Wednesday, August 23


Slate's Fred Kaplan excoriates the pResident's latest, truly moronic press conference.

Defeating terror by promoting freedom—it's "the fundamental challenge of the 21st century," he has said several times, especially when it comes to the Middle East. But here, from the transcript of the press conference, is how he sees the region's recent events:

"What's very interesting about the violence in Lebanon and the violence in Iraq and the violence in Gaza is this: These are all groups of terrorists who are trying to stop the advance of democracy."

What is he talking about? Hamas, which has been responsible for much of the violence in Gaza, won the Palestinian territory's parliamentary elections. Hezbollah, which started its recent war with Israel, holds a substantial minority of seats in Lebanon's parliament and would probably win many more seats if a new election were held tomorrow. Many of the militants waging sectarian battle in Iraq have representation in Baghdad's popularly elected parliament.

The key reality that Bush fails to grasp is that terrorism and democracy are not opposites. They can, and sometimes do, coexist. One is not a cure for the other.

Then Kaplan, as others have done before him, gets going on Bush's failure to understand the difference between a strategic objective and a strategy.

Strategy involves how to achieve one's objectives—or, as the great British strategist B.H. Liddell Hart put it, "the art of distributing and applying military means to fulfill the ends of policy." These are the issues that Bush refuses to address publicly—what means and resources are to be applied, in what way, at what risk, and to what end, in pursuing his policy. Instead, he reduces everything to two options: "Cut and run" or, "Stay the course." It's as if there's nothing in between, no alternative way of applying military means. Could it be that he doesn't grasp the distinction between an "objective" and a "strategy," and so doesn't see that there might be alternatives? Might our situation be that grim?

Oh, yes it is. Just. That. Grim.

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Monday, August 21


Finally! WaPo doesn't let Bush's assertion that "Nobody has ever suggested that Saddam Hussein order [9/11]" stand unchallenged.

When arguing that terrorists attacked the United States, Bush was asked by a reporter what Iraq had to do with the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. He replied, "Nothing. Nobody has ever suggested that Saddam Hussein ordered the attack." The Bush administration repeatedly linked the Sept. 11 attacks and the fight against global terror groups with the need to invade Iraq before the March 2003 U.S.-led invasion of the country.

Good for writer Daniela Deane. I'll be watching for her name to see if she keeps it up.

UPDATE: Well, this is a hoot. I go straight from reading the WaPo article to Atrios, who links to a Media Matters item chastising the writer of the article for editing a Bush quote from the press conference without indicating she had done so.

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Well, Dubya held another one of his "press conferences" (i.e., propaganda moments) today. He's resolutely "staying the course." The Stakeholder looks at the reality behind his rhetoric.


“We’re not leaving so long as I’m the president.” [Bush Press Conference, 8/21/06]


Republican Congress has refused to hold Bush administration accountable about Iraq intelligence, spending and planning.

$9 billion in reconstruction funds have been unaccounted for, and as of the end of April, almost $2 billion in appropriated funds remain unobligated, largely due to a lack of security. [CRS Report RL 31833, Page 15]

There have been close to 4,000 Iraqi casualties due to sectarian violence from February 2006 to April 06, almost the same number of casualties suffered between February 2004 and January 2006. [DoD’s Quarterly Report on Iraq, Page 40]

American troops: 2,610 fatalities, 19,300 troops wounded in action.

Estimated Iraqi Casualties: 8,643 civilian deaths between March 2005 and April 2006. 3,269 police and security force deaths between January 2005 and April 2006. [CRS Report RS22441, Page 4 and]


“I have been talking about gas prices ever since they got high.” [Bush Press Conference, 8/21/06]


$1.52 When Bush Took Office
$2.32 Price per Gallon of Gas When Bush Signed his Energy Bill
$2.93 Price per Gallon of Gas Today
$2.6 billion Amount in Giveaways for Big Oil and Gas by GOP Congress Included in Bush Energy Bill


“I made a commitment that we would – we’d help the people there recover…I also want the people down there to understand that it’s going to take awhile to recover. This was a huge storm.” [Bush Press Conference, 8/21/06]


Nearly 1,200 families in the St. Bernard Parish of New Orleans are still waiting to get into trailers that are locked on their home sites but need utilities or other services. [AP, 8/8/06]

400 families waiting for trailers have none at all. [AP, 8/8/06]

Tens of thousands of houses are waiting for repair from the widespread flooding of last year’s storm. [AP, 8/8/06]

The Bush White House refused to provide Congress’ Katrina Committee the emails exchanged by former head of FEMA Michael Brown and the White House.

A motion to subpoena those documents was rejected.

As a result of lack of information, the House Select Committee on Hurricane Katrina failed to obtain the most relevant evidence of the White House role in the failed federal response to Hurricane Katrina

David Corn takes issue also.

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Joseph Galloway says throw the bastards out for selling our military down the river.

All of this leaves our nation without a credible reserve force in case of emergencies elsewhere in the world, and it leaves those outfits just home from combat without the equipment or the troops to train for their next combat tour.

That's how well this Congress and this administration have taken care of our military. They are grinding down equipment and troops and families without a care.

Shame on them for caring so little about those who give so much, including their precious lives, in defense of our country.

Shame on them for simultaneously making certain that hundreds of billions of defense dollars are diverted to the kind of high-dollar aircraft and naval vessels so beloved of the defense contracting industry who happily fuel the campaign engines of the Republicans and happily provide post-retirement jobs for retired generals and admirals and, yes, out-of-office politicians.

This administration and its sycophantic Republic Congress love to mouth phrases like "support our troops" but their actions belie their words. The Chickenhawks are fond of macho rhetoric and love nothing more than waging war and playing soldier when it's the lives of someone else's kids at stake, unless it's funneling more money to their wealthy and corporate supporters and to themselves. They think bumper stickers and yellow ribbons compensate for inattention and neglect.

Gen. Barry McCaffrey said yesterday on Meet The Press that the thing he most feared was a broken military. He looked, and sounded, as if he thinks he's watching it happen.

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Jonathan Chait puts the lie to the meme, "Democrats are soft on terror." Chait believes conservatives really, truly BELIEVE it. Well, maybe some do. Others are just outright lying, and they know it.

And the Democrats simply haven't had the platform to disseminate their ideas. They lack control of any branch of government in Washington, so the media ignore their proposals, which have no chance of passing. And they don't have the network of partisan gabbers and propagandists to disseminate their views that conservatives built up when they were out of power. So it's easy for lazy pundits to conclude Democrats simply have no ideas. As "Seinfeld's" George Costanza famously put it: It's not a lie if you believe it.

Yet this belief has had catastrophic consequences. Because conservatives genuinely bought into Bush's view that the only choice was to follow him or coddle the terrorists, they chose to follow him. Thus they have been unwilling to openly question the numerous Bush foreign policy fiascos — from refusing to use U.S. troops to capture Osama bin Laden and his henchmen to failing to plan for the Iraq occupation. If they had raised some questions a couple of years ago, maybe our Middle East policy wouldn't be a shambles. And maybe, come to think of it, their party wouldn't be utterly discredited in the eyes of the public.



Kate Witek was the running mate of famed Cornhusker football coach Tom Osborne. They recently lost their bid for the Republican nomination for Lt. Gov. and Governor of Nebraska. She may have switched parties just so she could run for re-election as State Auditor, but she could have been like Joe Lieberman and run as an Independent. Instead, she opted to change her registration to Democrat.

The GOP lost its lock on the top state government offices this week when State Auditor Kate Witek jumped to the Democratic party just a few months after campaigning as Republican Tom Osborne's running mate in a failed gubernatorial bid.

"I got to the point where it seemed the Republican Party was only looking at controlling all the offices instead of looking at resolving all the problems challenging this state," Witek said in Friday's Lincoln Journal Star.

I think her statement could be applied to the nation pretty handily, don't you?