insurgent bastion of Yusufiya in the "Triangle of Death" south of Baghdad.

Death, death, and more death. Stay the course, sure that's a plan.

Update: Waveflux make a violent list.

(Cross-posted at State of the Day.)

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A horrible case of animal cruelty in Quebec

Whoever did this should be severely punished. Severely. There's simply no excuse for animal abuse, and this case of abuse in Chertsey, Quebec, 70 kilometers from Montreal, is simply despicable.

Thankfully, the 26 surviving huskies (19 died) are getting the help they need.

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Friday, June 16, 2006

A coward and a liar

By Creature

Dick Cheney makes me want to heave.

First, the coward part. It's simply laughable that this war-loving ass, this deferment-using creep, this CIA-outing fool, this blustery bully, can talk a good confrontation game, but when it's time to answer questions he cowers behind the shield of conservative talk radio. Yesterday, not wanting to be left out of the sham debate the GOP was having around Capital Hill, the vice president decided to add his two cents to the conversation. Did he talk to Chris Matthews? Did he talk to Charles Gibson? Even a word or two with clueless Larry King would have been sufficient. No, our brave vice president goes on Sean Hannity, for a confrontation free, ass-kisser to war monger, interview. Mr. VP, you are a coward.

Okay, now onto the lying.

"It's [the Iraq war] also, I think, in part responsible for the fact that we haven't been hit again in nearly five years. That's no accident," Cheney said.

"The fact is, we've taken the battle to the enemy. That's been the key to the safety and security of the American people these last few years, and we need to continue to do it," he said.

Dear Dick, don't you think it's been dumb luck, Osama's patience, and maybe a bit of good police work, that have kept more attacks from occurring on our soil. C'mon, Mr. VP, don't be sly, tell the American people how the Iraq war has created more terrorists who want to blow us to bits. Tell the American people how they will be facing the blow-back from your misguided Iraqi adventure for years to come. But, why should you level with the people? Why should you tell them that the Iraq war is the biggest military blunder in American history. You made your millions, your cronies have made their millions, and poor schmucks like me will be left to face, and fear, the increased terror against this country. Mr. VP, I don't have a secured location to run to when the bombs start going off. Glad to know you'll be safe, fat, and happy thanks to your damn war.

Update: The Heretik has more.

(Cross-posted at State of the Day.)

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Mark my words

By Creature

The voting is done and the Republicans in the House have officially sealed their fate for the November elections. Voting primarily along party lines, the House -- as the Senate did yesterday -- came out in favor of continuing the Bush administration's failed policy in Iraq. Thank you, dear GOP, for making the choice so clear. No plan, no strategy, just stay the course and continue to watch our troops die as they take fire from all sides in the middle of this civil war. Mark my words, this political stunt will backfire.

And to the Democrats who voted in favor of this meaningless resolution, boo to you. You should have stood together on principle that this debate, this resolution, this vote, was all a political sham.

(Cross-posted at State of the Day.)

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Thursday, June 15, 2006

2,500 deaths and climbing

By J. Kingston Pierce

Unbelievable. It was less than two months ago that I wrote about the 2,400th death of a U.S. soldier in Iraq, and already the official fatality count has climbed to 2,500, with another 113 fatalities among soldiers from the few other countries still willing to participate in this misbegotten adventure, and untold tens of thousands of Iraqis having perished in what’s become a civil war provoked by George W. Bush’s unilateral invasion of that Middle Eastern nation back in 2003. White House press secretary Tony Snow essentially dismissed the significance of today’s tragic milestone, saying during his press briefing this morning, “It’s a number, and every time there’s one of these 500 benchmarks, people want something.” But, Tony, there’s not a parent in this country, charged with burying a son or daughter lost in the Iraq war, who doesn’t “want something.” They want a swift end to this conflict. Most want a clear accounting of the mistakes, lies, and incompetence that led up to the war, and which have only increased the fatality counts since. None of us want this fighting to continue for years, until it fall into the laps of “future Presidents and future governments of Iraq,” as Bush predicts it will. As Steve Benen of The Carpetbagger Report puts it so succinctly, “We want U.S. casualties to not reach 2,501.”

The national news media, so many of which were complicit in selling Bush’s trumped-up war on Saddam Hussein to the public, appear rather
perplexed that last week’s much-vaunted killing of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, allegedly the head of an Al Qaeda contingent in Iraq, hasn’t done more to boost Bush’s political fortunes. (Salon’s War Room blog observes that “since Zarqawi’s death was announced, Bush’s approval ratings are up one point [NBC/Wall Street Journal], up two points [Gallup], and down two points [CBS]. The Wall Street Journal calls Bush’s standing with the public ‘essentially unchanged’; while the president’s approval rating ticked up one point in its latest poll, so too did his disapproval rating.”) But they shouldn’t be surprised. Not when 59 percent of Americans say “the United States made a mistake in going to war in Iraq,” a Pew Research poll shows that people in European and Muslim nations see U.S. policy toward Iraq as “a bigger threat to world peace than Iran’s nuclear program,” and Americans are more determinedly questioning the efficacy of spending $8 billion a month (or a total of $319 billion so far) on a war that most of them say won’t democratize Iraq, anyway.

Senators on Capitol Hill today
voted not to call for a withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq by the end of this year. But such gamesmanship and posturing by Bush’s Republican water-carriers won’t make the Iraq mistake go away. It won’t change the fact that Americans have lost confidence both in the prez and in the GOP--certainly a bad turn from their point of view, given that Republicans must defend their dominance of the U.S. government in November’s midterm elections. GOPers hope to turn this unfriendly tide by pushing thoroughly unnecessary constitutional amendments (one to install prejudice--in the form of a ban on same-sex marriage--in America’s most sacred founding document, another to safeguard the U.S. flag from phantom desecrators). But such obvious time-wasting won’t distract voters from the fact that Republicans have gotten the United States into a quagmire of a war, and they have no idea how to get us out of it. Nor are they even trying. Yeah, yeah, Bush will undoubtedly make some politically driven statements in the run-up to November about withdrawing a handful of troops from Iraq; and Karl Rove (the O.J. Simpson of modern American politics--known to have done wrong, but still unprosecuted) will direct endangered Republicans to weep crocodile tears over the deaths of U.S. soldiers half a world away. However, the chances of America avoiding the death of a 2,501st, or a 2,502nd, or a 2,600th soldier on the Iraq front lines is nil, so long as debate over this war is driven by political defensiveness, rather than good sense and foresight.

On the other hand, it’s conceivable (though downright reprehensible) that the White House doesn’t really want this war to end, at least not on Bush’s watch. If the prez can just avoid being either
censured or impeached over the next year and a half, and can prevent opposition Democrats from assuming control of one or the other chambers of Congress (which would likely result in his financial resources being curbed, and the curtailment of his ability to escalate the Iraq hostilities or start a nuclear war with Iran), he can hand responsibility for this ill-conceived conflict over to the next Oval Office occupant. Should that man or woman be a Democrat (and odds are pretty good that it will be), Republicans could then spend the ensuing four years attacking him or her for not resolving the Iraq war, and maybe on that wave of criticism worm their way back into the White House in 2013. And if Bush’s successor is a Republican? Well, at least Dubya will have skated out from under responsibility for the war’s resolution, just as he’s skated out from under responsibility for business failures and military service in the past.

Iraq War Has Mournful Milestones,” by Tom Raum (AP); “‘Mission Accomplished’ in a Business Suit,” by Sidney Blumenthal (Salon); “2,500 and Counting,” by Steve Young (The Huffington Post); “So Republicans Are for Amnesty for Terrorists Who Murder U.S. Soldiers, but They Oppose Amnesty for Mexicans Seeking a Better Life in America?” by John Aravosis (AMERICAblog); “Iraq’s Pentagon Papers,” by Daniel Ellsberg (Los Angeles Times).

(Cross-posted at Limbo.)

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Kerry's regrets (and my own)

John Kerry has reiterated his call for a large-scale withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq before the end of the year. The Boston Globe: "The sweeping resolution amounts to the senator's sharpest condemnation of the war and his broadest repudiation of his own vote to authorize force. It also stands in contrast to his handling of the war issue during his campaign for president two years ago."

And there's your problem. Why -- WHY???!!! -- wasn't Kerry this forceful, this determined, this eloquent back in '04, back when he could have presented himself in even starker contrast to the Panglossian Bush? Why couldn't he say then, as he says now, that, knowing what he knows now, he would have voted against the war? Because he would have looked weak? Because he had to match Bush's toughness on terror? But look where he ended up. Waffling and dithering straight into a defeat that never should have been. The new Kerry might still have lost, unless the old one actually won, but at least he would have lost with his dignity intact. At least, in the end, he would have been vindicated.

Is it too late now for vindication? Not necessarily. I disagree with some of the specifics, but I commend Kerry here -- as I have before. I'm not sure how many troops should be withdrawn, and when, but I admire Kerry's passion and sincerity. As one of his most ardent supporters in '04, however, I have my deep regrets that the old Kerry wasn't more like this new one, the one with regrets of his own.


At The Washington Note, Steve Clemons responds to Kerry:

At this point, I am not thrilled with the prospect of another Kerry run for the presidency -- but he's made progress at least in his thinking about the costs of Iraq to American prestige in the world and to global stability. The question Kerry has to answer -- and has not to my satisfaction -- is can he tell the difference between conflicts that require the application of American troops and military power and those that do not.

Iraq was the WRONG war from day one and was a fundamental distraction from the complex, transnational threat that bin Laden was brewing against the U.S. and Europe. The Iraq War that Bush contrived as a response to 9/11 -- aided and abetted by many Democrats and most Republicans in the Congress -- has punctured the mystique of American power in the world and created incentives for foes to move their agendas and allies to not count on America quite as much as before.

How will we know the next time that John Kerry might get the answer right? He needs to tell us more -- because on this one, he was dead wrong.

Very well put. And right on the mark.

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The shame of America's free press

Over at The Carpetbagger Report, Steve Benen tackles "the new media narrative" -- you know, the one where "Bush and the GOP have momentum and are on the upswing," the one being pushed in such lofty journalistic bastions as The Washington Post.

Steve looks at a number of issues -- Zarqawi, Plamegate, Iraq, Busby, Treasury, and the GOP agenda -- and concludes that "the recent events that have the GOP so excited aren't indicative of a party — or an agenda — on the comeback trail".

And he's absolutely right. Zarqawi's death was real, but the rest is spin. In fact, even the post-Zarqawi narrative is spin. Don't you remember Chief of Staff John Bolten's six-month campaign to resurrect the Bush presidency and Republican electoral fortunes? Aside from tough talk on Iran and immigration and trickle-down gifts to Wall Street and the wealthy, it was all about "happy talk".

Well, count the press courted. The "happy talk," the optimistic spin, has found its way into the way the press tells the story of the Bush presidency and the Republican Party.

Forget the liberal press. The accurate adjective is gullible. It wants a story, any story, preferably a new story. Apparently, the story of Bush's demise and Republican collapse is old. Apparently, the White House got out the spin and the spin is preferable to the truth. Much easier to regurgitate "happy talk" than to do the hard journalistic work of investigation and analysis. Much easier to let yourself be manipulated by the powers-that-be than to do your job properly and effectively.

Shame. Shame on America's allegedly free press.

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Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Illinois book burning

Pam Spaulding is reporting that "[s]omeone set fire to the gay and lesbian book section of a Lakeview, IL neighborhood library, and there's speculation that this was a hate crime".

A despicable crime. More here (updated).

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The decline of parliamentary civility

In Canada's House of Commons, that is. The latest row between the ruling Conservatives and the opposition parties involved an obscene hand gesture made by Conservative MP Jacques Gourde in response to opposition heckling. And thus began the "uproar," according to the CP, with more such gestures from fellow Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre and even Justice Minister Vic Toews.

Gourde later apologized, but only for being misinterpreted. Poilievre may or may not have mocked the Speaker with "a silly dance". Then a translator referred to the gesture, translating the French phrase "bras d'honneur," as an "Italian salute". More uproar. Conservative House Leader Bob Nicholson accused two Liberals, the two whose words had been wrongly translated, of insulting "Canadians of Italian heritage". The two Liberals, Marlene Jennings and interim Leader Bill Graham, defended themselves and demanded an apology. None came.

And, finally, Speaker Peter Milliken moved on.

This all seems to have been Gourde's fault. And Nicholson was far too quick to accuse the two Liberal MPs of insulting Italians. The Conservatives aren't solely responsible for the decline of parliamentary civility, but they kicked it down a notch with this pointless incident of misbehaviour.

Obviously, our elected representatives in Ottawa have nothing better to do.

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Gerson gone

Sad, sad news* from the Post:

Michael J. Gerson, one of President Bush's most trusted advisers and author of nearly all of his most famous public words during the past seven years, plans to step down in the next couple weeks in a decision that colleagues believe will leave a huge hole in the White House at a critical period.

Gerson said in an interview that he has been talking with Bush for many months about leaving for writing and other opportunities but waited until the White House political situation had stabilized somewhat. "It seemed like a good time," he said. "Things are back on track a little. Some of the things I care about are on a good trajectory."

Gerson has been "one of the most central players in Bush's inner circle, often considered among the three or four aides closest to the president". He "shap[ed] the language of the Bush presidency," as well as "much of its policy".

He was the speechwriter, the man who put the words in Bush's mouth. However much Bush may have garbled his efforts, I'm not quite sure what the White House will do without him. Bush's presidency, after all, has been a presidency of spin, of political truth that bears little to no resemblance to the Truth. Gerson at least made Bush sound compassionate, if also highly appealing to the GOP's religious base.

The spin will continue, Gerson-free. Not that it'll make all that much difference. With or without him, Bush has virtually nothing left in the tank. (And even Gerson can't spin Iraq into a Bush-friendly issue anymore. The American people know better.)

* I'm being facetious, of course. I'm hardly one to mourn the resignation of one of Bush's closest advisors. (How do you judge the advisor of such a horrible president? Should he not be judged mostly by the state of the presidency itself? In that case, was he also a failure?) But at least Gerson cared about such issues as Darfur and AIDS. That's more than you can say about most of his colleagues at the White House, not to mention about most Republicans generally.

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Call me Secretary

One of our good friends, The Fixer of Alternate Brain, wonders what his cabinet would look like if he were elected president from the Blogger Party. Well, here it is:

Vice President - Pam Spaulding
Secretary of State - Michael J.W. Stickings
Secretary of the Treasury - Brad DeLong
Attorney General - Christy Hardin Smith
Secretary of the Interior - Gordon
Secretary of Agriculture - Radical Russ
Secretary of Commerce - Mrs. Fixer
Secretary of Labor - DBK (Froggy)
Secretary of Defense - Cdr. Jeff Huber
Secretary of Housing and Urban Development - Scout Prime
Secretary of Transportation - 42
Secretary of Energy - Michael Hawkins
Secretary of Health and Human Services - Shakespeare's Sister
Secretary of Education - PZ Myers
Secretary of Veterans Affairs - Jo Fish
Secretary of Homeland Security - Larry C. Johnson
Press Secretary - Jane Hamsher
Ambassador to the U.N. - Roxanne

Advisers to the President:
For the Arts and Humanities - Mimus Pauly/Patrick
For High Technology - Badtux the Geeky Penguin
For International Relations - Eponymous/Juan Cole
For Womens Issues - Blondie (Blondsense Liz)/AOB
For Racial Issues - Steve Gilliard
For LGBT Issues - Genia Stevens
For Religious Issues - The Green Knight
On the Environment - Grannyinsanity

And what does the president think of his cabinet? "Now that's a progressive White House. Whatever you think, I'll betcha we do a better job than the bunch that's in there now."

Agreed. And I'm greatly honoured to be a part of it. Now, the fact that I was born in Montreal and hold dual Canadian and British citizenship might be held against me, but why not allow a non-American to run Foggy Bottom? At least I could get along with the rest of the world.

Besides, I have a solid group of co-bloggers and guest bloggers here who would do well in high-profile ambassadorships. Creature would like to be sent somewhere warm and sunny... uh, Iraq? Could I do that do him? Vivek went to Oxford. He'd be happy to return to England, I'm sure. The LGND? Paris? My brother James lives in England but was born in Canada. Perhaps he'd like a stint in Ottawa. Mr. Pierce could be an at-large ambassador for all things cultural and literary. And Grace... No, let's send Grace to Ottawa, where she has some connections, and send James to Africa. Yes, the whole continent. He's been there and could do a good job representing America's interests (in a positive way, without abusing that oft-neglected part of the world).

So -- Thank you, President Fixer. I'm confident we'd do well.

If only.

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The nerve of these people

Guest post by Capt. Fogg of Human Voices

(Ed. note: I'd like to welcome a new guest blogger to The Reaction, Capt. Fogg, an Illinois-raised resident of South Florida, "a tropical paradise" somewhere near Jupiter. Human Voices, subtitled "Shadows and Fogg" is one of the real highlights of the blogosphere, a blog that I've come to enjoy immensely since I first came across it a few months ago. It's extremely well-written and daringly provocative, addressing a variety of mostly political topics. Capt. Fogg will contibute on an occasional basis here, but I encourage you to check out his blog regularly. -- MJWS)


"They hung themselves with fabricated nooses made out of clothes and bed sheets" said Navy Rear Adm. Harry Harris to reporters. "They have no regard for human life, neither ours nor their own. I believe this was not an act of desperation but an act of asymmetric warfare against us."

If we have no other evidence for the intrinsic evil of such men as are being held incommunicado and without charges in wire cages, we are now given the fact that they were willing do die rather than to face living the rest of their lives under intolerable conditions. One can only wonder whether the 460 Guantanamo prisoners are better off than the unknown number of men and boys grabbed from who knows what street in who knows what country for who knows what reason and sent off to be beaten, tortured and terrorized in who knows what dungeon in some Central Asiatic hell of a country. If there is anything asymmetric to be seen, it is the might and power of the United States Vs. some guy in a cage.

The perception of symmetry of course is subjective. An American willing to die rather than reveal our positions to an enemy would be a hero and to attempt escape from Colditz was a duty, but the massive asymmetry between the way we treated the men who beheaded hundreds of thousands, murdered tens of millions and bayoneted babies and the way we treat those who may or may not have done anything more than having been seen talking to the wrong person is stunning. Men like Ishi Shiro who spread anthrax, plague and smallpox over uncountable women and children and who conducted unspeakable medical experiments on innocents were set free after WW II. The slaughter of innocents hardly bothers us, but the suicide of a prisoner? The nerve of such people.

To what low have we sunk if we can as easily dehumanize others, enemy or otherwise to the point where we can beat them to death and yet see their suicide as an act of war, a sinister plot against us, a publicity stunt? How depraved are we if we can call ourselves the last best hope of the world while acting like the greatest monsters of history? How, if we foam at the mouth about Godless Liberals and break the legs of teenagers do we call ourselves human?

How ironic is it that millions of us obsess about the apocalypse and Rapture and the coming of the beast, when we are in fact the Beast?

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In case you hadn't heard

By Creature

In case you hadn't heard the GOP spin machine is working overtime right now. Victories and good news abound, and there is nary a Republican without a microphone in hand. Rejoice, America, the days of negativity are over and it's time to crow. Can someone pass the talking points? Please.

In case you hadn't heard the Iraq war is once again going swimmingly.
(civil war)
In case you hadn't heard there will be no more Iraq excuses.
(no real plan)
In case you hadn't heard the Democrats are cutting and running.
(troops as lightening rod, get them the fuck out)
In case you hadn't heard Karl Rove is owed an apology.
In case you hadn't heard the culture-of-corruption argument is dead.
(Cunningham does not equal Reid)
In case you hadn't heard George Bush is a very brave man.
In case you hadn't heard the over-there-not-over-here line is alive and well.
(dishonest rhetoric)
In case you hadn't heard we killed ourselves a terrorist last week.

I promise I'll party with the GOP* when the situation on the ground in Iraq (and America) actually changes. Until then, I'll wait and see. Political theater is so much fun.

BONUS SPIN: Karl Rove venom (he's back on his game, you know):

"Like too many Democrats it strikes me they [Mutha and Kerry] are ready to give the green light to go to war, but when it gets tough, they fall back of that party's old platform of cutting and running. They may be with you for the first few bullets but they won't be there for the last tough battles," he said.

Those words are why any Democrat who backed the war will have no credibility in November (or in '08 for that matter).

(Oh, and, Ken Mehlman is an ass. Note: This is just a general statement of opinion, I don't have any links to back up Mehlman's assiness.)
(Oh, oh, and, can't the Democrats find anyone other than Joe Biden to speak for them? The guy is everywhere on the TV.)

*I will never party with the GOP

(Cross-posted at State of the Day.)

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Tuesday, June 13, 2006


By Creature

With the Internets all aflutter that Rove possibly made a deal with Fitz in order to skirt indictment, TalkLeft puts the final nail in the Rove indictment coffin.

Sometimes people just don't know when to cry "uncle." I do. I asked Robert Luskin this morning if Karl Rove has made a deal with Fitzgerald. His response:

There has never, ever been any discussion of a deal in any way, shape or form.

Which is exactly what Luskin told me weeks ago. It's over, folks. Karl Rove will not be charged with a crime.

Well, not quite over...

(Cross-posted at State of the Day.)

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More photo-ops

By Creature

Those sneaky ducks at the White House pulled a fast one. The president has landed in Baghdad. In truly "surprising" fashion Bush sneaked out of Camp David and into Iraq without being noticed. Even Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki had no idea the president was in country. This is the second "secret" trip into Iraq for the president. And maybe one day these trips won't have to be surprising or even secret. Maybe one day...

-"I fooled 'em all. I love playin' hider and seek"

(Cross-posted at State of the Day.)

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No frog-march

By Creature

BREAKING NEWS -- Karl Rove is still a lying, cheating, whore, who leaked classified information in order to protect a nonexistent case for war. However, he will not be indicted for doing so.

Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald has told White House aide Karl Rove that he does not expect to seek charges against him in connection with the CIA leak case, Rove's lawyer said today.

In a statement this morning, Robert Luskin, Rove's attorney, said that Fitzgerald "has formally advised us that he does not anticipate seeking charges" against Rove.

Early GOP spin:

"The fact is this, I thought it was wrong when you had people like Howard Dean and [Sen.] Harry Reid presuming that he was guilty," Republican Party Chairman Ken Mehlman told Fox News Channel's "Fox and Friends" show Tuesday morning.

Early Dem spin:

"He doesn't belong in the White House," Dean said. "If the president valued America more than he valued his connection to Karl Rove, Karl Rove would have been fired a long time ago," said the Democratic Party chairman, speaking n NBC's "Today" show. "So I think this is probably good news for the White House, but it's not very good news for America."

For more instant analysis I'm sending you all over to FireDogLake, where "perspective" is the word of the day.

(Cross-posted at State of the Day.)

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Monday, June 12, 2006

GWB's footprint

By Creature

Because under the watchful eye of George W. Bush we are safer today than yesterday...

Let's start overseas:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - North Korea is making plans to test an intercontinental ballistic missile that could reach the United States and the launch could come soon, U.S. officials said on Monday.

Now let's bring it back home:

WASHINGTON - Murders, robberies and aggravated assaults in the United States increased last year, spurring an overall rise in violent crime for the first time since 2001, according to FBI data. [ . . . ]

Criminal justice experts said the statistics reflect the nation's complacency in fighting crime, a product of dramatic declines in the 1990s and the abandonment of effective programs that emphasized prevention, putting more police officers on the street and controlling the spread of guns.

"We see that budgets for policing are being slashed and the federal government has gotten out of that business," said James Alan Fox, a criminal justice professor at Northeastern University in Boston. "Funding for prevention at the federal level and many localities are down and the (National Rifle Association) has renewed strength."

And let's not forget about the number of terrorists inspired to jihad because of our bring-it-on leader.

(Cross-posted at State of the Day.)

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The GOP goes on the offensive

By Creature

Whether it's a big meeting at Camp David, or a meaningless Iraq resolution in the House, the GOP hopes to capitalize on the death of al Zarqawi this week with a flurry of political showboating.

First we have the "war president" meeting with his "war cabinet" to discuss, of all things, the war.

Bush summons war cabinet for post-Zarqawi session
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President George W. Bush convenes a war council this week hoping to build momentum after Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's death, but the big question overhanging the talks is when U.S. troops will return from Iraq.

Bush will hold two days of high-level consultations at Camp David starting on Monday to reassess strategy on Iraq as he struggles with an increasingly unpopular war that has dragged down his approval ratings in a congressional election year.

Call me cynical, but shouldn't these types of meetings be happening all along?

Next, we turn to the House of Representatives where even the two day photo-op at Camp David is nothing compared to this bit of pure politicking:

A House committee also will debate and vote out a resolution "[d]eclaring that the United States will complete the mission in Iraq and prevail in the Global War on Terror," which is scheduled to get a full day of floor debate on Thursday.

Can a single resolution say so little, and mean even less? This kind of political opportunism may be worse than the religious-right pandering we witnessed last week. These discussions on the war are necessary and important, but to cap them off with a meaningless vote, on a hollow resolution, is just a waste of time.

If only we could harness the hot air coming out of Congress this week to fuel the helicopters needed to shuttle the president's staff to and from Camp David, then maybe all this talk would be worth something.

(Cross-posted at State of the Day.)

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Sunday, June 11, 2006

Checks and balances

By Creature

Since Congress has been negligent in their oversight duties, maybe the judiciary will take control.
NEW YORK (Reuters) - The National Security Agency's domestic spying program faces its first legal challenge in a case that could decide if the White House is allowed to order eavesdropping without a court order.

Oral arguments are set for Monday at U.S. District Court in Detroit at which the American Civil Liberties Union will ask Judge Anna Diggs Taylor to declare the spying unconstitutional and order it halted.

The case goes to the heart of the larger national debate about whether President Bush has assumed too much power in his declared war on terrorism.

This from Judge Diggs Taylor a few weeks ago:

DETROIT -- A federal judge in Detroit said she will proceed with hearings in a suit that challenges a domestic spying program run by the National Security Agency, despite assertions from the Bush administration that doing so would reveal "state secrets" that affect national security.

U.S. District Judge Anna Diggs Taylor also chided the NSA and lawyers for the Department of Justice for failing to respond to the court challenge, brought Jan. 18 by a local resident, Nizah Hassan, the American Civil Liberties Union and the Council on American Islamic Relations. Despite having twice extended time for the government, Diggs Taylor said it has failed to respond.

Tomorrow the government will have to respond. Here's to hoping Judge Diggs Taylor -- a Carter appointee -- is one of those damn "activist" judges.

Update: The judge punts, for now.

(Cross-posted at State of the Day.)

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