The president is a simple man, indeed.

by lestro

Today at his news conference, the president discussed his greatest mistake, without actually realizing it:

Mr. Bush went on, leaning over the lectern as he declared, in effect, that while many Americans have moved on after the attacks, he has not. “You remember what it was like right after September the 11th around here?” he demanded, adding: “People were saying, ‘How come they didn’t see it? How come they didn’t connect the dots?’ Do you remember what the environment was like in Washington? I do.”

So? Answer your own question, Georgie: How come you didn’t see it? How come you didn’t connect the dots?

And if the dots were there and you just failed to connect them, why did you need all those new powers and imperial leeway?  Seems to me that if you had spent less time in the summer of 2001 paying attention to the Chandra Levy thing (who?) or the shark attacks (seriously?) maybe you would have connected the dots that said “Bin Laden determined to strike in the US,” you idiot.

And still defiantly dumb to the end:

To critics who say his policies have diminished America’s moral standing in the world, Mr. Bush said flatly, “I disagree with this assessment.”

He said was not certain why he had become so divisive — “I don’t know why they get angry. I don’t know why they get hostile,” he replied to a question about those who disagree with his policies so vehemently that it became personal — and added that he had learned, during the course of his time in office, not to pay attention.

He disagrees? Because, uh, according to Pew, he is, um, WRONG.

Seems pretty straight-forward to me, Mr. President-for-thankfully-only-another-week.

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Pay no attention to the war behind the curtain

by twit

October surprise edition, via the Jerusalem Post by way of Drudge:

The Dutch intelligence service, the AIVD, has called off an operation aimed at infiltrating and sabotaging Iran’s weapons industry due to an assessment that a US attack on the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program is imminent, according to a report in the country’s De Telegraaf newspaper on Friday.

The report claimed that the Dutch operation had been “extremely successful,” and had been stopped because the US military was planning to hit targets that were “connected with the Dutch espionage action.”

The impending air-strike on Iran was to be carried out by unmanned aircraft “within weeks,” the report claimed, quoting “well placed” sources.

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The Big “I”

by lestro

Impeachment is once again back in the news and once again not on the table for the Democratic leadership, although it sounds like Nancy Pelosi might be willing to talk, even if it is now almost too late:

Pressed on ABC’s “The View” about whether she had unilaterally disarmed, the author of “Know Your Power: A Message to America’s Daughters” said she believed the proceedings would be too divisive and be a distraction from advancing the policy agenda of the new Democratic majority.

Then she added this qualifier: “If somebody had a crime that the president had committed, that would be a different story.”

That assertion only threw fuel on the impeachment fire as advocates of removing Mr. Bush cited the 35 articles of impeachment compiled by Representative Dennis Kucinich, Democrat of Ohio, as well as accusations in a new book by author Ron Suskind of White House orders to falsify intelligence, an accusation that has been denied.

Kucinich, you crazy little bastard, God love ya!

But as the story points out, the Democratic leadership absolutely does not want any part of an impeachment battle:

Despite whatever resonance pursuing the president might have in progressive Democratic circles, it is not the message Democrats want to carry into an election where they need to appeal to swing voters to increase their Congressional majorities and win the White House.

They would rather devote their final weeks to pushing economic relief and health care, even if they thought Mr. Bush and the conduct of the war merited impeachment hearings.

And leading Democrats argue anyway that Mr. Bush has already been tried and convicted in the court of public opinion.

“He has been impeached by current history,” said Representative Rahm Emanuel of Illinois, chairman of the House Democratic Caucus. “He is going down as the worst president ever. The facts are in.”

To me, that is not enough. I think there needs to be a bitchslap in the historical record to let future generations know that what this president and this administration did were wrong and unamerican and violate almost everything we are supposed to believe in.

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Tenet admits to ‘efforts’ by the Bush Administration to fake Iraq evidence

by twit

So there’s a book out that claims that somebody in the Bush Administration faked a letter to show a link between Iraq and al-Qaida. In the mad scramble of denials that have followed, former CIA Director George Tenet makes an interesting dodge:

Tenet, in a statement distributed by the White House, also issued a denial about the supposedly fake letter. “There was no such order from the White House to me nor, to the best of my knowledge, was anyone from CIA ever involved in any such effort,” he said.

“It is well established that, at my direction, CIA resisted efforts on the part of some in the administration to paint a picture of Iraqi-al-Qaida connections that went beyond the evidence,” Tenet said. “The notion that I would suddenly reverse our stance and have created and planted false evidence that was contrary to our own beliefs is ridiculous.”

The White House is distributing a denial that says it is “well established” that ‘some people in the Bush Administration made efforts to pressure the CIA to distort the evidence.’

Wait, what? People in the Bush Administration were leading efforts to get the CIA to create and plant false evidence?

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The Bush Administration works hard to set the terrorists free

by twit

It has always been an indisputable point of logic that torture does not produce reliable confessions. A person subject to torture will say what they need to say in order to stop the pain.

For example, the Atlantic notes in October 2003:

Few support the use of physical pressure to extract confessions, especially because victims will often say anything (to the point of falsely incriminating themselves) to put an end to pain.

Enter the Bush Administration, and its voracious appetite for torturing suspected terrorists. I have little doubt that they got some great sounding stuff from the waterboarding and other tactics that have been reported on over these past few years.

The issue of whether torture is an effective interrogation method needs no high and mighty ideals of human rights and liberties to make it an unacceptable practice. It is a matter of simple logic, one that should have been obvious to anyone responsible with producing evidence for a criminal or war crimes trial.

As of today, logic and the rule of law prevails:

GUANTANAMO BAY NAVAL BASE, Cuba – The judge in the first American war crimes trial since World War II barred evidence on Monday that interrogators obtained from Osama bin Laden’s driver following his capture in Afghanistan.

… The judge, Navy Capt. Keith Allred, said the prosecution cannot use a series of interrogations at the Bagram air base and Panshir, Afghanistan, because of the “highly coercive environments and conditions under which they were made.”

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Biofuels are a crime against humanity

by twit

We should have known something was wrong the instant biofuels became so enthusiastically supported by the Bush Administration, but it still is something of a surprise that the World Bank has for months sat on a report that details the crimes against humanity caused by the biofuels industry.

Fortunately, there is someone with a conscience working at the World Bank who helpfully leaked the “damning” report to the media. Via the Guardian on July 4, 2008:

Biofuels have forced global food prices up by 75% – far more than previously estimated – according to a confidential World Bank report obtained by the Guardian.

The damning unpublished assessment is based on the most detailed analysis of the crisis so far, carried out by an internationally-respected economist at global financial body.

The figure emphatically contradicts the US government’s claims that plant-derived fuels contribute less than 3% to food-price rises.

The World Bank report also includes an analysis of what this means for the world:

Rising food prices have pushed 100m people worldwide below the poverty line, estimates the World Bank, and have sparked riots from Bangladesh to Egypt. Government ministers here have described higher food and fuel prices as “the first real economic crisis of globalisation”.

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The Coming War with Iran

by twit

It looks like President Bush has had a hard-on for an invasion of Iran for awhile now. Way back on April 17, 2006, Seymour Hersh writes for the New Yorker:

A government consultant with close ties to the civilian leadership in the Pentagon said that Bush was “absolutely convinced that Iran is going to get the bomb” if it is not stopped.

He said that the President believes that he must do “what no Democrat or Republican, if elected in the future, would have the courage to do,” and “that saving Iran is going to be his legacy.”

One former defense official, who still deals with sensitive issues for the Bush Administration, told me that the military planning was premised on a belief that “a sustained bombing campaign in Iran will humiliate the religious leadership and lead the public to rise up and overthrow the government.”

He added, “I was shocked when I heard it, and asked myself, ‘What are they smoking?’ ”

Indeed. But it may have something to do with the practice of “stovepiping,” described by Seymour Hersh on February 11, 2008:

It is possible that Israel conveyed intelligence directly to senior members of the Bush Administration, without it being vetted by intelligence agencies. (This process, known as “stovepiping,” overwhelmed U.S. intelligence before the war in Iraq.)

That’s right. The Bush Administration is so competent in the arts of war and intelligence gathering, they apparently often bypass the regular sources and methods to collect the information they then use to implement their policy goals.

This all sounds so damn familiar

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morning cartoons

by twit

more dramatic proof of the impending fall of civilization:

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Dennis Kucinich is a sexy, sexy man

by twit

Rowr:

An Ohio Democratic lawmaker and former presidential candidate has presented articles of impeachment against President George W. Bush to Congress.

Thirty-five articles were presented by Rep. Dennis Kucinich to the House of Representatives late Monday evening, airing live on C-SPAN.

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I’ll believe it when I see it

by twit

From thehill.com on May 28, 2008:

http://i218.photobucket.com/albums/cc173/jbl55/RovesFrogMarch.jpg

“Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) said that the House Judiciary Committee would be willing to arrest Karl Rove if the former White House official doesn’t testify about his role in the firing of nine U.S. attorneys in 2006.”

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Ghosts of Iraq

by twit

An insightful comment on a previous post raised an important point about the mental health effects of combat stress, and it reminded me of a recent news story that goes far beyond the cold statistics of the suicide rates for our war veterans:

From the Fort Mill Times on May 25, 2008:

Until the day he died, Sgt. Brian Rand believed he was being haunted by the ghost of the Iraqi man he killed.

The ghost choked Rand while he slept in his bunk, forcing him to wake up gasping for air and clawing at his throat.

He whispered that Rand was a vampire and looked on as the soldier stabbed another member of Fort Campbell’s 96th Aviation Support Battalion in the neck with a fork in the mess hall.

Eventually, the ghost told Rand he needed to kill himself.

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In Honor of Memorial Day

by twit

Bush and his lapdog John McCain argue against the veto-proof support in Congress for a new and improved GI Bill “on the ground that the bill is too generous and may discourage re-enlistment.” Please make a note of it.

Mr. Bush — and, to his great discredit, Senator John McCain — have argued against a better G.I. Bill, for the worst reasons.

… They have seized on a prediction by the Congressional Budget Office that new, better benefits would decrease re-enlistments by 16 percent, which sounds ominous if you are trying — as Mr. Bush and Mr. McCain are — to defend a never-ending war at a time when extended tours of duty have sapped morale and strained recruiting to the breaking point.

Their reasoning is flawed since the C.B.O. has also predicted that the bill would offset the re-enlistment decline by increasing new recruits — by 16 percent. The chance of a real shot at a college education turns out to be as strong a lure as ever.

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In Golf We Trust

by twit

Olbermann has some choice words for Bush about his claim of sacrificing golf out of respect for families of soldiers lost in his wars:

via Buzzfeed.

Between fits of giggles,

by twit

President Bush says he knew his top national security advisers discussed and approved specific details about how high-value al Qaeda suspects would be interrogated by the Central Intelligence Agency, according to an exclusive interview with ABC News Friday.

From ABC News, everything you already knew, now thrown in your face.

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Top Ten Things About to Fall Down

by twit

Thank you Popular Mechanics, for this lovely roundup of “The 10 Pieces of U.S. Infrastructure We Must Fix Now” and apparently, are doing not much, if anything, about…

Chicago’s Circle Interchange

going nowhere”

Brooklyn Bridge

Repairs aren’t due to start until 2010″

Industrial Canal Lock in New Orleans

Construction is expected to take 12 years”

Atlanta Water System

Municipal lines running beneath the streets lose massive volumes of waterA similar situation is found throughout the country.”

Seattle Viaduct

still no decision” hmm… sounds familiar

Herbert Hoover Dike

a 1-in-6 chance that [it] will fail” The Army Corps of Engineers has been working on improvements, but funding is limited”

Idaho’s Dover Bridge

an outrageously low “sufficiency rating” of 2 out of 100 in the National Bridge Inventory.” but the Seattle Viaduct gets a 9… which means “basically intolerable,” apparently…

Wolf Creek Dam

despite the ongoing construction work, the danger of collapse hasn’t been significantly reduced, and probably won’t be for years”

Sacramento River Levees

Ongoing efforts to investigate and repair the levees have been met with opposition from local officials”

Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport

among the worst in terms of near-misses on the runway”

More fun:

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our tax dollars at work

by twit

The Raw Story reports on March 28, 2008:

“The 22-year-old Florida man who allegedly provided old, substandard Chinese-manufactured ammunition to troops in Afghanistan as part of a nearly $300 million Pentagon contract also started a private company that specialized in selling foreign munitions to civilian gun enthusiasts, according to public documents”

aaaand:

“The company’s Web site was taken down after RAW STORY began asking questions.”

But they were able to find at least one naughty picture from the now-defunct site:

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The President knows his time is short

by lestro

Today at the Economic Club of New York, the President got a question about rising costs of food and other products. He gave a bit of a spiel about hard times and no quick fixes, and then he said:

“Anyway, I’m going to dodge the rest of your question. (Laughter.) Thank you for your time.”

via cbsnews

I love that. He’s not wasting anyone’s time anymore.

There’s less than a year left and he’s still got countries to invade, programs to slash, environmental protections to dismantle, international treaties to wipe his ass with and buddies to get rich, so why should he waste everybody’s time dancing around a question we all know he doesn’t know the answer to

whatever the President says must be true

by lestro

the subhead says it all. From the Washington Post:

Ozone Rules Weakened at Bush’s Behest
EPA Scrambles To Justify Action

The EPA should never have to “scramble” to “justify” something. If they do, that probably means that it is a bad move that the EPA shouldn’t have supported but had to because of the politicization of every goddamn agency in Washington.

This is yet another example of how this administration has forgotten that they are supposed to be there doing the people’s business and not that of their buddies. Kind of like the AG forgetting he’s the country’s lawyer, not the president’s.

The EPA officials are supposed to be scientists, not politicians and their findings are supposed to based on fact, not on campaign contributions or ideology.

ITMFA. I mean, come on:

EPA officials initially tried to set a lower seasonal limit on ozone to protect wildlife, parks and farmland, as required under the law. While their proposal was less restrictive than what the EPA’s scientific advisers had proposed, Bush overruled EPA officials and on Tuesday ordered the agency to increase the limit, according to the documents.

“It is unprecedented and an unlawful act of political interference for the president personally to override a decision that the Clean Air Act leaves exclusively to EPA’s expert scientific judgment,” said John Walke, clean-air director for the Natural Resources Defense Council.

The president’s order prompted a scramble by administration officials to rewrite the regulations to avoid a conflict with past EPA statements on the harm caused by ozone.

Solicitor General Paul D. Clement warned administration officials late Tuesday night that the rules contradicted the EPA’s past submissions to the Supreme Court, according to sources familiar with the conversation. As a consequence, administration lawyers hustled to craft new legal justifications for the weakened standard.

craft new legal justifications”? that’s fucking ridiculous. what that means, in basic english is “either make up the rules as we go along or change the rules to fit our needs.” and that’s no way to run a country.

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war is fun

by twit

Bush listens to military and civilian personnel on the front lines describe how difficult operations are in Afghanistan, and in a Ferraro-esque display of self-absorption and abandonment of reality, suggests they should quit complaining and instead be more appreciative of the ‘fantastic’ and ‘exciting’ experiences of war and reconstruction.

From Reuters on March 14, 2008, with emphasis added:

http://z.about.com/d/politicalhumor/1/0/N/b/bush_finger_thumbnail.jpg

I must say, I’m a little envious,” Bush said. “If I were slightly younger and not employed here, I think it would be a fantastic experience to be on the front lines of helping this young democracy succeed.”

It must be exciting for you … in some ways romantic, in some ways, you know, confronting danger.

You’re really making history, and thanks,” Bush said.

The Raw Story notes on March 13, 2008 that an upcoming conference is going to highlight “some pretty fucked-up shit” from the experiences of combat troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

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yeah, can I get a grande torturecinno, extra foam?

by lestro

So as if it wasn’t enough last week for the Attorney General to admit to Congress that the Bush Administration no longer even pretends to obey the Geneva Convention or the US Constitution due to the use of the technique known as waterboarding (regarded as torture pretty much everywhere in the world except the White House), today we get absolute and definite proof of the United States using torture:

The admissions made by the men — who were given food whenever they were hungry as well as Starbucks coffee at the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba — played a key role in the government’s decision to proceed with the prosecutions, military and law enforcement officials said.

Starbucks?! Good god, I’ll talk! Just stop burning your coffee! The reason their lattes are so popular is because the only way their coffee is drinkable is to cut half of it with milk.

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Bush tries reverse psychology, fails miserably

by twit

Via Think Progress Feb 10, 2008:

In an interview with Fox News, President Bush argued that if his agenda and record are made central issues in the upcoming presidential election, then the Republican nominee stands “a better chance of winning” because the election won’t be about him:

My attitude is, so long as they’re talking about me, we have a better chance of winning because our candidate will — what’s going to matter is not the past but the future when it comes to campaigns.

If the Democrat Party feels like they can win an election by focusing on me, I think they’d be making a huge tactical mistake. But I hope they do that then because our candidate will be able to talk about the future.

Videos and the punchline after the jump…

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so long and thanks for the plankton

by twit

I realize it sounds like “good news” because for now, the Bush Administration just got smacked by a federal judge, but I’m not optimistic about how a constitutional showdown in the US Supreme Court might turn out.  November 2008 just seems a little too far away to make a difference to the world’s remaining whale population.

From the Associated Press via TBO.com on Feb 4, 2008:

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Navy must follow environmental laws placing strict limits on sonar training that opponents argue harms whales, despite President Bush’s decision to exempt it, a federal judge ruled Monday.

The Navy is not “exempted from compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act” and a court injunction creating a 12 nautical-mile no-sonar zone off Southern California, U.S. District Judge Florence-Marie Cooper wrote in a 36-page decision.

“We disagree with the judge’s decision,” White House spokesman Tony Fratto said. “We believe the orders are legal and appropriate.”

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peace and serenity

by twit

bb.spiral.earthwork.1.30.08

pretty.

although according to Boing Boing, not if the Bush Administration has anything to say about it plans to develop the area for oil drilling continue.

Made in France – False Statements

by the squid

So finally, some poor graduate students were asked to over all the rhetoric leading up the the Iraq war. They found 935 false statements.

“The study counted 935 false statements in the two-year period. It found that in speeches, briefings, interviews and other venues, Bush and administration officials stated unequivocally on at least 532 occasions that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction or was trying to produce or obtain them or had links to al-Qaida or both.”

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better late than never

by lestro

The basic idea behind the American Constitution is as simple as it is elegant: checks and balances.

It was designed to prevent any one branch from getting too carried away with itself.  Congress makes the laws, but they need the President’s stamp of approval.  The president can negotiate treaties, but the Senate approves them.  The Judiciary plays referee, and those folks get appointed and approved.

With this and the very real memory and fear of a powerful tyrant who ruled above the law, they made sure to include in the power of impeachment, for the relatively vague phrase of ‘crimes and misdemeanors.’

But a look at Federalist Paper #65, by Alexander Hamilton, provides a better idea of what they mean by that:

The subjects of its jurisdiction are those offenses which proceed from the misconduct of public men, or, in other words, from the abuse or violation of some public trust. They are of a nature which may with peculiar propriety be denominated POLITICAL, as they relate chiefly to injuries done immediately to the society itself.

(the emphasis on “political” is Hamilton’s.)

Because of this, however, he also acknowledges the danger that they become “regulated more by the comparative strength of parties, than by the real demonstrations of innocence or guilt.”

To help with that risk, they even split the power of impeachment again, with the House of Representatives bringing charges before the Senate, while the Chief Justice presides.

Two presidents have been impeached in our history, Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton.  Neither was convicted by the Senate and in both cases, the impeachment hearings were decidedly political and that, rightfully so, leaves a bad taste in the mouth.

However, the very real purpose of impeachment, the check on the consolidation of power in one branch, is not one that should so easily be tossed aside. The Democratic leadership, in a seemingly political decision, has decided to take impeachment “off the table,” as they say, despite a multitude of offenses which very easily fit the criteria Hamilton so elegantly laid out.

True, President Bush would probably not be removed from office and the whole procedure would jam up the system in a year when the focus should be on the future, not the past.  But it is nearly the responsibility of Congress to at least try to acknowledge that the President has gone too far, consolidated too much power and needs to be taken out behind the woodshed and checked and/or balanced.

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