Thursday, September 27, 2007

Two blurbs for Bill's blog--one adoring; one dismissive

“Prendergast is an excellent writer who spares no quarter in attacking the right at every opportunity.”—Drew Emmer, GOP campaign manager and member of the Executive Committee of the Wright County Republican BPOU.

“(Dear Bill:) Your assumption of what my motives are and the manner in which you express that assumption lead me to retract my earlier compliment about my respect for your writing expertise.”—Drew Emmer, GOP campaign manager and member of the Executive Committee of the Wright County Republican BPOU.


Bush: "I need help pronunciating this stuff"

Well, it *is* hard, if you don't know what you're doing:

When words get in the way, Bush goes phonetic

By Matt Spetalnick Tue Sep 25, 5:33 PM ET

NEW YORK (Reuters) - How do you keep a leader as verbally gaffe-prone as U.S. President George W. Bush from making even more slips of the tongue?

When Bush addressed the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday, the White House inadvertently showed exactly how -- with a phonetic pronunciation guide on the teleprompter to get him past troublesome names of countries and world leaders.

The White House was left scrambling to explain after a marked-up draft of Bush's speech popped up briefly on the U.N. Web site as he delivered his remarks, giving a rare glimpse of the special guidance he gets for major addresses...

...It included phonetic spellings for French President Nicolas Sarkozy (sar-KO-zee), a friend, and Zimbabwe leader Robert Mugabe (moo-GAH-bee), a target of U.S. human rights criticism.

Pronunciations were also provided for Kyrgyzstan (KEYR-geez-stan), Mauritania (moor-EH-tain-ee-a) and the Zimbabwe capital Harare (hah-RAR-ray)...

..."There was an error made," (White House spokeswoman Dana) Perino told reporters. "I don't know how the draft of the speech that was not final was posted but it was and it was taken back..."

Well, you wouldn’t want him to get up there and start talking about Robert MOO-gayb or Nicolas Sar-KOTZ-ee, would you? (Personally, I think it's "moor-eh-TAIN-ee-a", not "moor-EH-tain-ee-a.")

But here are some other ones that will come in handy for “the leader.” Try reading some out loud, it's fun:

Ig-NORD nine-ee-LEV-en warningz

LIDE about DUB-bul-yew-em-deez to get my CUN-tree into a MUR-der-rus SIV-il war over OYL

Mih-lih-TAR-ee diz-ASS-ter

A-nuther Vee-et NAM but with more KUN-treez

SING-gul HAND-ed-lee con-DEM-d the en-TIRE Mid-uhl Eest to JEN-oh-SIDE-uhl WAR-fair for the nekst for DEK-ades

Ah-MEHR-ih-kanz LOO-zing thayr HOMES

KIDZ LOOZ-ing thayr HELTH care

Im-PEND-ing GLO-bal reh-SESH-un

While I stand a-ROUND spow-ting BULL-shit with my THUM up my ASS

HAN-ded a BAL-anst BUD-jet by my PRED-ess-ess-or, now up to my ASS in DETT to RED CHI-na

sup-PORT-ted OHN-ly by LI-ing CON men and the STOO-pid-est PRO-toe-fash-ists

EYE cud fuk up a WET DREEM, and the JEE-OH-PEE noo it wen they NOM-in-ate-ed me. So did my PAIR-entz.

Wurst FUK-ing PREZ-ih-dent in YEW ESS HISS-tor-ee

Tor-PEE-doh-d my own FRIGG-ing po-LIT-i-kal PAR-tee, for KR-eye-st SAY-k




Snortz FAYL-yur like it was ko-KANE


Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Dick Cheney--just shoppin' at Borders

Yup, he was. Look:

Sep 25, 9:07 PM EDT
Who Runs DC? Dick Cheney Wants to Know


...The vice president was spotted Tuesday night with a copy of Washingtonian magazine's October issue featuring the "Power 150," its choices for the capital city's most influential people in business, culture, education and other pursuits...

...With his motorcade waiting outside the Borders bookstore at L and 18th streets NW, several people watched through streetside windows as Cheney browsed on the store's ground floor.

...He picked up copies of the late David Halberstam's new book, "The Coldest Winter: America and the Korean War," and the companion book to Ken Burns' PBS series "The War," according to a person in the store who asked not to be identified.

After waiting in line behind a handful of other shoppers, Cheney paid for his items and left as quietly as he arrived...

Clerk: Can I help you find something, sir?
Cheney: Yeah. Uh, look I’m in kind of a hurry, I’ve got a motorcade waiting outside—
Clerk: Certainly, what can I help you with?
Cheney: I’m looking for a book, a couple of books, really.
Clerk: What are the titles, sir--
Cheney: Well, that’s the thing, I don’t have particular titles in mind. It’s a present—for a friend. Well, not a friend, a co-worker. Well, actually, he’s more like an employee—Anyway, look, I want to kind of bring him up to speed on some stuff, some twentieth century military history.
Clerk: I see. Well, the Military History section is right over here—
Cheney: It needs to have a lot of pictures. A book about a war that we won, and it’s got to have a lot of pictures in it--
Clerk: Well, we’ve got a number of books about World War Two, we won that one—
Cheney: I know we won fucking World War Two, I’m not the one who’s—look, sorry, sorry, kid, I didn’t mean to snap at you--
Clerk: That’s okay, sir. Have you seen these DK books for kids? They have lots of pictures—
Cheney: This is exactly the thing I’m talking about. This is wonderful, they’re on all different subjects, are they?
Clerk: Yes, it’s a very popular series. Here’s one on “Knight”...”Aztec”...I looks like we’re sold out of the one on “World War Two”...
Cheney: Shit.
Clerk: We can order it in for you, sir, it would take about two weeks—
Cheney: Nah, nah, I need something to show him tonight.
Clerk: Have you considered buying your friend a DVD on World War II?
Cheney: That’s the best fucking idea I’ve heard this year. Is there a good one available?
Clerk: Well, there’s a Ken Burns documentary on World War II coming out—
Cheney: Perfect. Lead me to it—
Clerk: I think we may be sold out of that, too, unfortunately—
Cheney: Look, kid—stop cockteasing me, will you? What have you got in the store, right now?
Clerk: Well, we have the Ken Burns book that accompanies the DVD, that has lots of photos—
Cheney: Gimme that. (examines it) Okay. Great. Here’s pictures of us winning, I’ll take it. Now I need something else, something brainy-looking—
Clerk: For the same friend?
Cheney: It’s just so he can be seen carrying it around, so he can be seen with it. It can have lot of big words in it, it doesn’t matter, he’s not gonna read it anyway.
Clerk: About World War II?
Cheney: No, about some other war, some other war that we didn’t win. So it looks like he’s a serious thinker, learning from the lessons of the past—
Clerk: Here’s a history of Viet Nam—
Cheney: For Christ’s sake, no. No way. What else?
Clerk: Well, David Halberstom’s got a new book out on the Korean War—
Cheney: Gimme that. (examines) Okay, we’re done. Perfect. (sees magazine left in chair) What’s that, what’s that there, that magazine? “Washington’s 150 Most Powerful People—“ (starts to flip through it quickly)
Clerk: Would you like me to take you to the magazine section, sir?
Cheney: Nah, nah, I’m just trying to see if I’m in here anywhere...Ah, there I am. I can leave this laying on his desk, open at this page. That way he’ll think I’m still—alright, where do I ring up this stuff.
Clerk: Right this way, sir, I’ll take you to the register.
Cheney: Great. Am I supposed to tip you or something?
Clerk: Oh, no sir. We don’t accept gratuities here at Borders.
Cheney: Okay, then fine. Go fuck yourself, then, okay? And don’t tell anyone I was in here.
Clerk: Yes, sir.


Sunday, September 23, 2007

The President is really losing it, now

I know Dana Milbank of the Washington Post isn't the most dispassionate observer of the Bush team--but his report on the behavior of the Prez at the last news conference is kind of disturbing.

The President is apparently displaying the kind of childishness and truculence that his Press Secretary Tony Snow engaged in just prior to announcing his departure from the scene.

And he's behaving this way publicly. You read these questions and Bush's answers and tell me if you don't see signs of encroaching depression and broken defense mechanisms:

Yesterday's news conference was just minutes old when President Bush made a startling announcement.

"Mandela's dead," he said.

There was a gasp in the White House briefing room at this news, which would no doubt surprise the 89-year-old Nelson Mandela himself.

Fortunately, the president quickly clarified that he was not speaking of the sainted South African but of his equivalents in Iraq. "Saddam Hussein killed all the Mandelas," he explained.

Mass exhalation...

Is a recession looming?

"I think I got a B in Econ 101."

(Serious question for American homeowners and working people=lame joke by the POTUS? That's not going to calm the markets or the people...)

His thoughts on Israel's bombing of Syria?

"I'm not going to comment on the matter."

(Why the hell not?)

How about the racial conflagration in Jena, La.?

"There's litigation taking place."


Ken Herman of Cox News tried to draw out the news-shy president. "For Republicans seeking election next year, are you an asset or a liability?"

"Strong asset," was Bush's full reply.

"Can I follow?"


The rest was blaming Congress--blaming the present Congress for the upcoming failure of SCHIP, and blaming the former GOP Congress for Greenspan's recent criticism of the Bush economy.

When blaming Congress was impractical, the president found other worthy targets. Asked about the Iraqi government's problems, he noted that "part of the reason why there is not this instant democracy in Iraq is because people are still recovering from Saddam Hussein's brutal rule."

A state of denial, paraded publicly. No kidding, he really sounds like he's losing it now. A leader simply doesn't act like that, in front of the press, when the country's facing a bunch of crises. Maybe someone inside the White House finally "burst the bubble" this week and told him what was going on in the outside world. He sounds like the generals who led the Charge of The Light Brigade--"I don't want to talk about it, none of it is my fault..."

Scary stuff. He sounds as if the political realities and consequences of what he's done and failed to do are finally sinking in--and he can't handle it, anymore. What does a stupid megalomaniac do, once he finally realizes that he's failed?


Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Larry Craig restroom a Minnesota tourist attraction!

From the New York Times, for God’s sake:

Fateful Bathroom Draws Crowds of the Curious

Andy King/Associated Press


…Since Aug. 27, when the arrest of Mr. Craig became known publicly, the restroom has become a source of amusement for travelers and employees at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. Some pose for pictures before the outer door. Others enter to zoom in on the light-blue stall the senator used, the eighth of nine in a row. The undercover officer who arrested Mr. Craig was in the stall to his right, the seventh stall.

Foot traffic outside the restroom, which is just off the central food court, has quadrupled, said Rosemary Zeno, who works at Royal Zeno Shoe Shine next door. Ms. Zeno says she fields some 50 questions a day about the bathroom. “It’s ridiculous,” she said. “They need to cut it out.”

Disgraceful. At a time when the state is so starved for cash that it lets a bridge collapse, Minnesota governor and GOP vice-presidential hopeful Tim Pawlenty is letting another key revenue opportunity slip through the state’s hands, here.

Now is the time to jump on this one. Pawlenty should sign an executive ordering setting up a booth outside the restroom, with a state parks official staffing it to answer questions and hand out brochures. Eight bucks if you want to take the tour. That’s a very busy airport, a lot of people stuck there waiting for cancelled Northwest flights and connections. We could make a bundle.

It’s a prime location. $8.00 a head, groups of ten, maximum, with the ranger giving a twenty minute presentation: the biographical background on Craig, Sergeant Karsnia, brief history of the sting operation, re-enactment by the ranger and a volunteer from the group to play Karsnia in the next stall. Brief account of the arrest, Craig’s statements during interrogation, update on the political and legal aftermath—give everyone a chance to sit in Craig’s stall—then “thank you for joining the tour,” and bang! “Next group, please.” It’s a beautiful thing, the ranger doesn’t even have to stop to give out directions to the restrooms.

It might end up being like Mann’s Chinese Theater in Hollywood, where you go to compare your footprint with those of the movie stars, set in concrete. You could go on down to the restroom and sit in a stall and compare your stance to Larry Craig’s.

Let’s see–- three groups of ten an hour–that’s $160 bucks an hour. People are stuck there all night, so pretty steady traffic. You could do advance bookings via Gray Line, other tour companies, offer the tour as an add-on via online travel services like Expedia and Travelocity. That’s an international airport; they get all the KLM/Northwest flights from Europe. You could get groups of Dutch, French, Belgians, whatever—all those people speak English now; the dollar is weak and they’ve got nothing to do in the airport; I’m sure they’d love to hear the story.

Now the $160 an hour doesn’t sound like much, but after two tours you’ve already paid the tour guide’s salary, the rest is gravy. And these people have to eat, right? Right there, bars and restaurants, we’re golden. And then you’ve got the souvenirs, memorabilia. Get your picture taken next to a life-size cardboard cut-out of Craig, standing in front of the restroom. T-shirts: “I sat in Larry Craig’s stall and all I got was this lousy t-shirt”–that’s twenty bucks a pop. “Ten per cent of every item sold goes to fund infrastructure repair in Minnesota.”

I don’t see any downside to this one at all. We’re already getting free press in the NYT, for Chrissake’s! Get a move on on this one, Pawlenty! Hop to it!


Saturday, September 15, 2007

Washington Post on Obama: What the hell is he thinking these days, anyway?

Okay, as we know: some Democrats say he’s been talking the talk, but not walking the walk:

War Critics Question Obama's Fervor
Some Say Actions Don't Match Talk

By Perry Bacon Jr.
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, September 15, 2007; A01

...some antiwar Democrats have raised questions about the depth of Obama's opposition, taking aim at one of the signature arguments for his candidacy -- that he is the only leading Democratic candidate who opposed the war from the beginning.

They say that while Obama did argue against the war as a Senate candidate, he tempered his rhetoric and his opposition once he arrived in the Capitol, rejecting timetables for withdrawal and backing war funding bills. He returned to a sharper position, they say, when he started running for president...

"So many politicians were afraid" to oppose the war, "so he gets credit for that," said Jim Ginsburg, a Chicago Democratic activist. He backed Obama when he ran for the Senate in 2004 but says Al Gore is his preferred candidate for president.

"Some of his actions and speeches once he got in the Senate did not match his rhetoric," Ginsburg, the son of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, said of Obama. "He started making very mealy-mouthed comments and voted to authorize funding for the war. Once he started seeing how angry Democrats were, his rhetoric has turned to where it was in the 2004 campaign."...

..."It's great [Obama] had good judgment," said Markos Moulitsas Z?niga, who runs the popular liberal blog Daily Kos, but he added: "There's no clarity of message." Moulitsas said that Obama should have firmly come out against any bill that offers funding for the war without a timetable for withdrawal, as Edwards has...

(Okay, sounds like a fair thing to ask an end-the-war candidate to do...)

In a speech Wednesday, Obama offered his most detailed plan yet for getting troops out of Iraq, calling for the withdrawal of at least one of the 20 brigades (each made up of about 3,500 soldiers) in Iraq every month starting now, with all combat troops out by the end of next year. And even among the most antiwar audiences, Obama still has many supporters.

(Personally, I don’t react very well to that plan. I don’t think it seems wise militarily or politically, but I won’t pass judgment until I hear all the details.)

"He's been there from the very beginning," said Tom Andrews, the national director of a group called Win Without War.

(In 2002 when Obama spoke at an anti-war rally) "Bush's ratings were at an all-time high," said Marilyn Katz, another organizer of the rally, who is now one of the top fundraisers for Obama's 2008 campaign. But Obama "was willing to stand up and stake out a leadership position."

(Very admirable--taking an unpopular and principled stand at a time when most of the country still believed in Bush shows vision, courage and character. Here's where we get into trouble:)

...But once he arrived in the Senate, after winning the primary and easily dispatching his Republican opponent, Obama did not emerge as a key voice on the war.

Days after Rep. John P. Murtha (D-Pa.) gave a teary speech in November 2005 calling for the immediate pullout of U.S. troops from Iraq, Obama called for a phased reduction in troops but emphasized that he was against a timetable for withdrawal...

In 2005 and 2006, Obama backed several bills that funded the Iraq war. In July 2006, when Democratic Sens. John F. Kerry (Mass.) and Russell Feingold (Wis.) pushed for a bill that would set a timetable to remove combat troops from Iraq by July 31, 2007, Obama, like Clinton, voted no.

Hmmm... I don't know. He does some war-funding stuff, then he does some I'm gonna end the war stuff... And there's all these Democrats who believe in him deeply. I don't know.

Friday, September 14, 2007

What's with, like, the lean content on this blog, lately?

Sorry, sports fans, but...

As you may know, I write for another blog (Dump Bachmann) and I've been busy this week.

It's a Bachmann story, of course. Two days ago I printed a rumor that had two parts:

1) DFL candidate Bob Hill might be dropping out of the race.

The Hill campaign was kind of upset that I printed that, but they so far they haven't explicitly denied it. So I have been on the phone and the internet with people the past couple of days, batting the issue back and forth.

2) The second part of the rumor was: Former Ventura transportation commissioner Elwyn Tinklenberg was getting into the race, to run as a DFL candidate against Bachmann.

After I printed that on Dump Bachmann, the Pioneer Press reported that a Tinklenberg spokesman said that that part of the rumor was correct. Today the St. Cloud Times printed that Tinklenberg was indeed reconsidering his options and thinking about a run against Bachmann. Tinklenberg has had meetings with the other DFL candidates (Bob Hill and Bob Olson.)

That's where we are, at this writing. In other news, Nancy Pelosi reacted to Petraeus' progress report on Iraq and mentioned Petraeus' "we have to fight ten more years in Iraq, if we really want to win" assessment. (See previous item on this blog.) That's good; let's get that out in front of all the voters so they can see what this Iraq war thing really involves.

But the bottom line is, I haven't had time this week to come up with all the "political hilarity" that I usually provide for this blog. No Larry Craig jokes.

I will try to get back to that quality content this weekend. In the meantime, let me see if I can come up with something to amuse you, to make it worth your time to read this. Let's see... Google... "Larry Craig jokes"...

Hmm... not funny... not funny... not funny... Aha! Here's a good one; from David Letterman:

“Senator Craig from Idaho is blaming the media for his guilty plea, especially that cute guy from the Associated Press."


Sunday, September 09, 2007

Petraeus: victory will require 9-10 more years of US war in Iraq

Time to get serious. I hate repeating myself, but that assessment by Gen. Petraeus bears repeating.

If the debate in congress and the media goes on without that professional assessment as a given--I think there's a very good chance that the war will continue and then expand in Iraq--and into Iran. So I'm repeating it. Here's the relevant news story; it's been raised and discussed by several diarists on the Daily Kos and other liberal and anti-war blogs but it's not yeat a matter of general knowledge: General Petraeus has gone on the record, in advance of his long-awaited September report, and stated that Iraq cannot be stabilized without nine to ten more years of American warfare in Iraq. (continued)

If I had my way, that assessment would be on the lips of everyone everywhere who has any opinion on the war. Acknowledging the fact of Petraeus' prognosis for military victory--9 to 10 years of continued American fighting in Iraq--would be a precondition for discussing the war. Anyone who didn't begin their arguments about the war without that assessment as a pre-condition--could be dismissed from the table as a propagandist, a yahoo, a crank.

Because Petraeus is the guy on the ground, he is in charge of the military side of the "mission", and he knows better than anyone else what's going on there. And even though he's willing to submit a report to Congress that's been edited by the White House, even though he's willing to engage in that kind of "happy talk" about progress to extend the life of the mission: his candid assessment, delivered to members of Congress this August is that it will take nine to ten more years of warfare to stabilize Iraq. Not to set up a western style democracy there (the original goal of the mission)--nine to ten years to stabilize it.

If war supporters are allowed to pass over that nine to ten year guess by Petraeus: they win. They've bought more time, if the public is allowed to ignore Petraeus' prognosis--and time, at this stage, is what they're after.

If Americans against the war make the Petraeus 9-10 year assessment central to this year's discussion about the war--the anti-war Americans win. Because that 9 to 10 year assessment follow 1) a real draft, not a backdoor one, 2) tens of thousands of more casualites for the US armed forces, 3) an invasion and occupation of Iran--you can't "stabilize" Iraq, without destroying Iran. And 4) bankrupting the US to win this battle, which will not eliminate or confine terror.

So that reality--"Petraeus says he thinks it will take nine to ten years of US war in Iraq by the US to win"--that fact has to be pitched, repeatedly. It has to be reiterated in Congress, in the media, on the streets and in the country. It has to be repeated until it becomes as engraved in the minds of Americans as the fact that "The Star Spangled Banner" is the national anthem, or the fact that "George W. Bush is an incompetent lying asshole."

That should be the soundbyte we should demand to hear from Congress--"General Petraeus, you told members of Congress in August of this year that it will take nine to ten more years of warfare by the US in Iraq if we wish to achieve victory." That should be the beginning and end of all the Sunday morning political shows, the beginning of the newspaper editorials on the war, the question asked at White House press conferences, the beginning of the rhetoric of the anti-war activists, of the anti-war blogs and the public conversations about the war: "Petraeus says he thinks it will take nine to ten years of war in Iraq by the US to win."

If that fact--and it is a fact, that is Petraeus' assessment of how long it would take for the US to win the war--if that fact slips away, virtually unnoticed, there is every likelihood that the war will continue as it has been continuing for the foreseeable future. The White House will spin its web of "progress" bullshit, vacillating Dems will compromise. But if that fact becomes central to the debate this year, anti-war forces in the US will win the debate and have a good chance of seeing serious and permanent troop withdrawals from Iraq beginning next year.

Because no American in his right mind wants to commit to fighting nine to ten years over there, just to stabilize Iraq.


Thursday, September 06, 2007

Larry Craig: The "JFK Assassination" Angle

Senator Arlen Specter’s tantalizing speculation on the outcome of the Larry Craig case:

Sen. Craig skips Senate's first day back after resignation announcement

...Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter, senior Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, suggested Craig’s GOP colleagues who pressured him last week to resign should re-examine the facts surrounding his arrest June 11. (continued)

“The more people take a look at the situation, there may well be second thoughts,” Specter, a former prosecutor, said today. If Craig had not pleaded guilty in August to a reduced charge and instead demanded a trial, “I believe he would have been exonerated,” Specter said...

It is interesting to speculate on Specter’s speculation. Could the Senator be considering the possibility of an extended investigation that will ultimately clear Craig by raising serious doubts about his culpability?

Specter’s career as an investigator may be coming full circle. He rose to fame as the proponent of the famous and controversial “single-bullet theory” explanation for how Lee Harvey Oswald might have been solely responsible for the death of President Kennedy in 1963. Specter’s contributions to the Warren Commission Report represented an attempt to dispel the notion that more than one assassin was involved in the shooting.

So it is ironic that Specter now seems to be proposing some “conspiracy theory” of his own in order to exonerate his Republican colleague.
What will Specter’s theory look like, once it is fleshed out? We don’t know, but we can guess.

Specter will probably try to prove the existence of “someone else” in an adjoining bathroom stall—a “second shitter,” if you will. The presence of a second person or persons unknown, seated on “the gassy knoll” in close proximity to that of the arresting officer, would go far in exculpating Craig—if it could be shown that it was a physical impossibility for Senator Craig to reach down for piece of toilet paper on the floor with his PALM FACING UP, as he claims.

A second shitter would also explain the toe-tapping and “the hand with the gold wedding ring” that the officer SAYS he sighted, rubbing the bottom of the adjoining stall. Millions of American men wear gold wedding rings; that is not conclusive evidence that wearers are not gay, or that the hand that Officer Karsnia saw beneath the stall was Craig’s.

Clearly, Specter does not accept the theory propounded by those who would pin the blame on Craig, and Craig alone—the so-called “single toilet theory.” It stretches the bounds of credulity to believe that Craig was “acting alone,” that a United States Senator (however wide his stance) would reach down to pick up a piece of toilet paper off the floor in such a way that could be mistaken for sexual invitation by an experienced officer in the next stall.

Specter will also point out that many of the potential witnesses to the incident have “disappeared.” Men using the busy airport restroom facilities at the date and time in question are “unavailable” to the press and public—either that, or they’re refusing to testify about what they saw. Coincidence--or something more sinister?

Officer Karsnia’s police report notes that Senator Craig “did not flush” after exiting the stall. I submit that Karsnia included that fact in his report as evidence that Craig had entered the men’s restroom for non-excretory purposes. It should be noted that failure to flush before leaving a restroom stall is a crime in Singapore.

Yes, it is. In law school I had a Chinese friend who grew up in Singapore. He explained to me that citizens who did not flush after exiting the stall were reported to the authorities; the punishment was to run their photographs in the local paper.

This may ultimately prove irrelevant, if Singapore does not try to claim jurisdiction over the case, but I feel it is important to include an international law perspective here. Whatever argument Craig tries to present in his defense, there is no excuse for not flushing the toilet after leaving the stall.


Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Rove: Deserting rat denies sinking the ship

There’s a new book coming out that purports to give an inside view of some of the secret squabbling that’s gone on over the past seven years inside the Bush White House. This would not be considered a big deal, except for the fact that one of the author’s informants appears to have been Karl Rove, who apparently shared a couple of “juicy stories” with the author some months prior to his departure from the White House.

The fact is: if the AP story on the release of the book is anything to go by, the “juicy stories” told by Rove are not all that juicy. See here:

Book Tells Of Dissent In Bush's Inner Circle
White House Granted Author Unusual Access

By Michael Abramowitz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, September 3, 2007; A01

Karl Rove told George W. Bush before the 2000 election that it was a bad idea to name Richard B. Cheney as his running mate, and Rove later raised objections to the nomination of Harriet E. Miers to the Supreme Court, according to a new book on the Bush presidency.

In "Dead Certain: The Presidency of George Bush," journalist Robert Draper writes that Rove told Bush he should not tap Cheney for the Republican ticket: "Selecting Daddy's top foreign-policy guru ran counter to message. It was worse than a safe pick -- it was needy." But Bush did not care -- he was comfortable with Cheney and "saw no harm in giving his VP unprecedented run of the place."

When Rove, President Bush's top political adviser, expressed concerns about the Miers selection, he was "shouted down" and subsequently muted his objections, Draper writes, while other advisers did not realize the outcry the nomination would cause within the president's conservative political base.

See what I mean? Obviously this isn’t Rove dishing all the dirt he could, nobody expects that he will do that; that would kill these guys dead, once and for all.

Instead, this is Rove sluffing off any personal responsibility for a couple of f-ups that he'd rather not get blamed for, given the fact that he is widely acknowledged to be one of GWB’s two brain cells. (The other is Cheney.)

What’s interesting is that Rove is talking at all about this stuff. That fact makes it clear that he wants to remain active in the GOP and conservative politics. To do that, he has to make sure that he is not made a fall guy for the failed political strategies of what is surely the most incompetent and disastrous White House since the Nixon administration.

Remember that a key element of the Rove strategy was to preach bi-partisanship and “a new tone in Washington” on the way in, while secretly planning to run the most partisan White House in modern history. Bush continued to campaign vigorously on behalf of the GOP and its candidates long after he was elected, working not to negotiate with Democrats and build consensus (as he promised) but to replace them. And Rove’s behind-the-scenes efforts—e.g., politicizing the Justice Department so that it would “go after” Democrats and Democratic voters—reflected the same view: purge American political life of liberals and Democrats by any means necessary, to ensure a conservative hegemony for decades to come.

All ends were directed to domestic political ends: how to respond to terrorist strikes at the US, how to run the economy (deficit spending dressed up as conservatism), questions involving foreign policy, questions of war and peace and how to direct the Pentagon—all national and international questions became secondary, directed to an ultimate goal: the lasting and hopefully permanent triumph of conservative Republican power. The future envisioned by Rove had little to do with America and America’s interests, and everything to do with the interests of Republicans and conservatives. He worked for a divided America, a future of well-funded conservatives using a permanent state of crisis and a nationwide right-wing media to dominate a marginalized liberal rump party that would be stereotyped as a weakling counter-culture of potential traitors and socialist wannabes.

To say that “Rove’s plan backfired” amounts to comic understatement. The Bush White House, with every possible advantage of prosperity, money, and media, torpedoed its own party via sheer incompetence in policymaking. Their characteristic response to crisis and disaster was to expand the scope and severity of those crises and disasters. That’s because Rove’s take on the world and politics is wrong. National and international policy questions are not matters of public perception; spin and effectiveness in destroying one’s political opposition at home.

But Rove does not want to spend the rest of his life with a reputation as “the guy who destroyed the conservative hegemony over American politics.” So he’s signaling his willingness to talk, if necessary. To spread the blame for the GOP disaster by minimizing his own role in specific Bush White House disasters: “Hey, I’m not the guy who said Cheney should run Bush foreign policy—I was against his appointment as veep. Hey, I’m not the guy who was responsible for the Miers debacle.”

Hopefully, this is just the tip of the iceberg. Hopefully, Rove will keep talking and other key Bush personnel will start to talk about how the disasters came about, in order to try to salvage their own historical reputations. It’s heartening to see the regime turn against its own, even if they’re only doing so to try to save their own careers.


Monday, September 03, 2007

Departing Snow was cranky, petulant; had a "stuff this" attitude

Dana Milbank turned in this column before Snow's resignation announcement became official:

Press Secretary May Be Ready to Leave the Circus

By Dana Milbank
Friday, August 31, 2007; A02

White House press secretary Tony Snow sounds as if he's had about enough.

At yesterday's press briefing, CBS News's Bill Plante asked about a new report by the Government Accountability Office showing problems in Iraq.

"There are a lot of reports," said Snow. "It's a season of reports."

CNN's Ed Henry inquired about the "16 spy agencies" that wrote a National Intelligence Estimate.

"Sixteen spy agencies?" Snow answered reproachfully. "You're talking about intelligence agencies."

And don't even bother asking him about Sen. Larry Craig. "Thank you for the question," the spokesman spoke. "I've already given my answer."

"No, you didn't," pointed out April Ryan of American Urban Radio Networks.

"Yes, I did," Snow retorted, then reconsidered. "Okay, I gave the answer I'm going to give."

Plante detected a bit of snippiness. "Your tolerance level seems to be slipping," the veteran newsman observed.

"Really?" Snow replied. "Am I getting cranky like you? Wow."

(That's not very classy, is it? Is that the way you really want to be remembered? A "sarcastic little girl" kind of White House press secretary? I don't think Ron Ziegler talked to the press like that even during Watergate. What a little pissy man Snow was, in his final days...)

Snow said earlier this month that he'll be leaving his position before the president has left his. But he hasn't said when...

...If he leaves, he can look forward to considerable lucre. Former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer asked for $50,000 a speech when he left the job, and Snow is at least twice as good. The Snow wit -- which the spokesman uses to thwart reporters in search of more substantive answers -- would find a natural home on the talk circuit...

Ah-HA! Ah-HA! So that's it! That's what the pissiness was all about. Snow was TRYING to get fired, so he could get back in the private sector and make more MONEY! Sort of like a soldier who’s on a tour of duty, realizes he’s losing all this money fighting for his country and then decides to try to get out on a dishonorable discharge or Section Eight.

Okay. Not very patriotic. Not very admirable with a war going on and all these kids staying on even thought their buddies are getting shot, maimed or killed—but I understand why you’d wanna do it, Tony. You’d make a hell of a lot more money than those veterans, if you left public service.

I guess we're lucky Snow took off before we saw any more of his "I'm a pissy little girl and I hate you all" attitude. A few more days of this “I’m gonna get me fired so I can start making the big money again” strategy, and we would have seen moments like this:

SNOW: Yes, first question. Bob?
REPORTER: Do you think a guilty plea can be recanted for an arrest for lewd conduct in a men's restroom at an airport?
SNOW: You go ask your *mother* if a guilty plea can be recanted for an arrest for lewd conduct in a men's restroom at an airport, Bob. Next question.
REPORTER: Was the pressure on Attorney General Gonzales to resign fair, given the circumstances?
SNOW: Since when did you people start caring about “fair?” Suddenly, you start caring about “fairness?” What the hell is this, the “End Times” or something? (pretends to look under the podium) Where’s Jesus?
REPORTER: Please, Tony—
SNOW: (yells off stage) Somebody get Satan’s parka! Hell has apparently frozen over, the press cares about fairness now—
REPORTER: --the GAO released its report on Iraq yesterday and said that the Iraqi government has failed to reach any of the most significant benchmarks—are—are you mimicking me, Tony?
SNOW: “--mimicking me, Tony?”
REPORTER: I have to say, I think this is very childish and unprofessional—
SNOW: “—and unpwofessionaw--”
REPORTER: Well, in my fifteen years of covering the White House, I—
SNOW:(using his hand to talk, a la Senor Huences) “—feefteen years of covering de White House, I—“
REPORTER: How’d you like me to come up there and kick your ass?
SNOW: (points out reporter) Security! (the men in black come and take the reporter out, Snow goes into Senor Huences with his hand again, calling after him as they drag him out) “How you like me to come up dere and kick your ass?” (laughs) You know, I may stick around a little while in this job, after all...