Saturday, October 29


Mark Shields points out the hypocrisy of the right wing revealed by their conduct and rhetoric in the Harriet Miers case.

Who said repeatedly some variation of "every judicial nominee and the American people and the president deserve a fair up-or-down vote?" If you answered virtually every Republican senator, especially Sens. Orrin Hatch of Utah, Sam Brownback of Kansas and Bill Frist of Tennessee, you would be more than right.

In addition to that "up-or-down vote," every judicial nominee, according to those same honorable folks, was entitled to a fair committee hearing. Every judicial nominee, it turns out, except Miers. She didn't even get the hearing, let alone "the fair up-or-down vote" she deserved.
Miers does not need to apologize to anyone. She told no lies. The big losers are those on the political right -- both her supporters and her opponents -- whose contradictions and moral relativism were enough to give hypocrisy a bad name.

In addition, the wingnuts flipped on the refrain that "personal beliefs/religion have no place in the debate," "show us the documents on policy issue discussions," and affirmative action. But IOIYAR.

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Joe Wilson talks about his family's ordeal. Read it all. It's important to an accurate understanding of what this has meant to the country.

Why did I write the article? Because I believe that citizens in a democracy are responsible for what government does and says in their name. I knew that the statement in Bush's speech — that Iraq had attempted to purchase significant quantities of uranium in Africa — was not true. I knew it was false from my own investigative trip to Africa (at the request of the CIA) and from two other similar intelligence reports. And I knew that the White House knew it.

Going public was what was required to make them come clean. The day after I shared my conclusions in a New York Times opinion piece, the White House finally acknowledged that the now-infamous 16 words "did not rise to the level of inclusion in the State of the Union address."

That should have been the end. But instead, the president's men — allegedly including Libby and at least one other (known only as "Official A") — were determined to defame and discredit Valerie and me.
The attacks on Valerie and me were upsetting, disruptive and vicious. They amounted to character assassination. Senior administration officials used the power of the White House to make our lives hell for the last 27 months.

But more important, they did it as part of a clear effort to cover up the lies and disinformation used to justify the invasion of Iraq. That is the ultimate crime.

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Excellent article in Mother Jones from former federal prosecutor Elizabeth de la Vega about what we should expect post-indictment.


I'm fed up with the tenor of anti-Miers sentiment, coming mostly from the right wing.

Here are the areas where I had problems with the lady's nomination:
(1) Her apparent myopia where the president is concerned (He's the most brilliant person I ever met) and the questioning of her ability to be independent as a SCOTUS justice
(2) Her lack of a reviewable record
(3) The injection (by Bush, mind, not the lady herself) of her religion into the debate
(4) The ambiguity surrounding her judicial philosophy
(5) Multiple actions as Bush's Counsel including questionable practices as Texas Lottery Commissioner to protect him from revelations about his Texas National Air Guard service, the BushCo position on use of torture, etc.

All those are legitimate and rational reasons for opposing her confirmation.

Here's where I get mad:
(1) Attacks on her academic background. SMU is sometimes called "the Harvard of the Southwest" -- So what if it's not the real Harvard, Yale, Princeton or another Ivy Leaguer? It IS possible, you elitists (Ann Coulter and Laura Ingraham, take note!), to receive a first-rate education outside of New England.
(2) Denigrations of her accomplishments as a woman lawyer in an era and region that made the current "glass ceiling" look benevolent.
(3) Mockery of her hairstyles, dress, marital status/dating record to which no male nominee would ever have to seriously respond.
(4) The implication that because she is not a constitutional expert and has no judicial experience, she cannot be a valuable contributor to the Court. Tell that to John Marshall, Earl Warren, William Rehnquist, Felix Frankfurter, Louis Brandeis, Lewis Powell, and Abe Fortas.

I opposed Mier's confirmation, but I also am incensed at the humiliations to which she has been subjected. Male nominees such as Robert Bork have failed confirmation on grounds that had nothing to do with their school affiliations and personal appearance. She should have received the same treatment.


"Too bad these guys did not work as feverishly in tracking down Osama Bin Laden. They only had time to attack two American citizens who were serving their country." -- former CIA agent Larry Johnson


Bill Schneider of CNN just reported that a poll (I missed which one) finds 44% of Americans say Democrats would deal better with corruption in government; 33% said Republicans would.

Schneider charted Bush's downtrend in the polls on the question, Is this president honest and trustworthy? Currently, 50% say NO, down from a "yes" high of 70+% after 9/11.

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Somewhere in his less-than-stellar schooldays, George W. Bush must have participated in "Opposite Day" and discovered it worked much better for him than trying to keep faith with reality. Or maybe it's just a function of his immature rebellion against and resentment for his over-achieving pragmatic daddy. Whatever the cause, Dubya has made up-is-downism the hallmark of his administration.

Maureen Dowd:

This administration's grand schemes always end up as the opposite. Officials say they're promoting national security when they're hurting it; they say they're squelching terrorists when they're breeding them; they say they're bringing stability to Iraq when the country's imploding. (The U.S. announced five more military deaths yesterday.)

And the most dangerous opposite of all: W. was listening to a surrogate father he shouldn't have been listening to, and not listening to his real father, who deserved to be listened to.

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Give 'em hell, Howard:

Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean today issued the following statement:

"This is a sad day for America.

"Beyond the evidence that the White House manipulated the intelligence used to justify the war in Iraq, a group of senior White House officials not only orchestrated efforts to smear a critic of the war, but worked to cover up this smear campaign. In so doing, they ignored the rule of law, endangering our national security and the brave men and women who dedicate their lives to protecting our nation's security. I. Lewis Libby was a part of this internal White House group.

"This is not only an abuse of power, it is an un-American abuse of the public trust. As Americans, we must hold ourselves and our leaders to a higher standard. We cannot fear dissent. We cannot fear the truth. And we cannot tolerate those who do.

"More importantly, we can't ignore the glaring questions this case has raised about the rationale the Bush Administration used to send us to war in Iraq, a war that continues. American soldiers are still in harms way. Over 2,000 brave Americans have lost their lives, thousands of American soldiers have been wounded, and thousands of American families have made the ultimate sacrifice. Still, the President has no plan and no exit strategy. And still he hasn't answered the question, what are we doing in Iraq and when can our troops come home?

"President Bush faces a serious test of leadership; will he keep his pledge to hold his Administration to high ethical standards and give the American people what they deserve, and will he answer to the American people for these serious missteps?"


Rove may be next. WaPo on "Official A":

But at a news conference that ran more than an hour, a composed and chatty Fitzgerald cautioned that the investigation, while nearly complete, is not over.

The biggest piece of unfinished business involves Rove. Fitzgerald appeared set to charge Rove with making false statements until the White House deputy chief of staff provided new information on Tuesday that gave the prosecutor what two people described as "pause."

It is unclear what information Rove turned over. It is also unclear if it will be enough to prevent a grand jury from indicting him in the weeks ahead.
On at least one occasion, Libby and Rove chatted about Plame, too. Rove -- described as "Official A" in the indictment -- told Libby that columnist Robert D. Novak was planning to write about Wilson's wife. A few days later, the column ran -- setting off the political firestorm that brought down Libby and still threatens Rove.

What's the "new information" that Karl gave to Fitzgerald? I think it's likely (a) something he thinks exculpatory, which Fitzgerald would feel he has to investigate before indicting the Rovester; or (b) information damning to someone else, which Fitzgerald needs to confirm before deciding whether or not to let Rove plea to a lesser charge in return for the scoop.

Either way, I still think Rove is going down. It ain't over till it's over.

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Conservative pundits, as expected, have been screaming about Libby being indicted for the coverup when, they say, he was not charged with any underlying crime. They brush off charges of perjury and obstruction of justice as if they were mere examples of hardball politics. WaPo points out that this is nonsense:

Then and now, the theory has been essentially the same: If people are allowed to lie during the investigation of a crime, the crime cannot be proven. It may go unpunished or an innocent person might be wrongly punished.

That is why perjury has never required proof of an underlying crime. Without access to the truth, there may be no way to show the underlying crime.

Fitzgerald himself has a simple answer:

Mr. Fitzgerald would not say on Friday whether he believed that Mr. Libby had in fact violated either law. He said that question had been impossible to answer, because Mr. Libby's misleading answers to investigators and the grand jury had obscured what actually took place. He likened his problem to that of a baseball umpire who was unable to make a call because of sand thrown in his eyes.

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Friday, October 28


Prosecutor's statement here.

Three guesses as to the identity of "Official A" -- (I'm betting on Rove.)

...on or about July 10 or July 11, 2003, Libby spoke to a senior White House
official (“Official A”) who advised Libby of a conversation Official A had earlier
that week with columnist Robert Novak in which Wilson’s wife was discussed
as a CIA employee involved in Wilson’s trip. Libby was advised by Official A
that Novak would be writing a story about Wilson’s wife;

Thursday, October 27


Larry Johnson, a 1985 CIA training classmate of Valerie Plame's, was on Wolf Blitzer discrediting some of the wingnut trashtalk about Mrs. Wilson. I took notes as quickly as I could because this was great stuff:

Wolf: In order for there to be weight to the charges or indictments -- Was there serious damage done to U.S. national security? Did the CIA do a post-mortem damage assessment?

LJ: CIA did a post-mortem, they had to. There has to be a written document at CIA. When agents are outed, it's not just the person, it's the front company, other NOCs who may have been exposed, other intelligence officers who were exposed to that company, as well as intelligence assets overseas who were working with Brewster Jennings [Plame's CIA front] and didn't know it was CIA, and people, assets, who worked willingly for Brewster Jennings. Yes, I have heard that serious damage did occur. I don't know about lives lost. What I do know for certain is that we're not just talking about Valerie, we're talking about an intelligence resource, a U.S. intelligence resource, that was destroyed. They've harmed the security of this country and they're trying to pretend no harm no foul, and it was reckless.

Wolf: Novak said it was well known around Washington that Wilson's wife worked for the CIA. Her name was no secret either, that Cliff May told him he'd heard it from (someone) before my column and that she was CIA. Her name was in Joe Wilson's bio in "Who's Who." That doesn't sound very covert.

LJ: He doesn't know what he's talking about. His information on this issue has been repeatedly wrong. I've got $5,000 up that you can't find a reference to Valerie and CIA anywhere before Bob Novak reported on her. Not only that, when Valerie wrote that check to Al Gore as a member of Brewster Jennings she was living her cover. Not a single neighbor She was in the process of moving from non-official cover to official cover but under the law she's still covered. She's moved back to the U.S., she's home-based here, but she continued to travel overseas for Brewster Jennings, she was still working her cover. (Something about there was a possibility that she'd been compromised by the Aldrich Ames blowup so she'd been moved back to the U.S.)

Wolf: What about the fact that she was driving back and forth to Langley every day?

LJ: 40% of the persons driving through those gates are undercover. Sometimes they're here for two or three years and then they go back overseas. Their covers are backstops. They're presumed to work for some other (company/agency). I drove through those gates for four years and nobody but my wife knew I was CIA. I was undercover the whole time.

Wolf: What about the pictures she posed for after her name was revealed?

LJ: I don't think Joe and Valerie would have done that again but her career had been completely destroyed and she had death threats from Al Qaeda.

Wolf: Why didn't she get security protection? She still works for the CIA.

LJ: The CIA told her she'd have to rely on 911.

More of Larry Johnson's defense of Plame and Wilson can be found here. William Rivers Pitts lends perspective here.

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One gratification resulting from the internecine war of the Republicans over the Harriet Miers nomination to the Supreme Court: we won't have to listen to that "up or down vote!" crap on any subsequent SCOTUS nominees. They wouldn't dare the mockery that would ensue.

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On Scarborough Country Howard Fineman was asking how Patrick Fitzgerald could extend the grand jury's term.

Special grand juries sit for 18 months, but their term can be extended for up to another 18 months; a court can extend a special grand jury's term for 6 months, and can enter up to three such extensions, totaling 18 months.

Could that be what Fitz was meeting with Thomas Hogan, chief judge of U.S. District Court in the capital, about on Wednesday?

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The New York Times is reporting that Karl Rove won't be indicted Friday but will remain "under investigation." The report goes on to say that Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald will extend the term of the federal grand jury.

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The truth and nothing but:

What happened next is a case study in why we teach children not to lie. Their cover story cracking, Team Bush was forced to lash back. They tried to discredit Wilson by revealing his wife’s CIA status to cooperative reporters. Plame was an NOC — non-official cover — agent monitoring nuclear proliferation. She was deep undercover, and her outing shakes the whole infrastructure of U.S. spookdom. The safety of anyone who had ever talked to her was jeopardized with the public disclosure of her status.

To send such a tremor through U.S. intelligence operations — and in so doing, to run afoul of the 1982 Intelligence Identities Protection Act, which was pushed through Congress by Reagan-era conservatives — is so wildly irrational it bespeaks blind desperation, and begs the question, what are these guys hiding?

What they’re hiding is a fusion of politics and ideology that resulted in a war of raw aggression. We invaded Iraq to ensure GOP electoral success in future elections and to advance a neoconservative agenda long obsessed with control of Iraq. The first casualty of the war, as ever, was the truth.

“We wouldn’t be invading Iraq to further Rovian domestic politics or neocon ideology; we’d be doing so instead because there was a direct connection between Saddam and al-Qaida and because Saddam was on the verge of attacking America with nuclear weapons,” wrote Frank Rich in last Sunday’s New York Times. “The facts and intelligence had to be fixed to create these whys; any contradictory evidence had to be dismissed or suppressed.”

Rove and Libby, representing opposite poles of the Bush administration, joined forces to create a win-win scenario for everyone except the Iraqis, the American public and the rest of the world. If they’re indicted for lying about it — what irony.

Why is it that justice for the truly monumental crimes is a matter of grasping at such straws? I ask this question not to look a gift horse in the mouth — Fitzgerald’s guts and doggedness in pursuing this investigation may have saved the republic — but to examine the learning opportunity the scandal opens up.

The abuses of the Bush administration may be the most extreme in U.S. history, but they came wrapped in the cloak of patriotism and fear-based necessity, and most of us, including the media, barely questioned them, or we accepted them with a shrug as the unchallengeable prerogatives of the powerful.

What kind of democracy can such an enervated, powerless people hope to spread to the rest of the world? How did we wind up with a system of government that practices the ideals it trumpets only by mocking them? How do we let future leaders know that waging an unnecessary war is an impeachable offense?

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Wednesday, October 26


Reality bites.


It's not surprising -- though disgusting -- that maniac radio talk ghost Michael Savage would say (I heard him this afternoon) that liberals wish that the 2,000 Americans killed in Iraq were 200,000. But even if unsurprising, it's the kind of remark I often hear on wingnut radio that makes my blood boil. How dare the supporters, nay the perpetrators, of this outrageous, immoral and indefensible war of choice that has killed 2,000 of our military accuse us, who are aligned with what is now a sizable majority of Americans in calling this ill-conceived BushCo adventurism a "mistake," of desiring the deaths of hundreds of thousands of our fellow Americans simply to make the point that it was, indeed, a mistake?

Yes, Michael Savage is well-named (it's a self-designated pseudonym that is particularly appropos), but his sentiments are echoed throughout the more "respectable" conservative media. Mark Levin says, "It's what they [liberals] do." Greg Knapp and Darrell Ankarlo say, in effect, that liberals/Democrats secretly despise minorities, the poor, and our military and wish ill for them all. Sean Hannity and Bill O'Reilly persist in asserting that the ACLU is out to destroy America and that we progressives hate our native country and would like to see it fall. Laura Ingraham, Ann Coulter, Michelle Malkin and Bill Bennett insist that we have no ideas and thus have no recourse except to ad hominem attacks mere instants before they resort to the tactics they ascribe to us.

(As a professional woman, mother of five and wife of 30 years, I find it particularly interesting and nauseating to think that millions of our citizens worship the moralistic utterances of Ingraham, Coulter and Malkin -- three women who have never borne a child, two of whom are unmarried -- about "family values" issues. Clearly, none of these privileged three have ever wrestled with the domestic problems of ordinary women and have no credibility in discussing or pontificating about such.)

But my real sorrow and ire is reserved for those who question, nay disparage, the patriotism and devotion to country of those Americans, like me, who were raised on civics classes that taught Constitutional ideals and still cling to those. I am an American. I am the scion of a proud military family. I am a BAPTIST, for goodness' sake, my husband and I moved to Texas so he could attend the most conservative Baptist theological SEMINARY in the country! Two of my nephews have served in this misbegotten war in Iraq, and my own daughter enlisted in the Air Force post-9/11 so SHE could go (only to be discharged medically before she could finish basic training). Don't tell ME I wish for more American deaths so I can blame George W. Bush.

The irrational right-wing hatred of moderate Democrat Bill Clinton should have informed us long ago that wingnuts were the logical inheritors of the Ku Klux Klan, no matter how they attempt to disguise it. The "Southern strategy" that has been so successful for the Republican Party is clear evidence that there is a large population segment that resembles too closely for comfort the German American Bund. The tragedy is that, just as pre-WWII, there are also a great many reasonable and non-racist Americans who believe that BushCo and the Republican Party represent some kind of tradition of fiscal responsibility and conservative values that, though accompanied by questionable foreign adventurism, can be trusted more than the propaganda they have swallowed regarding the Democratic "soak-the-rich-tax-and-spend-liberal" agenda. It's bewildering to me that otherwise intelligent people can disregard the evidence that the economy prospers better under Democratic leadership, despite the fact (or perhaps because????) that we support a living wage for working people, a shared tax burden, a prosperous middle class and initiatives that enable all those who are ambitious enough to move into it, and shared sacrifice in times of national crisis.

And it's completely inexplicable that so-called Christians cannot see the lesson of Sodom and Gomorrah for what it is -- not a judgment of God upon the sexual morality of the cities as is so often cited, but upon their neglect of the poor and strangers/hospitality (44And the Lord was provoked at this and at all the works of the cities of Sodom, for they had abundance of food, and had tranquility amongst them, and still would not sustain the poor and the needy, and in those days their evil doings and sins became great before the Lord. 45 And the Lord sent for two of the angels that had come to Abraham's house, to destroy Sodom and its cities. Ezekiel 16:49 Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy. 16:50 And they were haughty, and committed abomination before me: therefore I took them away as I saw [good]. )

Which, I ask, is the party that aligns itself with that which the Bible tells us is paramount with God, and which is not?

Tuesday, October 25


Howard Fineman told Chris Matthews on Hardball that Steve Clemons is very "connected" throughout D.C. and so should be taken seriously when he says that indictments are coming down.


I find this excerpt from the New Yorker article in which Brent Scowcroft is quoted as critical of the president's forieng policy very telling, character-wise:

Goldberg talks to the former Soviet dissident Natan Sharansky, whose book, "The Case for Democracy," came to national attention when George W. Bush told the Washington Times, "If you want a glimpse of how I think about foreign policy, read Natan Sharansky's book." In the book, Sharansky criticizes Bush's father for a speech he gave in 1991, in Ukraine, opposing a break with the Soviet Union -- a speech critics labelled "Chicken Kiev."

Sharansky tells Goldberg that soon after his book was published, he was invited to the White House to see the President. He says, "So I go to the White House and I see my book on his desk. It is open to page 210. He is really reading it. And we talk about democracy. This President is very great on democracy. At the end of the conversation, I say, 'Say hello to your mother and father.' And he said, 'My father?' He looked very surprised I would say this."

Sharansky went on, "So I say to the President, 'I like your father. He is very good to my wife when I am in prison.' And President Bush says, 'But what about Chicken Kiev?'"

It's long been clear that 43 has some real issues regarding his father, 41. It's often the case of an under-achieving son of a super-achiever father that the younger harbors resentment, jealousy and a sense of inferiority in regards to the elder. This tale seems to suggest at least a wish and an effort on the part of Dubya to see one of his heroes, Sharansky, disparage George H.W., and surprise and disappointment when he did not. The fact that he did not simply accept Sharansky's expression of appreciation of 41's graciousness but questioned, "What about Chicken Kiev?" indicates a desire to convince the Russian dissident that it is HE, 43, who deserves his good opinion, not his father, by reminding Sharansky of his previous critical statements about 41.

Dubya's entire dumbed-down, cowboy presidency seems to be a futile crusade to prove he's "better" than his father. What a joke. He's never succeeded on his own at anything in his life, and if he'd been any other man's son he'd never have been governor or president. Yet he still can't acknowledge his debt to his dad. What a heartbreak for GHWB. Among his other failings, he has to count failed fatherhood among them.

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Oh joy, oh joy! Close friends and associates say Al Gore will run in '08.

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Laura Ingraham ranted on forever this morning on her spectacularly lame radio show, which is incessantly peppered with bouts of juvenile giggling and mockery of serious subjects and people, about Al Franken's appearance on Letterman. She and her sidekick Lee just don't see anything funny about "Frankenfreud," as she calls him. And she deems it in the worst of taste that Al finds humor in "serious subjects."

Guess she doesn't remember laughing uproariously yesterday morning at Hurricane Wilma and the possibility that Rep. Curt Weldon might have "imploded" during his recent remarks in the House re what he characterized as DIA smearing of Lt. Col. Tony Shaffer of Able Danger, and died or had a heart attack or something since she was having trouble getting him on the phone for an interview -- the latter hilarity immediately preceding her speaking sympathetically and respectfully to Weldon himself on the subject.

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Going home, going home
I'm just going home
Quiet light, some still day
I'm just going home

It's not far, just close by
Through an open door
Work all done, care laid by
Going to fear no more

Mother's there expecting me
Father's waiting, too
Lots of folk gathered there
All the friends I knew

All the friends I knew

I'm going home

Nothing's lost, all's gain
No more fret nor pain
No more stumbling on the way
No more longing for the day
Going to roam no more

Morning star lights the way
Restless dream all done
Shadows gone, break of day
Real life begun

There's no break, there's no end
Just a living on
Wide awake with a smile
Going on and on

Going home, going home
I'm just going home
It's not far, just close by
Through an open door
I am going home
I'm just going home.


Monday, October 24


One of my senators, Kay Bailey Hutchison, is being pilloried for her hypocritical and just plain stupid remarks this weekend re the relative unimportance of obstruction of justice and perjury charges.

Couldn't happen to a dumber Senator.


Ben Bernanke, Bush's nominee to succeed Alan Greenspan as Fed chair, thinks extending Dubya's tax cuts for the wealthy is an important way for the economy to recover from the effects of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

I'd love to have been a fly on the wall at Princeton Economic Department faculty confabs -- how does Paul Krugman get along with this guy?


Oh what a ride home from work! Listening to the talk radio wingnuts was an exercise in self-restraint as they one by one repeated the same talking points, quoted the same Weekly Standard articles and spouted the same justifications for the Plame outing.

Case in point -- Greg Knapp, of Dallas KLIF: It was the administration's "duty" to "get the truth out" about Joe Wilson's "lies." (According to Knapp, the CIA's assessment was that Saddam WAS trying to purchase yellowcake from Niger.) Valerie Plame was not really a covert agent (even if the CIA says she was) because "she hadn't been out of the country for over five years." It was important to expose Plame's "lobbying" at the CIA to get her husband sent to Niger. The CIA was "hedging," in other words covering its butt, so it could say it was right whether WMD was found or not. There is something sinister happening here, Knapp says. "You don't send an ambassador who is 100% against the president's war plans to send an intelligence agent." "We need to know more about Valerie Plame," Greg said in somber tones.

Unlike Mark Levin and Sean Hannity, however, Knapp does think that if Rove and Libby can be proven to have lied to the grand jury and/or obstructed justice, they should be held accountable. Levin lays it all at a conspiracy of Democrats and liberals to destroy the president, destroy the administration, and defeat our troops in Iraq, starting with the "detestable, lying Joe Wilson."

Incidentally, Fitzgerald's investigation has cost American taxpayers something over $700,000. Contrast that with the $50 million spent on Ken Starr's Whitewater inquisition. AirAmerica's Majority Report suggests that that indicates that "it's a lot cheaper to expose a real crime" as compared to, say, a witchhunt.

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My friend Sally (another rabid Democrat) and I had great fun with our waiter at lunch today. After showing us a political cartoon we surmised that he was a Dem and started a very LOUD discussion of Rethug politics. At one point he noted, "Did you see the poll that stated 2% of African-Americans support Bush? What a hoot! You could ask Jews what they thought about Hitler, and the report would come back that 2% supported him! Since 2% is within the margin of error, it really means ZERO."

Good point.

Sunday, October 23


The witticism of the week belongs to Jo Fish of Democratic Veteran.

If the 1600 Crew pulls out the Miers nomination, is that SCOTUS Interruptus?


(With apologies to Mayhew)

Be sure it's true what you tell the grand jury
It's a crime to tell a lie
Lives and careers have been broken
Just because untruths were spoken

Fitzgerald's a man of honor
Just obstruct and he'll indict
So be sure it's true
What you tell the grand jury
It's a crime to tell a lie.


Bill Kristol is just unbelievably mendacious and hypocritical. It is not possible that he truly believes what he is saying, that Rethugs have engaged in "less than admirable behavior" but Clinton was impeachable because he was guilty of obstruction of justice for lying under oath, and his White House waged war against Kenneth Starr in order to deliberately and unlawfully thwart Starr's investigation.

It is fundamentally inappropriate to allow the criminal law to be used to resolve what is basically a policy and political dispute within the administration, or between the administration and its critics.
It seems to me quite possible--dare I say probable?--that no indictments would be the just and appropriate resolution to this inquiry.

I say this knowing that administration officials may have engaged in behavior that is not altogether admirable. I say this knowing that legions of Clinton defenders will complain that conservatives were happy to support the impeachment of a president for lying under oath seven years ago. My response to the second charge is that if anyone lied under oath the way Bill Clinton did--knowingly and purposefully in order to thwart a legitimate legal process, or if anyone engaged in an obstruction of justice, the way Bill Clinton did, then indictments would be proper. What is more, the Clinton White House mounted an extraordinary--and successful--political campaign against the office of the independent counsel and the person of Kenneth Starr. All the evidence suggests that the Bush White House has been fully cooperative with, even deferential to, the Fitzgerald investigation. And as for the first point, many people in government and politics engage in behavior that is less than admirable. That said, defending one's bosses against criticism, and debunking their attackers, is not a criminal conspiracy. Spin is not perjury. Political hardball is not a felony.

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Steve Clemons has long excerpts from the devastating New Yorker Brent Scowcroft critique of the White House.

Some Scowcroft wisdom:

On the neocons: The neoconservatives -- the Republicans who argued most fervently for the second Gulf war -- believe in the export of democracy, by violence if that is required, Scowcroft said. "How do the neocons bring democracy to Iraq? You invade, you threaten and pressure, you evangelize." And now, Scowcroft said, America is suffering from the consequences of that brand of revolutionary utopianism. "This was said to be part of the war on terror, but Iraq feeds terrorism," he said.

On Cheney: "The real anomaly in the Administration is Cheney," Scowcroft said. "I consider Cheney a good friend -- I've known him for thirty years. But Dick Cheney I don't know anymore." He went on, "I don't think Dick Cheney is a neocon, but allied to the core of neocons is that bunch who thought we made a mistake in the first Gulf War, that we should have finished the job. There was another bunch who were traumatized by 9/11, and who thought, 'The world's going to hell and we've got to show we're not going to take this, and we've got to respond, and Afghanistan is O.K., but it's not sufficient.'"

On Dubya: When I asked him to name issues on which he agrees with the younger Bush, he said, "Afghanistan." He paused for twelve seconds. Finally, he said, "I think we're doing well on Europe," and left it at that.

On Condi Rice: They also argued about Iraq. "She says we're going to democratize Iraq, and I said, 'Condi, you're not going to democratize Iraq,' and she said, 'You know, you're just stuck in the old days,' and she comes back to this thing that we've tolerated an autocratic Middle East for fifty years and so on and so forth," he said. Then a barely perceptible note of satisfaction entered his voice, and he said, "But we've had fifty years of peace."

On Wolfowitz: "He's got a utopia out there. We're going to transform the Middle East, and then there won't be war anymore. He can make them democratic. He is a tough-minded idealist, but where he is truly an idealist is that he brushes away questions, says, 'It won't happen,' whereas I would say, 'It's likely to happen and therefore you can't take the chance.' Paul's idealism sweeps away doubts."...He added, "I'm a realist in the sense that I'm a cynic about human nature."

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For the privileged George W. Bush, who has spent a lifetime being protected from the consequences of his own incompetence and bad behavior by his family's cronies, it must come as a shock to be held accountable.

For all practical purposes, governing the nation has stopped at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue as aides deal with an increasingly despondent President, mounting scandals and defecting dissidents from the Ship of State.

White House insiders say George W. Bush’s mood swings have increased to the point where meetings with the President must be cancelled, schedules shifted and plans changed to keep a bitter, distracted leader from the public eye.

“He’s like a zombie some days, walking around in a trance,” says one aide who, for obvious reasons, asks not to be identified. “Other times he launches into angry outbursts, cussing out anybody who gets near him.”

Aides say gallows humor has descended on the White House, where the West Wing is now referred to as “death row” and Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove, along with Vice Presidential Chief of Staff Scooter Libby, are known as “dead men walking,” a reference to the last walk death row inmates take to the execution chamber.
"The façade is gone and we are now seeing the Bush White House in all its incompetent glory,” says retired political science professor George Harleigh. “They’ve ignored reality for too long.”
This week, Former Secretary of State Colin Powell’s right-hand man unloaded on the Bush Administration during a speech to the New American Foundation, saying American foreign policy had been hijacked by “a Cheney-Rumsfeld cabal” that has destroyed this country’s credibility with its allies.

“I’m not sure the State Department even exists anymore,” Col. Larry Wilkerson, Powell’s chief of staff, told the audience of journalists and scholars. “It, like so many others things, have been destroyed by George W. Bush’s ‘cowboyism.’”

Wilkerson dismisses the Administration’s attempts to improve America’s image abroad.

“You can’t sell shit,” he said.

Wilkerson isn’t the only high-profile Republican operative bailing on Bush. Bruce Bartlett, who served as a Senior Policy Advisor in Bush’s father’s administration, is about to release a book: Imposter: How George W. Bush Bankrupted America and Destroyed the Reagan Legacy. Bartlett lost his job at the National Center for Policy Analysis, a conservative Texas think tank, when word of his book project leaked out.

Republicans, the last to finally acknowledge the lies and duplicity of the Bush White House, no longer trust the Administration. When current Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice testified before Congress this week and claimed “significant progress” in Iraq, Republican Senator Lincoln Chaffee of Rhode Island fired back: “Well, we all wish that were true, but we can't kid ourselves, either.”

But Wilkerson, a veteran with 31 years in the Marines and a former director of the Marine War College, sums up what, sadly, will be the legacy of George W. Bush:

“If there is a nuclear terrorist attack or a major pandemic you are going to see the ineptitude of this government in a way that'll take you back to the Declaration of Independence.”

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I loved this opinion for many reasons, one of which is that it reminded me of an incident in a meeting at my company on Friday.

An ad agency had been called in to prepare our recruiting materials, among which was to be a short video (I was included because I'm the resident film production expert at our company). Also attending was a marketing communications consultant I'd never met who was of the mind that the video was a bad idea. The marcomm specialist had already seen the script the agency had written, which I had not.

The agency reps began to go over with us, line-by-line, the aforementioned script they had written. The first "testimonial" they proposed having a current employee recite (did I mention that this video is supposed to appeal to the MTV generation?) was: "As a ------ employee I find great pleasure in providing an essential service to the community while building a secure future for myself and experiencing job satisfaction."

After gagging for a minute I interrupted. "That kind of language might sound fine in print but it really isn't right for broadcast media and college students. I'd picture a young construction manager standing in the sunshine on a job site in his hard hat, sweatshirt and shorts spreading his arms and saying, "Is this a great job or WHAT?"

After a couple more instant rewrites on my part the marcomm specialist jumped up and said, "YES! Okay, maybe a video IS a good idea -- but only if (my name) directs it."

The Bush administration, which until recently was famed for its superior stagecraft, frankly benefited from a surplus of credulous, uncritical media echo chambers that convinced a large percentage of Americans that what they were witnessing was real-life drama, not scripted and professionally executed productions. But they could not have succeeded without the simple-spoken George W. Bush, as the aw-shucks central actor.

But Dubya has run out of lines, and his incessant repetition of them has begun to pall. So the hacks have recruited others to speak the big thoughts -- administration insiders, Republican pundits, bought-and-paid-for journalists and now our own military troops. Problem is, they're not trusted to speak for themselves, so the agency hacks have written their lines.

A big con is a theatrical production. It won't work if it's not believable:

The big con came a cropper when W. held that video conference Oct. 13 with 10 U.S. soldiers and one Iraqi. The troops were handpicked from the Army's famed 42nd Infantry Division.

It turned out that the whole thing was as phony as any TV commercial. The soldiers were assigned to ask certain questions and were given a list of topics they could use.

What did them in was the language they used to answer questions. It obviously was scripted. When a captain from Idaho was asked whether the Iraqis wanted to fight and were capable of defending their homeland against the insurgents, he replied: "The Iraqi army and policy services, along with coalition support, have conducted many and mutiple exercises and rehearsals. It was impressive to me to see the cooperation and communication that took place among the Iraqi forces."

Another of the troops supposedly picked at random knew that voter registration was up 17 percent in north central Iraq, and said, "the Iraqi people are ready and eager to vote in this referendum."

That's not the way soldiers, or any other group of Americans, talk. That's the way Pentagon or White House hacks write.


Great Newsweek subhead: Gang fight: How Cheney and his tight-knit team launched the Iraq war, chased their critics—and set the stage for a special prosecutor's dramatic probe.

The arguments of the time seem familiar today. Cheney backed the elder Bush's vow to oust Saddam from Kuwait by force, over the objections of Colin Powell, then chairman of the Joint Chiefs, who favored negotiations, and over dire predictions of disaster from the CIA. Cheney emerged with a low opinion of his senior military and of the intelligence community, believing both to be risk averse and too comfortable with conventional wisdom.


Ouch. I'm compelled to quote George Will because when you're right, you're right. (No witticisms from my conservative friends, please.)

Can Miers's confirmation be blocked? It is easy to get a senatorial majority to take a stand in defense of this or that concrete interest, but it is surpassingly difficult to get a majority anywhere to rise in defense of mere excellence.

Still, Miers must begin with 22 Democratic votes against her. Surely no Democrat can retain a shred of self-respect if, having voted against John Roberts, he or she then declares Miers fit for the court. All Democrats who so declare will forfeit a right and an issue -- their right to criticize the administration's cronyism.

And Democrats, with their zest for gender politics, need this reminder: To give a woman a seat on a crowded bus because she is a woman is gallantry. To give a woman a seat on the Supreme Court because she is a woman is a dereliction of senatorial duty. It also is an affront to mature feminism, which may bridle at gallantry but should recoil from condescension.

As for Republicans, any who vote for Miers will thereafter be ineligible to argue that it is important to elect Republicans because they are conscientious conservers of the judicial branch's invaluable dignity. Finally, any Republican senator who supinely acquiesces in President Bush's reckless abuse of presidential discretion -- or who does not recognize the Miers nomination as such -- can never be considered presidential material.
[Emphasis mine]

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The NYT public editor suggests that Judith Miller won't be coming back:

What does the future hold for Ms. Miller? She told me Thursday that she hopes to return to the paper after taking some time off. Mr. Sulzberger offered this measured response: "She and I have acknowledged that there are new limits on what she can do next." It seems to me that whatever the limits put on her, the problems facing her inside and outside the newsroom will make it difficult for her to return to the paper as a reporter.

Frankly, if the Times accepts her as a reporter again, it will undermine its own credibility so badly as to make it "difficult" to ever recover the trust of its readers.

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