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Tuesday, November 29, 2005

NOW we get a Strategy to Win the War?

From Think Progress:

From today’s White House pool report:
Scott gaggled on AF1 and yes, he gave a preview of tomorrow’s speech on the war. Among the hightlights [sic], the WH will be releasing an unclassified “National Strategy for Victory in Iraq.” He said they hope to have it out by 6:30 a.m.
Question: Shouldn’t we have had a “National Strategy for Victory in Iraq” before the war started?

I wonder what NEW initiatives we are going to hear from the preznet.

In honor of Devilstower's must read diary, I doubt it will be a well considered analytical step by step approach to carefully withdraw the US military from Iraq. I also doubt it will have the security of the Iraqi and American people as its center piece of consideration.

How can we trust this administration, who so thoughtlessly lead the world into this mess to extract us from it with nuance and intelligence? How can we trust anything that comes from the White House to be more than arrogant political cover? Their history has taught us the screeming answer.

Sad and pathetic. If someone with some sense doesn't take over soon, we are really going to be in trouble, because leaving Iraq is going to be far more dangerous than invading it.

Originally posted at:

Monday, November 21, 2005

Leader of the Free World?

Caption Contest?

Thursday, November 10, 2005

GOP Congress Running Against Itself

There must be an election year coming up. GOP members of Congress are preparing for a tough fight to run against.......themselves.

With the administration's approval numbers dropping like the temperatures in the Northeast, and the president himself earning the new name, Typhoid Dubya, it seems that the majority party of both houses of Congress hate their own policies.

Today, the House leadership pulled from the floor its own Reconciliation Budget Package, because moderates scoffed at its proposed cuts in social programs.  The New York TImes:

WASHINGTON, Nov. 10 -- Unable to ensure a majority for a contentious budget-cutting bill even after jettisoning a plan for oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, House Republican leaders this afternoon pulled back from a floor debate.

Democrats and other House officials said they had been informed that the budget vote that had been promised repeatedly by the leadership would be postponed. The turmoil was the latest sign of Republican dissension and represented a major embarrassment for the Republican leadership, particularly Roy Blunt of Missouri, who is serving as temporary majority leader and would like the job on a full-time basis if legal troubles persist for Representative Tom DeLay.

Another major GOP congressional agenda item, tax cuts for the wealthy, also is taking it on the chin.  CNN says:

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Republicans started advancing their tax-cutting agenda through the Senate with lingering questions about whether the GOP has enough votes to win support in the tax-writing Finance Committee.

GOP Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine, a moderate whose vote is pivotal, has not said whether she will endorse the cuts at the committee hearing on Thursday.

"It's no secret that we have to get all of our Republican members to vote for this bill," said Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pennsylvania. "Right now, we do not have all of our Republican members."

Until recently, the GOP spin-meisters have been adroit at wrapping their corporate war agenda in a blanket of fear and terror while their number one pitchman has been equally adroit at feeding social wedge issues to the religious right. But now things have changed and that agenda has to stand on its own...stripped of its veneer of fear, terror and hate.  

This week's election fired a warning shot over the Republican bow as voters have signaled that the jig may soon be up.

With Rove on his way out, Cheney feeling legal pressure and Libby under indictment for lying to protect the administration's Iraqi Mendacity Machine, the GOP congress can't count on the White House to provide cover for its disasterous priorities.

As a result, some self-serving Republican members of Congress see the writing on the wall and they have decided to provide their own cover; a cover that will lead them to do the only thing that will save their jobs. They will choose to run against themselves.

The 2005 off year election has its first casulty; the wingnut congressional agenda.

Originally posted at:

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

With Friends Like These...

Who needs opponents?

Monday, November 07, 2005

President Bush: "We do not torture."


Then what's this?

Hope Revisited

“May I have your name, please?” asked the formally dressed female intern seated at the welcome desk. I gave it to her and she checked and double-checked the evening’s roster. After fumbling with her sheets of paper, she looked up and blushed. “I’m sorry, but you don’t appear to be on the list,” she almost whispered.

“I called last week and reserved a ticket with my credit card,” I said looking up, trying to keep my frustration at bay.

“Hang on,” she said rising from her chair. “Let me talk with Tom and see what we can do.” With that, she disappeared around the corner.

About a week ago, I received an email inviting me to Common Cause’s I Love an Ethical NY Awards Reception at the Museum of Natural History in Manhattan. Among the scheduled honorees were President Clinton, Charlie Rose and Seymour Hersh. Not a bad line-up and the price was right, so I gave them a call and grabbed a reservation.

I was late arriving, because the city had decided that 5:00 PM was a great time to tear up Eighth Avenue at 42nd street. I had been screaming out of frustration in the car while taking “fifteen minutes to go three blocks,” to recall a James Taylor lyric, and I was a bit frazzled when I finally arrived at the welcome desk. The news that I wasn’t on “the list” just about put me over the top.

You see I wasn’t totally comfortable with the evening’s prospects, to begin with. Having never attended one of these events, I really didn’t know what to expect. I was also going alone. I had spent the day preparing to be ready for the awkward situation of introducing myself to strangers at a large cocktail reception full of well-to-do New York City liberal activists. My task for the night was to face my trepidation. My plan was to make people talk about themselves and perhaps get a glimpse of the former president.

The intern reappeared from around the corner with a young man who sported a full shock of curly hair. He carried a clipboard and wore a blue suit adorned with a nametag.

“Hello, I’m Tom and I’m terribly sorry about this,” he said taking my elbow and leading me toward the escalator. “The cocktail hour is almost over. I’ll go upstairs with you and walk you past the ticket takers into the banquet room. Stand in the back and wait until everyone is seated, then grab an empty chair at a table. There will be some no-shows.”

I was disappointed to have missed the reception, but was not unhappy to have missed the self-introductions.

Tom and I rode the escalator up to the mezzanine that overlooked the lobby. I saw the bar to my right past the jazz trio, and the stylish crowd of attendees, with drinks in hand, was slowly moving down the hall to my left toward the entrance of the banquet room. We stepped off the escalator and stood to the right to wait for the throng to pass.

At exactly the same instant that Tom leaned toward me to whisper, “Of course, you know who that is,” I saw President Clinton. He was standing about six feet away and was surrounded by about seven or eight well-wishers.

The first thing I thought was, “They’re right.” I had been told by those who have been in the same room with the former president that he has an amazing charisma. In this case, he seemed to be standing in a pool of light, so much so that I glanced up to see where his handlers might have hung the pin spot.

Forgetting all self-doubt, I immediately turned to Tom and said, “Excuse me. I don’t get this opportunity very often.”

“Go for it,” he said. “I’ll wait for you down the hall.”

As I stepped forward, I was reminded of the passage from Primary Colors describing “the handshake.”

We shook hands. My inability to recall that particular moment more precisely is disappointing: the handshake is the threshold act, the beginning of politics. I've seen him do it two million times now, but I couldn't tell you how he does it, the right-handed part of it--the strength, quality, duration of it, the rudiments of pressing the flesh. I can, however, tell you a whole lot about what he does with his other hand. He is a genius with it. He might put it on your elbow, or up by your biceps: these are basic, reflexive moves. He is interested in you. He is honored to meet you. If he gets any higher up your shoulder--if he, say, drapes his left arm over your back, it is somehow less intimate, more casual. He'll share a laugh or a secret then--a light secret, not a real one--flattering you with the illusion of conspiracy. If he doesn't know you all that well and you've just told him something "important," something earnest or emotional, he will lock in and honor you with a two-hander, his left hand overwhelming your wrist and forearm. He'll flash that famous misty look of his. And he will mean it.

And that’s exactly what he was doing; traveling seamlessly, effortlessly from person to person, each one feeling that he listened and cared and would remember. Only now, there seemed to be a calm about him, not the frenzy fueled by the passion of elective politics. Something more human, more relaxed, more knowing?

“Okay, everyone! Please make your way into the room. We are about to begin,” came a male voice from down the hall. The former president was talking with the last person in the circle, and I knew I would be next.

The right hand came my way as he was patting the shoulder of the woman next to me with his left. I reached out and took his extended hand and he moved with ease to meet my eyes. I was ready.

“Good evening, Mr. President.” I introduced myself and continued, “I live in upstate New York, and I am, among other things, a freelance writer for political blogs.” His eyes lit up.

“You know, blogs are the new town hall,” he said. “That’s where political discussions are really being held to form policy these days. Very exciting.” He still loves policy, I thought.

“I worked for both of your campaigns and supported your wife for the Senate four years ago.” I said, feeling oddly calm.

He then put his hand on my shoulder and said, “Walk with me.”

Thrilled, I turned and walked down the hall with the former leader of the free world. During our walk, we talked about blogging and its impact on politics, my hometown, his back yard and a particular dream I had long ago.

As we entered the room where he was to be honored, I stopped and said, “Mr. President, about ten years ago, I had a dream, not a waking dream, but a real sleeping dream that was so clear, I still remember the details. That dream was that one day I would meet you and shake your hand and have the honor of spending a few minutes with you. That small dream is being realized right now, and it’s a thrill for me.” I hesitated, and then said, “I don’t suppose you had a dream that you would meet me as well?”

He threw back his head and laughed. “Actually, if I did, it’s gone from my mind. I want to thank you for the support you gave to me and to my wife. She’s a great Senator.”

“I agree, and congratulations on your honor tonight,” I said.

“Thank you,” he said as he was led away to his table.

During my drive home that night, I found myself smiling like a fool. The ceremony itself was fulfilling. Mr. Clinton’s short speech was gracious as were those of Charlie Rose, Robert Rubin, David Dinkins, Calvin Trillin and the leaders of Common Cause, but the reason for my smile was more cathartic. I remembered the joy of that November in 1992 when Clinton had won the presidency. And I took stock of the depressing winter darkness that has been the hallmark of the past five years…and for one night, I felt the warm trade winds in my face. I was smiling again, because I caught the faint memory of what it was like to have Hope revisit America.

Originally posted at:

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Is it about to be blown open?

This from Editor & Publisher.

NEW YORK Ever since the Democrats briefly closed the U.S. Senate from view earlier this week, to protest alleged Republican foot-dragging in probing Bush administration pre-war manipulation of intelligence, the press has been asking: So what new evidence do the Democrats have in this matter?

Tomorrow, The New York Times starts to answer the question, with reporter Doug Jehl disclosing the contents of a newly declassified memo apparently passed to him by Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan, the top Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee.

It shows that an al-Qaeda official in American custody was identified as a likely fabricator months before the Bush administration began to use his statements as the foundation for its claims that Iraq trained al-Qaeda members to use biological and chemical weapons, according to this Defense Intelligence Agency document from February 2002.

It declared that it was probable that the prisoner, Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, "was intentionally misleading the debriefers" in making claims about Iraqi support for al-Qaeda's work with illicit weapons, Jehl reports.

"The document provides the earliest and strongest indication of doubts voiced by American intelligence agencies about Mr. Libi's credibility," Jehl writes. "Without mentioning him by name, President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Colin L. Powell, then secretary of state, and other administration officials repeatedly cited Mr. Libi's information as `credible' evidence that Iraq was training Al Qaeda members in the use of explosives and illicit weapons.

I have wondered what inforamtion the Dems had in order to shut the Ruthugs up about their oversight responsibility, and what made them close the doors.

This could be VERY big. I await the NYT series on this.

Our job? To make it VERY clear and easy to understand.

UPDATE The actual NYTimes article is now up.  Interesting read. Interesting last item:

Mr. Libi remains in custody, apparently at in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, where he was sent in 2003, according to government officials.

Originally posted at:

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Time to Regulate the Meds, Laura

Charles:Do I have to sit next to HER?

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Why Should I Care?

"Do you have wireless inter-net?" I asked the twenty-something check-in girl at the front desk of the Johnson City, Tennessee Best Western motel.

"Jes here in the lobby...or in the bar there," she said pointing with a pencil to the door behind me over which flashed in red, white and blue neon, the words, NASCAR Grille.

I was driving my way from New York to Hendersonville, NC. to tend to my ailing mother-in-law.  After 12 hours behind the wheel, I had said, "Uncle," and pulled in to the first available motel.

Priorities being priorities, immediately after unloading the trunk and checking out the room, I grabbed my laptop and headed for the NASCAR for a beer and some blogging. It was, after all, near the end of the Plame/CIA leak investigation and I had been without the "real" news all day.

I ordered a Bud Light (the least offensive of the on tap offerings), and headed to a table with a nearby outlet. Within minutes, I was engrossed in my usual rounds through the on-line political arena; looking for news, rumors and analysis. I am an addict. But to me, politics matters.

About halfway through the Bud, I looked up from the screen and noticed where I really was for the first time.

As I often do in unfamiliar locales, I began to imagine the lives behind the strange faces. In this case, the faces of the people who sat at the bar and in the restaurant. There was the group of seven just-turned-twenty-ones at a table to my right. It was one of those "high" bar tables that required stools to be useful...and they seemed to be making good use of it as the top was littered with empty pitchers and full ashtrays (smoking is still permitted in Tennessee bars). The three girls and four boys were flirting, kissing and grabbing their way to a merry drunken late night. Carefree. Young. Reckless.

To my left were the professional travelers.  Ties loosened at the neck and paying with company credit cards...sharing dirty jokes. Black loafers. Tassels. Cuffed slacks.

There were the assorted mix of couples, drinkers, long hairs, frat boys, bar fly girls, waitresses and bartenders sharing this smoky, loud, '80's country music filled, totally American, Tennessee roadside watering hole. I guessed I was one of about 60 in the NASCAR that night. I felt totally out of place, and yet, at the same time, wonderfully at home.

I wondered what was important to all these people. What did they do with their time? How did they spend their obviously hard-earned money? How did they make decisions? I began to speculate some mental answers.

Let me see.  Gas on the way down here was averaging about $3.00 a gallon. Lots of pickups outside getting 14 MPG. That must matter to everyone here. And lots of these folks have education and child care are big. Rent for some, mortgages for others. Interest rates. And credit cards. Yup. Lots of credit cards with high interest rates. Health care. I wonder if they have health care.  Statistics say that one in six of them have no insurance. I bet more than half of this group has a family member or friend or knows someone now in that's a big issue. Group at the bar looks like they work local construction. Work boots. Carpenter's pencil behind the ear of the guy in the "Redneck Wreckin' Crew" tee-shirt. Small business workers then.  Payroll and housing market trends. Traveling professionals? Sales? Profit margins and economic growth must be important.

The waitress came on by to pick up my empty and looked over my shoulder at the laptop screen. "Not many come in here and look at a computer," she said. What are ya looking at?" she asked.

"Oh, just reading up on some politics. I follow politics." I said.

"Oh, I don't give that any mind. Want another one?"

"Sure. Do you vote?" I asked.

"Nope. Never voted in my life. Never will. It don't matter. I'll be right back, Hon." She skirted her way through the tables to the bar.

When she came back, I thanked her, but before she left, I said, "You know, politics is important."

"No it ain't," she said smiling. "Nothin' they do in Washington affects me at all. Why should I care?" she said as she made change and disappeared around the corner. I wondered how many people in the NASCAR Grille that night felt the same way.

Originally posted at:

Harry Reid's STUNT?

Yesteday's maneuver by Harry Reid to force the Senate into closed session was characterized by the GOP leadership as a "stunt."

I disagree. That wasn't a stunt. THIS was a stunt....

Chimpy McFlightsuit in action

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